I Loved “The Artist” because Jesus Made It

Well, technically, Jesus was not the director, producer, or screen writer. But he is the creator of all things and he did produce the remarkably clever creators of “The Artist.” It is particularly good at evoking the early period of Hollywood — the time of the silents — and how radical the shift was to talkies. At the same time, it shows how charming those silent films were, even in suggesting the genre may have life in it still.

The reason for bringing Jesus into my enjoyment of “The Artist” is simply to remind the those who want Christian piety to be always visible and earnest that the joy — see, I can say it — that believers experience at the movies need not be in competition with their trust in Christ or desire to glorify him. John Piper has a post about Christians who take more pleasure than they should in movies:

What should you do if you know someone who seems to be more excited about movies than Jesus?

Many professing Christians give little evidence of valuing Jesus more than the latest movie they have seen. Or the latest clothing they bought. Or the latest app they downloaded. Or the latest game they watched. Something is amiss.

We are not God and cannot judge with certainty and precision what’s wrong. There is a glitch somewhere. Perhaps a blindness going in, a spiritual deadness at heart, or a blockage coming out. Or some combination. Christ doesn’t appear supremely valuable. Or isn’t felt as supremely valuable. Or can’t be spoken of as supremely valuable. Or some combination.

One important weakness in Piper’s point is that he begins with the word, “seems.” The great problem with the piety he promotes is that none of us can see into the heart so that every display of piety, from raised hands and psalm singing to sermon listening and eating the bread of the Lord’s Supper, only seems to be indicative of an inward reality. The joy that members of Bethlehem Baptist exude is not inherently more reliable a guide to genuine devotion than the Orthodox Presbyterian who memorizes the catechism.

But the bigger problem is that Piper does not seem to acknowledge that joy may take different forms. I was incredibly happy when the Phillies won in 2008. I was feeling much more energized that October night than any time I have left a church service. Did that indicate that I took more joy from the Phillies than I do from Christ? Maybe, and if I continue to wear my Brad Lidge long-sleeve T-shirt to worship the elders may need to pay a visit. But sometimes ephemeral pleasures produce intense experiences of joy. Eventually, those emotions fade and recede in importance compared to the ongoing and deeper joy a believer experiences in the week-in-week-out attendance on the means of grace. In other words, celebration is not joy and that distinction would have gone a long way to deciding the worship wars (that Piper’s piety unwittingly abets through an earnestness that rarely distinguishes between excitement and joy).

I would bet that Piper himself even knows this difference even if he does not talk about it. I suspect that he was remarkably joyful when his first child walked, or better, said, “daddy.” Was he at that point more excited about the love of a child than his love for Jesus? To an observer it might seem so. But to an Old Lifer, who knows that all of life is a gift of God, and that temporal joys are good but not ultimately great, Piper’s delight in a child’s development would not qualify as a sign of infidelity. To set up such a competition — the more you delight in aspects of human existence, the less you love Christ — is to take the joy out of life. How sad.

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117 Comments

  1. Posted February 22, 2012 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    Richard, but we enter the holy of holies on the Lord’s Day and the preached word is the word of God. What happens on Sunday is not magical. It is holy.

  2. Posted February 22, 2012 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    Richard, how do you know the early church was not focused on the Lord’s Day. Since Paul uses the phrase Lord’s Day, the early church must have considered one day to be the Lord’s in ways not like the others. And why do you think that people who meet once a week for worship don’t have fellowship? What greater fellowship could they have than through the Lord’s Supper — you know, communion? And are you meaning to suggest that the first Christians had lots of leisure time, electricity, and multiple copies of the Bible to meet in homes at night for Bible studies? Again, you are reading the Bible and confessional Protestantism through Edwardsean tinted glasses. And you say we need to be objective?

  3. Posted February 22, 2012 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    Lily, yes, confessional Prots oppose all forms of neonomianism (including affective varieties). But since there is nothing new under the sun, it seems to me the reformers had their own versions swallowing feathers, and yet they still wrote Art. 6 of the Book of Concord and the entire third section of the Heidelberg. At this rate, you guys are making the task of protecting our closets theological cousins against charges of antinomianism kinda hard. Help us help you.

