Wednesday, April 24, 2013

As the Great Sanctification Debate of 2013 Winds Down . . .

Pr. Mark Surburg has written a blog post theological treatise over at his blog, sharing his final thoughts (at least for now) on the Great Sanctification Debate of 2013. But, don't worry. It's not really over. They'll be another Great Sanctification Debate coming to a blogosphere near you sooner than you think. Lutherans can't help themselves. They love arguing with one another. Especially Lutherans of the more "confessional variety," if you get my drift. But, that's a good thing. They argue because they really do care about this stuff. They argue because they really do want to get this stuff right. And, often, their arguing leads them to sharpen not only how they think about this stuff, but also about how they put this stuff into practice and teach others. Iron sharpens iron, and all that. 

According to Pr. Surburg, the issues in the Great Sanctification Debate of 2013, which seems to be winding down, have been centered around 1) confusion and concerns about nomenclature, 2) arguments about whether the new man cooperates in new obedience, 3) disputes about growth and increase in new obedience, 4) some forcing and imposing an extreme form of Law and Gospel on texts of Scripture, and 5) the ever-popular dust-up regarding the third use of the Law (always my personal favorite, and yours, too - admit it!).

I certainly don't want to make light of Pr. Surburg's fine effort to get to the nitty-gritty here. He has put forth a lot of serious effort in this latest Great Sanctification Debate, and I appreciate his willingness to engage the topic and to identify what he believes to be the points of contention. However, my concern is that he, and others, have chosen to make far more out of all this than is really there. That was my concern in the Great Sanctification Debates of 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and it remains my concern again this year. I really think it's always much ado about not much.

I could be wrong, of course. Maybe there really are confessional Lutherans among us who really don't believe that the new man cooperates with the Holy Spirit, albeit in great weakness, in new obedience. I've just never met one. Maybe there really are confessional Lutherans who don't believe there is any growth or increase whatsoever in new obedience. I've just never met one. Maybe there are confessional Lutherans who really are too dense to grasp the fact that the apostles of our Lord proclaim the Law not only to convict of sin, but also to encourage holy living. I've just never met one. Maybe there are confessional Lutherans who really don't understand that, for the new man in the Christian, the Law is a good thing in which he delights. I've just never met one.

I have met confessional Lutheran pastors who may give the impression that they might believe some of these things by over-emphasizing a theological point, usually in reaction to other Lutheran pastors over-emphasizing a different theological point, but, lo and behold, when the smoke clears, both of those pastors actually do believe, teach, and confess the same thing. I've also seen some confessional Lutheran pastors make less than salutary comments either out of frustration or to make a point, which leads others to conclude that they're crass antinomians, who must be dealt with expediently. Or, from the other side, a confessional Lutheran pastor says something that causes others to jump on him for being an obvious pietist, who, again, must be dealt with expediently. Sometimes, we confessional Lutherans can be a little childish. Not me, of course. But, others. And, when we fail to see things for what they really are and end up making mountains out of molehills, the terrorists win.

And so, while I appreciate Pr. Surburg's attempt to summarize the issues in this latest Great Sanctification Debate, and add my hearty "Amen" to much of what he has written, I take issue with his assertion that there is a "new Lutheran understanding of new obedience/'sanctification'" out there threatening the "traditional Lutheran view," or as Pr. Jordan Cooper put it on FB last week, a "new school of thought" on sanctification, the proponents/students of which he deemed "Radical Lutherans," providing one of my dear seminary professors, the Reverend Professor John Pless, as an example of such. I'm sorry, but that's just crazy talk if ever there were crazy talk.

None of this is to say that the Great Sanctification Debate of 2013 has been a total waste of time. Some good has come of it. As Pr. Surburg rightly notes, we need to be careful about what nomenclature we employ. When confessional Lutherans start talking about sanctification in a way that doesn't appear all that different from the way in which Americanized Protestants do, other confessional Lutherans are going to get grumpy. Not me, of course. But, others. When confessional Lutherans start talking about "preaching sanctification" as something that Lutheran pastors can deliberately accomplish, other confessional Lutherans are going to lose it. Again, not me, of course. But, others. And, when confessional Lutherans even hint at the suggestion that sanctification is something that comes after Jesus, as if it is not totally wrapped up in Jesus, other confessional Lutherans are going to start throwing things. Not me, of course. But, others.

