Author Topic: Two Uses and Antinomianism  (Read 2790 times)

George Rahn

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #150 on: September 05, 2022, 09:21:44 AM »
Also, as finite creatures who live after the fall and exile from the Garden of Eden, we cannot project our thoughts back before the fall because we have never lived outside of history.  So finite creatures live in history and time and move within the law’s “atmosphere” as sinners.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #151 on: September 05, 2022, 09:35:11 AM »
The Scriptural Law comes in the imperative. Things in the imperative are law, not Gospel. It is the nature of the Law to tell you what to do and what not to do.

Today we did a college visit with my daughter. She may or may not end up going there. She won’t consult the Law to tell her whether or where to go to college. That isn’t what I mean by the law telling us what to do. Unless it is a legal or moral decision, the law in any sense doesn’t really come into play. If and when the law says anything, it tells you what to do and what not to do.

Yet in your daughter’s need/compulsion to decide is a mark of the law’s force upon her.  In that is also an accusatory process in that even with her decision for one she leaves off the possibility and actuality of having the other.  She must decide.  In that she is not master of her fate but undergoes  a decision of which she must decide.  That is being subject to the law’s dominion.
Creatures are finite. Every decision we make precludes the alternatives. That would be true in an unfallen world. If Adam decided to tend this bit of land today, that would mean he didn’t tend that bit of land today. But so what? It isn’t a matter of being under the law, it is being finite beings with choices to make.

Yes.  Finite beings indicate that life is lived under the law.  “…through the law comes the knowledge of sin.”
What does being finite have to do with being under the law or being aware of sin? Are you saying that before the fall, Adam and Eve were not finite creatures?

Yes.
Hmmmm. I think we've reached an impasse. The idea that Adam was infinite and "fell" into finitude, and thus my daughter's inability to choose to go to college and not to go college is proof she lives in sin under the law doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever. What does it mean to be forgiven for being finite? How does one preach or teach confirmation class based on that? It seems to me you've amplified the Flacian error beyond humanity to the nature of creation itself, that time, space, and matter is of its very essence sinful.

Where does one hear the kind of preaching you appreciate on this subject? Can you post the text of sermon you found good, or a link to one? 


George Rahn

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #152 on: September 05, 2022, 10:14:52 AM »
The Scriptural Law comes in the imperative. Things in the imperative are law, not Gospel. It is the nature of the Law to tell you what to do and what not to do.

Today we did a college visit with my daughter. She may or may not end up going there. She won’t consult the Law to tell her whether or where to go to college. That isn’t what I mean by the law telling us what to do. Unless it is a legal or moral decision, the law in any sense doesn’t really come into play. If and when the law says anything, it tells you what to do and what not to do.

Yet in your daughter’s need/compulsion to decide is a mark of the law’s force upon her.  In that is also an accusatory process in that even with her decision for one she leaves off the possibility and actuality of having the other.  She must decide.  In that she is not master of her fate but undergoes  a decision of which she must decide.  That is being subject to the law’s dominion.
Creatures are finite. Every decision we make precludes the alternatives. That would be true in an unfallen world. If Adam decided to tend this bit of land today, that would mean he didn’t tend that bit of land today. But so what? It isn’t a matter of being under the law, it is being finite beings with choices to make.

Yes.  Finite beings indicate that life is lived under the law.  “…through the law comes the knowledge of sin.”
What does being finite have to do with being under the law or being aware of sin? Are you saying that before the fall, Adam and Eve were not finite creatures?

Yes.
Hmmmm. I think we've reached an impasse. The idea that Adam was infinite and "fell" into finitude, and thus my daughter's inability to choose to go to college and not to go college is proof she lives in sin under the law doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever. What does it mean to be forgiven for being finite? How does one preach or teach confirmation class based on that? It seems to me you've amplified the Flacian error beyond humanity to the nature of creation itself, that time, space, and matter is of its very essence sinful.

Where does one hear the kind of preaching you appreciate on this subject? Can you post the text of sermon you found good, or a link to one?

Finitude is not primarily a subject one can study like a scientist.  We are fundamentally sinners who are impacted and under God’s judgment all the time.  I am a sinner always living under God’s law as a sinner and so “through the law comes the knowledge of sin….the wages of sin is death.”  Finite creatures as finite are directed inescapably to death.

