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Are Some Lutherans Antinomian? Yes, But Genuine Lutheranism is Not!

February 27th, 2013
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Yes, some Lutherans are antinomian. Witness the actions of the ELCA in formally embracing as acceptable and good, what God’s Word has declared to be sin and wrong. Witness the rhetoric we hear among so-called “conservative” and “confessional” Lutherans who make excuses for sin, who shrug it off, who bristle at any talk in a sermon of the way Christians are to live. I recall a conversation with a fellow pastor who told me about certain incidents involving fellow Lutheran pastors that shocked me. The excuse made for bad behavior was that they were enjoying the “freedom” of the Gospel. Such “freedom” be cursed to hell where it belongs and from which it comes! It is only the “freedom” pigs have to wallow in mud and their own filfth.

We Lutherans are rightly criticized by other Christians for a certain antinomian tendency among us. And it is not merely a perception based on their faulty theology, it is reality. When we still think it is appropriate to sell and promote T-shirts that say “Weak on sanctification” and make excuses for it, and about it, and when we praise public teachers who like to gas on about how they are “antinomians” and make it a butt of jokes and laughter, when we allow ourselves to grow lazy and indifferent when it comes to holiness of living, we are trifling with the Word of God. The likes of Werner Elert and Gerhard Forde have not been helpful to us on these issues. We have been preaching comfort into the ears of people, and avoiding telling them the consequences of being a Christian. I’ll say it again, and it always irritates some people when I do, but the reality is that there are those who have been so “comforted” that they think nothing of engaging in sin and pursuing vile activities, all the while appealing to their Baptism, or being “free in Christ” or being “Gospel and Christ-centered.” I have had actually had pastors tell me we should not quote St. Paul’s letters in our sermons when he talks about good works, because Paul’s letters were never intended as sermons, or that a sermon should never end with any kind of exhortation to do good works, because that would be a confusion of Law and Gospel. I’m not making this up!

Such antinomian and anti-holy living attitudes are not Lutheran. Period. No way. No how.

“Not all are Christians who boast of faith. Christ has shed His blood. We are justified by faith alone without works. You say, “I believe this.” The devil, you say! You have learned the words you have heard the same way mockingbirds learn to repeat things. Where are the fruits demonstrating that you truly believe? You remain in sins; you are a usurer and more. Surely Christ did not die and shed His blood for the sins that you are intent on committing continually, but so that He might destroy the works of the devil [1 John 3:8]. If you were formerly a usurer, say, like Zacchaeus: “I will give half of my goods, and if I have defrauded anyone, I will restore it fourfold.” [Luke 19:8]. The blood of Christ kills sin; it does not make it alive, which is the work of the devil, who inflames the desire that makes human beings murderers and adulterers. Christ did not die so that you might remain that kind of sinner, but so that sin, having been slain, might be blotted out, and you might henceforth love God and your neighbor. Faith takes away sins and puts them to death, so that you might not live in them but in righteousness. Therefore, show by your works and your fruits that there is faith in you. If not, the blood of Christ does not help. If you are a usurer, disobedient, neglectful of your station, then look to see whether you believe. For faith is victorious, triumphant, a conqueror of the world [1 John 5:4]. If you truly believe, you would not commit usury or adultery; you would not be disobedient. Let each one think: I have been made a believer; I have been washed in Baptism with the blood of the Son of God, so that my sins might be dead. [I will] not be disobedient and will declare this with my deeds.” Otherwise, give up the boast of being a believer. You know that you are a disobedient son, an adulterer; do not boast of faith and the blood of Christ. You belong to the devil, the way you are going, etc. You are bringing the name of the Lord into shame and yourself to eternal damnation.”

— Martin Luther, Sermon for the First Sunday after Trinity on 1 John 4:16-21, Preached in St. Mary’s Church, Wittenberg, Germany June 7, 1545. Translated by Christopher Boyd Brown. Unpublished translation. Pr 2002; WA 49:80-87. Copyright Concordia Publishing House, 2010.

Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. Romans 6:12-14

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Categories: Christian Life
  1. Stephen
    February 7th, 2010 at 09:34 | #1

    Pr McCain, Thanks for this. I speak as an evangelical who recently started to explore Lutheran theology. I thank God for the clear understanding of our standing before God on the basis of Christ’s merits, not ours, that is at the heart of the Lutheran faith. But indeed I have frequently encountered examples of this undermining or ignoring of sanctification that you mention. I confess I have been shocked by the aversion to speaking in terms of sanctification that I have found. As you point out, certain exhortations of St Paul himself would be out of bounds in some modern Lutheran pulpits. You mention above the influence of certain theologians. Do you see this also as an overreaction to the (probably more serious) influence of pietism in Lutheran history?

  2. Rev Allen Yount (CRSM)
    February 7th, 2010 at 14:09 | #2

    Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison!

    To such “confessional” individuals that you mention in this post these words from Luther’s Small Catechism – one of the Confessions – are an appropriate reply:

    “God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God os taught in its truth and purity and we as the children of God *also lead holy lives according to it.* Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word *profanes the name of God among us.* Protect us from this, heavenly Father!” (Luther’s explanation to the First Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, emphasis added)

    On another subject, Pr McCain, I think someone may have hacked into your site again. For the past couple of days, I’ve seen this link inserted above every post: “Vu Manh Thang – I Am Superman”

  3. Mike Mapus
    February 7th, 2010 at 18:57 | #3

    Stephen,

    I think your on to somthing when you mention that there might be an overeaction to pietisism. I also think the influence of Forde and others helped fuel the fire of this, what I call semi-antinomism. Most confessional lutherans who are in this camp, are very strong on the 2nd use of the law, but very, very weak on the 3rd use. Many also in this camp will have no problem calling the “old” Missourians pietists and disliked the preaching of Walther and Maier for example. I had a conversation with a pastor awhile back and he thought Dr. Louis Brighton was a pietist, when I heard this, I knew I wasn’t going crazy on seeing this difference.

    Fom what little research that I have done on this, this began with the liturgical renewal movement back in the 1940′s. Not that liturgical renewal was bad in of it self, but the theology that was imported from Germany that came with it. If you really what to see the stark contrast between the old and modern Missourians, take a look at Kretzmann’s Commentarys of the Bible. You can read it online here: http://kretzmannproject.org/. I also think the new TLSB does a nice job going back closer to an old Missourian / Synodical Conference understanding of sanctification, thats’ reflected in the notes.

    Pastor McCain,

    I think we might be in the minority on this, but keep fighting the good fight and I’m glad we have you as a voice on this topic.

    MM

  4. Matt P.
    February 7th, 2010 at 22:48 | #4

    I am fascinated by Luther’s consistent attack on usurers and usury. I’m not sure any of us who have borrowed money or who have money invested in modern finance and banking would escape his condemnation. In many places Luther includes usurers among adulterers and murderers as gross sinners who have lost faith. Question: Would you call Luther’s preaching here Third Use of Law? I would not. I mean that here Luther is calling pseudo-Christians to repentance. The sounds like “show us our sins” to me, not a guide for Christian living. In which new volume will this appear?

    • February 8th, 2010 at 09:35 | #5

      Matt, it’s an interesting query you raise. I think the point here is that Luther is speaking directly to Christians who think that because they sit in Divine Service, hear sermons, and can wear the name tag: “I am a confessional Lutheran Christian” they are “free” to indulge themselves because, after all, we are baptized and take communion, etc.

      First, Second, Third…call it whatever you will…some Lutherans have a problem discussing Christian living, as Luther does so powerfully and pointedly in this sermon.

      Just last night I heard from a pastor who again told me, in no uncertain terms, that it is wrong to mention anything about our response to God’s grace at the end of the sermon, for that is Law, and the Law always accuses, therefore if we conclude a sermon that way we are just leading people to despair or to be hypocrites.

