Author Topic: The ELCA Requires Nothing  (Read 47009 times)

pearson

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #495 on: January 15, 2013, 06:40:53 PM »

I'm still trying to get a handle on this third use thing.


Me, too.


I agree that trying to derive law out of Gospel destroys the Gospel (I also think it is a mis-use of the Law).  Isn't telling one another "you should" or "you shouldn't" because you have been redeemed a matter of deriving law out of the Gospel if such conversations are rationalized on the basis of 3rd use?  Please understand that I am not suggesting that such conversations should not occur.  But, when they do, it is a matter of 2nd use.


This may be my problem alone, but I really don't understand any of this; and that's probably because it seems to me that we Lutherans aren't consistent in the way we treat "Law."  Just look at the so-called three "uses" of the Law -- they don't each refer to the same "Law," do they?  It seems obvious to me that the second "use" of the Law refers to the whole of God's Law, since it is the attempt to live up to God's whole Law that so emphatically fails to justify us before God.  If God's Law (in the second "use") serves as a mirror to show us our sin and to drive us to Christ, it is the very integrity of God's singular Law that "mirrors" the lack of integrity in our broken attempts to fulfill it.

But the first "use" of the Law cannot refer to God's Law as the second "use" does, can it?  The first "use" is for curbing lawlessness in the civil realm, to constrain those who would do evil to harm the neighbor.  But we use a vast ensemble of common law and statute law to maintain civil order, and not much of it resembles God's Law as portrayed in the Scriptures.  We don't think that it is an appropriate "use" of God's Law to punish those in civil life who covet, or who neglect to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy (at least, not lately; and not in Texas).  So the first "use" of Law must be indicating a different type of Law than the second "use" indicates.  Right?

And the third "use" has got to be something else entirely, doesn't it?  The third "use" of the Law is allegedly to guide sanctified believers into God-pleasing behaviors.  But these sanctified believers are also sinners, right (simul iustus et peccator)?  How do we know they are sinners?  The second "use" tells us so.  Therefore, the second "use" tells us we cannot live up to the standards of God's Law, while the third "use" tells us we should guided by God's Law in how we live.  How can the same Law -- God's Law -- tell us two such contrary things?  It looks like the second and third "uses" cannot be referring to the same Law, when one "use" says "you'll never succeed in doing it," and the other says, "do it, anyway."

I've always been baffled how anyone can see these as three "uses" of the same Law, when it seems that we are speaking of three different types of Law here.  And so I think Lutherans would do well to reflect more seriously on just what we mean when we talk about "Law."

Yes, yes, I know: these are the sorts of misguided questions that could only be raised by someone who is addicted to relying on reason and logic to figure things out, instead of just falling back on faith to illumine the paradoxes.  But I gotta tell ya, doing the latter sure makes theology and "getting a handle on this third use thing" a lot more difficult.

Tom Pearson           

Johan Bergfest

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #496 on: January 15, 2013, 07:02:22 PM »
I am not sure what you mean by having a conversation with the Holy Spirit. That could go wrong ever so quickly if not understood in a word a sacrament way that is unique to Lutherans.

Maybe we can start by saying that, if you do trust God and his word, why would it not occur to you to obey it? So your trust is defective? The law will do its work and accuse you to bring you to repentance. But again, if you already know that something grieves the Father's heart or is an abomination to Him, why would you do it? And does not thinking that way somehow guide you? If so, then maybe you are practicing the third use of the law.

Or another way: You seem to like "Getting to Yes." you are conversing here guided by Getting . . . 's principles, suggestions and warnings. And you cannot do that with the Law of God that the Holy Spirit has seen fit to transmit to you in bible and sermon, brotherly admonition and sisterly counsel?

Pr. Kruse - I admit that I am not saying this very well - perhaps I do not know how to say it very well - and I do not mean to imply a charismatic relationship with the Spirit.  And, yes, I have a copy of the Book of Concord - it is the Tappert edition which I have had for many years. 

I believe that, in Christ, I am justified.  Because I am justified, I am sanctified - sanctification being the work of the Holy Spirit.  I understand and accept "third use" as my guide to sanctified living - that is the communication between myself and the Spirit.  However, simul justus et peccator and I have not been sanctified enough. 

