The world can’t be upside down forever? Where will people go when they get sick of having their hand held while they kill themselves? Probably not to the people who were holding their hands or doing something other than vigorously warning them.
A young Feminazi mother has the satanic idea of posting on the Internet material (allegedly) concerning the murder of her own baby.
The horror finds an echo on pro-life sites, and as a result the young she-Himmler starts to receive emails of various kind; many of them, no doubt, explaining to her in detail what kind of person she is, and whereto she is headed. These she calls “hate mails” and up to here, we can call this ordinary liberal madness.
Where the liberal madness becomes extraordinary is in the following affirmation of the young Nazi murderer, here given in the context of the interview. Emphases mine:
She noted the content of numerous “hate” e-mails was some variant of the message: “Maybe you do not know God or that abortion is a sin? Praying for you!”
“Even hearing that someone is ‘praying for me,’…
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…There can be no better government for this world than the devil’s, or instead of the devil’s, the government of the Pope. For this is what the world wants. What the devil wants goes forth and mightily prospers; what God wants both in the spiritual and worldly government, never succeeds without innumerable hindrances…
Luther, Church Postil, 2nd Sunday after Trinity, 48
Why does the world love the devil and the Pope? According to Luther, because the world loves success and glory and splendor.
On the other hand, God’s will “never succeeds” without being constantly interfered with, hassled, etc.
Well, hardly a Sunday goes by, and certainly not a council meeting, where someone doesn’t talk about how large our congregation once was, how it’s “dying” now, and how we are losing all the “good givers” (i.e. they are dying, or the pastor is driving them off) and we aren’t getting new ones.
Oh, if only we could go back to Egypt, where the pews were full, and we sang Amazing Grace every week, and the pastor’s sermons were 4 minutes long because he understood that we knew everything already!
But now this guy keeps talking about Christ crucified, making us sing Lutheran hymns, and interrupting donut time with the small catechism! and if he keeps that up nobody’s going to want to come here!
Beloved God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! We pray You: visit us once again with all Your wonderful works, and let us see the day of the coming of the glory of Your Son, when that joker, the Antichrist, who is the man of sin and the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2: 3-4), will be overthrown and smashed to pieces. Bring to an end the massive deception of the devil, through which, sadly, at each moment many thousand souls perish and are dragged into hell, only for this reason—that the [adherents of the Pope] want to preserve the tyranny of the detestable and apostate (that is, [Christ-] renouncing] chair in Rome in its essential nature [as the seat within God’s temple in which man exalts himself above God—2 Thessalonians 2:4]. To this the whole world says, Amen, Amen. Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Evangelische Lutherischer Gebets-Schatz.
*Praying against the Pope as the antichrist is not an indication of hatred toward Roman Catholics. Jeremiah and the other prophets of Israel lambasted their people and especially their priests and rulers who led them into idolatry and other false teaching. They were accused of hating their own people, just as Jesus was when He condemned the chief priests and prophesied the desolation of Jerusalem.
It is impossible to really love people and at the same time be dedicated to not having people get angry with you. It’s also impossible to love people and refuse to face the truth and then tell the truth. The pure doctrine of Christ is about to be lost to our children because Lutherans (and protestants generally) have been deceived into thinking that the certainty of faith–and the confession of the truth that must follow true faith–is arrogance. We are not called to be arrogant. But we are called to be certain of God’s Word and to confess it and teach it not only in our own homes and congregations but before the great people of the world.
- Prayer for the Church and Against her Enemies – Luther. (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- Martin Luther’s Ambassador: An Unclean Frog Spirit (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- Dispensationalism (12160.info)
- The Facts About the Antichrist (donizzyreal.wordpress.com)
- St. Francis of Assisi Prophesies of the Beast (gofishministries.wordpress.com)
- Ghp – 09june12 – “You have heard that Antichrist cometh” (1 John 2:18); “This is Antichrist, (is that why the bird came to me in temple / i told the minister and went to the box) of whom you have heard that he cometh” but this is the son of the living g’d (godheadpost.wordpress.com)
- Justifying Our Way to Hell (loopyloo305.com)
- Many will be Offended (meshawnsenior.wordpress.com)
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. Revelation 16:13-15
So….the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) has created a new office of “ambassador”…and it appears that one of the chief tasks of the ambassador will be to practice diplomacy on behalf of Martin Luther to the postmodern west. God knows, Luther would really need it, were he living. He would have many things to say, but I can only imagine what he would say at the thought of a lady in preaching tabs trying to salvage his legacy by saying, “In spite of his hatred of Jews, his support of the slaughter of the proletariat during the Peasant’s Revolt, and his backward attitude towards women, he’s still a role model.” (Yes, that’s what she said. Use google translate and you’ll get the gist of it. http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/luther-botschafterin-margot-kaessmanns-thesenanschlag-11731642.html )
Oh, and did I mention this was the lady who resigned as chairperson of the EKD a couple of years ago after she was arrested for driving while falling-down drunk?
