Willful ignorance is not simple, childlike faith.

Simple, childlike faith in Jesus is good.  In fact, children often make fine examples of the Christian Faith (note Jesus’ use of them to teach adults in Matthew 19).  When Jesus wants to teach about simple trust, He sets a child before the adults.  It is a Christian virtue to have such trust in Jesus as a child, accepting His Word without conditions or qualifications or superimposing our own reasoning in order to excuse and justify ourselves.

But how does this simple, childlike faith look when it comes to God’s Word (or things like the Catechism which teach God’s Word)?  As I said earlier, it willingly accepts what it says without qualification.  There is more, childlike faith will always want MORE of the Word.  From experience itself, young children are found to be absolute educational “sponges” soaking up whatever they can (good and bad).  Children love to learn, and the learning itself is considered a joy.  This is of course before the world and its lies of boredom set their teeth into our little ones.  At its core, simple, childlike faith in Jesus will constantly be asking for more of Jesus.

Even more than that, simple, childlike faith seeks to confess that faith.  A child is not embarrassed to confess Jesus, and at times may even seem foolish for doing so.  There is no thinking of personal cost to reputation or even of “tactics” to make this more palatable for hearers or any of that.  There is just a desire to share truth with others.

Enter sinful adults.  I have on a couple occasions heard adults using the phrase “simple childlike faith” to denigrate doctrine in saying things like: “I am not nit picky about beliefs, I just have simple, childlike faith.”  That is not simple, childlike faith, but sinful world-like apathy towards the teachings of Christ.  This goes for neglecting the regular study of God’s Word (and things of God’s Word like the Catechism and Confessions) also.  It is not simple, childlike faith which casts Bible study opportunities aside lest the Christian “learn too much” or as if they have ever learned enough from the Scriptures.  Sometimes adults even find ways to excuse their lack of confessing the faith before others  as “wisdom” while all the while it hides their friendship with the world.

What is most shocking to me is that often these phrases are used by lifelong Lutherans who should know better.  It becomes a defense mechanism to cover over their sins of neglect of God’s Word which have resulted in the symptom of ignorance of the Word.  It takes humility to sit under God’s Word and learn from it.  If ignorance has overtaken a person, then they have two choices, first to defend their ignorance through many different ways (including the “simple, childlike faith” card), or second repent and take the humble road to learn once again as a child, accepting what the Word of God says and asking over and over again for “more, please”.

A cousin to this is the symptom of doctrinal reductionism – the idea that Scripture teaches unimportant or “less important” things that are not worth focusing on or fighting over.  This idea does not proceed from simple, childlike faith.  Children want to learn more and more, and then they also are quick to defend what they have learned.  This idea comes from a proud ignorance not wanting to learn more or a sinful desire for human built unity at all costs (even the cost of losing simple, childlike faith).

What happens a lot of times with this mindset is a certain arrogance comes to play (first of all the arrogance which judges for itself what is important and what is not important or less important).  The people who advocate such sinful, world-like faith presume themselves to be wise in things spiritual but in the end are ignorant fools needing repentance (perhaps this may manifest in attempts to usurp pastoral authority as well – food for thought?).  The Corinthian church had such things as well.  Paul addressed their arrogant ignorance in in 1 Corinthians 3.  He reminded them that he only fed them milk and not meat.  They had lost their way and weren’t even ready for meat years later due to their sinful regard of God’s Word, becoming infatuated with their own thinking and making their own allegiances.  They were doing everything they could to prop themselves up to appear as mature Christians without actually doing it Christ’s way, with a simple, childlike faith which sought to devour over and over more and more of His Word.

In Matthew 28 Jesus points out how disciples are made, through baptism and being taught (passive) all things.  Simple, childlike faith doesn’t seek then to cast aside some of Jesus’ teaching (or usurp the tasks through which disciples are made).  In Acts 2 the recent converts devote themselves to the Apostles teaching.  They did not consider themselves masters and claim such mastery before others.  Neither did they begin the work of hacking the teaching (doctrine) to bits and pieces, claiming some of it was less important or even unimportant.  They submitted to it, there was a hunger which came from simple, childlike faith in Jesus.

