Things I Think
1. 2017 is the year when I became convinced that things will never be as they once were. The things that divide us are now thought more important than those that unite us, both in the church and culture. A house divided…
2. The truly noble rebel of our time will be the one who resists being forced into binary choices…because neither option is truly noble…
3. The current political climate didn’t create the divisions among us, it simply revealed them…
4. Perhaps it’s time to admit that Christianity isn’t one faith represented in different sects, but different faiths represented in different sects under the banner of Christianity…
5. The temptation to sin that I must fight the hardest is isolationism…
6. I’m processing three deaths in the last four days…death is the point where theoretical theology loses all attraction…
7. Two of the three didn’t even merit “death notices” in the local paper… “death notices” are what you get when you can’t afford to buy an “obituary” these days. God noticed, however…
8. The end of the free obituary is a symptom of the end of community…from ancient times communities have written down births and deaths for the communal story of the people…
9. Being continually offended takes too much energy for me to bother with anymore…
10. Sometimes I feel foolish because I still have hope…hopefully, that makes me a holy fool…because my hope is in the Eternal God,not a New Year…
Good stuff, Michael.
#1. Fortunately, there are still some who do not think that the divisions are more important.
#4. Please explain. What about one Lord, one faith, one baptism?
#9. Same here
#10. We could start a club of Hopefully Holy Fools! We wouldn’t need to have club meetings so as to accommodate our tendency toward isolation.
#4 is a concession to reality…we used to talk about the synergy of Catholicism with various pagan sects and the result would be something quite different from orthodoxy.
I think we’re seeing that same synergism in other orthodox sects…all of which then become exclusionary to everyone else.
Reading the Word this a.m. had me in Ecclesiastes – wise man observing the same things… It is good that there is included in the Bible one hard nosed look at the world we’re now living in… It is good also that the PhxP doesn’t gloss over how this fallen world operates… But for the grace of God I think we’d have self distracted long ago. We do hope in what is promised and it is good to try and follow the admonition to take life one day at a time while we wait…
So sorry that death visited your world in 3s now Michael … God keep
Y’all are family to me!
That’s how I hope everyone here feels about each other.
We’re glad you’re part of this family…
The older i get, the more broken I know I am and the world is.
Someday, there will be a new heaven and a new earth…
Thanks Michael! That means a lot to me, considering today’s discussions.
Michael, that part of us that is broken will be discarded… one thing that our Lord did not experience was getting old… that used to bother me a bit until I realized that he didn’t need those years of physical decline to become wise…. ?
Time is an interesting ponder… Not too fruitful a ponder, but it is our burden along with our old sin natures… the world has contrived so many coping mechanisms – denial, scepticism, drugs, even pessimism … Christians have hope – a work of God the Holy Spirit … IMHO
# 1 – 1972 was the year for me.
The division back then is what gave permission to the division we see today.
Division and separation are not synonymous terms .. FWIW. ?
Per our conversation earlier:
“Hope is patience with the lamp lit.”
Lutheranism is a tradition which was founded and exists for the purpose of the unity of the church of Christ. The fathers of our tradition went so far as to published a book called the Book of Harmony (or Concord).
Today, my synod includes more than 6,100 individual congregations and more than 35 partner church bodies worldwide, which all share full pulpit and altar fellowship based on the share confessions in the Book of Harmony, which is an exposition of the essential biblical doctrines.
I would like to invite inquires from anyone wishing greater unity in the church of Christ. We welcome all.
Funny, when I was in “fellowship” it was that I was never offended enough at the correct things that got me in trouble. I am serious people were in a constant state of rage at pretty much everything and that was considered spiritual.
#3 was a mainstay for the angry prophet niche market from the mid 70’s when I first became exposed to the evangelical corp.The fact is that rage is manipulated and used to great effect, which justifies doing it no matter what. You cant have a conversation in some circles without being blasted from one end or the other, which is also good because its part of the great winnowing until there are no Christians left to actually be saved. That too is good.
My tradition has 45,000 congregations joined in unity. You are all invited! 🙂
What is your unity in? You have repeatedly told us that SBC congregations are not beholden to any particular denominational doctrines.
It troubles me when our talk of unity (of the Faith) begins to have the tone of those who knock on your door and ask you to come to their fellowship – the only one that truly has the – ahem – true understanding of The Book … and if you dont? Well then you are lost in heresy!
Is that a stand we should take?
Aside from some of the conservative CC, Adventist and ODMs that have appeared here over the years, I haven’t seen any of what your #17 describes show up here recently.
Michael’s thought #3…
I think this is true. I also sometime think we have it “good” here in ‘Murica…when you see full-on brawls, rhubarbs, donneybrooks, whathaveyou…in other nations in their houses of parliament, etc.
I’m not sure of why you’re speechless. Should I call 911?
Dan, I agree. I feel like the cousin who doesn’t come around much but feels welcomed when he does.
I think about a lot of things, but leave them unsaid. A lot to process right now.
I hate watching Leaders sacrifing their followers at the alter of political expediency.
Jean, I am glad that you have not seen any signs of elitist Christianity here – no exclusionist stand by those who contribute wisdom here …. that’s a good thing
It is good to realize that the first things, the key truths of the Faith, God has made so clear that there is just one interpretation are few…
Jean @16 – Jesus.
You should not be speechless. Under the LCMS rules concerning unionism and syncretism, Jean can only be here to evangelize. According to LCMS, others of us who write here (who are not LCMS) are false teachers, to one degree or another. (see https://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=1710) As this blog is in some sense the 21st century equivalent of a “Tract Society” (as the 19th century understood it), it might actually be somewhat of a risk for Jean to participate, apart from evangelism for his particular group, as such participation is strictly prohibited in Art. VI of the LCMS Constitution.
Also, as you describe the blog as being a “Community of Faith”, in which various views are not only tolerated, but respected as well (one where we “agree to disagree”), we perfectly fit the LCMS description of “Unionism” – “Religious unionism consists in joint worship and work of those not united in doctrine. Its essence is an agreement to disagree. In effect, it denies the doctrine of the clearness of Scripture.” (Concordia Cyclopedia, p. 774).
So, again, you should not be speechless.
Well, we see that Duane is still on the attack.
Duane is wrong in his accusations in #25. There are several blogs and podcasts which include different traditions, including Lutherans.
Michael can use the description “community of faith,” but that is not a term of art, so what does it mean? And no one would believe we are a church.
On the positive side, careful attention to not mixing different traditions within a worship service or church is pro-unity because it promotes unity in the congregation. Church is not the Areopagus.
Creating a false dichotomy between unity of doctrine and unity, love or mercy within the body of Christ is not helpful, nor biblical.
No attack, just pointing out the obvious. I’m glad you take the risk…
Duane – you are not being very genuine here. If you use the term evangelize as a synonym for persuade, are you doing the same with your weekly article?
Were you not trying to persuade us to a better life of mercy the other day?
But for the most part we sit around here and have conversation – sometimes heated.
I was referring to Jean’s #13…
I think the basic difference is, I want you to be the best Lutheran you can be. I want Josh to be the most capable and persuasive Baptist he can be. I hope that Xenia is the most devoted Orthodox believer that she can be. And, yes, I want Michael to be the most faithful Anglican he can be. And, yes, I believe that we can agree to disagree with civility and grace…
David H (#22)…I hear ya. I am more of a thinker than a talker/commenter, and its good to feel and know you are noticed and heard/read, even though we don’t participate in many of the discussions here.
I like to talk before I think.
You and I would define “unity” much differently.
We would also disagree on your representation of the LCMS as a beacon of it.
The LCMS comes much closer to defining “sectarian” in my opinion.
That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, just one that makes engagement with others in the greater Body of Christ more difficult.
When I was among the Reformed, we had the OPC which defined itself by strict adherence to the Westminster Confession as the LCMS does to the Book of Concord.
They’re great brethren, but I found it stifling.
My vision for this site (and how I live my life) is much broader than one sect can or will produce.
My theological stance is not that my sect has it all right, but that it reflects my best understanding today.
I might learn something new tomorrow…
Ha! We all have our particular ways of communicating. Wife and I are learning (usually the hard way) to be more upfront with people and each other when necessary.
An honest look at orthodox Christianity has to come to one of three conclusions.
1. Everybody’s right about some things with some error mixed in.
2. One group has it all right and everyone else is wrong.
3. The whole thing is whacked.
I embrace #1…which means that I have to walk in a degree of theological humility and grace toward those who disagree with some tenet of my sect.
I embrace #3 – the whole thing is whacked.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
One of the things I will be censoring here in the future is calling fellow believers “false teachers” or labeling something “false doctrine” simply because it doesn’t match what one group believes.
I have big theological differences with some groups within the pale of orthodoxy…big ones.
We can define those differences without using pejoratives that indicate one is outside the faith.
By “whacked” I meant false…which I don’t think any of us embrace.
Oops. Not false.
By whacked I mean not quite working properly. Yet the Holy Spirit gets the job done through human means… through sinful, fallen, error-prone creatures…
This is a miracle in itself.
“It is characteristic of the Lutheran Church that it does not base its doctrine on any exegesis, not even on the exegesis of Luther, but on the bare words of Scripture, while the Papists and the Reformed in all doctrines in which they differ from the Lutheran Church do not stand on the word of Scripture, but on an “exegesis” of the Pope, Zwingli, Calvin, etc. And modern theology, because of its denial of the inspiration of Scripture, declares openly that it does not stand on the Word of Scripture, but on the so-called “Christian experience.”
“Augustine, Luther, Chemnitz, Gerhard, regard it as a well-established axiom that all Christian doctrines are revealed in passages that need no explanation whatsoever. Augustine: ‘In the clear passages of Scripture everything is found that pertains to faith and life’ [citation omit.]. Chemnitz: ‘Many passages of Scripture are couched in clear and lucid words, which need no far-fetched explanation but explain themselves. Access to these passages is, as Augustine says, open to the learned and the unlearned. And these clear passages of Scripture contain everything pertaining to faith and life.’ “[citation omitted]
Quotations in #39 are taken from Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics I, p.323-24.
“It is characteristic of the Lutheran Church that it does not base its doctrine on any exegesis, not even on the exegesis of Luther, but on the bare words of Scripture,”
Then why the extra book?
“Then why the extra book?”
Doesn’t the LCMS try to “harmonize” the “clear” Biblical teachings of a literal 6 day creation with scientific findings of a very old earth by saying God must have created it to look like a very old / mature earth?
This sounds like reasoning and interpreting outside of what the Bible “clearly” communicates.
Everyone has to use reason to interpret Scripture, don’t they?
I know I’m beneath actual responses, but you get my point, right? The concept is put forward that Lutherans, unlike other Christians, stick to the plain words of Scripture, and not anyone else’s interpretation. But then, the Book of Concord is heavily relied upon in the Lutheran church. I’ve even seen the case made by an LCMS pastor that it is inspired.
The extra books were on rely to scoffing papists, Calvinists and Baptists.
They were also used to educate Robert Barnes to take back to his Anglican church, but the killed him for it. 🙂
Are we also going to follow Pieper that LCMS (in it’s previous and current incarnation) is the one true visible Church of Christ on earth?
Are we also going to go so far as to say that any true Christians in heterodox churches (RCC, Eastern Orthodox, Reformed. etc.) are actually Lutherans, even though they don’t know it?
“Doesn’t the LCMS try to “harmonize” the “clear” Biblical teachings of a literal 6 day creation with scientific findings of a very old earth by saying God must have created it to look like a very old / mature earth?”
Joel, from what I’ve encountered in public discourse, most LCMS Lutherans believe in a young earth, while some believe in an old earth. These claims are inferential, because Scripture does not address the age of the earth.
Eh, I don’t really feel like going down the Lutheran path today, so I’ll just say, I’m glad you guys found a church you like.
I love the Baptist church. I think we are “right” in most areas. However, I could care less if anyone else ever becomes a Baptist. I want people to come to Christ, and if they find a home in a Baptist church, that’s great. If they don’t, there are plenty of faithful options out there.
You can follow who ever you want. What did someone say or do to you in the LCMS that you feel the need to criticize any comment that comes from a Lutheran perspective?
Why don’t you give your perspective on what and why you believe what you believe, without constantly denigrating the LCMS. We never even get to a biblical dialogue because you make it about personalities and church bodies.
