Author Topic: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel  (Read 5229 times)

David Garner

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Re: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #45 on: June 04, 2019, 11:56:59 AM »
Brian usually proceeds from the twin dogmas of sola Scriptura (that is, it has to be in Scripture to apply to us) and the dogma that says Scripture is a historically conditioned, human, and therefore fallen, subjective exploration of man's experience of God). It seems to me that if the latter were true, the former would be entirely irrational. If I were ever to cease being Lutheran, it wouldn't be because I ceased believing in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ or the saving efficacy of the Sacraments, but because I ceased believing in sola Scriptura.   

Anecdotally, this is exactly how my journey progressed.  And I haven't yet bought into the notion that the Scriptures are historically conditioned, human and therefore fallen, subjective exploration of man's experience of God.

One can be convinced against sola Scriptura on other grounds and still maintain a high view of the Scriptures.  The problem, as you note, is losing a high view of the Scriptures makes sola Scriptura to be nonsensical in any event.  If it is what the low view says it is, why should anyone pay it very much attention at all?  Maintaining the high view of Scripture, on the other hand, leaves one simply asking "who is the authority?"  At least, that's where it left me.  It had nothing to do with considering Scripture unauthoritative, but rather considering the proper interpretation and view of Scripture as something that ought be borne out within a tradition rather than each to his own.

And as I've pointed out before, that's exactly why you and I, or Pastor Weedon and I, or any number of other participants here and I, can have a reasonable conversation.  Because the Lutheran Confessions assume a tradition within which sola Scriptura rests.  We can discuss what that tradition is, who maintains it, etc. 

So perhaps the real problem is the jettisoning of all tradition just because, rather than only jettisoning some tradition for cause as the Confessions do.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #46 on: June 04, 2019, 02:45:17 PM »

To counter your argument on this forum, my original response was to this post (emphasis added):

How does that "counter" what Pastor Likeness posted on this forum?

He posted that God instituted marriage. I said that there are no scripture evidence of that. Then you jumped in.

You didn't say that; and my response was to what you did say.  But even if you had said so, you would have been speaking contrary to (at the very least) the Lord Christ in Matthew 19 and Mark 10. 

You've also gotten me curious about what marriage rite(s) you have used as a pastor.

At first, the one in the SBH.
Then, the one in LBW.
Now, the one in ELW, an improvement over LBW.

So you say at weddings what, here, you are insisting is not true?


What I say at weddings is true; it's not a truth that comes directly out of scriptures.
"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: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #47 on: June 04, 2019, 02:59:52 PM »
Brian usually proceeds from the twin dogmas of sola Scriptura (that is, it has to be in Scripture to apply to us) and the dogma that says Scripture is a historically conditioned, human, and therefore fallen, subjective exploration of man's experience of God). It seems to me that if the latter were true, the former would be entirely irrational. If I were ever to cease being Lutheran, it wouldn't be because I ceased believing in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ or the saving efficacy of the Sacraments, but because I ceased believing in sola Scriptura.
 


Solo Scriptura means that we actually look at scriptures, not just talk about it. Thus, I often ask, where does it say that in scriptures? You (and others) may quote a verse that you believe supports your argument. Other times you (and others) just criticize me for asking for such scriptural support.


Once we look at a verse: what it actually says (hopefully in the original languages); then there is the human work of interpreting and applying the verse to our lives today. Part of the interpretive process involves discovering as much as possible what it originally meant to the first people who heard or read these words. What was God saying to them? Coming to some answers to that question usually come before answering: What is God saying to us? In answering, "What did it mean?" we can look at the ways it has been interpreted through the ages. In some ways our world is similar to the ancient world and people. The meanings and applications will be quite similar back then and now. In other ways our world is quite different. Adaptations are needed to make it applicable to life in the 21st century America.


The human work of exegesis does not take God out of the picture. It doesn't reduce the power of the word to create and sustain faith.


Another, less faithful approach in my opinion, is to simply ask everyone in the room, "What does this mean to you?" or even, "What is God saying to you through this text" (which is always a translation of the original)? Then every person has their own, personal interpretation. Is it God speaking to them? Is it their own creative minds coming up with something?