      This is not a “made up” problem we face, it is a very real problem that has developed in our circles, and it deeply saddens me.

  5. Jeff
    February 8th, 2010 at 10:18 | #6

    I have not read much of Elert. I have read a lot of Forde. I came into the Lutheran tradition from a “holiness” Wesleyan perspective. I can tell you that “going on to perfection” and holiness teaching in general leads to moralism and more law. It creates dispear and contributes to a further sense of roller coaster Christianity. I think Forde is getting a bad rap here. We are dead in our sins. The gospel of Jesus raises us to new life in him. We are alive! We are dead to our sins now in Christ! How can anyone who is alive in Christ go on sinning and living like a “pig?” And so the “third use” is simply getting used to being alive in Christ (justified). Our faith in Christ leads us into the world of our neighbours. Forde was a breath of fresh air to this former holiness pietist. I am sure I am not alone here.

  6. elainep
    February 8th, 2010 at 10:36 | #7

    How can a person who thinks he can sin willfully because we are “free” be called a believer?

  7. Mike Rose
    February 8th, 2010 at 10:48 | #8

    I could not agree more. Exhortation to holy living main and plain in the epistles and I believe they are absolutely appropriate and beneficial in sermon. Pastor McCain, is there any sermons online that you would recommend that give examples of good Lutheran sermons that include appropriate exhortations?

    The current model for preaching that I hear is:
    1) you are an evil worthless sinner
    2) but for reasons known only to God, He loves you and forgives you anyway, so rejoice.

    At the end of the sermon I feel bad about myself and good about god. The problem is that this is only part of the story. There is a new creation that is dying to hear how he can live his life in a godly manner, with illustrative examples of how that could be applied in our modern context.

    The quandary that the “anti-third-use model” creates is that the only thing I can do in this mortal life is offend God…like there is no “New Creation”…like the only way we can further the kingdom of God is by not talking about it. This makes my head want to explode.

  8. Rev Allen Yount (CRSM)
    February 8th, 2010 at 12:52 | #9

    So what do these pastors do with the Table of Duties, which appears towards the end of the Small Catechism after Luther discusses the Sacraments? Isn’t *that* following Gospel with Law? It seems like these individuals expect people to do good works automatically after hearing the Gospel without needing to be told what works to do. To me, that’s like saying that the Holy Spirit works in Christian’s hearts apart from the Word, which is enthusiasm, not confessional Lutheranism..

    Yes, I know what Luther says about faith having already done good works without asking whether good works are to be done. That’s not the issue here. Read how Luther unpacks the meaning of the Ten Commandments in the Large Catechism and you’ll see how he would respond to what these pastors are saying.

    “From all sin, from all error, from all evil… good Lord, deliver us.

    “To preserve all pastors and ministers of Your Church in the true knowledge and understanding of Your wholesome Word and to sustain them in holy living…we imolore You to hear us, good Lord” (The Litany, LSB, pp. 288, 289).

  9. Brian
    February 8th, 2010 at 17:50 | #10

    Another interesting thread. I am new to Lutheran Theology and have read a few of Forde’s books. What exactly is the problem with his books such as “Theology of the Cross” or “The Gospel is for Proclamation”?

