Great Stuff — “The New Antinomianism: Denying Thesis 18 of Law and Gospel” By Rev. Mark A. Preus

Found over on Gottesdienst Online:

 

gottesdienst header 3I know you’ll all want sources.  “Where have you seen this?”  “Who said this?”  I can’t give you any right now.  I’ve just seen it happen, and I think that if you’re reading this, you probably have too.   I’ve heard it preached.  I’ve read sermons, blogposts, Facebook statuses, etc.  It’s the belief that Christians are dead in sin, that their wills are bound as much as any unregenerate’s will is.  It’s been confessed in the ELCA for decades now.  The people say in the confession of sin, “We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.” (Lutheran Book of Worship)

Isn’t this the truth, though?  Don’t we believe in the bondage of the will?  Does Jesus say, “Whoever sins is a slave to sin?”  Doesn’t Paul say, “But I am carnal, sold under sin?” and “With my flesh I serve the law of sin?”

I suppose it all has to do with the old Lutheran adage simul iustus et peccator – same time righteous and a sinner.  What role does sin play in the life of a believer?  We know that we are all still sinners.  Paul calls himself the chief of sinners in the present tense in 1 Timothy.  But we also confess that we are freed from sin.  “The Law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the Law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:2)  “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.”  (John 8:36)  “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness…But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” (Rom. 6:18,22)  So Christians are no longer bound by sin, though they still sin.  They are free, though they still feel sin’s bondage in their flesh.  As the communion hymn goes, “Lord, I confess my sins / And mourn their wretched bands; / A contrite heart is sure to find / Forgiveness at your hands.”

C. F. W. Walther’s eighteenth thesis on Law and Gospel goes like this, “…[T]he Word of God is not rightly divided when the universal corruption of mankind is described in such a manner as to create the impression that even true believers are still under the spell of ruling sins and are sinning purposely.” (The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, trans., W.H.T. Dau (St. Louis: CPH, 1986), 3)

In explaining this, Walther says at the outset of his lecture on this thesis, “You will observe that I am speaking of the claim that the universal corruption of mankind embraces living in dominant and willful sins on the part of believers.  No one who is conversant with the pure doctrine will make the unqualified assertion that a Christian can be a fornicator or adulterer. Such a thought would not enter the mind of a true teacher of the Word of God.” (Law and Gospel, 318)

Walther says this mistake is often “made by zealous ministers and also by theological students.”  They don’t qualify their statement by saying “as we are by nature” or “as long as a person is still in the state of natural depravity and is unregenerate” (not born again).  Walther goes on, “When you speak of ‘abominable’ sinners, you must not refer to Christians, in whom we find, on the one hand, weaknesses, which are covered with the righteousness of Christ, and, on the other hand, good deeds, which God does through them and which are pleasing to Him.”

Do you see what I mean?  How often do we say “I’m just as much a sinner as the unbelievers are?”  Maybe we are, according to our nature, but not insofar as we are Christians.  But what this leads to is more dangerous doctrine.  I once heard a theological professor say to a group of students, “We don’t act any different than the heathen.”

Is that really so?  I think this might be confusing Luther’s doctrine of vocation, where he often speaks of the Christian’s good works not looking in any way different than the unbeliever’s so-called good works.  But Luther would never say, as Scripture doesn’t say, that Christians’ sins are the same as unbelievers’ sins.  On the contrary, “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the Law, but under grace.”  Our sins are covered by the grace of God, and not only this, but God has begun to do good works in us, so that he suppresses the Old Adam so that he doesn’t gain the upper hand.  Those who are in Christ do not belong to sin or serve it.  They serve God.

Luther explains it this way in our Confessions, “It is, accordingly, necessary to know and to teach that when holy men, still having and feeling original sin, also daily repenting of and striving with it, happen to fall into manifest sins, as David into adultery, murder, and blasphemy, that then faith and the Holy Ghost has departed from them [they cast out faith and the Holy Ghost]. For the Holy Ghost does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so as to be accomplished, but represses and restrains it so that it must not do what it wishes. But if it does what it wishes, the Holy Ghost and faith are [certainly] not present. For St. John says, 1 John 3:9: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, … and he cannot sin. And yet it is also the truth when the same St. John says, 1:8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (SA III.III.43)

What is at stake here is the truth of the Gospel!  The Gospel is only for beggars who truly know their sin.  When we find ourselves ruled by sins, we should be afraid, as David was, who after his return to Christ sang out, “And take not Your Holy Spirit from me!”  We should never simply view our sins as something that makes us miserable and feel bad, but as what calls God’s wrath upon us and separates us from him.

But this error, that Christians can be called Christians properly while unrepentant and letting sin rule over them, has far-reaching consequences.  Look at the homosexual debate.  How many times have nominal Christians shouted out the Gospel that God forgives homosexuality without actually requiring repentance?  “All sins are the same,” they say, “and so the lust in your heart after a woman is the same as the sin of Sodom, therefore you can’t judge him; if you claim forgiveness, so can he.”  But must I not repent of the lust in my heart?  Is there no distinction between feeling my sins of weakness which by God’s grace I crucify and drown every day in my baptism and willful and deliberate sins about which a person has no remorse?  In our zeal to destroy the hypocrisy of the Pharisees have we embraced hypocrisy as something normal for Christians?  It seems the only way to deal with our hypocrisy is simply to say that we are ruled by sins just as much as the heathen are, and in so doing, we fall into greater hypocrisy, that of “having the form of godliness but denying its power.”

What do we say to the Christian who struggles with transsexual thoughts?  Does it really matter whether he thinks his sin is a disease or a medical condition?  Does that make it any less sin to subvert the order of creation?  What do we say to the drunk who is addicted to booze or the druggy who is addicted to narcotics, or the glutton, who can’t control his eating?  Heap up all the scientists who monitor brain patterns and find biological or epigenetic or genetic “causes” for all these things, and does that change the face that these sins can’t rule over a Christian, that when one is ruled by them he has lost faith in the Gospel, lost the Holy Spirit, and needs to repent of and abhor his sin before he will actually receive the forgiveness of sins?

What happens to the Gospel when it is received by those who don’t believe that the Gospel actually frees them from their sin?  They change it into a different gospel.  Even if what they hear is the pure, unvarnished truth of the atonement, in their minds the gospel is no longer the forgiveness of sins.  It becomes exactly what St. Peter describes it, “a cloak for vice.”  It is a different gospel, which, even if an angel from heaven were to preach it, we should call anathema.

The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.  Its goal is to bring us to heaven.  Its goal is to comfort the poor, miserable sinners who daily struggle and slip and fall.  It gives certainty when the Law gives only uncertainty.  It reveals the blood and righteousness of our God who is our brother and will never cast aside any sinner who hears his voice, repents and believes in him.  It is the power to save the homosexual from his sin so that even as his flesh desires to join with the heathen, his soul cries out not with a spirit of bondage, but with the Spirit of Christ, “Abba, Father.”  The Gospel is the power to comfort a man who wants to be a woman, as he can’t stop the thoughts from coming into his head, and the world and those who worship earthly happiness tell him to follow his heart’s desire that promises peace in giving in – then the Gospel comes again and again and shouts into the soul of this poor creature, “This man is mine.  He is my baptized son.  I claimed his sins as my own, and I have the right to forgive them as often as they happen because they all pierced me and lost their power to kill.”

The New Antinomianism is anti-Gospel, just as the former antinomianism was.  In an effort to show mercy it shows no mercy by excusing sin and refusing to recognize its consequences.  If you have seen it, beware.  If you haven’t seen it, or don’t think it exists, then you probably haven’t been paying attention.

Rev. Mark A. Preus is pastor of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and Campus Center, Laramie, Wyoming. 

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Great Stuff — “The New Antinomianism: Denying Thesis 18 of Law and Gospel” By Rev. Mark A. Preus — 89 Comments

  1. Dear Rev. Speers: If there is one thing I firmly believe in, it is salvation by grace, through faith, without the works of the law. What puzzles me is how you jumped to your conclusion? I am sorry, but I cannot follow your argument to that conclusion from what you have written.
    Where does Scripture say David had lost faith? For everything else you can cite Scripture. Are you saying that anyone who commits any of the acts listed in 1 Cor 6 and Gal 5 has lost faith and the Holy Spirit? Well, there would hardly be a Christian left in this world. Certainly drunkenness and carousing would doom many a seminarian before they were even ordained. But regardless of that, where does Scripture speak of anyone who had ever lost faith and the Holy Spirit and these then returned to him? Is not St. Paul saying that anyone who practices these things habitually is in danger of loosing their faith?
    Do you think that faith and the Holy Spirit also left David after he ordered the census to be taken? 70,000 people died as a result. More serious than killing 1 man and committing adultery with his wife?
    What also puzzles me is why motives are ascribed to me instead of citing Scripture. I suspect that one of the meanings of judge not, etc. is “do not ascribe motives to people.”
    If you want to know one of my chief motives, it is zeal for the Gospel. Every time we make new lists of sins that “automatically” take away faith and the Holy Spirit, we diminish the Gospel. Are there other sins besides those in 1 Cor 6 and Gal 5? How many times do we have to commit any of these before faith and the Holy Spirit are lost? How can we repent if we do not have the Holy Spirit? Since you cite Acts 2, which says that we receive the Holy Spirit in Baptism, do we have to be baptized again to receive Him again? Does Scripture tell us of any other way the receive the Holy Spirit than by Baptism?
    Peace and Joy! I hope you do not take offence at these final words as Brad did. I mean them sincerely in the Spirit of Romans 5:1 and John 16:22.
    George A. Marquart

  2. @Rev David Speers #50

    Dear Rev. Speers: If there is one thing I firmly believe in, it is salvation by grace, through faith, without the works of the law. What puzzles me is how you jumped to your conclusion? I am sorry, but I cannot follow your argument to that conclusion from what you have written.
    Where does Scripture say David had lost faith? For everything else you can cite Scripture. Are you saying that anyone who commits any of the acts listed in 1 Cor 6 and Gal 5 has lost faith and the Holy Spirit? Well, there would hardly be a Christian left in this world. Certainly drunkenness and carousing would doom many a seminarian before they were even ordained. But regardless of that, where does Scripture speak of anyone who had ever lost faith and the Holy Spirit and these then returned to him? Is not St. Paul saying that anyone who practices these things habitually is in danger of loosing their faith?
    Do you think that faith and the Holy Spirit also left David after he ordered the census to be taken? 70,000 people died as a result. More serious than killing 1 man and committing adultery with his wife?
    What also puzzles me is why motives are ascribed to me instead of citing Scripture. I suspect that one of the meanings of judge not, etc. is “do not ascribe motives to people.”
    If you want to know one of my chief motives, it is zeal for the Gospel. Every time we make new lists of sins that “automatically” take away faith and the Holy Spirit, we diminish the Gospel. Are there other sins besides those in 1 Cor 6 and Gal 5? How many times do we have to commit any of these before faith and the Holy Spirit are lost? How can we repent if we do not have the Holy Spirit? Since you cite Acts 2, which says that we receive the Holy Spirit in Baptism, do we have to be baptized again to receive Him again? Does Scripture tell us of any other way the receive the Holy Spirit than by Baptism?
    Peace and Joy! I hope you do not take offence at these final words as Brad did. I mean them sincerely in the Spirit of Romans 5:1 and John 16:22.
    George A. Marquart

  3. George Marquart,

    I did not jump anywhere. The point is that you are asking for, so it seems, a prooftext, which you can camp on. The point is that you could not argue, as the confessions do, against a Romanist use of James 2:18-24, using your method. You would have to conclude, using the method you are applying here, with Rome, that a man is saved by works and love. (cf Apol IV 13ff). For they use the same tactic as you are applying to this discussion.