Long before I met him, a man read the text about the rich man coming to Jesus. This man believed that Jesus was telling him through that text to sell everything he had and give to the poor. He did. His wife divorced him. He still hasn't recovered financially from acting on that "interpretation".
"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]

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Re: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #48 on: June 04, 2019, 06:10:33 PM »
Brian usually proceeds from the twin dogmas of sola Scriptura (that is, it has to be in Scripture to apply to us) and the dogma that says Scripture is a historically conditioned, human, and therefore fallen, subjective exploration of man's experience of God). It seems to me that if the latter were true, the former would be entirely irrational. If I were ever to cease being Lutheran, it wouldn't be because I ceased believing in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ or the saving efficacy of the Sacraments, but because I ceased believing in sola Scriptura.
 


Solo Scriptura means that we actually look at scriptures, not just talk about it. Thus, I often ask, where does it say that in scriptures? You (and others) may quote a verse that you believe supports your argument. Other times you (and others) just criticize me for asking for such scriptural support.


Once we look at a verse: what it actually says (hopefully in the original languages); then there is the human work of interpreting and applying the verse to our lives today. Part of the interpretive process involves discovering as much as possible what it originally meant to the first people who heard or read these words. What was God saying to them? Coming to some answers to that question usually come before answering: What is God saying to us? In answering, "What did it mean?" we can look at the ways it has been interpreted through the ages. In some ways our world is similar to the ancient world and people. The meanings and applications will be quite similar back then and now. In other ways our world is quite different. Adaptations are needed to make it applicable to life in the 21st century America.


The human work of exegesis does not take God out of the picture. It doesn't reduce the power of the word to create and sustain faith.


Another, less faithful approach in my opinion, is to simply ask everyone in the room, "What does this mean to you?" or even, "What is God saying to you through this text" (which is always a translation of the original)? Then every person has their own, personal interpretation. Is it God speaking to them? Is it their own creative minds coming up with something?


Long before I met him, a man read the text about the rich man coming to Jesus. This man believed that Jesus was telling him through that text to sell everything he had and give to the poor. He did. His wife divorced him. He still hasn't recovered financially from acting on that "interpretation".

While educated well in emergency medicine and human physiology, I take a different approach to the Holy Scriptures.  It is my catholic principle of submitting myself to the Church and Her interpretation of doctrine, Confessions, and Scripture.  It also submits to the Church’s rites, traditions and interpretations both in practice and belief.

While I will likely lose a challenge by someone who sees the Church and Scripture’s traditions and interpretations as subject to historical critical interpretations or approaches which disregard the hermeneutic of the Church, I am happy to concede on basis of my submission to the vows I spoke at my Ordination.  I guess that puts me into the thinking of another time and period of how the Church and the academy (university Religious Studies departments) and those whose agenda is deconstruction of tradition and Church.  I simply do not apply the same standards I used to evaluate scientific or medical research to those of the Holy Catholic Church.  I can maintain that dichotomy in my thinking, research and approach to the two different approaches to reality.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #49 on: June 04, 2019, 07:11:50 PM »
While educated well in emergency medicine and human physiology, I take a different approach to the Holy Scriptures.  It is my catholic principle of submitting myself to the Church and Her interpretation of doctrine, Confessions, and Scripture.  It also submits to the Church’s rites, traditions and interpretations both in practice and belief.


The Roman Church has a process to determine doctrine, Confession, scripture, and practice. As I've heard a few Catholics say, "The Roman Catholic Church is not a democracy."

While we Lutherans confess the Scriptures and documents in The Book of Concord, we don't have a process that determines their interpretation and application. Each body has our own highest legislative authority to determine such things. We, in the ELCA, can say that our Church has determined that women and married homosexuals will be ordained. We have determined that bishops will officiate at ordinations. That is how we have interpreted and applied scriptures and our Confessions. The LCMS, through their process, has come to different understandings.


Even looking back at the larger history, which church tradition do you place yourself under: there are the Western and Eastern traditions? They are different enough to have caused a split. For example, do you use "and the son" or not in the Nicene Creed.

"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]

JohannesKelpius

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Re: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #50 on: June 05, 2019, 09:36:49 AM »
I would argue that the documents in the Book of Concord do posit a way of reading scripture. The ecumenical creeds are at the front and taken as a given. The Christology of at least the first five ecumenical councils is clearly in there. The Law and Gospel distinction is forcefully proposed. The church fathers, while regarded as fallible, are nonetheless continually referred to as important witnesses. Profane philosophy is taken to have serious limitations but retains some usefulness. So the principle of sola scriptura, as understood in the Lutheran confessions, is not a license for private interpretation but a communal reading with the church with deference to scripture as the highest authority. There is considerable room for different opinions even within this framework but it is not an individualistic free-for-all.