George Rahn

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #153 on: September 05, 2022, 10:30:09 AM »
If one does study finitude like scientists, we approach it as an object to which we apply our thoughts and judgments.  We are caught up in our own judgments as to what we think and we project those thoughts and judgments onto God.  We assault God and expect God to honor our judgments as his and forget that God is “over, in, with and under” the scientist as well.  God doesn’t study us but we are immediately under his judgment, here as judge over the sinner who has thrust away from God God’ proper role as judge.  We swim in dangerous territory.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2022, 10:31:56 AM by George Rahn »

peter_speckhard

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #154 on: September 05, 2022, 11:15:35 AM »
In the Christian anthropology thread Matt Hummel shared the four traits of humanity as he teaches it in high school. Those traits were that mankind was created in the image of God, finite, fallen, and capable of being redeemed. I'd be interested in hearing whether "finite" is a function of being created human or a function of the fall into sin. I think we might be meaning different things by "infinite." I would have thought that the infinite/finite distinction is part of the Creator/creation distinction. For example, angels live forever, but as created things they are finite, not infinite like God is infinite. They have bounds. They are this and not that. I would say the same thing about the unfallen Adam. He was a creature. He had boundaries appropriate to his nature.   

The second hardest reading I ever undertook, and actually finished and re-read, (after trying to read Elert in German and not getting very far) was David Hart's book called The Beauty of the Infinite. I think I had the same reaction to that book, in general, as I'm having to your explanations. The categories of Creation, Fall, and Redemption seem to me to be muddled in what you're saying. For Hart, redemption seemed to be a function of having been created human coupled with the Incarnation. That is, he couldn't escape universalism because his view of creation and humanity did not admit of two potential eternal destinations for any given human being apart from the rest of humanity. Humanity is one and must be saved or damned as one thing. Christ having become human and already been "saved" so to speak is proof that all humanity is saved. He rejected the idea that a subset of humans could possibly be saved without the whole. I disagreed and identified the source of disagreement in his conflating categories.

I think you righly point to the fact that "time's winged chariot" chases us down as a sign of death reigning in this world. But I don't equate being subject to death to finitude in general. Maybe the anthropology thread and this thread are more related than they appear.   
« Last Edit: September 05, 2022, 11:44:46 AM by peter_speckhard »

Dave Benke

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #155 on: September 05, 2022, 12:31:32 PM »
This is going to boil down to what it meant and means to be created in the imago dei.  The link, in Colossians 1 and 2, is Christ the "image of the invisible God," in whom we (you in Colossians 2) "have been brought to fullness," the same fullness with God as Christ, having been buried with Christ unto death and raised as He was raised. 

The imago dei is therefore fullness with God - righteousness before God - accomplished by Christ who is the very image of the invisible God. 

In that sense, prior to unrighteousness, were humans finite or infinite?  If redemption restores us to the fullness of the Deity in Christ is that beyond or inside the bounds of the finite?  Urzeit gleich endzeit, no?

Psalm 8 holds the distinction of the created from the creator - "you have made mankind a little lower than God (Elohim)."  Just a little (!).  The New Adam (viz. Psalm 8 "the son of Adam/man") restores that reality.

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peter_speckhard

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #156 on: September 05, 2022, 12:43:29 PM »
Here is a quick survey of the history of RC thought on the subject.

https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/grace-and-nature

George Rahn

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #157 on: September 05, 2022, 01:57:11 PM »
These are tough acts to follow.  But here goes:  prior to the fall, God, and the image of God in man, were on equal “footing.”  God spoke and Adam responded (and the reverse, as well) on an even plane so that there was no irresponsibility on Adam’s part.  The urbild was God’s. Adam prior to the fall reflected that bild evenly in that each party, God and Adam did not “disagree” but spoke and listened to one another without any static to interrupt the flow of perfect conversation.  It was a non-finite state or e-ternal.

After the fall God spoke as before but this time since Adam and Eve decided to manage their own affairs by disregarding God’s order to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they “fell” out of God’s favor.  They rebelled against God.  Now when God speaks he speaks to someone who is both a rebel and irresponsible.  Not only are humans judged (richter) or better, directed to death as God threatened, but now God stresses upon the human being their nature as irresponsible people.  God’s law which is perfect in and of itself, now becomes a source of threat as well for man who does work(s) under God’s law…and so, as Paul perfectly describes our fate in the image of Adam and Eve, “through the law comes the knowledge of sin.”
« Last Edit: September 05, 2022, 02:00:53 PM by George Rahn »

peter_speckhard

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #158 on: September 05, 2022, 02:07:32 PM »
These are tough acts to follow.  But here goes:  prior to the fall, God, and the image of God in man, were on equal “footing.”  God spoke and Adam responded (and the reverse, as well) on an even plane so that there was no irresponsibility on Adam’s part.  The urbild was God’s. Adam prior to the fall reflected that bild evenly in that each party, God and Adam did not “disagree” but spoke and listened to one another without any static to interrupt the flow of perfect conversation.  It was a non-finite state or e-ternal.