Yep. Margot Kaessmann. The writer of the article, it appears (with my limited German), is decrying the hypocrisy of the EKD in creating the new office for the woman who recently resigned. He notes the irony of a priestess who serves at the altar of the gods of modern, tolerant, multicultural europe–and, considering her disgrace, the service of those idols has not been unprofitable for her–now serving as ambassador for the man who said, “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”–and went on to live the rest of his life under a death sentence. And what was his crime? Fidelity to Christ crucified, to the Triune God. Standing by faith on the Scripture as God’s Word, not taking refuge in the authority of the Pope or the Magisterium or the councils or the Fathers, but clinging to Scripture against his conscience and the devil, against the terror of hell, and against all the power of the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor. Luther risked his life and his soul to believe and confess and teach that a man is justified by faith alone without works of law (Rom. 3:28).
The first and chief article is this, That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification, Rom. 4,25. And He alone is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world, John 1, 29; and God has laid upon Him the iniquities of us all, Is. 53, 6. Likewise: All have sinned and are justified without merit by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood, Rom. 3, 23 f.
Now since it is necessary to believe this, and it cannot be otherwise acquired or apprehended by any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us…
Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered [nor can anything be granted or permitted contrary to the same], even though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should sink into ruin. For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, says Peter, Acts 4:12…And upon this article all things depend which we teach and practise in opposition to the Pope. the devil, and the whole world. Therefore, we must be sure concerning this doctrine, and not doubt; for otherwise all is lost, and the Pope and the devil and all things gain the victory and suit over us.
Yes. And what has Margot Kaessmann risked for her gospel? That is to say, her priestly service at the altars of feminism, tolerance, political correctness, and the other regnant gods in the west?
Well, she got hammered and resigned, and has kept busy with gigs teaching theology. And now she’s Luther’s ambassador at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Now, God bless Ms. Kaessmann and be merciful to her. I have no pleasure in her being disgraced in public and struggling with alcohol and the attendant personal pain she’s no doubt has. If I was anybody famous, it could be me whose name was on the front pages in 2010. I sin, and even if I’m not getting drunk and driving today, it would not be surprising if I fell into sin.
However, making her the ambassador for the Reformation is ludicrous.
First of all, even people who don’t care about Christianity at all can see the lack of dignity in this. Apparently this is a trait of German pseudo Lutherans as well as American ones. The lady suffered public disgrace, and now you make her the spokesman for the Reformation on its 500th anniversary? Are you kidding? Christians are supposed to endure disgrace–that’s the theology of the cross. But the theology of the cross does not invite you to disgrace yourself by sin and then parade it in front of the world and say you’re glorying in the cross. “If you sin and suffer for it, what credit is that to you? But if you do good and suffer patiently, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you were called, because Christ also left you an example, that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was any deceit found in His mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.” (1 Peter 2)
That’s number 1. Number 2: Luther’s “Ambassador” is actually obscuring what Luther preached and what the Reformation was about. The thesenanschlag (I learned a new word today)–what we Americans refer to as the “nailing of the 95 theses”–turned the world upside down. What was such a big deal about it? Was it that, since we’re justified by faith alone apart from works, we no longer have to worry about sin? That was what the papists smeared the Lutherans with at the time of the reformation–that the doctrine of justification taught by Luther would lead to moral laxity and would undermine social order. There would no longer be clergy and laity, public worship would become anarchic and undignified, etc.
Well, what the Papists smeared Lutherans with, claiming it was their teaching,now actually is the teaching of mainline Lutherans–or rather, those churches that still call themselves Lutheran even though they have given up the Lutheran confession and united with the reformed. Actually now the Lutherans think that the doctrine of justification means, as Bonhoeffer said, “the justification of sin instead of the justification of the sinner.”