The filioque is a bit of an oddity. Coming from an Orthodox background I've seen a fair amount of polemics around it. To be honest I think the Latins and East Romans arguing about this were interested in scoring points against each other, and then constructing theology that enabled this point-scoring. The actual subject matter- the procession of the Holy Spirit- is so obscure and subtle that I question that either side really knew what they were talking about.

D. Engebretson

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Re: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #51 on: June 05, 2019, 10:25:34 AM »
I would argue that the documents in the Book of Concord do posit a way of reading scripture. The ecumenical creeds are at the front and taken as a given. The Christology of at least the first five ecumenical councils is clearly in there. The Law and Gospel distinction is forcefully proposed. The church fathers, while regarded as fallible, are nonetheless continually referred to as important witnesses. Profane philosophy is taken to have serious limitations but retains some usefulness. So the principle of sola scriptura, as understood in the Lutheran confessions, is not a license for private interpretation but a communal reading with the church with deference to scripture as the highest authority. There is considerable room for different opinions even within this framework but it is not an individualistic free-for-all.

Thank you for this explanation.  It is true that while Lutherans do not possess a 'magisterium' such as the church of Rome, we do not read the scriptures in a vacuum, completely independent of what came before.  Our reading and interpretation is informed and guided not only by the ancient creeds, but also by the consensus of our confessions.  Anyone who reads the scriptures completely, or even largely independent of the confessions does so in a way unknown to our Lutheran forefathers.
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Re: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #52 on: June 05, 2019, 11:01:28 AM »
I would argue that the documents in the Book of Concord do posit a way of reading scripture. The ecumenical creeds are at the front and taken as a given. The Christology of at least the first five ecumenical councils is clearly in there. The Law and Gospel distinction is forcefully proposed. The church fathers, while regarded as fallible, are nonetheless continually referred to as important witnesses. Profane philosophy is taken to have serious limitations but retains some usefulness. So the principle of sola scriptura, as understood in the Lutheran confessions, is not a license for private interpretation but a communal reading with the church with deference to scripture as the highest authority. There is considerable room for different opinions even within this framework but it is not an individualistic free-for-all.

Thank you for this explanation.  It is true that while Lutherans do not possess a 'magisterium' such as the church of Rome, we do not read the scriptures in a vacuum, completely independent of what came before.  Our reading and interpretation is informed and guided not only by the ancient creeds, but also by the consensus of our confessions.  Anyone who reads the scriptures completely, or even largely independent of the confessions does so in a way unknown to our Lutheran forefathers.

I also agree with the above.  We confess Jesus is Lord as contained and accurately elaborated in the ecumenical creeds as well as the Lutheran confessions.  This connection assures that we have consistency with the New Testament kerygma going back to the apostles.  This connection and consistency is clear and apparent in the scriptures.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #53 on: June 05, 2019, 12:08:04 PM »
I would argue that the documents in the Book of Concord do posit a way of reading scripture. The ecumenical creeds are at the front and taken as a given. The Christology of at least the first five ecumenical councils is clearly in there. The Law and Gospel distinction is forcefully proposed. The church fathers, while regarded as fallible, are nonetheless continually referred to as important witnesses. Profane philosophy is taken to have serious limitations but retains some usefulness. So the principle of sola scriptura, as understood in the Lutheran confessions, is not a license for private interpretation but a communal reading with the church with deference to scripture as the highest authority. There is considerable room for different opinions even within this framework but it is not an individualistic free-for-all.

The filioque is a bit of an oddity. Coming from an Orthodox background I've seen a fair amount of polemics around it. To be honest I think the Latins and East Romans arguing about this were interested in scoring points against each other, and then constructing theology that enabled this point-scoring. The actual subject matter- the procession of the Holy Spirit- is so obscure and subtle that I question that either side really knew what they were talking about.


I've argued else where that one cannot have sola scriptura without sola gratia and sola fide. We have a trio rather than a solo. (Other Protestants include solus Christus and soli Deo gloria.)


Luther could declare the tradition and councils wrong when they went against the core proclamation of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. He challenged many of the traditions of the church of his day when they worked against grace alone and faith alone. He even had harsh words against James in scriptures because he saw him proclaiming a salvation by works. (Granted, he had enough respect for tradition not to throw James out of the canon. At the same time, he went against tradition by separating the Apocrypha from the Old Testament and created a separate section of scriptures for them.)


