Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Valediction to Ecclesia Augustana

I wrote in my previous post on my "encouragement" that I am willing to be corrected or instructed. Here I hope to make good on that statement.

That post was my revealing of a weak argument against me -- one that bent around a fairly elementary logical fallacy (guilt by association), one that felt slick with legalism, and was enforced argumentum ad consequentiam (an appeal to positive or negative consequences.) I'm not ashamed of what I wrote. But contrary to certain outside opinions going wild on this incident, this was not coercion or bullying. The episode stemmed from genuine concern about my present and future ministry, and I will repeat here one more time, I am genuinely grateful for that concern. Nevertheless, I wish such an episode of guilt-heaping (i.e. guilting and not even using God's Law to do so properly) shouldn't exist in the Lutheran church.

Since then, after much prayer, I have come to believe that I ought to retract my authorship here. To my co-authors, I'd like to give my sincere praise. It shows great spiritual maturity to be so interested and public about Lutheran dogma. This is a rare gem to see in the youth, and I wouldn't want this enthusiasm quashed. But I would also exhort these acquaintances to "watch their life and doctrine closely," particularly in what they choose to opine in public, and especially when using sensationalist words. Wise Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 10Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil ferment and stink; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

I am rescinding my author status and disassociating with the blog "Ecclesia Augustana".

What, now, may happen to me? If my mere association here was so grave, will my past collaboration with these Ecclesia Augustana authors unnecessarily and unrighteously haunt me into the future? I pray no. If indeed I am promised "all is forgiven," I urge: don't later revoke or make hypothetical God’s own absolution. C.F.W. Walther says about forgiveness of sins:
"If the pastor strongly doubts the repentance and sincerity of a person confessing to him, without, however, being able to convict him of it and refuse absolution, [the pastor] dare not salve his own conscience by adding all sorts of conditions, or even warnings and threats, to the absolution." (Pastorale, p. 164. Emphasis mine)

15 comments:

  1. I would like to personally say that I am glad for this decision and even more glad you did not make this choice under some compulsion but of your own good Christian judgement.
    If you choose to continue in your studies I wish you God's blessings and hope that maybe you might be my pastor some day. Either way, I look forward to the possibility of meeting you face to face some day.
    God's blessings to you always,
    your brother and friend,
    Paul

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  2. I want to at least second that it is a wise decision to distance yourself from what is being written here.

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    1. Seth, will you demonstrate how I'm wrong on justification? I mean you should demonstrate that to warn those who might stumble on the blog, after all. Also, have you even read the exegetical essay that I referenced? If so, can you demonstrate where it errs?

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  3. The problems I see with the blog are:

    1. The attitude here regarding the liturgy would give one the impression that it is compulsory in the same sense that the C&C guys say that the church must change or die. Granted, the liturgy proclaims the Gospel in a time tested way, but no where do the Scriptures or Confessions mandate a certain worship! At best the blog comes off as legalistic or worse yet, Romanist! A church's faithful preaching of the Gospel in Word and Sacrament will take care of liturgy and not the other way around. Low church is not a sin.

    2. Justification: Read. Marquart. Period. And. Inwardly. Digest. Your repeated attacks against OJ makes you look at best like synergists (since you insist on faith saving in lieu of Grace) or worse; Calvinists (since you will not acknowledge universal redemption and reconciliation for Christ's sake).

    3. Put the best construction on everything.

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    1. "The attitude here regarding the liturgy would give one the impression that it is compulsory in the same sense that the C&C guys say that the church must change or die....At best the blog comes off as legalistic or worse yet, Romanist!"

      You may get that vibe from me, but I'm sure Baker disagrees with me on a lot about ceremonies and the liturgy. In fact we've had discussions where we completely disagree. And if you would read what we say so often: each author posts under his name for a reason -- it's his opinion! Don't lump all on the blog together. That being said, I take seriously when the Confessions I willingly subscribe to says we don't abolish the mass and retain the ceremonies that are God pleasing (paraphrase). This means that, the Confessions, as a description of Lutheran doctrine and practice are relevant for the subscribers. It's not wrong for me, as a quia subscriber, to reclaim the ceremonies which we claim to retain which proclaim Christ. If one disagrees and says everything in worship, how we act, etc. In the Confessions aren't binding, then kindly remove your name from subscribing from the Confessions. A confession describes what we believe and practice in our churches. There's no picking and choosing, "we're just bound to the doctrinal parts but not the practice." What a load of bull. A confession of faith is willful, either you agree with all of it or not. Look up Larry Beane on Issues, etc. about Confessional subscription and you'll see what I mean.