We would do well as Lutherans to put our children before us and learn about the faith which Jesus commends.

Luther offers many a word on this wilful ignorance which pretends Christian maturity in the prefaces to the Small and Large Catechisms.  Consider his words:

But those who are unwilling to learn the catechism should be told that they deny Christ and are not Christians. They should not be admitted to the Sacrament, accepted as sponsors at Baptism, or practice any part of Christian freedom. They should simply be turned back to the pope and his officials, indeed, to the devil himself [1 Corinthians 5:5].

Pastors, we would do well as to redouble our efforts to teach His Word and offer more opportunities for our people.  Luther again from the Small Catechism preface:

Therefore, I beg you all for God’s sake, my dear sirs and brethren, who are pastors or preachers, to devote yourselves heartily to your office [1 Timothy 4:13]. Have pity on the people who are entrusted to you [Acts 20:28] and help us teach the catechism to the people, and especially to the young. And let those of you who cannot do better take these tables and forms and impress them, word for word, on the people [Deuteronomy 6:7]

Finally, a great quote from the Large Catechism:
But for myself I say this: I am also a doctor and preacher; yes, as learned and experienced as all the people who have such assumptions and contentment. Yet I act as a child who is being taught the catechism. Every morning—and whenever I have time—I read and say, word for word, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, and such. I must still read and study them daily. Yet I cannot master the catechism as I wish. 8But I must remain a child and pupil of the catechism, and am glad to remain so. Yet these delicate, refined fellows would in one reading promptly become doctors above all doctors, know everything, and need nothing. Well, this, too, is a sure sign that they despise both their office and the souls of the people. Indeed, they even despise God and His Word. They do not have to fall. They have already fallen all too horribly. They need to become children and begin to learn their alphabet, which they imagine they have long outgrown [Mark 10:15].

 

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.

Comments

Willful ignorance is not simple, childlike faith. — 47 Comments

  1. I have worked for many years in a warehouse to supplement my teacher income. Over the years I have met many people from many different cultural backgrounds. Often we would discuss Christianity. Some of the guys were cold to it and some we’re hot to it, but many were lukewarm. A common phrase of the lukewarn is, “Sure I’m a Christian, Christ knows what is in my heart. I don’t need to read the Bible or go to church because He knows me.” Most of those guys were raised Lutheran or R.C. It was far easier to talk with the guys with a fundamentalist hotness because we could engage on doctrinal difference. The cold guys were also good to talk with, they had no background and were willing to discuss. The lukewarm guys were frustrating to talk with.

  2. @Andrew #1

    > Christ knows what is in my heart.

    Yes He does and unlike us, He can see faith. But He also says this about our hearts, and this is the problem with emphasizing man’s heart over God’s Word:

    The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

  3. I disagree with the assumption that Matthew 19 is about the theological mindset of chidren or the “use” of children to teach adults.

    It seems to me that what is important here is that the text is within a Jewish context where faith is wrapped up in relationship (covenant). If the faith of children is in play in Matthew 19, it is in virtue of relationship…the relationship that Jesus reminds of and reinforces, and the relationship that the particular adults in that particular situation obviously forgot….that a “child” is not a category of human existence that just “is” ungrounded to anything else around, but that a “child” denotes being a child-of-someone. It’s a matter of the Question:

    “Who’s yo Daddy?”

    As Bonhoeffer answered “I am thine.”

  4. As a sinful parent, at times I fall into being “gospel heavy” with my kids. And even in my own life I drift back and forth between too much gospel and too much law. Parents do well to understand law and gospel – in my humble opinion.

  5. @Rev. Daniel G. Johnson #3
    Rev. Johnson, if you look at the parallel account in Mark 10 you will find that it is not relational but that Jesus is clearly talking about being “like” a child. This is over and against the wise of this world (which Jesus also refers to in Matthew 11:25)

    Mt 18 also reinforces this childlike existence (verse 3).

