The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church | Part V

PART V

The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church

by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

Secondly, let’s talk about those alumni of Christianity who are not sad but “mad.”

     It is not all that uncommon. I find that these “angry ones” have usually not switched from Christianity to another religion. Nor have I found that they have switched from one Christian denomination to another. Instead, I find that they are angry at any and all religions and anyone who represents any religious position — but especially Christianity. And that is natural. After all, it was Christianity, as they see it, that “used them up and threw them away.” I suppose the most visible examples would be men like the late comedian Sam Kinison and ex-Roman Catholic George Carlin. You may (and probably do) know better contemporary examples than I know. All of us are in the vicinity of people like this at one time or another, maybe know a few of them as friends, or have at least met one or two in passing. Why do I say that? Because such people are, as I said, not all that uncommon these days.

     Now I certainly can’t this evening exhaust the dynamic involved in such people (again, I’m no clinical psychologist). But I still think a lot of the “mad alumni” also often have a nameable history, just as the “sad alumni” have one.

People like this often speak as if Christianity “baited and switched” them — just like a used car salesman “baits and switches” a young couple at a car lot.

     Christians promised them a new life in Christ in such a way that it was going to be a life of victory, God’s designed route to earthly happiness, a new, divine power that would solve the problems so obsessing them. Then, when the promises didn’t seem to work the way they were supposed to, the church put it back on these believers that they were somehow “not doing it right.”

  • They weren’t reading their Bible enough.
  • They weren’t praying enough or praying right.
  •  They weren’t attending enough church meetings.
  •  They weren’t making right use of the fellowship.
  • You name the prescription, you “fill-in-the-blanks” any way you want to.
  •  Some pastor or layman told them that Christianity was failing them because “they weren’t doing it right.”
  • And often, these believers took that counsel to heart and set themselves to trying to “do it better” or “do it right” so that “it would work.”

But again, Christianity seemed “not to deliver on its promises.” It “didn’t work.” As they see it, they “gave it every shot” and Christianity “failed to deliver.” And then, to boot, they were called guilty “for not doing it right!” These people feel not just disappointed; they feel betrayed, “conned.” And they are deeply angry about it.

Or take another example: those who heard much of Christ and His saving blood and cross in an evangelistic meeting, became Christians, and then heard very little of that wonderful message in the week-by-week pulpit ministry of their congregation. Instead, they heard recipes as to how to conquer sin — over and over and over. These people also often “give up on Christianity.” And they are angry about it! Really angry. And I don’t blame them, really. Nor should you. The church has an obligation to preach the Gospel to these people on a weekly basis. And deep down, they somehow know that. But if that isn’t what happens, they react. I would, too! After all, what does the church have for a man, a woman, a child other than Christ & His work on their behalf? Not much! Not compared to the Gospel of Christ preached as crucified for them and for their sin, Christ risen from the dead for their justification. Not compared to being absolved, not compared to eating the body of Christ given into death for their sin and drinking the blood of Christ shed for their sin.

Is there anything we can do that is of genuine help to such angry “alumni” of Christianity?

I think so. And the answer I’m about to give you comes right from a guy close to one of those angry ones. From whom? From Sam Kinison’s brother, Bill! How so?

One night I happened to be watching a “60-minutes” interview with Bill Kinison.

After Sam was in an auto accident on a lonely highway near Las Vegas, he lay dying. Bill was cradling Sam’s head in his arms as Sam died. Some time later, the interviewer asked Bill about Sam’s hatred of Christianity. And Bill looked at the interviewer and said, “What? You think Sam was not a Christian believer? You’re wrong! Sam died as a believer in Jesus Christ. You’ll definitely see Sam in heaven!  Sam never was angry with Jesus. He was angry at the church!” And I jumped out of my chair and yelled, “That’s it! There it is! There is the answer – and from Sam Kinison’s brother!”

What did I mean, “That’s it!”?

We can respond to the angry and say something like, “Oh, oh, oh, I see! You’re not angry at Jesus Christ. You’re angry at the church!” “Boy oh boy, join the club! So am I! And so are a whole bunch of other Christians!” [Here, if we had time, I would digress on how Christians angry with Christ will be saved by His cross, too. But this is not the time for that.]

Now this response takes more than a few minutes of thought on our part.

That is, “Am I ready to say such a thing?” And that’s not an easy question. For many of us—especially for us clergy—this question can be really difficult. Why? Because there is a predictable psychological profile of the clergy, including our closer relationship with our mothers, but not with our fathers. For most of us pastors, the link between Jesus and the church (a mother symbol) is so tight, so identical, that to be angry with mother church is the same as rejecting Jesus! It is not. But I’m recommending, at least in conversation with “the angry”—that we, all of us—identify with the anger of these people at the church, that we say, “Well, of course you are angry! With what it did to you? It would be insane not to be angry at it! I just misunderstood. I thought you had dismissed Christ, were rejecting His death for your sin. Thanks for clarifying.”

Again, I know that this is tough stuff. It raises questions in us that are not easy ones—particularly for us pastors who were closer to mom than to dad (and, unfortunately, that is most of us pastors). But I recommend that “we take the hit.” It’s not unlike the case with something like the Crusades or the Inquisition. I think most of us don’t want to defend everything the church has done in the past—at least I hope we don’t. And, believe me, the “angry” alumni are listening closely to see whether we are going to defend the church as much as we defend the Gospel. I recommend that we do not defend the church as much as we defend the Gospel! I recommend that we immediately “cop to” horrendous things done by the church. (And, for those of you who are Lutheran, this is not the time to try to catechize this guy into the finer points of Luther’s “Two Kingdoms” theory!)