Pieper followed Augustine, who you have cited approvingly from time to time. Why don’t you take issue with him?
I came in to the conversation to give a positive plug for the perspicuity of Scripture. If other people think it’s obscure, then fine. But, I thought an argument for perspicuity would be beneficial to anyone reading who may be wondering if there is anything solid to base their faith on.
In fairness Jean, you posted a quote that said Lutherans are biblical and other Christians are not.
An interesting ponder can be spun off of the declaration “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” the earth was without form and void… kind of like everything else we’ve looked out there in space… Do we know when the beginning was? I don’t think so, so let the scientists spend their time trying to find that date… all we need to know is that there was a beginning instigated by God and we certainly have indication in Scripture that there will also be an ending – again by God’s hand
If Pieper is going to be quoted and accepted as an authority in dogmatics, he should be quoted and referenced in full…
Everyone, including you in your #49, believes they’re right. Would someone be a member of a church while admitting that it’s wrong about important doctrine? If one claims to be “right” about a doctrine, then by definition, a contrary doctrine is incorrect.
But, the issue is instead of simply attacking the LCMS, do people believe the bare words of Scripture? If they did, I think we would have far less disagreements. If they don’t, tell us why?
“If they don’t, tell us why?”
Because I really do rely on the bare words of Scripture, and you read it through the lens of Concord.
Right? I mean, if you looked at it with a Baptist “No creed but the bible” perspective, we’d agree on a lot more.
#53, Why? Do you think I have misrepresented him? Few people are going to read hundreds or thousands of words in a comment box. But thanks again for the misdirect.
Duane #53 – why? We can live with he was correct on most topics and wrong on others. Whose line in your tribe do you subscribe to 100%, no exception.
Even with Luther, we are only required to subscribe to his writings in the BoC – other stuff we can judge on its merit.
But I am interested in your go to guru.
Josh at #55,
“Because I really do rely on the bare words of Scripture,”
Okay, what do these words mean:
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal 3:27)
Had to read him… required 🙂
Exactly what they say.
Do Lutherans see it differently?
My patience has now been exhausted.
Now, I’m angry.
Stay tuned for changes.
I think we’re about to come to an understanding.
Sometimes we do go from a give and take discussion here, hoping to be understood, to an intense need to have our posts affirmed…. most of the time that should be a warning to back off and relax a bit … and don’t exhaust the host’s patience for the love of mike… we all do love Michael, don’t we? ?
Em et al,
Yes we all love Mike, and I for one am appreciative of the forum for discussion. I hate that yesterday’s dust-up has spilled into a blog post that isn’t about the LCMS, the Southern Baptist Church, Catholicism, Orthodoxy, etc., and who is right.
This reminds me of a Science Friday radio program I heard back in 1998, and the whole hour was a waste of time because the two people debating the issue of the day couldn’t even agree on a simple definition of a few terms. It’s an hour that I’ll never get back.
I will stand with Michael’s #2 in the original article. I refuse to be forced into either the LCMS or SBC path. #RESIST BOTH OPTIONS
Question for the group: Does the Christianity reflected in the Bible affirm postmodern philosophy?
“While encompassing a broad range of ideas, postmodernism is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony, or rejection toward grand narratives, ideologies, and various tenets of universalism, including objective notions of reason, human nature, social progress, moral universalism, absolute truth, and objective reality. Instead, postmodern thinkers may assert that claims to knowledge and truth are products of social, historical or political discourses or interpretations, and are therefore contextual or socially constructed. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized by tendencies to epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, irreverence, and self-referentiality.”
EricK – I don’t know that is the question or option. I think it comes down to what do you do with christian groups you genuinely think are wrong? Do you cut off fellowship or just use the slogan “we all see through a glass darkly”?
I have an appointment…but this damn sure better not be heading where I think it is…
Oh really… next it will be the Flat Earth Society…
Sorry, but this is just silly.
Would you call taking into account when and how Scripture was written “Post Modern Thought”?
For instance, taking the Creation story in Genesis as “poem truth” rather than scientific truth?
What about being able to discern the historical context of Paul when he writes that women should wear head coverings in First Corinthians Eleven?
MLD @67, is the group “wrong” or do you simply not agree with some of their stances? Is there a difference between fundamental doctrines of the faith and secondary or even tertiary beliefs and practices? Are you willing to compromise on what is orthopraxy or must that be as hard-line as doctrine?
I’m certainly getting a better understanding of the LCMS stance on things from both you and Jean.
EricL, I will give you an example. The standard here seems to be you are an orthodox christian. / christian group if you can confess the creeds. What see in many cases, folks with what you call secondary doctrine fail in those areas by denying the very tenants they confess in the creeds.
So here is my example – Israel – secondary issue? What if you are John Hagee and you not only deny, but forcefully proclaim that Israel does not need Jesus because they they have their own eternal covenant with God.
My only question is what do you do? Jean and I have been very open that we could not fellowship with such teaching, even though they may be under the umbrella of orthodoxy.
How about you?
What I’m trying to get a handle on is the new etiquette of the blog. So I ask: When 3 or 4 interpretations of a passage are given by different people, are we supposed to debate and discuss with the objective of finding consensus in the truth, or is the term “truth” exclusionary so that we should leave it at “what’s true for me,” or is the concept of truth illusory to begin with.
But, whatever the decision is, I will accept, but I ask that the same standard be applied to everyone.
I understand your frustration and impatience. I too, like you, was a calvinist. For a long time and a hard-nosed, conservative one. Every mole hill was armageddon to me. You didn’t believe in double-predestination, you didn’t have the gospel; you were not saved. You didn’t affirm a literal seven-day creation, what else didn’t you affirm.
Then, I realized WE all play games with scripture and other people. Sure, we affirm seven-day creation, but we claim Jesus was speaking metaphorically about plucking an eye out for adultery, even when he reaffirms it about cutting a hand off.
I also realized that many of the letters Paul wrote were to a specific church, but we make everything applicable to us, except head coverings or women not speaking.
Anyway, I am not a full-blown Rob Bell supporter, but lurking here for a ling time and reading the last couple of weeks, I am reminded that God can save people out of all sorts of things.
I cling to Romans 10:9 for anyone’s salvation. Of course, my old self would say that only if yo understand everything about salvation, including predestination, et al, you are not saved.
You can all call me a heretic, but I am tired of turning my faith and sharing of the Gospel into a lecture or a list of checkoffs for the one I am trying to reach.
To often that is what we want or we want to be right or in charge. God has got this and I feel that many of us are going to be surprised at just how many make it to Heaven.
Look, the gospel is good news. We should be the happiest people on earth and yet we make our faith miserable to each other and to the unbelieving world. Heck, if I wasn’t a believer what would attract me to listening to many of us here yammer on and on about the minutiae. Where is the joy in that? Where is the love.
The gospel is not a seminary final exam. IT IS THE GREATEST NEWS EVER AND MOST OF THE TIME WE KILL THE JOY OF THAT NEWS!!!
I am sorry Michael, but it really breaks my heart. Denominations and evangelicalism has had too great of an influence for far too long of a time in this country and While God has done an incredible work, we are not doing our part. I have not been a faithful witness.
Forgive my rant, but this is near and dear to my heart. When I read articles that have R.C. Sproul quoted as saying we will rejoice in Heaven over the damned, I am just disgusted. That make God a liar. He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Alas, I digress. Forgive me. Time to step away.
I am not home, but will respond in full when I get there.
Hopefully, I will calm down before I get there.
OC Dan … I hope you’ll stay.
Just some musings here:
Let us say for purposes of discussion the definition and boundaries of Christian orthodoxy are set by the Creeds.
To use a sports analogy, perhaps Christian orthodoxy is like college football. And like college football, we are fans of various teams. And like college football, some fans of teams tend to overreact and tend think that fans of other teams are not “real fans”.
There is nothing with talking sports teams, just realize that we all like the sport and are fans of it.
I truly love this blog. I so relate to your walk these last few years. I am now in a season where I want to hear the good news. I am tired of 44 minutes of hell and worthlessness and doing more and being better and then 32 seconds of Jesus loves you amen.
I want to be reminded that I sin, but I want to hear that it is forgiven. My family was unable to make Christmas Eve service this year. Our daughter was sick with a cold, so we stayed home. To have a service at home I played a Christmas service and an convention sermon by Steve Brown (off youtube), who I really appreciate and thank you for sharing a year or so ago. My kids and wife were amazed and loved his preaching. I was in tears, even as I write this, about how we sin, but we are forgiven.
See, that’s the problem we always look back and we hit everyone and everything over the head with that. While I know we are a family, even on this blog, we have MLD saying he couldn’t fellowship with some. Look, I am not a pentacostal, but I think I could survive a service. OK, not Benny Hinn, but I tire of the fighting. I just don’t think Jesus had all this in mind when praying for unity and Paul telling us to test everything.
Just in case, anyone want the link about Sproul: Here is how RC Sproul answers this:
I recommend skipping to just the last few minutes. In his conclusion he states that when we are in heaven we will rejoice in the judgement of the reprobate, even if they were loves ones.
Anyway, I love this blog. I def. will be staying. I just don’t comment a lot. However, I am fascinated by what gets written here by you and in the comments.
I like the analogy. But as with sports, the problem is that some fans get really fired up and violent about their team. And remember with sports the idea at least in college is to win, so the Catholics have to beat the Lutherans, which have to beat the pentacostals, which have to beat the Baptists.
On and on it goes.
Come Lord, come!
I think that the football analogy breaks down. Its not about the fans and what they do. All football teams are identical, play the same game and under the same rules. A football team is not allowed to just make up their own rule or increase their battle armour. They even need to follow strict rules in evangelizing (recruiting) new players. There are a 1/2 dozen seminary trained experts (referees) on the field to determine if the boundaries are being followed.
Today’s Christianity, not so much.
MLD @72, last Friday I had dinner with a group of folks who are far from Jesus: 1) a man and his wife who renounced the Christian faith to become orthodox Jews, 2) a CC Bible College grad who wandered off for a time and has kind of come back but is now married to a Jehovah’s Witness, and 3) his brother who had so many awful experiences in church life that he doubts he and his family will ever become church attenders/ members again.
All three men have been my friends for over 20 years. I do not agree with many of their beliefs, as disparate as they are, but neither have I stopped being their friend. They know that. I don’t fellowship with their teachings; I fellowship with them as friends.
If you are asking whether I would sit under the teachings of someone like John Hagee, no I would not. Would I call out someone who I felt was in serious error? Yes, I do so as the opportunity arises, but I try to do so cautiously and with humility, knowing that I certainly do not have all the answers. Not even my faith community is so arrogant as to claim to have all the truths perfectly understood.
A couple statements in the posts are not quite clear… those who think that the nation of Israel still has a prophesied future in God’s plan do not exclude Jesus as Savior from their past, present or future… don’t know what Hagee is teaching, but it would be bizarre if it is what MLD stated up there
And none of the discussions here require a consensus on order to be worthwhile…
nor does anyone that I’ve read here declare that truth molds to comfort zones of relativity
truth is an anchor for exploration and discovery – like the shepherd’s rod and staff, it defines boundaries however… one cannot go off road dragging truth along with them, i.e., I don’t understand the Triune doctrine, therefore I reject Jesus as God
Or do it seems to me. …. dunno, tho, do i?
For my part, I would call your approach, “wisdom”…
In a sense the boundaries of orthodoxy as I had posited earlier defines the rules.
But how a team executes the plays and how they perform within those constraints and their style of play (SEC Fun and Gun,the relentless ground game, etc.) is a different question.
EricL go out to dinner, coffee a ballgame or being best friends is not what I am talking about – not date night, but actual worship fellowship.
Lutherans are not into shunning.
I just drove through your town yesterday on my way to the OC to pick up several of my grandkids to spend New Years with us in AZ. I should have looked you up and we could have had coffee fellowship. 🙂
The football analogy is an easy one… you’ve got the team’s (us) out there struggling up and down the field and the pastors and teachers are the guys in the striped shirts with the whistled. ?
MLD, I would gladly sit down with you for a chat, even if you are a California deserter.
Enjoy the grandkids and the good weather out in the desert wilderness.
In the middle part of the month of July in 1958 I was baptized in the waters of Crater Lake by a Pentecostal.