  4. Posted February 22, 2012 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    Richard, when I said “Corinthian,” I meant it in a theology of glory sort of way. But if to behold the glory of God is to have simple faith, ok. Reading Edwards in context, however, it sure sounds more like unmediated glory than mediated cross.

  5. Richard Smith
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Jed Paschall: Quoting– Only the humble receive grace. If people are not humbled, then they will not receive grace.

    Didn’t Christ died for us while we were still sinners? So grace doesn’t proceed humility? This is a really weird way of construing grace, basically we will only get it when we are humble enough to receive it – it’s almost if humility is a means of earning grace – and when that’s the case it probably isn’t humility

    RS: Consider James 4:6 and I Peter 5:5 which is what they say. The Puritan way of expressing it would be that God works on the soul and humbles it in order to make way for grace. It is not that the sinner is able to work up humility in order to obtain grace. According to Romans 4:16 the “job” of faith is to receive grace, but pride and faith don’t go together (Hab 2:4). So true humility is necessary to receive true grace.

  6. Richard Smith
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    DJ: We also realize that its not a good thing to be a maverick and go it alone. Unfortunately, the 1stpga opened the f floodgates for that sorry of thing and now most Christians in this country think they don’t need the Church. Sad.

    RS: I think you would have to have a fair amount of evidence to actually demonstrate that it was the 1st Great Awakening that opened the floodgates to that sort of thing. People were flooding the churches when the 1st Great Awakening happened.

    DJ: And I say”chridtians” loosely as I confess that there is ordinarily no salvation outside the Church.

    RS: Fine, but there could also be an argument about what constitutes a true church and what a true church actually does.

  7. Richard Smith
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, how do you know the early church was not focused on the Lord’s Day.

    RS: A simple reading of the NT. I am not arguing that they did not focus on the Lord’s Day at all, but that we don’t see people looking to it the way confessionalists seem to do.

    Acts 2:41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
    46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    D.G. Hart: Since Paul uses the phrase Lord’s Day, the early church must have considered one day to be the Lord’s in ways not like the others. And why do you think that people who meet once a week for worship don’t have fellowship? What greater fellowship could they have than through the Lord’s Supper — you know, communion? And are you meaning to suggest that the first Christians had lots of leisure time, electricity, and multiple copies of the Bible to meet in homes at night for Bible studies?

    RS: Perhaps they met together “continually devoting themselves” and “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple” because they didn’t have multiple copies of the Bible.

    D.G. Hart: Again, you are reading the Bible and confessional Protestantism through Edwardsean tinted glasses. And you say we need to be objective?

    RS: I use reading glasses at times, but I hardly think I am reading Acts 2:41-47 through Edwardsean glasses. I would say, however, that during times of revival people met together for prayer several times a week to seek the face of the Lord. During awakenings the lost were concerned about their souls and would want to meet with pastors to hear the Word of God often. So yes, I think you need to be objective.

  8. Richard Smith
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, when I said “Corinthian,” I meant it in a theology of glory sort of way. But if to behold the glory of God is to have simple faith, ok. Reading Edwards in context, however, it sure sounds more like unmediated glory than mediated cross.

    RS: There is a lot of Edwards to read these days, so I am sure he did not always spell everything out.

  9. Posted February 22, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Richard, someone who went it alone, the awakener of awakeners, was George Whitefield, also the hero for all Edwardseans. I don’t believe Whitefield had an ecclesial bone in his body despite being a priest in the Church of England. Does that count as evidence?

  10. Posted February 22, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Richard, the revivals did not follow Acts 2. The awakened in the 18th c. did not hold all things in common and sell their property.