Unfortunately, what this means for Luther’s memory, those who want to still believe and confess his doctrine, and the witness of the Reformation is that on the 500th anniversary of the 95 theses being nailed to the Wittenberg door, the world will be receiving a false witness concerning Luther, the Gospel, and the Reformation.
Why did the Reformation happen? It happened because the Holy Spirit saw fit to restore the Church at that time and place, ultimately; but it didn’t happen to make it safe to sin, nor to undermine the Pope’s political authority. Those were, perhaps, effects of the Reformation, but not its reason.
The Reformation occurred because the Word of God was proclaimed, which declares not that sin is no big deal, but instead that it is an incredibly big deal, so big that God will not allow the smallest sinful impulse to go unpunished, but in His justice He will reward with His undiluted wrath all ungodliness, and that no amount of human striving can free us from this wrath. This was the first part of Reformation preaching, which made clear what the Law of God actually says–that no amount of human activity can deliver us from God’s wrath, because God is just.
But the second part changed Luther, and Germany, and Scandinavia, and broke the Pope’s chokehold on France and the low countries and Britain; it made it so that the Americas and Africa were also not locked up in the darkness of a false gospel with no light permitted to enter (at least, not by the church’s hierarchy), as Europe had been.
That was the Gospel–that on account of Christ’s agony and death, God counts as righteous all who believe that they are received into favor for Jesus’ sake. God has laid the sins of the world and His inescapable wrath on His Son, and through Him declares the full forgiveness of sins–and we receive this grace of Christ not by working and striving, but as a gift, when we believe what the Gospel declares–that He suffered for us and our sins are forgiven on account of His blood.
This good news doesn’t free us to live immoral lives, because no one who believes that their sins have been forgiven at the cost of the suffering of God’s own son, and who believes in the great, passionate love that Christ has for him–no one who believes that wants to go out and purposely trample on Jesus’ blood and crucify Him again.
That’s why Luther, later on in the reformation, fought vigorously against Lutheran preachers who eradicated the law from their preaching, saying that the law should no longer be preached, but only the love of Christ, and that people should be moved to repentance not by God’s threats but by the love of Christ revealed on the cross.
What Luther fought against–antinomianism–is now going to be paraded about in 2017 as Luther’s gospel. That’s what makes this whole thing a frightening blasphemy, bordering on blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Let me close by painting a picture in broad strokes:
What is left of Christianity in the West in 2012? Rome.
The heirs of revivalists and pietists–but they are floundering, trying to find something more substantial to stand on than emotion and evangelistic zeal and appropriation of American consumer culture. Sadly, when they start floundering, they usually find Calvin–and through him some connection with the church fathers and with sola gratia and sola fide. But Calvin is not the pure gospel. Perhaps he’s an improvement on Arminianism–but it was the flaws of Calvinism that led to the spread of Arminian theology in America anyway. If your assurance of salvation is located in your sanctification, or your experience of the new birth–no wonder if tormented sinners who have no assurance that they are elect look for comfort in the idea that they can choose to be saved.
The vast majority of the rest of protestantism is looking increasingly like Unitarian Universalism. There are some confessional Calvinist enclaves. There are also some confessional Lutheran enclaves, but either we don’t get out much, or we still don’t speak English well. One way or the other the Lutheran Confession–the pure Gospel, the authentic evangelicalism–is mostly unknown as a living faith and a living church. To many people it’s just one more religious movement whose dogmas are locked away in old books in libraries that only experts and scholars visits. To most people it’s simply unknown.
So what happens when, in 1 or 2 or 3, or 5 generations the West’s moral rot finally leads to cultural exhaustion?
We can’t be that far from that now. Human beings can’t fornicate and sodomize and look for heaven in food and consumer products thforever. Eventually cultures like ours that believe in nothing don’t have the energy or the heart to fight the barbarians. They end up convincing themselves that even though the barbarians rape, murder their children, enslave, and plunder, it’s probably bigoted of us to think our values are better than theirs.
But the kids who grow up seeing society fall apart and who lose their birthright have a different outlook. They have forced upon their consciousness things that their parents really knew but convinced themselves that they didn’t–things like–you can’t just sleep with whoever you want, because without stable families and without ordered relationships between the sexes, society crumbles. Things like: there is a moral law, and it’s not forever unclear and uncertain. And the reason there’s a moral law is that there is a God who created the earth and who cares whether or not we live according to the law.