    However, the Lutherans do refuse to seek a prooftext in this way, in order to assert that when a person, like David lives in sin, hiding his sin, (cf Psalm 32), cannot be in a state of grace. Gal 5 and 1 Cor 6, state that those who practice such things, who live in this way, do not have faith. David lived this way for almost 9 months. The Lutherans reject this definition of faith, (Apol IV-cf the subheading, what is justifying faith), even though Rome would agree with you that faith could co-exist with this kind of intention to continue in sin. Lutherans called this faith an “epicurean delusion.” 15] Therefore the expressions or propositions mentioned [that good works are necessary, and that it is necessary to do good] are unjustly censured and rejected in this Christian and proper sense, as has been done by some; for they are employed and used with propriety to rebuke and reject the secure, Epicurean delusion, by which many fabricate for themselves a dead faith or delusion which is without repentance and without good works, as though there could be in a heart true faith and at the same time the wicked intention to persevere and continue in sins, which is impossible; or, as though one could, indeed, have and retain true faith, righteousness, and salvation even though he be and remain a corrupt and unfruitful tree, whence no good fruits whatever come, yea, even though he persist in sins against conscience, or purposely engages again in these sins, all of which is incorrect and false.

    Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. (1996). Concordia Triglotta—English: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (electronic ed., p. 943). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House.

    This point is made again and again by the Lutherans against the kind of faith that you seem to describe, and which is a reflection more of a Romanist definition of faith rather than a biblical one.

    Again, the Lutherans do not allow someone to say that they have faith when they live in impenitent sin, which contradicts the Scriptures which say that such people will not inherit the kingdom of heaven/God etc. If we are saved by grace through faith, then the faith that we speak about cannot be one in which one can live in impenitent sin and still be spiritually alive, but rather, these people, “once enlightened” have “made shipwreck of their faith.”1Tim. 1:18   This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

  4. @Rev David Speers #53

    Sorry, I am having some houseguests, so my time to respond is limited. But one thing that comes to mind is that, if we define faith as a life giving gift from God, which includes the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, then all of the bad stuff you write about, which is apparently part of faith, falls away, simply on the grounds that it is not part of faith. Sorry again, this may sound superficial and trivial, but I will not be able to get back to this until next week.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  5. Hi George,

    I believe that the confusion lies in the way we define faith. I wouldn’t say that your response is trivial, but clearly illustrates that we do not have a common definition. That is why it seemed that you had more in common with the Romanists than with Lutherans, in the way you approached this discussion. Have a good weekend.

    @George A. Marquart #54

  6. @David Speers #55
    Dear Rev. Speers: I still fail to see why I am unable to argue against the Romanists on the meaning of James 2:18:24. You see, here we have a text that seems to argue against “sola fide.” It is the only one like it in the New Testament. But there are many “proof texts” that argue for “sola fide.” That in itself will cause any reasonable person to argue the truthfulness of the pro “sola fide” texts, and, believing in an inerrant Scripture, find an interpretation of the James text which does not conflict with the inerrancy of Scripture and still supports “solar fide.” I believe we Lutherans have done this successfully both in the Apologia and the Solid Declaration. My own explanation is much simpler: rumors had reached St. James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, that there was somebody out there in Asia Minor teaching that as long as you believe in Jesus Christ, you can lead any kind of life you wish. I suspect that James wrote part of his Epistle to contradict these rumors. But we know that when St. Paul finally came to Jerusalem for that first Council, all those assembled there agreed that St. Paul was preaching the Gospel correctly. Therefore it is clear that there was no conflict between the teachings of either Apostle.
    But in the instance before us, there are those who insist that the Holy Spirit and faith left David, and then returned, when there is not a single passage in Scripture that directly (emphasis mine) supports that assertion. Therefore those who favor this position cite passages in which conditions are such that the Holy Spirit could not be present (Gal 5, 1Cor6), and assert that this was the situation with David. Those who argue against this position interpret these passages in a way that they cannot apply to David. By the way, Luther, in his commentary on Galatians never mentions the Holy Spirit and faith leaving David. Instead he writes, “But though these sins were great and heinous, they were not committed through contempt of God or out of willfulness and obstinacy but through weakness.” Six years later, in the Smalcald Articles, it becomes “manifest sins” and faith and the Holy Spirit leave him.
    With regard to the baptized people of God, I reject any differentiation among sins because they were committed willfully, through obstinacy, weakness, or being manifest. It is obvious that the good Pastor (Seelsorger) will approach these sins differently when calling the sinner to repentance, but without God’s forgiveness, any one of them merits eternal damnation. None merit more; none merit less.
    Further, neither you nor anybody else can cite a text which says that the Holy Spirit returned to someone. So you assume that, since you first assumed that they left, they must have also returned. I, on the other hand, can cite Scripture (Hebrews 6:4) saying this cannot happen.
    Finally, about your comment of 4 Sept, because I insist that faith is a gift of God I am a Romanist? We disagree on the definition of faith, because I insist that one can commit all manner of sins and still have faith? Nowhere have I written that it is good to sin, or encouraged anyone to sin, but I will have to leave it to greater minds than mine to come up with a proper list of sins and the number of times they are committed and under what frame of mind before faith and the Holy Spirit leave us, so that the people of God can have some assurance of the certainty of their salvation.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  7. George,

    You say that Luther, in the Galatians commentary never states that David loses faith and the Holy Spirit, right? Are you sure you want to say that?

    Now acceptance or imputation is extremely necessary, first, because we are not yet purely righteous, but sin is still clinging to our flesh during this life. God cleanses this remnant of sin in our flesh. In addition, we are sometimes forsaken by the Holy Spirit, and we fall into sins, as did Peter, David, and other saints. Nevertheless, we always have recourse to this doctrine, that our sins are covered and that God does not want to hold us accountable for them (Rom. 4).

    Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 26, pp. 132–133). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

  8. George

    So, while Luther seems to contradict himself, he corrects himself in Smalcald and that, George, is a confession of the church. Luther’s lectures on Galatians are not regarded as a confession.

  9. George,

    Interesting that what you are saying, while confessing yourself to be a Lutheran, deny what the confessions say. First how about the visitation articles, they reject the following

    III. That the elect and regenerate cannot lose faith and the Holy Ghost and be condemned, even though they commit great sins and crimes of every kind.

    Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. (1996). Concordia Triglotta—English: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (electronic ed., p. 1157). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House.

    From the Formula of Concord,

    19] 3. We also reject and condemn the dogma that faith and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost are not lost by wilful sin, but that the saints and elect retain the Holy Ghost even though they fall into adultery and other sins and persist therein.

    Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. (1996). Concordia Triglotta—English: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (electronic ed., p. 801). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House.

    Or Augsburg

    7] They condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost. Also those who contend that some may attain to such 8] perfection in this life that they cannot sin.

    Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. (1996). Concordia Triglotta—English: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (electronic ed., p. 49). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House.

  10. @David Speers #57

    Dear Rev. Speers: I was referring strictly to Luther’ Commentary on Galatians (1531) where he comments Chapter 5, beginning at v.19. He may very well have said something about the Holy Spirit leaving us elsewhere, but then, as you say, I am only obligated to believe whatever he wrote in the Book of Concord. But I will bet you a Temple Coin that he quotes no Scripture for this assertion.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  11. @David Speers #58
    Dear Rev. Speers: I know you have to be a quia confessor. I do not. Therefore I am allowed to be a Lutheran and still say that Luther was wrong in the Smalcald Articles. By the way, asserting the infallibility of the Confessions in major doctrines is quite a doctrine in itself. It would be of the immense benefit to the Lutheran church if we allowed ourselves to make corrections to them, similarly to the way the US Constitution is amended. Heresy? So tell me, how many of the Ten Commandments are in the Lutheran Confessions? Matthew 5:19, “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven;…
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  12. @David Speers #59
    Dear Rev. Speers: I do not reject or disagree with any of these teachings. The doctrine of the Sin against the Holy Spirit is clearly stated by our Lord and His Apostles. I believe in the right of the Church to excommunicate any member who lives in manifest sin unrepentantly. I deny that there is any statement in Scripture that speaks about any individual losing faith and the Holy Spirit and then regaining them.
    I do believe that many members of the Kingdom of God have murdered, committed adultery, robbed and committed other serious crimes and sins, but that God did not abandon them but rescued them from their sins. Once the Holy Spirit and faith have left them; there is simply no return. This is a judgement only God can make, so we should be very careful when we exercise that prerogative.
    There were a few top Nazis who repented and confessed their sins before being hanged at Nürnberg. I contend that just as mysteriously as we cannot detect faith and the Holy Spirit in a baptized infant, the Holy Spirit did not abandon these men. There were many more who rejected any suggestion about repentance, and I am certain that I will not meet them in the Kingdom of Heaven.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  13. @George A. Marquart #62

    Rev. Speers above notes that we are working with two definitions of faith. The definiton of faith that Rev. Speers, Brad, myself and others are using is belief in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

    By your definition above- faith is a life giving gift of God- you can say that Scripture doesn’t give a single example of losing faith in the way Luther suggests.