There is a sense that we have the filter of "salvation by grace alone through faith alone" that rises above scriptures and confessions and tradition; that when they are interpreted in ways that suggests salvation by works; that must be discarded as contrary to Christianity.
"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]

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Re: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #54 on: June 09, 2019, 06:11:40 PM »
To the issue of homosexuality, I see that the ELCA continues to use LGBTQ or some other acronym permutation instead of homosexual. Now, I can understand accepting homosexuals who are in a Publicly Accountable Loving Monogamous relationship, or PALM for the acronym addicted. I asked this years ago before I took a sabbatical from this forum, and don't recall every getting a definitive answer. I can understand homosexuals have a PALM relationship. I don't approve of such relationships, but it's not my job to approve or disapprove of them, so my disapproval is moot. But I understand them.

But the "B" in LGBTQ stands for "bisexual", which basically means someone who like having both homosexual and heterosexual erotic encounters. How does one manage to fully express one's bisexual urges in a PALM relationship? I think I have a reasonably good imagination, but I cannot figure that one out at all. Might that be where the "T" in the acronym comes into play?

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #55 on: June 09, 2019, 06:20:48 PM »
To the issue of homosexuality, I see that the ELCA continues to use LGBTQ or some other acronym permutation instead of homosexual. Now, I can understand accepting homosexuals who are in a Publicly Accountable Loving Monogamous relationship, or PALM for the acronym addicted. I asked this years ago before I took a sabbatical from this forum, and don't recall every getting a definitive answer. I can understand homosexuals have a PALM relationship. I don't approve of such relationships, but it's not my job to approve or disapprove of them, so my disapproval is moot. But I understand them.

But the "B" in LGBTQ stands for "bisexual", which basically means someone who like having both homosexual and heterosexual erotic encounters. How does one manage to fully express one's bisexual urges in a PALM relationship? I think I have a reasonably good imagination, but I cannot figure that one out at all. Might that be where the "T" in the acronym comes into play?


It was understood back in 2009 that if bisexuals were going to be in a sexual relationship, it was to be a publicly accountable, life-long, monogamous relationship. Just as any of us can be sexually attracted to many different people, we commit ourselves and limit our sexual relationships with our spouse. Bisexuals are sexually attracted to people of either sex; but their behavior will be limited to the one in the PALM relationship (or marriage, since that is available today).
"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]

Dave Benke

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Re: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #56 on: June 10, 2019, 09:48:26 AM »
I think the social and sexual mores of the late Hellenistic era are so different from our own that it is pretty murky as to what practices exactly Paul was talking about and how they relate to the modern relationships they are construed as condemning. This culture was highly misogynistic and it was also pretty common for well-off, married men to also enjoy handsome youths on the side. Orientation as we talk about it today doesn't seem to have been a consideration at all then. 

For better or worse the Christian church has made concessions to changing social norms that are not necessarily justifiable in scripture. Perhaps the most prominent of such concessions, which seems to be well nigh universal, is on the question of usury. Usury- meaning charging interest on loans, not merely excessively high interest as it was later redefined- is fiercely condemned throughout the scriptures and by many church fathers all the way up to Luther. But Christians- including so-called "traditionalists"- appear to have made their peace with it, to the point where they have accepted a socio-economic system completely dependent on it.

This would make a good thread.

A few years back, I was part of a movement to come against the Pay Day Loan and exorbitant credit card interest rate entities which operate like loan sharks, with 29-36% rates of interest that end up beating down mostly lower working class and working poor people.  Of course they're indiscriminate, so middle class people looking to become poor can also get involved.  We had some success, but it seems to be going the other way in the current national administration.

Anyway, it turns out that the place where this legal loan-sharking is headquartered is South Dakota.  Since more than a quarter of South Dakota's population is Lutheran, my assumption is that Lutherans are right in the thick of the legal loan-sharking business, maybe even at the executive level, where they get paid a nice dollar for sharking those loans.

Ergo, Lutheran church tithers are putting in a dime on the dollar they've ripped off of those paying 29% monthly interest on their loan-shark-credit cards.

Dave Benke

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Re: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #57 on: June 10, 2019, 11:17:13 AM »
I think the social and sexual mores of the late Hellenistic era are so different from our own that it is pretty murky as to what practices exactly Paul was talking about and how they relate to the modern relationships they are construed as condemning. This culture was highly misogynistic and it was also pretty common for well-off, married men to also enjoy handsome youths on the side. Orientation as we talk about it today doesn't seem to have been a consideration at all then. 