Kids who watch society collapse suddenly have to get honest about these things that we already knew. And when they do, religion won’t seem foolish to them–unless it’s the kind of religion that lied to them and their parents and never bothered to tell them that God hates sin and punishes it in this world and the next, and that He brings judgment on nations that become sclerotic in their rebellion against Him and His law.
Nope, they won’t listen to lying “Lutheran” preachers, and they probably won’t listen to any Christians who even seem similar. They’ll probably be so disgusted with the lying preachers who did not sound the alarm and tell the truth that they won’t want anything to do with the real Luther either.
And that will leave…Rome. Or Islam.
So anyone who wants Jesus but knows that antinomianism is a lie will be all set up for Rome. And people will have forgotten why the Reformation happened.
That’s why it’s not just ironic or sad that this is what the EKD is doing to celebrate the Reformation. But it is in reality a fulfillment of the words of St. John’s Revelation quoted above.
The dragon (the devil), the beast (the Roman empire, or its descendants), and the false prophet (the Antichrist) have unclean spirits come out of their mouths, and they go out to deceive the nations and the kings of the earth, and gather everyone together for the battle against Christ. That is what is happening when the world is deceived into rejecting the Gospel.
Right now we think the worst thing that’s happening is the dechristianization of the west. It’s true that when the communists in Russia and China killed and imprisoned Christians and made the church go underground, that was the work of antichrist. And in those countries where Islam beat the church into submission, not allowing them to proclaim the Gospel to their neighbors–that was also the work of the spirit of antichrist. And now, to have the state churches of Christendom apostasize, and formerly Christian nations willingly living like atheists–that is also a very bad thing.
But there is something worse. Much worse. That is what the Reformation was about.
Worst is when you have a whole continent where the Church is everywhere, where images of Christ crucified are everywhere, where the Holy Trinity is confessed and people are baptized and the Scriptures are read and Christ’s body and blood is even eaten and drunk–but the Gospel is hidden; the saving knowledge of Christ is not preached, and if anyone tries to preach it they are killed and branded an enemy of Jesus.
In that case, the devil’s false prophet has taken his seat in the temple of God, in the Holy Place, and has proclaimed himself God, arrogating to himself the right to contradict God’s Word and displace Christ as the head of the Church.
That is what the antichrist does–and Luther knew who the antichrist was. If the antichrist went into a Jewish temple or simply attacked the church from outside it would be easy to recognize him. What is so awful about the real antichrist is that he looks like a Christian.
Rome is shaping up to look like the only ones who have managed to hold the fort on the only things unbelievers are able to grasp–that is, morality. Note how when the ELCA permitted union with the reformed, or tolerated those who denied the virgin birth or the resurrection of Jesus or the atonement, there was no huge vote and the church didn’t split. What made the church split? Homosexuality. Unbelievers can tolerate idolatry and waffling on Christian doctrine (I’m not saying that all ELCA folk are unbelievers…what I am saying is that the majority of people in most denominations are weak in faith and usually still think according to the wisdom of the flesh, which does not understand why faith in Christ is important but does understand works.) But even unbelievers know that if there’s one place a line should be drawn in the church, even if we give up all the others, it’s probably homosexuality. Didn’t God send fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah?
So the Lutherans are the ones who are okay with homosexuality. But the Catholics? They publicly have held the line there–and about abortion, contraception. They end up looking far more Christian than mainline protestants.
But the problem is that the catholic church, which emphasizes holiness and proclaims the mystery of the incarnation and death of the Son of God with more awareness of its depths than the Lutherans–denies Christ by making Him a lawgiver but not our only righteousness, our only mediator.
That is why Luther knew the Pope was the antichrist. Because from the very heart of the church of God and looking like a lamb, the papacy enslaves and murders souls.
In Luther’s day the Pope ruled the whole of western Christendom. But for the last five hundred years his total control has been broken. Even though in reformed nations a perverted form of the Gospel was preached, the deception that the pope was the head of the Church by divine right was broken over about half of Europe–and then in the US, and through protestant missionaries a Christian church independent of the antichrist spread throughout the world.
And as a result, many of the things that the antichrist “prophesied” came true. Popes prophesied that the doctrine of justification and the loss of the papacy would lead to lawlessness. They were right. If the pope still dominated the consciences of the west, Hitler would never have happened. Communism wouldn’t have happened. The kings might have grappled with the Pope, as they did throughout medieval history…but they couldn’t get free of him, even if they wanted to, because if the pope put the country under the interdict the king could be certain that he would lose his throne. That’s what happened when people feared the pope’s authority and believed that he had absolute authority over the church (and the authority to command kings and to release their subjects from obedience to them).
