Author Topic: Is God Now a "Ze"?  (Read 15457 times)

Dan Fienen

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Re: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #180 on: May 07, 2018, 06:15:53 PM »
Who is the Christian God?  Is it ever important to name the Christian God?  Does the Christian God have a name?
These are good questions. Why have we allowed tradition (and, perhaps, Calvinist translators) to keep us saying Lord, Lord, Lord, when the name God has given appears over and over again in the Scriptures, though we strenuously avoid saying YHWH? The concordance of the Lutheran Study Bible has an interesting choice — listing Lord separately by where the Hebrew says (as we might in English) Lord and where YHWH appears; the sheer number of places this has happened shows how blurred this distinction is in the minds of modern Christians. Not only does a chunk of the Church have a problem with God's own use of masculine language to speak about Himself, the larger Church has a problem using the name He Himself used to talk about Himself.

The ancient Jews, when printed scriptures were rare, when reading the scriptures in worship, said 'adonai when the text had YHWH. Hearers wouldn't know what word was in the text. Confusion goes back a long, long, time.

Bibles for centuries, back to at least the King James Version, have let us readers know the distinction between YHWH and 'adonai. The first uses all upper-case letters: "LORD". The second uses upper and lower case letters: "Lord." In a few verses where both words occur in Hebrew, "Lord GOD" is used. (Nearly every time that comes up in a Bible study class, I point it out.)

The LXX uses κύριος for both Hebrew words. Perhaps that's where the confusion started - a couple centuries before Christ was born.
Thanks for stating what is known. The question still stands: why do modern translations stick with this, when there is no good reason to? I'm still partial to the suggestion made by Dr Reed Lessing when he was still at CSL, that YHWH Sabaoth be transated General Yahweh.


First of all, we don't know that Yahweh is how the word was pronounced when it was spoken by the High Priest on Yom Kippur. The vowel pointing under יהוה are the vowels for 'adonai to remind the readers not to speak the Holy Name. An older pronunciation was Jehovah.


Secondly, why would we want to purposively offend Jewish folks who would find it as misusing God's name; breaking the commandment?

This is one of the few times you and I find agreement, Brian. I agree with both of your arguments here. Good job.
1. Exact pronunciation of any ancient language is questionable; I don't see why that's necessarily an impediment to using them. Consider how modern Latin liturgies use the execrable Medieval pronunciations rather than the crisp, clear ancient style it is believed was used — they still work.

2. I have great sympathy with the wish to not offend. That said, there are invitations by God to call on God in the OT — that is a truly proper use of God's name, and is not a misuse of the Name, which is what all the futzing about with vowels was intended to avoid (Hey! If we never actually use it, we can't break that commandment! Sweet!). Yet what do we find when we read the OT? We find that it was used by God's people to address God directly; see, for instance, 2 Samuel 24.10. Avoiding the use of the name of the Lord is an accreted practice, and certainly not commanded.


The early rabbis developed a process of building a fence around God's commandments. The image is like building a fence around and three-feet away from a deep hole. The purpose is to make sure that no one falls into the hole, so rules (the fence) are created to keep people away from falling. So, while God's command doesn't forbid the use of the divine name, traditional developed a fence around the name to keep people from misusing it - they wouldn't say it.

I see Jesus doing something similar in Matthew 5. The Old Testament command against adultery doesn't forbid lusting after a woman. Jesus' words create a fence around adultery, a command so that we don't get close to falling into that sin. Similarly, the command against murder. In the OT, it doesn't forbid anger, but Jesus does. It's a fence to keep us from falling into that sin.
While others have dealt with these matters well above, some few comments.

First, the installation of that fence (the "accreted practice" I mentioned) may have been well-intentioned, but, as with most well-intentioned things, it was a wretched mistake and failure. This is for two reasons. Reason one is that it taught people to fear God's name — fear as in having terror of using it — which is to instill greater terror of God himself, even in is His gracious invitation to call on Him in the day of trouble. Reason two is that it did what we Lutherans recognize well and soundly reject — manage to (intentionally or not) set up laws and commands not found in Scripture on the same level as those given within it.

Second, Jesus does no such thing as "creat[ing] a fence" in Matthew 5; rather, He demonstrates (down to the marrow) that there is no escaping the condemnation found in God's commandments. To paraphrase: "You think you haven't committed adultery because you haven't touched a woman who is not your wife? Not so fast..." Jesus at once shows us the width, depth, all-pervasiveness, and danger of sin — your reading makes him little more than a new Moses.