To be Continued in The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church | Part VI

Go Back to Part IV of The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church

The Home of the Lecture and Permissions Can be Found at 1517 The Legacy Project

Citation link to White Horse Inn, Inc. blog mentioned above where I obtained the transcript and other media for Dr. Rosenbladt’s sermon “The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church”  – Dad Rod Thursdays – The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church

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The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church | Part IV

PART IV

The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church

by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

     As C.S. Lewis put it, “. . . there are going to be a lot of surprises” at the eschaton. There are going to be people there that we just don’t imagine will be there (think of the non-Israelite that C.S. Lewis purposely put in heaven at the end (The Last Battle))! Boy, did that ever “get the goat” of some Christians! But read what Aslan said to him, “I suppose you’re wondering why you’re here?” And then tells him why. There are going to be in heaven believers in Jesus who never darkened the door of a church. (That’s no encouragement not to attend, not to be baptized, not to receive the Lord’s Supper. It is just saying that faith in Jesus saves — saves all by itself, “nude,” “apart from works.”) There are going to be scads of Roman Catholics, people who never listened – not really – to the theology preached by their priests, but just believed in the sufficiency of Jesus’ blood — no matter what their priest was preaching. People of all sorts who just believed in Jesus and His blood shed for them, for complete payment for their sin. There are going to be call girls, there are going to be drug dealers, maybe even a couple of lawyers! There are going to be members of the cults who never really “got” what the cult leaders taught, but just trusted that Jesus’ blood and cross was for their sin and for their hatred of God, for their wickedness. Surprises, lots of surprises. It bugs me to say it, but there might even be a couple of I.R.S. employees, maybe a congressman or congresswoman. (Everyone has some class of people they really don’t want to die as believers in Jesus! Those are mine!)

     But, to put it closer to home, there might even be a theologian or two who believed in Jesus, “bet the blue chips” on the blood of Jesus and nothing else than, or in addition to, that blood. There might even be a despicable leftist socialist college professor or two! Academics who daily sold out the wonderful American Constitution and instead filled their students’ heads with statist drivel and mush. In heaven we will meet cowards, scum, “bottom-of-the-barrel”, reprehensibles, jerks, deadbeat dads, murderers, all sorts of rabble. And they died believing in Jesus and His blood as their only hope.

Ask yourself: Is sola fide true or is sola fide not true in the case of failing Christians?

     Is Paul’s letter to the Galatians true or no? And if Galatians is true (and it most certainly is, but an apologia for that is not our subject tonight!), can a failing Christian be saved simply by the cross and blood of Christ? Or can he or she not be so saved just by Christ’s shed blood alone? If you answer, “Yes, he or she can,” well, that’s the message that’s gotten lost on most “jack Christians” — at least the ones I’ve met.

Many times the law has already done its work on them.

     Boy, has it ever done its work on them! They need more law like they need a hole in the head. The law was (is?) killing them. True, Paul says, the law kills. He writes as if that is what the law is for. The law is designed to crush, to crush human pride and supposed self-sufficiency toward God. It is intended to kill, designed to kill. The Biblical connection is law/sin. What gives sin its power is the law. And moreso, the law is designed to make the problem worse! It is to be gasoline on an already blazing fire! (Want to have sin run out of control? Go to a church in which the law is preached, then the law is preached again and more stringently and deeply, and then the law is preached even more!)

     Think of John Lithgow’s portrayal years ago of a law-preaching pastor in the film “Footloose.” Didn’t you just cringe? I mean even if you’re a Southern Baptist, you had to cringe at that character. Drawing the Christian “line in the sand” at the possibility of a high school dance? Lithgow could not listen to his daughter even if hearing her would have instantly resulted in world peace! Man, was he righteous! In “Footloose,” Lithgow’s wife should have been the pastor!

     [Don’t quote me! I could be thrown out of the Missouri Synod for even joking about such a thing! You Missouri Lutherans, that’s a joke! Chill out! Or, as Phil Hendry says in his radio ad, “It wouldn’t hurt you to laugh!” You non-Lutherans, all of this is an “inside joke.” Ask your Lutheran friends later why that’s a joke in our circles.]

     My point is that the whole film “Footloose” was “Jesusless” — no cross, no atonement, nothing of Christianity, really. Same as “Chariots of Fire” — completely Christless, completely Gospel-less!

     Back to the point, for many of the “jack Christians” we’ve met, the law is all their ears ever heard! For them, the Gospel often got lost in a whole bunch of “Christian life preaching.” And it “did them in.” So they left. And down deep there is a sadness in such people that defies description. If you and I don’t understand that, we should! They were crestfallen. So great their hopes, so devastating the failure.

C.F.W. Walther said that as soon as the law has done its crushing work, the Gospel is to be instantly preached or said to such a man or woman — instantly!

     Walther said that in the very moment that the pastor senses that the law has done its killing work, he is to placard Christ and His cross and blood to the trembling, the despairing, the broken.

  • “Be of good cheer, my son. Your sins are forgiven.”
  • “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
  •  “Fear not, little flock. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
  • “Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden. Take My yoke upon you, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
  •  “And He, when He comes, will neither break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoldering wick.”
  • “When You return, remember me.” “I tell you, this day you shall be with Me in paradise.”
  • “It is finished!”
  •  “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us . . .”
  •  “. . . He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree . . .”
  •  “God made Him to be sin who Himself knew no sin . . .”
  •  “. . . for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
  •  “For by grace you are saved, through faith, and that [faith in Jesus is] not of yourselves, but it is a gift of God, lest any man should boast.”
  •  “And to the man who does not work but trusts the One who justifies the wicked, his faith is counted as if it were righteousness.”
  •  “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith, apart from works of the law.”
  •  “. . . knowing a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.”
  •  “But now a righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, . . . the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
  •  “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  • “There is now, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

To be Continued in The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church | Part V

Go Back to Part III of The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church

The Home of the Lecture and Permissions Can be Found at 1517 The Legacy Project

Citation link to White Horse Inn, Inc. blog mentioned above where I obtained the transcript and other media for Dr. Rosenbladt’s sermon “The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church”  – Dad Rod Thursdays – The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church

The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church | Part III

PART III

The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church

by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

     Now even though I am not Reformed, and don’t speak “Reformed” very well, let me see if I can use a couple of categories from The Heidelberg Catechism to guess how you might have the same dynamic and its problems (at least when executed badly)?

     Think of the paradigm of “Guilt – Grace – Gratitude.” Don’t you have the same sort of problem that we Lutherans had with pietism (at least when the paradigm is executed badly)? If I am elect and regenerate, why is it that my gratitude is so small, so lacking on a daily basis? “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get!” Or, “If I really were elect, my life would certainly reflect that fact more than it does.” “Maybe I’m just fooling myself. Maybe I’m not really elect – because the peace, the joy, the confidence Paul says the Christian is to have (and that other Reformed believers seem to talk about) I don’t have. I’d be lying if I said I did. Maybe I never was part of the elect, and I’m still not?”

