President Kieschnick Closes the Book as do We – the Importance of Divine Monergism, by Pr. Rossow

In what appears to be the final edition of his Perspectives, a weekly internet letter that Gerald Kieschnick has been writing for nearly a year now, the LCMS president shares some final thoughts on his service.

We highlight it here not to talk about the person of Jerry Kieschnick but to use it as an opportunity to talk about the approach to church that he represents. This is a helpful exercise because it alerts us to the different ways to “do church” that are out there and to compare them to the doctrine and practice revealed in Holy Scripture.

Rev. Harrison has now been elected and so the only remaining business with President Kieschnick is to write the history of his presidency and to identify any enduring issues that his presidency represents and what they mean for the LCMS. The former we shall leave to the likes of historians Martin Noland, Matthew Phillips or others. We shall focus on the latter.

So what enduring issues of significance are there from the Kieschnick years? One of them is hinted at his latest and last edition of Perspectives? In this issue of his letter President Kieschnick states that powerful Scripture passages sustained him through difficult times in his presidency including times of “inaccurate misrepresentations of who I am.” It is good that President Kieschnick turned to Scripture. We should follow his example in that. This quote also raises the specter of exactly how he felt he was misrepresented. My guess is that he may in part be referring to this website. If not then good, and I apologize in advance to President Kieschnick for assuming so. But even if not, it is accurate to say that our characterization of him here as less than purely confessional certainly is one of the misrepresentations to which he refers even if no specific reference to BJS is intended. President Kieschnick’s way of doing church in our estimation is not as confessional as it ought to be and since it still endures in the LCMS we wish to use the occasion of the final edition of Perspectives to point out its shortcomings.

To do so I will focus on the doctrine of divine monergism because I believe it gets to the heart of what is missing in President Kieschnick’s approach to church. Divine monergism literally means God’s (divine) work (ergon) alone (mono). It is often associated with Calvinists but is also a great handle for understanding Confessional Lutheranism. It is associated with Cavinists because of the notable leap they make from monergism to double predestination (the teaching that God has elected some to heaven and some to hell, which contradicts the Scriptural teaching that only the elect are foreordained). A proper understanding of monergism does not necessitate subscription to double predestination. Divine monergism is simply shorthand for the Biblical teaching that God does all for our justification and for our sanctification and for that matter, that God is behind all else that goes on in the cosmos. President Kieschnick’s Ablaze way of doing church focuses on both God and man as active players in the work of the church.

I draw attention to the doctrine of divine monergism because I believe it is the most efficient test one can use to understand the false over-statement of man’s role in the Ablaze way of doing church. The teaching of monergism is similar to the teaching of “grace alone” and “faith alone” but it has the advantage of focusing those truths on the question of who does the work in the church. Every Lutheran, including President Kieschnick, uses the phrases “grace alone” and “faith alone.” President Kieschnick made it a point in his “campaigning” last year to highlight that for us all. He then reiterated it in his convention sermon. But there is a tendency to use these terms only in relation to individual salvation. Divine monergism is a phrase that more clearly extends our understanding of the “alone” nature of God’s work not only to subjective justification (personal salvation) but also to the work of the church. I would characterize the Ablaze approach this way. “Of course everyone knows we are saved by grace alone but now that we are saved we had better get to work and make sure we apply the right techniques so that we can save the world.” It is in this focus on the right techniques of human reason that the “alone” work of God gets lost in the translation from salvation to ecclesiology.

As I said, every Lutheran knows that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone. Those words roll off our tongues often to the point of mindless repetition. It is easy to say “I believe in grace and faith alone” but then turn around and act as if everything in the church depends on man. President Kieschnick’s Ablaze mindset does this. In the Ablaze approach to the faith we are continually told that unless we practice personal evangelism people will go to hell. We are also told that the church must make use of the insights of modern marketing, psychology, pop culture and sociology to develop methods that will be more effective in saving more souls. This violates faith alone and grace alone and is certainly not divine monergism but the Kieschnick approach to doing church sees no problem with this emphasis on personal responsibility to save others and the manipulation of marketing, psychology and sociology. Here are a few insights as to why the Ablazers do this.

