If you read an article and wish to comment, then please do.
Do not worry about the date it was written.
I promise that I or the articles author will answer.
"...the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (down 1.44 percent)...The Missouri Synod loss is a surprise in that conservative groups generally do not decline in American churchdom."
While she may be right or wrong about conservative church bodies (I'm not sure that's anything but anecdotal), she obviously doesn't know that much of Missouri left any kind of semblance to "conservative" a long time ago. Case in point, the ablaze movement. This is perhaps why church attendance is declining in the first place, but then again, maybe not!
Please take a look at these articles regarding the errors of modern Evangelicalism as espoused by Pr. Stuart Wood, and emphatically endorsed by yours truly.
If you look in the left-hand column these links will be a permanent part of this blog and a keystone piece of the web-site I'm constructing.
As you will see, these errors take issue with American Evangelicalism (and everything which falls under that broad umbrella), Calvinism, and Roman Catholicism, et al., head-on, so as to challenge the reader to question if their beliefs meet up with God's Word and historic Christianity.
This blog also encourages debate on these issues, so if anyone finds need to dispute with any article, the author of these articles and the moderator of this blog will gladly defend them, as should be expected.*
I'd ask that if anyone who has a friend, family member, or someone in their life who falls under the persuasion of any of these errors, and wishes to point them in the right direction, please send them this way for help.
(*This blog entry will be the comment page for ALL the articles of this series. If you want to leave a comment, please reference what number article(s) you wish to address. Thank you!)
25 Errors of the Modern Evangelicals
by: Pr. Stuart Wood
Dear Reader, below are listed 25 errors of the modern Evangelicals. There are other errors that I do not include, but this is enough for you to see just how far astray the modern Evangelical church is from historical, Biblical Christianity. And these are serious errors. They have a bearing upon the most important doctrines of the Christian faith. I write these things out of love for those who know and love the truth. I don’t expect that many will agree with me, but to simply disagree means nothing. What matters is why do you disagree. If I have spoken in error, then show me my error from the Word of God. I do not assert these things lightly nor have I learned them quickly. What you are about to read has taken me 30 years of Bible study to learn. I know these points to be true to the Word of God and to historical, Biblical Christianity. Thank you for taking the time to consider these points, and I pray that this reading will prove to be a great blessing for you.
Relationship of faith and reason
This is truly the foundation of all the errors of the modern Evangelicals. Because the Scriptures contain truths that are infinitely above and beyond human reason, we are called to take God at His Word. But the modern Evangelicals do not do this. Rather, they measure God by their own ruler, and cannot and will not receive anything that appears foreign or contradictory to their natural thoughts. In truth, they do not really believe in the total depravity of man, which necessarily includes his depraved mind. Thus, where the Scriptures often leave the mind in paradox, the modern Evangelicals will commonly cling to and argue for one side of a Biblical truth and deny and condemn another seemingly opposite Biblical truth. This priority of human reason lies at the root of many controversies between the Calvinists and Arminians. Both camps are guided by their fallen nature, and not by child-like Christian faith.
Some Verses to Consider: Isa. 8:20; 55:7-9; 65:2; 2 Cor. 10:4,5; Rom. 5:20-6:1; 10:17
Bondage of man’s will
Most modern Evangelicals do not believe that man’s will is completely in bondage to sin. In relation to the law of God, man is incapable of performing even one thought or act that is pleasing to God. He is truly dead in his trespasses and sins. His will is like a lifeless log lying on the ground in the forest. Left to itself, where the tree fell, there it will ever remain. It is only by the work of Another that that log can ascend upwards. It is only by the grace of God that man can think or work any good thing in the sight of God. Thus, whoever leans upon his own thoughts or asserts the freedom of man’s will to choose both good or evil stands in denial of this important Scriptural doctrine. He thereby loses his dependence upon Christ and the necessary light that He alone provides via His Word.
Some Verses to Consider: Eph. 2:1; Rom. 3:10-18; 8:7,8; Jer. 13:23; Isa. 64:6; John 15:5
The Kingdom of God
Most modern Evangelicals know little or nothing about the very important doctrine of the kingdom of God. Some go so far as to make distinctions between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. Rather the kingdom of God is one. The kingdom of God is that kingdom of truth that we apprehend by faith through the trustworthy eye-glasses of the Word of God. It stands in contrast to the kingdom of this world, the kingdom of darkness, ruled by the prince of darkness, although over-ruled by our Saviour. The kingdom of God manifests itself in the Church as a kingdom of grace, in the world as a kingdom of power, and in heaven as a kingdom of glory. How few tragically know anything of this. If they did, how quickly they would see the utter futility of being led by human reason.
Some Verses to Consider: John 18:37; Heb. 2:7,8; Matt. 16:18; 28:18-20; 25:31
Confusion of Law and Gospel
The modern Evangelical commonly confuses the Law and the Gospel. This is another necessary product of being guided by reason and not faith. The Law should be preached in all of its severity, sparing no sinner from the dreadful consequences of his sins. This is rarely done in modern Evangelical circles. Also, the Gospel should be preached in all of its sweetness as that which avails before God completely apart from one’s own works. This also is rarely proclaimed. I have always been amazed how few modern Evangelicals can define for you what the Gospel even is, how that “Christ died for our sins”. For many of them, Christianity is nothing more than a self-help tool for the concerns of this life.