     And for those of you who are Wesleyans, you are in this mess “up to your eyeballs.” Wesley’s charge to his pastors was very clear. They were called to (1) evangelize pagans (something for which Wesley gets an “A” in my book!) and (2) to urge their parishioners on to Christian perfection (something for which Wesley deserved an “F” — at least in the way he executed it, preached it to Christian believers!) Sunday after Sunday of exhortation (that is, law). If it’s of any comfort to you Wesleyans, you can blame us Lutherans for a lot for this stuff! (We Lutherans try to blame the Strasbourg Reformed for Lutheran pietism, but I’m not so sure we didn’t do it “all on our own steam.”) Through Nicolas von Zinzendorf at Herrenhut and Peter Böhler, we Lutherans bequeathed a lot of this mess of ours to Wesley. I wish I could say that it all came from Wesley’s reading of the church fathers, from reading William Law  and others like Law, but I can’t. In fact, it was we Lutherans who managed to corrupt all sorts of denominations with this junk — not just our own Lutheran churches, but also the free churches, the brothers Wesley, Cotton Mather in the New World (about Jonathan Edwards I don’t know) — this stuff knew (and knows) almost no bounds! And almost all of it traces to Lutheran Germany in an earlier century. If this stuff was done to you in some “Protestantish” church, I apologize to you. We Lutherans might just have been the ones who bequeathed it to your denomination, to your pastor’s seminary profs. At any rate, if I’m right here, I’m sorry.

     For our purposes this evening, the upshot is always the same: broken, sad ex-Christians who finally despaired of ever being able to live the Christian life as the Bible describes it. So they did what is really a sane thing to do: they left! The way it looks to them is that “the message of Christianity has broken them on the rack.” To put it bluntly, it feels better to have some earthly happiness as a pagan and then be damned than it feels to be trying every day as a Christian to do something that is one continuous failure — and then be damned anyway. Trust me on this one. This is how things look.

It seems to me that the key question here is a very basic one: Can the cross and blood of Christ save a Christian (failing as he or she is in living the Christian life) or no?

     I hope that most of us would say that the shed blood of Christ is sufficient to save a sinner? All by itself, just Christ’s blood, “nude faith” in it, “sola fide”, “faith without works”, “a righteousness from God apart from law,” a cross by which “God justifies wicked people,” etc. So far, so good, right?

     But is the blood of Christ enough to save a still-sinful-Christian? Or isn’t it? Does the Gospel still apply, even if you are a Christian? Or doesn’t it? It seems to me (1) that the category “sinner” still applies to me, (2) that the category “sinner” still applies to you, (3) that the category “sinner” still applies to all Christians. (If you are a Wesleyan and have reached perfection, what I have to say here doesn’t, of course, apply to you.) But for the rest of us, it seems that what Luther said of the Christian being “simultaneously sinful and yet justified before the holy God” is critical. Is what Luther said Biblical? Or isn’t it? Is it Biblical to say that a Christian is “simul justus et peccator” or no? Are we Christians saved the same way we were when we were baptized into Christ, or when we came to acknowledge Christ’s shed blood and His righteousness as all we had in the face of God’s holy law? That all of our supposed “virtue” – Christian or pagan – is just like so many old menstrual garments (to use the Bible phrase)? But that God imputes to those who trust Christ’s cross the true righteousness of Christ Himself? We are pretty sure that unbelievers who come to believe this are instantly justified in God’s sight, declared as if innocent, adopted as sons or daughters, forgiven of all sin, given eternal life, etc. But are Christians still saved that freely? Or are we not? We are pretty clear that imputed righteousness saves sinners. But can the imputed righteousness of Christ save a Christian? And can it save him or her all by itself? Or no? I think the way we answer this question determines whether we have anything at all to say to the “sad alumni” of Christianity.

We Lutheran pastors haven’t done a great job of getting across the central nature of righteousness by imputation alone. I hope you’ve done a better job at it than we have!

     Decades ago, a gigantic survey of our clergy and laity showed that we Lutheran pastors hadn’t even convinced our own members of the sufficiency of Christ’s cross and blood and death for them! (And I mean Lutheran members who might never have sneaked out to attend some evangelical revival, might never have spent 5 minutes watching crazy Trinity Broadcasting Network). Proof: A Study of Generations [results: 75% gave perfect Roman Catholic answers!]

  • “When you die, are you sure you will enter heaven? [“I hope so.”]
  • “I was president, tithed, sang in the choir, taught Sunday School,” etc.
  • Perfect Roman Catholic answers! And this survey was done decades ago!

What the “sad alumni” need to hear (perhaps for the first time) is that Christian failures are going to walk into heaven, be welcomed into heaven, leap into heaven like a calf leaping out of its stall, laughing and laughing, as if it’s all too good to be true.

It isn’t just that we failures will get in. It’s that we will probably get in like that! We failures-in-living-the-Christian-life-as-described-in-the-Bible will probably say something like, “You mean it was that simple?!” “Just Christ’s cross & blood?! Just His righteousness imputed to my account as if mine? You gotta be kidding!” “And all of heaven is ours just because of what was done by Jesus outside of me, on the cross — not because of what Christ did in me” – in my heart, in my Christian living, in my behavior?!” “Well, I’ll be damned!” But, of course, that’s the point isn’t it? As a believer in Jesus as your Substitute, you won’t be damned! No believer in Jesus will be. Not a single one!


To be Continued in The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church | Part IV

Go Back to Part II of The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church

The Home of the Lecture and Permissions Can be Found at 1517 The Legacy Project

The Citation link to White Horse Inn, Inc. blog mentioned above where I first obtained the transcript and other media for Dr. Rosenbladt’s sermon “The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church”  – Dad Rod Thursdays – The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church


The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church | Part II

PART II

The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church

by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

First, a few words about the “sad” alumni of Christianity.

     Many of these people were broken by the church. I know that sounds harsh. As Christians, it’s bothersome to hear words like that. But for many people, this is how they really see what has happened to them.

     Now almost certainly many of us have also had contact with people who have struggled for their whole lives with being deeply upset psychologically. The church, for whatever reasons, draws people who the professionals recognize as “bipolar” or wrestling against what they call “clinical depression.” Or whose guilt is so great that they are inwardly immobilized, people who are so frightened that just coping day by day is truly heroic. But it is not about any of these people that I will be speaking tonight. I am not competent to do so. It seems to me that such people deserve all of the care and empathy that we can muster. But, again, it is not about such people that I am speaking tonight.