At the seminary, while I was still struggling with the comprehensive nature of “grace alone” (i.e. divine monergism) and in the youthful zeal of wanting to turn the world upside down with my ministrations, I turned to doctrines like justification/sanctification and the third use of the law as possible ways to get human reason and skill back into the work of the church. I had already learned of the centrality of grace alone, even to the extent of divine monergism, but then when I learned of the doctrine of sanctification (the holy works we do once we are saved) and the third use of the law (using the law to point us to the good deeds we are to do), I saw such teachings as the way that we get man back into the picture and undo some of the irrationality of “grace alone.” Sure we are saved by grace alone but this cannot be any effective way to talk about the work of the church. We are saved by grace alone but at least there is the matter of sanctification and the third use of the law where I get to do things for the Lord.

It took as much as twenty years of pastoring and study to learn that this was not the approach to church that God has given us in his pure Gospel. At some point along that path I was introduced to Adolf Koberle’s A Quest for Holiness in which it is demonstrated from Scripture that even sanctification is the work of God. I would also come to understand phrases I had learned earlier from Dr. Norman Nagel like “the only thing that has to work on the pastor is his lips so he can preach the Word of God” and “you are the delivery point for the body and blood of the Lord to enter the belly of the communicants” and others such monergistic statements.

I started out in the ministry as a mild Church Growth practitioner. I started a “contemporary service” in a very traditional parish at my first call. I did countless sermon series in place of the pericopes, most of them on doctrinal themes but some of them geared toward felt needs. I marginalized the voters assembly so that the pastor and leaders could more efficiently run the church. Through the years I learned on each of these counts and others that faith alone was more than just a theological mantra to keep from being a Roman Catholic. I learned that my hands really were the vehicle for placing the body of Christ on the receiver’s lips for the forgiveness of sins. I learned that the liturgy is a deliberate, sacred, reverent, fitting 2,000 year old custom filled with God’s Holy Word that rightly expresses the faith. I learned that Holy Baptism really does regenerate babies and create faith in them. I learned that a pastor is not an organizer/leader (the so called “player-coach” of the Ablaze movement) but a pair of lips to speak law and Gospel. I learned that instead of trying to marginalize the voters assembly it was more fitting to let them listen to and judge my words to make sure they were hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd calling out to them.

Another turning point on divine monergism came with my understanding of the role of women in the church. It seems that even though the LCMS takes a hard line on women’s ordination we are also looking for whatever way we can to expand the role of women even within the Divine Service. It took  me nearly twenty years of pastoring and making myself a slave to God’s word to finally just accept God’s word for what it says. Women are to keep silent in the church (the Divine Service). This is divine monergism. God alone determines how things are in the cosmos and in the Church. He has established the order of creation (man first then woman). The Ablaze approach to the role of women appears to me to be one that knows it cannot ordain woemn but almost in apology tries to allow everything right up to the precipice of ordination. That is not the way of divine monergism. God is God and his word says what it says. We need not apologize for it or try to accommodate it.

The most outstanding example of this is when President Kieschnick invited his wife up to the “pulpit” at a national youth gathering a few years ago. He pays lip service to the notion that women are not to be ordained but it had not sunk into his bones and sinew. He would never ordain his wife but he did allow her into the “pulpit” in the middle of his sermon and let her “preach” to the crowd albeit under the guise of greeting the youth. Did President Kieschnick intend to have his wife preach? Of course not, but because divine monergism had not gotten into the very fiber of his ecclesiology it did not dawn on him what he was doing.

The Ablaze approach to church is pleasing to man because it has us playing a prominent role in the church similar to the way in which President Kieschnick’s final Perspective turns out to be much about him and his impact on the church and the way in which the sinful evil culture kept him from accomplishing all his purposes for the Church. The Ablaze approach to church has us counting our evangelistic endeavors, writing grants for fun and funky innovations, and congregations revitalizing their work through the Transforming Churches Network model. There is lots for us to do in this Ablaze approach to church. We are busy, busy, busy acting out our justification.

Now of course we “do” stuff in our sanctified life and we are to do the works of the law as described in the “third use” teaching. I am not denying that. But God is the one who is doing these things through us. An emphasis on human reason and manipulation in the church detracts from the truth of divine moergism and opens the door to a non-sacramental approach to church that is ultimately man-centered and not Christ-centered.