    Thanks for any insights,

    Brian

  10. Matt P.
    February 8th, 2010 at 18:55 | #11

    @ptmccain

    BTW, I wasn’t questioning the proper preaching of the Law. I’ve NEVER met a confessional Lutheran pastor who says we shouldn’t preach the Law or that Christians are free to willfully sin without repentance. Never, not once. There’s a difference between being an antinomian and not preaching the Law after the Gospel has been proclaimed in a sermon. I do not agree with saying we can never preach the Law after the Gospel has been proclaimed, however, that does NOT make that pastor an antinomian. In fact, I think more pastors should teach (as Luther does in numerous sermons or St Paul in the epistles) about the proper living of the faith through love for one’s neighbor in one’s vocation. For what is the heart of the Law if not love for God and one’s neighbor? “Antinomians” denied the necessity of the Law for the believer not because they thought the believer could live in sin, but rather because they thought those who had been renewed no longer needed the Law. Luther argued that because Christians remained simul iustus et peccator that Christians must continue to hear the Law. This is the general argument of the Formula of Concord VI. See for instance, VI. 6 “If God’s believing and elect children were completely renewed in this life by the indwelling Spirit, so that in their nature and all its powers they were entirely free from sin, they would not need the law.” This is essentially the antinomian argument which the authors of the Formula refuted. It is also no accident that the authors identify the Law as a “mirror” even under the “Third Use” category.

  11. Gregory DeVore
    February 9th, 2010 at 02:12 | #12

    CFW Walther was another determined foe of antinomianism. I just read his sermon on heavenly mindedness on Luke 5:1-11. We need to stop being afrad of the label pietist that we do not cultivate a salutary orthodox piety.

  12. February 9th, 2010 at 07:10 | #13

    Pr. McCain said, “Just last night I heard from a pastor who again told me, in no uncertain terms, that it is wrong to mention anything about our response to God’s grace at the end of the sermon, for that is Law, and the Law always accuses, therefore if we conclude a sermon that way we are just leading people to despair or to be hypocrites.”

    What was Jesus thinking when he said after pronouncing absolution, “Go and sin no more”?

  13. Stephen
    February 9th, 2010 at 08:20 | #14

    It seems to me the fundamental issue in Pr McCain’s article and reply above, is: how should the Christian live and what should be preached about it? My own experience as I have begun to explore some (modern) Lutheran writings is very much in accord with what Mike R says: little typically gets said about the new creation in which God desires to see us grow in love for God and neighbour. Such a concern is seen by some as pietistic, an attempt to please God by one’s works rather than trust wholly in God’s grace. This is surely an overreaction; exhortations to live the life that flows from and through faith are not in conflict with justification by grace. We are not saved by holy living, but it is indeed God’s good pleasure and purpose that we should begin to do so and grow therein. It strikes me that this is more fundamental than questions regarding the appropriate use of the Law, though I do affirm the so-called 3rd use.
    Matt P – you are saying, I think, that the confessional ministers you have heard who do not preach Law after Gospel DO believe in the importance of growth in holy living (and indeed the 3rd use), but do not think it right to leave the congregation with Law as the final word. Have I understood? That is also what I have heard some say.
    Jeff – I understand where you are coming from. I spent several years in the theological wilderness of self-focused spiritual transformation, having lost sight of the heart of our faith, namely justification as a free gift. God graciously drew me back, and I have found much help in Lutheran writings. But we can affirm both justification and sanctification so long as we correctly distinguish them, we needn’t choose between them.

  14. Jeff
    February 9th, 2010 at 10:36 | #15

    Stephen and others,
    My main concern is when sanctification overshadows, even over powers Justification. It seems the application portion of a sermon if done poorly can do just that. Isn’t the pure Gospel, the gracious Word of forgiveness in Christ enough? Good works will come forth. If my kid falls I pick him up with out thinking about it. A Christian will do the same with any good work. Breathing is a good work. Following the traffic laws is a good work. Simply calling my mum is a good work. Why do people need to be exhorted to do what should come natrually to any Christian who is now alive in Christ and dead to sin? Forde is not an antinomian. Revisionists who preach love, love, love are antinomians. That’s not Forde and I think putting him in that category was wrong in my view.

    • February 9th, 2010 at 12:41 | #16

      Jeff, you raise an interesting point. I guess one way to respond to your questions, is with a question. Why didn’t Paul stop at Romans 6:11? Why did he write beyond that and go on to describe the Christian life?