     By the “sad alumni” of the Christian faith, I mean the hundreds and hundreds whose acquaintance with the Christian church was often one in which they were helped to move from unbelief (or from a suffocating moralism) into real saving faith in Jesus Christ. They heard the preaching of God’s law and then heard the announcement of Christ’s work on their behalf on the cross – Jesus as the God-man who met the law’s demands for them, and died for their sin, died to save them, died to give them eternal life. They heard the wonderful message of God’s grace in the cross and death of Jesus Christ. They heard the astonishing news that God in Jesus Christ died for them, died so that they can be — and are! – freely forgiven based solely on that atoning death. They heard that Christ’s blood redeems sinners, buys us out of our self-chosen enslavement. They came to believe that Christianity is not so much about what is in our hearts as much as it is about what is in God’s heart – and this proven by Christ’s vicarious and atoning death for them, for their sin. They came to believe that the cross of Christ was their salvation. For free. And forever.

     But something happened after that, something that broke them. And, in general, I think what happened is nameable. (At least in many cases.)

     In my Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, we would speak of it as the confusion of law and Gospel. Dr. Charles Manske, the founding president of Christ College Irvine, used to teach a course in Christianity for freshmen. In that course, he characterized the various churches of Christendom this way:

  • Rome: law
  • Lutheran: law–Gospel
  • Wesleyan evangelical: law–Gospel–law

I think Dr. Manske was definitely “on to something” here, and I think it is that third point that results in a lot of “sad alumni” of Christianity.

Now if you are Lutheran or Reformed, we too have a category that, if not done carefully and well, will turn out just as destructive as any Wesleyan, Pentecostal or Nazarene preaching. I am referring, of course, to “the 3rd use of the law.” (In Lutheran theology, the content of this “third use” of the law is spelled out in a section of our Book of Concord – specifically in what we call “the Formula of Concord.”) If you are Reformed, you will recognize this category immediately, recognize it as tracing back to John Calvin himself. Too, if I am correct, in what Calvinist Christians call the “Three Forms of Unity”: the Canons of the Synod of Dort, the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Confession? If I am wrong on this one (not being “Reformed”), I apologize for an inaccurate characterization of your position.

What do we Reformation folk mean by “the third use of the law?” It claims to be primarily informative, informative for the Christian. And something which fleshes out “What is the will of God for me as a Christian day-by-day?” (What about the law thundering to us that we are deeply fallen, unable to fix our problem? That we are guilty before a holy God and His holy law, that unless God does something one-sidedly to rescue us, we are without hope and certainly condemned? That we from the Reformation call “the second use” of the law, the “pedogical use.” Luther thought this was the major function of the law in the Bible, designed to drive us to despair of our character, our works, our anything! And to drive us to Jesus Christ as the atoning, dying Lamb/Substitute for our sin — mine and yours, too.)

At any rate, if we Reformation folk do the “third use of the law” badly, we get very close to the infamous “application section” of the sermon so common in Wesleyan & evangelical preaching. And if we do it badly, the sensitive Christian believer can be driven to a slavery as bad as any slavery done to them by a totalitarian dictator. If the Ten Commandments were not impossible enough, the preaching of Christian behavior, of Christian ethics, of Christian living, can drive a Christian into despairing unbelief. Not happy unbelief. Tragic, despairing, sad unbelief. (It is not unlike the [unhappy] Christian equivalent of “Jack Mormons” – those who finally admit to themselves and others that they can’t live up to the demands of this non-Christian cult’s laws, and excuse themselves from the whole sheebang.) A diet of this stuff from pulpit, from curriculum, from a Christian reading list, can do a work on a Christian that is (at least over the long haul) “faith destroying.” You might be in just this position this evening. Many of us have friends whose story is not a far cry from this. We all regularly rub shoulders with such “alumni of the Christian faith” – sad that the Gospel of Christ didn’t (for them, at least) “deliver the goods,” didn’t “work.”

     In a Christian context, the mechanism of this can be, I think, a very simple one:

1. You come to believe that you have been justified freely because of Christ’s shed blood.

2. Freely, for the sake of Jesus’ innocent sufferings and death, God has forgiven your sin, adopted you as a son or     daughter, reconciled you to Himself, given you the Holy Spirit, and so on. Scripture promises these things.

3. Verses like “Be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect” seem now – at first read – to finally be possible, now that you are equipped for it.

o Or you hear St. Paul as he writes, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Same thing.

4. You realize that you might have had some excuse for failure when you were a pagan. But that’s over. Now you have been made a part of God’s family, have become the recipient of a thousand of His free gifts.

5. And then, the unexpected. Sin continues to be a part of my life, stubbornly won’t allow me to eliminate it the way I expected.

6. Continuing sin on my part seems to be just evidence that I’m not really a believer at all. If I were really a believer, this thing would “work!”

We start to imagine that we need to be “born again again.” (And often the counsel from non-Reformation churches is that this intuition of ours is true.) Try going again to some evangelistic meeting, accept Christ again, surrender your will to His will again, sign the card, when the pastor gives the “altar call,” walk the aisle again. Maybe it didn’t “take” the first time, but it will the second time? And so forth.

How do I know this one “from the inside?” (You might be able to tell that I don’t have to search for words? And you’re right.) I was brought up in a pietistic Norwegian Lutheran church. For those of you who haven’t heard the term, “pietism,” it began with certain Lutherans (Arndt, Spener, and others) who wanted a more “living Christianity” than seemed to be taught and encouraged in their Lutheran parishes in Germany. But it was as close as Lutherans in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and America ever came to being just like teutonic or Scandanavian outposts of Biola or Wheaton College! The Reformation emphasis on Christ outside of us, dying for us, and on the justification of sinners “gratis” was de-emphasized. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper were deemphasized. Instead, the emphasis shifted to the individual’s experience of conversion, and to the victorious life of the true Christian day-by-day.