  11. Lily
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Zrim,

    I’m not sure that can be done. One reason I say this is because, it seems to me anyway, the Reformed don’t understand Lutheran piety and tend to want us to be mirrors of them. We aren’t Reformed and the 3rd use of the law is not played out in our piety in the same way as it is in yours. I’ll try to give some examples:

    Our sermons aren’t as central in the Divine Service (and much shorter); the Eucharist is central with the liturgy, hymns, and the sermon (to kill with the law and give life with the gospel) leading to the reception of the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness of our sin and communion with him. The 3rd use of the law will be seen in our catechisms and bible classes not necessarily our sermons. And to be honest, I’d much rather hear a law/gospel sermon with 2 uses of the law than pick all of the chaff out of my teeth from what often passes for a third use of the law. Please spare me the Driscolls, Pipers, and Kellers of this world.

    We observe the church calendar and in the last months we have passed through the rich observances of Advent and Epiphany. Today is the first day of Lent with the imposition of ashes. It is a day to remember we are but dust and we will die. It is a season to reflect and repent and discipline ourselves; it is a time to fast and give alms while we prepare for Easter. How pathetic my words sound in even trying to scratch the surface of what the observance of these seasons mean for keeping our eyes upon Christ and his story.

    Or our daily matins and vespers – our recitation of daily prayers from prayer books, the creeds, and our crossing ourselves with the sign of the cross. Or our private confession and absolution with our pastor. Or how our faith is anchored in the objective promises attached to baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We look outward to these things for the assurance that we belong to Christ not inward. Or the clerical collars and vestments, the altar cloths, the baptismal fonts, the art, the organ, the chanting, and other things that not only edify us but symbolize so much to us. These things are but a drop in the bucket in trying to explain how rich Lutheran piety is steeped in scripture and church history, and how it gives a rhythm, stability, and growth in the Word to our lives. We often look much too Catholic and our piety is often mocked and/or discounted by others.

    Another thing the Reformed don’t seem to understand is how we live out our Christian lives in our daily vocations as spouses, parents, adult children, small children, and so forth. Here is where the second commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves is tested from dawn to dusk. Our closest neighbors are our families and there are all of the rest of our neighbors to serve: coworkers, employees, employers, the next-door neighbor and so forth. Our teachings on vocation keeps our eyes on serving others and not ourselves. We live daily out of our baptism (to die and rise). It is a rhythm of daily repentance and faith. This can sound very strange to others and this is the tip of the iceberg. We are Lutheran not Reformed.

    All of our traditions are messy, full of warts, problems, and deplorable episodes (eg: killing Anabaptists) in our histories that date back to the reformation. We often don’t want to remember the church has been a mess from the beginning and the struggles will continue until Christ returns. In our troubled times, we have shared problems/concerns with the threats from within our traditions and without by progressive secularism and so forth. I think we can be good neighbors if the Reformed and Lutherans will recognize we don’t need to be clones of each other and respect our differences. Besides, the protestants have been accused of antinomianism since the 16th century. I’m not convinced we’ll ever convince everyone that we’re not! ;)

  12. Richard Smith
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, someone who went it alone, the awakener of awakeners, was George Whitefield, also the hero for all Edwardseans. I don’t believe Whitefield had an ecclesial bone in his body despite being a priest in the Church of England. Does that count as evidence?

    RS: Not really. Even if all you say here is true, you are talking about one man. Having read the Dallimore bio of Whitefield, I certainly got the idea that he loved the Church but was convinced it was not doing what it needed to and was in the throes of death.

    D. G. Hart: Richard, the revivals did not follow Acts 2. The awakened in the 18th c. did not hold all things in common and sell their property.

    RS: I am not ready to argue that some in the 18th c. did not sell their property and give to those in need. The needy were in fact looked after. I am also not ready to argue that “all those who had believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44) means that they were living in some sort of communal situation. In Acts it says that they sold their property and possessions as there was need. I think you are using this one point in a historical context to escape the larger reality. .

  13. Posted February 22, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Richard, what I am doing is arguing that your appeal to history (Whitefield) and the Bible (Acts 2) is selective and not objective.

  14. Richard Smith
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, what I am doing is arguing that your appeal to history (Whitefield) and the Bible (Acts 2) is selective and not objective.