Pentecostals don’t baptize infants, let alone hike a mile and a quarter down the face of a volcano to do so.
No other infant in the family history had been baptized at all and none of my siblings were after.
No one can explain any of this story except to say that it happened and the pastor in question was the godliest man any of them had known.
Thirty some years later, I was nursed off a bottle of Bacardi and back into the faith by an Assembly of God preacher…who had been raised up into the ministry by the man who baptized me.
I was given a theological education by a number of Reformed men and women who saw more in me than I did.
I joined their tribe for a long season.
Now, I’m an Anglican who receives spiritual oversight, training, and wisdom from a Calvary Chapel pastor and an Anglo-Catholic priest.
I have read broadly and with with great profit from all corners of the catholic church.
The Catholic one too… 🙂
And the East…
This blog has always welcomed all orthodox believers to share their lives and faith.
I am that foulest of words to some…ecumenical.
We will not reach consensus on all matters of doctrine and practice…twenty some thousand different Protestant denominations attest to that fact.
If you think your sect has it all down, then God bless you I guess…but I have no problem saying I might be wrong about a lot of things.
I’m still listening and learning and growing and thinking and I’m free to do so because Christ has saved me and He will keep me.
I don’t have to be right about much more than the person and work of Jesus.
If that makes me a false teacher and a purveyor of false doctrine in your eyes, I’m ok with that.
I’m not ok with any one of our readers being accused of either.
I won’t tolerate it.
There are few things uglier in Christianity than certainty without humility.
In conclusion, we will all act in accord with my vision of what this site should be or our number will drop quickly and without further warning.
My hope is that we will choose to respect and love each other despite our differences…and maybe learn something along the way.
I’ll take questions if further clarity is needed.
Well said, Michael. Thank you for creating and maintaining this community. You’ve done well, my friend.
You even let us Californians onto your site, even though my kind are known for invading your fair Oregon with our uncouth California ways. If that’s not love and forbearance, I don’t know what is. 🙂
Thanks EricL…even though those close to me know that I’m less irenic with Californians than other faith expressions… 🙂
“There are few things uglier in Christianity than certainty without humility.”
Love the avatar EricL!
“Question for the group: Does the Christianity reflected in the Bible affirm postmodern philosophy?”
First off, this is asking a question the text obviously doesn’t deal with.
Secondly, the unspoken assumption in the question is that unless one reaches the same conclusions about the body of the text that you do one is practicing postmodern exegesis.
That is neither gracious, nor fair as there is and has been much doctrinal diversity in the church catholic…to say nothing of the fact that doctrines develop over time.
The Holy Spirit has filled teachers in every sect…so we all agree on the essentials…when we agree on what the essentials are.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Well done, Kevin…
Well done, Michael…
Thank you, Duane…
Postmodernism. I have a friend who is a Lutheran pastor who is quite fond of Heidegger. We enjoy having lunch and talking philosophy and its influence on the church.
Nietzsche grew up in a Lutheran home, his father being a Lutheran pastor. I see some of his writings as a severe indictment of modernism, which incidentally, had it own form of deconstructionist thinking toward some of the ancients.
“How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? ” The Parable of a Madman, THE Gay Science, Nietzsche.
I always come late for the food fight
Well, for what it’s worth (prob not much), my thoughts are as follows. And they are long so feel free to completely ignore me. 🙂
All of us as believers as we walk along on this planet are basically trying to figure out what’s true and real and how to live this life. Along this journey, some go (or stay in) one direction, some go another. Some go to the Lutheran camp. Some the Baptist. Some the Pentecostal or charismatic realm. Some the EO. Some people start one place and end up somewhere else, sometimes after stopping at many other stops. Some people along the way in thinking they’ve figured things out, close themselves off from ever considering anything else.
I don’t have a problem with someone who wants to identify more with a specific group because they believe they are “closest” to reality/understanding the Scriptures best.
My issue has long always been that there are MANY MANY people who identify so strongly with their denomination that honestly they seem to identify more with it than with Christ. I do not mean this as a personal attack on MLD (tho I suppose it shall kind of seem like it), but I’m just being straight-up honest that even when I see a name from someone like “Martin Luther’s Disciple”, it kinda puts me off. I get that MLD likes Martin Luther. And I can like and even deeply admire any number of figures throughout church history, but I don’t identify as a disciple of Martin Luther. I identify as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Again, I’m not trying to make this a personal attack against MLD and I understand he prob just wants to communicate his love for Luther, but it’s the underlying messaging in those types of things that bother me.
Jean above more-or-less says that they (LCMS) only are concerned with Scripture. The problem of course is that that assumes that we all read Scripture exactly the same way, all understand every Scripture and have all appropriately balanced all Scriptures with each other to come up with a complete view. That’s quite an assumption. I know there’s plenty of Scriptures I feel like I at least somewhat understand now that I didn’t understand 20 years ago. And just as a sidenote to Jean’s statement: I actually chuckled when I read that about Lutherans just wanting to focus solely on what Scripture says. I was in LCMS circles for years and they are focused a LOT on what LUTHER or previous church leadership interpreted the Scriptures to say…Goodness, their pastors are given their sermons to preach direct from headquarters with the “appropriate talking points and interpretations”… Even reading that link to the LCMS document that Duane linked to in #25 and you won’t find them making their case from Scripture nearly as much as they spend pages and pages quoting German text and analyzing the translation of German text of various councils or whatnot to try to figure out what they are going to put forth for their position paper. Why aren’t they just going solely to Scripture alone to make their case? Answer: they can’t do that for fear that they might actually come to a different conclusion than what their church forefathers posited hundreds of years ago. That’s the honest truth and everyone here knows it…
MLD says about John Hagee (a man who probably is not loved by too many around here and I won’t defend all of his beliefs, but which I will say EMPHATICALLY that the Lord has used to minister to me significantly on more than one occasion), that he could not “fellowship with such teaching”, which I presume from other comments means he couldn’t fellowship in worship with the man himself (correct me if I’m wrong MLD).
MLD asks the right question: “I think it comes down to what do you do with christian groups you genuinely think are wrong?”
The answer is easy. If they are a Christian group, then even if one thinks they are wrong, one can acknowledge they are your brothers and sisters in Jesus. We don’t have to agree with every teaching of every believer to have a common fellowship with others through the blood of Jesus.
If someone is my brother or sister in the Lord, then they are my family in Jesus and I can fellowship with them REGARDLESS of what they might believe about infant baptism or communion elements or end times prophecy or whatever. I can think they are wrong on some of their understandings, but I can still have a degree of Christian fellowship with them. I have no problem standing beside them and worshiping with them.
If we’re family in Jesus and Jesus has accepted them as His own then I have NO RIGHT before Jesus to say that “they aren’t good enough” for me to worship Him with.
I’ve heard an awful lot of pastors and teachers in a whole lot of different “tribes” and I have yet to find one that I 100% agreed with. But when one approaches people they might disagree with as “I’m going to look for the good and just discard the bad”, it frees you up. It also allows you to be open to hearing things and receiving things you otherwise might not have even been willing to consider. And in that process, God has used plenty of people to speak His truth to me and give me understanding on things (yes, even John Hagee).
The problem is when people so identify with their group that they can’t do that, that they can’t even consider what someone else outside of their niche group is saying because they must just not know anything since they aren’t in your tribe. (Or out of fear because after all they could lead you astray).
Jean asked in #73: “What I’m trying to get a handle on is the new etiquette of the blog. So I ask: When 3 or 4 interpretations of a passage are given by different people, are we supposed to debate and discuss with the objective of finding consensus in the truth, or is the term ‘truth’ exclusionary so that we should leave it at ‘what’s true for me,’ or is the concept of truth illusory to begin with.”
The problem is, with all due respect, many people aren’t interested in “debate and discuss with the objective of finding consensus in the truth” – they are only interested in towing their denominational line. I’ve been reading here a long time (8 years I think). And again, while I have grown to have a certain love and fondness for MLD, I can honestly say that I don’t think in 8 years I’ve ever seen him (or Jean for that matter) ever concede anything different from their denominational line (might have happened and I just didn’t see). Again, I’m not really trying to attack MLD or Jean or Lutherans, but it’s just too obvious an example on this site – MLD is one of the most prolific discussers/posters on this site and he sometimes brings up really good points or asks totally legit questions. But with all that theological discussion over the years, I’ve never really gotten the impression that he or some others here are really all that interested in using this forum to “debate and discuss with the objective of finding consensus in the truth” but rather just to defend and put forth their theology at all costs. That could be totally unfair of me, but it’s just the impression I’ve gotten (rightly or wrongly).
Most of you know that I don’t post often here. One of the honest reasons for that (of several) is that it often just seems a waste of time. Everyone throws out their “opinion” and wants to defend their opinion to the death. Far too often the vibe has NOT BEEN “we’re all here to debate and discuss with each other that we might be more enlightened or learn more in Jesus and maybe consider views we hadn’t considered,” but more “we’re here to debate and discuss for the sake of debating and discussing and telling everyone what we think so they will no longer be heathens and come join us in our tribe.” There’s a big difference. One comes with an attitude of humility. One comes with an attitude of pride. That’s all a harsh blanket statement and it is NOT true of the whole site or every poster and I could even be largely wrong. And I realize as a mostly non-poster perhaps my opinion doesn’t hold much weight, but that’s just my take.
There’s nothing wrong with believing the way your group believes on things is most accurate. But when one really truly thinks that their group has everything 100% down and everyone else is off base, then it’s really hard to have fruitful dialogue with such people. One can believe their group is right on a position and debate from that position, but if they go into it not even allowing for the possibility that maybe they don’t fully understand everything, then what is the point really?
The longer I walk with Jesus, the less certain I am about a lot of things. As a young believer, I thought I knew it all. Then Jesus showed me I actually didn’t. We’re all a bunch of really messed up people and none of us silly humans (including Martin Luther) have figured it all out perfectly. Having a degree of humility in recognizing that and being willing to at least entertain the idea that our tribe could be wrong on something and that another tribe might actually be right can go a long way. Just my take.
I say AMEN to Kevin H’s #92!
Love & humility are where it’s at.
So glad that you took the time and effort to post this. It is a very fine reflection. I remember an old theology professor who always said, “We’re better in what we affirm than in what we deny”. I’ve always tried to remember that…
Chris, good post.
As to my name it was something I chose back in 2006 when I came here. I thought it would distinguish me from the 100s of others posting here. You will rarely see me quote Luther.
But I think you miss how this usually plays out. I will say something like the bible says, baptism saves, or that you are saved and receive the holy spirit through your baptism, and people become agitated. Note, I never (and I do mean never) say that the Book of Concord says baptism saves. At the same time when I say, Jesus tells us in the Bible that the bread and wine are his actual body and blood and that he gives it to us for a particular purpose – I never say the Book of Concord says — but people get agitated and say , “that is just your denominational take.” In these cases I agree and that goes back to Jean’s point of we try to look at just the bare bones in scriptures as our denominational ‘take’.
Most arguments against those bare bones meanings come out of Platonic or Aristotelian thought brought in by the church.
My point about about John Hagee, and he is just one example, is I think he may be denying the person and work of Jesus Christ by suggesting that the Jews do not need Jesus – which would put him outside of orthodox Christianity. But the larger point is when do you say, “you know what, I just cannot take communion with you – I love you etc.” If I go with an old high school buddy to his CC, and I do 3 or 4 times a year, if they serve communion , I just let it pass, no one takes offence – actually I get more funny looks when I cross myself at various points. :-).
I appreciate your feedback, Chris, really I do!
I would like to reply to a couple of your comments:
“The problem is, with all due respect, many people aren’t interested in “debate and discuss with the objective of finding consensus in the truth” – they are only interested in towing their denominational line.”
I understand that the majority of MLD’s Christian life was spent as either SBC or CC. I converted from Wesleyan to Lutheran in large measure through dialogue and relationships developed on this blog. I read and listen to theologians from a variety of traditions and constantly challenge my own assumptions and those of my church. I run every article I right through multiple perspectives to minimize the potential for error.
Even though in the heat of debate one may appear (even to himself) to be inflexible, his thoughts may provoke further investigation at a later time. Sometimes one has to hear the same thing multiple times or from multiple people before it begins to sink in.
I see some analogy between some people’s lack of trust in the veracity of Scripture and some other people’s lack of trust in the clarity of Scripture. Either situation is not a spiritually healthy place to rest in.