Some Verses to Consider: Nahum 1:6,7; Ezek. 18,20; Num. 32:23; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; John 8:24
Confusion of Repentance and Faith
The modern Evangelicals commonly err on the issue of repentance. As with so many issues, they tend to fall off of either side of the path of faith. Most do not talk much about repentance at all. For them God requires nothing of them but a head knowledge about the historical facts of the Gospel. Others, seeing the bad fruit of such lip-service, make repentance another work of the law which God requires for salvation. Faith is relegated to the background, and what really matters is whether you have repented of your sins. What is not seen here is the necessary Biblical distinction between repentance in its narrow sense and repentance in its wider, saving sense. Repentance in its narrow sense is a product of the law and results in the regretting of one’s sins. This in and of itself does not and cannot save a person. Repentance in its wider sense is a product of the law and the Gospel. It includes both the sincere regretting of one’s sins and the looking to Christ’s cross for forgiveness of those sins. This repentance saves, not because of its relation to the law, but because of its relation to the Gospel. We are saved not for the sake of our imperfect regrets and sorrows, but for the sake of our faith in the atoning work of Christ at the cross.
Some Verses to Consider: Mark 1:15; Acts 16:30,31; Jer. 3:12-14; Pro. 24:16
The Means of Grace
Contrary to historic Biblical Christianity, the modern Evangelicals have no place in their theology for the means of grace, that is, the Scripturally-sanctioned means by which God applies the atoning work of Christ to the believer. God has provided three means of grace: the naked Word of God, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are means of grace only because they contain the Word of God. As St. Augustine said, “they are visible words of God”. That is, God wraps his invisible Word in visible elements (water, bread, wine) in order that the one who receives the visible element may know with certainty that he also receives the invisible grace, that is the forgiveness of sins proclaimed by the Word of God which cannot lie. The closest thing that the modern Evangelical has to the means of grace is “the sinner’s prayer”, but this has no such sanction from the Word of God, and thus brings no certain comfort.
Some Verses to Consider: Rom. 10:17; 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18; Acts 2:38,39; 22:16; 1 Thess. 2:13
Most modern Evangelicals do not believe nor teach the clear words of Christ, “This is My body.. this is My blood”. Instead they flatly reject the Word of God and assert that the bread and wine are merely symbols of Christ’s body and blood. This is an accommodation to their reason which cannot fathom these words as being true. Thus, through unbelief, they make void to themselves the promises of God that “as many as touched Him were healed,” and “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us of all sin”. They do not realize that the Lord’s Supper is not a re-sacrificing of Christ, as the Roman Catholics falsely teach, but rather an ongoing distribution of the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood to all believers throughout the world via the Word of God which cannot lie.
Some Verses to Consider: Matt. 26:26-28; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:29; Mark 6:56; 1 John 1:7
Most modern Evangelicals do not believe nor teach the clear words of Christ, “that you be baptized for the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost shall be given unto you”. Instead they directly contradict God and assert that baptism is not for the remission of sins, and that the Holy Ghost is not granted via the waters of baptism. Baptism, however, is the Scripturally ordained means by which God applies the atoning blood of Christ to us. As Martin Luther said, “If we look at baptism with the eye of faith, we see that its waters are not clear, but crimson, joined as they are with the blood of Christ”. Baptism is the Scripturally sanctioned means by which a person becomes a Christian. The historical Christian church has always regarded baptism as the doorway into the kingdom of God. In place of Christian baptism, the modern Evangelicals have substituted “the sinner’s prayer”. It, and not baptism, supposedly works the forgiveness of sins and grants the Holy Ghost.
Some Verses to Consider: Acts 22:16; 2:38,39; Gal. 3:27; 2 Kings 5:9-14
Objective and subjective justification
The modern Evangelical makes no distinction between objective and subjective justification. Objective justification refers to the objective fact that all people are forgiven all sins because of the universal atoning work of Christ. It is an objective fact that Christ died for a man’s sins whether he believes it or not. His believing or not believing cannot change this fact. God will be proven true though every man a liar. Subjective justification refers to whether a person has received this forgiveness through faith in Christ’s atoning work. It has reference to the application and possession of the forgiveness of sins. Even though Christ has objectively wrought this forgiveness for all, it does not come into the possession of those who refuse it. They aren’t forced to take the gift, even though the gift is extended to them.
Some Verses to Consider: 2 Cor. 5:18-20; 1 Tim. 4:9,10
Hidden and revealed will of God
Many errors are made among modern Evangelicals because there is not a distinction made between the hidden and revealed will of God. The revealed will of God is that which God has declared for us in His Word. And everything that He has revealed is profitable for instruction and correction that the man of God might be adequately equipped for every good work. The hidden will of God is that which He has not chosen to reveal in His Word. These things which have not been revealed are not our concern and should not be investigated lest one be justly consumed in his mind by the unveiled majesty of God. This is why the universality of Christ’s atonement is so important because it is a declaration that includes us all. However, if a person seeks out his acceptance and election in some other personal way, he is proceeding without the Word and thus cannot but err severely.
Some Verses to Consider: Deut. 29:29; 2 Tim. 3:16,17
Toleration of Limited Atonement
This one’s for the smug and secure Calvinists who arrogate to themselves Christ’s blessed atonement and exclude others who don’t embrace their error. Rather than locking arms with the lowest of the world and glorying in Christ’s universal provision plainly declared in His Word, they climb up over the wall by means of their own experience and make themselves chiefs in the Lord’s vineyard. There is no question that the Lord’s atonement is universal, plainly stated in both Scripture and Church history, and anyone who denies it is led not of faith but his own depraved reason.
Some Verses to Consider: John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:3-6; Heb. 2:9; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 2:2; Gen. 3:15
Autonomy of the local congregation
Most modern Evangelicals do not understand the autonomy of the local congregation. The local congregation is by divine command and is a divine institution. It is not optional for a Christian to belong to a local congregation. It is commanded. The power of the Keys, that is the administration of the Word and sacraments, is to be exercised within the local congregation. Denominations and federations may exist for the purpose of mutual support but may not exercise authority over the local congregation.