[See the Christian History issue on “Pietism” [for a more positive presentation of it than I would give. See also The Pieper Lectures, Vol. 3: “Pietism and Lutheranism,” ed. John A. Maxfield. St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Historical Institute [and] The Luther Academy, 1999. [Dr. Ronald Feuerhahn’s essay is, I think, much more realistic about the problems pietism inevitably causes the believer.]

My church’s pietism made me an agnostic by the time I was a senior in high school. The “evangelical” parish of your youth might have had the same result in your case. How so? Well, imagine a Sunday School curriculum filled with Bible stories designed to teach a moral point with every lesson. Beware Sunday School curricula! That stuff is dangerous to children! One of the happiest days of my life was the morning when, standing in the church narthex, my wonderful father delivered me out of Sunday School!

One Sunday morning, I came from Sunday School to meet my folks. My dad (I still remember where each of us was standing in the narthex, remember which sport coat he was wearing that day!), said to me, “How was Sunday school?” I answered, “O.K., I guess.” He saw written on my face how it was going, and he said, “How would you like to quit going?” I immediately answered, “Dad, I’d love to quit Sunday school!” He said, “Well, why don’t you? Come in and sit with me in the adult class.” (I didn’t understand a tenth of what they were talking about, but I was ecstatic to just sit next to him during that hour each Sunday.)

My father had – with a single stroke! – delivered me out of the hands of greyhaired women trying to make me more moral, and using Bible stories to do it! It was like escape from prison! He had again made my life happier (it was not the last time, by any measure, either!) But it really wasn’t the fault of those grey-haired Sunday School teachers, either. It was the theology they were assigned to teach. It was the curriculum, the content of the lessons they were assigned to teach us kids. Such Sunday School materials should have never been allowed to make it into our parish.


To be Continued in The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church | Part III

Go Back to Part I of The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church

The Home of the Lecture and Permissions Can be Found at 1517 The Legacy Project

The Citation link to White Horse Inn, Inc. blog mentioned above where I first obtained the transcript and other media for Dr. Rosenbladt’s sermon “The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church”  – Dad Rod Thursdays – The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church

The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church | Part I

A Sermon Given by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

The next series featured on No Longer I will be a sermon given by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt titled “The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church.”  This sermon is one of the best sermons that I have ever heard and I believe it touches on something that has plagued many, especially in cultures that may have a dominant Christian influence or where a majority of the culture are self-professing Christians.  You probably know someone who has been broken by the church in some way or another.  Please be sure that they see this.  You may have been broken by the church.  I pray that this will be a salve on your wounds and that you will leave here in the arms of Christ.  One of the greatest gifts from God is fellowship with others who are a part of the Forever Family of the Church.  Posting this was not to push you away from going to a Church, but to raise the flag that your suffering is known, that you are not alone and that you are loved by God.  I encourage you to seek other bruised reeds and smoldering wicks out there and who knows?  Maybe a congregation close by or amongst yourselves will provide the sanctuary that you need.  Will it be perfect?  No.  But I pray that it will be a place where the cross of Jesus Christ is preached.  At the end of the series I will provide a link to a video and audio of the sermon as well.  I was able to access the transcript of Dr. Rosenbladt’s sermon from White Horse, Inc, which gave permission to share and I will provide links to the original source on their site in each post of this series.

PART I

The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church

by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

     This evening I want to address a particular problem: What a Christian might be able to say in conversation with people who see themselves as “alumni” of the Christian faith.

     And, of course, I am not referring to those who have been translated by death from what Christians call the “church militant” into the “church triumphant!” I mean people we meet or know who say that they once believed that Christ and His shed blood, freely justified them before God, freely forgave their sin, freely gave them eternal life — but who add that they no longer believe these things.

     It seems to me that in the four Gospels [roughly, the biographies of Jesus authored by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John], virtually every person who rejected Jesus’ claims to be God and Messiah, the Savior of the world, went away either sad or mad.

     First, I’m going to try to deal with today’s “sad ones,” the longing, the “having-given-up-on-Christianity” ones. Second, I want to talk a little about the Gospel of Christ for today’s “mad” ones, the angry ones.

     I can’t tell you how much it bugs me that there exists such a group as the one called “Fundamentalists Anonymous!” But there is such a “self-help group.” If there is any kind of “Christian recovery group,” I want it to be “Liberal Protestants Anonymous” or “Recovering Neo-Orthodox Protestants” or “Liberation Theology Advocates Anonymous” or “Open Theism Recovery Group.” (You get the idea.) For all of its faults, American fundamentalism at least is Christianity of a sort. Still, to be perfectly honest, I really can understand why such a group as “Fundamentalists Anonymous” exists. Maybe you can, too. Many of these people about whom or to whom I am going to speak tonight are casualties of Bible-believing churches. Some 2 seem to be able to remain in this form of Christianity for years and years. But certainly not all. For some reasons (reasons which, I think, are very specifiable), more people than we would like to think leave fundamentalist Christianity. I think the same dynamic is often the case with people who belong to what are called “the holiness bodies” (Wesleyan Christianity). Some are sad about it. Some are angry about it.

     You might say, “Well, my church is certainly not ‘fundamentalist.’” I think mine is part of what Newsweek and Time call “mainline churches.” If that is the case, probably not much that I have to say tonight will be very helpful to you. I am not going to be talking much about “mainline Protestant” churches — liberal Lutheran, liberal Presbyterian, Episcopal — for the simple reason that for most of them there isn’t enough theology left to make people really “sad” or “mad,” make them convinced that they have to leave or their hearts will break. Or makes them leave because if they don’t, they fear they will “uncork” on some Shepherd or sheep and get arrested for it. The reason for this is, I think, a relatively simple one: there just isn’t enough substantial theology in most “mainline” Protestant churches to upset anybody. There isn’t much of anything left in mainline Protestant sermons or curricula – except maybe lessons in ethics, and perhaps new opportunities for social service. As one wag put it, “The trouble with theology today is that there isn’t any!”