If the papacy had remained unchallenged, we wouldn’t have seen the “secularization” of the west either. Because the pope enforced outward submission to the Church by force. When that compulsion was broken–just as he predicted–many people now used the freedom as an opportunity to be the godless people they already were in their hearts.
The problem is that the pope’s compulsion was not the Kingdom of Christ. Because Christ does not make people behave by force. In His Kingdom people become obedient and live holy lives because they are willing, because they are new creatures, and the Holy Spirit compels them to do good works and to resist sin.
So yes, when the Gospel was preached and it broke the Pope’s chokehold on Christendom, it also freed people to be godless and to reject Christ. But it was worse under the papacy. Because then, in the name of Christ, people were forced to give a certain outward allegiance to Christ. But at the same time they were kept from Christ and Christ was kept from them. Because the pope condemned to earthly death anyone who preached the good news of Jesus as written in Scripture, and he threatened anyone who departed from his authority with damnation.
Have you ever noticed how so many people who are lifelong catholics–who may barely practice it at all, or who may be disgusted with it, or who may have embraced some form of protestant theology–how hard it is for them to leave Rome? It’s because just about anything can be permitted in the realm of antichrist–except rejecting the authority of the antichrist and what he calls the “church”.
The lying spirits in protestantism don’t look like fools because they’re all stupid. The devil makes sport of them. He enjoys this because he is still angry that the Gospel arose and dealt a mortal wound to the antichrist’s kingdom, so it’s fun for him to make a joke out of those who bear the name of Luther. But more importantly this mockery and apostasy within protestantism prepares people to be deceived by the antichrist.
May God have mercy on all pastors who have departed from the Gospel; on the EKD and Ms. Kaessmann, and on all those who are presently deceived by lying pastors or a false gospel, or who are imprisoned by the antichrist. And to spite the devil and for the sake of His mercy, may Christ grant again that His pure Gospel be heard loudly and clearly and unmistakeably throughout the world once more before He comes to judge the living and the dead.
“I find nothing that promotes work better than angry fervor. For when I wish to compose, write, pray and preach well, I must be angry. It refreshes my entire system, my mind is sharpened, and all unpleasant thoughts and depression fade away.”
–Martin Luther, Off the Record With Martin Luther: An Original Translation of the Table Talks, trans. and ed. Charles Daudert (Kalamazoo, MI: Hansa-Hewlett, 2009), entry no. 2410b, p. 110.
- Is This The End Result of Protestantism? (frstephensmuts.wordpress.com)
- Luther Said the Darndest Things… (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Martin Luther (lettersfromthetop.wordpress.com)
- Forgotten influence of Martin Luther (savouringthegospel.wordpress.com)
- Feel the wrath of the reformer: The Martin Luther insult generator (holykaw.alltop.com)
- Observations about Martin Luther (fromchicago.wordpress.com)
I was just reading a piece by [an LCMS pastor]….I can’t remember if I talked with you about his essay on repenting of the reformation.
I’m so saddened by that essay and another one which recounts Benedict’s praise of Luther. Anyone who knows anything should recognize that the Pope’s version of Luther is clearly inadequate. I know… the “best construction” of the Pope’s praise of Luther would be to say that although he knew that he was skirting the actual controversy between Rome and the Church of the Augsburg Confession, the pope wanted to try to speak well of Luther as much as possible. But whatever the Pope’s intention, the quotation of him as we have it is simply deceptive, to anyone who may not fully grasp what Luther’s dispute with Rome was.
If I was Pres. of the LCMS, and I started quoting positive things out of Robert Bellarmine without plainly stating that we continue to reject as heresy the central thrust of his theology, that would be dishonest. It would be the kind of thing you would expect from an antichrist. By doing that, I would mislead the people in the LCMS, as though Bellarmine was a trustworthy theologian. (He was not. But the story is he had great compassion for lice…., even as he served the antichrist in his murder of souls.) And if I was trying to entice the Pope to join the LCMS, honesty would require that I tell the Pope plainly what we teach and confess.