Let’s take for example how one reads the promises and warnings in Scripture. You won’t find a doctrine of eternal security set forth in the ecumenical creeds. To some people this doctrine is essential to others it’s not.
There are various doctrines: (1) the warnings are hypothetical; (2) the warnings are only for the unconverted; (3) the warnings only concern temporal death, not eternal salvation; (4) the warnings are for Christians and include eternal salvation; (5) similar to (2), the warnings describe folks who called themselves Christians but never truly were.
One may believe that he can separate this doctrine from the doctrines of God and Redemption in Christ. But others can’t separate these doctrines so easily and see that these differences in doctrines (even ones not addressed in Creeds) give one a different faith, a different liturgy, worship of a different Jesus.
Therefore, discussion can be passionate. The only way I see around the debates is (1) homogenize the blog readership; (2) eliminate comments; or (3) end theological articles. If I had a vote (which I don’t) I would like to see robust discussions centered on the text of Scripture and not denominational bodies or individual personalities.
I would advocate for having the objective of seeking the truth and mutual building up of Christians, not grandstanding, tearing down individuals, or sowing doubts about the veracity of Scripture or its clarity. If there is a problem with understanding Scripture, I think we should place the blame on the “me” and not on God. However, with mutual goodwill, we should be able to help each other find more truth and confidence in the mysteries of God’s plan for mankind which He revealed through sending His Son into the world to save us from our sins.
If I have been part of the problem, I am willing to be part of the solution. I do not direct any of the above comments to anyone in particular and do not disassociate myself from the critique.
“Let’s take for example how one reads the promises and warnings in Scripture.”
Because if we do, it obliterates your insults about those who “lack trust in the veracity and clarity of Scripture”.
The issue is that the trustworthy and clear Scriptures appear to say two different things on the topic.
There are warning passages.
There are other passages that seem to guarantee perseverance.
Thus, we don’t have clarity, we have a tension.
Some folks emphasize one set of passages, so folks the other in an attempt to resolve that tension..
Some of us embrace that tension without feeling the need to resolve it.
Those tensions exist around almost every secondary doctrine people debate over.
It’s not that people are “unbiblical” it’s that they put greater weight on one side of the tensions than someone else.
The “text of Scripture” can support both sides…and sometimes more.
“The only way I see around the debates is (1) homogenize the blog readership; (2) eliminate comments; or (3) end theological articles. ”
There is a fourth option, which is the one we will take.
That being we will engage these discussions with a respectful and irenic spirit with humility.
If diversity of opinion offends someones religious sensibilities then this is not the place for them.
“Most arguments against those bare bones meanings come out of Platonic or Aristotelian thought brought in by the church.”
I don’t think so.
“One may believe that he can separate this doctrine from the doctrines of God and Redemption in Christ. But others can’t separate these doctrines so easily and see that these differences in doctrines (even ones not addressed in Creeds) give one a different faith, a different liturgy, worship of a different Jesus.”
I believe in the perseverance of the saints.
Do I now worship a different Jesus than you?
Michael – this is why you need to be a Lutheran 😉
“There are warning passages.
There are other passages that seem to guarantee perseverance.”
This is why the solution is the proper distinction of law and gospel. These do not need to live in tension – it all goes to who you are speaking to. If speaking to the proud boastful self righteous, you go right to the warning passage. If you are speaking to the downcast, broken self acknowledged sinners looking for hope, you go to the promises.
One with no hermeneutic towards the proper distinction, lives in tension whereas God’s purpose was to be speaking to separate groups at separate times.
See how Jesus speaks to his Church in Rev 2 & 3 (oh yeah, we will get there in a couple of weeks.) 🙂
“Do I now worship a different Jesus than you?”
From my perspective, no, but a different Gospel. From the perspective of those who believe in eternal security, Arminians and Lutherans have been on the receiving end of the following comments:
(1) “Your God is small”
(2) “You are calling God a liar”
(3) “God doesn’t change His mind”
In other words, on the issue of eternal security I have witnessed more energy from its proponents in condemning others than the other way around. (1)-(3) implicitly claim a different God is believed in. But I haven’t ever read you saying such a thing.
Regarding the issue of a different Gospel, you know I believe in justification sola fide, so you should not be surprised if I believe that “faith” is a critical component.
By the same token, I have no reason to reject the authenticity of the prior faith of everyone who falls away.
You just accused a man who has been in Christian ministry for twenty five years of preaching a different Gospel.
According to St. Paul, that puts me outside the faith.
I’ll give a few moments for you to clarify that…
All your distinction does is create one way to resolve some tensions.
It creates others…
I didn’t mean it in the judgmental way Paul said that. I just meant it as a doctrinal formula. In other words, I don’t believe that anyone who believes in eternal security is on account of that belief not a Christian or preaching heresy.
I don’t believe in eternal security.
I believe in the perseverance of the saints.
Two different doctrines.
I was utterly unaware that the Good News of the Gospel included the threat of losing ones salvation…
For the record, I have many, many friends from the PhxP on facebook. I’ve only ever had to block one of them.
“Michael – this is why you need to be a Lutheran ?”
At this juncture, there’s a better chance of me becoming a Hindu.
I get my Plato and my Aristotle mixed up at times, but much of Christian thought has been tinged with Aristotelian influences. This even goes back to putting reason above scriptures or at least pitting reason against scripture.
My go to example is that the reason that the body and blood cannot be contained in the bread and wine is the Aristotelian slogan, the infinite cannot be contained in the finite.
“At this juncture, there’s a better chance of me becoming a Hindu.”
As long as we are just having fun and joking around, my comeback would be – “that is clear by the spiritual path you are on lately.” — in a jovial kind of way. 😉
“My go to example is that the reason that the body and blood cannot be contained in the bread and wine is the Aristotelian slogan, the infinite cannot be contained in the finite.”
When is some argument over the Eucharist not your example?
There are other reasons why people reject the real presence…I don’t agree with them,but my guess is that most of them think Aristotle is the name of the neighbors cat…
“I was utterly unaware that the Good News of the Gospel included the threat of losing ones salvation…”
You asked earlier for irenic conversation. I second your desire.
Sorry, but you’ve got it wrong on almost every point… Have you actually read Aquinas… or Aristotle… or Plato… or the neo-Platonists of Alexandria, which included a number of Church Fathers?
“When is some argument over the Eucharist not your example?”
When it is baptism.
Once we start accusing people of being unbiblical and preaching a different Gospel the potential for irenic discussion pretty much disappears.
Basically what is being said is that unless one adopts the 16th century formulations of one group you are outside the true faith.
I cannot and will not let that stand.
I stand corrected. 🙂
Was my clarification in #109 unsatisfactory?
Duane – I have read a little Aquinas (but I am sure unlike you I have not read all 3 billion pages.)
Look, you are a functional Roman Catholic and you guys love Aristotelian thought mingled with your scriptures – good for you, a billion Roman Catholics can’t be wrong.. I am just pointing out it’s problems in misreading the scriptures.
And in the new spirit of this blog, you are not allowed to tell me I am wrong – the best you can say is you hold a different view.
I have theological differences with many here.
I would never…and I mean never…accuse them of promoting a different Gospel.
You know damn well that historically that is the theological equivalent of declaring someone a heretic.
You’ve obviously read very little. I’ve always found it helpful to actually read material before commenting on what it says or does not say…
I actually have high regard for much in the Roman Catholic tradition… as did the writers of the Augsburg Confession.
How can I make it right with you? I’m a pretty straight shooter, which may be a fault. I told you what I meant and I believe that. I will add that I’m sorry for using a term, which Paul used for a much more serious indictment.
I think you have to accept that according to both MLD and Jean we are “false teachers”… at least according to their “lights”.
Now, as one “false teacher” to another, I still feel blessed from our conversation yesterday about praying with people at the point of death; taking the Eucharist to the ill and homebound; the pastoral approach taken when the death of a child is involved; saying the daily office; approaches to hospital visitation…
Duane, now you are playing the theological cry baby – I never have accused anyone of being a false teacher. – well perhaps your buddy John Hagee.
So, an apology would probably be in order.
I trust that no one is delighting in the acrimony of others nor purposely throwing gasoline on a fire. I would hope that when one brother hurts all brothers hurt.
This is pointless.
Let us conclude that the LCMS and it’s representatives believe they alone are the one true church and in it alone is the true doctrine of the faith.
Let us be thankful that they prefer to keep to themselves.
We all can glean much from Lutheranism despite this as we can from all our brethren in orthodoxy.
I enjoyed it as well…and more importantly, feel much more equipped to minister in those situations than I did before.
Your time will bear fruit…
When academic and theological terms are thrown about without reference to what they actually mean, a response in merited. Additionally, I think when phrases like “another Gospel” are used in a reckless manner, especially toward one who is a friend whom I know to have a deep and abiding spirituality and pastoral gifts, a response is merited… especially in this case.
As to John Hagee, apart from his reputation, I know nothing about him… I don’t hang in fundamentalist circles…
I grew up in the old LCA of course I then spent 25 years with the SBC and now nondenominational charismatic when my father died in 2002 my mother had shifted to a Lutheran church affiliated with the Missouri Synod. Bless her heart she was oblivious to the separatism of her new Lutheranism. They Lutheran pastor was not allowed to participate in my father’s service because I officiated it. The man himself was very kind and available but the institution he served forbad him.
No one came out of the matter scarred or stained but it does show the severity of what Michael is pointing out,
On the other hand I could not imagine this blog without our Lutheran brethren and their keen eye and normally welcoming spirit.
Just a note on what Michael said about perseverance of the saints. I love the new and nuanced parsing that you have discovered in your Anglicanism and I think it serves you well.
I would actually argue however that I have no problem whatsoever with the security of a believer. It is the unbelieving former believer that has no security nor frankly any use for it.
Anyway– for my money these discussions are good but I do not follow them as carefully or as timely as I once did.
Michael – even if we thought we were the one true church, which I don’t think we have made the claim, that still does not mean that we would consider others ‘not church’
Our point is that varying doctrines are divisive and disruptive to a worship community.
Now, because she is nicer than us you don’t seem to object – but Xenia’s position is exactly ours.
We miss you…and always appreciate it when you do contribute.
Anglicans are big on nuance… 🙂
You still have enough of the Lutheran in you – “I would actually argue however that I have no problem whatsoever with the security of a believer. It is the unbelieving former believer that has no security nor frankly any use for it.”
This is our position – you cannot sin your way out of your salvation, but you can stop believing and when you get to the point od dispising the faith, you are gone.
MLD, not exactly the same.
We actually do believe we are the One True Church, the very Church founded by Jesus Christ.
However, we don’t know the extent of this Church. We know where it is but we can’t say where it isn’t.
Xenia is one of my very favorite people and all this is her fault. 🙂
You see Xenia has been here longer than anyone else.
She was my online friend before there was a PhxP.
She converted to Orthodoxy.
Now, as someone who subscribed to the Westminster Confession of Faith (the Calvinist version of the Lutheran confessions) this was not a good thing.
Reformed folks believe that Roman Catholics and Orthodox do indeed preach a “false gospel.”
We believed they must be “converted”.
Anyone who has any sort of relationship with Xenia knows she’s as ‘converted” as it gets already.
She knows Jesus better than I do.
Thus, there was cognitive dissonance between what was written in confessional stone and what was lived out in front of me
I concluded that Jesus was at home in places Calvinists weren’t.
Maybe I’d better be too.
End of story.
Thank you, Michael.
Although this —> (She knows Jesus better than I do.) probably isn’t true.
Yes, it is…and I’m so thankful for it.
You have been a spiritual mentor for me in ways you’ll never know until we all get home.
A little history….
I remember I was trying to decide if I was really going to make this huge decision that was going to alienate all my friends and almost certainly get me fired from my job. Those were the days when I would literally come to the crossroad in town and wonder if I should turn right (westerly) towards my old Calvary Chapel or turn left (easterly) towards the Greek church. My car, apparently guided by the Holy Spirit, always wanted to make that left-hand turn. I think I was in the middle of all this when I ran into Michael’s Yahoo Group, I think it was, which was a place for people to discuss issues with Calvary Chapel. Then Michael began this blog and I called myself “Severe Mercy” back then, which sounds utterly pompous now. Then I began to feel like I was hiding behind a pseudonym while I was saying some pretty harsh things about CC so I called myself by my legal name “Diane Moos” for a while for the sake of transparency. Then I went to “Xenia,” which is the name I got when I was received into Holy Orthodoxy and is the name everyone in real life knows me by, except for those who call me “Mom” or “Grandma.”