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pearson

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Re: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #181 on: May 07, 2018, 06:40:44 PM »

They do not worship the Trinity.  Ask them.  But you do worship the Trinity.  Different Gods.  Is Jesus God?  You say so and worship Him.  They say no and do not.  Different Gods.  Not "incomplete" understanding but DIFFERENT understanding, different Gods.


This could get us into a mess of trouble.  Does my "understanding" of a thing establish the actual identity of that thing?

Many years ago, when I was working in Africa, I was on an inspection trip in extreme northwestern Kenya, where we had built a school in a central village on the edge of the Sahara.  I walked into a schoolroom that had been completed a few months before, and saw a couple of dozen large rocks (small boulders, actually) lined up in rows in the center of the room.  I thought, "Wht are they storing rocks in this schoolroom?"  Later that afternoon, I was escorted to that same room, but now there were students and a teacher present.  The students were all sitting on the floor, cross-legged, one student behind each of the rocks, with papers and a book spread out on the top of the rock; the students were writing down their lessons on the papers laying on the surface of the rocks.  I then came to "uynderstand" these weren't rocks; they were desks.  But did my "understanding" change anything about the actual identity of those objects in the classroom?

So if I "understand" God differently from a Jew or a Muslim, does that different "understanding" actually change the identity of God?  That would seem to suggest that God might be nothing more than a figment of my "understanding."  Does my "understanding" determine who God is?  And if I change my "understanding," have I now changed God?

Soemone might say that those rocks in classroom are still rocks, but they were being used in a different way (i.e., as desks), so that my "understanding" adjusted when I saw their use.  But, ceteris paribus, might that mean God is always God, but that Christians, Jews and Muslims "use" God in different ways, provoking then different "understandings" of God?

Without taking refuge in that perennial Forum cliche -- "Life is messy," this looks pretty messy to me.

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Re: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #182 on: May 07, 2018, 06:56:56 PM »

They do not worship the Trinity.  Ask them.  But you do worship the Trinity.  Different Gods.  Is Jesus God?  You say so and worship Him.  They say no and do not.  Different Gods.  Not "incomplete" understanding but DIFFERENT understanding, different Gods.


This could get us into a mess of trouble.  Does my "understanding" of a thing establish the actual identity of that thing?

Many years ago, when I was working in Africa, I was on an inspection trip in extreme northwestern Kenya, where we had built a school in a central village on the edge of the Sahara.  I walked into a schoolroom that had been completed a few months before, and saw a couple of dozen large rocks (small boulders, actually) lined up in rows in the center of the room.  I thought, "Wht are they storing rocks in this schoolroom?"  Later that afternoon, I was escorted to that same room, but now there were students and a teacher present.  The students were all sitting on the floor, cross-legged, one student behind each of the rocks, with papers and a book spread out on the top of the rock; the students were writing down their lessons on the papers laying on the surface of the rocks.  I then came to "uynderstand" these weren't rocks; they were desks.  But did my "understanding" change anything about the actual identity of those objects in the classroom?

So if I "understand" God differently from a Jew or a Muslim, does that different "understanding" actually change the identity of God?  That would seem to suggest that God might be nothing more than a figment of my "understanding."  Does my "understanding" determine who God is?  And if I change my "understanding," have I now changed God?

Soemone might say that those rocks in classroom are still rocks, but they were being used in a different way (i.e., as desks), so that my "understanding" adjusted when I saw their use.  But, ceteris paribus, might that mean God is always God, but that Christians, Jews and Muslims "use" God in different ways, provoking then different "understandings" of God?

Without taking refuge in that perennial Forum cliche -- "Life is messy," this looks pretty messy to me.

Tom Pearson   

Maybe there's a better word for it, but I usually go with "Referent."
Jews, Christians, Muslims, Mormons, JW's - All worship the same referent.  But I admit the details are important, and there are consequences for each.   

I think the problem is the word "same" - as if it implies the differences are meaningless or negligible. 
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #183 on: May 07, 2018, 06:59:10 PM »
I agree that it is above my pay grade to condemn people to hell.  But is
it
also above my pay grade to point out that God does not promise to save those who have their own construct of who God and Jesus are that contradict the orthodox belief?  Can you point to where God promises that those who disbelieve what He has revealed will be saved?  God can and will do anything He wants, blessed be His name.  But as a pastor, is it given me to tell people that they can be or will be saved even if they reject Christian belief?