    However, I believe your definition is incomplete. Faith is a gift of God- absolutely. But I don’t think faith itself is life giving. The Christ that faith clings to is the life giving bread from heaven.

    Faith is trust in Christ.

    When Peter denied Jesus not once, not twice, but three times was faith present? By your definition maybe. But if faith is trust in Christ Jesus, surely not. Peter was denying the Lord! Yet, the Lord by grace and mercy led Peter to repent and believe in Him. Jesus absolved Him three times in John’s Gospel for the three times Peter doubted.

  14. @T-rav #63

    T-rav: God is the author of all life. He gives us life when we are conceived in our mothers’ wombs. According to the words of St. Peter, when we are baptized, we receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. According to what our Lord told Nicodemus, we are reborn from the physical life in which we are heirs of Adam, to a new life in which we are heirs of the Second Adam, our Lord, sinless, filled with love the depth of which we cannot begin to imagine (Hebrews 12:2, “…Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, disregarding its shame …), and humble, taking on the form of a servant.
    Faith is a gift from God, that makes it possible for us to love God, to trust God, to confess our sins to Him, and to be certain that they are forgiven. It is the grace of God, the loving grace that is willing to sacrifice Himself for our lives, that gives us spiritual life here on earth, and eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
    When Peter denied our Lord, Peter was not a Christian yet. There were no Christians. But he was among the first when on the Day of His Resurrection, our Lord breathed on the Apostles and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22. He had faith in the sense that both St. Paul and Hebrews list the heroes of the Old Testament, who had faith. But he did not have the Holy Spirit, until He received it from our Lord.
    I think this whole argument we are having about David and the Holy Spirit is not really all that important except how it impacts the Gospel. Nobody’s salvation will be affected by which side of the argument you take. To the extent that it is contrary to the pure Gospel, it is harmful to the people of God. St. Paul long ago took the teeth out of the argument, “Shall we sin so that grace might abound.” A Christian cannot possibly believe that. But the old accusation is dragged out every time anybody speaks seriously about the predominance of the Gospel over the Law.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  15. “Peter was not a Christian yet. There were no Christians.”

    Ah, George, you would have flunked exegetical courses at Fort Wayne. One of the favorite questions Dr Buls loved to ask his students, “Was Abraham a Lutheran”. Your assertion also implies that you deny what the confessions confess, that the gospel they have been preaching (the lutherans) is the same Gospel that has been preached, creating faith et al, from the Garden.

    “53] For the two chief works of God in men are these, to terrify, and to justify and quicken those who have been terrified. Into these two works all Scripture has been distributed. The one part is the Law, which shows, reproves, and condemns sins. The other part is the Gospel, i.e., the promise of grace bestowed in Christ, and this promise is constantly repeated in the whole of Scripture, first having been delivered to Adam [I will put enmity, etc., Gen. 3, 15], afterwards to the patriarchs; then, still more clearly proclaimed by the prophets; lastly, preached and set forth among the Jews by Christ, and disseminated over the entire world by the apostles. 54] For all the saints were justified by faith in this promise, and not by their own attrition or contrition.
    55] And the examples [how the saints became godly] show likewise these two parts. After his sin Adam is reproved and becomes terrified; this was contrition. Afterward God promises grace, and speaks of a future seed (the blessed seed, i.e., Christ), by which the kingdom of the devil, death, and sin will be destroyed; there He offers the remission of sins. These are the chief things. For although the punishment is afterwards added, yet this punishment does not merit the remission of sin. And concerning this kind of punishment we shall speak after a while.
    56] So David is reproved by Nathan, and, terrified, he says, 2 Sam. 12, 13: I have sinned against the Lord. This is contrition. Afterward he hears the absolution: The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. This voice encourages David, and by faith sustains, justifies, and quickens him. Here a punishment is also added, but this punishment does not merit the remission of sins. 57] Nor are special punishments always added, but in repentance these two things ought always to exist, namely, contrition and faith, as Luke 7, 37. 38. The woman, who was a sinner, came to Christ weeping. By these tears the contrition is recognized. Afterward she hears the absolution: Thy sins are forgiven; thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. This is the second part of repentance, namely, faith, which 58] encourages and consoles her. From all these it is apparent to godly readers that we assign to repentance those parts which properly belong to it in conversion, or regeneration, and the remission of sin. Worthy fruits and punishments [likewise, patience that we be willing to bear the cross, and punishments, which God lays upon the old Adam] follow regeneration and the remission of sin. For this reason we have mentioned these two parts, in order that the faith which we require in repentance [of which the sophists and canonists have all been silent] might be the better seen. And what that faith is which the Gospel proclaims can be better understood when it is set over against contrition and mortification.”
    Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. (1996). Concordia Triglotta—English: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (electronic ed., pp. 265–267). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House.

    Now, I would expect this kind of statement from a critical scholar, who, because of his rationalistic presuppositions, must reject the unity of the Scripture, but not from ANY Lutheran.

    Then you say that you do not subscribe to the confessions quia. Ok, well, that is really no subscription, at all. As Walther states in a document on confessional subscription, you could subscribe to the Koran, quatenus.

    You state that you are quoting chapter 5 of Luther’s 1531 lectures on Galatians. I do not believe that there was such a document. I did find it in the 1535 lectures. The same place I found the contradicting statement that I posted above, from chapter 2. It seems that Luther was not consistent, but then, later, corrected himself. Please be aware that his commentaries are not confessional documents. He makes that clear. And please remember, that he approved of the AC and APOL, which both make it clear that people could and do lose faith and can be restored. (The Donatist controversy argues this point). It is very hard to hold that believers cannot lose faith, if that is what you are saying. If you are saying that believers who lose faith cannot be restored because of Heb 6:4, well, now you are using Antilegomena to norm the rest of Scripture. Sorry, can’t do that. You need to find another passage that speaks in such a way, or as you say about James, come to understand Heb 6 in a way that does not deny the other parts of Scripture, which make that text difficult. That is the point of my discussion with you on James 2. Yes, the Lutherans in the Apol made it clear that one had to read James in context and understand the text in that context. They clearly stated that James did not say our works paid for sins etc. They made the point that this was about a live/living faith as opposed to a dead faith. So to say, on the basis of Heb 6 that someone could not be restored to faith once they have fallen, reads too much into the text, and then also denies church history.

  16. By the way, George and whoever else may be interested, the long quotation from the Confessions I posted is from Apol XII on Repentance.

    It is interesting that the Lutherans disagree with Rome and others in this article on repentance. The Apology makes it clear that Rome did not understand the topic and offered many and odd ideas about the matter. They rejected, in this article, those who hold to once saved, always saved. They make it clear that Adam and Eve, Abraham, David et al were Christians and obviously those who followed even to this day. The same Gospel was preached. There are two parts to repentance, Contrition and Faith, of which it appears George seems to have a different understanding than the confessions. This is an important article and perhaps different thread should be created to discuss it. This article asserts that those who lost faith could be restored. Rome was accused in the same article, at the beginning, with not having a clear understanding of repentance, when and if sins are forgiven etc. For Rome, doubt was a virtue which a Christian must have in order to be pious. Rome was accused of not holding a biblical view of faith. Over and over again, in the confessions, the Lutheran’s reject that someone could live in sin, intentionally, while having faith in Christ. The confessions say this over and over again. Chemnitz spends a good deal of time on this in his Loci Theologici. Vol 2. (This was a commentary on Melanthon’s Loci). These two men were authors of the AC, APOL, Treatise, Formula. I guess George does not care for their writings. Again, George, one reference from Luther in Galatians 5, contradicting an earlier reference in Galatians 2, and apparently corrected in Smalcald, does not make a strong case for you.

  17. @David Speers #66

    Dear T-rav and Rev. Speers: It was not God’s will that I go to the seminary. But I got A-s in some excellent logic courses at the Senior College (where the record will show I was the first student to register). I assume that subject is no longer taught.
    When I write, “There were no Christians,” please point out to me where the word “Gospel” occurs in that phrase.
    Were believers in OT times the same as those in the New? Here are the words of our Lord, John 7: 37 “On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38 and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
    Our Lord is saying that believers in Him (Christians and Messianics – the words mean the same thing) would receive the Holy Spirit. But as yet “there was no Spirit” (it had not been given), ergo, there were believers in Him at the time, but not Christians in the post-Resurrection, post- Pentecost sense. QED.
    But wait, did David not have the Holy Spirit? Our Lord Himself clarified that question when He said this to the Apostles on the night before His Passion, John 14: 16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”
    Christians have the Holy Spirit “in” them, according to our Lord. Therefore, until the giving of the Holy Spirit, there were no Christians.
    Although the Gospel existed from the first Messianic promise, it was not as clearly stated as during the life of our Lord. The clearest OT reference to it is probably in Jeremiah 31. But there were significant differences between the Old Covenant and the New One. The words of our Lord, Luke 16:16, “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news (euanggeliou) of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.” Also, our Lord made this remarkable comment, Luke 7:28, “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Our Lord also spoke about wine sacks, to make sure we do not think that the old wine and the new wine are the same things. And then He made this remarkable statement, Luke 5:39, “And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.” The heart of man yearns for the Law, because the freedom of the Gospel is foreign to it.
    With regard to Luther’s Commentary on Galatians, the Introduction to the book I have states, “It is a digest of a translation of a transcript of forty-one lectures in Latin (the language of scholarship , which Luther spoke and wrote as easily as German), given in the year 1531.” No other dates given.
    We have run far afield from David and the Holy Spirit, so I assume we can consider this discussion closed, but, Ref. Speer, I will appreciate your response to my question about the absence of the Ten Commandments from our Confessions.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  18. George,

    The confessions include the small and large catechism and therefore the 10 commandments.

    The Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every believer from Adam to today. The references to the coming of the Spirit in the NT, Ed John 7 and Acts 2 are in reference to Pentecost and not a difference between believers old and new. Pentecost was a prophesied event that would come to pass, and would include many signs. But the saints in the ot and the nt all had the same spirit, and therefore confessed Christ.