Did you choose your name? Just curious as I am a great devotee of St. Xenia…
Duane, yes, I chose St. Xenia of St. Petersburg. The Greek parish I joined had never heard of her as their Greek Menaion was mostly Middle Eastern Saints but they were happy to learn about her and they even got her icon and hung it up.
Yes, as I think I mentioned to you, my wife were involved for some years with the first charitable hospital in St. Petersburg after the dissolution of the USSR. It was dedicated to St. Xenia. We had to get used to the Russian pronunciation with the “Ks”… There is still great devotion to her there…
I get “ks” at my Russian parish.
The thing is we always want to paint people (or denominations) as black or white. Thus if there’s a pastor that preaches something that we disagree with, all of a sudden they are a false teacher from whom we can learn nothing. The truth is that ALL OF US are right on some things and wrong on others. Now some might be much more right than others in the final analysis. But we all have things we will discover (and maybe already have as we’ve lived life a bit) that we were wrong about.
Thus, with that backdrop of understanding, I am really careful throwing around the “false teacher” or “different Gospel” or “heretic” labels just because a person might espouse a view that I disagree with. I’m not kidding when one of the best changes I ever made in my life was making a core decision to “accept the good, discard the bad” when dealing with people. That allows me to not be such an ass (mostly HAHAHA). It allows me to listen to someone with an open mind with the Holy Spirit (in concert with the Word) to guide me and confirm things that are true and things that aren’t. In adopting that approach, I have found much gold even among those with whom I might have a theological disagreement on some points. I’ve also found that as I’ve done that that God has used such people to even completely turn some of what I thought completely on its head and has given me a broader perspective. Many people adopt the same approach with this stuff that they do politcs tho: they hear one or two things they don’t like and they completely dismiss the other person completely and never even be willing to consider that though they might be wrong on some things, they might be right on a few too.
You know what? John Hagee might be a staunch Israel supporter and big on end-times stuff (tho for the record, I’m pretty sure Hagee clarified that he didn’t mean what MLD thought he meant regarding Jews’ salvation when that dustup happened many years ago) and one of those preachers that likes to interweave a lot of American nationalism with his message, but he’s also preached some really good stuff. He greatly encouraged me more than once when I was at some really low points.
Beyond Hagee, I could really ruffle some feathers by bringing up the name Joel Osteen, who I’m sure many here would consider a false teacher. Perhaps there are issues (I’m not really trying to get into an Osteen argument/defense), but I will tell you this: There have been points where I was so low and discouraged and feeling like my life had no purpose and God used messages from that man with his big old smile to pull me out of that pit and encourage me and give me a vision for going forward. I mean times where literally God had my number and used that man to clearly minister to me. Maybe many of his messages are focussed on you being blessed and seemingly making it all about you. I’ve heard several messages from him, and they all largely seem to be the same basic message with a little different spin. But there are times in life when that’s maybe not such a bad message to hear. I’m not saying there might not be some significant theological issues, but I’m also going to be really careful in just broad-brushing someone as being a tool of the devil etc.
Now sure there are people that can be so off theologically that it’s just not really profitable to hear out or who constantly beat one specific drum that’s off-base so often that it makes it near impossible to even attempt to see what else they might have to say. There are a few people that I would be willing to say are false teachers or certainly “false teachers in certain areas”. But even in that, I would want to do so in great humility and with an understanding that I could be off too. I personally am not willing to beat the false-teacher drum nearly as often as some others might.
These black and white boxes we force people into (like Rick Warren, Hagee, etc.) don’t really allow for the possibility that while they could be wrong on some things, they could be really right on some things too. I have found it SO SO FREEING to stop playing the black-and-white game and taking things so seriously and instead just take the good from someone and throw out the bad, without feeling a need to jump all over and attack the bad. It’s such a more joyful way to live IMHO.
We do the same thing in broader terms with our different tribes. It’s all US-VERSUS-THEM stuff. We get so hung up on theological debates that we like to use to draw lines between us. Thus we focus on things like whether the communion elements are actually body/blood of Jesus, become the body/blood, or are symbolic of Jesus’ body/blood, and depending on which view you hold that becomes a test on whether we can “be in fellowship” with you.
If someone has accepted the gift of Jesus’ salvation in their life by faith, they are my brother or sister. If they are my brother or sister, I can fellowship with them. I can worship with them. I can talk with them. I can pray with them. I can take communion with them. End of story. They are either my family or they aren’t. I might not agree with everything and I might choose to receive teaching and regular interaction with people that are closer to how I see things theologically, but that doesn’t give me an excuse to dismiss my fellow brothers and sisters and imply they might not be saved.
And Michael’s talk of Scriptural tensions in 102 is right on the money IMO. Eternal security is one of these areas where one can easily find Scriptures to bolster either view.
over the years i have come to a conclusion about those who walk within the Lutheran community… they understand the admonition to come to the Faith as a little child and that’s a good thing… it’s all literal and we cannot presume to interpret nuances with our human wisdom… and so they stay there as little children in simple Faith and that is fine with God, i think (not sure)… the problem i have is that i think we are supposed to grow in the Faith – “when i was a child (in the Faith) i spoke as a child”….. a literal interpretation of body and blood, of the saving efficacy of baptism ? i cannot concede those conclusions as the final truth, but, since we are to take communion and we are to be baptized i cannot see any harm in their (and some others here) view of them… stay safe and stay in love with God and His Word and live… eternal life
MLD @ 100: Thanks for info regarding name. I do admit that when seeing the name, nobody is going to have any doubts as to what view you are going to be espousing! 🙂 I still would just generically say that I have found that some believers really do just place more of an emphasis on identity with their specific tribe then with Jesus Himself.
Jean @ 101: I appreciate your thoughts. Michael addressed the last half of your comments and I agree with him on that. I do want to say that your description regarding debate can indeed be true: “Even though in the heat of debate one may appear (even to himself) to be inflexible, his thoughts may provoke further investigation at a later time. Sometimes one has to hear the same thing multiple times or from multiple people before it begins to sink in.” That can be absolutely true, but some people also get so rigid and inflexible in their position and see their pet Scriptures their way that they won’t even allow themselves to view from another angle. Just a general statement not directed at anyone in particular.
Regarding doctrines and their importance, I guess I’m just a simple guy and I fall back to what I said in 147. Regardless of whether I view a specific doctrine as really important or not, whether one is a believer in Jesus Christ does not depend on all that many doctrines. How they view eternal security, how they view communion, how they view infant baptism, etc are not doctrines (no matter how important I might or might not think they are) that affect whether one can accept the gift of salvation through faith. And if one has accepted that gift and actively placing their faith in Jesus, then they are family and I have no right to even imply they aren’t just because they don’t adhere to all of my pet interpretations.
Any place where BD , Xenia, and Em all comment on a single post is a very good place to me.
#150… Josh, you’ve put me in some rarified air… I don’t think I’d last very long up there. ? but thank you…
You guys are my PhxP Hall of Fame.
Although I enjoy discussing theology and the Scriptures, I’m pretty “sticks and stones” when it comes to ad hominem. Therefore, if MLD and I are babies in the faith because through human reason we have not matured to the enlightened level of denying the plain words of Scripture, as #148 asserts, then I will relax this evening with my pacifier and continue my study of Psalm 1.
#153 – if it were true that one used human reason to mature in the Faith, you would be correct in what you’ve posted…I
note that I did not say “babies” in my #148, so spit out that pacifier ? … who knows what wisdom God the Holy Spirit will reveal to you tonight? What fruit lies ahead? (Babies can’t stand, nor walk BTW – they just sit and your Psalm of choice says don’t do that). God keep
When I was an evangelical I had obtained that maturity level to deny the plain meaning of the scriptures and was applauded as I went on to the ‘higher’ meaning. It seemed like a secret handshake should have been involved but was not – at least in my circles.
Now the idea of growing in the faith has nothing to do with moving to a higher understanding or a some would think to get a closer individual understanding of God. Growing in the faith has everything to do with what you have been given.
Once I learned that, I made the change, although my evangelical buddies now pass by, pat me on the head and say, one day you will come to you senses.
They can’t get off the treadmill of there must be more – it can’t be this simple and true.
#155 – beware when all men speak well of you… ?
Yes, growing in the Faith is becoming more like Christ and that is not an imitation of Chrst anymore than a child playing dress up in a fireman’s helmet is a fireman…
I would say what nourishes (and grows) our spirit/Christlikeness is the Word – our assimilation of same… By whatever means… we don’t all grow at the same rate or develop to an identical set of look alike Christians, even tho we do come from the same genetic source… it so it seems to me…. your viewpoint is yours to claim as God directs
There must be more? A treadmill? Interesting…..
of course there is more.
last I checked a treadmill doesn’t get you anywhere.
pstrmike, it is good to have someone like you who comes out of the same evangelical background as myself (SBC & CC) come out and affirm my comment that in those circles it is the norm in the quest to find the higher or secret meaning, to deny the plain meaning of the scriptures.
Since you claim there is more, have you found it? Perhaps treadmill was not a good example as you point out they don’t go anywhere. Might I substitute merry go round? 🙂
Why do Lutherans deny the plain meaning of Scripture?
Why do they go to such lengths to deny what is clear?
Let me give an example or two:
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
These verses CLEARLY and PLAINLY teach the Reformed doctrines of irresistible grace (vs.37b) unconditional election (vs.37a) limited atonement (vs 37a) and though it was argued against vehemently yesterday, the perseverance of the saints, (vs.39b) (vs.40c).
44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
These are the very words of JESUS!
Why must these people kick against the goads of the PLAIN TEACHING OF SCRIPTURE?
Are these the only verses that PLAINLY teach the doctrines of the Reformed faith in opposition to Lutheran sophistry?
The Reformed confessions cite dozens of places where the Bible is clear!
I kid because I care.
Actually, I kid because I woke up mad as a wet cat sick and tired of of our resident Lutherans posing as the sole arbiters of clear biblical truth.
If I hear this crap about the “plain teaching of Scripture” being the sole possession of the LCMS again there will be hell to pay.
As I just demonstrated, (and I could go on for a long time) the Reformed believe they are teaching “the plain meaning of Scripture”.
So do Arminians and every other Protestant denomination.
The truth is that we all compare Scripture with Scripture to make our doctrines and attempt to solve the tensions and paradoxes of the Bible.
I’m no longer an apologist for Calvinism, but I can play this game as hard and nasty as necessary.
I would greatly prefer simply saying that all of the various sects come to their understandings wrestling with Scripture and believe they come to their conclusions honestly after doing so.
First you will need to highlight the Lutheran teaching that denies what you have raised as a challenge – then we can have a discussion. You must remember that Lutheran theology was pretty well settled before Calvin and his later generations cohorts began tinkering. We do not speak the language of Calvinism vs Arminianism nor do we recognize any 5 pointed tulips in our pantheon of gods.
Also, you skipped over the comments by Em and pstrmike that there is indeed more that the plain meaning of scripture – that there is a higher level to achieve. That was the direction of the conversation.
I am utterly uninterested in debating Calvinism vs. Lutheranism.
What I am demonstrating is that just as you like to pull out “gotcha” verses on your pet doctrines against others, the same can be easily done with your own views.
Whether you call it “eternal security” or the “perseverance of the saints” Jesus seems to affirm the doctrine in these passages and others.
This is a “clear teaching of Scripture”.
At least this set of Scriptures.
I believe I was told I had “another Jesus” for believing Him as He speaks in these passages.
Now, an honest interpreter would say we have to balance these with warning passages, etc…and that would be true.
There is tension here.
Just as there is about many doctrines…that good brethren differ over.
But that is what a Lutheran does – plainly accept the text oh John 6 100% no question. But unlike you I don’t need to mitigate the debate by claiming we must balance them with the warning passages.
A Lutheran plainly affirms the warning passages 100% no question.
The proper distinction of law and gospel allows me this comfort so I can sleep at night.
