Author Topic: Independence Day in a Time of National Turmoil  (Read 1363 times)

Dan Fienen

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Independence Day in a Time of National Turmoil
« on: July 01, 2020, 03:24:53 PM »

While I was considering my 4th of July Sermon for this year, and reflecting on the turmoil that our nation is experiencing, I decided to go off Lectionary and preach on a free text, Romans 7:14-25. Considering what to do about monuments of men who did monumentally good things and bad things and our nation that has achieved greatness and great bad, I was drawn to Paul musing about his own spirituality and sinful nature. We need to accept that great people can be great but still do great harm, ditto our country, ditto ourselves. I am still working on it.


Imagine my surprise when I looked at the readings for this Sunday and discovered that the Epistle Lesson for this Sunday in LSB Series A is Romans 7:14-25a! Don't need to go off Lectionary after all.


Hidden inside of a lot of us (me for example) is a strain of perfectionism. Our assessment of people, institutions, movements, nations, ourselves, tends to be binary. Either we are all good, perfect for all practical purposes, or we must be no **** good at all. Abraham Lincoln was not the perfect Emancipator and champion of Black Americans, so he was just another closet white supremacist, tear his monuments down.


A whole essay or book could be written about the dangers of perfectionism, should be written, probably has. It prevents us from having a realistic assessment of people, recognizing both their good and their bad, or ourselves. We must clearly and realistically face the bad aspects and actions of people and people in groups, even nations. Without facing that, how can we diagnose where we have gone wrong and work to correct it? But without also clearly and realistically assessing and facing the good side of people and the good side of their actions, our understanding of them, and ourselves, will be just as distorted as those who hide and refuse to face our dark sides.


On a personal level, Romans 7:25a "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" We can face our darkness like Paul did because we can take the sin that dwells within us to the cross where it is forgiven. And then join the war between evil and the good for which our lives are the battlefield, knowing the Jesus fights in us and with us. We can also out of the forgiveness God has given us, forgive those who have wronged us and work with them to make it right.


On a national level, we are not all Christian, appeals to the Gospel will not always be met with belief or willingness. Perhaps we start by being examples of what redeemed people can be like.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Independence Day in a Time of National Turmoil
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2020, 06:37:56 PM »
There are at least least two quite different approaches to Romans 7. I believe Lutherans look at it as a statement about Paul's life as a Christian. We always remain simil justus et peccator. However, in discussions with clergy of other denominations, some of them see it as Paul's life before conversion while Romans 8 tells of his new life. For them, the sanctified life is a movement from peccator towards justus.
"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]

Dan Fienen

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Re: Independence Day in a Time of National Turmoil
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2020, 06:50:15 PM »
There are at least least two quite different approaches to Romans 7. I believe Lutherans look at it as a statement about Paul's life as a Christian. We always remain simil justus et peccator. However, in discussions with clergy of other denominations, some of them see it as Paul's life before conversion while Romans 8 tells of his new life. For them, the sanctified life is a movement from peccator towards justus.
How many of them have become simply justus? How many of us?


After seminary I spent a year at a state university picking up an extra masters. There was a small church in the community that had become notorious. They took very seriously that once we became one with Jesus we left sin behind. The Christian simply does not sin. Thus whatever one of the true believers did, whatever it was could not be sin.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 06:56:43 PM by Dan Fienen »
Pr. Daniel Fienen
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D. Engebretson

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Re: Independence Day in a Time of National Turmoil
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2020, 07:48:29 PM »
There are at least least two quite different approaches to Romans 7. I believe Lutherans look at it as a statement about Paul's life as a Christian. We always remain simil justus et peccator. However, in discussions with clergy of other denominations, some of them see it as Paul's life before conversion while Romans 8 tells of his new life. For them, the sanctified life is a movement from peccator towards justus.