     Many of us have met and talked with the sad alumni of Christianity. And many of us have also met and talked with some of the mad alumni of Christianity. The venue may vary, but most of us know or have met men and women who tell us that Christianity was a part of their life in years past, but that they no longer consciously identify with Jesus Christ in His claim to be God and Savior. They perhaps earlier identified themselves with some form of Christianity, but no longer. Every pastor runs into these people. So do lay people. It seems to “go with the territory” these days. You and I know them, meet them. You might be one of them. I have run into it in decades of working on the college campus — first with the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, later as a professor. In these roles, it has been (for whatever reasons) easier for students to tell me the truth. I think they have said things to me that they were afraid to tell their 3 pastors or priests. It is perhaps easier to tell a professor that you once believed that Jesus was your sin-bearing Savior, but that you no longer believe that. Or that you wish you could still believe in Jesus, but you just can’t. If you are a Christian pastor or layman, you have probably more than once heard the same thing from friends or acquaintances. In our day, there are so many of these people that it is hard not to come into contact with them. There are thousands of them.


To be Continued in The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church | Part II

The Home of the Lecture and Permissions Can be Found at 1517 The Legacy Project

The Citation link to White Horse Inn, Inc. blog mentioned above where I first obtained the transcript and other media for Dr. Rosenbladt’s sermon “The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church”  – Dad Rod Thursdays – The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church

The Debate: Part III

Return of the Jedi

Yeah so, you are probably wondering why in the flippity flip flap flew for a post on Law and Gospel am I now featuring images from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi?  My logic and reasoning is as follows.

A.  This is Part III of this post about my paper/thesis for the debate between Law and Gospel distinction.

B.  Return of the Jedi to the original 1983 audience was effectively Star Wars Part III…everyone knew that there were 3 episodes before the “1st” Star Wars (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) that came out in 1977.  So in the spirit of symbolism, with this being Part III of this series I went with what I thought was the greatest Part III of any Trilogy I could think of and logically the first that came to mind was Return of the Jedi.  Yes I even considered Rocky III, Rambo III, Missing in Action III, Robocop III, Alien III, Jurassic Park III, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and Back to the Future III.  The closest that came to Return of the Jedi was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade which was basically Indiana Jones III

C.  But I already had Indy’s image featured as an image for a previous blog and now I have images for Back to the Future, Ghost Busters and now Star Wars so my Childhood nostalgia is at an all time high and I am feeding off of it like a Walker in rural Georgia.

Plus admit it, [SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE ORIGINAL STAR WARS IN THE ORDER OF EPISODE IV-VI PUT DOWN YOUR DEVICE OR HOWEVER YOU ARE READING THIS RIGHT NOW….GRAB SOME POPCORN AND BEVERAGE OF YOUR CHOICE AND WATCH ALL THREE IN A ROW AND THEN COME BACK WHEN YOU ARE DONE]  when you saw this scene for the first time you were so overwhelmed with joy that Darth saved his boy…

darthCan you imagine the horror if this was the scene that followed….

darth jar

Ok enough of the Tom Foolery and hysterics….onto the meaty finish to THE DEBATE….picking up right from the Debate Part II we find ourselves here:

The other side of the debate we will refer to in this paper as the “distinction side.”  One of the main reasons why this side affirms that there is a distinction of God’s Law and Gospel is in how the Bible has passages that contain portions of it as “be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect” and “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ” or more applicably “come to me and I will give you rest.”  When affirming that there is a distinction between Law and Gospel, there is no need to weaken or cheapen either.  God’s Law remains at full value, crushing the sinner, pointing to their need for mercy and God’s Gospel remains at full value giving the sinner the mercy that the Law ignites the sinner’s cry for it.  Not only does it maintain both the value of the Law and Gospel but it maintains the credibility of both as well.  There is no need to read into passages, practicing in eisegeses in order to lower the demand of the Law to a level that we might be able to hope to fulfill or lower the level of grace to the level that only devout self-righteous people can claim as being deserved. Bruce Narramore, professor of Psychology at Rosemeade Graduate School of Professional Psychology addresses the reality that many Christians understand and are familiar with the nature of Gods’ Law and Grace.  Yet Narramore writes that,

many Christians fail to understand, however, that the law is much more than “the law of Moses” and that grace extends far beyond salvation.  Law and grace in their pure forms are actually two systems of relating, with their own set of governing principles.  Law, the more evident system in the Old Testament times, was a preparatory system leading to the grace principles revealed through Christ.  Outwardly, law and grace may produce similar results; inwardly, however, they are diametrically opposed.[1]

Another reason for taking this stance is that it points the need to Christ alone.  There is no hope in fulfilling the Law because sinners cannot and will not fulfill the Law.  Making this proper distinction points the sinner to the one who has fulfilled the Law, Jesus Christ.  Paul Ramsey, associate professor of religion in Princeton University, writes that Norman H. Snaith accurately displays an argument that displays what is necessary to understand when distinguishing what is meant by the righteousness that is needed by man and how he obtains it.  Snaith is quoted to have said “it cannot be maintained that a man can offer unto God any true righteousness of his own, so he is regarded as offering a fictional righteousness, or someone else’s righteousness.  The fact which is regarded as fixed is that God must have some sort of righteousness before He saves.[2]

Some of the examples for rejecting the “no distinction” side of the debate is that the “no” side promotes a cheap version of God’s Law.  Because it points to a dependency on the Law in order to be counted righteous, there is a need to not display the Law in its full sinner killing value.  The no side must not suggest that the Law is impossible to be appeased by the sinner, or there is no hope offered at all.  In order to keep the sinner focused on the need to fulfill the Law, a cheaper version must be presented in order to lead the sinner to believe that he or she is potentially and eventually capable of living within some area of approval by God for their law keeping.  Another reason why the “no” side is rejected is because it promotes dependency on self.  This is the idea that the individual is responsible for doing better, trying harder, living righter as a result of working and fighting to keep the Law.  A third reason for rejecting the “no” side is that it is suggesting that sinners in their work, actions, living can somehow merit God’s favor or his grace.  But as stated earlier, if God’s favor or grace could be merited by the response of the sinner, then it is not grace that the sinner is receiving but something that is earned.  This is rejected because it is understood that God’s grace is unmerited favor.  This side sees the “no” side a promoting the doctrine that one can merit God’s favor or cause God to act based on their doing for God and fail to see that everything is riding on what God has done for them.