  15. Pr. Tom Fast
    February 9th, 2010 at 15:59 | #17

    “Stanley Hauerwas has said that modern Protestantism has been the only form of Christianity in history to suppose that one could be a Christian by virtue of things which happen entirely inside one’s head. This supposition is true of modern Protestantism’s conservative and liberal versions alike—here Friedrich Schleiermacher and Dwight L. Moody basically agree.”

    David Yeago
    Sacramental Lutheranism at the End of the Modern Age

    It seems there’s much more at stake here than merely a disagreement over the third use of the law.

  16. Mark Veenman
    February 9th, 2010 at 19:37 | #18

    Jeff and others,
    You may hold to any view of sanctification you wish.

    If you’re a confessional Lutheran, then you ought to subscribe also to the Solid Declaration, Art. VI: “It is true that the law is not laid down for the just (I Tim. 1:9)…but for the ungodly. But this dare not be understood without qualification, as though the righteous should live without the law….”

    “Then he (the Holy Spirit) employs the law to instruct the regenerate out of it and to show and indicate to them in the 10 Commandments what the acceptable will of God is (Rom. 12:2) and in what good works, which God has prepared beforehand, they should walk (Eph.2:10)”

    “Believers, furthermore, require the teaching of the law in connection with their good works, because otherwise they can easily imagine that their works and life are perfectly pure and holy.”

    “Hence we reject and condemn, as pernicious and contrary to Christian discipline and true godliness, the erroneous doctrine that the law …is not to be urged upon Christians and true believers but only upon unbelievers, non-Christians, and the unrepentant.”

    It seems that the regenerated Christian is certainly not UNDER the law, but rather IN the law, i.e. she has the law written on her heart and freely obeys because she, having been led by the law to Christ, enjoys vicariously His perfect righteousness and, having the Holy Spirit, is guided by the Law and is able to offer up perfect sacrifices and good works which are acceptable to God BECAUSE SHE HAS GOD’S GRACE AND BELIEVES.

    @Jeff

  17. Matt P.
    February 9th, 2010 at 19:46 | #19

    Jeff,

    My answer to your question (Why do people need to be exhorted to do
    what should come naturally to any Christian who is now alive in Christ
    and dead to sin?) is…

    Simul iustus et peccator = at the same time sinner and saint. We never
    stop being sinners therefore we need the law to beat down our flesh,
    that is, the Old Adam. This is Luther’s basic argument against John
    Agricola (the original Antinomian) *My opinion: This is why Romans 7 comes after Romans 6.*

    The authors of the Formula of Concord put forth a similar argument.

    “Believers also require the teaching of the law regarding their good
    works, for otherwise people could imagine that their works and life are
    completely pure and perfect. However, the law of God prescribes good
    works for believers, so that it may at the same time show and indicate,
    as if in a MIRROR, that they are still imperfect and impure in this
    life.” Formula of Concord, VI. 21 (Emphasis added by me)

    I’ve found reading this text (Formula, VI) to be very helpful.

  18. Rev Allen Yount (CRSM)
    February 9th, 2010 at 22:30 | #20

    “Why didn’t Paul stop at Romans 6:11? Why did he write beyond that and go on to describe the Christian life?”

    Another question along the same lines: if the descriptions of the Christian life in Paul’s epistles were not intended as material for preaching, then why did Paul write the following to Titus (a pastor and a preacher)?

    “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. *Declare these things;* exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you” (Titus 2:1ff, emphasis added ).

    That’s a pretty detailed description of the Christian life, and note that Paul specifically tells Titus to “declare these things,” that is, to preach these things. if it’s unnecessary or even harmful to speak about these things in a sermon, as these pastors seem to allege, then why did Paul tell Titus to preach them?

