Monday, September 21, 2015

Called to “Test all things”

Eight days ago, we blogged about the opening of Faith Lutheran Church – a new, independant Lutheran congregation in the Portland, Oregon, area, formed by some 17 Lutherans who were recently compelled to leave WELS for a variety of reasons, and have now chosen to be served by pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America (ELDoNA). We also mentioned that these Lutherans now also feel compelled to provide a public explanation for their departure from the WELS. Last Monday, we posted the first such explanation: No Longer Alone: Perspective of a Confessional Lutheran Woman. Today, we post the second.



Called to “Test all things”
by Mr. Vernon Kneprath

The intent and agreement among those who chose to leave our WELS congregation was to leave peacefully and quietly. Concerns had already been expressed to the appropriate individuals over months and years, regarding what was being preached, taught and practiced throughout the synod. Most of those resigning their membership had stopped attending our local congregation weeks or months prior. When our common goal to return to confessional Lutheranism was realized, and a road to that end became available, it was determined to be prudent to resign our membership in our WELS congregation before working toward organizing a new congregation.

A simple, one sentence letter indicated the undersigned were resigning their membership. The letter was sent by certified mail to the pastor and president of the congregation. It was considered by our group to be more kind and considerate to send one letter rather than many, so that those receiving it would not be in a position of wondering when the next letter would arrive.

For nearly two months we generally avoided initiating dialogue. Some of us were contacted by various members and leaders of our local congregation. We listened carefully, and responded respectfully. Out of the communications that occurred during that time, there was a single individual who approached many of us in a respectful manner, and showed genuine care and concern for us.

The previous Intrepid post gave one individual’s reasons for leaving the WELS. While each of us had our own specific reasons for leaving, there were many shared concerns. Therefore, some of what follows may seem redundant. Unlike the author of the previous post, I had been a lifelong member of the WELS. I was instructed and confirmed with the Gausewitz edition of Luther’s Small Catechism, and remain convinced that it properly represents and teaches the truths of Scripture. But it had become increasingly clear in recent years that I was a confessional Lutheran in a Lutheran church body that seemed to no longer appreciate or desire to be confessional Lutheran.

The Bible teaches that we are to point out error where it exists, and to defend the truth of God’s Word at every opportunity.
    ”Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NKJV)
Over time, and with a great deal of attention to what was going on among Lutherans in this country, it became apparent it wasn’t necessary to accept the deliberate changes being made to the teachings and practices of churches within the WELS. There is an alternative.

New Bible translations that glorify man and his wisdom rather than honoring God’s unchanging Word do not need to be tolerated or accepted. There is a Lutheran church body that recognizes the potent efficacy of God’s Word in teaching AND in practice.

Contemporary worship, or blended worship, or whatever the latest worship fad, does not have to be tolerated or accepted. There is a Lutheran church body that unabashedly uses the historic liturgy without change or reservation.

An obsession with money, and a link to Thrivent and Planned Parenthood does not have to be tolerated or accepted. There is a Lutheran church body that focuses on teaching and preaching Law and Gospel, leaving it up to God to determine how and when the saints will be blessed.

Man-made gimmicks to fill the pews and the offering plates do not have to be tolerated or accepted. There is a Lutheran church body that preaches the Means of Grace, and only the Means of Grace, as the way in which God grows the church.

Decisions to remove “Lutheran” from a church name, school or website, or other efforts to distance a church from the Lutheran Confessions need not be accepted or tolerated. There is a Lutheran church body that eagerly teaches the contents of the Book of Concord to its members.

The teaching of objective justification, which proclaims that “everyone has been justified, everyone has been forgiven, everyone has been saved,” does not have to be tolerated or accepted. There is a Lutheran church body that preaches, without hesitation or contradiction, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31 NKJV)

There is an alternative to a Lutheran church that no longer desires to be confessional Lutheran. The Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America, (ELDoNA) is the Lutheran church that I have found to be unapologetically confessional Lutheran, in teaching AND in practice.


The Lutheran Hymnal - Hymn 260 verse 2 (verse omitted from the WELS hymnal, Christian Worship)
    With fraud which they themselves invent
         Thy truth they have confounded;
    Their hearts are not with one consent
         On Thy pure doctrine grounded.
    While they parade with outward show,
    They lead the people to and fro,
         In error's maze astounded.

 

65 comments:

Joe Krohn said...

Maybe it's just me...but if the assurance of my forgiveness is predicated on my faith, I'm in trouble. The ELDoNA cuts the heart out of the Gospel; the absolution of all sin in the death of Christ vs. a faith that at times is not the strength of a mustard seed; in their rejection of a doctrine that they clearly can not even articulate.

There is an ACLC congregation in Oregon and I would encourage them to seek it out.

Peace in Christ, -Joe

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Hi Joe. It might be just you... You can't blame Bible-reading/believing Christians for being inwardly compelled to confess what the Bible plainly says, over and over and over again, and then affiliate with a church body that confesses the same doctrine. It seems rather silly to me for Christians to submit to having doctrine, nowhere stated in the Scriptures, dictated to them from a textbook, instead, while also being told that what the Bible does plainly and repeatedly say, is false teaching.

As for ACLC, they are in a State of Confession, and day is swiftly coming for them to make a final act on it -- to decide whether it was all bluster, or whether they will need to actually separate from LCMS. If the latter, I would strongly urge them to consider the positions of ELDoNA with an open mind.

Vernon Knepprath said...

Joe,

Many consider John 3:16 to be the heart of the Gospel. John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." That sounds remarkably similar to the verse I used in the post, from Acts 16:31. I will say it again, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved." The words in quotations are part of God's Word, the Means of Grace. The Holy Spirit works through the Means of Grace to give and strengthen faith. It often amazes me to see so many people, many of them theologians, who work so hard to trivialize a gift of the Holy Spirit. If you are a believer that needs assurance of your forgiveness, use the Means of Grace. If you are not a believer, the Holy Spirit still works through the Means of Grace to give faith and forgiveness. This is what is taught in the Gausewitz edition of Luther's Small Catechism, and the Lutheran Confessions, both reflecting the truths of Scripture. It is actually quite easy and simple to articulate.

Vernon

Joe Krohn said...

Vernon...nothing confesses objective justification better than Christ's fervent prayer at the cross...Father forgive them...do you reject this? -Joe

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

I, for one, fail to see that Christ was teaching the doctrine of Universal Justification in this statement, at all. The so-called doctrine of "Universal Justification" is nowhere stated in the Scriptures. Nowhere. In no section in the entirety of the Bible, where the Holy Spirit, through the pen of the inspired writers, has directly taught the Doctrine of Justification, is so-called "Universal Justification" even in view. In no context in which Justification is actually taught, is "Universal Justification" the message. The only direct teaching of the Bible concerning Justification is Justification by Faith Alone. "Universal Justification" is a pure invention.

It is impossible to allow Christ's words, here, to stand on their own and speak for themselves while at the same time understanding them as the teaching of "Universal Justification." They simply don't teach this doctrine. In order to interpret these words as a teaching of "Universal Justification," one must first insist that this so-called doctrine, which is nowhere stated in the Scriptures, is actually the central teaching of the Scriptures, and then use this teaching as a filter by which all Scripture is interpreted.