After the fall God spoke as before but this time since Adam and Eve decided to manage their own affairs by disregarding God’s order to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they “fell” out of God’s favor.  They rebelled against God.  Now when God speaks he speaks to someone who is both a rebel and irresponsible.  Not only are humans judged (richter) or better, directed to death as God threatened, but now God stresses upon the human being their nature as irresponsible people.  God’s law which is perfect in and of itself, now becomes a source of threat as well for man who does work(s) under God’s law…and so, as Paul perfectly describes our fate in the image of Adam and Eve, “through the law comes the knowledge of sin.”
So is/was there any distinction between the nature(s) of the first Adam and second Adam, Christ? You seem to describe Adam as the second person of the Trinity.

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #159 on: September 05, 2022, 02:20:26 PM »
These are tough acts to follow.  But here goes:  prior to the fall, God, and the image of God in man, were on equal “footing.”  God spoke and Adam responded (and the reverse, as well) on an even plane so that there was no irresponsibility on Adam’s part.  The urbild was God’s. Adam prior to the fall reflected that bild evenly in that each party, God and Adam did not “disagree” but spoke and listened to one another without any static to interrupt the flow of perfect conversation.  It was a non-finite state or e-ternal.

After the fall God spoke as before but this time since Adam and Eve decided to manage their own affairs by disregarding God’s order to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they “fell” out of God’s favor.  They rebelled against God.  Now when God speaks he speaks to someone who is both a rebel and irresponsible.  Not only are humans judged (richter) or better, directed to death as God threatened, but now God stresses upon the human being their nature as irresponsible people.  God’s law which is perfect in and of itself, now becomes a source of threat as well for man who does work(s) under God’s law…and so, as Paul perfectly describes our fate in the image of Adam and Eve, “through the law comes the knowledge of sin.”
So is/was there any distinction between the nature(s) of the first Adam and second Adam, Christ? You seem to describe Adam as the second person of the Trinity.

Maybe I’m missing what you are expressing.  I am simply describing, apart or, separate  from the Gospel in Jesus Christ.  I think Paul (and Luther discovered the force of what Paul was saying) was describing what the nature of man-the-sinner-under-the-law is by indication as such in  Romans 3:9-20; and then,  the “hinge” verse Romans 3:21: …”apart from law a righteousness of God has been manifested”; and then, finally,  the full Gospel in Romans 3:22 onward.  So that as Paul goes forward in this epistle Romans 6 will be a heap of importance for man-the-sinner.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2022, 02:37:17 PM by George Rahn »

George Rahn

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #160 on: September 05, 2022, 02:29:06 PM »
Here in Romans 3 is an active template as to how the distinction-making of law and gospel happen.  I have learned a lot from this chapter even to the extent that I keep close tabs on it in my preaching.  Luther really had re-discovered for preaching the law-Gospel activity inherently going on in the scriptures.  What a gem!
« Last Edit: September 05, 2022, 02:35:14 PM by George Rahn »

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #161 on: September 05, 2022, 02:50:19 PM »
This is going to boil down to what it meant and means to be created in the imago dei.  The link, in Colossians 1 and 2, is Christ the "image of the invisible God," in whom we (you in Colossians 2) "have been brought to fullness," the same fullness with God as Christ, having been buried with Christ unto death and raised as He was raised. 

The imago dei is therefore fullness with God - righteousness before God - accomplished by Christ who is the very image of the invisible God. 

In that sense, prior to unrighteousness, were humans finite or infinite?  If redemption restores us to the fullness of the Deity in Christ is that beyond or inside the bounds of the finite?  Urzeit gleich endzeit, no?

Psalm 8 holds the distinction of the created from the creator - "you have made mankind a little lower than God (Elohim)."  Just a little (!).  The New Adam (viz. Psalm 8 "the son of Adam/man") restores that reality.

Four comments about Psalm 8.

