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Archive for the ‘Doctrine’ Category

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For you Janet, here is some Greek.   Antinomianism (from the Greek ἀντί, “against” + νόμος, “law”) is a theological position that by faith and God’s grace a Christian is freed from all laws (including the moral standards of the culture).

“Whoever thinks that antinomianism is the alternative to legalism should face up to the fact that he also has confused the Law and the Gospel. Tertullian [ca. 160- ca. 225] noted this confusion in Marcion [d. ca. 160]. But we must ask this question: Wouldn’t Marcion be right, if the Gospel’s essence is the forgiveness of sins and Jesus is no law giver? Then we have to give the benefit of doubt to the antinomians of the Reformation era. Weren’t they justified in their program in holding that the law belonged to the civil sphere, that is, the government. They could even quote Luther: “The Decalogue belongs to city hall and not in the pulpit.” They used his characterization of the Law to support their view that there is no other Jesus than a “sweet” Christ. Whenever the Law and the Gospel are separated from each other, wherever the connection between the Law and the Gospel is lost, then what Luther said proves itself to be true: Where either the Law or the Gospel is lost, then the other is also thoroughly destroyed. Every form of antinomianism necessarily destroys the Gospel. Where the preaching of the Law does not work the recognition of sins, how is it possible to experience or understand the forgiveness of sins [Gospel]? Already it was Marcion who no longer understood that redemption meant the forgiveness of sins. If in our time the church neglects the preaching of the Law, the proclamation of the unchanging commands of God to people and nations, then one day the Gospel will inevitably be lost. The contemporary danger of a practical antinomianism is overpowering. How easy it is for the church of an age stridently to forbid the preaching of God’s commandments and to derive the definitive ethic for all human behavior from resources stemming from the world itself, and then to retreat to the gospel, as if the church’s task was proclaiming that God forgives a world which according to its own laws is decaying in sin. No, the forgiveness of sins can only be preached to the penitent. No church can call upon the Reformation and even upon Luther to exempt it from preaching the Law to everyone within the nation and state. Simply for the reason that the reformers were careful in stating that the preaching of the Law consisted in the civil use of the Law, the usus legis elenchticus [the first use law] as well as usus legis in renatis, the application of the Law to the regenerate. The regenerate have come to know that the Gospel is more than and something other than the divine Law, because in the Gospel God is not doing a foreign work, but his own work by which he justifies sinners and makes them alive. Between the Scylla of legalism and Charybis of antinomianism leads a narrow and dangerous path which the church must follow in her ethical thought. Whether she finds the way depends on the purity of her proclamation and on this depends her existence. It is my wish that the World Conference of Churches meeting at Oxford [1937] would be so endowed that churches of Christendom would serve in some way as a light house on this way. Each of the churches must find its own way. They can only find their ways by turning away from the world’s tempting siren calls and in this benighted century to listen to the voice of him who speaks to Christendom the same message which he spoke to the apostles and the reformers and which they believed: “I am the way.” [John 14:6]

Hermann Sasse; Ecumenical Council for Practical Christianity; Law and Gospel (December 1936); Translated by David P. Scaer

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The reasons for not offering it more frequently are many, one of the most common is, “But it won’t be special, if we offer it to often.” To that I say to every congregation and every person who put that forward as a reason: “Why do you take up an offering every Sunday? It makes it so less special when you take the offering.” But how many of our congregations always pass the plate, at every service, or, frankly, at any time there are people in the church building for a formal worship service: Wednesdays, Saturday nights, special occasions. We dutifully and without fail pass the plate and allow the people of God to give generously. So why do we not also as diligently give the people of God the chance to receive God’s special gifts in His supper as often as they are given a chance to give gifts back to God?

Finally a solidly written article on why churches should push for communion every week. In my previous congregation, we had the Lord’s Supper every week.  One of the comments used against communion every week is that the “worship service is too long.”  I say hogwash!  As pastors, we have freedom to design a worship service that will fit into an hour time slot.  We don’t have to use all the parts of the divine service.

What I really don’t understand is that we say we are a denomination that is built upon the Sacraments as the means of grace.  His Sacraments deliver to us the forgiveness of sins, eternal life and salvation.  To say that we want to worship, but only pick and choose what Sacraments to follow is absurd.  We should be using them all.

I really like the following article, especially the comments by Hermann Sasse.  May this article open our understanding on the need and necessity of weekly communion.