    RS: I did not appeal to Whitefield, I thought you did that. Yes, I selected Acts 2 out of many possible passages, but I would still argue that my position is based on Scripture. While no one is totally objective, I still think that I am. A few more verses that I would think something like Acts 2 is necessary to fulfill.

    John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

    Eph 4:14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
    15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,
    16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

    1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;

    1 Peter 1:22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

  15. Zrim
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Lily, as a Lutheran-leaning Reformed, I’ll always maintain that we have a lot to learn from Lutherans. Which seems different from wanting you to be mirrors of us. But what it sounds like you’re saying is that there is indeed a place for the third use.

  16. Zrim
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps they met together “continually devoting themselves” and “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple” because they didn’t have multiple copies of the Bible.

    Or maybe providence played a role in setting a scriptural pattern for Christian practice and piety? No printing presses and low literacy is actually good for nurturing Christian piety. I know, abhorrent to the 2012 mind. But it sure seems like those things have down sides to a corporate piety, as well as a heard faith. You know, how, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? I know Prots are supposed to brag about putting the Bible into everyone’s hand and singlehandedly inventing literacy in the west(!), but here’s one that wonders.

  17. Lily
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    You know I’m not the best Lutheran specimen to learn from, I hope I don’t fall into the worst category. After I posted, I was afraid my explanation muddied the water rather than being helpful. When I said, “Reformed and mirrors” in the last post, I was making a generalization that I don’t want to make, but don’t know how to make the distinctions in your tradition’s make-up without writing even looooonger comments. Natch, I’m thinking ya’ll are smart and know what I’m referring to.

    Yes, we do use the 3rd use of the law. We don’t emphasize it like ya’ll do. It’s probably more implicit than explicit? On a parallel note, please remember that discipline is not in our definition of a church whereas it is in yours. As best I can tell, we have different emphases in a number of areas and the differences on the Lutheranism side comes primarily from a concern that the gospel never be muted. Unfortunately, some see our differences as being antinomian and some return the favor by seeing yours as legalistic.

    If you are interested, I did find an article that may help shed better light on Lutheran views on the 3rd use of the law which also has a short historical perspective. I would add to the discussion on the 3rd use of the law that many of us see the Holy Spirit as the one who determines how the law is heard by a believer (curb, mirror, guidance) and/or our own sinful nature no matter what the preacher intends (I hope that makes sense).

    This article won’t beat you up like Walther’s Law/Gospel, but, for better or worse, yes, we do tend to see the Reformed as a group prone to legalism and prone to misusing the third use of the law (think Puritan overkill). Faux Reformed Driscoll’s exhibitionist book on marriage where he couldn’t even say getting the plumbing wrong (using the sewer line) clearly violates natural law and scripture, and should be shunned doesn’t help either. Both his exhibitionism and his confusion about sewer lines sadly reflects secular culture not Christian wisdom in the 3rd use of the law. Can we both roll our eyes on that one?

    Here is the link to “A Lutheran View of the 3rd Use of the Law” by a seminary professor:
    http://www.ryancmacpherson.com/publications/26-research-papers/73-a-lutheran-view-of-the-third-use-of-the-law.html

    Excerpt:

    With respect to the third use of the Law, pastors should, therefore, impress upon their congregations these things:

    1. In the life of the believer, the Law functions both to work daily contrition and repentance (second use) and also to set forth a picture of what holy, sanctified living should look like (third use). Admittedly, it also functions in its first use, not only for unbelievers but at times also for the regenerate, by keeping the Old Adam’s tendency toward civil unrighteousness in check.

    2. Although the motivation and power for doing good works is effected by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament, the identification of which works are good remains the proper purview of the Law. By guiding sanctified living, the Law protects the Christian from the pretensions of self-righteousness through man-made Laws, a problem that has plagued the Roman Church and the Reformed Church, each of which is prone to legalism.