This is one of the things I like about Eastern Orthodoxy. We don’t really have a systematic theology that has to be defended with proof texts. We have a collection of things we believe to be true, based on the Scriptures and Tradition, which consists of the Creeds, Ecumenical Councils, etc. Some of these things don’t, on the surface, appear to perfectly agree with each other but when we get to one of those passages we just say “It’s Scripture! It’s true! It seems to contradict what I read yesterday! But it’s Scripture so it’s true! Better pay attention!”
Trying to reconcile all the seemingly contradictory passages of Scripture leads, in my opinion, to some very convoluted systematic theologies.
I say “seemingly” because I do not, repeat, DO NOT believe the Scriptures contradict themselves as they come straight from God. But when the Lord clearly says “Do this” and we argue against “Doing this” because we have concocted some tightly reasoned (yes, REASONED) theology that explains things we don’t like away, this is problematic, in my opinion.
(By the way, we believe in Theosis so yes, there is more.)
Jesus clearly states that he will lose none of those given to Him by the Father.
That plainly affirms the security of the believer and the perseverance of the saints.
To make it “clearly” Lutheran you have to put another template over the text…an interpretative grid that allows you to mediate this text beyond what it clearly says.
Then you can go around saying that others deny the clear meaning of Scripture…and it’s bogus.
Every systematic theology has socks sticking out of the suitcase…
Michael, if I say I believe John 6 100% no questions, what interpretive grid have I laid over it?
@158 and 163
“(By the way, we believe in Theosis so yes, there is more.)”
That’s part of what I was referring to @157.
Mike @ 167 – then you may wish to walk away from your previous comment. The conversation was denying the plain reading of scripture to get to “the something more.”
If you think you need to deny the plain meaning of scripture to get to theosis, then let your comment stand.
“More” of course there is more… Discovering “more” never contradicts the basics of the Faith… Study should meet the criteria of 2Timothy 2
No one who looks deeper into the Word with an honest heart is looking for escape from uncomfortable truths…
Just responding to what I see as erroneous conclusions regarding Saints not of their “persuasion,” that some have settled into. ?
“By the way, we believe in Theosis so yes, there is more.”
Watch out… the next Father in the series is Athanasius… you know what that means…
“The Son of God became man, that we might become god”
Oh great a study of Mormonism is next? LOL. Choose your planet. ?
No Em. That is NOT what this means.
Michael @ 159 and 161: BOOM! 🙂
MLD @ 162 & 166: You say you agree with John 6 100% and imply that’s the “grace” part and the warning texts are “law” part and that Lutherans believe it all. And you previously have talked about how Lutherans will apply “law texts” when needed and “grace texts” when needed. My question to you then is why don’t you hear clear teaching on the security of the believer or see position papers from the LCMS as to the fact that eternal security is clearly taught in some “grace texts”? Why is that not part of their doctrinal stance? To say that Lutherans just believe it all 100% is a cop-out. We ALL would say we believe all Scripture 100%. But when you get down to actually believing & applying specific portions, that’s where that kinda breaks down. Lutherans have their pet-doctrine-texts just as every sect has their pet-doctrine-texts, and those are the texts they emphasize, and they ignore or dismiss many others (even as they say, just as the other sects do, that they believe all of Scripture 100%).
Not to worry… it’s about “God being all in all” at the consummation of all things.
We all believe in the clear teaching of scripture according our our hermeneutic, interpretive grid, and theological dispositions.
One group accusing others of denying such is disingenuous at best and a bald lie at worst.
In either case it is a display of arrogance and lack of charity.
I think I’ve made my point, now.
Chris, because we do not speak or think as evangelicals.
I know I have done this at least a dozen times over the years. Lutherans doctrine is;
1.) Beleivers are secure.
2.) Unbelievers are not.
I hear clearly every single Sunday that I am saved. I don’t know who you listen to.
This is not rocket science. Can you tell me where you disagree?
Not sure if this adds or detracts from the conversation, but I’ve recently been re-reading some books by Vladimir Lossky. He made the comment that “If while remaining loyal to our respective dogmatic standpoints we could succeed in getting to know each other, above all in those points in which we differ, this would undoubtedly be a surer way towards unity than that which would leave differences on one side.”
We are different people, or as Yves Congar wrote, ‘We have become different men. We have the same God but before him we are different men, unable to agree as to the nature of our relationship with him.” Part of dealing with another orthodox faith tradition is a recognition of that reality. I would not deny the differences, but there is an intrinsic core that binds us together in the confession of Christ as Lord. I remember Barth wrote something along the lines of “the unity of the Church is not made, but we discover it’. I think we discover that unity in loving not only our own unique traditions, but also in recognizing the value in others without feeling the need to place each on a value scale of our own devising and invention when engaging one another.
Chris and Michael,
MLD may wish to respond personally, but I would like to reply to this comment:
“My question to you then is why don’t you hear clear teaching on the security of the believer or see position papers from the LCMS as to the fact that eternal security is clearly taught in some “grace texts”? Why is that not part of their doctrinal stance? To say that Lutherans just believe it all 100% is a cop-out.”
Michael wrote that a doctrine of eternal security is taught in the following verses:
“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
(1) Terminology. Reformed and Lutherans have different terminology. Terminology is not the text, so we can’t judge a doctrine by the terminology, but by what the meaning of the term is. Lutherans say that God’s promises are trustworthy. Jesus says in the above text that (a) Jesus loses none of those given him by the Father, and (b) the Father desire that everyone who looks on the Son and believes should have eternal life. A Lutheran would say based on these texts that a Christian can trust or have assurance in these Gospel promises. Jesus doesn’t change his mind; He isn’t overpowered by Satan or even our own sinful flesh.
(2) The NT is full of warning passages. Lutherans teach them to their full severity. What happens to these passages if we invent a term called “eternal security?” Now we’ve created a conflict or what Michael called a tension. This forces a synthesis, or other hermeneutical move which does violence to either the Law or the Gospel.
(3) One Lutheran distinctive is the concept of “paradox.” We admit that God hasn’t told us everything, or perhaps our human minds are incapable of grasping His wisdom. In any event, we have no problem saying “we don’t know.” Example: The Crux Theologorum: Why are some saved and not others?
Michael, you keep distorting the conversation. I hope it isn’t to deceive or purposely confuse.
There was a comment above that said the plain reading of scripture was not enough, in fact it was an immature way to read and it implied if not denying the plain words, at least working around them is required.
I don’t care if you agree or not but I do want to be sure we are having the same conversation.
Your #177 is a clear denial of John 6.
It clearly states that ALL who are given to the father WILL come and He will lose NONE of them.
Why do you deny the clear teaching of Scripture?
No way in hell am I letting you and Jean off like that.
You both harass this group with constant accusations that they “deny the clear teaching of Scripture”.
What I have demonstrated is that Lutherans do exactly what they accuse others of doing, just with a different hermeneutic to justify it.
That should produce some humility in interacting with others.
We all are working with our best understanding of the text according to a variety of factors…Lutherans may even be right, but I am unconvinced…today.
I am on my phone, I don’t have numbers so I don’t know which of my heresies you are talking of. 😉
“This forces a synthesis, or other hermeneutical move which does violence to either the Law or the Gospel.”
Then maybe there’s a problem with the hermeneutic…
Proponents of different baptismal or communion doctrines could line out their objections just like you did…
Michael, again, I affirm John 6 100% no questions. How can you say with a straight face I don’t.
Perhaps you do not read my posts here for their plain meaning.
If you affirm John 6, then nobody can “lose” their salvation or “walk away” from it.
Jesus said He would lose “none”.
I think even Lutherans and Anglicans believe none means none.
Now, as I said, if we bring other “plain scriptures” to the fore we will have a tension.
We generally land on one side or another of these tensions…but it’s not because we don’t believe in the “plain teaching” of Scripture.
Michael, again this is the hardcore Calvinist apologist in you. You look at the words hear as Jesus establishing doctrine where Lutherans look at Jesus offering comfort and mercy to those who fear for their souls.
It is the same distinction we make about election – you (and more so Calvin) see Paul dictating how heaven and he’ll are populate – where a Lutheran sees the teaching on election again strictly as an offering of comfort and mercy.
So when you demand a hard answer to a theological issue like this I don’t have one because unlike you the Bible to us is not the ‘policy manual’.
Xenia and Dr. Duane …. ? yes, I know, my comment was inspired by how so many good teachings and discussions here lately seem to go off the rails into, what if term, absurdities….
Looking forward to the post actually
I am not a Calvinist, nor a Lutheran.
I am an Anglican.
I’m using John 6 because it’s an argument I’ve been familiar with and it comes quite easily to me.
You hear words establishing doctrine when it so pleases you to do so and make your distinctions when it doesn’t so please you.
Now, I’m done with this…it’s obvious to anyone who reads here who isn’t willing to die on Lutheran hill.
Having said all of this, I have great respect for Luther and Lutherans and consider them a gift to the church.
I even have two of them teaching here every week to all of our profit.
I just won’t affirm the attitudes toward the rest of us….
Em, my apologies.
It appears that only Lutherans can embrace a paradox. If we say opposing statements are true and represent a tension, we are wrong. If they say opposing statements are true and represent a paradox, they are right.
The point is, they must always be right, ergo, others must always be wrong…
Jean @ 180:
Regarding John 6, you said:
“Terminology. Reformed and Lutherans have different terminology. Terminology is not the text, so we can’t judge a doctrine by the terminology, but by what the meaning of the term is. Lutherans say that…”
RIGHT! That proves Michael’s point right there that Lutherans approach Scripture the same way all groups do: through their particular theological grid and framework.
“The NT is full of warning passages. Lutherans teach them to their full severity. What happens to these passages if we invent a term called ‘eternal security?’ Now we’ve created a conflict or what Michael called a tension.”
You don’t have to invent the term, but if some scriptures are clearly portraying one thing and other scriptures are clearly portraying another thing, you can honestly teach both concepts.
I understand what you are saying that Lutherans just don’t want to “go there to that level” sometimes and would rather just keep it as a “this is comforting to you, but we don’t need to explain what Jesus meant by ‘none'” etc, but that’s the point. Lutherans have no problem teaching some texts to their “full severity” as you put it, but then on others, they want to just kind of gloss over and give a simple pat on the back to (if that) and then move on. And that’s the whole point. Every group I’ve ever seen does this.
Lutherans also have no problem extrapolating and expounding doctrine from plenty of other texts, much as you might claim some have done with John 6. (Yes, I realize Lutherans don’t THINK they are extrapolating but just reading the “plain words of Jesus”. That’s the whole point….)
I do agree in reference to your 3rd point that Lutherans don’t feel they need to explain it all and are okay with “paradox” as you put it, but as I said, on some points Lutherans are VERY DOGMATIC and feel the need to explain it quite thoroughly according to their view (communion and infant baptism anyone?) while on others, they just gloss over and ignore (and use the “paradox”/”we don’t really need to or maybe aren’t meant to understand this”/”it’s just Jesus comforting us” line to move past it so they can get to their pet doctrines.
I am wondering this afternoon if our Lutherans need to disagree – even misinterpreting some comments – because it frightens them if they find consensus with an evangelical or any other non Lute, who claims to know Christ? Often their counter arguments address an erroneous interpretation of a post. (Not mine, tho – mine are easy to misinterpret. ? )
My 190 should have been ‘I’d’ not ‘if’… I don’t catch all the auto corrects..
I noted the “paradox” comment myself…
All this conflict is unneccesary
Duane and I have theological conversations on a regular basis.
Duane is not a fan of Calvin. 🙂
I had to drag that out of him as it simply never came up in our discussions…it came up as I was working through some deconstruction of theology I once thought the best.
If I chose to be a devoutly Reformed Anglican, it would make little difference to him…our common ground is much broader than our differences.
I’m not going that way, but I still cherish what I gleaned from those brethren.
So should it be with all of us…
Michael, you still refuse to discuss the line of conversation of those who oppose the plain reading of scripture and affirmed by others here.
When the plain reading and acceptance is denied and a deeper reading put in place, we end up with Levi Lusko (see open blogging) or Rick Warren finding diet programs in the Bible, We end up with Bethel and dispensationalist.
All acceptable to many here – not me.
That will be my closing statement on the topic.
I think that I may be the only person here that has attended an LCMS seminary… I can assure you, the interpretive acrobatics would put an Olympic gymnast to shame…
You deny the “plain reading” when it suits you as I have demonstrated.