We proclaim to the people: "Jesus loves you. This I know for the Bible tells me so." They can believe that or call Jesus a liar. Even if they call Jesus a liar, he states that he will draw all people to himself - all people, not just the believers (John 12:32).


Paul writes: "Since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came through one too. In the same way that everyone dies in Christ, so also everyone will be given life in Christ." (1 Cor 15:21-22).


If we believe that Adam and Eve's sin afflicted all humankind, why shouldn't we believe that Christ's righteousness also brings new life to all humankind?

Quote
I cannot stop people from believing all sorts of unbiblical things about God and salvation.  Nor do I have the power to absolutely condemn them hell for it.  But should I therefore allow that their beliefs are just fine or warn them of the dangers?


Their mistaken beliefs are not fine. They should be corrected. Anytime someone talks about "finding God," I seek to correct their language to put God in charge of their salvation - not their ability to find God. (I believe that if God were to hide from us, we'd never find him.)


Charles and I have been trying to correct the mistaken beliefs of the LCMS for years without much success. Although, I do find quite a number of former LCMS women as pastors in the ELCA.


It's probable that all of us have some mistakes in our beliefs - but that doesn't stop Jesus from forgiving those sins and saving us.
"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]

Daniel L. Gard

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Re: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #184 on: May 07, 2018, 07:00:30 PM »

Soemone might say that those rocks in classroom are still rocks, but they were being used in a different way (i.e., as desks), so that my "understanding" adjusted when I saw their use.  But, ceteris paribus, might that mean God is always God, but that Christians, Jews and Muslims "use" God in different ways, provoking then different "understandings" of God?

Without taking refuge in that perennial Forum cliche -- "Life is messy," this looks pretty messy to me.

Tom Pearson   

Like all analogies, I do not want to push this one too far. I think the point of comparison is more like one person confessing about a rock "This is a rock" and someone else confessing about a marshmallow, "No, this is a rock." They may think it is a rock, call it a rock, etc. but at the end of the day it is a marshmallow.

Can we play rock, paper, scissors?

Again, I prefer to join my small voice with in what the Church has always, everywhere confessed - the Creeds. They are very clear.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #185 on: May 07, 2018, 07:02:29 PM »
My pastor told us last night  about a meeting he had with the Rabbi down the street from our church.  She said, "So you are the Lutheran Pastor up the street?   At least we worship the same God".   Our Pastor said, "No, we don't worship the same God since you do not believe Jesus is God".   Her reply, "You really believe that Jesus is God?"

I am thankful I have a Pastor that is brave enough to speak the truth.

Hmm . . . wouldn't it be more accurate, in talking with a Jew, to acknowledge that we worship the same God, even though the Jewish understanding of that God (as Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is incomplete? To say "we don't worship the same God" seems to push the differences a bit too far.
They do not worship the Trinity.  Ask them.  But you do worship the Trinity.  Different Gods.  Is Jesus God?  You say so and worship Him.  They say no and do not.  Different Gods.  Not "incomplete" understanding but DIFFERENT understanding, different Gods.


How can there be different Gods if there is only one God. Either there was nothing that led Israel out of slavery and gave them the law; or it has to be the one, true God that Christians also worship, but through the understanding of the Trinity.
"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: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #186 on: May 07, 2018, 07:03:57 PM »
I will stick with the Athanasian Creed - one of the confessions to which I made a quia subscription when ordained. It ends with the words "This is the catholic faith; whoever does not believe it faithfully and firmly cannot be saved."

I believed it on December 2, 1984 and I still believe, teach and confess its truth.

I guess that makes me a dinosaur in the brave new world of relativism.


That was also a time when it was believed that anyone who was not a member of the Roman Catholic church could not be saved.
"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: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #187 on: May 07, 2018, 07:08:53 PM »

Soemone might say that those rocks in classroom are still rocks, but they were being used in a different way (i.e., as desks), so that my "understanding" adjusted when I saw their use.  But, ceteris paribus, might that mean God is always God, but that Christians, Jews and Muslims "use" God in different ways, provoking then different "understandings" of God?

Without taking refuge in that perennial Forum cliche -- "Life is messy," this looks pretty messy to me.

Tom Pearson   

Like all analogies, I do not want to push this one too far. I think the point of comparison is more like one person confessing about a rock "This is a rock" and someone else confessing about a marshmallow, "No, this is a rock." They may think it is a rock, call it a rock, etc. but at the end of the day it is a marshmallow.

Can we play rock, paper, scissors?

Again, I prefer to join my small voice with in what the Church has always, everywhere confessed - the Creeds. They are very clear.