I'd be happy to accept "Universal Justification" as a Biblical doctrine, even as the central teaching of the Scriptures, if the Holy Spirit had thought it was important enough to actually include this doctrine in the direct teaching of Holy Writ. But it simply is not there. Anywhere. Again, the so-called doctrine of "Universal Justification" is neither mentioned, nor simply stated, nor articulated at length, nor developed and explained -- in short, it is not taught anywhere in the Scriptures. Therefore, I will not allow my conscience to be bound by it.

Joe Krohn said...

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not laid out either, Doug.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Irrelevant, Joe. The Doctrine of the Trinity, does not label as false doctrine what the Scriptures directly and repeatedly teach about the persons of the Godhead. "Universal Justification" and all of its corollaries -- a pure invention, constructed from partial statements thoughout the NT stripped of their context -- consigns as false doctrine the simple, direct, clear and repeated teaching of Scripture: Justification by Faith Alone. It would be one thing if the Bible had no clear teaching of Justification -- as in the relationship of the persons of the Godhead. But this is absolutely not the case. The Bible's teaching on Justification is direct, clear, repeated and very emphatic. The Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone is the Bible's teaching on Justification. "Universal Justification" is false doctrine.

Joe Krohn said...

If your wife makes you mad, Doug, and she doesn't apologize, do you still forgive her or do you lord it over her?

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Is that more Bible doctrine, Joe? If you want to teach me "Universal Justification" cite Book and Chapter, please.

Vernon Knepprath said...

Joe, since you addressed your question yesterday afternoon to me, I will respond, even though I agree completely with Douglas's responses. Do I reject Luke 23:34? Of course not. I accept all the truths of Scripture, without adding or taking away a word. Do I reject your interpretation of this verse? Yes. I've read many of the papers written by the advocates of objective justification, particularly those written recently. I gave the UOJ advocates their opportunity to convince me that Luther and others were wrong in their interpretation of Scripture and the UOJ advocates were right. They failed. Even so, the objective justification advocates do not use the verse you point out as being the "best" confession of objective justification. Perhaps your insight will cause them to use it more in the future. But I suspect even they would disagree with you that this verse is somehow the linchpin of objective justification.

Joe Krohn said...

It is doctrine, Doug. How we understand justification translates into how we handle the rest of scripture and how we conduct ourselves in this life; including the forgiveness of sins.

We love Him because He first loved us.

Love covers a multitude of sins.

The Prodigal Son whose father took him back BEFORE the son could hatch his own plan of redemption.

Forgive us as we forgive those who sin against us.

Now please answer the question.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Doctrine is NOT that by which we interpret Scripture!!! Doctrine means "teaching". Scripture Doctrine is that which is taught by Scripture. The doctrines of man are that which is taught apart from Scripture.

Scripture interprets Scripture. The "more clear" explains the "less clear". "Universal Justification" is NOT taught anywhere in Scripture, there is no Scripture that can be adduced which teaches it. It is a pure invention. It is NOT Scripture Doctrine. You cannot use what the Scriptures to not say to qualify what they plainly and repeatedly say.

Even if one were to grant that "Universal Justification" is somehow taught in the Scriptures, it is obscure and unclear, and therefore subordinated to and explained by the clear and repeatedly taught Scripture Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone. This is basic hermeneutics.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Now please answer the question.

My answer is this: Doctrine by analogy is stupid.

Joe Krohn said...

If you forgive your wife regardless of whether she is sorry or not; this is true Bible doctrine! We as Christians are encouraged; even commanded to do this or our forgiveness from God may be in jeopardy; because our debt was forgiven long before we ever believed!

If you do not forgive your wife unless she apologizes in just the right way, then you are putting a condition on something that was settled a long time ago when it was finished.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Again, if you are going to cite Bible Doctrine, please include Book and Chapter.

The fact is, your analogy is entirely invalid. I am not a Righteous Judge. I am totally unaware of any circumstance where I, or any husband for that matter, cannot claim some failure, or even abundant failure, that is complicit in the circumstances leading to such anger.

It is impossible for me to even imagine, with any accuracy, what it might be like to be a Righteous Judge. But to understand doctrine from analogy, I must rely principally on my own imagination. Imagination is not a good source of theology. It is better just to stick with the direct, positive statements (i.e., the "clear" statements) of Scripture.

Frasius said...

I believe there is no dogmatic difference here between Mr Krohn and Mr Lindee. You are talking about different points of the Christian doctrine.
There is a difference, but it is exegetical. Unfortunately Mr Lindee seems more interested in attacking the ACLC than to investigate that.
Rev. Jakob Fjellander
www.luk.se/inenglish.htm

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

No, Rev. Fjellander, you are mistaken on three counts. First, for accusing Mr. Lindee of being interested in attacking anyone. He has presented solid, Biblical arguments refuting Mr. Krohn's unbiblical position. As for the ACLC, I think perhaps Mr. Lindee's comments were directed against the ACELC, which is a group of LCMS congregations that are not yet formally in a state of confession against their synod, but are discussing the possibility of such a state of confession. The ACELC is not to be confused with the ACLC, which is a group of formerly ELS pastors who adhere to the Synodical Conference doctrine of "Objective Justification."

Second, you are wrong about there being no difference between the two positions espoused above. Mr. Lindee has asserted that God justifies no one apart from faith in Christ. Mr. Krohn asserts that God, in fact, has justified all people apart from faith in Christ. In any reasonable analysis, those are two distinct and contradictory teachings.

Third, you are wrong in your assertion that Mr. Krohn is declaring a point of Christian doctrine. He is not. He is asserting a justification of all people apart from faith, which is contrary to Christian doctrine. If a person investigates his position further, one finds that he has absolutely no Biblical support for his assertion of a justification of sinners apart from faith in Christ.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Rev. Rydecki, thank you for the corrections. Yes... I meant ACELC, not ACLC. There are so many Lutheran acronymns floating around out there, that I've begun to mix some of them up -- especially the new ones that all sound alike... And, with at least some of the congregations refusing to commune other LCMS members who are not from ACELC congregations (I visited one that announced this in their bulletin), I thought they were in a state of confession.Thank you again for the correction.

Joe Krohn said...

I'd like to see that announcement verbatim. It would not be inconsistent with the ACELC's mode of operation. Pastor's in the ACELC, from what I understand are to exhorting visitors to meet prior to the service before communing. If the visitors don't meet with the pastor, or their confession regarding the Supper is not consistent with Confessional teachings, they are discouraged to partake.

Joe Krohn said...

BTW...I do agree with Pr. Rydecki on this point: we do disagree, Pr. Fjellander on Justification, Redemption, Atonement, Reconciliation and the Forgiveness of Sins. Orthodox Lutheran teaching does not put Faith before Grace as these folks do.

Joe Krohn said...

Vernon, you tout the Gausewitz Catechism as an orthodox catechism and yet you deny the Doctrine of Objective Justification. I would like to know which one you are talking about. We are of similar age and I'm assuming you are talking about the same one I was catechized in; published by NPH 1956. If this is so, I'd encourage you to read the top of page 113 where it talks about Christ redeeming you, me and all men.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Joe – I wish I still had the bulletin. We visited almost two years ago, and while I normally save bulletins from churches we visit, and keep them for awhile, we can't seem to find that particular one. This statement was also announced on that congregation's website, in a section explaining the pastor's membership in the ACELC, and the congregation's practices relative to it. I just went to that congregation's website, and – miracle of miracles! – it's been updated since then, and that particular phraseology no longer appears there. If you looking for confirmation to make sure I am not lying about it, I did mention it to Rev. Oncken (ELDoNA), with whom I had been meeting at the time. He may recall the conversation.