But the spirit of antichrist doesn’t care whether Roman Catholics get the idea that the Pope is saying that now Luther isn’t so bad. The spirit of antichrist knows that Roman Catholics are not going to leave the pope, by and large, and that they’re not going to run out and start reading Luther. It knows that catholics, like nearly all church members in the first world, consider distinctions between denominations archaic and intolerant. Rome is with the times while at the same time appearing to be hopelessly behind the times to full-blown secularists. It manages to modernize in such a way as to attract intellectuals while at the same time seeming like a bastion of traditionalism, appealing to the knowledge of the decalogue that is inscribed in people’s hearts. Rome can do this because, despite its emphasis on the sacrifice of the eucharist, it remains at heart a religion of law, free will, and self-deification. So embracing Luther is no different than embracing any other religious celebrity, as long as Luther is not allowed to be Lutheran–as long as he’s just one more guy who says that we should do good works if we want to please God.
I’m saddened and concerned, first of all because X is still attending N’s former congregation. And the senior pastor there used to preach law and Gospel. He was Lutheran. He’s a brilliant man, talented, and so on, and it’s impossible to imagine that he came under the influence of any of the personalities associated with this kind of teaching. But the congregation changed; his preaching changed, the sorts of stuff he teaches changed. In 2000 X sent me a Book of Concord that she bought at [congregation]. Now I go over to their house and see they’re doing taize for advent and for the last few years the kinds of books they’re reading are NT Wright and I don’t know what else.
So in my opinion the time is long past that the LCMS confessional pastors stop keeping silent about the romanizing we tolerate rather than possibly wound an ally. I have to listen to all my members who don’t like chanting and closed communion and private confession tell me I’m too catholic because of Fort Wayne.
But they have a point. Fort Wayne has harbored romanizing; not just some of the tendencies of some of the […] people, but clearly this paper by N. And P’s paper, while perhaps not saying anything heretical, seemed an absurd topic for a confessional Lutheran exegete. Z’s reading of …seems to present real problems if you want to try to harmonize it with the Formula on Law and Gospel… Maybe he’s right. But in that case, don’t read the Church Postil; Luther is continually saying, don’t make Jesus into Moses or a hangman. That could be another reason Z dislikes the historic lectionary.
There has been a legitimate renewal of confessional theology in the LCMS that went along with a renewed appreciation of the liturgy. This renewal was labeled “Roman” by people who had been raised with TLH–spoken–and “Lift High The Cross.” Also the liturgy became a main battleground within the LCMS, and many of us who had been burned by evangelicalism (or LCMS aping thereof) become hostile and bitter toward anything that sounded vaguely evangelical. This was not renewal, but simply hatred.
So now what happens? For so long if you were liturgical, that was pretty much good enough to be on “our side.” Then you start getting various high church guys questioning whether the Pope is really the antichrist. After all, the Pope doesn’t throw unwashed plastic individual cups with drops of Jesus’ blood in the trash. Only people in the LCMS do that. The lack of reverent handling of the reliquiae becomes a mark of the antichrist, and by that standard, the LCMS is more the antichrist than Rome. And so a hatred of the laypeople also was coddled among some pastors, for being sublutheran. While the criticisms are real, the reaction among many of us was not from the Holy Spirit but from the flesh. Hatred of the people to whom Christ called us to be shepherds? How could we tolerate that among ourselves?
But where did we get the idea that suppression of the Gospel is the same as irreverent handling of the sacrament? The antichrist is the antichrist because he is in the church and claims to be a shepherd while exalting himself and his word over Christ and His. A person who does not believe the Gospel or who in ignorance desecrates the sacrament, while guilty, is not the antichrist. The antichrist inserts human merit into the Gospel and claims divine prerogative to silence Christ’s voice in the church–that is, the preaching of the forgiveness of sins on account of his blood. Now how one handles the sacrament matters more than the preaching or the confession of the church? That kind of theology bears the marks of antichrist far more than sinful handling of the reliquiae. When LCMS congregations throw individual cups with consecrated wine in the trash, they sin against the sacrament, they make a bad confession; if someone wants to say they desecrate the blood of Christ I won’t disagree (although the idea that “sacramental action” really means you can lock up consecrated elements in a tabernacle and as long as at some point in the future you have a vague plan of receiving them they are Christ’s body and blood forever–how that got to be the “confessional” view I have no idea, since Rome also eats the hosts it displays in monstrances–eventually)–but they don’t suppress the gospel by doing so. The benefit of the sacrament of the altar is received through faith in Christ’s words instituting the sacrament along with the bodily eating and drinking. It has nothing to do with outward displays of reverence. Throwing unwashed, used plastic individual cups in the trash because of a mistaken receptionistic theory, or just out of ignorance, is nowhere near as big a profanation of the Sacrament as turning Christ’s testament into our offering to God.