    I should have included those parallel texts in my article to make it more clear. My apologies.

  6. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #7

    I find the Mark 10 text wholly relational. It resides within the Divorce pericope 10:2-16, perhaps one of the hardest texts for a Christian pastor to preach on. Let us not compartmentalize the Gospel “child” away from the Law laid down in the unfudgeable words of Jesus of divorce = adultuery. The Gospel answer of the “child” is the answer to the existential question of how broken relation is healed. The pericope has its roots in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, which is not about divorce per se, but mentions the reality of divorce and in the course of treating a narrow legal issue as to whether a twice divorced woman by two different husbands may return to the first husband, and the answer is a definite NO. The theme of NO return is later taken up by Jeremiah in the 3rd chapter…in which the Lord divorces the harlot Israel. And yet, the Lord does not take up the older NO return paradigm and breaks it utterly by actively seeking the repentence/return of “his children”….v. 14: “Return, O faithless children, says the Lord”.

    We are all guilty of adultery. It appears to me that both Torah and New Testament reveal that the “child” motif is about being “born again”. I cannot help now but call to heart and mind He who is to come in Bethlehem. A Child is coming.

  7. @Jim Hamilton #10

    In fairness, I’ve gone a long way to suggest that the cited texts don’t support the basic original concern regarding a perceived tendency of folk toward theological reductionism.

    So, in taking up that concern directly, I would offer: By my own experience, I am familiar with folks authentically appealing to “childlike faith” not as an attack or an avoidance altogether of the Small Catechism, but rather as an authentic expression of humility. Among other roots, I come from hillfolk, from a blue collar working class Appalachian community…got took in by the “Lutherns” and I learned that Catechism. Well. Beyond the Catechism, degree after degree, I still run into Lutherns that accuse me of willful ignorance, no matter how many of their diplomas, certificates, etc I piled up loan debt for.

    Luther wrote the Catechism for the peasants, and then he turned on them. It still happens.

  8. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #12

    On the specific chronology cited, quite right. My sense of the spirit of the Small Catechism is that it’s of the same genre of outreach by which Luther first courted the peasants. (Peasants, hillbillies and Jews remember original deals.) And if a religio-politician covers the other side with words to a certain extant, that doesn’t make much of a difference to those who get genocided in the flesh.

    So. As a hillbilly, I can just report that appealing to child-like faith is often an opening sentence in a possible dialogue that indeed could lead somewhere. And a hillbilly stands on solid historical ground with that. Hillel & Jesus citing Love of God & Neighbor as foundational…then, go learn.

  9. @John Rixe #15

    Oh, am I the hillbilly? Or I am the religio-politician? Why am I a hillbilly? I’m extremely confused by this whole thread.

    (I did learn recently that I was born in a county that is included in “Appalachia,” so maybe I should embrace this hillbilly thing.)

  10. @Jim Hamilton #14

    Hey Jim,

    Here’s the deal. I grew up in a blue collar Appalachian neighborhood. Me and all my friends were what later became the Nascar and tattoo kind after all our Dad’s jobs at the factories got shipped out, and then the factories closed completely. I’m the hillbilly. I guess it’s just God’s sense of humor that I got drawn into the Lutheran world…it happened because my blue collar factory worker scoutmaster was a Lutheran and he invited us scouts to Scout Sunday…and it all just got out of hand after that. My Dad worked in a warehouse for minimum wage. So, in LutherLand, I had to suppress my hillbilly way of talking, not talk about where I come from, and just take the Lutheran elite keep telling me that I still didn’t have enough doctrine under my belt. In my first call (ALC, back then…I’m not LCMS), the treasurer would hand me my paycheck but not let go of it from his hand until I heard and acknowledged “Pastor, we need more people.” So, I sure buddy got him more people….people like me…workin people with motorcycles, pickup trucks, Johnny Cash tapes in their trucks. Simple people.