I need to be reminded that I am a sinner and I need to be reminded that, in Christ, I am justified.  I need to hear the Scripture.  I need to hear Law/Gospel sermons.  I need admonition.  Whether I am sitting in the pew listening to your sermon or you are providing me with pastoral admonition, that is second use of the Law.  The corresponding "conversation" that I am having with the Holy Spirit may be leading me back to Christ (second use) and may be guiding me into sanctified living (third use).


Charles_Austin

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #497 on: January 15, 2013, 07:27:11 PM »
Pastor Charlton, if all we in the ELCA did was "politics" and no "proclamation," I probably wouldn't stay in. The suggestion that the ELCA is mostly involved in "issues" or "politics" or "causes" or matters of that earthly kingdom is an insult to every congregation and pastor and synod and church-wide agency engaged in proclaiming the Gospel.

Charles_Austin

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #498 on: January 15, 2013, 07:29:38 PM »
There was no "conscience clause" when we agreed to ordain women. Smart bishops did not nominate women to congregations that were as yet unable to receive them. But as time passed, people very quickly got used to the idea and it became easier to place women. But prejudice still lingers in some places, I am told.


Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #499 on: January 15, 2013, 07:39:01 PM »
There was not even a reference to honoring "bound conscience" following the LCMS convention decisions of those days.

Of course not, because the LCMS honored Sola Scriptura.  She still has not elevated "the bound conscience" above the Word of God.

But, Rev. Crandall, the whole "bound conscience" thing was the bone thrown to those who still held Scripture as the highest authority (cue Charles' protestations here) over and against the revisionist side who claimed that God was doing a "new thing." 

For many, including myself, they saw it as the sham that it was and pulled up stakes and left town after years of fighting and debating on the issues.


Wasn't a similar offer made to the congregations and pastors who objected to the "new thing" when women were first ordained?


It is still in place. No congregation has to call a female pastor if they don't want to.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #500 on: January 15, 2013, 07:41:48 PM »
I think theology influencing and informing church politics is a "good" in everyone's book unless you are beyond  "no - third - use - of - the - law" into "anti - third- use - of - the law." 

More and more, I'm convinced that "anti-third-us-of-the-law" or what we might call tertiusususophobia is a big part of our problem.  The church, as a temporal organization that falls within the Left Hand Realm, needs rules, regulations, standards, policies, constitutions and "visions and expectations".  The most obvious thing would be to allow the Word of God to provide the basis and primary content of those rules.


All those sound exactly like the civil use of the Law that I was taught. In addition, I was taught that the "third use" as given in the confessions declares that the civil use and theological use still apply to believers. We are not free from God's uses of the Law in our lives.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #501 on: January 15, 2013, 07:47:14 PM »
This may be my problem alone, but I really don't understand any of this; and that's probably because it seems to me that we Lutherans aren't consistent in the way we treat "Law."  Just look at the so-called three "uses" of the Law -- they don't each refer to the same "Law," do they?


The uses don't refer to the content or source of Law, just how God uses Law. The commands to do or not do something may come from scriptures, from civil courts, or one's mother; but it is still Law and can be used by God for the good of society or to lead one to repentance and the gospel.



Quote
And so I think Lutherans would do well to reflect more seriously on just what we mean when we talk about "Law."


Law is anything that tells us what we should or shouldn't do.



While God's Word comes to us both as Law and Gospel; it isn't the only place where we hear the Law. Neither is it the only Law that God uses.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

DCharlton

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #502 on: January 15, 2013, 07:51:03 PM »
Pastor Charlton, if all we in the ELCA did was "politics" and no "proclamation," I probably wouldn't stay in. The suggestion that the ELCA is mostly involved in "issues" or "politics" or "causes" or matters of that earthly kingdom is an insult to every congregation and pastor and synod and church-wide agency engaged in proclaiming the Gospel.

Charles,

I notice that you did not put the words no and mostly in quotes.   That's because, I assume, that you couldn't actually quote me as saying that.    Nevertheless, although you couldn't quote me, you attributed those words to me.  Please quote me.