Also Walther became someone to laugh about, even among first year seminarians who could barely write their names. The LCMS is better today than in Walther’s day; we have the Sacrament of the Altar more often, and more children younger than 14 commune–I heard this from a pastor I often agree with. More recently I’ve started asking myself–that, really, is orthodoxy? If so, then Rome has always been better than the LCMS!
Somewhere we forgot that the Pope is the antichrist, not evangelicalism, as much damage as evangelicalism has caused us. Now the real Romanizing among the confessional Lutherans in the LCMS is going to bring the authentic theology and practice of Lutheran orthodoxy into disrepute so that many laypeople continue to run away from it and think that the LCMS megachurches represent something more like what they were taught growing up–after all, at least the megachurches don’t teach or behave as if the true worship of God was a matter of ceremonial.
I think it’s going to be painful if we don’t clearly address this. There are Roman tendencies among us that must be addressed for the sake of the Gospel. Otherwise we sacrifice our confession to expediency or friendship. It also remains important to preach clearly against Rome, which we have stopped doing. It is still the antichrist, and these days it looks like the good guy to whatever real Christians are actually left in mainline denoms because they still stand against homosexuality and abortion.
Heck, in Illinois, Catholic Charities shut down rather than place children with homosexual households. Our LCFS has capitulated to Caesar. Kyrie eleison!
In my congregation I would be surprised if 20 percent of the members on an average Sunday could tell you all ten commandments, let alone tell you the answers to Luther’s questions on any of the chief six parts of the catechism. The vast majority figure Christianity is Christianity and doctrine is generally not something to worry too much about. This makes people ripe for evangelicalism–but it also works really well with modern Rome, which is well-positioned to present itself as the true church of Christ as protestantism dies out and as people become so apathetic that they don’t even remember why it started in the first place. Other than the sacraments and the liturgy, really how different are Rome and Evangelicalism? In both cases what matters to them is inner renewal, union with Christ, holy living. If people don’t like to hear about true and false doctrine–and they don’t–and all that really matters in the end is the transformation and renewal that proceeds from union with Christ, eventually people won’t be able to remember why evangelicalism can’t be absorbed into the church of the antichrist. After all, doesn’t Jesus want us to be one? Besides, the Catholic Church is vastly superior to evangelicalism in every way. Everyone would rather be in a church with a real intellectual tradition, with claims to be the direct descendants of the apostles, wouldn’t they? Consumerist warehouse looking buildings continually playing “praise and worship” music that will be dated in three years can’t last forever, but Rome claims that it will.
And increasingly, it’s hard to tell the difference between Rome and Evangelicalism in the sense that you have a latitude regarding what you believe; you just can’t clearly and unequivocally teach that we are justified by faith alone apart from the deeds of the Law.
That’s why we need to start preaching against Rome again. They may not be engaging in polemics against us anymore, and they no longer say “we are the true church, and outside of us is only damnation.” But otherwise there will not be a clear voice teaching the doctrine on which the church stands or falls–that we are not justified by works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ.
This needs to be preached for the sake of those Catholics who are under the law and have never heard the Gospel clearly; and for the sake of young Lutherans who face a future in which protestantism will be dead and Confessional Lutherans are an inconsequential, tiny minority.
Already you have to ask yourself how many of the young Lutherans have fallen into an opposite error? We’ve taught people how important the liturgy is as a way of avoiding the LCMS megachurches. But how many people get that ceremonies and liturgy really are not of themselves worship, since that is only faith in Christ in the heart?
I meet Catholics regularly who love to hear Lutheran sermons but who remain in the desmesne of antichrist. Do we do them a favor by not regularly pointing out how Rome suppresses the Gospel? If the pope really is the antichrist, who are we really serving when we don’t make that clear to our people? Not them, because doctrinal indifferentism is really works righteousness. They are learning from us that it isn’t a matter of vital importance if a church formally or implicitly teaches that we are justified by works of the law.