Some Verses to Consider: Heb. 10:24,25; Acts 14:23; 20:28; Tit. 1:5; 1 Pet. 5:2,3
Use of the Keys
The use of the Keys refers to the wonderful gift that Christ has given to His Church to remit and retain sins. This gift is to be exercised within the local congregation through the administration of the Word and sacraments. The forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed as the voice of God to those who repent of their sins and believe the Gospel, “how that Christ died for our sins”. The retention of sins is to be proclaimed to those who refuse to repent of their sins and/or refuse to believe the Gospel. The practice of church discipline is a divinely commanded exercise of the Keys, both for the sake of the impenitent and the reputation of the Church. Few modern Evangelical churches understand the use of the Keys nor practice church discipline. In the case of those who do practice it, there often is little or no follow-up or coordination with other churches with whom they are in fellowship.
Some Verses to Consider: Matt. 16:19; 18:15-18; John 20:21-23; 1 Chron. 15:13
This is really another exercise of the office of the Keys, specifically having reference to the remission of sins. Absolution may be defined as the announcement of the forgiveness of sins by a pastor or any other believer standing in the stead of Christ. Thus a pastor may declare to a congregation that “in the name and stead of Christ, I forgive you all of your sins”. He is speaking not in and from his own person, but his mouth is at this point the very mouth of God. This brings great comfort and assurance for the guilty sinner. I think it is fair to say that the modern Evangelical knows nothing of this.
Some Verses to Consider: 2 Cor. 2:10; 5:20; Matt. 9:2; 2 Sam. 12:13
Confusion of the new man and old man
Once again because of the guide of reason over faith, the modern Evangelical muddles and confuses the new man and old man, that is, the Christian according to the Spirit and according to the flesh. There is little teaching or apprehension as to who we are in Christ versus who we are in Adam, who we are as those born from above versus who we are as those born from below, who we are as righteous men versus who we are as sinners. Rather than being guided by the Word of God into these wonderful truths, the modern Evangelical perceives himself according to experience and according to nature. Thus, he is denied the joy and spiritual strength of knowing his precious Christian birthright.
Some Verses to Consider: Eph. 4:20-24; John 3:3-6; 1 John 3:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15,16
The danger of losing faith
The more Calvinistic modern Evangelicals deny the danger of losing faith, despite the many passages and Scriptural examples warning of this. They have every possible interpretation explaining away these troublesome verses, but to any honest onlooker their efforts are forced and contrived. The problem here is the old nemesis human reason, which cannot receive the Word of God as stated but must try to square it with the doctrine of election. The truth is that the elect are the very ones who take heed to the warnings and thus prove themselves to be the elect. But in place of this sincerity and godly fear, the modern Evangelical has established their presumptuous “once saved, always saved”, which forces one to look back to a decision in the past rather than to look up to the Saviour who truly can preserve and save them.
Some Verses to Consider: Rom. 11:18-22; Heb. 4:1; Gal. 5:3,4; 2 Pet. 2:20-22; 1 Tim. 1:18-20
The security of the Christian
The more Arminian modern Evangelicals deny the security of the Christian, despite the many passages and Scriptural examples asserting this. They have every possible interpretation explaining away these comforting verses, but to any honest onlooker their efforts are forced and contrived. The problem here is the old nemesis human reason, which cannot receive the Word of God as stated but must try to square it with human responsibility. The truth is that God’s elect are eternally secure being chosen unto salvation before the world was. They were not chosen in view of their faith, but they have faith because they were chosen. And they are kept, not by their own strength, but by the power of God.
Some Verses to Consider: John 10:27-30; Phil 1:6; Rom. 8:28-30; 38,39; Jude 1:24
Unionism is the idea that Christians “agree to disagree agreeably” on what they would call “non-fundamentals” and continue to maintain a pretense of unity despite their differences. While this looks charitable on the surface, it is truly a betrayal of the Word of God. It makes the truth of the Word of God of no great significance. It says to God, “thank you very much for your Word, but as to it’s true meaning, we don’t really care if one affirms it or not. We will gladly join arms with those who deny it.” Unionism also arrogates to itself the right and ability to carve up the Word of God into its own categories, not realizing that all the doctrines are intricately connected to one another and a denial of one has implications about another. The Scriptures rightly condemn unionism, and command us to “speak the same thing” and “avoid those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which we have learned”. The modern Evangelical church is thoroughly unionistic by definition.
Some Verses to Consider: Rom. 16:17,18; Rom. 15:5,6; 1 Cor. 1:10; 5:6; 1 Tim. 5:22
Toleration of the Charismatic movement
The Charismatic movement is truly inspired of the devil, having wrought great damage to the reputation of the visible church and the cause of truth. Both Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 show clearly that Biblical tongues were known languages. If this be true, which is not hard to prove, then what is this modern day tongues which everyone admits are not known languages? These tongues are clearly fraudulent, being manifestations of the flesh or the devil himself. Most modern Evangelicals are quite content to allow this fraud to co-exist in their midst, and would rather “agree to disagree agreeably” than defend the Word of God and the reputation of God’s church.
Some Verses to Consider: Acts 2:6-11; 1 Cor. 14:27,28; 13:8; Jer. 23:25-28
Toleration of worldliness (modern dancing, gambling, lottery, etc.)
The Word of God tells us to “be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds”. Yet it is often hard to distinguish between the modern Evangelical and the world in their everyday lives. Modern dancing, with its sensual and seductive gyrations, is clearly a form of lasciviousness, but how few voices do we hear against it. The lottery, office-sponsored sporting pools, and even certain kinds of speculative investing are forms of gambling, and yet the modern Evangelical commonly partakes of these alongside the world. It is not that you will not find sin and worldliness in every congregation, as you will also always find tares among the wheat, but what marks the modern Evangelical churches is their toleration of and indifference towards such worldliness.