I do note the hypocrisy, however, in Charles condemning me for insulting a whole host of people.  This is the condemnation he would not direct at Pr. Christian or Dan Lehman for insulting every, I repeat every, person and congregation that left the ELCA as egomaniacal, phobic, and bigoted.  It's also the condemnation he wouldn't give to his friends for implying that those congregations who have remained in the ELCA have done so only because the ELCA requires nothing of them. 
 
Now, before Charles howls, that I have read more into Pr. Christians words than was there, I'll remind him that he did the same to my words.  You'll also note, that I did not merely make assertions without giving reasons or examples.  I did not say, "Since I can't figure out the behavior of those I disagree with, it must be because they are contemptible people."  No, that's the line of argument that Pr. Christian takes.  I gave reasons and examples that Charles could argue against if he chose.  He doesn't.

David Charlton 

PS - For evidence that there are people who consider the work of assemblies and councils to be the true work of the church, I refer all to the words of both Brian and Charles on this very thread. 
« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 08:29:31 PM by DCharlton »
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #503 on: January 15, 2013, 08:00:05 PM »
PS - For evidence that there are people who consider the work of assemblies and councils to be the true work of the church, I refer all to the words of both Brian and Charles on this very thread.


I just searched for it, and I never used the phrase "true work of the church."
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

DCharlton

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #504 on: January 15, 2013, 08:02:55 PM »

And the third "use" has got to be something else entirely, doesn't it?  The third "use" of the Law is allegedly to guide sanctified believers into God-pleasing behaviors.  But these sanctified believers are also sinners, right (simul iustus et peccator)?  How do we know they are sinners?  The second "use" tells us so.  Therefore, the second "use" tells us we cannot live up to the standards of God's Law, while the third "use" tells us we should guided by God's Law in how we live.  How can the same Law -- God's Law -- tell us two such contrary things?  It looks like the second and third "uses" cannot be referring to the same Law, when one "use" says "you'll never succeed in doing it," and the other says, "do it, anyway."

I'm confused about this.  The Law can't both inform me of what it looks like to love my neighbor as myself and convict me of such failure at the same time?  The Law cannot instruct me in what I ought to do as a husband and convict me of failure to do that at the same time? 

Quote
Yes, yes, I know: these are the sorts of misguided questions that could only be raised by someone who is addicted to relying on reason and logic to figure things out, instead of just falling back on faith to illumine the paradoxes.  But I gotta tell ya, doing the latter sure makes theology and "getting a handle on this third use thing" a lot more difficult.

I don't find the people who embrace the Third Use of the Law to be the most likely to invoke paradox.  It seems to me that the one's most likely to invoke paradox are those who say that the Law reveals God's will, but that since we are Christian the Law can no longer guide or inform us in our daily lives, but that we ought to derive our rules from the Gospel.
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DCharlton

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #505 on: January 15, 2013, 08:19:01 PM »
PS - For evidence that there are people who consider the work of assemblies and councils to be the true work of the church, I refer all to the words of both Brian and Charles on this very thread.


I just searched for it, and I never used the phrase "true work of the church."

To be clear, I do not claim that you used that phrase.  I direct you to page 14 and following of this thread.  Reread our exchange beginning there, especially Reply #207.  The point was that I can give reasons for what I argue on this thread.  It's not just based on the argument that "because I can't think of a reason, they must have only contemptible motives."  Before I go about summarizing the arguments that begin on page 14, it might be helpful to review them.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 08:26:36 PM by DCharlton »
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pearson

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #506 on: January 15, 2013, 08:23:50 PM »

The uses don't refer to the content or source of Law, just how God uses Law.

Law is anything that tells us what we should or shouldn't do.


This is helpful.  It appears that you have a formalistic definition of Law; "Law" refers to a generic form ("anything that tells us what we should or shouldn't do"), that is independent of, and indifferent to, any particular content of the Law.  But is God only the user of "Law" in this formal sense, or also the source of divine Law (e.g., the Mosaic Law), which surely has substantive content?  Does this divine Law have any privileged status among God's uses, or is the divine Law just one among many different kinds of "Law" that God uses to accomplish His purposes?