  19. @David Speers #67

    Dear Rev. Speer: You would do me a tremendous favor if, when you write such things as, “it appears George seems to have a different understanding than the confessions,” you point out precisely where I do that. Otherwise I have to try and check everything I wrote in this post and compare it to all of Apologia XII.
    Also, when you write, “This article asserts that those who lost faith could be restored,” you might quote the Article where it does that. I admit to being the world’s worst editor, so I often do not see things that are in plain view, but I reread the Article both in English and German, and was unable to find confirmation for this assertion.
    On the matter of repentance, it is true, as Walther asserts in Thesis XVII of “Law and Gospel,” that, “One of the principal reasons why many at this point mingle Law and Gospel is that they fall to distinguish the daily repentance of Christians from the repentance which precedes faith. Daily repentance is described in Ps. 51. David calls it a sacrifice which he brings before God and with which God is pleased. He does not speak of repentance which precedes faith, but of that which follows it. The great majority of sincere Christians who have the pure doctrine have a keener experience of repentance after faith than of repentance prior to faith.” The Article in the Apologia you quoted refers to the initial kind of repentance, but to the best of my understanding it nowhere implies that this is a process that can take place more than once.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  20. @David Speers #69

    Dear Rev. Speers, if you look both in the Small and Old Catechisms, you will see that there is something missing between the First and the Second Commandments, when you compare them to Exodus 20:1–17 and Deuteronomy 5:4–21. No, it does not mean that there are actually 11 Commandments. Commandments 9 and 10 in the Catechism are actually one Commandment.
    When you write, “The Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every believer from Adam to today,” don’t you think that contradicts John 7: 37-39 and John 14:17, which I quoted in an earlier posting? John 14:17, where our Lord specifically says, “because he abides with you, and he will be in you,” why did He make that differentiation when there was really no change from before? Please understand that I do not question that it was the same Holy Spirit in the OT and the NT, but the way He dwelled with them and with us is different.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  21. George,
    I apologize if it was mentioned already, but I read this today from the Epitome of the Formula of Concord:

    “We also reject and condemn the teaching that faith and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are not lost by willful sin, but that the saints and elect retain the Holy Spirit even though they fall into adultery and other sins and persist in them.” (Art. 4, par. 19)

    Maybe you can clarify. What I hear you saying is that the Holy Spirit is perfectly ok residing in someone who is living in willful, unrepentant sin. Though they show that they don’t believe, by the fact that they continue unrepentant in these sins, faith has not left them. Is this correct?

    If so, I counter: either God doesn’t put up with sin (which is rebellion against Him) or He does. It can’t work both ways. Was it necessary for Christ to reconcile us to God since God won’t put up with sin?

  22. @T-rav #72

    Dear T-rav: I have to build bigger barns for all of the straw men that have been tossed in my direction. Where did I write, “that the Holy Spirit is perfectly ok residing in someone who is living in willful, unrepentant sin?” God, the Lord the Holy Spirit is never OK with sin. Nevertheless, there is sin in this world and there are Christians who sin. The important thing is that God forgives sin. Does He only forgive sin when we repent of it? If it were so, no Christian would ever go to Paradise. I do not say that repentance is not necessary, but Luther criticizes Rome in many places, because it is simply impossible to repent of every sin.
    Is there a difference in the type of sin Christians commit? To me, the key saying of our Lord is Luke 12:10, “And everyone who speaks a word against the son of Man will be forgiven, but whosever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (and the equivalents in Matthew and Mark, none of which are mentioned in the Confessions). When the Confessions speak of “willful, unrepentant sin,” does this include habitually speeding in your car at 40 mph in a 25 mph zone? Is it less of a sin if you are going 35 mph? And who ever asks God for forgiveness for that? We are simply not aghast at this as we are at adultery, but it is also a sin for which our Lord had to atone.
    I do not know if and when faith and the Holy Spirit leave anyone. There is no evidence in Scripture that He left David and then returned. There is no evidence in Scripture that He left anyone and returned.
    Persistent, willful sin is a terrible thing. But the consolation of the Gospel is that our Lord will forgive even that. Moreover, the Holy Spirit dwelling in the persistent, willful sinner will continue to bring the sinner to repentance. It is the hireling who flees when there is danger; the Good Shepherd cares for His sheep, even to lay down His life. As I have written often enough, if the Holy Spirit leaves us, how can we repent? Does He wait until we are “more deserving” and only then returns to lead us to repentance. There are problems with that kind of theology.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  23. George,
    As we’re both talking in circles this will be my last comment. If the Holy Spirit leaves us how can we repent? And that’s the beauty of it. Salvation doesn’t come from within us, it comes from outside of us. The external Word. The Spirit works through the means of grace. All of the means of grace have one thing in common- God’s Word. Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ. The Spirit works through the Word when and where He wills to open deaf ears. David repented when Nathan came to preach the Word. This is something objective that we can hold onto and cling to.

  24. @T-rav #74
    Dear T-rav: I am not writing this just so I can have the last word.
    I suspect that there is not an iota of disagreement about the essence of salvation between us. I happen to disagree with a purely Lutheran teaching about the leaving and the returning of the Holy Spirit. No other Christian denomination teaches this, although there are doctrines about mortal sin etc. It is ironic that we who believe in sola Scriptura, believe in something that cannot be found there, and we criticize other denominations, because they mix tradition into their beliefs.
    The problem is that, although nobody dares say it, we also believe in sola Concordia, and if Scriptura disagrees with it, Concordia takes precedence. I believe the matter of the Holy Spirit and faith leaving David is one of those. If it were the only one, I would not be too concerned. But there are others. I have pointed out the problem with the 10 Commandments in a response to Rev. Spree. That one, as my lawyer friends say, is prima facie. You do not have to bring any proof except the listings in the Bible and the Catechisms. There others. I do not want to sound like the late Jr. Senator from Wisconsin, but “I have a list.” Next on it is the question of what God wrote on our hearts. There are others.
    At the same time, I want to assert that the Lutheran Confessions are the best ones I know of. The problem is with the arrogance of believing that we are the only ones who have all of the truth. Even when we thank God for giving us all of the truth, the words of the Pharisee in the Temple come to mind, “Lord, I thank you that I am not like other men …”
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  25. George,

    I thought you were going to be busy this weekend! I have had a hard time keeping up.

    Honestly, George, your statement above, “I happen to disagree with a purely Lutheran teaching about the leaving and the returning of the Holy Spirit. No other Christian denomination teaches this, although there are doctrines about mortal sin etc”, is odd. I do not understand how you can say this. The Scriptures are clear that a person has to have the Holy Spirit in order to confess Christ, and that the Spirit comes through the Word alone. When a person lives in unrepentant sins, denies Christ, the Holy Spirit cannot be present. He loses faith, as I noted before, “makes shipwreck of their faith.” (1 Tim 1:19). They have to be reconverted by the Spirit, through the Word. I know of only one strain of Christianity that states that a person cannot lose the Spirit and faith, once given, and that is a certain variety stemming from the Calvinists, which the Lutheran church and a host of others reject. (the P in Tulip). There was a recent fight between John Macarthur (a dispensationalist from California) and Charles Ryrie (from Dallas Theological Seminary), the latter going as far as saying that a person, once saved, could die cursing Christ, and still be saved. I do not know if this is what you are talking about, but I do not know of any church, serious about the Scriptures, actually takes the position you are taking. Can you name the denomination? There are liberal varieties that have a boatload of odd ideas, but they have set aside the Scriptures as authoritative. Perhaps you can tell us what church you are a member of?

    Then you say that we believe in Sola Concordia, WOW! That betrays the kind of subscription that liberal Lutheran churches hold, because they employ rationalistic tools which, force them to deny obvious Scriptural confessions. The confessional Lutherans have, over and over again, made the case that the Spirit cannot say speak against himself. He cannot say that those who live in unrepentant sin are confessing Christ, that would be a breaking of the 2nd commandment. That is something that the Holy Spirit would not do, even as Jesus did not do it. (cf Matthew 5:17ff) They speak with one voice. (John 14:25ff)

    Over and over again, people of faith, having the Holy Spirit, throughout the OT and into the NT, lose faith, and are called to repentance through the Word proclaimed by the prophets, apostles, and Christ. (they sought out those lost sheep of the house of Israel, Mt 10:6; Mt 15:24). The OT saints were people of faith, (cf Rom 4 and Gal 3). And some lost that faith. (cf Galatians 1-5, especially Gal 5:4). To lose faith is to lose the Spirit. That is a constant through the Scriptures, even as the confessions and Scriptures make it clear that the church, those who have the Spirit, are those who have the Word, Spirit etc.

    Hmmm, you spoke about ad hominem, motives, and then you say, like a good member of the ELCA, “The problem is with the arrogance of believing that we are the only ones who have all of the truth. Even when we thank God for giving us all of the truth, the words of the Pharisee in the Temple come to mind, “Lord, I thank you that I am not like other men …”” Sorry George, we do not believe that we are the only ones going to heaven. Your assertion, here, leads to a position that we see coming to pass in the liberal church bodies, where you lose things like the atonement (ELCA, Gerhard Forde), the Supper, (ELCA, Forde who stated that the Verba were never stated by Jesus, but were placed into his mouth). The regression never ends until all we find is law. You seem to be saying that one cannot be sure of anything, lest you say that others are wrong. However, the nature of a biblical confession is to reject that which does not confess, literally to say the same thing as God.