Those who place their faith in Christ for their salvation are family…but I don’t always agree with my family.
That doesn’t change their standing here or in heaven.
Xenia @ 192 … Thank you, but no apology needed when my comments mislead or need clarification
Now, that’s unfair! I love Calvin, when he quotes the Fathers! 🙂 🙂
I still don’t anticipate us going through the “Institutes” together… 😉
One last thing…”paradox’ isn’t just a Lutheran distinctive.
It’s used by theologians of many different stripes.
Jean quoted Spurgeon (a devout five point Calvinistic Baptist) earlier.
Here he is again…
“That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other. These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring. (New Park Street Pulpit, 4:337)
Yep, I reckon you’re right on that one! I did try… once!
Chris @ 194,
In response to your last paragraph, I would say that the Gospel is the most important doctrine to Lutherans because of its importance to God, demonstrated by the coming of himself in the incarnation and His suffering and death on the cross for our sins.
That Gospel has been under attack from the earliest days, e.g., Galatians. It remains under attack, e.g., MLD’s podcast posted to Open Blogging. Therefore, Lutheran’s have it in their theological DNA to preserve and contend for the Gospel. So, it is an emphasis: Grace, faith Scripture – alone.
When if someone had said to Moses: What can looking at a pole with a bronze serpent on it accomplish? Or washing 7 times in the puny Jordan. Or filling jars with water when what you really want is wine? Or building an intricate tent in the wilderness? Or brushing lambs blood on your doors?
It took faith to obey. Faith received God’s grace. Human reason accomplished nothing!
So, we are given the Gospel. God has told us where to obtain His grace. But the post modern mind rejects His means. Not your mind, or Michael’s mind, or Em’s mind, but all of our fallen minds. Therefore, if we want all of our Father’s grace, then we must rebuke our unbelief and believe in Jesus when he appoints his means of grace.
I also feel I need to say this, since I’ve made several comments regarding Lutherans in this and other threads: I don’t have it out for Lutherans per se, at least not any more than I do with many other groups. 🙂 I grew up in the LCMS and was confirmed in it (well more or less anyway – its complicated). I left in my early 20’s for several reasons, but the overarching broad one is that I felt that they really weren’t meeting me where I had grown in my spiritual walk with Jesus. There’s a lot more I could say about that of course, but not without getting lots of pushback from the resident Lutherans here and I really have no desire to debate any of the specifics today (or possibly any day lol). But I don’t have any chip on my shoulder regarding Lutherans and I even occasionally visit my old Lutheran church.
“Therefore, if we want all of our Father’s grace, then we must rebuke our unbelief and believe in Jesus when he appoints his means of grace.”
First, just because someone isn’t a Lutheran doesn’t mean they are a slave to postmodernity.
Second of all, people like Em and Josh don’t agree with you or me about all the means of grace.
I believe both will be much closer to the Lord than I am when we all get home.
Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and all the rest of our orthodox “ism’s” are simply ways the Lord brings diverse kinds of people to Himself.
They all work…whether I like that reality or not.
Duane @ 198: “I can assure you, the interpretive acrobatics would put an Olympic gymnast to shame…”
🙂 LOL! While I certainly never went to their seminary, just being in the circles and being confirmed in their mode, I’ve seen some of those interpretive acrobatics. Part of that is why I left. Of course then I went on to discover that every group plays the same sport. HAHAHA
I appreciate your comment Chris. There certainly is no pristine congregation on this fallen earth. One my fellow members at my church has a saying: “It’s Christ’s Church and he will let us screw it up only so bad.”
I want to come back for one last clarifying comment. None of this was meant to say others aren’t saved – it is all to point out how we choose who we will worship with and who we will commune and we have no trouble explaining why.
If a Lutheran pastor turns down a public joint prayer service because of our view of unionism, he is thought of as a bad guy.
We are very biblically particulnar.
The Orthodox do it, the RCC does it along with other smaller bodies. It’s not unusual.
Should have said in 208: “Of course then I went on to discover that every group plays the same sport, JUST MAYBE NOT AS WELL!” HAHAHA
The extent to which it is done in the LCMS is unusual, both in kind and degree…
I’ll feed anyone who’s hungry…
Can you appoint a time for the denomination bashing to cease? I don’t find much edification in gratuitous piling on.
As soon as one denomination quits making accusations about every other denomination that are provably false.
Actually it’s time to move on now…and hopefully all of us can renew some humility and respect for the brethren from here on out.
Jean @ 205: “In response to your last paragraph, I would say that the Gospel is the most important doctrine to Lutherans because of its importance to God.”
I would say that’s pretty much true across the board in Christianity and yes, I agree that’s central for Lutherans (tho your 205 placed more of an emphasis on faith then I personally saw or experienced in Lutheran circles). The issue tho for Lutherans is they see issues like how they view infant baptism and communion as so intricately tied to the responding by faith part of the Gospel to make them a “central issue” of the “Gospel” to them. In this sense Jean, it is legit to say that the Gospel the way Lutherans present it does differ some from others. And the same is true of other traditions. For instance, some groups like BD’s believe physical healing is part of the atonement and thus they make that part of the gospel they preach. You even end up with groups that call themselves “full gospel” to differentiate from others they perceive as being “less gospel”. Let’s not debate any of that (those are major rabbit trails) but it is true that what one group perceives as the good news can differ some from another group and in that sense you weren’t fully wrong earlier in referencing a different gospel but it came across poorly because that implies one has a difference in the centrality of belief in Jesus. At the end of the day, stripping away everything else, all your standard Christian traditions believe that God out of His grace sent Jesus to save us from our sin and we respond to that by faith and in that way we become “saved”. That is the core issue, is it not? If one is “saved” and are a child of God by faith, then they are in the family of God, regardless of denominational label. Right? So if one makes taking or viewing communion a certain way a requirement to fellowship or worship with other family members, then they have elevated their view of communion to a place wholly unwarranted. I do not understand why you or MLD or any number of Lutherans don’t get that. Seeing that should just be bluntly obvious…
The core of the Gospel of man’s need for forgiveness and restored relationship with God available through faith in Jesus is central to all of us here. We’re all in the family of God. I would be honored to worship beside you and take communion with you. How can any family member worshiping the same Jesus defend not being willing to do the same with other fellow family members? If people are either saved or they ain’t – either in the family or not, then if we’re in the family, then there’s some things that just have to supercede one’s particular interpretation on a certain Scripture.
By the way, since we’ve all been talking about the LCMS and you both are LCMS, I should just state for the record that between the LCMS, WELS, and ELCA (the only ones I have any real familiarity with), I actually favor the LCMS if that’s any consolation 🙂
Sorry Michael – didn’t see your 216 til after I posted (hadn’t refreshed the page). I think moving on is prob good 🙂
Feel free to delete my 218/219 Michael.
We’ve discussed hermeneutics quite some time ago. I like the Jewish construct of PARDES. Four basic means to interpret scripture:
simple, hint, concept and hidden.
So I don’t deny anything as much as I add to something.
btw, did you finally retire?
Interesting enough, I found a book on theosis at a Roman Catholic monastery that I visited a few months back. “Broken Gods” by Gregory Popcak. Gregory of Nyssa’s exegesis on Philippians 2 was helpful in comprehending the idea of theosis.
When a person joins a church, he agrees to the rules of that church. All churches, every single one, exists in God’s left hand kingdom. That means it runs as a human institution according to the law.
The LCMS rule on closed communion as historical roots. I do not personally believe in the LCMS formulations on closed communion, and not all LCMS churches abide by it, because it goes beyond what the Bible requires. There are arguably good reasons for it, and left hand institutions are free to establish rules of order, so long as they do not go against Scripture.
What I believe is required by Scripture is that communicants share a common faith regarding what is happening in Communion. If it’s one table, one meal, one loaf and one cup, then the communicants should share a common faith about what those are and what is happening there. But, I have joined a congregation in association with the LCMS, so I submit to its rules of order.
If one person says its strictly memorial, while another says it’s the body and blood of our Lord, then there is no “communion” regardless of what anyone calls it. I think people should be honest about our differences.
One thing that many modern or post-modern libertarian leaning American Christians really have a problem with is the idea of mutual submission. If you join a historic tradition of the Church, you enter it, not to change it, but so that it assimilates you. I am laity. I have no say in the theology, and I don’t have the freedom to pick from this and pick from that. I have joined the Lutheran Church, kit and caboodle.
Jean @ 222: Thank you for that explanation. I don’t wholly agree with you, but I found your last paragraph particularly interesting. I guess I’m a modern or post-modern libertarian leaning American Christian because I don’t share your opinion that if one joins a specific flavor they must just wholly go for it all the way. I do have a libertarian bent and never did like submission 😉 so I have no problem questioning anything or calling things as flawed, even as “laity” (the laity discussion is another issue of course).
Even where I stand now, I freely pick and choose and NEVER just take what some pastor tells me as 100% unchallengeable and infallible truth. I’m not bound to only agree with or believe for myself the things that a church institution says I must believe – I have my own relationship with Jesus and I can read my Bible and hear from the Holy Spirit myself. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always felt like a bit of a nomad never really quite fitting in in every group. I suppose it would be a lot easier to just park myself in a specific one and turn off my brain and say “The church leadership is smarter than me and they say this Scripture means this so OK.” It would certainly be a lot easier and have much less conflict anyway. 🙂 🙂
I would also just point out that it’s that rebel and unsubmissive Martin Luther that questioned the Catholic Church way back when. 🙂 My recollection is he wasn’t doing that because he wanted to start his own denomination – he was hoping they would see the light. They didn’t…
Anyway, I like Michael’s 216 and wish I’d seen it before I posted my earlier response, so let’s just leave it all here. I think there’s been some good things in all this discussion and I have appreciated your explanations and clarifications, and I appreciate that you even shared above your own reservations regarding closed communion on a personal level.
As I said, I do not hate the LCMS or Lutherans and to your point not even all LCMS’s are the same. While most do have a similar flavor and style, I actually attended one for a bit that was almost like a Calvary Chapel in overall style! (they even had personal communion stations for a short while where you took as you felt led tho I think they might have gotten in trouble over that one lol).
Anyway, blessings and a Happy New Year to you and all here. 🙂
We can close the dialogue, though I highly doubt Michael is annoyed with our conversation. It is in the spirit of the blog IMO.
I will finish with one clarification to my earlier comment which you responded to. I studied Lutheranism for over a year before visiting a Lutheran church. I went to a new member weekly class for 8 weeks before qualifying for membership.
Going in, I was in agreement with the Lutheran Confessions that were taught to me. Luther’s Small Catechism is an amazing catechetical tool for evangelizing and teaching the faith.
So my brain is not turned off. What our by-laws and our pastor always teaches is that it is every member’s responsibility for the teaching in the church. What that means is that our pastor is held to the doctrines of the Lutheran Confessions. If he strays, he will be talked to. If he doesn’t repent, he’s gone.
The other thing that keeps our church within the rails is the liturgy. From the hymns, to the Psalter, to the liturgy, to the Creeds, to the sermon, EVERYTHING is either pure Scripture or a faithful exposition of Scripture. In the spirit of the theology of the cross, what appears to the natural person to be bondage is actually freedom. This thing I call submission has brought much freedom into my spirituality.
Jean, it seems to me that you and MLD were looking for and found a branch (my definitikn) of the Faith in which you are comfortable giving over your complete trust… it naturally follows that you would want every one of us to come to your conclusion – you both are intelligent men with a history of church experiencr… I respect that your goal is God’s Truth and not a search for a new religion – God keep (and God keep me patient with you gentlemen also )
Just sayin ?
To Em’s last comment, I think you miss the mark. I have never asked anyone to become Lutheran – although several have. I ask only that the theology be considered regardless of the source. Even that is not my purpose – if no one ever agreed I am perfectly OK with that.
What I would like to get consensus on is that we are different – very different and not just the kind of different that could be described as ‘looking at the same thing but through a prism that reflects light differently.’ A real difference that separates. It may be our fault and it may not – but there must be a line.
“it naturally follows that you would want every one of us to come to your conclusion”
When I’m not busy sinning, what I would like to do is use “I think” “my opinion” and other similar terms as little as possible, nor do I want to win an argument.