As for Faith prior to Grace... I don't see that the order you insist on is relevant, nor is it a correct characterization of "Justification by Faith Alone" (apart from works). I do not see that the Scripture teaches Justification by Grace apart from Faith, any more than it teaches Justification by Faith apart from Grace. When you account for all of the direct statements of Scripture concerning Justification, on this point we read [a] that we are "Justified by Grace" (Rom. 3:24), [b] that we are "Justified by Faith" (Gal. 3:24), and [c] that we are "Justified by Grace through Faith" (Eph. 2:8). As a result of [c], there is no way anyone can separate Grace from Faith in Justification. When the Scripture states that we are "Justified by Grace," and again, "Justified by Faith", these two conflicting statements are harmonized by Scripture itself when it further states that we are "Justified by Grace through Faith." Thus, on the basis of Scripture's clear testimony, when it says "Justified by Grace" or "Justified by Faith" it can only be understood as "Justified by Grace through Faith." Grace is what moved God to send His Son into the world, to live perfectly under the Law, and to atone for the world's sin by His propitiatory sacrifice; Grace is what moved God to offer to undeserving mankind the forgiveness of sins and righteous standing before Him, on the basis of Christ's finished work; Grace is what moves God to distribute this Good News throughout the world through the Ministry of Reconciliation; Grace is what moves God to keep His Gospel promises to those who receive them through Faith. Grace DOES "come before" Faith. Grace is responsible for Faith and for the promise Faith trusts and appropriates. But Grace is not Justification. There is no Justification apart from Faith, any more than there is Justification apart from Grace.

Joe Krohn said...

The order is relevant, Doug. Graces authenticates and activates faith and not the other way around. Otherwise you and others on this blog would capitulate to the universal redemption of all men as taught by Scripture and the BoC instead of truncating redemption to a payment that awaits activation by faith.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

No one has said that "Faith authenticates and activates Grace" -- where are your getting that from? The Scriptures plainly and directly teach that Justification comes by Grace through Faith. No Faith, no Justification. Very simple. Very clear. To be sure, Grace does, what Grace does -- faith does not need to authenticate or ativate it. But Grace, apart from Faith, neither Justifies nor Saves. This is the simple, clear, plain, direct message of the Scriptures.

Vernon Knepprath said...

Joe, it seems you try to find an argument where there is none: Martin Luther: "Christ did indeed suffer for the whole world; but how many are there who believe and cherish this fact? Therefore, although the work of redemption itself has been accomplished, it still cannot help and benefit a man unless he believes it and experiences its saving power in his heart."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 705f. Smalcald, 1537.

Regarding the Gausewitz Catechism, I won't bother to check a publish date, because I have no problem with what the Gausewitz Catechism says about redemption. Many would agree with me; redemption and forgiveness are not the same thing. But I know you are not one of them. I think we can leave it at that.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

FYI, for the record, my first edition Gausewitz, reads as follows:

Under the section on THE SECOND ARTICLE treating of Redemtion:
Q182: With which words of the Catechism do you confess that you too trust in Jesus Christ, Your Savior?
A: With the words, "I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature."

Q183: What do you confess with these words?
A: The great fundamental truth of the Gospel and Christian doctrine: Christ justified me in the sight of God. (My sin is forgiven; God imputes it to me no more; He has saved me.)

Q184: What does the Holy Scripture call this great blessing of the redemption through Jesus Christ?
A: Justification.

...

Q192: Wherefrom have you been redeemed?
A: (1) From all sin; for through Christ I have everlasting fighteousness, innocence, and blessedness. (2) From death; for I shall live with Christ in His kingdom. (3) From the power of the devil; for Christ has purchased and won me, that I should be His own.

Q193: What is the fruit of this redemtion through Christ?
A: That I serve Christ in His kingdom, being no longer a servant of sin.

...

Q203: Of what does the resurrection of Christ assure you?
A: (1) That Christ is the Son of God. (2) That He did redeem and justify me before God. (3) The He will raise up me also from death.

...

Under the section on THE THIRD ARTICLE treating of Forgiveness of Sins:
Q258: Why do the saints still need forgiveness of sins?
A: Because we daily sin and deserve nothing but punishment.

Q259: But what may we according to the Word of God confess with the Christian Church in the Third Article?
A: I believe in the forgiveness of sins.

Q260: What do you confess with these words?
A: I believe that the Holy Ghost in the Christian Church on earth daily and richly forgives all sins to me and all believers.

Q261: What does that mean that God forgives your sins?
A: God does no more look upon my sins, but justifes me; that is, He acquits me from all guilt and punishment.

Q262: Why do we say that the Holy Ghost forgives sins, whereas we are justified before God through the redemption of Christ?
A: The Holy Ghost by the Gospel awards the righteousness of Christ to us, and gives our faith assurance thereof.

Q263: To whom does God forgive sins?
A: To me and all believers. "Our works are all rejected, all claims of merit pass for naught."

Q264: Where are sins forgiven?
A: In the Christian Church on earth.

Q265: Why do we say, "In the Christian Church on earth?"
A: Because Christ gave the gospel to His Church on earth: in the Gospel we have the forgiveness of sins.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

I'm, personally, not a big fan of Gausewitz (preferring the Dietrich Catechism, these days). But I do have it, and refer to it on occasion.

In this section, his explanation of Redemption seems confusing at first (esp. Q184), but when you take in the entire section, it is clear that he is talking about Redemption in the context of a person's Faith. The Second Article confesses, "I believe..." and that establishes the context of what is being taught (Q182). It is clear, too, when he discusses that from which we have been redeemed (Q192.2), the fruits of redemption (Q193) and the meaning of the resurrection (Q203.3), that none of this can be understood outside the context of Faith.

Making this fact all the more clear is his discussion on the Third Article, concerning the forgiveness of sins. As with the Second, the Third Article confesses "I believe..." and this establishes the context of what is being taught by it. God forgives the sins of believers, and sins are forgiven in the Christian Church on earth, etc. Gausewitz, on the whole, is pretty clear on JBFA.

Vernon Knepprath said...

Thanks Douglas. I was also thinking of the questions under the Third Article, since I have looked them up many times in the last few years. I was taught from the Gausewitz, and it is what most WELS of my generation are familiar with. As you said, the Gausewitz is clear about JBFA and question 261 can't make it any clearer. "God forgives sins to me and all believers." Compare it to Kuske's, which says "God declared all people righteous." The teaching has changed.

Jim Roberts said...

According to "Martin Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation" 1902 Augustana Book Concern:

111. How shall Christ then Judge men?
Christ shall say to the faithful: Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
But to the unbelievers he shall say: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

125. In what does true faith in Christ consist?
True faith in Christ consists in this, that with our heart's desire we accept Christ as our Saviour and in Him only ground the confident assurance of the forgiveness of our sins, life and salvation.

126. What does God do when man accepts Christ in True faith?
God justifies and regenerates him.

127. What is justification?
Justification is the act of God in which he imputed to us the meritorious righteousness of Jesus Christ and forgives all our sins.

127 is after 126 and shows Justification by Faith Alone.

128. What is regeneration?
Regeneration is that work of grace in which the believer, at the time of justification, by reason of the grace of baptism, receives the new life in Christ and becomes a child of God.