The divine monergism approach to doing church is passive. It understands that we are dead in our trespasses and dependent on God to speak us back to life. It does not quantify this but merely proclaims God’s word to those who like and those who like it not. Read Luther’s Bondage of the Will and you will most likely react against its comprehensive claims for the will and work of God in the world. Luther is thoroughly Scriptural to the point that it is offensive to us. The Bondage of the Will is a Scriptural description of God’s monergistic work that will turn your stomach and offend your self-vaunted will. In it Luther describes all mankind as dumb “asses.” Because we are stupid donkeys we do not know where to go and therefore in life we are either ridden by God for our own good or by Satan for his own good. There is no in between. For Luther there is no “me” in the equation. I read The Bondage of the Will in my second year of seminary and bristled at Luther’s foolish dependence on divine monergism. Now, some thirty years later I see the truth in it and also see an approach to church in the LCMS, the Ablaze approach, that is not consistent with the Scriptural and Lutheran teaching of divine monergism.

If you made it this far in this post thank you for your patience. I am trying to describe what is indescribable for the human mind controlled by the will in bondage to sin. The Ablaze approach to church may accommodate the language of “faith alone” and “grace alone” but I believe it fails the test of divine monergism. I guess the book on President Kieschnick is not really closed. The emphasis on the candidate is no longer necessary but awareness of the candidate’s position, because it represents an enduring approach to church in the LCMS that is not going to pass quickly, is vital and necessary.

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. I Timothy 4:16

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

President Kieschnick Closes the Book as do We – the Importance of Divine Monergism, by Pr. Rossow — 23 Comments

  1. I just noticed that Dr. Scott Murray’s Memorial Moment today makes a similar point about the either/or of God’s way with us. There is no in between.

    Memorial Moments for today

    Of course he does it much more simply and elegantly than I did. 🙂

    It sure is nice to have theologians like Murray in the LCMS presidium.

    TR

  2. Pastor
    Even having been a supporter of Ablaze, there has always been an aspect(s) of it that has made me uneasy. Thank you for helping to put a finger on it for me.
    Andrew

  3. Good article but what I am left wondering is where do we draw the line between divine monergism and the third use of the Law and how it relates to evangelism and mission? (Obviously the Lutheran doctrine on vocation speaks to this as well) President Kieshnick could easily argue that he is a divine monergist and all the Ablaze! stuff falls under the third use of the law. If this angle is taken, could it not be argued that there is nothing wrong with Ablaze!?

  4. Pastor Rossow,
    Thank you for an articulate and necessary commentary on the failings of the Ablaze movement and much of the moden attempts (yes, even among Lutherans) to “help God along.” I appreciate you referencing Luther’s Bondage of the Will. Whenever I have quoted these words from Luther in that book, “‘Who (you say) ‘will try and reform his life?’ I reply, Nobody! Nobody can! God has no time for your practitioners of self-refermation, for they are hypocrites. The elect, who fear God, will be reformed by the Holy Spirit; the rest will perish unreformed. . . . ‘Who will believe’ (you say) ‘that God loves him?’ I reply, Nobody! nobody can! But the elect shall believe it; and the rest shall perish without believing it, raging and blaspheming . . . So there will be some who believe it”, my members grimace at its language. You have hit the proverbial nail on the head. The litmus test of whether one truly believes in sola gratia (not just in theory but in practice also) is whether their practice upholds divine monergism. Ablaze, along with numerous other programs, and much of what is being employed in “youth ministries” around our synod, reveals either a misunderstanding of this truth (putting on the best construction) or an outright denial of it.
    Herman Sasse once commented on why he was so convinced that the Lutheran faith is the true Christian faith is that it gives all glory to Christ. Because of our sinful nature, it should not surprise us that man will forever try to slide our efforts in their somewhere even while touting “grace alone.”
    Thanks again for a great post.

  5. Scott,

    That is a very good question. Here are a few random thoughts on it.

    First, in the Formula of Concord article on the third use, there is actually more discussion of the second and primary use of the law. Hmmmm… that is curious. The third use is a helpful distinction and I subscribe to it, but it is also true that the third use, I believe, is inherent in the second use and is intuitive. The second use comes first in the order of salvation. I convict you of your sin with it. Already, if I have admitted that I am a sinner against law “x” then once I am forgiven with the Gospel I will already know the law I am to serve when I heard it as second use. The third use is already in the second use.

