Home > Christian Life > File this Under “Ludricrously [read: stupid] Things Some Lutheran Pastors Say”

File this Under “Ludricrously [read: stupid] Things Some Lutheran Pastors Say”

December 31st, 2008
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Just received this comment from a friend who was perusing an ostensibly "Lutheran" internet forum, a comment made by a LCMS pastor:

"I have at times shocked people by suggesting that for the Christian,
the Ten Commandments really have become the Ten Suggestions for living
the good life."

No, pastor, they are not suggestions. Sometimes I do find myself wondering if, while going through seminary, some pastors missed those days they covered, oh, you know…Lutheran theology. I'm just saying, maybe it might be wise for pastors like this actually to take a few minutes to read the Large Catechism. Just a thought, for the new year.

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Categories: Christian Life
  1. Rev. Benjamin Tomczak
    December 31st, 2008 at 21:34 | #1

    Is that all he said or was there more context?
    It’s possible to understand that sentence, on it’s own, to mean, “For many Christians, the Ten Commandments have become the Ten Suggestions. This is not how it should be.”
    Just wondering.
    McCain: If that is what he said, do you think I would have said what I said about it Ben?

  2. Craig
    December 31st, 2008 at 21:34 | #2

    They, sadly are not Lutheran, nor are their seminaries. They for some strange reason choose to hide behind a Lutheran mantle.
    Blessings! LM

  3. December 31st, 2008 at 21:34 | #3

    Hah! I’ll put that on my list of resolutions…
    Read catechism, underline titles of sections…note, commandment does not equal suggestion.
    Happy New Year in Christ,