    So, my suggestion is: If you want to teach Lutheran theology in more depth to the unlearned, best talk nicely to them, and not call them stupid.

  11. @Rev. Daniel G. Johnson #17
    Daniel,
    You seem to be reading things into this discussion. Ignorance is not stupidity. And you also seem to be upset about an apparent class division in Lutheranism. I have never served a parish where such things existed in anything other than an accusation against the church by those with a bitterness problem with regards to Christ’s wife. My first parish was filled with sinners. Some of them ran businesses, some cut down trees for a living, but sinners – all of them. In my second parish it is the same, we are full of sinners here too – some run businesses, some are still looking for work, but sinners – all of them. You are the one using the word “stupid”. I titled this about the “willfully ignorant” on purpose. As far as intelligence, one of the smartest men I have ever known didn’t even have a blue collar. He was a scrapper and jack of all trades (master at many of them too). I have known men like him and men who carry multiple Ph.D’s. I have known laymen who indeed cut logs for a living and laymen who run multi-million dollar businesses who could understand and confess some of the most profound Truth there is. Thank God for Lutherans who are not willing to stay ignorant of the faith they confess.

    You seem to have had a bad experience as a pastor many years ago (ALC was pre-1988) that has seasoned your way of thinking about all things Lutheran. Beware a root of bitterness will defile many.

  12. I was reading a little Luther this evening and read; “For the man who knows that he does not know is gentle, teachable, unresisting, ready to give his hand to all men.” AE 35:405

  13. @Rev. Daniel G. Johnson #17

    Are you saying that Pastor Scheer was calling people stupid in his post? I understood Pastor Scheer to be saying that people who profess to be Lutheran should use a profession of “child-like faith ” to justify laziness in acquainting themselves with the Catechism. While it’s true that most Lutheran laypeople don’t have the time or inclination to pour through Pieper and Hoeneke, we should expect that Lutherans display interest and enthusiasm for the wonderful doctrines of salvation that God has given us.

    As to all the other stuff in your posts, I guess you’re pretty upset about some bad experiences you’ve had during your previous stints as a Lutheran pastor. I’ve never seen this rampant Lutheran snobbery that you criticize. I don’t know the personal financial situations of the people at my church. Based on their professions, I guess that some of our members earn good incomes and others smaller incomes. Regardless, no person is prevented from serving on boards or teaching Sunday School because their not wealthy enough. The whole notion is absurd. We’re all sinners. What difference does money make?

  14. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #18

    Today, the tactic of looking for a perceived weakness to gore is all the more anti-evangelical. I wouldn’t have a clue as to how one determines that someone else is “willful” in “ignorance”.

    My daughter works with the most profoundly mentally challenged adults. In my own circles, I’ve wondered at the manifestation of the Gospel in the midst of austic folks. There are Lutherans who worry about giving the Eucharist to such folks.

    Again, most people who play the “simple faith” card, do so honestly. I am more positive about them.

    I recently read a Lutheran sermon where the preacher was attacking people who haven’t gone to church for a long time, and yet they claimed Lutheran identity by virtue of their assigning some apparently significant value to the fact that they had been “baptized Lutheran”. The preacher’s main thrust was to deny them their Lutheran identity. I fail to see the value in such snark. Rather…on the positive side, what is to prevent seeing the remnant of identity as something indeed positive and possibly to work with? Why cut and bleed people out from the get-go?

    Now, as for vocabulary, “ignorance” is a negative word in working class parlance. Where I come from, it’s a ten dollar word for “stupid”, and a further lecture to my people on how that’s just not the case will only bring up their “culture” all the more upon the lecturer. Lutherans aren’t the only mainline group not good at dealing with Johnny Paycheck (The Catholics and Methodists do pretty well), but there is the Lutheran tendency to make the problem worse with a misguided “salvation through correct belief” agenda which forgets Luther’s explanation to the third article of the Creed. Too many Lutheran pastors forget that they are not the Holy Spirit. Accuracy in how things are really wired is not bitterness…it’s just good tradesmanship.