  19. viatorum
    February 10th, 2010 at 10:08 | #21

    Perhaps this takes the thread too far off track, but I have one minor exception to raise. You suggest that the ELCA stance on human sexuality is antinomian. As one who attends an ELCA church this doesn’t ring true. In fact, it is the opposite. At least in my world, I’m surrounded by a pietism of the left and a pietism of the right. Much of the “socially progressive” stuff is not a tolerance of decadence and pride parade type looseness, but a moral demand to live according to environmental, feminist, or other contemporary ethics. To put it another way, you come off sounding like you are trying to stamp out the rowdy tomfoolery of a bunch of naughty boys and girls. Many within the ELCA are doing the same thing. The difference is that the things you find “naughty” they would call trifles, or deny that they are sins at all. On the other hand, were you in the ELCA, you might be fed a bunch of nagging law about your homophobia. The unfortunate thing is that to the extent the ELCA and the LCMS don’t catch on to the fact that the only thing these increasingly irrelevant, too-often-ethnically based churches have to offer is their championing of the gospel. By and large, whatever these churches confess, time after time, new folk I introduce find a bunch of law mongering. I WISH the problem were too many libertines; in the LCMS, just because you cuss and drink doesn’t necessarily mean outsiders see you living out a deep sense of grace.

    I’ve studied theology formally, but instead of debating things in a formal way, perhaps it might be fun to step back and compare the players here to characters in popular film and television. I’ll go first: the quote “… and make it a butt of jokes and laughter, when we allow ourselves to grow lazy and indifferent when it comes to holiness of living …” doesn’t start sounding more like the animated villain Burgermeister Meisterburger than a Lutheran thinker. The specter of a guy shouting “stop laughing, making t-shirts, and having too much fun” is actually a lot scarier than the opposition which, at worst, looks a bit too much like Han Solo, having perhaps one drink and one black market deal too many before going on to save the galaxy. You think I’m joking? Ask yourself seriously, who are the true heroes in this broken world and you’ll probably find they rarely sound like sour moralists.

  20. February 10th, 2010 at 12:56 | #22

    David, Dr. Scaer’s remarks really have nothing to do with this post. Nobody is defining “third use of the law” as “progress toward moral perfection.”

    At issue is the unfortunate penchant of some who claim to be “confessional Lutherans” for avoiding any mention of the Christian life in their sermons. This stands in utter contradiction of Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions and all the orthodox Lutheran theologians, preachers and teachers from the Reformation through the age of Orthodoxy.

  21. February 10th, 2010 at 18:07 | #23

    Part of our problem as Lutherans has been forcing all our theological reflection through the Law/Gospel paradigm. It’s very helpful for preaching and pastoral care, but not in all areas. More recently, there has been a re-emphasis on the Lutheran conception of “Two kinds of righteousness,” which might be even more fundamental to our theology than L/G. See the book recently authored by Charles Arand & Robert Kolb, two professors of the St. Louis seminary, entitled “The Genius of Luther’s Theology” (apologies, Rev. McCain; it’s published by Baker). For a shorter treatment, see the articles in the April 2007 Concordia Journal, available here: http://www.csl.edu/Img/Publications/cjapril07.pdf. Also, all the work of LCMS Lutheran Gilbert Maelaender (sp?) is very helpful.

    As far as good preaching goes, it’s out there. You might try listening to the Chapel Sermons podcast from Concordia Seminary on iTunesU.

    • February 10th, 2010 at 19:28 | #24

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve been keeping an eye on the CS Seminary interest in “two kinds of righteousness.” While there are interesting things to be learned from all this discussion, it can not possibly be viewed as a more Lutheran or more essential distinction than the proper distinction between Law and Gospel.

      “Two kinds of righteousness” is not what the Lutheran Confessions say is the key to understanding Scripture, a “particularly brilliant light.” L/G is, by far, the most fundamental distinction in Holy Scripture and hence in Luther’s theology and the Lutheran Confessions.

  22. Lindsey
    February 19th, 2010 at 16:49 | #25

    Mike, I totally agree with you. I am sick and tired of weak “Lutheran” preaching and Bible studies that follow this outline. Where is the teaching of discipleship?