Some Verses to Consider: 1 Thess. 4:3-5; Eph. 4:28; 5:3-5; 1 Cor. 5:6-8
Identification of Israel
The modern Evangelicals do not understand the relationship between natural Israel, that is the physical descendants of Abraham, and spiritual Israel, that is the holy Christian Church. Thus, modern Evangelicals tend to regard natural Israel as a sort of spiritual ally, who at least believe in the Old Testament, etc. But this is not true. The Jewish religion today does not believe in the Old Testament and is every bit as false a religion as Islam or Buddhism. In fact, the names “Jewish” and “Israel” should not even be associated with this religion, as it is really nothing more than Talmudism or Rabiism, denying and blaspheming the blessed work of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Yet the modern Evangelicals hold up such ones as “the people of God”. Not only can these “people of God” not be identified as such by their religion, but even their physical lineage cannot be established. In Bible times, Jewish lineage was established through the Jewish fathers. Today’s Jews reckon their heritage from their Jewish mothers. After centuries of inter-marriage and Gentile conversions, who can say for certain who is truly a “descendant of Abraham”?
Some Verses to Consider: Rom. 4:13-16; 9:6-8; Gal. 6:16, Phi. 3:2,3; 1 Thess. 2:14-16
Identification of the Millennium
Once again the modern Evangelicals make literal that which is spiritual and make spiritual that which is literal. The idea of a literal thousand year reign of the Messiah here on this physical earth to be followed by further rebellion and wars has commonly been rejected by historical orthodox Christianity as a Jewish myth. Christ Himself clearly declared “My Kingdom is not of this world”. The millennial kingdom spoken of in Revelation 20 is the spiritual reign of Christ in the midst of His enemies since the day of Pentecost. The number 1000, as all other numbers throughout the Book of Revelation, is spiritual, not literal. God “signified”, lit. “symbolized” to John the things that were to come.
Some Verses to Consider: Luke 17:20, 21; John 18:36; Rev. 1:1; 7:4
Identification of true antichrist
The modern Evangelicals have a myriad of theories as to the identification of the antichrist, but have no real Scriptural certainty for their opinions. Even though some have proposed it, few know with conviction that the antichrist has already been revealed in the office of the Pope. Had they understood the doctrine of justification clearly, they would see that this enemy from within has been the true believers’ biggest historic adversary. Also from Scripture it is plainly stated that the antichrist will take his seat in the temple of God (the Church) displaying himself as God. When the Pope speaks “ex cathedra”, “out of the chair”, from his office, so to speak, he speaks as infallible God. His words hold a higher place than Scripture. He exalts himself as Christ’s vicar (representative) on earth. And yet as obvious as the identification of antichrist is, how few modern Evangelicals recognize it. Rather, many embrace the Pope as a “brother in Christ”.
Some Verses to Consider: 2 Thes. 2:3,4; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; Rev. 13:18 (Pope’s crown); 17:1-9
Two natures of Christ
Here is a doctrine that only faith can approach, and reason on its own must err. We are told in the Word of God that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man. He is eternal and yet temporal, all-powerful and yet having weakness, all-knowing and yet not knowing some things. He has two natures, divine and human, and yet is one indivisible Person. All that can be said of Him according to either nature can be said of His Person. Thus, in Christ, we can and do say that God is born and God dies. It is in this sense that the ancient Church affirmed that Mary was the mother of God, not to exalt Mary, but to preserve the unity of Christ’s Person. How man modern Evangelicals today would confess Mary as “the mother of God”? This gives us some indication as to how very foreign such orthodox truths are to the ears of the modern Evangelicals.
Some Verses to Consider: Luke 1:35; 1 Cor. 2:8; Acts 3:15
Christ’s descent into hell
Even though this doctrine is clearly taught in the Word of God and even incorporated into the Apostle’s Creed, confessed by orthodox Christians for 2000 years, the modern Evangelical presumes a more enlightened knowledge by which he commonly denies this teaching. The doctrine, simply stated, is that following His blessed death on the Cross for our sins, Christ descended into hell and proclaimed His victory to the spirits now in prison. He did this so as to show Himself as both just and the justifier of those whose sins had been forgiven previously, and to show the justice of the condemnation of those who had rejected His promises since the beginning of the world. The descent of Christ into hell was not a part of His suffering for sins and His humiliation, but rather is the first rung of His exaltation above everything that is below, on, and above the earth.
Some Verses to Consider: 1 Pet. 3:18-20; Col. 2:15; Rom. 3:25,26
Thank you again for taking the time to consider the points above. I am happy to tell you that the doctrines that I have asserted are the precise doctrines of the orthodox Lutheran church. This is not to affirm modern-day Lutheranism, which has gone even further astray than modern Evangelicalism, but it is to affirm those doctrines and teachings preserved in the Lutheran Confessions. Martin Luther did nothing more than bring to light again the true and orthodox teachings of historical, Biblical Christianity which had been buried for centuries by the Roman church and Pope. Luther’s doctrines are indeed the true doctrines of the Word of God. May we, like him, value these precious truths enough to restore them again.
(This is just a tad bit alarming, yet nevertheless the reality we face....)
The Radicals Among us
Last May, Philadelphians were stunned when police officer Stephen Liczbinski was shot in cold blood during an altercation with burqa-wearing robbers. But that murder, and other recent violent acts in the city, has its roots in a form of Islam being taught in our prisons — and being funded by Middle Eastern extremists
By Matthew TeaguePlease click here to read the rest of this article....
Today we'll examine the fourth thesis of the Heidelberg Disputation, it states:
Although the works of God always seem unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless really eternal merits.
If the last thesis jarred your head a bit, this one should definitely put many wrinkles in the old noodle. This thesis is more of a reflection, or perhaps the inverse of thesis three, for its structure and propositional content is essentially the same but only inverted. You see, mans works appear good, but, are in fact evil; while God's works appear evil, when they're in fact “eternal merits”.
Now, when we pious folk think of God, we think of nothing in him but goodness and light. And this is a right way to think of God; indeed it's most certainly true, however, God, when he works in his creation, does not always work in a way that is attractive to us, reasonably speaking, of course.