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #18

  15. @Jim Hamilton #20

    Jim,

    I’m saying why use language that tears people down in this situation? Heck, if anyone talks about “child like faith” with me, I just work with them. They remind me of my mom and dad. My mom had supersitions about her miscarried babies going to hell for not being baptized. You gotta work with people, huh?

  16. @Rev. Daniel G. Johnson #22

    Where are you getting all this from? Nobody is suggesting not “working with people” or insulting people or tearing people down. The doctrine of our church is God’s doctrine. It’s vitally important and must not be compromised. Pretending that doctrine is irrelevant and sweeping it aside by professions of simple “child-like faith” is dangerous. What are the ideas and doctrines that people have this simple child-like faith in if not the correct doctrine of the Lutheran church? A solid understanding of the correct doctrine protects people from error and prevents them from being tricked by the devil’s lies.

    Rev., based on what you’ve written, you seem pretty bitter. Maybe you’ve had a rough time (and, if so, I’m sorry about that), but the confessional Lutheran church is the true visible church on earth and is not deserving of your contempt and ridicule.

  17. Is this a common problem?  I don’t know any Lutherans running around in willful ignorance.  Weren’t we taught to hold God’s Word sacred and gladly hear and learn it?  We have good participation in Bible classes in my area.

  18. Rev. Daniel G. Johnson :
    Again, most people who play the “simple faith” card, do so honestly. I am more positive about them.

    Perhaps, then, we are talking about two different groups of people. Who wouldn’t be more positive about those whose childlike faith will always want more of the Word? This article is instead about those who claim “simple faith,” but are actually pretending to have it, using the false claim only as an excuse to scorn learning more of God’s Word.

    Like the two sons (the one who scorned his father by taking the inheritance and running, and the elder who scorned his father even while remaining in his house), I must confess to being both. Thank God He saw me, a willfully ignorant sinner, while I was still a long way off — and ran to me and gave me a childlike faith!

  19. @Pastor Ted Crandall #25

    I find hope in your “perhaps”. For, I suspect here there is much to pray about in that the original thrust of the topic is rather a veiled complaint. Somebody, in-house, has manifested some sort of blow-back or non-compliance with the pastor on doctrine. Hmm. Why not tell the actual circumstance? What happened? Otherwise, throwing out “names” in generality does harm. How exactly does “willful ignorance” manifest itself? What caused the post?

    I supply preach in rural and small town. There, and in my business which covers the same territory, I find a lot of what I would call “marginal” Lutherans. They’re on the margins. Their life circumstances are different than those who occupy the best pews in the house, as it were. Many of them are humble about their marginality…they will cite reasons for it…and in the midst of it all, they hang on to some scrap of positive value of some Lutheran connection. I find these people fascinating. Generally, I’ve never found such folks adverse to the Small Catechism. Never. So, I really have to wonder what in the world precipitates the topic here.

  20. @Rev. Daniel G. Johnson #26
    What precipitates the topic here is that we write on all sorts of things at BJS. Specifically what brought it on was one or a combination of the following: my studies to prepare for a 1 Corinthians Bible class I teach at my parish, my ongoing study of the Book of Concord (lately a lot in the Small and Large Catechism), and my ongoing reading through of Luther’s Works [the source of the facebook Luther quotes from BJS].

    You do well to keep your assumptions to yourself, especially in regards to assuming why our authors write what they do. Although in all of your assuming here you have managed to hijack this comment thread.

    I can see from what you write however why you would suspect me of having trouble in my congregation (actually a very peaceful time in the parish).

  21. @Rev. Daniel G. Johnson #26
    Generally, I’ve never found such folks adverse to the Small Catechism. Never.

    Pr. Johnson, I don’t think Pr. Scheer is talking about folks who may not have had opportunity but are willing to learn.

    Rather he is addressing the problem of people who think they know it all but aren’t even well acquainted with the Small Catechism. People may have college degrees in other fields and be ignorant [unknowing] in matters of their faith. What matters is not that they don’t know but that they are unwilling to learn, as Luther says, and Pr. Scheer quoted.