But we aren't talking about changing the object we're describing, e.g., a God and a marshmallow or a rock. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is still God. Jesus even refers to him by that title. Was Jesus mistaken?
"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]

Weedon

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Re: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #188 on: May 07, 2018, 07:15:06 PM »
I apologize in advance if this point has already been made, but it seems to me to be the crucial one:

Do the Jews or the Muslims worship the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? If the God they worship is not the one who eternally begat a Son who became flesh in the Virgin’s womb, then we may definitively say: we are not worshipping the same being. The God we worship HAS an eternal Son made man.

“No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” 1 John 2:23

pearson

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Re: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #189 on: May 07, 2018, 07:24:23 PM »

Again, I prefer to join my small voice with in what the Church has always, everywhere confessed - the Creeds. They are very clear.


Me, too.  Such is the Christian vocation.  Parsing an endless array of conflicted "understandings" is not what we are called to do, as if wading into that mess was the only way to find solid ground.  Thank you, Dr. Gard.

Tom Pearson

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Re: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #190 on: May 07, 2018, 07:32:11 PM »

How can there be different Gods if there is only one God. Either there was nothing that led Israel out of slavery and gave them the law; or it has to be the one, true God that Christians also worship, but through the understanding of the Trinity.


Suppose I'm not interested in glimpsing the truth about God "through the understanding" (my understanding, your understanding, anybody's understanding)?  Suppose I want to see God purely as He manifests Himself to human beings, without going "through the understanding"?  No filters, no constructs, no cognitive middlemen?  He is the Word, I am the hearer.  What then?

Tom Pearson

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #191 on: May 07, 2018, 08:09:34 PM »
While wanting to spend (waste?) time arguing about the first section of your post, I will content myself with just the last paragraph, in particular, this: "All the stuff in the Book of Concord is helpful and important, but it doesn't save. The simple gospel that even an infant can receive brings salvation."

Does that mean you don't believe that the teaching -- the DOCTRINE -- of Article IV of the AC is "necessary"?  Or the teaching -- the DOCTRINE -- of Article III?  What gospel do you have if you don't teach of Christ or the forgiveness of sins? 

Really, Rev. Stoffregen, sometimes you outdo yourself.  And not in a good way.


Articles III and IV are wonderful expressions and explanations of the simple Gospel. It tells us that even infants, who cannot yet read all those wonderful words, are saved by God's grace given to them in baptism. If they grow up and never read those wonderful words, they are still saved by God's grace that was given to them in baptism.


It wasn't until I was in college (an LCMS one) that I even knew that there was a Book of Concord. I then checked. We didn't even have one in our church library. If the pastors I had ever mentioned it, it didn't register with me. I don't think that I was an uncommon Lutheran lay folk. A vast majority of them will never read the Augsburg Confession - and many don't even know it exists. I am not willing to say that God will not save them because they haven't read and understood and believe what's in Articles III and IV.

OK, so now some of the teaching -- DOCTRINE -- contained in the Book of Concord are "wonderful expressions and explanations of the simple Gospel"?  You talk out of both sides of your mouth....


It doesn't take page after page to say, "You are saved by God's grace in Jesus Christ." That's the simple gospel. That's what saves us. When we further explain that, we end up with pages and pages of stuff. It's wonderful to help better understand it all (for those who want to try and understand the finer details of the simple Gospel, but the explanation doesn't replace the simple gospel. One mouth. One side. Two topics: simple gospel and our confessional expressions and explanation of that simple gospel.

1. Article III is not page after page.  It is relatively short.  Same with Article IV. 

2. Your statement was "All the stuff in the Book of Concord is helpful and important, but it doesn't save. The simple gospel that even an infant can receive brings salvation."  Article III and IV are in the Book of Concord.  So, according to your claim, the doctrine they proclaim does not save.

3. You show yourself to be the ultimate Gospel reductionist.  And that is not a good thing.

 

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #192 on: May 07, 2018, 08:11:23 PM »
My pastor told us last night  about a meeting he had with the Rabbi down the street from our church.  She said, "So you are the Lutheran Pastor up the street?   At least we worship the same God".   Our Pastor said, "No, we don't worship the same God since you do not believe Jesus is God".   Her reply, "You really believe that Jesus is God?"

I am thankful I have a Pastor that is brave enough to speak the truth.