The “distinction” side also points out that the error in confusing the Law and Gospel is nothing new.  Rev. Dr. Randrianasolo, pastor of the Malagasy Lutheran Church writes that “Eugene F. Kulg reports that Augustine, while ferociously fighting Pelagianism, “by teaching that faith is formed or adorned by charity was confusing Law and Gospel, thus justification and sanctification?”[3]  The similar point of confusion of the understanding of the Law and Gospel is observed in the Enlightenment.  Randrianasolo points to Mark C. Mattes observation of the Enlightenment and accurately displays that its views of human will are another form of the bondage of the will.  Randrianasolo writes that Mattes refers to Forde when he is quoted to say “That we are bound to the goal of self-expression.”  Instead of evaluating secular political or social commitments in the light of Scripture and the chief article, theologians attempt “to reinterpret the law-gospel distinction in the light of the prior, secular commitments.”[4] Randrianasolo provides the observation that Ronald R. Feuerhahan has meticulously studied the confusion of the Law and Gospel.  He identifies that a different Gospel is preached where what is communicated is a “general Christian message, good works in general, love, justice and peace, sanctification….”[5]  In the article written by Randrianasolo he provides a block quote from Feuerhahn that would be beneficial for this paper.  This quote reads to further explain what is meant to be understood by the confusion of Law Gospel as it reads to say:

Today there is a tendency to separate, not merely distinguish, this “one” faith.  In this way emphasis is given to a common or one faith with reference to the fides qua, that is, the “faith in the heart”, but with no reference to the fides quae, its content. In fact, the latter is not only deemed to be unnecessary but even disruptive.  This is evidence of a type of pietism, which is still present, that is, an emphasis on faith as something in us.  This idea can be chronicled in the modern ecumenical movement as a way to overcome the confessional barriers.  Thus, for instance, very early in the history of the movement, the expression “unity in diversity” came to be used.[6]

Randrianasolo closes out this section in his article by emphatically stating that

there is no church doctrine at all in the confusion of the Law and Gospel.  Everything is relative.  The Holy Scripture itself has neither solid authority nor a bound unity.  It is no longer a foundational text for life and for the context.  Here the context itself contests the text.  Either confusion in Law and Gospel or a clear distinction between Law and Gospel reflects the way one approaches and interprets the Holy Scripture.  That is a hermeneutical challenge.[7]

Randrianasolo writes that according to J A O Preus, the proper distinction between Law and Gospel is a doctrine that was formulated and developed within Lutheran understanding.   Randrianasolo presents the observation that “Luther as early as 1532 already gave two sermons on the proper distinction of Law and Gospel.”[8]

In as sermon given by Luther he states that “Man, driven into fear and anxiety by the preaching of the Law, hears this Gospel message, which, instead of reminding him of God’s demands, tells him what God has done for him.”[9]  Jane Strohl, Associate Professor of Reformation History and Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley writes that Luther in the Heidelberg Disputation of 1518 displayed the distinction between a theologian of the cross and a theologian of glory by stating

He deserves to be called a theologian…who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.  A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil.  A theologian of the cross calls the thing which actually is.[10]

The history of the doctrine of the proper distinction of Law and Gospel is seen above.   It is not something “new” in a sense for the individual today, but for one who has grown up in a church and has never heard this proper distinction being revealed it will surely feel like a new concept altogether.

Conclusion    

After reviewing both sides of the debate, in order to make sense of the command passages of the Bible that are linked with punishment and or threat along with other passages that reference the good grace of God that is unmerited by anything that the sinner does it is determined that there must be a distinction between God’s Law and Gospel and both need to be preached in their full weight and full value.  For this assignment, it is important that it is also the side that says “yes” to a distinction between God’s Law and Gospel also maintains the integrity of God’s character.  God’s holiness stays intact; unblemished by recipients of His grace.  God’s grace stays intact, unblemished by the call for recipients of His grace to fulfill the full weight of the Law.  We are reminded again of what Luther identified in the Heidelberg Disputation of 1518 as what the Law say and what Grace says.  Kathryn A. Kleinhans, professor of religion at Wartburg College, identifies what Luther writes and then further extrapolates what is to be understood by Luther’s confession.  Kleinhans writes that in thesis 26 of the Heidelberg Disputation of 1518 Martin Luther states that “the law says, “do this”, and it is never done.  Grace says, “believe in this”, and everything is already done.”[11] Kleinhans responds to this affirmation presented by Luther with the following

This passage emphasizes several key differences between the law and the gospel.  First, the law takes the form of an imperative (“do this”), instructing our behavior, while the gospel invites us to trust, evoking our faith.  Second, and perhaps most important, the law shows us our inability to keep it (“it is never done”), while the gospel is received as a gift (“everything is already done”).  The law shows us God’s will, but it does not give us the ability to keep it.[12]

The need to make the distinction between the Law and Gospel is crucial in accurately discerning the full character of God.  This concept assists in revealing that God is not confused or two-faced but is full of righteousness, holiness, love and grace.  It is therefore the belief that the thesis has been proven in that when not accurately identifying Law and Gospel, God’s character is not accurately identified either.

Footnotes

                [1] Bruce Narramore, “Discipline by Grace,” Journal of Psychology & Theology 7 no. 4 (Winter 1979): 264, accessed March 28, 2015, http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000774410&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

                [2] Paul Ramsey, “God’s Grace and Man’s Guilt,” The Journal of Religion 31, no. 1 (Jan. 1951): 21, accessed March 28, 2015, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1198698.

                [3] Joseph Randrianasolo, “A Hermeneutical Challenge: The Context Contesting the Text,” Lutheran Theological Journal 46, no. 1 (May 2012): 65, accessed March 28, 2015. http://search.proquest.com/docview/1016794110?accountid=12085.

                [4] Ibid., 65.

                [5] Ibid., 65.

                [6] Ibid., 65.

                [7] Ibid., 65.

                [8] Ibid., 66.

                [9] “Assorted Sermons By Martin Luther,” PDF page 36, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, last modified March 3, 2015, accessed May 8, 2015, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/luther/sermons.pdf.

                [10] Jane Strohl, “Law and Gospel in Preaching,” Dialog: A Journal of Theology 39, no. 3 (Fall 2000): 164, accessed March 28, 2015, http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a2h&AN=5692938&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

                [11] Kathyrn A. Kleinhans, “Law and Gospel in Context-Response to ‘A Hermeneutical Challenge: The Context Contesting the Text’.” Lutheran Theological Journal 46, no. 1 (May 2012): 73, accessed March 28, 2015, http://search.proquest.com/docview/1016796623?accountid=12085.

                [12] Ibid., 74.