In this wrap-up post by Pr. Surburg, he is very careful to make clear what he is and is not saying, and he does his best to put forth what he hears his "opponents" saying. But, I think he still has some more listening to do, as he attributes to them positions they simply do not hold (at least, not the "opponents" of whom I'm aware), as I mentioned above. Furthermore, I'm not sure what he's trying to accomplish in his second-to-last paragraph by noting, "it must of course be granted that only the Holy Spirit determines how the Law will actually be applied to the individual. Yet this does [not] remove the fact that the speaker or writer knows the goal he intends to achieve in the hearer or reader." He goes on to give the example of St. Paul exhorting husbands to love their wives (Eph. 5:25), stating that St. Paul's intention is clear -  he wants husbands to love their wives. And?

This is Pr. Surburg's response to those pastors, like me, who have contended that only the Holy Spirit determines how the Law will actually be applied, and that, at the end of the day, Law is Law, and it is a dangerous thing for pastors to leave their hearers with the Law. Pr. Surburg jumps to the conclusion that this must mean that we are hesitant, or worse, that we refuse, to speak like St. Paul and the other apostles speak, and that, because of this, our theology might need to be reexamined (does he realize that a) this comes off as very condescending, as if he is the only serious theologian in the room, and b) this is a pretty serious charge, one that should not be made unless it can be clearly backed up with supporting evidence?). Of course, this is nonsense. I don't know of any confessional Lutheran pastors, whose theology Pr. Surburg worries might be in need of reexamination, who hesitate or refuse to speak like St. Paul and the other apostles. We're simply stating the truth, which Pr. Surburg nowhere refutes, that the intention of the speaker/writer/preacher, whatever it may be, does not change the fact that speaking/writing/preaching Law is speaking/writing/preaching Law. When St. Paul exhorts husbands to love their wives, even if he does so with a clear intent and in the most pleasant, lovely, non-threatening voice he could manage, it may, in fact, be heard by some husbands as the harshest, most accusatory Law ever. I think we're on extremely thin ice when we start highlighting intentions in relation to preaching the Law. What's that saying about the road to hell?

I don't think this means that the theology of Pr. Surburg differs from mine, and I'm certainly not going to claim that his theology is in need of reexamination based on this. I think, at the end of the day, we would be in agreement, which leads me back to my assessment above that this is really just another case of different emphases and talking past one another. As I said above, I may be wrong about this. I'm simply basing my assessment on what I've actually seen and heard throughout the various Great Sanctification Debates over the years. I've asked for examples from the confessional Lutherans who make the claims that there is some "new understanding" or "new school of thought" brewing among us, but I've never yet been provided with anything that would lead me to conclude that there actually is. Usually, the examples are nothing more than bad behavior or hyperbolic statements made in response to other hyperbolic statements, and almost always, upon further reflection, the apparent differences turn out to be nothing of the sort (some nuances may remain, but nothing that destroys the confession of the faith both parties hold). Maybe Pr. Surburg will provide some evidence to back up the claims he makes in his post, but until then, I'm inclined to believe that this latest Great Sanctification Debate has really been much ado about not much, as the previous six thousand were. And, I really think we should all try to remember that blog and FB posts are not detailed, theological treatises. They're usually just snippets, and often reactionary. They very rarely reveal the full extent of a pastor's theological understanding of this or that issue, and we should be a little more careful before rushing to conclusions based on them. 

Also, I want to make clear that I definitely do understand that there is a very real tension we confessional Lutherans feel when addressing this issue, which comes from our colorful history. We know that both antinomianism and pietism are bad things we need to avoid, and sometimes we might seek so much to avoid one or the other that we come off as falling into the opposite pit, even if we really haven't. That's one of the reasons these arguments are good; they're reminders to all of us that these dangers still exist and still need to be avoided.

For a couple of excellent, easy-to-understand articles which bring some much needed clarity to these Great Sanctification Debates, see Pr. Todd Wilken's:


and


As for another Great Sanctification Debate coming to an end, my closing thoughts (and by closing thoughts, I mean, maybe my closing thoughts; I reserve the right to have future thoughts), which have always been my closing thoughts whenever one of these Great Sanctification Debates comes to an end, are best expressed by this:

38 comments:

George said...

Very nice post, I think. I reserve the right, of course, to disagree with it later, if the mood strikes me.

Anyway, we need to get back to the really big arguments among Lutherans like the perpetual virginity of the BLessed Virgin Mary. And as a blast from the past we should probably revive the Predestinarian Controversy. :)

Nathan said...