This is where many atheists have made their stand against the idea, and existence of an all powerful god. The argument goes something like this: if "he/she/it" exists, why would a good and omnipotent god allow evil to go on unabated? Do they not have the power? If not, then there really not omnipotent, are they, nor are they subsequently god for that matter, right? Well, it's a good argument, and I suppose worthy of meditation, yet, this is only the case if you allow for the premises to stand unchallenged. You see, this question really does not apply in Christendom, for in Christianity, under its own premises the question should really be: if there is a good God, then why does he let any of us evil people go on living and committing more atrocious behavior amongst ourselves? However, the atheist will not give ground for this argument because we're essentially and admittedly starting from two different vantage points; the atheist is seeking for some non-identified "god's" existence all the while believing they have a solid case in claiming the amorphous "it" evil, and therefore non-existent, on the other hand, the Christian presumes God's existence and questions his justice, and in so doing, is unwittingly claiming God to be evil as well, whether the believer is aware of it or not.
However, when most believers feel their reason begin to "connect-the-dots" regarding their perception of how unattractive their God appears, many will "shoo" away such thoughts and attempt to make their God's actions reasonable. This is because their “god” is actually their reason, thus many theologians will bend themselves backwards to make God appear good, but only result in twisting themselves into philosophical pretzels. In doing this they appear as fools to the learned and wise. Unfortunately, these futile attempts at theodicy, so as to make Christianity seem like the wise option, are completely unnecessary, for it is the work of the Holy Spirit to deliver the renewal of mind given solely by the power of the Gospel. Evangelizing is not equivalent to winning reasonable arguments; Evangelizing is bringing God's Word of the Gospel to broken people who despair of themselves. This work in “breaking” is not ours; this work is Gods and Gods alone!
Luther best shows the case for this in his proof of thesis 4, which states:
“That the works of God are unattractive is clear from what is said in Isa. 53[:2], "He had no form of comeliness," and in 1 Sam. 2[:6], "The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up." This is understood to mean that the Lord humbles and frightens us by means of the law and the sight of our sins so that we seem in the eyes of men, as in our own, as nothing, foolish, and wicked, for we are in truth that. Insofar as we acknowledge and confess this, there is no form or beauty in us, but our life is hidden in God (i.e. in the bare confidence in his mercy), finding in ourselves nothing but sin, foolishness, death, and hell, according to that verse of the Apostle in 2 Cor. 6[:9-10], "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as dying, and behold we live." And that it is which Isa. 28[:21] calls the alien work of God that he may do his work (that is, he humbles us thoroughly, making us despair, so that he may exalt us in his mercy, giving us hope), just as Hab. 3[:2] states, "In wrath remember mercy." Such a man therefore is displeased with all his works; he sees no beauty, but only his ugliness. Indeed, he also does these things which appear foolish and disgusting to others.
This ugliness, however, comes into being in us either when God punishes us or when we accuse ourselves, as 1 Cor. 11[:31] says, "If we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged" by the Lord. Deut. 32[:36] also states, "The Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants." In this way, consequently, the unattractive works which God does in us, that is, those which are humble and devout, are really eternal, for humility and fear of God are our entire merit.”
You see, we humans, since the fall of our first parents, have been trapped by the lie of the serpent. After Eve had told the snake what God said regarding the penalty of death for eating the fruit, the serpent responded in Gen. 3:4, by saying:
“You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Unfortunately, since then little has changed. We still judge God by our reason, because we'd rather trust in our own little “self-god” we're accustomed to, thus not solely relying upon His Word as Adam and Eve should have done. And now that we no longer commune with God in our natural selves, which is original sins consequence, we all the more do not understand him and his ways which is attested to by St. Paul in Rom. 11:33-35, it states:
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
“For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
However, our Lord has not left us high and dry, for His Word forever abides with us in the promise of His redeemer Son, Jesus Christ, and by the guarantee of His Holy Spirit. It is by the Law and the prophets that God, as testified by Christ,overtakes our intellect, and puts reason in its right place so as to apprehend our Savior for all eternity. It is by the Law and prophets that our agitated and restless mind can shake off its arduous burden so as to cling comfortably in “child-like” faith onto God's Word alone. It is in Christ and Christ alone where our reason, nay even our whole selves find our final rest in regard to God and His “hidden” ways.
For example, when Joseph's brothers were ready to throw him in a well and leave him for dead, where was God? When his brothers sold him instead, and as a result he was put under the cruel bondage of slavery, once again I ask, where was God? When he was falsely accused of adultery by Potiphar's wife, and was subsequently jailed for many years, where was his God? It's a valid question, because as anyone can see of the Old Testament saints, none was as sterling in character as Joseph, and yet, he was completely mistreated and suffered horribly. Why? Where was God? Why was such a righteous man treated in such a wretched manner? Did God not foreordain this evil to befall his holy and upright servant? Surely God should have known how much he suffered?
However, after Josephs days of great woe were behind him; after he was transformed into a king governing the mighty gentile nation of Egypt, his brothers were to appear before him unaware of this now older-looking and made-over younger brother they had once left for dead. Here Joseph utters a profound truth concerning God's work in his life through his brothers actions, in Gen. 45:4a-8, he says:
"I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”
"So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”
According to Joseph his brothers weren't to blame for his calamities, God was! You see, when God has set us aside to suffer it is never without purpose, yet, in the midst of such suffering, whether we've brought it upon ourselves, or we are afflicted from without, we, of our own natural ability are unable to understand that this too is the will of God meant for our own good, and as well for the good of others.
The greatest and clearest example of this in God's Word is in regards to the events of Good Friday. What could possibly be good about that day? Man, unaided by God in any manner was and is completely unaware of what actually happened on the cross.