For better or worse the Christian church has made concessions to changing social norms that are not necessarily justifiable in scripture. Perhaps the most prominent of such concessions, which seems to be well nigh universal, is on the question of usury. Usury- meaning charging interest on loans, not merely excessively high interest as it was later redefined- is fiercely condemned throughout the scriptures and by many church fathers all the way up to Luther. But Christians- including so-called "traditionalists"- appear to have made their peace with it, to the point where they have accepted a socio-economic system completely dependent on it.

This would make a good thread.

A few years back, I was part of a movement to come against the Pay Day Loan and exorbitant credit card interest rate entities which operate like loan sharks, with 29-36% rates of interest that end up beating down mostly lower working class and working poor people.  Of course they're indiscriminate, so middle class people looking to become poor can also get involved.  We had some success, but it seems to be going the other way in the current national administration.

Anyway, it turns out that the place where this legal loan-sharking is headquartered is South Dakota.  Since more than a quarter of South Dakota's population is Lutheran, my assumption is that Lutherans are right in the thick of the legal loan-sharking business, maybe even at the executive level, where they get paid a nice dollar for sharking those loans.

Ergo, Lutheran church tithers are putting in a dime on the dollar they've ripped off of those paying 29% monthly interest on their loan-shark-credit cards.

Dave Benke

I am not saying that Lutherans are not involved in these businesses in South Dakota, but I believe these businesses are there because South Dakota law makes it an attractive location.  That is, the businesses (and their higher-level employees, I would reckon) came to South Dakota because of the laws there, not that Lutherans in South Dakota decided to become loan-sharks preying on the urban poor of NYC.

Dave Benke

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Re: Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« Reply #58 on: June 10, 2019, 02:24:23 PM »
I think the social and sexual mores of the late Hellenistic era are so different from our own that it is pretty murky as to what practices exactly Paul was talking about and how they relate to the modern relationships they are construed as condemning. This culture was highly misogynistic and it was also pretty common for well-off, married men to also enjoy handsome youths on the side. Orientation as we talk about it today doesn't seem to have been a consideration at all then. 

For better or worse the Christian church has made concessions to changing social norms that are not necessarily justifiable in scripture. Perhaps the most prominent of such concessions, which seems to be well nigh universal, is on the question of usury. Usury- meaning charging interest on loans, not merely excessively high interest as it was later redefined- is fiercely condemned throughout the scriptures and by many church fathers all the way up to Luther. But Christians- including so-called "traditionalists"- appear to have made their peace with it, to the point where they have accepted a socio-economic system completely dependent on it.

This would make a good thread.

A few years back, I was part of a movement to come against the Pay Day Loan and exorbitant credit card interest rate entities which operate like loan sharks, with 29-36% rates of interest that end up beating down mostly lower working class and working poor people.  Of course they're indiscriminate, so middle class people looking to become poor can also get involved.  We had some success, but it seems to be going the other way in the current national administration.

Anyway, it turns out that the place where this legal loan-sharking is headquartered is South Dakota.  Since more than a quarter of South Dakota's population is Lutheran, my assumption is that Lutherans are right in the thick of the legal loan-sharking business, maybe even at the executive level, where they get paid a nice dollar for sharking those loans.

Ergo, Lutheran church tithers are putting in a dime on the dollar they've ripped off of those paying 29% monthly interest on their loan-shark-credit cards.

Dave Benke

I am not saying that Lutherans are not involved in these businesses in South Dakota, but I believe these businesses are there because South Dakota law makes it an attractive location.  That is, the businesses (and their higher-level employees, I would reckon) came to South Dakota because of the laws there, not that Lutherans in South Dakota decided to become loan-sharks preying on the urban poor of NYC.

I didn't say that.

 And mostly I didn't say that the only people affected by loan-shark-credit card and Payday loans are the urban poor of NYC.  I think you might find that even those German and Norwegian rural upper Midwesterners run out of money and get involved witih payday loans and credit card sharking, probably to a degree similar to the urban locales.  The average credit card debt is over $5000 and those carrying a balance have a balance closer to $10000.  That's a lot of interest payments at the exorbitant amounts allowed by law in many states.  And one of the states with a high average credit card debt is - South Dakota.   

Dave Benke