    So why then do we speak of the third use? It is helpful to keep us from becoming antinomians. We are not forgiven and then forget the law. We are forgiven and set free to fulfill the law and it is a helpful distinction to keep us from becoming antinomian. But the Ablaze approach is to make more out of the third use than is there, e.g. now that you are saved pick up that third use and do it. To me, that uneccesarily overshadows the clear teaching of divine monergism. As Luther says, we are dumb asses and if saved are ridden by God. Using the third use of the law as a new commandment and an excuse to focus on the law is wrong.

    I also think the law is intuitive. Everyone knows that we are to love God above all else and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Even atheists know this, e.g. there are no atheists in foxholes. I do not need a third use of the law to tell me what to do. I simply need to recieve the power of forgiveness unto new life and the nlove God above all else and love my neighbor as myself. It is not rocket science. The problem with sin is not that we do not know what to do but that our will is ridden by Satan. When I am regenerated, I am ridden by God and in that new life do as he wants. Of course, the devil and my flesh are always there to drag me back into sin and so I need constnatly to hear the rebuke of the law so that I confess.

    Here is another thought. I must admit that I often times tell people to pray like all depended on God and work like it all depended on them. This is judging the new life from the standpoint of the will. When I tell people to work as though all depended on them I am directing them to the new will they have in Christ – I am talking to that new will. I think it is an OK line, as long as I am preaching sin and forgiveness each week to those people and constnatly drawing them back into the life-giving dynnamic of law and gospel.

    The use of this little saying of course has nothing to do with re-doing church with new measures as I argue above that the Ablazers do. The third use of the law is not an excuse for bad ecclesiology that ignores the 100% work of the Holy Spirit to save us and renew us.

    I may more offer more later on this but need to quit for now. Good question. It needs lots of attention from all of us.

    It is ironic that I mention Murray in my first comment above. He wrote the book on the third use – literally (see CPH). He and I agree on subscribing to the third use but we do not agree on how to talk about it. More on that to come as well…

    TR

  6. Great post. I wonder how many “young” pastors are led by the “older” pastors of seminex to do the same things you did in your early days of ministry. I know I did not always make the right choices when someone asked to have a song not in the hymnal used in church.

    Another thing that I have heard some new graduates from the seminary express is how they would like to do contemporary worship. They feel there is nothing wrong with it “when it is done right” and they have seen it done poorly several times. What arrogance to think that if many other “experienced” pastors do it poorly that this new young buck can do it the right way! God helps us all by grace alone.

  7. Excellent post Pr. Rossow! Thank you for it. I recently touched upon monergism as opposed to “McGavranism” in one of my blog posts. The Ablaze!™ program relies heavily upon concepts that can be found in the writings of the “Church Growth Father” Donald McGavran; especially the emphasis on counting.

    A favorite Scripture for me (Although most are becoming “favorites” which is really screwing up my ranking system!) is Romans 6:20-23, “20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    As a slave to sin I wasn’t free to choose righteousness and as a slave to God the fruit I “get” from God leads to sanctification. All in all I am still a slave, but as God’s slave I am free from the wages of sin, free from the law which condemns. Any “fruit” I bear is from God and is His. The truth of divine monergism is so comforting to me.

  8. Even when you consider the “third use” and “do things” they are only good things insofar as God is using you to do them.

    A problem with the “3rd use of the law” is that it is too often used to tell others what they should be doing, and too seldom applied by the speaker to himself. [S/he often seems to think her/his “good work” is finished by telling you what you should do!] 🙁

  9. Key to 3rd use is that even good works are gifts that the Lord lets you in on the joy of doing; and that He in love covers over wherever our sin spoils them. Not “have to’s” but “get to’s”. Practice for heaven!

  10. I won’t be writing any modern histories anytime soon. My focus is on much earlier periods.

  11. Hi Everyone,

    I think it is also important to remember that there is only ONE law, not three. The law always accuses. I think our confusion often comes because we look at the THREE USES as three laws. The confessions make it clear that the Holy Spirit convicts of law and of gospel. The primary use of the law in the church is to identify sin. Christ forgives us through His means.

    There is currently great confusion in our church body about 3rd use. Confusion is caused by some who give the impression that alternate paradigms of preaching other than law and gospel, such as civil and spiritual righteousness are more of what rhe modern people want to hear. This has confused many of the younger pastors into thinking that the preaching of civil righteousness is the church’s purpose. It isn’t.