131. How does the Holy Ghost preserve a believer in the true faith?
The Holy Ghost continues to call and enlighten the believer, and thereby helps him through daily repentance to seek and accept from his Saviour the forgiveness of his sins and renewed strength for continued growth in sanctification.

Jim Roberts

Frasius said...

Pr Rydecki,
Thanks for your comment and claryfying about the ACLC/ACELC. That makes perfect sense.

1. I am not accusing mr Lindee for being interested in attacking, I wrote "it seems", just mentioning the possibility, presenting my personal impression.

2. Of course there is a difference, I state that in my comment. I don't think, however, that it is dogmatic, I think it is exegetical. Is it church divisive to not have the same doctrine? Yes. Is it church divisive to not have the same understanding of every verse in Scripture? No. I think that the latter is the case here, different understanding of Rom. 4:25 et al.

You write Mr. Lindee has asserted that God justifies no one apart from faith in Christ. Mr. Krohn asserts that God, in fact, has justified all people apart from faith in Christ. This seems contradictory, but I think the solution is that the word "justified" is used in different ways, mening different things. Mr Lindee is talking about justification by faith, which Mr Krohn is not here. If it were so, Mr Krohn would be an universalist. But I suppose that he, like Dr Fr Pieper, is not an universalist. For Pieper the word "justification" here is referring to Satisfactio Vicaria, Christ's payment for all sins. Since Pieper et alii is referring to two different things with the word "justification" they qualify the term with adjectives, as objective/subjective. This is very confusing, and I personally think it is a misunderstanding of Rom. 4:25. I share your view on the mening of the term "justification" in both the Confessions and scripture, but I don't because of that accuse Dr Pieper or Mr Krohn for false doctrine on this point.

I also would like to add, that I don't defend the WELS here. Within WELS there are aberrations in the "universalistic ditch" as shown in the Kokomo case and elsewhere. Of course there are no saints in hell! And there is no false doctrine in the wonderful Easter Sermon you were expelled for from the WELS!

What I am asking for is expressed in the excellent document Concerning Church Fellowship, http://clclutheran.org/2011/12/concerning-church-fellowship/ which demands for a careful and a thorough investigation before any accusation of false doctrine:

§ 65 Then there is also the weakness of language. A person may not express himself as he intended the meaning, or others may read something into his words which is not there. We do therefore teach that any Christian ought to be very sure before he will raise the cry of “false teacher.” He will make careful inquiry and ascertain exactly what is being taught by the suspected speaker. This may require little or much time.

Rev. Jakob Fjellander

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Thank you Rev. Fjellander, for your comments.

Even though your comments are directed to Rev. Rydecki (and he, of course, can respond as he is able or prefers), I thought I would briefly comment on two points:

(1) Regarding your comments, "I think the solution is that the word 'justified' is used in different ways, mening different things".

It would need to be shown from Scripture that the term "Justification" is, indeed, used in different ways, as you suggest. As it is, both parties agree, that the term "Justification" in Scripture, when it is used in reference to a person or to mankind, is used exclusively in reference to JBFA. For example, it has been proven from Scripture that the terms "Sanctification" and "Church" are used in different ways; as a result, it is perfectly legitimate to use these terms in these different ways. This is not the case with the term "Justification", which is narrowly defined in the Scriptures.

If one were to suggest that all scripture teaching does not need to come from direct positive statements (such as the doctrine of the Trinity), and assert that UOJ is such a doctrine, we would concur that the derivation of doctrine by necessary deductions from Scripture is hermeneutically legitimate. HOWEVER, such derivations CANNOT contradict the clear and direct teaching of Scripture on the same subject -- as derivations, they are categorically unclear relative to their counterparts in the direct statements of Scripture. If they were to survive the test of direct Scripture teaching at all, they would be subordinate to and explained by those clear teachings. It is hermeneutically unsound to allow what is categorically unclear to qualify what is clear. UOJ, as a deduction from Scripture, if it could be so construed as to pass the test of direct Scripture teaching (which it currently does not, in any variation of it that I've heard so far), would be in no position to explain JBFA -- which is directly, plainly and repeatedly taught in the Scriptures. The rules of hermeneutics would require that JBFA explain UOJ, and frankly, I can think of no formulation where JBFA wouldn't simply explain UOJ away, as it currently does. The simple fact is, they are mutually exclusive teachings. They both cannot be true. I'll stick with the way Scripture directly teaches Justification.

Continued in next comment...

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

...Continued from previous comment.

(2) Referring to your statement, "What I am asking for is ... a careful and a thorough investigation before any accusation of false doctrine."

Would that it were so!! In the month leading up to the suspension of Rev. Rydecki, we posted the following two articles, addressing this very question: The Theological Disciplines, and the nature of theological discourse in WELS from a layman's perspective and Theological Discourse in the post-Modern Era. I think that the sort of thing that you suggest is what every fair-minded Christian desires.

As I essentially stated in a comment to our post, What on Earth could the CoP possibly have meant by THIS?, for the record, we had no interest in addressing the issue of Justification when we started Intrepid Lutherans. It soon became clear, however, that it would be impossible to talk about Law & Gospel (an important issue to address, if we are going to discuss the pattern of "relevant" third-use sermon topics promoted by CGM), without also referring to Justification. Law & Gospel teaches the saving message of Justification, so it is inevitable that the issue would be taken up. Since it was a matter of hot debate in some quarters, especially by those sharing a concern over CGM, we addressed it early-on by posting Rev. Kurt Marquart essay on the Kokomo thesis, and Rev. Carl Manthey-Zorn's explanation of the issues surrounding the Election debate, which were essentially supportive of UOJ, and we were content to leave it at that. Until Joe Krohn was drop-kicked out of Synod for making a stand on the issue of Justification (back when he was an ardent confessor of JBFA), without the discussion he implored his church leadership to have with him, by a church leadership apparently committed to CGM. These were rather curious circumstances, because another layman, Rick Techlin, had recently been ejected from WELS (though for a different issue), according to the same formula: he made a claim of false doctrine against a church leadership committed to CGM, his claim was rejected and he was disfellowshipped, he appealed it all the way to the Praesidium of his District, who, as a matter of investigative protocol was, from the start, forbidden from looking into his doctrinal claims at all! Of course, his appeal was denied. At this point, then, it was felt, there was little choice but to seriously look into into the issue of JBFA that concerned Joe Krohn so much, which eventually led to the opening of this discussion with our post Fraternal Dialogue on the Topic of "Objective Justification". That was in 2011.

In point of fact, there is a set-jawed cross-armed steadfast refusal to discuss the issue in (W)ELS, and, it seems, in LCMS, as well. UOJ is "settled doctrine" (according to them), and the only discussion that will be entertained is discussion under agreement with UOJ.

Frasius said...

Mr Lindee,

I realize that I have been careless here. I should not have defended Mr Krohn without knowing his background. For some reason I connected him with the ACLC, which I now understand is wrong.
I am very grateful for your overview of the development of your doctrine! If I had known this, I don't think I would have bothered you. I have repeatedly told ELDoNA people that I think you are wrong here. Noone has until now given an good answer. I see now that you have carefylly and thoroughly studied the question and rejected the position of Drs Maier, Marquardt and Hardt. If I understand it correctly, Marquart personally defended OJ, but Maier and Hardt did not. With these three (at least Marquart and Hardt) I reject Siegbert Becker but not F Pieper.