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pearson

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #507 on: January 15, 2013, 08:35:37 PM »

The Law can't both inform me of what it looks like to love my neighbor as myself and convict me of such failure at the same time?  The Law cannot instruct me in what I ought to do as a husband and convict me of failure to do that at the same time? 


Well, if the third "use" of the Law exists for information purposes only -- a sort of fictionalized account of what something would "look like," if only it were possible -- then you're right; I suppose the second and third "uses" could happily co-exist ("If human beings could only love their neighbors as themselves, which they can't, it would look something like this. . .").  But if the third "use" of the Law is construed as a means to encourage us toward possible actions which the second "use" of the Law declares to be impossible, then we have a problem if that "Law" is the same Law at the same time, don't we?

Tom Pearson 

readselerttoo

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #508 on: January 15, 2013, 08:48:22 PM »

The Law can't both inform me of what it looks like to love my neighbor as myself and convict me of such failure at the same time?  The Law cannot instruct me in what I ought to do as a husband and convict me of failure to do that at the same time? 


Well, if the third "use" of the Law exists for information purposes only -- a sort of fictionalized account of what something would "look like," if only it were possible -- then you're right; I suppose the second and third "uses" could happily co-exist ("If human beings could only love their neighbors as themselves, which they can't, it would look something like this. . .").  But if the third "use" of the Law is construed as a means to encourage us toward possible actions which the second "use" of the Law declares to be impossible, then we have a problem if that "Law" is the same Law at the same time, don't we?

Tom Pearson



Actually what is being discussed here about God's Law is correct imo and a confirmation of what St. Paul says in Romans 3:
"...through the Law comes the knowledge of sin."  and then chapter 4:  "...the Law brings wrath..."

On the one hand God demands total fulfillment of the Law upon us and at the same time does not give us the power to do it (result of the Fall of Humanity).  And yet God provides the only justification and that is by faith in what God has done in Jesus' cross for sinners.

So like the old Certs commercial:  You're both right!

DCharlton

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Re: The ELCA Requires Nothing
« Reply #509 on: January 15, 2013, 08:58:18 PM »

The Law can't both inform me of what it looks like to love my neighbor as myself and convict me of such failure at the same time?  The Law cannot instruct me in what I ought to do as a husband and convict me of failure to do that at the same time? 


Well, if the third "use" of the Law exists for information purposes only -- a sort of fictionalized account of what something would "look like," if only it were possible -- then you're right; I suppose the second and third "uses" could happily co-exist ("If human beings could only love their neighbors as themselves, which they can't, it would look something like this. . .").  But if the third "use" of the Law is construed as a means to encourage us toward possible actions which the second "use" of the Law declares to be impossible, then we have a problem if that "Law" is the same Law at the same time, don't we?

Tom Pearson

Yes, we would.  When I encounter Lutherans who refer to the Third Use, they usually are seeking to make it clear that the Law still applies in the temporal realm, in Creation, in our vocations, etc...  Whether talk of the Third Use is the best way to convey that is another matter.

I would put things this way:
In relation to Creation, my neighbor, my vocations, and to life in this world in general the Law both informs me of what I ought to do and compels me to do it.  The Fourth Commandment informs me that I ought to honor my father and mother.  Sometimes, it compels to honor my parents in an outward manner.   The Law also convicts me of failure to do what I ought.  Even the outward fulfillment of the command to honor my parents is sin, because such outward acts to not flow from love of God and parents. 

What I would seek to convey if I used the term Third Use would be that the Gospel does not free me to ignore my parents in the name of some better work that I had concocted on my own or in the name of Christian freedom.   Living in this world, as a person who is saint and sinner, the Law continues to inform me of and compel me to attend to the needs of my neighbor.  As the Law compels me to attend to the needs of others, it simultaneously convicts me of my self-centeredness.       

The informing and compelling I'm talking about is in relation to the needs of my fellow creatures, not in relation to meritorious works that I cannot do in any case. 
« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 09:12:54 PM by DCharlton »
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