1. The Hebrew word translated "angels" is אֱלֹהִים (elohim). Usually it is "gods" or "God."
2. The LXX uses ἀγγέλους "angels".
3. Neither Hebrew nor Greek uses their usual words for "create" or "made," (like in Genesis 1-2,) but words (חָסֵר ἐλαττόω) that refer to "causing to lack" or "causing be diminished."
4. Someone suggested a missing verse after 6; "and only slightly higher than the apes."
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Coach-Rev

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #162 on: September 06, 2022, 11:53:21 AM »
I"m way late to the party here, but having taken numerous courses from the now late Dr. Forde in seminary, I can tell you with certainty that his "denial" of the third use went only as far as he took the approach that the third use of the law was for all intents and purposes, seen in both the first two uses, and therefore was unnecessary as a separate use.  It was Dr. Forde who famously said (in "Justification by Faith:  A Matter of Death and Life")  "What are you going to do now that you don't have to do anything?"

My comment:  in earlier generations, that would work out fairly well, especially with the civil use.  But today when both government and many denominations stray and distance themselves from the law, it no longer does.
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Tom Eckstein

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Re: Two Uses and Antinomianism
« Reply #163 on: September 06, 2022, 11:03:47 PM »
Thank you again, Pr. Eckstein, for this ongoing exchange.  From my end, I think we're making progress; this is helping me to clarify my own thought, and to try to communicate better.  I appreciate that your writing is clear and direct, unlike so many academics whose writing is resolutely elliptical and obscure. 


OK, I'm not sure I understand the distinction you are trying to make.  Are you saying that "rules" show us WHAT must be done but not WHY?  Or, to use your football analogy, are you saying that "rules" are abstract and we can't really understand them unto they are "played out" in concrete, particular human situations?  I'm trying to understand what you're getting at here.[/i]


I think the suggestion embedded in the football analogy is where I want to go.  Yes, in a sense, the rules are abstract.  But more than that, they are simply a formal structure within which the game is actually played.  Or to use another analogy, the rules are the scaffolding on which the game is actually constructed.  And yes, we can't know what the life of the game of football is like until we play it, or until we see it played.  And yes, I am always fundamentally interested in concrete, particular human situations.  It's in such situations that we find morality occurring, isn't it?

You're right, though -- I don't think rules in themselves can ever show us "why" something is to be done.  I'm not even convinced that rules in themselves can even show us "what" must be done.
   

If I understand you here correctly (and maybe I don't?), you seem to be saying the Law cannot produce "morality" - and by "morality" you see to mean a person who actually desires to do the good and wants to accomplish it.  In other words, you seem to be using the word "morality" to define not merely what a person OUGHT to do but what a person WANTS to do because he/she IS a "moral person."  Am I understand you correctly?  If so, then I agree with you that the Law cannot make sinners into "moral persons."  Only the Gospel, which makes us into New Creations in Christ, can make us into the people who LOVE God's Law and WANT to live according to it.  So, and this seems to be one of your concerns, how does the Law produce "moral people" in our culture, that is, in the Left-hand kingdom?  My response:  it DOESN'T!  The purpose of the moral Law in the Left-hand kingdom is NOT to produce "moral people" but to curb sinful behavior and encourage good behavior - regardless the motivations people may have for avoiding evil or doing good.  Simply put, the purpose of the Law in the Left-hand kingdom is to keep us sinners from destroying ourselves.  However, in the Right-hand Kingdom, where the Gospel produces truly "moral people," that is, people who love God and trust His Word and want to obey Him, the Law then functions in its proper sense, that is, it shows us what God's will is for our lives of love.  Simply put, the condemning/curbing function of God's Law is not some inherent in the Law itself but is the Law's response to unbelievers who reject God's Law as God's will for our lives of love.  Does any of this help clarify things?[/i][/b]


Yes, I think this does clarify some things, particularly about your own position.  But for me, some dark and congested problems remain.  For instance, when trying to think through what morality is, I don't ask questions about what people "desire," or what they "want."  That seems mostly irrelevant to morality.  I may "desire" the best for my children, and so I discipline them severely, and thereby drive them away from what may be best.  When trying to think through what morality is, I am much more interested in ethical performance -- I ask questions about what informs the practical, on-the-spot decisions people make about what may be the proper moral action to perform (or to refrain from performing) in that immediate situation.  And here I think law (understood as a set of rules) is of limited assistance.  At best, law (or rules) can provide some of that scaffolding I mentioned upstream, but not much else.  That's because law (or rules) are broad and generic (as they must be), and don't provide much of the specific instruction that is critical for making moral judgments in an immediate context.