I just found an old paper on the predesination controversy written by a Concordia St. Paul student up in our archives today! : )

+Nathan

WM Cwirla said...

Great summary post, Tom. It's always fun to watch the young theologians argue with each other. Like watching young warriors sparring. They do tend to think they're the first ones to have thought of this. :)

Jordan Cooper said...

I have just a few brief things to say about this.

You criticized me for mentioning John Pless. I never attacked John Pless or said anything negative about him or his theology. The only reason his name ever came up was because someone asked, "where has anyone identified themselves as a radical Lutheran?" And I said, "Well John Pless' religion on facebook is listed as: radically Lutheran." That's it.

William Cwirla- I don't think any of us have the idea that no one thought of this before. This whole debate started because I read our Lutheran fathers. I only desire to repeat them on this issue.

And I think that there is genuine disagreement on these issues. If there were not, why was I criticized in the first place? Why was Pastor Surburg? I simply don't think you can read Forde next to Pieper on sanctification and say that they genuinely agree. I don't think Forde would say that! Radical Lutheranism is certainly a school of thought, whatever name you want to put on it. There is very clearly a recognizable theology that comes from Forde, Paulson, and others that differs in many ways from classical Lutheranism.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

Pr. Cooper,

On the FB thread I commented upon on your page, you were asked by myself and Sandra O. to name some "Radical Lutherans" who adhered to the "new school of thought" you claimed existed. Your reply was simply "John Pless." No further explanation, that I saw anyway. Maybe I missed it. If so, mea culpa, and please accept my apology. Unfortunately, I can't locate the FB thread in question to verify. Did you delete it?

Whatever the case, I'll accept your explanation now, and rejoice in the knowledge that you're not attacking Prof. Pless or saying anything negative about him or his theology.

Thanks for clearing that up.

Mark Surburg said...

Pastor Messer,

I do not believe that your post acknowledges the substantive discussions and differences that emerged. Fortunately those discussions took place in public and so readers can take a look at them. In particular I call your attention to the thread in Facebook, "What would Pless read" that begins with a post of FC Ep VI.18 that I made on April 18 at 8:51 p.m. A reading of that may prove helpful in revealing the difference that exists regarding the regenerate man's cooperation in new obedience. With the Formula of Concord, Pastor Cooper and I openly and gladly confess this to be Scriptural and true. You will find that those of the new position were unwilling to do so.

In Christ,

Mark Surburg

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

Pastor Surburg,

I've read the FB thread you mentioned. In no way does it reveal the substantive differences you claim exists. Rather, it reveals that FB is not a good place to have theological discussions, especially when those with whom you're trying to have theological discussions feel that you're being condescending (even if you really aren't).

In Christ,
Tom

Mark Surburg said...

Pastor Messer,

It's a very odd Lutheran who is not willing to affirm Chemnitz's statement: "But after the Holy Spirit has already begun in us that work of renewal, we also can and should add our effort, by following the leadership of the Holy Spirit and mortifying the works of the flesh through the Spirit (Rom 8:13; 12:2; 2 Ptr 1:5; 2 Ti 1:6)" (Ministry, Word and Sacraments: An Enchiridon, para. 199; pg. 101). It's stranger still when at no point in any conversation have they been willing to grant this. Perhaps we should look forward to hearing a robust affirmation from them about the synergistic character of new obedience. Since I have been told by them that this is an incorrect reading of the Book of Concord, that would be most helpful in demonstrating that there is no real issue - as you suggest. Maybe you can persuade the pastors in question to make such a public affirmation.

In Christ,

Mark Surburg

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I think it's interesting that several of those who are "bad" liked the Chemnitz quote... indeed, I myself even cited the following questions (which I think help to flesh out the topic, rather than pull a single aspect out in isolation).