The situation in WELS is deplorable. Not just their teachings, but also their reluctance and incapability to make a careful and a thorough investigation before any accusation of false doctrine. I tell you as it is: Until now I have thought that these regrettable facts had influenced Pr Rydecki and you (which is easily done) so that you therefore had come down in the other ditch. Now I see that it is your elaborated position.

Thank you so much for your clarification,

Rev. Jakob Fjellander


Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Pastor Fjellander, I appreciate that you have taken the time to study these doctrinal issues. As you say, the ELDoNA does reject Pieper's "Objective Justification," although I don't know that we reject what Walter A. Maier wrote on the subject. Hardt's essay on the subject was inconsistent, from my perspective. I don't think his evidence supported his final conclusions. Even his initial Latin quote from one of Luther's theses was misinterpreted, it seems.

You said you wondered if, perhaps, I had gone into a ditch on the other side of the WELS. For the sake of discussion, did you ever have a chance to work through the extended essay I wrote on this subject? I know it must be challenging to read a longer work in English, but I think it explains my position and the position of the ELDoNA in clear terms. Here is a link to it:

The Forensic Appeal to the Throne of Grace

Frasius said...

Pastor Rydecki,

Thank you for the link, I have not seen this paper before. I have downloaded the pdf and will read it when possible.
Does ELDoNA reject what Dr Maier wrote? (A Summary Exposition of The Doctrine of Justification By Grace Through Faith) Yes and no: No, you certainly agree with his exegesis, but yes, I would say, you don't accept Pieper as he seems to have done. Dr Maier does nowhere ban the position of Pieper, he writes "The writer of this paper, however, favors another interpretation." That expression means that he looks upon the question as an purely exegetical one.


Eric Stefanski said...

Dr. Maier—having been beaten to a pulp at the behest of J.A.O. Preus so that Preus's 'orthodox' candidate (Ralph Bohlmann) would be president of the LCMS instead of Maier—disagrees with Pieper's false teaching to this day, but allows those who hold it to keep their squirrelly terminology as long as they don't condemn him…so they just condemn him behind his back. After being thoroughly castigated for being right, he simply accepted the proposed "everybody is right" solution that was put forth by the sloppy theologians on the Ft. Wayne faculty who said that this was all a matter of semantic differences—less than a decade after JAO point blank asked Robert Preus whether he considered this just a matter of semantic differences and Robert specifically said that such was NOT the case. I've got all of the pertinent documents in my files, but I am in the middle of rebuilding servers and traveling out of state, so it would be at least a week before I can access them. Put simply, the Maier matter was conducted in an absolutely shameful manner and the coverup at Ft. Wayne was so thick that most of those who graduated in the 1990s had no real clue what had transpired; friends who went to St. Louis generally just heard the lie that Dr. Maier had denied universal atonement! Most of those I have seen 'discuss' these things from the LCMS side suffer from Joe Krohn's disease. (I used to be one of them, because, after all, these 'giants' at Ft. Wayne just *couldn't* be wrong…except that they disagreed with Lutheran orthodoxy, as I found later, which explains why they also refused/refuse—to a man—to make the good confession against their church body. (Kurt Marquart's joking admission that Missouri lives under "the Wichita Recension of the Augsburg Confession" while refusing to declare that such cannot be tolerated by a Lutheran, but must be rebuked and rejected and, if there is no repentance, departed from—is a stark illustration of how unmighty Missouri's mighty have been.)

As I indicated, I don't really have time to participate in this now, but I would bid all with Joe Krohn's disease to seek treatment. This atheological refuse that keeps pouring out—this use of illustration to force God's Word to teach what it does not—is an abomination that truly rips the guts out of the Church. "Do you forgive your wife before she is sorry?" Seriously? The unbelieving world is the Bride of Christ? That's as ridiculous as trying to use God's forgiving HIS CHILDREN (in the Lord's Prayer in the Large Catechism) as being an indication of His supposedly forgiving those NOT His children. His disease is manifest here just as I saw him show it on Facebook: he 'surface listens' just so that he may give another (errant) reply, rather than actually listening or having anything approaching a meaningful dialogue.

Continued next post.

Eric Stefanski said...

Continued from previous…

Pr. Fjellander, when you say, "For Pieper the word "justification" here is referring to Satisfactio Vicaria, Christ's payment for all sins," that statement is simply incorrect. Piper clearly means by "objective justification" that God has declared the unbelieving world sinless before and without regard to faith in Christ; so also, the Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod, of which he was chief author. I do wish I had more time, but due to several contributing factors, this server rebuild has been delayed by nearly a month. Other than the historical details of the Maier situation, which he would not know, I will trust Pr. Rydecki to answer anything in my post that needs clarification. To state it most clearly, though: Pieper's/Missouri's stated doctrine is not only not found in the Confessions or Lutheran orthodoxy (as admitted by Robert Preus in the first five pages of his seminary printshop treatment of Justification in the post-ReformationLutheran fathers), but is absolutely contrary to them, dead set against, e.g., what Luther writes in his Galatians lectures (which the ACLC pastors failed to see, because it was a few pages farther into the book than the quote they wanted to keep on misappropriating).

Rev. Eric J. Stefanski (ELDoNA, but not as nice as the other ELDoNA pastors)
Holy Trinity Evangelical-Lutheran Parish
Harrison, Bull Shoals, Conway, and Rogers, Arkansas

Joe Krohn said...

I do not think the ELDoNA is looking at this properly.

Yes, all men are condemned unless they have faith. No orthodox Lutheran disagrees on that point. This is Justification by Faith Alone.

However, in order to see this from an objective point of view, this is also a true statement: All men are saved unless they are in rejection of their salvation. One can say this based on the proper understanding of the Atonement and Redemption.

There is comfort for the sinner in the latter and not the former. I for one do not trust in a faith that fails me too many times in this life.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Extra ecclesiam nulla salus. That is the Biblical, Christian, and Lutheran position, and it is very comforting to all who have been called by the Gospel to believe in Jesus Christ.

Joe Krohn said...

Are you saying that all men are not called by the Gospel, Pr. Rydecki?

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Joe, you state: I for one do not trust in a faith that fails me too many times in this life.

You are trading a gift of God (faith in His promises) for human reason. How many times has human reason failed you?

You say, "All men are condemned who do not have faith". You seem to say that this is equivalent to the statement, "All men are condemned who reject salvation" in other words:

"Those without faith" = "Those who reject salvation" = "Those who are Condemned"

Okay. Fine. I agree with this. So does Scripture. This agrees with the biblical teaching of Justification by Faith Alone"

Nota bene: "Condemnation" is the OPPOSITE of "Justification". That is, one is either "Justified", or he is "Condemned". One cannot be simultaneously Justified and Condemned. To assert that a "concept" is also its opposite, is to entirely empty both of any meaning. To assert that one can be simultaneously Justified AND Condemned is to empty both "Justification" and "Condemnation" of all meaning.

So-called "Universal Justification," asserts that, BEFORE GOD, "the whole world of sinners is Justified". Accordingly:

"Those without faith" = "Those who reject salvation" = "Those who are Justified"

There is no support for this in Scripture. As stated in previous comments, the so-called doctrine of "Universal Justification" is neither mentioned, nor simply stated, nor articulated at length, nor developed and explained -- in short, it is not taught anywhere in the Scriptures.