For example, look at Luther's Small Catechism, the first section on the Ten Commandments, the sixth commandment.  In the Kolb and Wengert edition, it reads as follows:

You are not to commit adultery.
What is this?  Answer:
We are to fear and love God, so that we lead pure and decent lives in word and deed, and each of us loves and honors his or her spouse.

That clearly sets some boundaries, and invokes some ideals.  It is scaffolding.  But it also leaves a lot of empty space.  Just what does a "pure and decent life" look like, on a day to day basis, when moral judgments have to be rendered?  Luther does not tell us.  Exactly which behaviors are excluded in each and every episode of married life, as I try to follow the rule that I "love and honor" my spouse?  Luther does not tell us.  That's because, I would argue, that no law, no rule, no rubric, ever can.  And that's because no law, no rule, no rubric can ever offer us an exhaustive inventory of application of itself.

One response to all this might be to say, "C'mon, Pearson, you can't plausibly expect morality to be reduced to the minutiae of momentary decisions people make in highly constrained situations.  Morality is big-picture stuff.  Without an eternal, transcendent, abstract and idealized "moral law" to provide that big picture, everything collapses into a subjectivist shambles.  Right?"  No.  Wrong.  I emphatically do plausibly expect morality to include, first and foremost, that minutiae of momentary decisions people make in highly constrained situations.  That's in fact where nearly all moral judgments normally occur, isn't it?  Temptations and uncertainties abound in this life, and the rule book may not be available or definitive when you need it.  Something else will have to be sought out.

But it is not certainly not the case that the something else can only be, in your words, Pr. Eckstein, "some undefined feeling that is at the whims of whatever a person thinks is good for himself or someone else."  The moral battle here does not reduce down to only two contestants: either a subjectivist and emotivist pernicious relativism, or the "moral law."  That's a false alternative.  I suspect a more morally robust approach is to take the long view, and focus on the development of each individual's moral character over time by immersing them in a culture largely normed by ethical practices, where persons can learn how to make those moral judgments in those highly constrained situations by participating in such ethical practices, and then absorbing the standards that define the right and good, standards that can be actually applied in a myriad of day-to-day situations.  Could this possibly work?  How might we create conditions under which this sort of model could be realized?

Those are the kinds of questions I'm inclined to ask, and the sort of answers I'd like to discover.

P.S.  Just one other thing, if I may: at one point, Pr. Eckstein, you say: ". . . in the Right-hand Kingdom, where the Gospel produces truly "moral people," that is, people who love God and trust His Word and want to obey Him. . ."

Here's my question:  do you think "being obedient" is the same thing as "being moral"?  Thanks.

Tom Pearson             

Tom, sorry for my delayed response.  Other things have been demanding my time.  I have time for only a brief response here.

First, your respsone (quoted above) helps me understanding where you're coming from.  Simply put, I think I agree with Ed Engelbrecht who in a post after yours (quoted above) made the point that God sets general boundaries with His Law and then gives us freedom to make rational moral decisions in particular cases with the general principle of the Law being our guiding foundation.

Second, to give a concrete example, Luther explains "Thou Shalt Not Murder" not only as refraining from harming our neighbor in his body (which means punching my neighbor in the nose because I don't like him is breaking the 5th commandment!) but also positively as helping my neighbor in his time of need (which means that the 5th Commandment means if my neighbor is starving, and I have the ability to feed him, the 5th commandment teaches I should do that).  Even civils laws like speed limits on city streets are a concrete application of the general principle expressed in the 5th commandment.  In addition, killing a developing human being in the womb is also breaking the 5th commandment.  In fact, Jesus points out that BEFORE GOD even hatred for others is "murder" in His eyes - and so we Christians repent of our hateful thoughts/desires BEFORE GOD even though there are not civil laws against hateful THOUGHTS (although some liberals might like to imprison some conservatives for the way we think -   ;) )

I don't know if this answers your questions, but this is my brief response to what you said quoted above.  Simply put, I think God's Law is somewhat like "policy based governance" when it comes to concrete behavior:  The policy (God's Law, if you will) sets the boundaries within which indivuals have freedom to act in particular situations without being constantly "micro-managed."  In other words, based on His Law, God expects that discerning what is "moral," that is, what is good or evil, should be obvious in particular situations.  So, for example, "living a chaste and decent life" (6th commandment) means that is should be obvious to me that I should not view porn nor should I force my wife to have sex when she is ill and treat her as a object of my lust.  As Paul says in Romans 13, the Law can be understood as:  "Love does no harm to the neighbor."
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