Hmm . . . wouldn't it be more accurate, in talking with a Jew, to acknowledge that we worship the same God, even though the Jewish understanding of that God (as Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is incomplete? To say "we don't worship the same God" seems to push the differences a bit too far.
They do not worship the Trinity.  Ask them.  But you do worship the Trinity.  Different Gods.  Is Jesus God?  You say so and worship Him.  They say no and do not.  Different Gods.  Not "incomplete" understanding but DIFFERENT understanding, different Gods.


How can there be different Gods if there is only one God. Either there was nothing that led Israel out of slavery and gave them the law; or it has to be the one, true God that Christians also worship, but through the understanding of the Trinity.

So, if there are no other Gods, what is the point of the First Commandment?  Why did God get angry with Aaron and the Israelites over the golden calf? 

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #193 on: May 07, 2018, 08:12:30 PM »

How can there be different Gods if there is only one God. Either there was nothing that led Israel out of slavery and gave them the law; or it has to be the one, true God that Christians also worship, but through the understanding of the Trinity.


Suppose I'm not interested in glimpsing the truth about God "through the understanding" (my understanding, your understanding, anybody's understanding)?  Suppose I want to see God purely as He manifests Himself to human beings, without going "through the understanding"?  No filters, no constructs, no cognitive middlemen?  He is the Word, I am the hearer.  What then?


As preachers come to understand, from one sermon, people will hear different things. Words cannot enter into our heads without going through our own filters.


Even with the written word, the way some people respond to what I've posted makes it clear that what they read isn't at all what I intended to communicate.


Do we not believe that the one true God reveal himself to Abraham and his offspring? This God revealed himself to Moses in the bush and on the mountain? Do we not still believe that this God's word comes to his through the revelations given to the prophets? As I argued elsewhere, the early Christian confession, "Jesus is Lord," comes from the Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures where the one God's name is, κυρίος.


Conversely, we do not believe that God revealed himself to Mohammed or to Joseph Smith.
"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: Is God Now a "Ze"?
« Reply #194 on: May 07, 2018, 08:17:48 PM »
While wanting to spend (waste?) time arguing about the first section of your post, I will content myself with just the last paragraph, in particular, this: "All the stuff in the Book of Concord is helpful and important, but it doesn't save. The simple gospel that even an infant can receive brings salvation."

Does that mean you don't believe that the teaching -- the DOCTRINE -- of Article IV of the AC is "necessary"?  Or the teaching -- the DOCTRINE -- of Article III?  What gospel do you have if you don't teach of Christ or the forgiveness of sins? 

Really, Rev. Stoffregen, sometimes you outdo yourself.  And not in a good way.


Articles III and IV are wonderful expressions and explanations of the simple Gospel. It tells us that even infants, who cannot yet read all those wonderful words, are saved by God's grace given to them in baptism. If they grow up and never read those wonderful words, they are still saved by God's grace that was given to them in baptism.


It wasn't until I was in college (an LCMS one) that I even knew that there was a Book of Concord. I then checked. We didn't even have one in our church library. If the pastors I had ever mentioned it, it didn't register with me. I don't think that I was an uncommon Lutheran lay folk. A vast majority of them will never read the Augsburg Confession - and many don't even know it exists. I am not willing to say that God will not save them because they haven't read and understood and believe what's in Articles III and IV.

OK, so now some of the teaching -- DOCTRINE -- contained in the Book of Concord are "wonderful expressions and explanations of the simple Gospel"?  You talk out of both sides of your mouth....


It doesn't take page after page to say, "You are saved by God's grace in Jesus Christ." That's the simple gospel. That's what saves us. When we further explain that, we end up with pages and pages of stuff. It's wonderful to help better understand it all (for those who want to try and understand the finer details of the simple Gospel, but the explanation doesn't replace the simple gospel. One mouth. One side. Two topics: simple gospel and our confessional expressions and explanation of that simple gospel.

1. Article III is not page after page.  It is relatively short.  Same with Article IV.
 


The further explanation of Article IV in the Apology is not relatively short.

Quote
2. Your statement was "All the stuff in the Book of Concord is helpful and important, but it doesn't save. The simple gospel that even an infant can receive brings salvation."  Article III and IV are in the Book of Concord.  So, according to your claim, the doctrine they proclaim does not save.


Nope, doctrine does not save. God saves. Doctrine is our attempt to describe what God is doing.


Quote
3. You show yourself to be the ultimate Gospel reductionist.  And that is not a good thing.


Thank you. I take that as a compliment. To me it is a good thing. It means that I am centered on the Gospel. It's an even worse thing to add requirements to the Gospel. It then ceases to be the Gospel.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2018, 09:07:14 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"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]