      Number 2, how am I synergistic for affirming that sinners are justified by the gift of faith? Please demonstrate where I'm a synergist or frankly stop with the absolutely false accusations. As far as Marquardt, I still disagree, although it is a much more tame explanation, that Christ was justified based on 1 Timothy 3:16. I'll be doing an Elephant in the Room soon based on that passage. Not that it will change your heart, but just letting all know.

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  4. Joe points to Marquarts essay as a clarifying document for the false gospel of Universal Objective Justification. It's hilarious how Marquart quoted a liberal Roman Catholic to defend his blasphemous defense of UOJ.

    Rather than rehash “in-house” exegesis, let us look at the relevant biblical material as displayed by Hans Kueng, a world-class, liberal Roman Catholic New Testament scholar, who stands entirely outside any and all Lutheran debates.
    http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/lutherantheology.marquartjustification.html

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  5. 1. You may subscribe to the confessions in whatever degree you choose, if you choose to bind yourself to them, so be it. Pastors are required to make a quia subscription. The Confessions teach the Word of God rightly and purely, but that is as far as we subscribe to them. By subscribing we do not bind ourselves to their practices or even their exegesis. We subscribe to the doctrine they teach. That is a quia subscription. Do not elevate the Confessions to the level of the Scripture. They do not create or establish practices that Scripture does not. That which served the Gospel was retained in the mass, and we carry on the same practices retaining that which serves the Gospel. Having a quia subscription does not mean we have to use the "mass."

    2. You are a synergist if you teach that faith completes salvation or is a condition that allows justification. The orthodox view is that justification has taken place for all sinners, faith is the receiving organ which brings justification to the believer. Those who teach justification by faith alone with teaching an objective justification or a universal justification, often do not provide an adequate explanation as to what place faith takes in justification. If a man is not justified before faith, what does faith receive?

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    1. 1) I disagree about what a quia subscription means. Saying and proclaiming that the Book of Concord is "my confession" doesn't mean "it's my confession in so far as the doctrinal parts (Christ is man, Trinity, etc.) but not the practicing parts (AC 24, etc.)." Rather a confession is a confession -- voluntary acceptance in every single part. When I say that I confess what the Book of Concord confesses, I mean that. I mean it when I confess that the "mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved." Can you honestly confess with your tongue, in accordance, that you retain the ceremonies within the historic mass along with the traditional, Christocentric vestments and rubrics (genuflecting, adoration, etc.)? Or can you pick and choose which parts of the Confessions you actually confess (throw out AC XXIV but keep AC I)? Sadly, the common theme among "Lutherans" today is to pick and choose which parts of the Confessions they actually confess and practice -- calling some descriptive and prescriptive. A load of crap if you ask me. A confession is all descriptive, especially the Lutheran Confessions. The Lutheran Confessions describe what happens in our Lutheran churches. There isn't any picking and choosing therein. It doesn't make you not a Christian if you pick and choose, it just makes you not a Lutheran. I see you're associated with WLS. I hope you understand the Confessions prior to going out in the harvest field (or if you are, change). Please, listen to Fr. Beane's quick, 20-30 minute talk on Issues, etc. describing what I'm trying to convey: http://issuesetc.org/guest/larry-beane/ -- it's the one on the very bottom.

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    2. ...2) I'm a synergist if I, or anyone else, teaches that men can cooperate with their salvation. I haven't said this anywhere. What I have said is that the gift of faith is a component or a part of justification just as much as the grace of God and the merits of Christ are. This is evident in the orthodox Father's writings. Faith is just as much a cause as the grace of God and merit of Christ -- faith being a gift of God of course. I confess along with the Confessions that "faith is that thing which God declares to be righteous," and that "we are accounted righteous by faith alone for Christ's sake." Notice it doesn't say that "we are accounted righteous by Christ's sacrifice before and without faith, objectively, and then the sinner is again accounted righteous by faith, ultimately." It merely acknowledges only one justification for the forgiveness sins -- a justification that happens only on account of faith which receives Christ's objective righteousness, which alone clothes the sinner against God's wrath.

      "If a man is not justified before faith, what does faith receive?"

      Justification, in all of the Church's definition (and "sound pattern of words" passed down) of that action, is that, "we are absolved before the judgment of God, for Christ’s sake, from the guilt of sin and from damnation, pronounced just, and received to eternal life." (Chemnitz) Justification can only take place by the gift of faith, because obviously faith alone justifies. What does faith receive? Christ's inherent, objective righteousness. As Hunnius rightly states when writing against Huberianism (earliest form of universal justification):

      "This notwithstanding, we most willingly grant that there is a righteousness that avails before God for the entire human race, a righteousness that has been gained and acquired through Christ, so that if the whole world were to believe in Christ, then the whole world would be justified. With respect to this, Paul writes in Romans 5 that 'through one man’s justification (dikaioma), the gift has spread toward all men for justification (dikaiosis) of life.' Nevertheless, no one is justified nor does anyone receive remission of sins from this acquired universal righteousness without the imputation of this acquired righteousness of Christ. But the imputation of righteousness does not take place except through faith."