Jesus' friends and disciples were in a state of complete and utter shock. Here was the most innocent, perfect, Godly, and holy person they had ever known, who was now condemned to death as a criminal by one of the cruelest means imaginable. All they had known, all they had understood was lost, was over, and was to never be again, at least according to their reason.
To the common Jewish citizen on the street, this was the very person they had welcomed into town as the great Messiah King to deliver them from the oppressive Roman magistrates just days before, who now hung powerless and forsaken of God upon a cross.
To Christ's enemies, who came to see if His supposed “Father in Heaven” of whom He so boldly spoke would save Him from this most humiliating death. And as He suffered, as it became utterly clear there would be no intervention from God, they mocked Him all the more because their reason couldn't dream of a Messiah who would ever allow Himself to be treated in such a manner, who would be totally powerless over his captors.
Yet, little did they know, that Jesus, like Joseph was to suffer but for a little while. Little did they know, that Jesus, like Joseph was to attain life for many people by his suffering. And, little did they know, that Jesus, like Joseph would come again to show his brethren that he was not only king of them, but over a vast foreign nation as well. Yet, Joseph is only a shadow or a type of Christ in the Old Testament, for by God working through the life of Joseph he was able to help many people avoid famine by becoming a prudent king over a small portion of the world, but in Christ how many more were helped?
Christ in his suffering took upon himself the sin of the world, the evil power of death, and the wrath of God we so justly deserve. Yet, it is not only that, for in His resurrection He became victorious over sin and death with its ghastly power, and in so doing has promised that we one day will do the same through the gift of faith, given us by God, in this holy work of love done for our sake. Who could have possibly known without divine revelation what exactly took place during those three days? I dare say, even now, as someone who both knows and accepts this most holy truth, I'm still completely incapable of understanding why God had to do things in such and such a manner, yet, nevertheless, I'll rest my reason with God's Word; let Him be true, and every man a liar.
You see folks, the basic lesson and teaching of this thesis regarding our natural judgment of God and the way He does things is this; empirical observation isn't what it's cracked up to be, at least when it attempts to judge God and his works. As Nietzsche once alluded to in response to the logical positivists of his day, there is no such thing as the “immaculate perception”, and so it is amongst us Christians, just because we possess the Holy Spirit doesn't mean that we can see into the “hidden” will of God either. So, when our reason seeks to understand and judge God according to it's ability, it is here where we must suspend it and let God be God.
(This book review is by Gregory Jackson, from the Ichabod, the Glory Has Departed Blog; looks like an extremely interesting read.)
The Theology of the Cross:
Reflections on His Cross and Ours
Daniel M. Deutschlander
Northwestern Publishing House, 283 pages, paperback, $17.99.
Book review by Gregory L. Jackson, PhD
Professor Daniel Deutschlander was loved and respected by his students at Northwestern College, Watertown, Wisconsin (WELS). Many took the German courses just so they could have him as a teacher. His courses were marked as German language classes, but he also taught Lutheran theology. He was a tough teacher who expected preparation for each class. When he heard that one student took German at Michigan Lutheran Seminary, he said, “That’s good. Mrs. Lawrenz does not teach whoopee-Deutsch.”
Now retired, Deutschlander has written a book that will be influential for many years to come. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod would be wise to distribute and promote this book. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod pastors will doubtless welcome this work as a welcome antidote to the theology of glory promoted by the Schwaermer and their covert allies in the Lutheran Church.
Schwaermer is a term used by Luther to describe the Enthusiasts who separate the Holy Spirit from the Means of Grace. They buzz around like bees, filling the world with their books while claiming the Word of God alone is not effective.
One Evangelical Lutheran Synod member asked me, “Do we need another book about Luther’s theology of the cross?”
I said, “Yes, we do. It will be good for the Wisconsin Synod and the ELS because it comes from one of their own, a highly respected teacher.”
The preface to the book would make a good conference essay by itself, an excellent summary of the situation today. One quotation indicates the wisdom and wit of the book that follows:...
Click here to read the rest of this article
+ Saint Valentine, Martyr +
14 February AD 270
Details of ancient Christianity are sketchy since for much of the Church's early years, it was a crime to be a Christian and records were hidden or kept purposely incomplete to protect believers. Thus, the story of Saint Valentine, as well as those of many others ancient believers, must be pieced together from fragmentary evidence.
Some ancient accounts record a physician and priest living in Rome during the rule of the Emperor Claudius. This Valentine become one of the noted martyrs of the third century. It seems that his main "crime" was joining couples in marriage. Specifically, Valentine married Roman soldiers. Evidently, Claudius thought that single men made better soldiers while Valentine and the Church resisted the immorality of less-permanent relationships.
The commemoration of his death, thought to have occurred during the year 270, became part of the calendar of remembrance in the early Western Church. Tradition suggests that on the day of his execution for his Christian faith, he left a note of encouragement for a child of his jailer. The note was written on an irregularly-shaped piece of paper which suggested the shape of a heart. This greeting became a pattern for millions of written expressions of love and caring that now are the highlight of Valentine's Day in many nations.
Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyr Valentine, grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
(This was retrieved from over at Aardvark Alley, a blog well worth the visit!)
...Pr. David Jay Webber's excellent confessional Lutheran internet resource called Lutheran Theology Web Site. If you never have, then you're really depriving yourself of good and sound teachings from a multitude of sources found all over the web.
Read and enjoy!
...Pr. Stuart Wood's insightful articles based on Seigbert W. Becker's, The Foolishness of God? This book along with these seven articles give a great introduction into the Lutheran understanding of reasons rightful place. Read and enjoy!
Christian Faith versus Human Reason
by: Pr. Stuart Wood
(This article is republished with the authors consent)
The Priority of Faith
It is a privilege for me to share with you some things that I have learned while on my Christian pilgrimage. What follows is partly testimony, partly instruction, and partly warning. As far as I am aware, the ELCR is one of the last remnants of the visible, orthodox, historical Church here on earth. Not that there are not other Christians elsewhere, but you have the high honor of still holding to the Word of God in all of its truth and purity. May God preserve this unique and valuable heritage in these last days of Satanic assault.