    – or that they can identify their target of preaching. E.g. “I mean this part of the sermon to speak to the Old Adam. Now this part to the New Adam. It only leads to complete confusion of law and gospel. We are never the new man now, the old man now. We are always one person, sinner/saint.

    When we attempt to preach to the new or old adam, we practice a false dichotomy of the person in the pew. This appeals to the sinners we are because it puts us back in to what Pr. Rossow talked about, we can do something for Jesus. The truth is, there is nothing we can do for God. We are capable of loving God only when we love our neighbors. He doesn’t need our love, he doesn’t need us.

    Sell

  12. “- or that they can identify their target of preaching. E.g. “I mean this part of the sermon to speak to the Old Adam. Now this part to the New Adam. It only leads to complete confusion of law and gospel.”

    Exactly. We have to remember that the “uses” of the law (I like ‘functions’ better) are Gods uses, not ours. We simply proclaim law and gospel and let the Holy Spirit do His work.

  13. IMO, Arminian theology has so infected the LCMS that we are getting into the “Freewill” stuff. Thanks for the great article that so well states my frustration with Ablaze. Also appreciated is the recognition that we are as sanctified in God’s eyes as we are going to be at conversion. That was my biggest shock when converting to Lutheranism: It’s not all about me.

  14. I also must state my appreciation for good “Lutheran” preaching. Many Lutheran churches preach the “purpose-driven” agenda. Having just visited one some time ago, I was sitting there thinking to myself, “I need to be CONVICTED with the Law first, then rescued with the sweet Gospel.” Third use of the Law isn’t bad, but we should be squirming in the pews as our failures are shown to us. After the rescue of the beautiful Gospel, how could one not respond with good works, flawed as they are?

  15. In this issue of his letter President Kieschnick states that powerful Scripture passages sustained him through difficult times in his presidency including times of “inaccurate misrepresentations of who I am.”

    IMHO, Pr. Kieschnick is complaining that we in Missouri looked beyond what he said as elections approached and saw what he did, for about 30 months after them.

    [No point in “making a list”, the record is out there.]
    Thanks to all the blogs and web sites, activities in the “Purple Palace” got a little more scrutiny than ever before.

    For one thing, in retrospect, G. Kieschnick must be thanked. He set Issues Etc. free of bureaucratic restrictions. I doubt he counts it among his accomplishments, but I do. 🙂

  16. Thanks for this excellent post. It has helped me understand better than ever what may be the central doctrinal concept that divides us. I’m not trying to argue, but truly understand.

    So – what about when Pieper says, “God, who creates faith, also produces sanctification by His infinite power. But in this work of sanctification the Christian also plays a part. In conversion man merely experiences the working of God, but in sanctification the Christian plays an active role; he cooperates.” I totally get that this is not “as when two horses draw a wagon” and that God provides all the power for any good works done by the saved Christian, but Pieper’s characterization seems more active than what you write above.

    And how do you explain such active verbs as “sodzeis” (sorry – not sure how to do that in Greek letters in this post) which is the future active indicative in the 1 Timothy passage you quote? Paul tells Timothy his faithful use of teaching will enable him to save himself and his hearers. And what of Philippians 2:12 where Paul says we are to “work out” our salvation? These must apply to the sanctification part of my salvation, because until justified I am truly dead in my sins. But doesn’t the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life produce the ability for me to now take a more active (although minor) role?

    I want to give God ALL the credit and glory for my salvation and my sanctified life. I freely admit, along with Luther, that “without your (God’s) help I would have long since ruined everything.” But I also want to take seriously my active response to the Gospel in my life. It seems your brand of Divine Monergism sells short that active response. What am I missing?

  17. Mark,

    Thanks for the fair-minded manner of asking some really good questions. When I grow up I want to have your demeanor my friend.

    Let me take a wide angle in answering. I like to tell my Bible classes full of mature, healthy Lutherans “that if they have not made a decision for Christ, then they are going to hell.” That of course seems odd to them particularly coming from me. Here is what I then explain.

    First of all “will,” “decision,” “mind” and the like are terms from psychology and philosophy. The Scriptures do not give us a complete psychology or philosophy. Most would argue that St. Paul is using these terms in the manner of classical Greek psychology and philosophy but even that is not monolithic. My point in going there is that each generation fills these terms with similar but different meaning. We have to be careful then when we use them.

    I have studied a lot of philosophy (Masters degree from the Jesuits) and have read a fair amount of psychology. If I have learned one thing it is that we really don’t know much about the psyche and the mind. We aren’t doing much more than groping in the dark.