Not our “separated brethren” in Rome or elsewhere. If they’re under the sway of the antichrist, or in danger of it (like evangelicalism), the one really loving thing confessional Lutherans could do is preach the true Gospel of Christ, and point out Rome’s falsification of it. What matters most is not whether I like the worship service (either high or low), but how I am saved. This of course requires preaching of the law to a nation and church people who are almost incurably blind to the depth of their sins because they simply are ignorant of the Bible and do not know His commandments nor the many examples in Scripture of His terrible wrath. But even though that’s hard–where else is the Gospel going to be heard? Among the evangelicals the old emphasis on union with Christ is paired with a doctrinal indiffernce and a desire to be tolerant; they definitely don’t want to be looked at, for the most part, as old, anti-Catholic fundies.
The most ecumenical thing Lutherans can do is clearly show the wrath of God which the law pronounces on the ungodly and the self-satisfied, and the pure Gospel of Christ that does not make demands but presents Christ crucified as God’s free gift–the fulfillment of the law. If Lutherans are serious about ecumenism they should show clearly how the teaching in the churches increasingly denies the true Gospel, and warn people that the false gospel of Rome and the grave errors of evangelicalism are damning–one cannot trust simultaneously in Christ and one’s renewal and be saved; trust in renewal, a feeling of conversion, the saints or the blessed virgin as intercessors, or one’s mortifications–they are all idolatry. Trust in them must be renounced if we are to be saved; none of them are the Mediator. So true ecumenism would mean exposing the antichrist. It’s true that is unpleasant, and many people that you care about will be greatly offended and hate you, but how can we claim to love them and not be willing to bear that?
For the sake of witness to the Gospel, the LCMS confessionals have to get ahold of themselves, love the Gospel more than their friends and more than successful politics, and more than their hatred of evangelicalism; we should privately, where possible, show other pastors how certain tendencies among us which we tend to adopt uncritically are contrary to the confessions and Lutheran orthodoxy, and finally publicly condemn and separate from “confessionalism” that does not know how to distinguish law from gospel (and makes fun of this especially brilliant light without which the Scripture cannot be understood), or which consistently speaks as though reverent (or hyperreverent) outward behavior should be considered worship of God, or that the commandments of men are the worship of God, or which sneakily tries to conflate the mystical union with justification, or which gives the appearance that the religion of Rome is not repugnant to us, since it continues to dress like a lamb but speak like a dragon, anathematizing the Gospel of the substitutionary death of Christ, received by faith alone, or which cannot clearly confess that while there are indeed many antichrists in the world, an orthodox teacher cannot pretend that THE man of sin, as described by the apostles, is no worse than the other antichrists in the world and probably actually much better.
Not being able to say clearly that the pope remains the very antichrist as much today as in 1530 shows a weak or defective grasp of the doctrine of justification.
May Christ remain among us and continue to injure the antichrist through the pure preaching of His word.
Those Lutherans who realize what they have received know well the adversaries who are anxious to tear the precious possession from them, know the dangers that threaten them and their church. If pure doctrine is confessed and is indigenous to a given locale, it is due to God’s pure grace. It is God who by grace proffers true doctrine and knowledge. And what he grants us by grace, he wants also to preserve for us by grace. If pure doctrine disappears from a locale where it is indigenous it is man’s fault. . . . And, of course, it is man’s ingratitude that causes them to lose God’s gift. The gravest danger we have to fear is ingratitude.
George Stoeckhardt, quoted in “Karl Georg Stoeckhardt: His life and labor to preserve Walther’s legacy” by Dan Woodring
We are working with and among a people whom eagles are circling, ringed in by a church that is ripe for judgment. Yes, divine judgment has already made its beginning in the house of God. Growing delusion and obduracy are the surest indications of the approaching end, at least the end and downfall of the Gospel in our country. . . . . The Church has the calling and capability of saving the lost, of curing corruption. It is not deterring judgment but is rather accelerating the same, for it glosses over, adorns, and promotes the sin that is sending people to ruin.
George Stoeckhardt, quoted in “Karl Georg Stoeckhardt: His Life and Labor to Preserve Walther’s Legacy”, by Dan Woodring*
*Yes, he became a papist, and yes, if he ever sees this he will gnash his teeth and slander Christ, the Gospel, and faithful teachers of the church. This should probably serve as a warning for Lutheran pastors with a high view of the liturgy and the sacrament of the altar.
But the point is the quote, which is true of the United States and the churches in it….and the Missouri Synod should rouse itself before its sclerosis becomes irreversible.