    I have heard “ignorant” used as a synonym for “stupid”,
    [usually followed by a pejorative]
    but Pr. Scheer, by “willfully ignorant” did not mean it in that way.

    Yes, there are people who think that more money entitles them to look down on others. As long as the church is for sinners, we’ll have some of them in the church, too.

    Could you both back off a little and use “best construction”, please?

  22. do we even have to say it? share this heading with some dp’s and circuit guys-some seem to feel and practice differently as souls are misled and harmed

  23. Walther doesn’t seem to be much in favor of willful ignorance either. Nice article Pr. Scheer!

    “Those who become convinced of the partial apostatsy of the church fellowship to which they belong and yet continue in it are not among the weak, but are either lukewarm, whom the Lord will spit out of His mouth, or epicurean religious cynics who in their hearts ask with Pilate: ‘What is truth?’
    Therefore one who hears the truth and pretends to believe it and does not publicly join in confessing it is not minded to be sincere in his Christianity. Neutrality is condemned in the kingdom of God. One who is not openly for the truth is still against it; as far as in him lies, he does not gather but scatters the congregation of God.”

    -C.F.W. Walther, “Communion Fellowship”, Thesis VI

  24. Yes. Well said. This is the error of the emergent movement, which tries to make Biblical doctrine as obscure and confusing as possible in the name of “being more spiritual.”

  25. The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
    Ecclesiastes 12:11-12

  26. Question,
    Has anyone here, posting, etc, ever endevored or made any attempt, to spend the day, at Bethesda Lutheran Home, in Watertown, WI?
    Should you choose to, as it’s been decades, since I’ve seen an article, on a first hand account, in this respect/aspect, you’d know the difference.
    You walk away, no matter what age, with a pin point understanding, of this & why He holds the “childlike Faith”, in such high regard.

  27. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #27

    Assumptions are a rightful thing; a concrete thing, here. There should be a GOOD reason to throw around labels. You call names. You call me bitter. Apparently, a plain direct question challenging what you’re doing is a name-calling affair. I’m not upset by that. It’s really very interesting.

    Questions are begged by name-calling. Where does it come from? What is it for?

    Willful ignorance? A concrete example please. And, how does one take an inventory of another person’s ignorance, willful or otherwise?

    You said: “I have on a couple occasions heard adults using the phrase “simple childlike faith” to denigrate doctrine in saying things like: “I am not nit picky about beliefs, I just have simple, childlike faith.” So. Where did this happen?….in the Church or outside? How did the discussion come up? How does “nit-picky” aversion = denigration? If it’s outside the Church, then assumptions are pastoral duty…like there’s a life-wound in play in need of pastoral care, not pastoral name-calling. So, if it was in the Church, I’ll be intersted to be informed as to how all the back-n-forth resulting in name-calling ends in peace.

  28. @Joyful Noise #32

    That’s very good. So, it again begs the question of who are the “willfully ignorant”, and how is the cause of the Gospel served in throwing such labels around in such generality. Doctrinally, what is really at stake here? And where is at stake? Who is the label intended for?

    I’ll cut to the chase. When my boyhood pastor started a sermon with themes like this, it always led to the point of him announcing his own “willful ignorance” and his own status as “chief of sinners”. He was a good pastor to us Jerry Springer types with all our crisis a day lives…the booze and the car wrecks and the house fights and the exotic diseases born of hard livin and yea, the willful ignorance…”attitude” we call it back home. We kids from the “neighborhood” were the ones the church ladies of the kitchen complained about cuz we’d sneak cookies for the Sunday coffee hour. Talk about “willful ignorance”….”what cookies? Huh?”