    I admit, I do get alot of my spiritual growth from non-Lutheran sources precisely because of this. I try to follow the “eat the fish, spit out the bones” principle.

    However, when i find good Lutheran sources (like Martin Luther’s sermons, Paul McCain’s blog, Lutheran hymns, etc) that DO exhort believers to live a Christian life, I rejoice.

  23. David C. Busby
    February 27th, 2013 at 13:05 | #26

    If anyone claims to be a confessional Lutheran and downplays the importance of good works, they should read SD IV, especially paragraph 7. Or AC XX, especially 27: “Furthermore, it is taught on our part that it is necessary to do good works, not that we should trust to merit grace by them, but because it is the will of God.”

  24. Danny
    February 27th, 2013 at 13:17 | #27

    I’ve heard the term “New Lutherans”. Are these the folks you are talking about. The Mockingbird gang and Tullian Tchividjian? I know most are not Lutherans. But, they have been referred to as such.

    • February 27th, 2013 at 14:33 | #28

      “New Lutherans” … never heard of it before, not the “Mockingbird Gang.” Have heard a bit about Tchividjian. The real test will always be the Lord’s Supper for anyone who is accused of being Lutheran. Are they actually? Their confession of the Supper is the best way to know.

  25. Guillaume
    February 27th, 2013 at 16:57 | #29

    “We have been preaching comfort into the ears of people, and avoiding telling them the consequences of being a Christian.”

    I don’t know if consequences is the best word here. It has a tinge of bad news to it. Though certainly it can be used. Maybe reaction or outgrowth of being a Christian. Just a thought.

  26. February 27th, 2013 at 17:36 | #30

    Great article and good discussion Pastor McCain.It surely is a hot topic. People seem to lean one way or the opposite direction. (Works are important or they are not). I find the best thing is to keep it simple; We are weak and we have a strong tendency to sin. Jesus saves us from damnation by his grace. He also gives us the Holy Spirit as our guides thus making us a New Creation. Now if the Holy Spirit is guiding us (and we are listening), our way of living should reflect our positions as the chidlren of God. Our internal conversion, at Baptism, happens in the blink of an eye. However, it takes the flesh a while to catch up with our newly reborn spirits. With some, it happens rather quickly and with others not so quickly. But the conversion of our flesh should be one-directional (towards our God) and be visible to the non-christians of this world. How can we proclaim the Good Word if our lives are no different than that of the pagans. If we were adulterers or drunkards in the past, should we continue to be adulterers or drunkards once we have the Holy Spirit in us. Can one put light and darkness together? From the gospels I read, I would say absolutely not. When we slip up, we repent and get off the floor and try harder. Some christians will do good works naturally, some need to hear the words of Christ as a reminder to do those works. Good works are a way of giving praise to the Lord for what he did for us. Remember Jesus said that what you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.

  27. February 27th, 2013 at 20:45 | #31

    “I recall a conversation with a fellow pastor who told me about certain incidents involving fellow Lutheran pastors that shocked me. The excuse made for bad behavior was that they were enjoying the “freedom” of the Gospel.”

    Name the pastor. If you are going to mention the conversation, you should be good enough to name the pastor, in order that others may mark and avoid him as a false teacher and one not to be tolerated in the Church of God.

    • February 28th, 2013 at 05:31 | #32

      David, names are of no matter, the issue is the issue. These things are happening. They are real. They are troubling. They are wrong. It is time to stop pretending it is not so, or making light of these situations.

  28. Matthew
    March 4th, 2013 at 00:13 | #33

    I’m with David on this. You should name names, because I personally haven’t heard Lutherans in our circles saying that sanctification is a bad thing. In fact, without naming names but talking about the details, you basically sow suspicion of anyone who is Lutheran, as the question that is begged is, “I wonder if this pastor is antinomian” or “I wonder if this fellow Lutheran is one of those who abuses God’s grace?”

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