There is no good reason not to offer the Lord’s Supper in every Divine Service. There are reasons not to, but they are not good reasons. They are either reasons forced on a parish by a long history of insufficient understanding and practice of the Supper, or they are excuses. But they are not good reasons. We are church that cherishes the means of grace, at least on paper. We all are taught to recite what the Lord’s Supper and what it means. Great words! But then, in too many of our congregations, the Lord’s Supper is only offered every-other-Sunday. The reasons for not offering it more frequently are many, one of the most common is, “But it won’t be special, if we offer it to often.” To that I say to every congregation and every person who put that forward as a reason: “Why do you take up an offering every Sunday? It makes it so less special when you take the offering.” But how many of our congregations always pass the plate, at every service, or, frankly, at any time there are people in the church building for a formal worship service: Wednesdays, Saturday nights, special occasions. We dutifully and without fail pass the plate and allow the people of God to give generously. So why do we not also as diligently give the people of God the chance to receive God’s special gifts in His supper as often as they are given a chance to give gifts back to God? It makes no sense to many any more. (more…)

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False Doctrine

A few wise words from Dr. Walther.

“False doctrine is poison to the soul. An entire banqueting party drinking from cups containing an admixture of arsenic can drink physical death from its cups. So an entire audience can invite spiritual and eternal death by listening to a sermon that contains an admixture of the poison of false doctrine. A person can be deprived of his soul’s salvation by a single false comfort or a single false reproof administered to him. This is all the more easy because we are all naturally more accessible to the shining and dazzling light of human reason than to the divine truth. For ‘the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them’ (1 Cor. 2:14).

“From what has been said you can gather how foolish it is, yea, what an awful delusion has taken hold upon so many men’s minds who ridicule the pure doctrine and say to us: ‘Ah, do cease clamoring, Pure doctrine! Pure doctrine! That can only land you in dead orthodoxism. Pay more attention to pure life, and you will raise a growth of genuine Christianity.’ That is exactly like saying to a farmer: ‘Do not worry forever about good seed; worry about good fruits.’ Is not a farmer properly concerned about good fruit when he is solicitous about getting good seed? Just so a concern about pure doctrine is the proper concern about genuine Christianity and a sincere Christian life. False doctrine is noxious seed, sown by the enemy to produce a progeny of wickedness. The pure doctrine is wheat-seed; from it spring the children of the Kingdom, who even in the present life belong in the kingdom of Jesus Christ and in the life to come will be received into the Kingdom of Glory. May God even now implant in your hearts a great fear, yea, a real abhorrence, of false doctrine! May He graciously give you a holy desire for the pure, saving truth, revealed by God Himself! That is the chief end which these evening lectures are to serve” (Walther, Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm; Dau, William Herman Theodore; Eckhardt, Ernest: The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel: 39 Evening Lectures. electronic ed. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2000, c1929, c1986, S. 20).

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I found this today at cyberthren.com.  Enjoy!trinity

If any doctrine makes Christianity Christian, then surely it is the doctrine of the Trinity. The three great ecumenical creeds—the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed—are all structured around our three in one God, underlying the essential importance of Trinitarian theology. Augustine once commented about the Trinity that “in no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable.” More recently, Sinclair Ferguson has reflected on “the rather obvious thought that when his disciples were about to have the world collapse in on them, our Lord spent so much time in the Upper Room speaking to them about the mystery of the Trinity. If anything could underline the necessity of Trinitarianism for practical Christianity, that must surely be it!”

Yet, when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity, most Christians are poor in their understanding, poorer in their articulation, and poorest of all in seeing any way in which the doctrine matters in real life. One theologian said, tongue in cheek, “The trinity is a matter of five notions or properties, four relations, three persons, two processions, one substance or nature, and no understanding.” All the talk of essence and persons and co-this and co-that seem like theological gobbledy-gook reserved for philosophers and scholars–maybe for thinky bookish types, but certainly not for moms and mechanics and middle-class college students.

So in a few hundred words let me try to explain what the doctrine of the Trinity means, where it is found in the Bible, and why it matters.

First, what does the doctrine mean? The doctrine of the Trinity can be summarized in seven statements. (1) There is only one God. (2) The Father is God. (3) The Son is God. (4) The Holy Spirit is God. (5) The Father is not the Son. (6) The Son is the not the Holy Spirit. (7) The Holy Spirit is not the Father. All of the creedal formulations and theological jargon and philosophical apologetics have to do with safeguarding each one of these statements and doing so without denying any of the other six. The Athanasian Creed puts it this way: “Now this is the catholic faith: That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity, neither blending their persons, nor dividing their essence. For the person of the Father is a distinct person, the person of the Son is another, and that of the Holy Spirit, still another. But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.” (more…)

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