What I would like to do is put out what the Word says and means to the best of my ability and let the Spirit work in the readership. I do not want to operate by humor or rhetorical skills or flattery or bullying. I would like everyone to have a firm faith founded on the rock of Christ alone.
I do quote other theologians perhaps more than average here. It’s not that I’m trying to brag about what I read or who I read or why anyone should listen; it’s that I don’t want to come across as though I come up with all kinds deep original thoughts and theology on my own. I screen the quotes or influences I use carefully, but I feel I should give them some credit or at least not take their credit.
Sometimes I think my articles are a kind of “Links” on a specific topic or text. If I gave a bibliography for each article, it might not leave much room for the article itself.
I actually agree with Jean on submission. If your beliefs line up enough and ypu feel God is calling you there, you should be willing to accept some non essential things in humility that you may understand more later.
Also, there is a phrase repeated so often in Baptist bible colleges and seminaries that i can’t even remember the origin. Regarding hermeneutics, they say , “If the plane sense makes common sense, seek no other sense.”
#226 – okay, MLD – you’re different – I have no problem agreeing with that… ?
Jean, your academic approach is appreciated and understood with references cited, but surely that doesnt mean your conclusions differ from the sources you use to support your posts?
Jean @ 224: Just a clarification that I do believe that submission is valuable and if one is going to identify with a group and “join that group” and that group has certain guidelines, then one needs to be willing to agree to those guidelines or just choose not to be part of that group. Or at least be willing to just overlook certain things and not make them an issue. I just think that overarchingly just because a group teaches certain things, I don’t see any problem with questioning some of those things. If it can’t stand up to questioning or scrutiny, then… And I think it’s wise to acknowledge that maybe our tribe doesn’t have the full and complete understanding on Scripture that we like to think. Finally, I would of course still disagree with your assertion that “EVERYTHING is either pure Scripture or a faithful exposition of Scripture.” But that’s already been discussed and hashed out before.
Chris, as you know from personal experience that Lutherans catechize the kids for 2 yrs. Luther’s Small Catechism with questions is quite inclusive in the teachings of the church, plus what the absorb in the previous 10 yrs of sitting through the liturgy.
Now I realize that many kids that age are just dopey kids and absorb less than they should – or nothing. But it does actually stay with them.
We do 12 weeks of either adult catechism under the banner of Adult Information class. At that time, all basics come up and free discussion takes place. This is the time for the potential converts to say “you guys are nuts.”
I don’t understand your question in #230, but I would not site a source I disagree with unless I explicitly said I disagreed with that source.
MLD @ 232: “We do 12 weeks of either adult catechism under the banner of Adult Information class. At that time, all basics come up and free discussion takes place. This is the time for the potential converts to say ‘you guys are nuts.'”
After which, if you join, you are to never again ever question anything that “The Church” teaches? You are to just sign away your brain and accept that every position your denomination has ever taken or will ever take is right on the money? “We give you 12 weeks. Then do not ever question Official Lutheran Doctrine ever again?” Again, for a denom named after Martin Luther, I just find it amusingly ironic, that’s all! 🙂
I am seeing another issue, which has not yet been discussed, in your recent comments: the Office of the Holy Ministry.
You don’t sign away your brain, but at the same time God has given the Christian in a Lutheran congregation a pastor (i.e., shepherd). Paul wrote:
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”.
This is another huge departure between many non-Lutherans and Lutherans. Lutheran pastors are responsible for the public preaching and teaching of God’s Word in the congregation. They are also entrusted with the care of our souls. They are seminary trained and called by the congregation. They stand in the stead and by the command of Christ in the Divine Service.
I give my pastor the same deference in matters of the church and its doctrine as I give my doctor in matters of my physical health and my dentist with my teeth. Again, for Lutherans, church is a real thing, not an entertainment venue or lecture hall. You haven’t indicated as much, but I’m just stating what it is and what it is not.
Chris, now you have reach the level of lunacy. I made the point the newbies to the Lutheran faith are given every opportunity to receive information and have 2 way dialogue.
The follow up is the weekly Sunday Bible class – which as opposed to many evangelical churches (the SBC excluded) that offers 2 way communications. Try raising you hand for a question in a big box church service.
But your expectation that your objection is going to force a change in denominational teaching of 500 years is not very realistic.
Chris – I don’t know if I asked before what kind of church you are a member of. Perhaps I can learn more by looking into their teachings.
I just hope that you are grateful to God for having saved you through your baptism as a child and that he kept you a Christian through your difficult seeking years.
If anyone is interested in a typical Adult Information Class of what new Lutherans would go through, this is a good sample.
Anyone have an equivalent evangelical church based pre membership class?
#233… must have been Divine intervention then as you did affirm what I was asking for clarification … on …
Jean @ 235: Good News! I wouldn’t argue with any of that. 🙂
MLD @ 236: “Chris, now you have reach the level of lunacy.” I was just doing what you do. – Asking outlandish questions to make a point. 🙂 When I do it, it’s lunacy tho… 🙂 You then said “But your expectation that your objection is going to force a change in denominational teaching of 500 years is not very realistic.” To which I reply that I have no such real expectation – you are absolutely right – having such an expectation given human nature isn’t particularly realistic. Just as it wasn’t for Martin Luther when he expressed his concerns with the Catholic church. 🙂
“I don’t know if I asked before what kind of church you are a member of. Perhaps I can learn more by looking into their teachings.”
Why? So you could go after my pastor as a heretic like you’ve done with so many others (and are currently doing over in the other thread with Furtick and Lusko I believe are the names). I can’t keep up with all the pastors you think are charlatans. And yes, you did ask before and I purposefully gave a somewhat vague answer. I go to an independent evangelical megachurch in California that is kind of a cross between a CC and a Vineyard in theology. You would hate it. 🙂 That just happens to be the main church where I am at now tho. In the past, I’ve been all over the map (for all sorts of different reasons). Which is partly why I take a broader perspective on the Body – because I’ve been in lots of it and seen enough to know that there’s good people and good stuff going on across the board, and not good stuff going on across the board. And that everyone thinks they are the ones that are the true real Christians… Which is why I rebuff against that attitude so much. It’s also why I don’t now and never have (even as a believer in the Lutheran church) wear any label but Christian. To me, we are all ONE FAMILY despite the labels and petty doctrinal things people yap about. 🙂
MLD: In fairness tho to everyone since I don’t post often and have never really clearly portrayed my personal beliefs, where I’m at theologically these days doesn’t neatly fit into any one box but I suppose just to be fair – for reference, if I’m comparing what I know of everyone here, I am probably closest to BD’s realm.
Chris I must admit that I do find a good half a dozen or so pastors a year to warn the church of each year. I am sure Michael’s yearly list is much longer than mine. My apologies if I have stepped on the toes of some of your favorites.
As to your personal church, I don’t think I have ever gone after someone’s pastor in conversation – but you have me at a disadvantage in that you can lob missiles at the Lutheran church knowing you can hit me in their camp.
But I will need to work better at defending my position. I should be able to handle the complaints of a disgruntled former youth confirm and with a 13 yr old’s knowledge of Lutheranism.
MLD: This: “I should be able to handle the complaints of a disgruntled former youth confirm and with a 13 yr old’s knowledge of Lutheranism.” was meanspirited and uncalled for. I would NEVER claim that I’m an expert on Lutheranism, but I did spend 15 years in that world (a good 5 of which anyway I actually was paying some halfway attention) and was confirmed in that world (which by your own admission is a 2-year thing) and I already said multiple times (including when I interacted with you a week ago or whenever that was) that I am not disgruntled at all with Lutheranism. I even specifically said this earlier today: “But I don’t have any chip on my shoulder regarding Lutherans and I even occasionally visit my old Lutheran church.” I also specifically said today that I don’t hate the LCMS and actually like it the best from among the 3 Lutheran denoms I am familiar with. So for you to call me a “disgruntled former youth confirm and with a 13 yr old’s knowledge of Lutheranism” is downright an unfounded and mean attack.
I have no anger at Lutherans. I would gladly worship alongside you and partake of communion with you and all your Lutheran friends – we could have a grand time worshiping Jesus together – I even know the hymns!. It is YOU who would not do that with me (you’ve already said so). And it is you who want to lob attacks at others and claim people aren’t real believers.
I purposefully did not give you full specifics on my church for the very reason that I’ve been reading here for 8 or 9 years and I know you like to lob arrows, just like you did at me. I was fair in giving you the type of church I attend and where it falls on the theological spectrum so you would have a frame of reference for me. But you don’t need to know my pastor’s name or my church address. I don’t know yours either for the record (nor do I care in the slightest) – all I know is you’re in the LCMS.
And for the record, I don’t know either of those 2 pastors you are going after in that other thread (I do have a dear friend that has told me they have been majorly blessed by one of them tho). All I know is that in the last 2 days, you’ve gone after John Hagee, Steve Furtick, and Levi Lusko, with a side-swipe at Rick Warren as well. You’ve managed to attack 4 different pastors in two days. And you really expect me to freely give you the name of my church and pastor? I might only have a “13 yr old’s knowledge of Lutheranism”, but I’m smarter than that brother…
And now, Mr. MLD, this will be my last dialoguing with you. 🙂 I’ve not found it fruitful (not that I ever thought it would be – it’s one of the reasons why I don’t post often…). I wish you the best and a wonderful 2018. (I’m being serious in that, not facetious). You can reply or not reply as you see fit. I will not be engaging you.
I should be able to handle the complaints of a disgruntled former youth confirm and with a 13 yr old’s knowledge of Lutheranism.
What a jackass.
My apologies to all. I should have stayed away as I said with my comment at #142 but the spirit of my cold and flu medication sucked me back in.
Dayquil or no, MLD, you’ve never been able to resist an argument. 🙂 Sorry to hear you are under the weather. Hope you can fight it off to ring in the New Year!
Apology accepted. To be fair, I prodded MLD a little bit with my 234 (though using the exact same tactic I’ve seen him use probably a thousand times over the years).
While the 13yo comment wasn’t warranted at all based on what was known, I would definitely defer to people like MLD and Jean for explanation of Lutheran doctrine – that have heavily studied it. It bored me to death when I did it as a requirement in confirmation, and I also just never really cared about pet-church-interpretation stuff that was set in stone hundreds of years ago. I was NEVER interested in identifying as a Lutheran, but as a Christian. I was much more interested as a new believer in Jesus in how the Lutheran church was going to help me draw closer to Jesus and live the life God had for me. With that said, you can’t go through confirmation and sit in Lutheran churches for 15 years and not pick up some things about Lutheran doctrine and practice. So while I’m not an expert on all-things-Lutheran, I feel like I’ve got the basic gist. And it was in coming to learn about many of those things combined with what I considered a stifling/lifeless/boring church experience (while I visited other denoms where there seemed to be much life and messages that were engaging to me) combined with the air of arrogance & pride wafting in the air, that caused me to drift elsewhere. But to be fair, not all Lutheran churches are alike – even in the LCMS. Like I said earlier, I briefly attended one that wasn’t much different from a CC/modern evangelical experience (modern worship music, longer more-personally-applicable messages, freedom in raising hands, more emphasis on the Spirit, etc.).
Also there are several things that I think are worthwhile and miss about the Lutheran experience, some of which have been mentioned here in this thread: the weekly smaller/more-intimate Bible studies, hymns, the doughnuts 😉 etc. Some things I also have a love/hate relationship with – that I like for one reason, but can’t stand for another. So it’s not like I think all things Lutheran are terrible or anything. As I said, I literally have no problem walking into a Lutheran church and worshipping with them as my brothers and sisters and have done so on numerous occasions over the years. I won’t lie though: most times I’ve done that, I’ve ended up being reminded of why I left in the first place.
But if it works for MLD or Jean or anyone else, I say GREAT! 🙂 I have no problem with that. For my part in this thread, my purpose wasn’t trying to bash Lutherans or the LCMS or anyone that might be in those circles, but the overarching issue of Christian charity towards, and fellowship with, believers that aren’t in our specific tribe – and since Lutheranism is on prominent display on this site via MLD/Jean and that’s where the discussion was at, that’s where I went too. But if at any point it came across meanspirited to anyone on my end, I apologize.
Your comments and questions stoked some great conversation. Thanks for putting the elbow grease into making it challenging and lively.
The Church of God is truly a hospital for sinners, and we prove it here almost every day.
Thanks Jean, Happy New Year! 🙂