Those are again, for anyone interested:

"Are the good works of believers welcome, acceptable, and pleasing to God?" Of the works of the unregenerate, unbelievers, and hypocrites, no matter how good they seem, Scripture says, Heb 11:6: Without faith it is impossible for anything to please God (cf. Ro 14:23; Is 1:13; 66:3; Ps 109;7)

But of the works of the reborn and believes Scripture says, Cl 3:20: Children, obey [your] parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord (cf. 1 Ti 5:4, Ro 12:1; Heb 13:16; 1 Ptr 2:5; 1 Jn 3:22; Eph 5:19; Ps 119:108)

"Are the good works of believers in this life so clean and perfect that they please God for this reason?" With the help and operation of the Holy Spirit the reborn indeed render some inward and outward obedience, but since the Law requires complete and altogether absolute perfection from the whole heart, without any evil desire (Dt 5:21, 6:5), therefore all the saints complain that because of sin clinging to the flesh they can by no means attain perfection in this life. Ro 7:18; Gl 5:17. For though, by God's favor, they have the will and pious intent to do good things, yet, because of sin dwelling in the flesh, evil lies near them and is fastened on them. Ro 7:18, 21; Is 64;6 Ps 143:2; Lk 17:10.

"Since the good works of the reborn are neither pure nor perfect, how then can they please God?" They do not please God by reason of worthiness or perfection; but because the person has already been reconciled with God through faith, for Christ's sake, therefore to Him as to a father, the inchoate obedience of His children, such as it is, is acceptable for the sake of that same Christ, no matter how weak, imperfect, and soiled by the filth of sin still clinging to the flesh. For that which our obedience lacks in that respect is supplied and covered by the completely perfect obedience of Christ, namely in those (Ro 8:1) who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit and acknowledge their imperfections. 1 Pt 2:5; Ph 1:11; Heb 11:2: By faith all the saints obtained a testimony (namely regarding their deeds or works and sufferings, etc.)

++++++++++++++

I certainly don't know why it is deemed to be un-lutheran or anti-chemnitz to in particular delight in the fact that "therefore all the saints complain that because of sin clinging to the flesh they can by no means attain perfection in this life. Ro 7:18; Gl 5:17."

Should I thus deem anyone who doesn't "like" that comment or publicly affirm that statement at my beck and call as an errorist and proponent of new and perverse teachings?

Mark Surburg said...

Eric,

Those are great statements from Chemnitz, and we all agree about them. Citing them doesn't answer the issue at hand.

The question remains, do you think the new man cooperates with the Holy Spirit (albeit in weakness) in new obedience? Chemnitz's language in the Enchiridion simply reflects the theology of the Formula: “For when the Holy Spirit has effected and accomplished new birth and conversion and has altered and renewed (aeƤndert und erneuert)the human will solely through his divine power and activity, then the new human will is an instrument and tool of God the Holy Spirit, in that the will not only accepts grace but also cooperates (mitwirket) with the Holy Spirit in the works that proceed from it” (FC Ep II.18).

It's a simple question about a specific point of theology. Do you think "that the will not only accepts grace but also cooperates with the Holy Spirit in the works that proceed from it"?

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Like Rev. Messer says, I don't know of any Lutheran who doesn't.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Actually, I will put in a caveat -- I don't think the "new man" participates in "weakness" - the new man does all things well and good - but at in my flesh the old and the new are at war, there is weakness.

Unless we are ascribing weakness to Christ, who is the New Man.

George said...

Is it too much to ask for some specificity? For instance, who are these Lutherans who are allegedly disagreeing with the Formula & with Chemnitz? Where may their writings & statements on this be found?

Because I'm not seeing it. Maybe I've just been reading or not reading the right blogs.

Mark Surburg said...

Pastor Brown,

I am glad to hear this. Perhaps we could have saved ourselves a great deal of work if you had simply affirmed this when asked about it in the beginning. On the other hand, I have appreciated the opportunity to work more closely with the material and there should be no misunderstanding about it in the future.

In Christ,

Mark Surburg

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Really? You thought I denied this, and that is why you wrote pages upon pages of blog posts?

Isn't that kind of silly?

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Now, I guess I have a question. Do you really think the New Man is weak?

Nathan Rinne said...

Hello all,

Just so everyone knows, I don't have ill will towards anybody here, and wish we could do this over a beer instead.

Pastor Cwirla - your preaching has particularly helped me over the years. Pastor Messer - I appreciate your vigorous but polite contributions. Pastor Brown - I love that you keep talking about the issue.

But really Pastor Brown - where do you get this idea that Jesus is the new man? I understand that it makes sense to call him this along with many other beautiful titles, but that is not what Scripture means when it speaks of the new man.

Did you see this post I did?:

http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/who-is-the-new-man/

What do you think?

+Nathan

Mark Surburg said...