    You say, accusing T-Rav of building straw men, “God, the Lord the Holy Spirit is never OK with sin. Nevertheless, there is sin in this world and there are Christians who sin. The important thing is that God forgives sin. Does He only forgive sin when we repent of it? If it were so, no Christian would ever go to Paradise. I do not say that repentance is not necessary, but Luther criticizes Rome in many places, because it is simply impossible to repent of every sin.” You are not clear on this George. You misrepresent Luther. Luther consistently held to the Lutheran doctrine of Mortal Sin, and that carried forward in the work of Chemnitz, Melanchthon and Gerhard et al. The point that Paul, Peter, and then the men I just mentioned is not that one has to explicitly confess every sin, that you have to repent of the very sin you are living in. If you insist on living in sin, any sin, even insisting that your best work does not need to be covered in the blood of Christ, it becomes a mortal sin. (cf Heidelberg Disputation) Your best work becomes a mortal sin. You see, repentance for all sin, even those we are not aware of, Psalm 19:12, are confessed. So mortal sin is not a doctrine which calls you to search out some hidden sin, but, as the Keys clearly state, these are sins that you refuse to repent of, that you intend to continue in, even though the Scripture clearly speaks otherwise. So Paul, e.g. in Ephesians 4-5, Gal 5, and 1 Cor 6, make it clear that you do not have the Spirit or faith, if you refuse to call sin sin. Nobody, that I have heard, makes the case that one has to explicitly confess every sin. That is the point of the catechism on Confession. But, if you insist on living in sexual sin, covetousness/greed, gossip, et al, and refuse to repent, (those who practice such things), will not inherit the Kingdom of God. The person who will not inherit the kingdom of God does not have faith or the Spirit. For the Spirit will not lie, and to state that a person has the faith or Spirit, even if they once had them, when they continue in sin, has a dead faith. (cf James 2:18, 24)

  26. @David Speers #76
    Dear Rev. Speers: Sorry to sneak up on you, but my company left early Sunday morning. After attending mass at the LCMS congregation, where I have been a member in good standing for over 5 years, I started to write again.
    I will respond to several statement with which I disagree.
    “When a person lives in unrepentant sins, denies Christ, the Holy Spirit cannot be present.” Who are you to tell the Lord, the Holy Spirit, where He can and cannot be present? We have gone round and round on this, but what it boils down to is that there is no single passage or event related in Scripture in which the Holy Spirit left and returned to someone. He does not come into my heart because I will it, and He does not leave until He wills it. Human reason tells you that the Holy Spirit cannot coexist with unrepentant sin and the denial of Christ, but here is what God says about human reason: Isaiah 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” He did not belong on the cross between two criminals either, but he chose to be there. I fully believe every word St. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 6 and Gal. 5. Surely those who do these things will not enter the Kingdom of God. However, neither you nor I can determine at what point our Savior will give up on them and faith and the Holy Spirit will leave them. That’s His call.
    “I know of only one strain of Christianity that states that a person cannot lose the Spirit and faith, once given, and that is a certain variety stemming from the Calvinists,…”I have repeated time and time again that I fully believe in the Sin against the Holy Spirit, and that people may lose Him and be consigned to hell. So please, please, let us not return to that again. OK?
    “Perhaps you can tell us what church you are a member of?” Please see the first paragraph of this posting. I was baptized in the Olaikirche, the main Lutheran Church of Tallinn, Estonia. I was confirmed in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, LCMS, in Nyack, NY (no longer in existence), and have been a member of three LCMS congregations since then. I attended two LCMS colleges. I have also been a member of two ELCA congregations and the Protestant Chaplaincy of Moscow.
    “He cannot say that those who live in unrepentant sin are confessing Christ, that would be a breaking of the 2nd commandment.” The Second Commandment? What does this have to do with graven images? Oh, the Lutheran Second Commandment, sorry. Please try to understand me: I am not asking the Holy Spirit to condone any sin, manifest, or whatever. All I insist on is that I am certain the Holy Spirit does not easily abandon a sinner. The good Shepherd does not abandon His sheep no matter how many wolves attack Him. But ultimately, if the sheep decides to abandon Him, He will let Him go.
    “And some lost that faith. (cf Galatians 1-5, especially Gal 5:4). To lose faith is to lose the Spirit.” Absolutely. If it says “they cut themselves off from Christ,” far be it from me to say that they did not. But where does it say that they returned? Tell me, in the story about St. Peter’s duplicity beginning at Gal. 2:11, had St. Peter lost faith and the Holy Spirit at this point?
    “Sorry George, we do not believe that we are the only ones going to heaven.” I do not believe you wrote this out of malice, but it does disregard logic. I spoke about having all of the truth, and being the visible Church of Christ on earth. Yes, I believed everything in the “Brief Statement,” which not everyone remember any more. Although I cannot be totally certain, it has always been the position of the LCMS that others will be saved. The question is, “who has the truth?” I know that you know that every denomination makes that claim.
    “ You seem to be saying that one cannot be sure of anything, lest you say that others are wrong.” I continue to marvel at how what I write can be misinterpreted. I am saying we are wrong, plain and simple. Others are wrong too, but I am more concerned about the mote in our eyes.
    “You say, accusing T-Rav of building straw men,” He wrote that I had written that the Holy Spirit is OK with sin. I never wrote that. That makes T-Rave’s argument a straw man; in other words, something that he created and then blames me for. In logic, that is the meaning of the “straw man” fallacy.
    With regard to mortal sin, my only comment is that I cannot find an instance in Scripture, that tells of anyone recovering from this sin. The Confessions claim it happened to David, but, although Scripture relates how David was anointed, and that from that day on the Spirit came upon David, it says nothing about Him leaving, as it does in the case of Saul. Also, in the Parable of the Sower, although there are those who fall away from the faith, there are none that recover. Apparently mortal sin has an element of severity and an element of time. My contention is that it is God’s judgement, and only His, when a person shall lose faith and the Holy Spirit. He gave both, He can take them back.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  27. George, thanks for letting me know where you go to church.

    You wrote, ““When a person lives in unrepentant sins, denies Christ, the Holy Spirit cannot be present.” Who are you to tell the Lord, the Holy Spirit, where He can and cannot be present? We have gone round and round on this, but what it boils down to is that there is no single passage or event related in Scripture in which the Holy Spirit left and returned to someone.

    This is where we began, George, and this is why I said what I said about the passage from James and Rome. You are looking for an apparently, exact, explicit text which states that the aforementioned happened. However, when the Scriptures speak about the Holy Spirit, they tie Him to the Word, not to some spiritualistic assertion, e.g. “He is here….He is gone”. Rather, the Spirit is present where the Word is proclaimed and applied. The Spirit’s residence is said to be with those who confess, that is agree with what the Spirit witnesses/proclaims. This runs to our definition of “where” the church is and who is a member of the church, as far as we can tell. Go back and reread what you said about James and how much you “reasoned” about what James was saying etc. It is no different here, except you want to stand, in the same fashion as Rome does wrt James 2, ignoring that James does not tell us that man’s works pay for sins, save, etc. You cannot have it both ways. The Lutherans answer your question with a simple, THE HOLY SPIRIT says so.

    You write “He does not come into my heart because I will it, and He does not leave until He wills it. Human reason tells you that the Holy Spirit cannot coexist with unrepentant sin and the denial of Christ, but here is what God says about human reason: Isaiah 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

    Now you are basically appealing to a general statement and using it to contradict a very specific statement. It works like this. You would leave people in vague doubt with your reasoning here, as if the Word does not tell us where the Spirit is, and yet the bible makes it clear that when the Spirit has enlightened us, converted us, through the Gospel, we are not left to God may or may not be working, but is present. It is not human reason that says this, but the texts that have been quoted over and over again. The person who is not going to inherit the kingdom of God, do not have the Holy Spirit, since those who are going to inherit the Kingdom of God, possess the Holy Spirit and faith and live in grace not against it.

    You write “He did not belong on the cross between two criminals either, but he chose to be there. I fully believe every word St. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 6 and Gal. 5. Surely those who do these things will not enter the Kingdom of God. However, neither you nor I can determine at what point our Savior will give up on them and faith and the Holy Spirit will leave them. That’s His call.”

    Of course it is his call, but the point is now you are dangerously stumbling around the doctrine of election and seemingly sounding like a Calvinist, who, by definition, is left to doubt if he is elect or not. That is not what the Lutherans have taught. I am not trying to state “at what point”, as I cannot see people’s hearts, but if a person refuses to heed this warning, the Holy Spirit is not working, creating, sustaining faith, which is a simple confession. I hear confession, not see it. I am not saying that I can see into their heart, but I can hear what the Spirit says in the Word and whose sins are bound to them and whose are forgiven, as far as I can tell. If I could not, what purpose do the exhortations, warnings carry in the Scriptures? Could I ever apply them to someone? Paul does, and exhorts others to do the very thing, even as Jesus establishes the office of the keys.

  28. George, you write “I have repeated time and time again that I fully believe in the Sin against the Holy Spirit, and that people may lose Him and be consigned to hell. So please, please, let us not return to that again. OK?” This is not specifically about the sin against the Holy Spirit and your arbitrary refusal to believe that people cannot be reconverted. It is about mortal sin and if a person living in impenitent sin is in danger of losing the Spirit and needing to be reconverted.

    Your wrote “The question is, “who has the truth?” I know that you know that every denomination makes that claim.”

    No they do not make that claim. Liberal churches do not make that claim.

    You wrote, “I continue to marvel at how what I write can be misinterpreted. I am saying we are wrong, plain and simple. Others are wrong too, but I am more concerned about the mote in our eyes.”

    Again, you have yet to prove that we are wrong about this. Your assertion does not make it so, and as I pointed out, you are inconsistently proving things one way and then refusing others the right to do the same. That is, when you sought to explain James 2 and then refuse to accept the implications of the lists and warnings. You seem to want to say that wrt James 2 there is some clear text which states that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, and that settles the matter. But that is not the way the Lutherans ultimately explained it. They did not just assert one text against another. They “reasoned” which is what you accuse me and others of doing.

    You wrote, “Also, in the Parable of the Sower, although there are those who fall away from the faith, there are none that recover. Apparently mortal sin has an element of severity and an element of time. My contention is that it is God’s judgement, and only His, when a person shall lose faith and the Holy Spirit. He gave both, He can take them back.”

    Sorry, but now you are arguing from silence wrt the parable. Nobody is saying that God is not the one who gave faith and the Spirit, but you are the one saying that once a person loses faith he cannot be restored. Lutherans say, quite plainly that a person who falls away can be restored.

    Here is a quote from Apol XII

    1] In the Twelfth Article they approve of the first part, in which we set forth that such as have fallen after baptism may obtain remission of sins at whatever time, and as often as they are converted.

    Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. (1996). Concordia Triglotta—English: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (electronic ed., p. 253). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House.

    You seem to want to say that this cannot happen. That is an argument from silence at best, but it ignores the fact that the people of Israel had faith, lost it, and were restored, again and again. That is a theme that runs throughout the Scriptures which the confessions state.

  29. Another couple of quotations from the Formula

    69] But when the baptized have acted against their conscience, allowed sin to rule in them, and thus have grieved and lost the Holy Ghost in them, they need not be rebaptized, but must be converted again, as has been sufficiently said before.

    Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. (1996). Concordia Triglotta—English: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (electronic ed., p. 907). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House.

    57] Likewise, when we see that God gives His Word at one place [to one kingdom or realm], but not at another [to another nation]; removes it from one place [people], and allows it to remain at another; also, that one is hardened, blinded, given over to a reprobate mind, while another, who is indeed in the same guilt, is converted again, etc.,—in these and similar questions Paul [Rom. 11, 22ff.] 58] fixes a certain limit to us how far we should go, namely, that in the one part we should recognize God’s judgment [for He commands us to consider in those who perish the just judgment of God and the penalties of sins]. For they are well-deserved penalties of sins when God so punishes a land or nation for despising His Word that the punishment extends also to their posterity, as is to be seen in the Jews. And thereby [by the punishments] God in some lands and persons exhibits His severity to those that are His [in order to indicate] what we all would have well deserved, and would be worthy and worth, since we act wickedly in opposition to God’s Word [are ungrateful for the revealed Word, and live unworthily of the Gospel] and often grieve the Holy Ghost sorely, in order that we may live in the fear of God, and acknowledge and praise God’s goodness, to the exclusion of, and contrary to, our merit in and with us, to whom He gives His Word, and with whom He leaves it, and whom He does not harden and reject.

    Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. (1996). Concordia Triglotta—English: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (electronic ed., pp. 1081–1083). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House.

  30. @David Speers #79

    Dear Rev. Speer: In order to make it easier to refer to particular paragraphs, if you chose to respond, I have numbered them.
    1. “No they do not make that claim. Liberal churches do not make that claim.” Of course they do. They claim that the truth is that there is no truth. You knew that.
    2. “Sorry, but now you are arguing from silence wrt the parable.” I had to look up wrt. But this matter and the one that follows are related, and therefore I will deal with it in the next paragraph.
    3. “but you are the one saying that once a person loses faith he cannot be restored. Lutherans say, quite plainly that a person who falls away can be restored.
    Here is a quote from Apol XII
    1] In the Twelfth Article they approve of the first part, in which we set forth that such as have fallen after baptism may obtain remission of sins at whatever time, and as often as they are converted.
    Another couple of quotations from the Formula
    69] But when the baptized have acted against their conscience, allowed sin to rule in them, and thus have grieved and lost the Holy Ghost in them, they need not be rebaptized, but must be converted again, as has been sufficiently said before.”
    Here is the clear word of Scripture. Please let me know if this contradicts or does not contradict the excerpts from the Apologia and FC you have cited:
    “Hebrews 6: 4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”
    I also believe that beginning with verse 7, the author refers to the Parable of the Sower, affirming my position. Although the Parable itself may be silent, as we often do elsewhere, we look to commentary for fuller meaning.
    You wrote, “You are looking for an apparently, exact, explicit text which states that the aforementioned happened.” I believe I found it. Not that I haven’t referred to it several times before, but that has been ignored.
    The difficult part in this passage is in v6, “and have fallen away.” The fact that the Greek verb παραπεσόντας is a hapax legomenon does not make it easier.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  31. George, you wrote, 1. “No they do not make that claim. Liberal churches do not make that claim.” Of course they do. They claim that the truth is that there is no truth. You knew that.

    No they do not. They have given up on the category. But let us leave this drop, it seems a petty discussion.

    You wrote: Here is the clear word of Scripture. Please let me know if this contradicts or does not contradict the excerpts from the Apologia and FC you have cited:
    “Hebrews 6: 4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”
    I also believe that beginning with verse 7, the author refers to the Parable of the Sower, affirming my position. Although the Parable itself may be silent, as we often do elsewhere, we look to commentary for fuller meaning.

    Nope, this text does not contradict the confessions. First of all, this book is from the antilegomena, and therefore cannot be the seat of any teaching.

    Second of all, your interpretation is not the only one that can be given. It is akin to the interpretation of Tertullian, “In the earliest tradition, especially in the Latin West, and among rigorists like the later Tertullian, the sense of Hebrews 6:4 that it is impossible to repent from sins after baptism was taken literally.” [Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, on Hebrews]. But, Ambrose, Theodoret, Chrysostom, Origen, and then of course, Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, Gerhard, et al do not agree with you and Tertullian. Perhaps you should do a bit more work here on this text. You seem to want to assert that this text says something that does not jive with the rest of Scripture. For the Lutherans, there is a qualitative difference between sin, mortal sin, and the sin against the Holy Spirit. You seem to want to make this text a limiting text, and reject the other distinctions that were made in the confessions and dogmatics of Lutherans at the time of the confessions and which followed. You seem to want to force this text to reject those distinctions, as if this is the text that defines sin and characterizes the consequences of sin, that is, that when one loses faith one cannot be brought back to faith, ala Heb 6:4. Is that the only way that Heb 6 can be understood? Or is it the sin against the Holy Spirit, which means that there comes a time, when someone has fallen, in which they are confirmed in their sin. I believe that you are standing on very shaky ground, inasmuch as you start with antilegomena, and seek to define the doctrine of sin and repentance from that text, when the bible establishes both from homolegomena, and by virtue of good exegesis and systematic thought, we cannot establish doctrine or deny clearly confessed doctrine from antilegomena. That is basic work in wrt the canon and establishing doctrine.

    The book itself, Hebrews, speaks at length about calling people back from hardness of heart, as it is something that can lead to God hardening a person. That person is sinning against the Holy Spirit and will not take the warning. Eventually, they cannot be brought back, but we, from our perspective, do not know when that will, could happen. There is nothing to guarantee that someone will be brought back to repentance when they harden their heart, but there is nothing to say that God cannot bring them to repentance, as he does with the disciples whom he labels as hardhearted. (cf Mark 16, Romans 2) The point is, that the confirmation is not immediate, when a person stumbles, but generally the warnings call us to beware, over and over again.

    Finally, who is it impossible for? Does God say he will not/cannot convert those who have fallen? I believe you will have to weigh this against other texts which speak about those who fall.

    You wrote, “You are looking for an apparently, exact, explicit text which states that the aforementioned happened.” I believe I found it. Not that I haven’t referred to it several times before, but that has been ignored.

    The difficult part in this passage is in v6, “and have fallen away.” The fact that the Greek verb παραπεσόντας is a hapax legomenon does not make it easier.

    Sorry, but your construction of this text means that if you fall into sin after you come to faith, you are damned. Really? You cannot be a Lutheran and hold this position, since it contradicts Baptism part 4 in the small catechism, and the spirit of the whole reformation, which began by defining the Christian life as a life of repentance. For you, that is impossible, once you fall after a person comes to faith.
    @George A. Marquart #81

  32. George, you wrote, 1. “No they do not make that claim. Liberal churches do not make that claim.” Of course they do. They claim that the truth is that there is no truth. You knew that.

    No they do not. They have given up on the category. But let us leave this drop, it seems a petty discussion.

    You wrote: Here is the clear word of Scripture. Please let me know if this contradicts or does not contradict the excerpts from the Apologia and FC you have cited:
    “Hebrews 6: 4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”
    I also believe that beginning with verse 7, the author refers to the Parable of the Sower, affirming my position. Although the Parable itself may be silent, as we often do elsewhere, we look to commentary for fuller meaning.

    Nope, this text does not contradict the confessions. First of all, this book is from the antilegomena, and therefore cannot be the seat of any teaching.

    Second of all, your interpretation is not the only one that can be given. It is akin to the interpretation of Tertullian, “In the earliest tradition, especially in the Latin West, and among rigorists like the later Tertullian, the sense of Hebrews 6:4 that it is impossible to repent from sins after baptism was taken literally.” [Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, on Hebrews]. But, Ambrose, Theodoret, Chrysostom, Origen, and then of course, Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, Gerhard, et al do not agree with you and Tertullian. Perhaps you should do a bit more work here on this text. You seem to want to assert that this text says something that does not jive with the rest of Scripture. For the Lutherans, there is a qualitative difference between sin, mortal sin, and the sin against the Holy Spirit. You seem to want to make this text a limiting text, and reject the other distinctions that were made in the confessions and dogmatics of Lutherans at the time of the confessions and which followed. You seem to want to force this text to reject those distinctions, as if this is the text that defines sin and characterizes the consequences of sin, that is, that when one loses faith one cannot be brought back to faith, ala Heb 6:4. Is that the only way that Heb 6 can be understood? Or is it the sin against the Holy Spirit, which means that there comes a time, when someone has fallen, in which they are confirmed in their sin. I believe that you are standing on very shaky ground, inasmuch as you start with antilegomena, and seek to define the doctrine of sin and repentance from that text, when the bible establishes both from homolegomena, and by virtue of good exegesis and systematic thought, we cannot establish doctrine or deny clearly confessed doctrine from antilegomena. That is basic work in wrt the canon and establishing doctrine.

    The book itself, Hebrews, speaks at length about calling people back from hardness of heart, as it is something that can lead to God hardening a person. That person is sinning against the Holy Spirit and will not take the warning. Eventually, they cannot be brought back, but we, from our perspective, do not know when that will, could happen. There is nothing to guarantee that someone will be brought back to repentance when they harden their heart, but there is nothing to say that God cannot bring them to repentance, as he does with the disciples whom he labels as hardhearted. (cf Mark 16, Romans 2) The point is, that the confirmation is not immediate, when a person stumbles, but generally the warnings call us to beware, over and over again.

    Finally, who is it impossible for? Does God say he will not/cannot convert those who have fallen? I believe you will have to weigh this against other texts which speak about those who fall.

    You wrote, “You are looking for an apparently, exact, explicit text which states that the aforementioned happened.” I believe I found it. Not that I haven’t referred to it several times before, but that has been ignored.

    The difficult part in this passage is in v6, “and have fallen away.” The fact that the Greek verb παραπεσόντας is a hapax legomenon does not make it easier.

    Sorry, but your construction of this text means that if you fall into sin after you come to faith, you are damned. Really? You cannot be a Lutheran and hold this position, since it contradicts Baptism part 4 in the small catechism, and the spirit of the whole reformation, which began by defining the Christian life as a life of repentance. For you, that is impossible, once you fall after a person comes to faith.