Pitting so-called "Universal Justification" against the direct, clear, repeated and very emphatic teaching of Scripture yields the following heretical contradiction:

"Those who are Justified" = "Those who are Condemned"


Your statement, "All men are saved unless they are in rejection of their salvation," does not lie under the pall of "Universal Justification" at all. According to "Universal Justification", "All men are saved, regardless of faith; those without faith are merely deprived of the enjoyment of their salvation." In fact, your statement is really no different than JBFA -- if by "saved" you also mean "Justified", that is, and if by "Justified" you don't really mean "already Justified." However, the direct phraseology of Scripture is far more direct and clear, than the indirect statement you seem to be making.

Frasius said...

For me it's obvious that therre are misunderstandings in this issue.
Both sides (Pieper and ELDoNA) agree that a sinner is justified before God only by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebr. 11:6)
Both sides also agree that Christ has achieved forgivenness for the whole world. He conquered all the sins of the world. The two sides, however, use different words for this.
Luther says on Rom. 6:3: "Wir sind nicht allein getauft in seinen Tod, sondern auch mit ihm (durch dieselbige Taufe) begraben in dem Tode; Denn er durch seinen Tod auch unsere Sünde mit sich ins Grab genommen, und ganz begraben und auch darin gelassen hat; " (W2 XII 762 p 7) So the question is: Did Christ take with him in the grave the sins of the whole world or only the sins of the believers? The former is Lutheranism, the latter is Calvinism. But of course noone has any avail of the fact that Christ has buried his (the "noones") sins if he does not believe. This is the meaning of Pieper. Pieper does not violate JBFA.
---
Pr Stefanski, I have no problem to change my mind about Dr Maier if he has recanted his earlier writings. Please quote him if he has.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Mr. Lindee, thank you for your comments. Spot on.

Mr. Krohn, you asked, "Are you saying that all men are not called by the Gospel, Pr. Rydecki?" If someone has not had the Gospel preached to him, then, no, he has not been called by the Gospel. That includes all those who are yet to be born. They have not been called by the Gospel. This seems obvious, doesn't it?

Jim Roberts said...


If all men are saved unless they are in rejection of their salvation, then when the jailer asked Paul "sirs, what must I do to be saved?", why didn't Paul, who had teaching directly from Christ respond correctly and say "you are already saved, just believe"?
Because he is not saved until he has faith in Christ. But not a Faith of his own strength, because we can not have Faith in Christ on our own, it must come from the Holy Spirit when we hear the Gospel.

Acts 16:30-31 NKJV
[30] And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" [31] So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."

Ephesians 2:8 NKJV
[8] For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

Eric Stefanski said...

Pr. Fjellander, when you write,

For me it's obvious that therre are misunderstandings in this issue.
Both sides (Pieper and ELDoNA) agree that a sinner is justified before God only by faith.


I have to say the confusion is yours: Pieper most certainly says that men are justified before and apart from faith. In pp. 349-351 of volume 2 of his Christian Dogmatics, Pieper argues vehemently for the absolute necessity of a pre-existing declaration/judicial pronouncement of forgiveness.

Both sides also agree that Christ has achieved forgivenness for the whole world. He conquered all the sins of the world.

If you stipulate that "both sides agree" this far, why does Joe Krohn keep up his vehement spaghetti slinging, trying constantly to make it seem as if this is not so? He dishonors you as much as he dishonors us; then again, the UOJ side thrives on dishonor.

The two sides, however, use different words for this.

No, that is not the point at all. You are making a mistake here because you are holding to the misguided notion that "Objective Justification" is simply a synonym for "Vicarious Atonement," and such is simply not the case.

Luther says on Rom. 6:3: "Wir sind nicht allein getauft in seinen Tod, sondern auch mit ihm (durch dieselbige Taufe) begraben in dem Tode; Denn er durch seinen Tod auch unsere Sünde mit sich ins Grab genommen, und ganz begraben und auch darin gelassen hat; " (W2 XII 762 p 7) So the question is: Did Christ take with him in the grave the sins of the whole world or only the sins of the believers?

While this is a nice attempt to have Luther paint those who teach a universal atonement as Calvinists, doing so dishonors Luther, as it wrests his words from their context—indeed, from St. Paul's context. Please do not take a quote of Luther in which he says "our" and try to make it as though it answers a question about "the world's": you end up doing nothing other than making Luther fight Luther—that is, you make your wresting of Luther from the context fight against Luther's clear statements taken in context. This is as wrongheaded as those who try to force UOJ into Luther's lectures on Galatians (AE, Vol. 26, p. 280), where they take it that in Christ’s death the world was set free from sin without reference to faith; yet, to do so one must also concede that there is no longer any death, as “death is conquered and abolished in the whole world so that now it is nothing but a picture of death,” except that Luther makes his intent clear when he says (p. 285), “I believe in the holy church.” This is plainly nothing else than if we were to say, ‘I believe that there is no sin and no death in the church.’” So, also, (p. 286) “Therefore, wherever there is faith in Christ, there sin has in fact been abolished, put to death, and buried. But where there is no faith in Christ, there sin remains.”

Extrapolation is always dangerous; extrapolation while slinging pejoratives like "Calvinist" around is shameful, and when you see from the above that Luther does not support the UOJ conclusion, it is all the mores.

But of course noone has any avail of the fact that Christ has buried his (the "noones") sins if he does not believe. This is the meaning of Pieper. Pieper does not violate JBFA.

Again, since Pieper declares men justified before faith, he absolutely does violate Scripture. What's more, his papistic insistence that the Gospel falls without his errant teaching is reprehensible.

continued in next post…

Eric Stefanski said...

continued from previous…

Pr Stefanski, I have no problem to change my mind about Dr Maier if he has recanted his earlier writings. Please quote him if he has.

There is no need for Dr. Maier to recant, but only for you to understand what he has written and what the context was…and to quote the pertinent part of what he wrote:

Maier did not directly condemn Pieper as he, literally, fought for his ability to continue to teach in the LCMS after the political plotting and totalitarian Pieperism of JAOP, but begged for the truth to be allowed in the LCMS—much as Luther begged of Rome. He did, however, in the Concluding Note of the very paper you cite, write this:

The position of the present writer, that the foregoing New Testament passages teach or refer only to justification by faith, or to reconciliation which consists in the sinner’s conversion, is one that has been taken on the grounds of careful grammatical and hermeneutical considerations and therefore represents, in his judgment, tenable exegesis. He regards his conclusions relative to the Biblical doctrine of justification as in accord with the analogy of faith and in harmony with exegetical understandings of the confessors, early Reformation period fathers, and other teachers in the Lutheran Church. In specific, he deems his determination that words of the dikaioo-family as used in “salvation” contexts in Romans and other Pauline epistles refer exclusively to justification by faith is clearly defensible and therefore worthy of consideration in the church; indeed, that this determination is more readily demonstrable as valid than that which sees these words as teaching or referring to so-called objective justification.

