Saturday, May 16, 2009

Martin Luther's "Concerning Councils"

"My friends, the Antinomians preach exceedingly well-- and I cannot but believe that they do so with great earnestness-- concerning the mercy of Christ, forgiveness of sin, and other contents of the article of redemption. But they flee from this inference as from the devil, that they must tell people about the Third Article, of sanctification, that is, of the new life in Christ. For they hold that we must not terrify people and make them sorrowful, but must always preach to them the comfort of grace of Christ and the forgiveness of sin. They tell us to avoid, for God's sake, such statements as these: 'Listen you want to be a Christian while you are an adulterer, a fornicator, a swill-belly, full of pride, avarice, usurious practices, envy, revenge, malice, etc., and mean to continue in these sins?' On the contrary, they tell us that this is the proper way to speak: 'Listen, you are an adulterer, fornicator, miser, or addicted to some other sin. Now if you will only believe, you are saved and need not dread the Law, for Christ has fulfilled all.' Tell me, prithee, does not this amount to conceding the premise and denying the conclusion? Verily, it amounts to this, that Christ is taken away and made worthless in the same breath with which He is most highly extolled."

--Martin Luther, Concerning Councils, as quoted in Walther's Law and Gospel.

Everyone's got something they are Antinomian about.

If you'll notice above, I have highlighted and colored various sins in the above lists that caught my eye. Christianity seems to be divided into camps where one is against the red sins: adultery, fornication, chemical revelry, on one hand and the blue sins: miserliness, avarice, usurious practices on the other. It's hard to find someone whose witness to Christ has a balanced approach to all of these sins. On one hand, I've met some conservatives on the internet or listened to sermons of LC-MS pastors who seem to have a wonderful grasp of confessional Lutheran doctrine when the sins are red ones. But mention the blue items as something for which we are all worthy of reproof, and they start calling you a heterodox liberal-Protestant, say that you will "offend the Christ in them," etc.. On the other hand, I've seen some other Christians engage in a tireless campaign against the violations of human decency found in those blue sins. But they seem to bend over backwards to find any basis for their campaign as long as the source is something other than confessional Lutheranism and the sin-death-cross-repentance story in scripture.

I call this controversy in Christianity the Humanitarian Question.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Some good observations. "usurious practices" would refer, I'm guessing, to the lending of money at a profit. Curiously enough, I've been studying through Matt 5 and Christ's various teachings on giving...without expectation of return... and there's a valuable lesson there. Plus it helps amplify to me personally the evil that is Citicards... :)