Eric,

In the phrase "the new man cooperates with the Holy Spirit (albeit in weakness) in new obedience" I was simply reflecting the language of the Confessions that the individual Christian who is both new man and old man is not free from old man who hinders the new man.

I hope that clarifies the point.

In Christ,

Mark Surburg

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Consider the Small Catechism:

It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

The constant is Old Adam and the New -- this is Romans 5. This is "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." This is "I must decrease that He may increase." This is "The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." This is Christ Jesus saying that He is the Life - that is, He is my life.

Nathan said...

Pastor Brown,

I find your approach puzzling. I fully understand the desire to point to Christ, to look to Christ, to decrease that He may increase, etc.

But there is an "I". As we mature, we will obviously become less infatuated with this ourselves, with our "ego" (I remember Peiper and the "Ego" theology).

That said, there is an "I". We exist. And Luther said this personal existence was analogous to the two natures in Christ.

Let's look at all of Gal. 2:20:

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me...."

The I that has been crucified is that old Adam. He has been executed. When Jesus talks about how we must hate ourselves, I think he has just this execution in mind. This old man no longer lives, but Christ now lives in us!

"...And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Now who is this I? It is the new man! Christ? No, Paul means the individual Christian! It's pretty clear.

And even so, as cherished as this makes me feel, I agree its not something we want to really talk about! Those hymns sung from an individual Christian's perspective do tend to grate on me. Even Luther's morning and evening prayers bother me sometimes. The Lord's prayer is plural... we are the cherished bride of Christ corporately, not individually....

That said, many have pointed out that the individual holds such a cherished place in the Western world precisely because of teachings like this! It is something rejoice in, I suggest.

Does this help?

+Nathan

Nathan said...

I guess what I'm wondering is, "do you think the new man exists"? I mean, let us each point to Christ by all means - but who are those people pointing to Christ?

+Nathan

Nathan said...

Here's how I summed it up elsewhere:

Am I growing as much as I should be? I don’t think I am and do honestly think I’ll feel that way my whole life. There is more I could be doing for sure. Not to be saved, but because I have been saved. I want to re-start this process of pursuing holiness every day, for I am baptized! Even as I long to be found outside of myself – in other words where I loose the “me” and am “lost” in the joy of simply being where He is (where I am there my servant will also be) – finding Christ in everyone I meet even as I, being in Christ, am a “little Christ” to all.

Still, there is a me. There is an I. The “new man” is not just Jesus or Jesus in me. And that is glorious for He knows all the hairs on my head and treasures even me. I participate with Him in synergy.

And so do we all.

+Nathan

Nathan said...

All,

My "final" word - with sincere prayers that it may be the final word of us all, brothers in arms.

Glory be to Christ!:

http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/silent-no-more-luther-lays-down-the-law-on-how-to-preach-the-law-200-proof-version/

+Nathan

Jordan Cooper said...

Eric,

What do you think the disagreement is between us? Obviously you think there is one since you wrote posts against what Pastor Surburg and I wrote.

And calling Jesus the new man is completely wrong and is an absolute denial of the Chemnitz statement that you affirmed.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

First,

""But how can good works be done for by us, when the devil stalks us with his snares, the world is full of offenses, and sin itself dwells in our flesh?
First of all it is necessary that the person be reconciled to God through faith for the sake of Christ. For thus the Holy Spirit is given in reconciliation itself (Gl 3:2, 14; Tts 3::5-6); He purifies and renews hearts (Acts 15:8-9; Ps 51:10; Eph 4:23; Eze 36:26); He will kindle new affections in [your] heart, that it submit itself to the Law and divine obedience (Ro 6:17; 7:22). For a tree must first be good, before good fruits come forth from it (Mt 7:18; 12:33). But after the Holy Spirit has already begun in us that work of renewal, we also can and should add our effort, by following the leadership of the Holy Spirit and mortifying the works of the flesh through the Spirit (Rom 8:13; 12:2; 2 Ptr 1:5; 2 Ti 1:6). For through these exercises God wants to preserve and increase in us His gifts by the grace, power, and help of the Holy Spirit (1 Co 15:10; Mt 25:21, 29). And what is more, for this the Holy Spirit uses as ordinary means the preaching, hearing and meditation of the divine Word (Ps 119)"

I think that is a fine statement. It also doesn't use the phrase "new man."

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Second,

I have not written any posts directly against anyone -- I have lamented the focus on me and my growth... precisely because I view it as focused upon... me. Upon "I". As all wrapped up in Ego.