    @George A. Marquart #81

  33. @David Speers #83

    Dear Rev. Speer:
    1.“Nope, this text does not contradict the confessions. First of all, this book is from the antilegomena, and therefore cannot be the seat of any teaching.” Strange. The Confessions quote Hebrews a total of 35 times, but not 6:4.
    2. “For the Lutherans, there is a qualitative difference between sin, mortal sin, and the sin against the Holy Spirit.” I suspect that is really at the crux of our disagreement. I am not sure that Scripture shares that view. For instance, 1 John 5: 16, “If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.” St. John here is saying that there are two kinds of sin: the kind that leads to death, and the kind that does not lead to death. When he writes, “I am not saying that you should pray about that,” to me that defines this sin as unpardonable. Earlier in the same chapter, in v14 he writes, “And this is the boldness we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Apparently praying for someone in mortal sin is not “according to His will,” and therefore we should not “pray about that.”
    3.“Sorry, but your construction of this text means that if you fall into sin after you come to faith, you are damned. Really?” Please. How can you find it in you to make such an accusation? Did I write that David did not sin? Did I write that St. Paul did not sin, who himself confesses to sinning? Did I really give you the impression that I am a complete idiot? After I gave you my history of church membership? Would I have hung around these churches if I believed that? This is simply grasping at straws. No, this statement does not deserve an answer.
    4.“…of the whole reformation, which began by defining the Christian life as a life of repentance.” Your reference here is to the First of the 95. But this did not make it into our Confessions, and it did not do so for a good reason: it is not true. Nevertheless I have heard it repeated from the pulpit hundreds of times. I mean, who would dare speak against repentance? Luther obviously wrote this before the Tower Experience when he began to understand the Gospel. But much later, when Luther wrote the Smalcald Articles, the same Articles in which the to me objectionable statement about David is found, he wrote the following in the Section “Of the False Repentance of the Papists”: “40] And in Christians this repentance continues until death, because, through the entire life it contends with sin remaining in the flesh, as Paul, Rom. 7:14-25, [shows] testifies that he wars with the law in his members, etc.; and that, not by his own powers, but by the gift of the Holy Ghost that follows the remission of sins.” You may say, “this proves my point!” But wait, here we have a problem in the translation from the German. By the time Luther wrote the Articles, he had a much better understanding of the Gospel. Therefore he wrote, “40] Und diese Busse währt bei den Christen bis in den Tod;…“ The German word „währt“ does not mean „continues“ (sorry, Word is switching into German automatically), but “has an effect” or “is in effect.” Luther, of course is speaking about the Repentance at Conversion, and, as I pointed out previously, Walther teaches that to confuse this with the repentance of the believer is to confuse Law and Gospel. Please note especially that Luther does not write, “through the entire life the believer contends with sin remaining in the flesh …” but “it contends,” meaning the Repentance. (By which I do not mean to deny that the Christian also contends with sin for the rest of his life, but that he is helped by the effect of His conversion, his new nature, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in him)
    5.“For you, that is impossible, once you fall after a person comes to faith.” Once more, a totally unfounded accusation to which I will not bother to respond.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  34. George wrote, “Strange. The Confessions quote Hebrews a total of 35 times, but not 6:4.” That does not make any difference George, as the doctrine confessed in the confessions is not seated, (sedes), on the book of Hebrews.

    George wrote, “I suspect that is really at the crux of our disagreement. I am not sure that Scripture shares that view. For instance, 1 John 5: 16, “If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.” St. John here is saying that there are two kinds of sin: the kind that leads to death, and the kind that does not lead to death. When he writes, “I am not saying that you should pray about that,” to me that defines this sin as unpardonable. Earlier in the same chapter, in v14 he writes, “And this is the boldness we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Apparently praying for someone in mortal sin is not “according to His will,” and therefore we should not “pray about that.”

    You have used this text before, and while I understand what you are trying to say, the notion of what i am to pray for, or not to pray for, does not define sin. It is speaking about what I should or should not pray for. There is a qualitative difference concerning prayer and sin.

    3.“Sorry, but your construction of this text means that if you fall into sin after you come to faith, you are damned. Really?” Please. How can you find it in you to make such an accusation? Did I write that David did not sin? Did I write that St. Paul did not sin, who himself confesses to sinning? Did I really give you the impression that I am a complete idiot? After I gave you my history of church membership? Would I have hung around these churches if I believed that? This is simply grasping at straws. No, this statement does not deserve an answer.

    George, this is what the Hebrews text says about those who fall after they have tasted the grace of God. You have used this text more than once and claimed that those who fall after they came to faith cannot be reconverted. Perhaps this is where you and the confessions differ. I do not claim to know what your motives are for remaining in the Lutheran Church.

    George writes, “Your reference here is to the First of the 95. But this did not make it into our Confessions, and it did not do so for a good reason: it is not true. Nevertheless I have heard it repeated from the pulpit hundreds of times. I mean, who would dare speak against repentance? Luther obviously wrote this before the Tower Experience when he began to understand the Gospel. But much later, when Luther wrote the Smalcald Articles, the same Articles in which the to me objectionable statement about David is found, he wrote the following in the Section “Of the False Repentance of the Papists”: “40] And in Christians this repentance continues until death, because, through the entire life it contends with sin remaining in the flesh, as Paul, Rom. 7:14-25, [shows] testifies that he wars with the law in his members, etc.; and that, not by his own powers, but by the gift of the Holy Ghost that follows the remission of sins.” You may say, “this proves my point!” But wait, here we have a problem in the translation from the German. By the time Luther wrote the Articles, he had a much better understanding of the Gospel. Therefore he wrote, “40] Und diese Busse währt bei den Christen bis in den Tod;…“ The German word „währt“ does not mean „continues“ (sorry, Word is switching into German automatically), but “has an effect” or “is in effect.” Luther, of course is speaking about the Repentance at Conversion, and, as I pointed out previously, Walther teaches that to confuse this with the repentance of the believer is to confuse Law and Gospel. Please note especially that Luther does not write, “through the entire life the believer contends with sin remaining in the flesh …” but “it contends,” meaning the Repentance. (By which I do not mean to deny that the Christian also contends with sin for the rest of his life, but that he is helped by the effect of His conversion, his new nature, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in him)

    George, as others have said, we have different definitions and your “system” of thought on these things are just a tangled mess. You seem to want to try to say that Luther did not continue to say that repentance is not the life of a Christian. Dr Klug would argue with you about your comments about later and earlier Luther and yes he could read German. He spent a number of classes rejecting the liberal commentators who claimed that Luther’s basic message developed and changed over a period of time. Yes, the 95 theses contained things that were Romish. However, Luther did not basically depart from this idea in many of his writings, e.g. Baptism Part IV, the life of the christian is one of repentance and faith. Confession, when I urge you to go to confession, I urge you to be a Christian. And a host of other texts. What is especially confusing is your contention that as Christians we fight against sin, even with the new man, etc, but then it seems that you want to say that this, somehow is not repentance. Somehow you have created two different types of repentance for sin, one before faith and one after. I find that nowhere in the writings of the Lutherans et al. The sinful nature, which we pray is hindered and broken is the same sinful nature and work that we repent of, before conversion. In fact, in the office of the keys, (note all of this is before Smalcald), the fact is that the Christian is called to repentance, and if they refuse, they are to be treated as a tax collector etc. Matthew 18. So what did Jesus do with them? He ate with them, called them to repentance etc. The goal of the office of the keys is to win the brother, and if the person is excommunicated, to win the pagan back to the faith. It just seems that you are confused about these things, written long before Smalcald. Since you seem to be getting frustrated, I suggest we drop this. I do not have time to give it more than I have and I suggest that you sit down with your pastor, catechisms and confessions and try to come to understand the simple harmony that exists in these writings. To insist that Luther and the confessors just got this wrong is something that can be discussed, but just asserting things, and misusing antilegomena to dismiss the true sedes of doctrinal theology is neither safe, wise or useful. It is no surprise that the place where we disagree is found in Article XII of the AC and Apol, written again long before Luther’s errors, according to you. When I say that you have a tangled mess, I mean that I cannot see any coherence in your thinking on this, but a seeming stubborn refusal to allow the Word to be the Word. Maybe someone else can clear the air, but I just seem to be getting you frustrated and angry. I apologize.

    Finally George, if no. 5 is unfounded, then you have completely failed in explaining to me what in the world you are talking about. You are the one who said that the Holy Spirit never returns, that Hebrews 6 makes the case for this. What in the world are you trying to say?

    I truly hope that you find peace and joy.