  29. @Rev. Daniel G. Johnson #35
    What does the specific discussion matter? This is pretty much the entire mood of our country. Doctrine doesn’t matter is the rallying cry of the non-denominational churches. Doctrine doesn’t matter is the whole gist behind the recent Youtube video of “Jesus doesn’t = religion”. Almost every week someone asks me what’s so wrong about such and such church. Doesn’t all that really matters is that we believe in Jesus?
    The problem here is you really have no point. I’m not even sure what your “plain, direct question” even is to Pr. Scheer. Are you trying to say that he shouldn’t call a thing what it is?

  30. @Rev. McCall #37

    I have a point: The branding of people as “willfully ignorant” is wrong. It is wrong because it is not evangelical.

    Paul went into the pagan public arena and did not do this.

    So Paul, standing in the middle of the Are-op’agus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, 28 for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ 29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead.”

    Now, if the pagan is found in those we are called to proclaim the Gospel to today (even ourselves, chief of sinners I be), why would Paul’s evangelical method still not be the way to go?

    So, with the non-denominational churches you mention…Let us consider the patient, here. Their’s is not a long tradition, and if truth be told, they are already suffering set-backs that they’re not wanting to publicize. That’s not to gloat over, but to ask “what is actually going on with people?” We know that something important is happening with those churches…despite the advertising hype, two main constituencies are bleeding out…working class and young adults. If you get in a frank discussion with one of those pastors…say, in the ministerial association…if you have a friendship, they’ll admit things aren’t going well. There may be money awash now in non-denominational megachurch land, but it’s a bubble that’s gonna bust…and that will impact all the mainline churches in wannabe mode….when the church growth 2.0 transformational ministry paradigm at large crashes.

    So. The reality is that if Justification by Faith Alone has to be taught all over again from scratch…that not being fair is beside the point of things are what they are. In order to teach it anew, one has to be nice to people in doing so.

  31. @Rev. Daniel G. Johnson #39
    Your scripture passage is Paul dealing with pagans. This article is about Christians who refuse to learn, not pagans who have never heard.
    What would you call “Christians” who refuse to hear and learn God’s Word? “Foolish”? as Paul does the Galatians? Luther says we shouldn’t even call them Christians, that they should be banned from the Sacrament and not allowed to be sponsors at Baptisms. That seems pretty harsh! C.F.W. Walther is even more critical in his dealing with “Christians” who refuse to be taught.
    Nothing needs to be taught from scratch. Christians hear God’s Word, read it, and if they are clergy, they study it even more so. So what don’t they get about, “This is my body, my blood?” What don’t they get about Ephesians 2:8-9? Where in Scripture is there one verse about an “age of accountability”? What is confusing about “Baptism now saves”? I would say to ignore Scripture and refuse to learn makes one willfully ignorant at best. Trying to soft-peddle it and not being willing to call a thing what it is does no one any favors.

  32. Rev. McCall :@Rev. Daniel G. Johnson #39 Your scripture passage is Paul dealing with pagans. This article is about Christians who refuse to learn, not pagans who have never heard.

    This is the delicate, “nice” way they preached to believers who refused to learn more about Jesus. I think that sermon got a few converts, too…

    Acts 2:36
    “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
    Acts 4:10
    “…let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.”

    Matthew Mills :
    (You don’t seem to be on the LCMS Roster.)

    There’s a shock. 🙂

  33. It is true, contrary to the old saying, Ignorance is NOT bliss! If Christians are not able to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” as Paul says to Timothy, we run the risk of either becoming too lax and “works-oriented” like Roman Catholics, or, as I have coined it, “too much Law, not enough Hallelujah” like the Evangelicals. Even St. Paul was carefully trained in the Old Testament in his youth prior to his conversion.

  34. Ralph #46,
    I had to log service hours, in order to be confirmed. We kids had lots of options, funeral home, candy kid at hospitals, etc. I chose shut in visits & Bethesda Lutheran Home.
    My favorite & my time there, forever changed me, even at 14.
    Thanks for knowing what I meant. Naive has never meant, nor never will equate w/ignorance or stupidity. I’d rather stay naive, it prevents becoming jaded. And that, requires, much effort, lol.
    Dutch

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