A Growing Problem in Confessing Lutheranism
Pastor Esget has written a succinct, spot-on analysis of a growing problem in confessing Lutheranism: antinomianism—in both practice and preaching. Here you go:
There is a growing problem of antinomianism in contemporary Lutheranism. “Christ does all good works through me,” some will say—and
accuse you of false doctrine if you preach that the Christian does (and
ought to do) good works. Such people find a warm welcome in congregations
that bill themselves as “confessional” and “liturgical.”
But do the Confessions teach that “Christ does all good works
through me” (or the variant, “The Holy Spirit does all good works
through me”)? Here’s what the Formula of Concord says (Epitome, Article
Fruit of the Spirit, however, are the works wrought by God’s Spirit, who dwells in believers. The Spirit works through the regenerate. These works are done by believers because they are regenerate.
They act as though they knew of no command, threat, or reward. In this
way God’s children live in the Law and walk according to God’s Law….
The believer, so far as he is regenerate, acts without constraint and
with a willing spirit to do what no threat of the Law (however severe)
could ever force him to do.
As I read it, the Spirit does the works and the believer
does the works. Together. The Spirit dwells in the believer, who freely
cooperates. Both do the works. Which is why I find it a reprehensible
doctrine to say that the believer doesn’t do good works, only Christ (or only the Holy Spirit – sheesh, make up your minds already!) does them.
It is a doctrine that becomes an excuse to ignore the Christian
life. The typical formulaic “You’re a sinner; Jesus died for you; all
is forgiven” sermon leads to antinomianism, where the believer is
taught that he needs no guide and does no good works. You’re free to
believe that. You’re just not free to call yourself “Lutheran,” much
less “confessional” if you do.