One of the things that led me to recognize Martin Luther as a true teacher of the orthodox Church was his constant and correct emphasis on the priority of faith over reason. Dr. Luther understood that faith was that God-given ability to confidently affirm the truth of God's Word wherever it might go. There is no such thing as faith without the external, objective Word of God. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). "Through faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God" (Heb. 11:3). Abraham, the Father of Faith, was commended because he was "fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was able also to perform" (Rom. 4:21).
Dr. Luther did not oppose reason in and of itself. Rather, he insisted that reason must operate within its own proper domain. Faith must lead reason, and not vice versa. Luther called reason, "Madame Reason". She must be subject to her husband, Faith. She must behave herself modestly, and call him "Lord". She must not usurp his God-given authority to lead. She must remain silent in the Church, and keep herself covered in worship for the sake of the angels. In the Assembly, we must hear only the oracles of God, with the voice of Faith ever saying, "Amen and Amen".
Thesis 3 states that:
Although the works of man always appear attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.
Alright, at this moment I believe I've heard a "ker-plunk" in the reasoning portion of the blogosphere's collective mind. I can imagine people (even Christians mind you) saying that, "This isn't true, what could Luther possibly mean by this? Surely he's a fool!"
Well, Luther did refer to himself as "God's fool" many times, but he did so within the context of 1 Cor. 1:25 where it says:
"...the foolishness of God is wiser than men, ..."
So, as to the foolishness of God, let us all pray that we partake of God's unique and very different wisdom, trusting in nothing but what His Word tells us about us, Himself, and our relation to Him wholeheartedly, even if it's in spite of our reason.
Now, regarding what exactly Luther is saying here, it's very important to keep perspective. And, what's most important is that we, as much as humanly possible, try to lose our perspective and attempt to see things through God's eyes.
Mankind has made for himself a system of justice based almost in whole part upon a conglomeration of different philosophies and sciences from throughout the ages. This system is hardly a settled issue in any sense, for the pock-marked surface of human laws are hammered out each day in courts all over the world. Nor do mans laws agree in every land, and subsequently, confrontations have naturally occur based on what one tribe considers legal and what another one doesn't. Yet, man indeed does have a moral intuition given him by God (i.e. conscience), and from this moral intuition he sees the necessity in deeming certain acts good and other acts evil.
For example, when we saw the firemen that ran into burning buildings to save lives on the morning of 9/11, while recognizing that many of them payed the ultimate price in doing so, we easily understand this as a good, morally upright, and heroic act. And also, in another instance a little closer to home, a co-worker of mine recently received a badly needed kidney from his brother. Now, the owner of the company I work for-a Roman Catholic-has called my co-worker's brother, based solely upon his good work, a saint. Believe me, I'm not exaggerating in the least bit by saying that my boss believes his action has earned this man heaven itself. Although, I as a Lutheran do not agree with my boss or believe God's knighted him in sainthood based on his deed, I still do nevertheless naturally see virtue in his selfless act.
However, this is the very problem. I'm trusting in my nature and in the judgment of what I see, and if I were to let that carry me away beyond the safe harbors of sound Lutheran doctrine, then there's no doubt I'd stand in solidarity with my boss by thinking these great deeds have indeed earned all the men who performed them God's salvation.
You see, this is man's natural religion; if you do good deeds then you get rewarded, you do bad deeds you get punished, plain and simple! Anybody who questions this common sense notion is perceived to be silly, foolish, or even perhaps evil. However, and unfortunately, we don't see things as they really are.
This is how Luther describes our works in his proof for thesis 4, he states:
Human works appear attractive outwardly, but within they are filthy, as Christ says concerning the Pharisees in Matt. 23[:27]. For they appear to the doer and others good and beautiful, yet God does not judge according to appearances but searches "the minds and hearts" [Ps. 7:9]. For without grace and faith it is impossible to have a pure heart. Acts 15[:9]: "He cleansed their hearts by faith." The thesis is proven in the following way: If the works of righteous men are sins, as Thesis 7 of this disputation states, this is much more the case concerning the works of those who are not righteous. But the just speak in behalf of their works in the following way: "Do not enter into judgment with thy servant, Lord, for no man living is righteous before thee" [Ps. 143:2].
The Apostle speaks likewise in Gal. 3 [:10], "All who rely on the works of the law are under the curse." But the works of men are the works of the law, and the curse will not be placed upon venial sins. Therefore they are mortal sins.
In the third place, Rom. 2[:21] states, "You who teach others not to steal, do you steal?" St. Augustine interprets this to mean that men are thieves according to their guilty consciences even if they publicly judge or reprimand other thieves.
You see, since the time our first parents fell, we are by nature bound unto sin, and we can do nothing other. So, even when we do something we would otherwise judge as good, in God's eyes it is nothing but sin, for, that's all we're capable of doing. Yet, when we receive Christ's righteousness, when his virtuous works done here during his time on earth are applied to us, we are thus covered by it in everything we do, yes, even our sins, and this is what causes us to be righteous in the sight of God. And so, it basically boils down to this: if there is any good that comes about by the works we do, then God be praised; if there is any evil, whether great or small, intentional or unintentional, then we in whole part solely possess it.
Now, on earth we may act as judge and deliver sentences upon our fellow brothers to the very best of our ability, but we are unable to judge the hearts and minds of the defendants before us. This task solely belongs to God, and to God alone. He has given us the very scale upon which he has weighed what we consider our righteousness, namely by His Law, and He has found us severely wanting. Yes, even the firemen of 9/11 and my co-workers brother's works are nothing but wretched and vile sins, and yes, to make it abundantly clear, even these most heroic and life saving acts are but rubbish before God's eyes. However, the only reason they'd be rubbish, is when and if these men ever wore their works as feathers in a fancy cap, flouting them before God and thinking He was impressed by their pious attire.