One of the shocking things I have found among nominal Lutherans is the lack of understanding of 1) preliminary speech by those who are certain of their conclusions, but kind, and 2) what a thesis is/does. Thus, we have the asininity of the ACLC's demand that the ELDoNA's "Theses on the Article of Justification" each 'prove' something (by definition, a thesis is that which is *asserted* with its proof being evident from added material or through the logical progression of the theses), as well as the lack of understanding that a man as kind as Dr. Maier would conclude evidence that is a rock solid destruction of UOJ with the statement that what he has presented "is more readily demonstrable as valid than that which sees these words as teaching or referring to so-called objective justification." My praise for Maier is that he is an excellent exegete and historian who also lays things out very clearly; my one point of withdrawal from Dr. Maier is that he isn't a 'closer'…he took the little victory of being restored to his professorship (and department chairmanship) as the better and more churchly course, when what really needed to be done was the bringing of this battle to the proper conclusion: to wit, that to say a man is justified before and apart from faith is a false teaching based on a materialistic philosophy that 1) makes God's promises—and therefore prophecies—uncertain, 2) treats justification as if it were a 'thing' that must be made before given, 3) requires that a 'thing acquired' must exist as the 'thing given' before it is given, not within its giving, and 4) makes faith a work of man.

ADMINS: Could y'all, please, add to 'Rules of Engagement' (or somewhere) what HTML or other formatting is allowed? I'd like to make quotes, etc., clearer, but I'm not sure what markup protocols you follow. Thanks for considering it!

Rev. Eric J. Stefanski (ELDoNA)
Holy Trinity Evangelical-Lutheran Parish
Harrison, Bull Shoals, Conway, and Rogers, Arkansas

Joe Krohn said...

Oh, c'mon, Doug.

Both of my statements are true and you know it.

All men are condemned if they do have not faith In Christ.

All men are saved if they do not reject Christ.

It's just looking at it two different ways.

Christ's obedience cancelled mankind's debt; it is gone and forgiven. A man will either receive this reality by faith or reject it. (Matt. 23:37) God saves and man condemns. Christ came to save the world and not condemn it and that is what He accomplished in the Atonement and Redemption.

I'm not arguing the faith part, Doug. But you are arguing against John 3:17 when you deny that by Christ's Redemption of the world, He did not save it; and all of it might still be saved to this day had many not rejected their salvation.



Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Joe, I have no idea what you are talking about. John 3:17 reads:

(NKJV) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved
(KJV)  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
(ESV)  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
(NASB) For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.

This reference in no way teaches Universal Justification, nor does it teach what you say it teaches -- that the whole world is already saved.

Frasius said...

Mr Krohn,

Here is an important point. What do you say about the following quotation from Siegbert W Becker (WELS)? (The quotation is translated from the Swedish original.) (FYI: I disagree doctrinally.)
In America it is very common that Reformed missionaries tell a man whom they try to gain: ‘Are you saved?’ … It is, however, not likely that a Lutheran missionary would ask: ‘Are you saved?’, as the experience of conversion is not so important from his theological point of view. As he believes in universal redemption and in universal justification it is more likely that he changes the order of the words and says: ‘You are saved,’ ‘Your sins are forgiven unto you.’ He can say so to everyone, as he knows that it is true about everyone.
(Quoted from Justification and Easter, A Study in Subjective and Objective Justification in Lutheran Theology, by Tom G. A. Hardt.) http://luk.se/Justification-Easter.htm

Eric Stefanski said...

Doug, Doug, Doug…do you not know that "should" means "would" means "was" means "has been"? Just like how "in Christ, God was reconciling the world" means not what ignorant people like Gerhard taught—namely, that Jesus was reconciling the world by proclaiming to the world the atonement He would make—but that what the Pietists who taught Walther said, that in the atonement the reconciliation of the world has been accomplished (before and apart from faith)? What is the deal? You think words have meanings and tenses are relevant?

I'm glad I have to get on the road again…

Rev. Eric J. Stefanski (ELDoNA)
Holy Trinity Evangelical-Lutheran Parish
Harrison, Bull Shoals, Conway, and Rogers, Arkansas

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

"should" -- that was NASB77. I used that version in my quotations, above, as bait. The Lockman Foundation must have caught this inadequacy, because NASB95 revised it to "might," just like the others. Of course, if one really wants to get screwed up, he can use the NIV paraphrase, which in the 1984 and 2011 editions has, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

Seriously, the more that UOJ activists try to use the Bible to support their claims, the more they will feel forced to use the NIV exclusively, and the more they will strive to prevent laymen from making use of better options.

Vernon Knepprath said...

Joe,

You, like many other UOJ advocates, like to talk about your faith failing you. My faith is not my work. If my faith was my work, it surely would fail me. But my faith in Christ is a gift of the Holy Spirit. And The Holy Spirit works through the Means of Grace to give me this free gift of faith in Christ and to continue to strengthen it. Without the Means of Grace, the Word and the Sacraments, your situation is indeed hopeless. Your own work of faith will indeed fail you, which you seem to be all to willing to acknowledge. It comes as no surprise to me that the advocates of UOJ rarely speak of the Means of Grace, because they see no need for the Means of Grace. Their failure to see the obvious is exactly what troubles them about their works based faith failing them.

As I have said on other blogs before, I won't worry about my free gift of faith in Christ, given to me by the Holy Spirit, failing me in the end. I know that faith is God's work, not mine. God will not fail me. If I am blessed by God to have a faithful Lutheran pastor at my death bed, I expect he will do his job and comfort me with the Means of Grace, because it is the only comfort there is.

Vernon

Jim Roberts said...

If John 3:17 is proof of objective justification of the world, then Jesus must have misspoke in John 3:18 when he says unbelievers are already condemned. Should he have said unbelievers are condemned again, after being saved.

John 3:18 NKJV
[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.

And John 3:36 says that "he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." Or in the ESV, "the wrath of God remains on him." Wouldn't that mean that the wrath of God was there all along for the unbeliever and that they are not saved first and then condemned again for unbelief?

John 3:36 NKJV
[36] He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

John 3:36 ESV
[36] Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Yes, Mr. Roberts, that is correct. The context surrounding v17, (John 3.16-18), makes abundantly clear that (a) mankind is already condemned, not already saved (v18), (b) that God sent His Son into the world save mankind from the condemndation that is already his (v17), and that (c) salvation (v17) is only for those who believe (v16). It is important to show that v17, even by itself, does NOT teach Universal Justification/Salvation, since that was the verse cited in support of it; but if the point is pressed further, the context makes abundantly clear that there is no way that v17 can be so construed as to teach Universal Justification/Salvation. And your citation of John 3:36 reinforces the fact that, yes, God is still angry with sin, and punishes sinners for their sin. Shocking to UOJ activists, but it is true. Ephesians 2:3 defines the unregenerate as "children of wrath," and Ephesians 5:3-7 makes abundantly clear that God's wrath rests upon the "children of disobedience":

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them

Universal Justification and its corollaries is FALSE DOCTRINE, and Ephesians 5:6 (above) identifies those who teach this false doctrine as "deceivers," regarding whom we are admonished:

"From such withdraw thyself" (1 Timothy 6.5)

Jim Roberts said...

Yes and if the OJ view that everyone is saved prior to faith is correct, then Jesus, Peter and Paul are completely wrong when they discuss forgiveness as something to be obtained through faith/believing and not that it is already secured. Faith being a gift of God through the Holy Spirit.

In Luke 24 Jesus instructs the disciples to preach repentance and remission of sins to all nations, not your sins are forgiven now believe.

Luke 24:46-47 NKJV
[46] Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, [47] and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

In Acts 3:19 Peter instructs the people to repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, he did not say your sins are blotted out now believe.

Acts 3:19 NKJV
[19] Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

In Acts 10:42-43 it states whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins, not that they are already forgiven. And why does God need to ordain Jesus as the Judge of living if God has already judged all people to be free of sin?