The second view was the position of my graduate prof. for my class in Romans at Nathotah House. I took the other view (the first one listed above) for a paper I wrote.  He disagreed with me, but encouraged me to publish it anyway, which I did in the journal LOGIA. I was mainly taking issue with the New Perspective and N.T.Wright who took the second perspective. The paper is on Academic.edu here, in case you would like to see my own argument for view #1:
https://www.academia.edu/5488880/Romans_7_-_Luther_and_the_NNP_-_Publication_copy
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Independence Day in a Time of National Turmoil
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2020, 08:00:30 PM »
After seminary I spent a year at a state university picking up an extra masters. There was small church in the community that had become notorious. They took very seriously that once we became one with Jesus we left sin behind. The Christian simply does not sin. Thus whatever one of the true believers did, whatever it was could not be sin.

The heresy is frequently termed "eternal security". 

One of it loudest trumpets was the late Carl MacIntire.

A book published in the late 70's Voices of American Fundamentalism includes a letter in which he states that as a born-again Christian he does not...and henceforth and forever will not...need to repent of anything.
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Terry W Culler

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Re: Independence Day in a Time of National Turmoil
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2020, 08:03:49 PM »
I pretty much think that the 10th chapter of John's Gospel clearly teaches eternal security for the elect.
"No particular Church has ... a right to existence, except as it believes itself the most perfect from of Christianity, the form which of right, should and will be universal."
Charles Porterfield Krauth

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Independence Day in a Time of National Turmoil
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2020, 09:20:30 PM »
I pretty much think that the 10th chapter of John's Gospel clearly teaches eternal security for the elect.

A similar argument could be drawn from Romans 8 "nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus".

But these interpretations run the risk of negating the first of Luther's Ninety Five theses, "that the Christian life ought to be one of repentance."
Greek Orthodox Deacon -Ecumenical Patriarchate
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Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
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Dan Fienen

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Re: Independence Day in a Time of National Turmoil
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2020, 09:42:19 PM »
At the risk of over simplification the difference is between confidence and complacency.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
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J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Independence Day in a Time of National Turmoil
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2020, 09:59:00 PM »
At the risk of over simplification the difference is between confidence and complacency.

Aye; and perhaps also a distinction between assurance and arrogance.
Greek Orthodox Deacon -Ecumenical Patriarchate
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Independence Day in a Time of National Turmoil
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2020, 03:20:48 AM »
There are at least least two quite different approaches to Romans 7. I believe Lutherans look at it as a statement about Paul's life as a Christian. We always remain simil justus et peccator. However, in discussions with clergy of other denominations, some of them see it as Paul's life before conversion while Romans 8 tells of his new life. For them, the sanctified life is a movement from peccator towards justus.
How many of them have become simply justus? How many of us?


They see our lives of sanctification as a movement from peccator towards justus. Sanctification means less peccator and more justus. Something that is not completed until death.


Quote
After seminary I spent a year at a state university picking up an extra masters. There was a small church in the community that had become notorious. They took very seriously that once we became one with Jesus we left sin behind. The Christian simply does not sin. Thus whatever one of the true believers did, whatever it was could not be sin.


There are verses in 1 John that suggest that.


3:6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. (NASB)


3:9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (NASB)


5:18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. (NASB)


There are also other verses in 1 John, like 1:8-10 that indicate that claiming we have no sin, we are liars. So, it can be a matter of which verses one gives the greater priority.
"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: Independence Day in a Time of National Turmoil
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2020, 03:24:34 AM »
I pretty much think that the 10th chapter of John's Gospel clearly teaches eternal security for the elect.

A similar argument could be drawn from Romans 8 "nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus".

But these interpretations run the risk of negating the first of Luther's Ninety Five theses, "that the Christian life ought to be one of repentance."


I agree that one who claims to follow Christ should willingly do what Jesus told us to do; and Jesus (as well as John) certainly preached repentance. Luke ends his gospel with Jesus telling his disciples to preach repentance. However, we can also ask based on Romans 8: Does the lack of repentance separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus? The answer is, "No."
"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]