  4. Steve
    January 1st, 2009 at 16:17 | #4

    FWIW (& being aware that I am “preaching to the choir”!!!)…this statement that a “Commandment” is merely a “Suggestion” of course reflects that antinomian spirit, which, with its sibling brother “legalism” has always been existent since the fall of Adam, as both of them were born from their mother “enthusiasm”, the mother of all heresy…..And yet, in the current climate of Post-Modern Relativism (if not also the pragmatic utilitarianism of the current Liberal Fascism), such antinomianism has become increasingly-overt in LCMS life (i.e., in preaching, teaching, lifestyle, service-style, convention resolutions at district/national levels, etc.,), not to mention all denominations (and “non-denominational” denominations!) claiming the name “Christian.” For example, just check out Rick Warren’s recent compromising behavior in cozying up with Obama, Melissa Etheridge, etc. (And sadly, how quickly those pastors/parishioners of ours who are Purpose-Driven Life fans and staunch Republican voters will turn a blind eye when you point out such Biblically-unfaithful liberalism in their “spiritual gurus”!!!) And, given the current “bailouts”, has anyone else noticed no only that our government no longer complies with, let alone even correctly knows, what their own Constitution literally says (and thus “objectively means”), but also that so few politicians of any stripe even point this out??? We see this same Post-Modern geist of a sensible, pragmatic, materialist view of reality, of truth, influencing thought in BOTH the church and in the state…Granted, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to cry “There is no acknowledgment of objective absolutes anymore!” in the sense of the current reactionary, exclusively-ontological, hyper-Platonizing way of thinking concerning “reality” with all it’s underlying cosmological dualism (an error on the other extreme which is becoming increasingly becoming prevalent among some LCMS theological thinkers and/or ones who have, by embracing such daemonic thinking either wittingly or unwittingly, have already left Lutheranism for Rome or Constantinople)…After all, in Christ all reality in terms of it as Universal/Essential and as Particular/Relational have been reconciled and upheld…But I digress…
    ….Given that the subjective relativism of this age extends its influence not merely to the sacred of Biblical theology, but even to all the secular, even to a very basic thing as one’s interpretation of language in general (since an “objective” semantics of language is no longer accepted), it is then no surprise to see this LCMess pastor cannot even consider the 10 COMMANDMENTS from a literary standpoint of the semantic import of that one simple word of “SHOULD” Luther employs in the carefully-crafted meanings he gives for all 10 commandments along with the Close of the Commandments. Even apart from knowing Lutheran theology (although I don’t advise divorce theology from literary semantics of course), to some extent one could objectively examine the semantics of that crucial word of “SHOULD”:
    For example, the meaning does not say “We HAVE THE OPTION TO fear, love, and trust in God above all things” if we so desire and choose (i.e., ANTINOMIANISM), anymore than it is says that “We MUST fear, love, and trust in God above all things” (i.e., “LEGALISM”, at least when applied to the “we”, to “us” as the fulfillers of that “must”, rather than to Christ, Who alone can and did become the fulfiller of a “must” in our stead and for our sake, not for His sake.) No, it says “We SHOULD fear, love, and trust in God above all things”…and so in terms of objective semantics in the context given, that “should” implies two realities:
    1) We in our current fallen, sinfilled nature in actuality have NOT and do NOT and CANNOT keep His Commandments as they literally are stated (i.e., according to their “Letter”, let alone their “spirit”). If we DID (and thus CAN) keep His commandments as they are literally stated, then the word “SHOULD” would be a completely wrong word to use from a semantic standpoint, and the words “CAN”, “DO”, “WILL CONTINUE TO” would be the proper words to use from a semantic standpoint.
    2) Though we do not (because we cannot) keep His Commandments as they are literally stated, God’s Law in and of itself, in terms of these 10 Commandments, is good and wise from an objective standpoint…The problem being not an essential problem of the Law in/of itself, but rather a “relational” problem between God’s Word in it’s distinct messages of the Law and Gospel and us, given our fallen sinful nature which by it’s ‘nature’ is at enmity with God and His Word (both in terms of the Word’s Message of Law as seen in the antinomianism inherent in our sinful flesh which disobeys it, and in terms of the Word’s Message of Gospel as seen in the legalism also inherent in our sinful flesh which rejects the gift of forgiving, saving grace in favor of the supposed ‘merit’ of personal good works….This is why we Lutherans confess what we do in Luther’s explanation of the Third Article of the Creed, for without the Person and Work of the Spiritus Creator, of the Holy Spirit, then both brothers of antinomianism and legalism in our fallen flesh will continue to reign, and we will not only continue to reject the Law, but also reject the Gospel). I really appreciate the image of Moses holding the two tablets ABOVE HIS HEAD in presentation of them to the assembly below…for such suggests the 10 Commandments are above both Moses and the people, that is, that while we are called to “UPHOLD” (“Hold UP”) the Law (and all that God in Christ has commanded the ministry of His church, i.e., that “tareo”/”observe” of Matthew 28:20, which itself semantically implies an objectivity both essentially in what was commanded and also relationally in terms of observing/upholding that which He has commanded), it is precisely in that fact that the Law is and always will be OVER OUR HEADS, UNATTAINABLE,…of why the current reality of our existence now is defined as one of always being “UNDER the LAW” so long as we bear this sinful, fallen flesh with all its ‘gravity’.
    While the Law in/of itself in the universal, essential aspect of its reality is perfectly good and wise, nevertheless, in the particular, relational aspect of its reality over/against us, it is no friend, precisely because of our fallen, sinful condition which cannot keep it let alone desires to keep it. And that is why the use of that word “SHOULD” by Luther is so meaningful…The word implies both “The Law indicates what we should do/how we should be”, and yet also reflects to us “What we actually do, how we currently are”….It is a precious word, in terms of both Law and Gospel…
    So, even when treated from an objective semantic standpoint apart from any knowledge of Lutheran theology, one can see that to call the 10 Commandments the “10 Suggestions” is quite wrong!!!! (Although having said that, better to have the Lutheran theology of course!!!)
    Sorry my writing here is verbose and lacks clarity…But I write in haste, with the brief window of free time I have on New Year’s Day…As Mark Twain once said in a long letter to a friend, “Had I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter.” !!!! But I’d be glad to clarify anything here that is confusing to anyone who might read it…Thankyou Rev. McCain for all the good work you do (i.e., which Christ is doing in and through you…Soli Deo Gloria!)

  5. Lindsey
    January 7th, 2009 at 04:39 | #5

    I’m not a theologian, but I do believe that there is a definate “balancing point” (for lack of a better term) between Legalism and Antinomianism. It would probably be worded something like this.
    “I know as a sinner who falls short of the glory of God that I cannot keep the Law on my own, nor please God. However, Jesus lived the perfect life in my place and died for my sins so that I may be saved, not through works but through His works on my behalf. I receive this salvation through faith. Now, that I am saved and have the Holy Spirit living in me, He enables me to do His will and obey His law. Though my sanctification will be incomplete in my earthly life because I still struggle with my sinful nature, I strive to live as God’s disciple and do His will, knowing full-well that the power to do this is not from me, but from God working in me. I look forward to the day when I will meet my Savior face to face in the Last Day. All glory and power belongs to Him, not to me”

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