  35. @David Speers #85

    Dear Rev. Speer:
    1. Ok. Then the sedes doctrinae is 1 John 5:16-17. But even as the Confessions do, I may quote the Hebrew passage in support, not to establish the doctrine, but to support it. Also Mark 3:28 and parallel passages. When I say doctrine, I mean that there are two kinds of sin: mortal, which is unforgivable, and all others. Moreover, neither by direct citation, nor by implication from Scripture have you shown that the Holy Spirit ever returned to anyone once He left.
    2. “George, this is what the Hebrews text says about those who fall after they have tasted the grace of God.” It does not. It speaks of apostasy, of committing the Sin against the Holy Ghost. It is a fundamental Christian doctrine that all Christians sin, but, as St. John writes, not all sin is “unto death.” For some reason you do not want to grant me that distinction, and you claim variously that I claim not to sin, or that all sin is unforgivable.
    3. “Dr Klug would argue with you about your comments about later and earlier …” To the best of my knowledge, Dr. Klug never commented on this passage from the Smalcald Articles. Are you saying that there was no change in the Luther who flagellated himself and the one who believed the Gospel? Although I do not have a copy of it, the Kolb/Wengert version gives a translation of this passage that most closely agrees with the German text in this instance.
    4. “Somehow you have created two different types of repentance for sin, one before faith and one after. I find that nowhere in the writings of the Lutherans et al. “ (sic) I did have the sneaking suspicion that you never read what I wrote and responded to whatever was on your mind. So, let me remind you of what C.F.W. Walther wrote in Thesis XVII of Law and Gospel, and which I quoted in my 7 September posting (#70), “One of the principal reasons why many at this point mingle Law and Gospel is that they fall to distinguish the daily repentance of Christians from the repentance which precedes faith. Daily repentance is described in Ps. 51. David calls it a sacrifice which he brings before God and with which God is pleased. He does not speak of repentance which precedes faith, but of that which follows it. The great majority of sincere Christians who have the pure doctrine have a keener experience of repentance after faith than of repentance prior to faith.” Does Walther fit into the “et al”, or am I in the antilegomenon trap again?
    5. “Finally George, if no. 5 is unfounded, then you have completely failed in explaining to me what in the world you are talking about. You are the one who said that the Holy Spirit never returns, that Hebrews 6 makes the case for this. What in the world are you trying to say?” I will take the blame for this, although I think it falls into the category of making the obvious clear. “Falling away” and “sinning” are not synonyms. In the sense of Hebrews 6, “falling away” is committing the Sin against the Holy Spirit, which is unforgivable. “Sinning” obviously is the thing all sinners, including me, do on a daily basis, but which does not cause the Holy Spirit to leave us.
    Sorry to have taken up so much of your time. My pastor agrees with me that the Holy Spirit never left David.
    Although I could always hope for more peace and joy for myself, I have both abundance thanks to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  36. George, as I said, I think that this discussion has too many lose threads, too much work to do with short notes, and needs a bit more of a systematic treatment. You seem to run to two texts, Heb 6 and 1 John 5 and seem to want to build, and use these texts to ignore the texts which are set forth in formal discussions of these matters. Eg, Chemnitz spends about 30 pages, (double spaced 8.5X11 pages) on mortal and venial sin. One things Robert Preus said about Chemnitz is that he is an eminent exegete and his Loci et al are filled with texts and biblical first, then systematic. It might be a good idea to read something like Chemnitz’s Loci on the distinction between Mortal and Venial Sin, the Distinction between the Old Testament and the New Testament, et al and then show where they are wrong, instead of just ignoring the work that has been done, which are consistently held by the confessors, Walther, Pieper, and even your brother et al. I had Dr Kurt Marquart for 6 systematic classes. He taught out of the bible, confessions and Pieper et al. What I notice, whether it is on things like this discussion or whether John 6 is sacramental, there is little engagement with the work done by others. Eg, nobody argues against the exegesis of Chemnitz on John 6, they just assert he is wrong. That is what you seem to be doing here. If you want to make that case you have lots of work to do. I just looked at Pieper’s treatment of 1 John 5 and he says that this is a plain reference to the Sin against the Holy Spirit and not a simple mortal sin. He discusses the text in depth. Take some time and, as I said in another post, learn about the distinctions that were made and why. Pieper does state that there is mortal sin, in which a person can lose faith and be restored.

    An example of one of your tangles is the use of Walther’s Thesis XII from the Proper Distinction. Now, George, most people would find it odd that you would seek to use a document which rejects your understanding of mortal and venial sin, which Walther does, again and again. I first went and read article XVII and discovered the quote you put up was from Thesis XII. (which speaks to the point of requiring a certain amount/type of contrition before proclaiming the gospel. This is an argument against the Pietists). I think you are quite confused concerning what you think Walther is saying here. He states that David came back to faith in a moment, but then the rest of his life, his life in the faith was one of repentance, as his life was now burdened with many miseries etc. I think you are misreading the text. Again, this is something that you need to sit down and read with a pastor. You are misusing the reference to Psalm 51. Walther in thesis XVII makes the point that David lived in impenitence for almost a year and had to be reconverted. He had already made clear confession of Christ in 2 Samuel 7 and then lost faith in 2 Samuel 12 and was restored after a year. His prayer in Psalm 51 is a result of all that, especially the cry to not take the Holy Spirit from him.

    Here is a quote from Walther, explaining what you seem to misunderstand, “David calls it a sacrifice which he brings before God and with which God is pleased. He does not speak of repentance which precedes faith, but of that which follows it. The great majority of sincere Christians who have the pure doctrine have a keener experience of repentance after faith than of repentance prior to faith. For, having good preachers, they have been led to Christ in no roundabout way. While they are with Christ, their former self-righteousness may make its appearance again, spite of the fact that it has been shattered for them many a time. God must smite these poor Christians again and again to keep them humble. David’s example may serve to illustrate this point. He had come to faith in a moment, but what misery did he have to pass through later! A prophet had spoken to him the word of the Lord, but to his dying day his heart was burdened with anguish, distress, and misery. God had ceased to prosper his undertakings; he met with one misfortune after the other, until God released him by death. But all that time David had contrition together with faith.” Walther, C. F. W., Dau, W. H. T., & Eckhardt, E. (2000). The proper distinction between law and gospel: 39 evening lectures (electronic ed., p. 254). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

    This thesis is speaking to the need for a certain amount, kind of contrition before one is absolved, and not what you seem to think it means. The point Walther is making here is that David, after he was restored had a “keener experience of repentance after faith than of repentance prior to faith.” I suggest that you reread this material and pay attention to the actual thesis. Yes, this point actually contradicts what you are apparently trying to say!

    Finally, I would take some time to come to understand the distinctions made by the systematicians, and then argue with them. Prove them wrong and then come back and make the case to reject a distinction that is found in early and late Luther and all the way through orthodox Lutheranism, even to our day.

    I am sorry to hear that your pastor agrees with you. I wish people that took positions against these common confessions would prove their point instead of just asserting it.

    Take care George

  37. @David Speers #87

    Dear Rev. Steer: I am very sorry for giving the wrong citation for the Walther quote. I know how annoying and time consuming it is when someone does this to you. You are right, it is Thesis XII. I really don’t know how the extra V got in there.
    I did not intend for the Walther citation to show anything except that there are two types of repentance. Nothing else. This was in response to your statement, ““Somehow you have created two different types of repentance for sin, one before faith and one after. I find that nowhere in the writings of the Lutherans et al,“ from #85 of 9 Sept. “One of the principal reasons why many at this point mingle Law and Gospel is that they fall to distinguish the daily repentance of Christians from the repentance which precedes faith.” Two types of repentance, right?
    You write, “Now, George, most people would find it odd that you would seek to use a document which rejects your understanding of mortal and venial sin, which Walther does, again and again.” If I were to quote only those writers with whom I do not disagree somewhere, I would only be able to quote Scripture. I am sure even you disagree with some of what Luther wrote. There may even be other writings besides, “About the Jews and their Lies.” Your argument would encourage me to be guilty of the ad hominem fallacy, but the fact is even the worst people said something that was true, and so you have to separate the person from the truth. Stalin said, “The quality of your staff decides everything.” He was right.
    You write, “This thesis is speaking to the need for a certain amount, kind of contrition before one is absolved, and not what you seem to think it means.” Actually the thesis says, “In the eighth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher represents contrition alongside of faith as a cause of the forgiveness of sins.” You see, when you speak of an “amount” and “kind” of contrition, how can the troubled soul ever be certain that they have met those conditions and that their sins are actually forgiven – I am speaking here of those who are already members of the Kingdom of God? The same thing is true of “real” faith and “real” repentance. It seems our Lord was not overly concerned with that, because He simply told us to pray, “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
    I am glad you had an opportunity to study under my brother. He was unique. We had our disagreements, but we agreed about most things. He went to be with the Lord before I had an opportunity to discuss the David business with him. But I remember his reaction when I gave him my arguments against the election of Matthias to replace Judas. “Apostolic infallibility.” I disagreed. But then the Confessions don’t deal with that matter.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  38. George writes, “I did not intend for the Walther citation to show anything except that there are two types of repentance. Nothing else. This was in response to your statement, ““Somehow you have created two different types of repentance for sin, one before faith and one after. I find that nowhere in the writings of the Lutherans et al,“ from #85 of 9 Sept. “One of the principal reasons why many at this point mingle Law and Gospel is that they fall to distinguish the daily repentance of Christians from the repentance which precedes faith.” Two types of repentance, right?”

    No George, the same repentance, but the person who is a Christian will be more sensitive to the Word. However, there is only one kind of repentance for sin. The quotation that you supply, about “daily repentance” is something that you fill with in with an idea that is your own. As I quoted, in a previous post, the words that follow your quote, explain what WALTHER means by those words. He does not say that there is two kinds of repentance, but that ““David calls it a sacrifice which he brings before God and with which God is pleased. He does not speak of repentance which precedes faith, but of that which follows it. The great majority of sincere Christians who have the pure doctrine have a keener experience of repentance after faith than of repentance prior to faith. For, having good preachers, they have been led to Christ in no roundabout way. While they are with Christ, their former self-righteousness may make its appearance again, spite of the fact that it has been shattered for them many a time. God must smite these poor Christians again and again to keep them humble. David’s example may serve to illustrate this point. He had come to faith in a moment, but what misery did he have to pass through later! A prophet had spoken to him the word of the Lord, but to his dying day his heart was burdened with anguish, distress, and misery. God had ceased to prosper his undertakings; he met with one misfortune after the other, until God released him by death. But all that time David had contrition together with faith.” So it is just a keener experience of repentance. But the same need for the preaching of the law, the crushing of the law, etc.

    George writes, “If I were to quote only those writers with whom I do not disagree somewhere, I would only be able to quote Scripture. I am sure even you disagree with some of what Luther wrote.”
    No, George, you are treating the writings of Walther as if he actually is contradicting himself in support of what you are saying, even when he will write a thesis speaking directly to the topic of Mortal and Venial Sin. (Cf Thesis XVIII and XIX) The point I am making is that you are treating Walther like he is oblivious to the inconsistency of what he is saying. That is something, again, that you will have to prove and certainly with better evidence than that you have offered so far.

    George writes, “You see, when you speak of an “amount” and “kind” of contrition, how can the troubled soul ever be certain that they have met those conditions and that their sins are actually forgiven – I am speaking here of those who are already members of the Kingdom of God? The same thing is true of “real” faith and “real” repentance. It seems our Lord was not overly concerned with that, because He simply told us to pray, “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

    You do not seem to know the context of the conversation well enough to understand that I was telling you what the thesis was speaking against, not contradicting what the thesis was saying. I am asking you to take a closer look at what the issue is and recognize that you are not properly understanding the content of the thesis. Walther is not saying that there are two kinds of repentance, but that David was not asked to express a certain amount or kind of repentance. David, after he was restored to faith, expressed a “keener experience” of repentance, but it is the same repentance that all have. Walther goes on, in that quote to make this very point. I think you need to read the text without trying to use Walther to prove something that he clearly speaks against.

    Kurt was a treasure of the church.

    Take care George

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