The saints do not point to themselves, but they diminish themselves. Who is Paul, who is Apollos? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

The following post explains this idea.

http://confessionalgadfly.blogspot.com/2013/04/co-operation-wheres-wonder-in-that.html

Nathan said...

That sounds pretty good to me! Amen to that.

Always eager to avoid onionism (opposite of unionism),

Nathan

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

The old adam is daily drowned - the new man daily emerges. If "I" myself am the new man... what does that mean?

Now, if Christ is the New Man, than daily through forgiveness and mercy He does arise in me - and I then show forth love as I live in Him.

To God Alone be the Glory! =o)

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

And here is a post that I think nails the whole discussion.

http://steadfastlutherans.com/?p=29240

Nathan said...

It means that you, as a redeemed person, exist.

Pastor Brown,

Your salvation is in Christ. If you want salvation, you have it!

more: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/if-you-want-salvation-you-already-have-salvation/

Go and sin no more, right?

+Nathan

Nathan said...

"And here is a post that I think nails the whole discussion.

http://steadfastlutherans.com/?p=29240"

Saw it and commented on it. Please take a look at Pastor Sonntag's article....

+Nathan

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

Wait, I thought we were wrapping this thing up. No?

I'm thinking we should stop now and reserve a little energy for the Great Sanctification Debate of 2014.

:)

Nathan said...

Pastor Messer,

Well, I'm done for today at least... : )

In the ever-patient strong love of Christ,

Nathan

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Will we have progressed to better arguments by next year, or will it still be the same, dead, Christless clash of ego?

Jordan Cooper said...

I don't see this as the "great sanctification debate of 2013", it's an essential reality that the Lutheranism of our Confessions and our Fathers is being compromised by theology of Forde and Paulson. That's not something to be debated and then forgotten until next year.

Doug Howard said...

From a layman's standpoint this clears the debate up in my mind: John 6:28,29 "Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"
29 Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."

Nathan Rinne said...

Pastor Brown,

I am puzzled by your last comment.

First of all, I must say, if the world would look at something like this and say "that is a vicious argument", I would simply challenge them to explain why they think that - or if they really think this argument has not in fact been tempered and rather mild as far as the world goes.

Second, there is no doubt that we all have an ego that likes attention and wants to be stroked. If that is something we don't recognize - and constantly try to fight against in the power of Christ - then that is something we need to repent about. I am convinced however, that there are many theologians out there who really have had a large measure of success in holding their pride in check. Humble men who know far more than I ever could.

I mean, I don't think you would ever think of saying that we should not discuss/debate issues like this because there will be sin involved! In that case, we might not as well not try and consciously do any good work! I see the work that Pastors Weedon, McCain, Cooper, Surburg, Curtis, Strawn, and Sonntag doing as an immensely good work. That is, upholding and defending that which has been passed on to us.

I especially thank Pastor Sonntag for giving Martin Luther a voice once again. Have you looked at his article yet?

Love in Christ,
Nathan

Steve Finnell said...

WHY QUOTE THE BIBLE?

Is it not ironic that those who claim that the Bible is filled with errors, contradictions, and is, in general an unreliable book, are the first ones to quote the Bible to support their doctrinal positions concerning God and His commandments?


Is it credible to quote from the Bible to support a doctrinal position, if your primary source of authority is a creed book, a catechism, a so-called book of new revelation, or a statement of faith? If the Bible is not your authority for faith and practice; how rational would it be to quote from it to support your position?


If the Bible and the Bible alone is not your authority and your authority alone, for faith and practice, then, to make a practice of quoting Scripture to prove a doctrinal point would not only be unreasonable and irrational, it would in fact, be dishonest.


Either the Bible is your authority or it is not. You cannot have it both ways.


SATAN QUOTED THE BIBLE


The devil quoted Scripture when he temped Jesus in the wilderness. The problem was God's word was not his authority.(Matthew 4:1-11)


Even though Satan knew God's word he was not obedient to it and lied about God's word, starting in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:1-13)


To quote from the Bible to support or refute a position of faith or practice and not believe that the Bible is trustworthy and is the sole authority from God, is not only disingenuous, but irrational, and does not offer credibility to any position of faith expressed.


WHY QUOTE THE BIBLE IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IT IS GOD'S INERRANT WORD AND IT IS THE SUPREME AUTHORITY AND THE SUPREME AUTHORITY ALONE?


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