The Debate: Part II

In no way was I meaning to dip into the cesspool of false advertising…ok that’s a lie…I may or may not have desired to lead you to believe that I was going to be speaking heavily about these guys

Ghostbusters-Turn-on-Proton-Pack

Not to be confused with these guys

Ghostbusters

But the truth is that this post is going to jump right back into the meaty or should I say “heavy” stuff that is the Debate between Law and Gospel: Is there a distinction?  Or is there no distinction?  How does either view reconcile our understanding of the character and nature of God?  We continue from right where we left off in my Seminary topic from yesterday and I hope you enjoy.   Part II will look at the side of the debate that does not hold to a proper distinction of Law and Gospel.  Part III will pick up with the side of the debate that DOES hold to a distinction of Law and Gospel and will close out the rest of the paper concluding with the results of the research that I made.  If you do not enjoy deep, heavy or meaty theological thinking, well you should be fine…but you never know….I do love to gab but I am not as confident with the intellectual side of my thoughts as I am with my desire to share them.  So if you didn’t enjoy the bulk of the post yesterday now is the time to run away from the nightmare that is below

giphy

How is God’s Character Understood in the Law/Gospel Debate     

Walther writes that both the Law and the Gospel are equally necessary.  “Without the Law the Gospel is not understood; without the Gospel the Law benefits us nothing.”[1]  What may seem as a very cut and dry understanding to the observer in that there is an observable distinction between God’s Law and His Gospel is not universally accepted.  It may be in words but not in actions or practice.  Traditionally, there have been two opposing views when it comes to how sinners are to respond to God’s Law and His Gospel.  One side of the debate does not in practice displaying any distinction between by the way that they preach and the way that they teach scripture.  Some will go so far as to reject the idea that justification is by faith alone and will adhere to the believe that man does indeed have a part in his or her justification and or salvation in the sense that there is something that they must do for God.  Or there are those who may claim that they adhere to the belief in justification by faith alone but will be heavy on Law in their preaching to the point where they in a sense teach that God’s favor can be influenced by how well sinners improve upon pleasing him by keeping his Law. What is taught and implied is that sinners are saved by grace through faith in Christ but now they must provide the proper response that such grace deserves by Christian service, evangelism, discipleship, spiritual growth, spiritual discipline and work.  In a sense it a teaching of Law, Gospel, Law; killing the sinner, offering grace to the sinner and then killing the Christian.

It could be suggested that there is not necessarily any subscriber who would admit to being someone who affirms the label “no distinction” when it comes to Law and Gospel but it is likely that a misunderstanding can be made in what they more than likely adhere to.  The first observation here to be made is that they more than likely hold to a “no distinction” stance by insisting that God’s love, God’s favor, His salvation for sinners must receive an appropriate response from the sinner, proving their appreciation for God.  Without an appropriate level of thanks, one may suggest or question if saving faith is even in play for the sinner.  There is also an emphasis on the desire to want to please God and accepts the belief that sinners can please God in their works for Him.  This side believes that the sinner can live a life pleasing to God as a result of their growth in their relationship with God courtesy of their acts and works.  Again, this position might not ever be affirmed outright but in the way that they live their life and urge others to live theirs, this is implied indirectly.  Another motivation for infusing Law with The Gospel is that it is done with the intent to help assist in the sanctification of the individual in Christ.  It is seen as the more good works and keeping of the Law is in play, the more sanctified the sinner is becoming.  Without a heavy emphasis on the Law after the Gospel is preached, how can one know if they are growing in the faith is the usual thought.

To better understand this position, it may assist in observing some of the objections that they may have to the position that adheres to the belief in a proper distinction between Law and Gospel.  There is the ever present accusation of “Cheap Grace.” This is more or less the concept that those who adhere to an idea of grace without the passionate response that it so rightly deserves that they cheapen grace.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an enormous advocate of discipleship and say it as being a costly discipleship; to lessen the cost of the disciple for Christ in a sense would display an image of being a proponent of “cheap grace.”  In an article by Reverend Dr. Heino Falcke we read his explanation of Bonhoeffer’s position as that there needs to be a necessary striving of piety in the midst of the world, “in the midst of the burning political crises of the time.  Here prayed a person [Bonhoeffer] who, risking his whole existence, had “thrown himself into the arms of God”.  This was the spirituality of discipleship, that is, of “costly”, not “cheap grace”.”[2]

There is also the accusation that teaching a level of grace found in Law/Gospel preaching leads to antinomianism. Tullian Tchividjian, Grandson of the evangelist Billy Graham and Pastor of Coral Ridge, writes in his book “One Way Love,” about the accusation of antinomianism.  He accurately identifies this accusation as being a result of the following line of thinking

All right, so perhaps one-way love doesn’t promote laziness, but if you are telling people they can do whatever they want, won’t they…do whatever they want?  Won’t they indulge in all sorts of debauched behavior?  There seems to be a fear out there that preaching grace produces serial killers.  Or, to put it in more theological terms, too much emphasis on the indicatives of the Gospel leads to lawlessness.  Again, the formal name for the objection of lawlessness is antinomianism—preaching in such a way as to imply that the Law is bad and/or useless.  If the control and laziness objections tend to come equally from the religious and nonreligious world, then the antinomianism objection comes almost exclusively from the religious sphere.  After all, since our culture is already so permissive and morally lax, if we Christians don’t stand up for God’s standards of moral righteousness, His Law, then who will?  Is more grace really what this culture needs?  That doesn’t make sense.  It seems backwards and counterintuitive.  Unconditional pardon is probably the last thing lawless people need to hear, right?  Surely they’ll take advantage of it and get worse, not better.  After all, it seems logical that the only way to “save” licentious people is to show them more rules, intensify the exhortations to behave.[3]

This tongue in cheek response from Tchividjian assists in revealing the root deep objection to the preaching of Gospel void of an infusion of Law.

tobecontinued

Footnotes

                [1] Ibid., 6.

                [2] Heino Falcke, “My Bonhoeffer: discipleship, peace, freedom,” The Ecumenical Review 63, no. 1 (2011): 117, accessed May 8, 2015, http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA254096997&v=2.1&u=vic_liberty&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=063ba693d1a93fc1d85203124da3f0e6.

                [3] Tullian Tchividjian, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace For An Exhausted World (Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2013), 190.