      UOJ, according to the written doctrinal statements = you're already justified, you must believe this to actually be subjectively justified.
      Huberianism = you're already justified, you must believe this to actually be subjectively justified.
      Hunnius/Lutheran Church/Wittenberg Faculty: Christ's righteousness is objectively there, as in the Sacrament, yet NO ONE IS JUSTIFIED except by faith.

      I ask, did Hunnius forget your meaning (UOJ's meaning) of "to justifiy?" According to him and the Wittenberg theologians, "to justify" only means a justification by faith. To them there is only one justification (by faith) and no such thing as an objective justification of all mankind without faith or the means of grace, etc. Yikes. And again, since I see you're associated with WLS, I hope you can get this understanding of Scripture and the confession of the Christian Church under your belt before your ministry, or if you are ordained and teaching, to start teaching in accordance with the Lutheran, Christian, Catholic, and Orthodox Church (aka to teach against Huberianism).

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  6. First, I should say that I am not associated with WLS. I'm an English Major. I'm not sure where you got that idea.

    You wrote that the Confessions are all descriptive. I would agree with that. However, you went on to define that as if they were prescriptive, which the Confessions are not. The Confessions are not a source for doctrine or practice, only the Bible does that. The bible in no place prescribes any worship pattern or form upon us as New Testament Christians. Therefore, the Confessions cannot either. That would mean they disagree with what the Bible teaches. The mass was retained because it served the Gospel, today practices are retained which served the Gospel. Neither the Bible nor the Confessions command us to retain the mass, liturgy, traditional worship, etc. That doesn't mean they aren't valuable, but we only use them so long as they serve the Gospel. I don't know what sort of subscription you were describing, but it isn't a quia subscription. We use the Book of Concord as our confession, because they teach the word of God. It is not a quatenus subscription, that subscription truly would be meaningless.

    The debate on universal objective justification is taking place elsewhere. I was only explaining why both sides throw synergism at the face of the other. One side thinks that the other lists faith as a cause or condition of justification (which you did) and the other thinks that faith becomes something very close to decision theology. I don't care to get into it. The bible is very clear on that subject, but both sides are only reading the Fathers and not the Bible. Forget them. We need to talk about the scriptures. Luther, Melancthon, et al. are dead. I'm not saying we need to reinterpret everything, but we do need to look first to the Bible to see what it teaches before we decide to start throwing around terms and quotes from dead men.

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    1. My apologies, I went out off half cocked on that one. It's just that every time you comment it says that your "host" is: w2k8mail.wls.wels.net

      I guess we'll have to disagree on confessional subscription. And as far as UOJ goes, fair enough, no need to continue it. Thanks for your comments, I found them enlightening.

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  7. It's amusing to hear the idea that universal justification comes from anywhere but (recently) dead men - much more so the idea that it comes from Holy Writ! Far from it; the Scriptures are adamant that God's wrath abides on the unbelieving - indeed, that they "stand condemned already." No righteousness in God's eyes there. St. Peter is adamant that repentance and Baptism must precede the *reception* of the forgiveness of sins. No Forgiveness for all prior to faith there.

    Faith certainly does receive the gifts procured by Christ on the Cross...which is why it is a *requirement* for salvation. No faith, no salvation. As much as I hate this song, it is worth quoting in this instance: "the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives." Amen.

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  8. Daniel, I don't think you can provide me with one instance of anyone in the bible speaking of faith as a requirement of salvation. I'm not saying it couldn't be understood properly, but it's crossing onto shady grounds. Faith is neither a condition, nor a requirement, to be met. Faith is a gift, a miracle, a working of the Holy Spirit. Through that and by that, salvation comes to us. Those are the ways it is spoken of in Scripture. Paul is very careful never to use "on account of" or "because of" as prepositions concerning the relation of faith to salvation; he always uses "by" or "through."

    The language you use sounds very much like the heresy of the election controversy. It'd be good to avoid that which forces God into favoritism, and God does not show favoritism.

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    1. St. John 1:12: "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."

      St. John 3:18: “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

      St. Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."

      I could go on. That all sounds like a requirement being met for salvation to me. OBVIOUSLY faith is a gift, miracle, and working of the Holy Spirit. NO ONE has ever denied that on this blog. But that doesn't make it any less of a condition. Just like Baptism is necessary for salvation. It's not necessary because it's a human work, just as faith isn't a human work. It's necessary because it's the work of God and the vehicle of grace and forgiveness.

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    2. And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” -- Luke 7:50

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