You see, unless we fear that even our best works are mortal sins, salvation can never be granted us by God. Whatever good we believe we do, the praise really belongs to the one who has hidden our sin, by covering us in His righteousness. For, without God there is no good, and without Jesus we share no communion in God's goodness. He is what makes us good; we, left to ourselves, really have nothing to do with it at all. It's Christ who is our righteousness, and for God and His perfect judgment no other supposed pseudo, self-assured "righteousness" will suffice. We can now rest in the fact that all is done in Christ, and that we no longer need to labor under the torture of the Law. Jesus' sinless life has been imputed to us for all eternity, and not even Satan can take that away from us. Let us now steadfastly cling to out great Savior, our only assurance in this perishing world, and stand with confidence before God our Father, pointing to nothing but Christ and His cross.
(The article I'm quoting from was written by Christine Armario, a writer for the Associated Press, on 2-5-09.)
Beside what's most obviously horrifying about this tragic event, is the shock, dismay, and contempt of those on the "pro-choice" side of the argument have towards this particular abortion practitioner, without seriously considering where their dogma leads. Here's the first part of the story in the writer's own words.
Florida doctor investigated in badly botched abortion
"Eighteen and pregnant, Sycloria Williams went to an abortion clinic outside Miami and paid $1,200 for Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique to terminate her 23-week pregnancy."
"Three days later, she sat in a reclining chair, medicated to dilate her cervix and otherwise get her ready for the procedure."
"Only Renelique didn't arrive in time. According to Williams and the Florida Department of Health, she went into labor and delivered a live baby girl."
"What Williams and the Health Department say happened next has shocked people on both sides of the abortion debate: One of the clinic's owners, who has no medical license, cut the infant's umbilical cord. Williams says the woman placed the baby in a plastic biohazard bag and threw it out."
"Police recovered the decomposing remains in a cardboard box a week later after getting anonymous tips."
""I don't care what your politics are, what your morals are, this should not be happening in our community," said Tom Pennekamp, a Miami attorney representing Williams in her lawsuit against Renelique (ren-uh-LEEK') and the clinic owners."
Now, I can completely understand why the "pro-lifers" are up in arms about this, I as a "pro-lifer" feel as they do, and I can understand the natural outrage that someone with a conscience feels regarding the disgusting nature of this story, but at what point will the "pro-choice" side of things start to see that this is exactly where their ideology is heading.
That is not to say that I believe all abortion advocates currently believe in this kind of thing, but I do believe that abortion advocates will be forced to accept this this type of practice in the future. Right now I believe it's possible that not all "pro-choicers" are advocates of infanticide, but I do believe that all infanticide advocates are "pro-choicers", and this is very troubling. Here's my question, what side of the previous statement has stronger intellectual gravitas; what side is more consistent?
And for anybody who thinks I'm going over the line by asking this, then please meet Peter Albert David Singer, professor at one of Americas most elite universities; Princeton. I will quote what this utilitarian bioethics philosopher has said regarding the legitimacy of killing another human being, he says:
So he is at least honest in saying a fetus (otherwise known as baby) is a living being, but, at least to him, it doesn't categorically tell him whether it's wrong or right to kill that living being. Elsewhere, in regards to infanticide he has stated:
"''I do not think it is always wrong to kill an innocent human being,'' Professor Singer told the rapt audience in Harold Helm Auditorium. ''Simply killing an infant is never equivalent to killing a person.''"
Yes folks, this man is educating and influencing the elite's elite of future business leaders, "think-tank" philosophers, politicians, and medical practitioners, etc.; be very afraid!
So, here's what I mean in saying that the "pro-choice" ideology is headed down Professor Singer's road. The arguments for abortion are always rooted in utilitarian ethics, i.e. what is the greater good, etc., and this man is, perhaps, ahead of his time by just pushing the ideas of euthanasia and infanticide to their logically inevitable conclusions. Believe it or not, this man's a very clear and cogent thinker who longs to bring the truth of his sides position to light. He, as a person shouldn't be denegrated for speaking such things, although his ideas belong at the bottom of human reason's junk-heap, but his refreshing honesty is very rare among intellectual elites. All we can ask for is that people think consistently regarding their beliefs, and communicate them honestly without glossing over the unpleasant stuff.
However, Joanne Sterner, the Broward county president of NOW, remains inconsistent with her ideology when she says this about the incident:
""It really disturbed me...I know that there are clinics out there like this. And I hope that we can keep (women) from going to these types of clinics.""
I don't doubt that she was disturbed by the incident, but excuse me, the woman involved in this case was fine, at least medically speaking (maybe not mentally); now as for the child who suffocated in a plastic trash bag in the clinic's rubbish bin, that's another story. And once again, for anybody who believes I'm exagerating this account for effect, here is what Ms. Williams, the would be mother had to say about witnessing the event, she says:
"...Gonzalez [the clinic operator] knocked the baby off the recliner chair where she [Ms. Williams] had given birth, onto the floor. The baby's umbilical cord was not clamped, allowing her to bleed out. Gonzalez scooped the baby, placenta and afterbirth into a red plastic biohazard bag and threw it out."
I believe it's safe to say this baby suffered terribly in her final moments. Here's a little more information about how alive this child actually was.
"At 23 weeks, an otherwise healthy fetus would have a slim but legitimate chance of survival. Quadruplets born at 23 weeks last year at The Nebraska Medical Center survived.
An autopsy determined Williams' baby - she named her Shanice - had filled her lungs with air, meaning she had been born alive, according to the Department of Health. The cause of death was listed as extreme prematurity."
What a tragedy! Let's pray this brutal practice will one day be criminalized as it should, and that the Lord show "pro-choice" advocates the error of their ways so that they repent of this sin.