Acts 10:42-43 NKJV
[42] And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. [43] To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."

In Acts 13 Paul says "by Him everyone who believes is justified." Why does he not say you are already justified now believe?

Acts 13:38-39 NKJV
[38] Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; [39] and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.


Jim Roberts said...

Also, if God's wrath is satisfied and stilled at the Cross for the entire world, why is John shown the seven Angels pouring out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth in Revelation?

Frasius said...

Mr Lindee,

I of course agree with your first two paragraphs (Yes, Mr. Roberts, - - - with them). But the thing is that we here have a item somewhat akin to "simul justus et peccator". Both these two are true:
1/ Mankind is already condemned (as you stated)
2/ Mankind is already forgiven- Believe it and you have it. If you don't belileve it, you don't have it.

Wherefrom do I get 2/? In 2 Cor 5:19: In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them Christ has buried all the sins of all the world in his grave. Christ carried all these sins at the cross, and he was absolved from them by the Father. If he weren't absolved from them he couldn't have raised.

This gives us a problem: How can the world be both condemned and forgiven? (1+2) The apostle says "In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself," But the since the sinners are not in Christ, (they don't believe), therefore they aren't saved.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Again, thank you Rev. Fjellander, for your continuing dialogue. It's late in my part of the world, so I will make this brief.

I understand what you mean by "simul justus et peccator," and realize that you are not using it as directly analogous, but as a demonstration that two opposite things can be true; however, I'm not sure that this example is entirely convincing. "Simul justus et peccator" refers to quickened, regenerated believers -- i.e., those with faith -- who have both the old man and the new man contending within them (Eph. 4:22-24; Rom. 7:13-25). I have no problem believing two opposite things can be true, if the Scriptures directly teach them -- as in this case (and in this case, it's no great crisis of logic to accept it, since it is rather reasonably explained in the Scriptures), or, say, in the case of the Doctrine of Predestination where the Scriptures clearly and directly teach both that it is the will of God that all men be saved AND it is the will of God that sinners suffer eternal damnation. The simple fact is, the Scriptures nowhere teach that mankind is Justified before God apart from Faith. This assertion is an invention, derived from fragments of Scripture that are stripped of their context, pasted together, and then set against what the Scriptures DO teach in direct positive terms. In Universal Justification, the universality of man's lost condition and certain condemnation is propped up against the universality of man's righteous standing before God, as if both are Scripture teaching, when in reality only the former is directly taught in Scripture while the latter is a rationalistic invention. They are not, equivalently, the direct teaching of Scripture.

As for 1 Cor. 5:19... before we go down that road, I would like to point you to four posts on this specific reference that we published in 2013, in case you haven't read them yet. I happen to agree with Chemnitz, Melanchthon, Luther and the Tübingen theologians on their interpretation of this verse. Do you?

Philip Melanchthon on 2 Corinthians 5:19
Luther's translation of 2 Corinthians 5:19
Reconciling the world—but not without means
The Lutheran understanding of 2 Corinthians 5:19

Joe Krohn said...

Your insistence on the subjectivity of Justification and that God continues as a God of condemnation is of no comfort to the Christian. You look at the New Testament through the lens of the Old Testament and not the other way around. The Law is alien to God; He lives in the Gospel! The picture can't be clearer than in the first 5 chapters of Romans and succinctly described in 2 Corinthians 5:19 as well as Isaiah 53; but you refuse to acknowledge this.

From Isaiah 53: "10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him;
he hath put him to grief:
when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,
he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days,
and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:
by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;
for he shall bear their iniquities."

God is satisfied; Christ bore the iniquities of all so all are justified. If you reject this and say only some are justified then you must follow with Christ only bore some iniquity. It is the sound pattern of words.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

I don't take Scripture doctrine from the pictures it draws, Joe. Direct positive statements constitute the clear teaching of God's Word. All other statements, unclear statements, including the pictures it draws, are explained by them. Not the other way around. Everyone agrees, the teaching of Scripture, where it speaks directly on the topic of Justification, is Justification by Faith Alone. Period. There is full and perfect comfort to be found in the promises of God, and full Joy and Gratitude that comes from the objective knowledge that I have been given faith to trust His promises and appropriate them as my own. On the other hand, there is no joy or comfort to be found in allowing "word pictures" to overrule the direct teaching of God's Word.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Joe, do you fully realize, that your "word picture" theological system is forcing you to discard and reject huge swaths of direct Scripture teaching? Is forcing you to question what it teaches? The Scripture in Ephesians 5:6 (above) could not be more clear:

(a) sinners are under God's wrath because of their disobedience -- as enumerated in the previous verse,
(b) those who reject this, are under deception -- indeed, this verse warns DO NOT BE DECEIVED BY VAIN WORDS!

Do not allow the decievers to rob you of you faith, Joe, by replacing it with vain "word pictures." Apart from faith, all we have is human reason, human intuition and animal instinct, none of which will get us to heaven. We need a gift from God to get us there, and His Gift is called Faith in His Gospel promises. Apart from Faith, we are not Justified; indeed, we are condemned already.

Jim Roberts said...

2 Corinthians 5:19 is cited as a verse to support the position of Objective Justification.

2 Corinthians 5:19 NKJV
[19] that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

The focus is on the words "reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them". The human interpretation is that God reconciled the whole world, whether they believed or not.

An issue with that is that this verse is part of a dialogue by Paul and needs to be understood in the context of that dialogue, not removed from context and examined apart from the surrounding verses.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NKJV
[17] Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. [18] Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

In 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Paul identifies the people to whom the the message is for: if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. Paul states that "now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ". "Us" is a reference to those in Christ, believers.

In 5:19 I think the key words are "God was in Christ". The reconciliation was occurring in Christ, and includes the world that is in Christ.

Paul says anyone in Christ is a new creation, supporting who is being reconciled in Christ, a new creation - believers.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes it clear that to be saved we must be in Christ, and if anyone does not abide in Him, he is cast out as a branch and is withered and burned.

John 6:56 NKJV
[56] He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

John 14:20 NKJV
[20] At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

John 15:4-8 NKJV
[4] Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. [5] "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. [6] If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. [7] If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. [8] By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

John 16:33 NKJV
[33] These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

2 Corinthians 5:20 says we are to be ambassadors for Christ imploring others, unbelievers, to be reconciled to God. This command to implore people to be reconciled does not support the assumption that "all" people have already been reconciled to God at the Cross.

2 Corinthians 5:20 NKJV
[20] Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.

Joe Krohn said...

Correction; In my comment of October 9th; "I meant to say that you look at the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament and not the other way around."

J. Dean said...

Greetings, all!

I'm a new convert to the ELS, having come from an evangelical background, and stumbled across this site as a result of my pastor's suggestion. I was never LCMS, although my exposure to LCMS doctrine and people (confessional members) brought me into the Lutheran fold. I love it, and thank God for it.

I have to admit that I initially thought that UOJ (Universal Objective Justification) was something that all Lutherans subscribed to, but didn't realize until now that there was some serious disagreement about it. If you do not subscribe to UOJ, would you call what you subscribe to USJ (Universal Subjective Justification)? Because it seems as if the only other alternative to UOJ is POJ (Particular Objective Justification) a la Calvinism.

Thanks for reading this, and am interested in hearing your thoughts!

Vernon Knepprath said...

Jim Roberts,

Email me contact information please.

Thanks,
Vernon

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