    When we speak of what the Bible says about the will, mind, even the spirit, we must be tread lightly. I like to think that common sense gives us a basic understanding of these things, enough to communicate fairly well about them with each other but we still need to be careful about trying to say too much.

    So, when Pieper talks about cooperation, we need to make sure that we tread lightly and not assume that we are talking about some unique will of mine that has some independent power to choose things.

    I like Luther’s donkey picture. Once the Holy Spirit comes into our life we are now totally ridden by Him. If we want to speak of this in pscyhological terms, and Paul tempts us into this with his references to psychological categories, then we are best to understand that whatever my will is after conversion, it is run by the Holy Spirit. That is why we call it regeneration – new life. I was dead and now I am alive – in Christ. It is Christ who lives in me. Psychologically I consider mywelf to be making these decisions and cooperating but that is merely a way of describing it.

    This is what I explain to my Bible students. Psychologically speaking, if you want to speak that way, our will cooperates with God or better yet, it is ridden by God. If you have not made a decision for God then where are you? Are you still waiting? I made a decision for God on the eighth day of my life when I was baptized. The Holy Sprit moved my will (I am not sure what else to call it nor is Paul so we use the categories of Aristotle – BTW – Aristotle’s view of psychology is so much better than the 20t century version of Freud and Rogers and the like) to make a decision for Christ. I was saved before that decision. That decision was the first good work I did. (I believe that little gem is from Pieper as well.) It was wrought by the Holy Spirit giving me the gift of faith and that mysterious gift of faith is not apart from my, shall we say “will,” but is instead a real part of me – my decision for Christ.

    So I have made a decision for Christ but big whoop! That means a lot for the modern person but for Paul and for Luther the will is either dead or alive. If dead I get the blame. If alive God gets the credit.

    Where is the active response? It is an active response but we learn from the Romans and the Baptists that focussing on that active response leads and grows out of false doctrine and so we are best off focussing on God and what he has done for me. The 40 Days of Purpose, the Alpha Course, etc. all focus on me and my good. That is not the way of the cross.

    The Timothy passage and any scripture passage that talks about our will and our work always assumes the “dumb ass” theology of Luther, Augustine and St. Paul. I think Phil. 3:12 states it perfectly. I press on to make it my own because Jesus has made me his own. It is all Jesus. Phil. 2:5 is another great example: have this mind (i.e. do something, make a decision with your will) which is yours in Christ Jesus (wait minute – there is nothing to do, the mind is already given to me by God). That is the perfect expression of it. There is a mandate but the goal of the mandate is already given us! Going back to Phil. 3 – how about vs. 14-15. It is an upward call of God – he calls out like he called out to Lazarus and the dead is made alive. I move because of his call. And then v. 15 – Let’s do what we have already attained.

    I just think it is not helpful to talk about an active response. Even if we do, to get that response means preaching Christ and not responsibility.

    Here’s another take – in the left hand kingdom I like to talk about being responsible. I could stand some more responsible and accountable behavior in my life. I need to work on better habits. That is OK to talk that way. I tell my members that developing the good habit of going to Church, even if you do it out of habit, may just save you some day. But in the right hand kingdom. talk of habits and responsibility cancels out faith and freedom and the gift of forgiveness. How tragic. Show me Christ crucified and I forget myself and start serving God and others.

    Sorry to have rambled on. I have not taken the time to write out these thoughts coherently but probably should.

    TR

  18. Tim – thanks for the response. You’ve given me some great food for thought. I promise to do exactly that, and go read Koberle. (I’ve never read A Quest for Holiness. Sounds like it is time I did.)

    I do need you to get out of my head, though. (grin) While delivering the sermon this evening I found that little voice in the back of my head (do you have one of those while you are preaching?) saying at a couple of points, “Careful – what about Divine Monergism!!??” Sure sounded like you…

  19. I believe the objection to Monergism is that many understand us then to then be simply robots doing what God has planned for us. Just as we do not have the ability to come to faith or cooperate in the process we also do not have the ability to be involved in the sactified life either. Once brought to faith we do however still have the ability to say “NUTS TO YOU GOD and reject opportunites to share law and gospel or do the good works that both benefit ourselves and others. Once we understand the love motvating God’s direction for us it becomes easier to follow them.

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