    3. As important as the Law remains for Christians, it nevertheless must be subordinate to the Gospel. The pattern in Luther’s Morning and Evening Prayers and in the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary’s daily prayers for morning and evening provides a helpful framework: at the start of the day, the Christian thanks God for sleep and requests of God that his or her life be rich in good works during the coming day; at the close of day, however, one does not look back upon one’s good works, but rather confesses one’s sins and goes to sleep in the peace of the Gospel alone. The same applies also to pastoral counsel at the bedside of a dying parishioner. Both justification and sanctification were to be taught until that moment, but in the final hour, it is not the Christian’s sanctification guided by a third use of the Law that needs mentioning. Attention properly focuses on Christ alone—His vicarious fulfilling of all mandata dei for us, His vicarious suffering through all punishments due us, and His victorious resurrection to bring new life to us.

  18. Posted February 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Richard, I appeal to Whitefield and your boy Edwards loved him. So what’s up with that?

    And what’s with all the love? I thought we were discussing joy.

  19. Zrim
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Smart? Don’t let the glasses fool you. But we could learn a lot from the Lutheran law/gospel distinction and ustedes could stand to see the benefits of having discipline figure into identifying a true church. Maybe this accounts for your allergy to points about civil OBEDIENCE? But hopefully by now you can see that old life Reformed, as opposed to new school Calvinists like Driscoll, are hardly legalists.

    Thanks for the article. I’ll try to find time, but I’m at a public education conference and we’re almost completed figuring out the best way to deconstruct Christian faith and instill secularist worldview, which takes a lot of measured concentration. Plus, we’re coming up on happy hour.

  20. mark mcculley
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I would also recommend this essay on “third use” from the blog of the grandson of Billy Graham. Despite his being a PCA pastor, TT serves the g coalition as its resident “Lutheran”. I know he never says a word about Christ’s death being for the elect alone, but neither do his “sandwich” (law-gospel-law) friends.

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2011/09/12/luther-on-law/

  21. Lily
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Shoot, Zrim, if I’d known you wore glasses, I would’ve used the word genius. ;_

    Re: discipline in the definition

    See that mirror creeping in? We say potato and you say Po-Ta-To. I suspect it’s because ya’ll don’t observe the church calendar and private confession/absolution – lol.

    Re: Civil disobedience

    Who me? You and I may go round-n-round on this one ’til heaven. The LCMS made it’s first formal statement against abortion in 1973 (Roe vs. Wade). We’re dead serious about abortion. See the 2 video segments covering President Harrison’s testimony. Besides, if we end up in jail, I could write my own version of letters from prison – lol.

    Re: Old Life

    If I didn’t see the difference I wouldn’t comment on this blog. I do apologize for not being able to communicate well.

    Re: we’re almost completed figuring out the best way to deconstruct Christian faith and instill secularist worldview, which takes a lot of measured concentration. Plus, we’re coming up on happy hour.

    May I ask what was removed and what was added to insert a secularist w-v-?

  22. mark mcculley
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Juno Linebaugh—-Galatians 5.1. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore stand firm (imperative) and do not be subject (imperative) again to the yoke of slavery.” Are these imperatives instances of God’s accusing and killing words? Are these commandments with conditions? Is Galatians 5.1 an example of Law? No! The command here is precisely to not return to the Law; it is an imperative to stand firm in freedom from the Law.

    Or take another example, John 8.11. Once the accusers of the adulterous women left, Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Depart. From now on, sin no more.” Does this final imperative disqualify the words of mercy? Is this a commandment with a condition? Is this Law following the Gospel? No! This would be Law: “if you go and sin no more, then neither will I condemn you.” But Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” The command is not a condition.”

  23. Zrim
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Lily, I’m not sure what civil disobedience or discipline has to do with issuing formal ecclesiastical statements on political decisions. My own 2k instincts, though, get pretty grumpy about it. I’m glad for a serious moral posture on abortion, but I’d almost be tempted to get Piperian joyous for being even more serious in showing ecclesiastical constraint in response to political goings on. Add Reformed-y spirituality of the church to Lutheran-ish 2k and I think we can have our cake and it eat it, too.

    Speaking of Piperian joy, I still wonder how you draw lines from affective neonomianism to the normative use. It just seems as suspect as drawing lines from moral antinomianism to the pedagogical use.

  24. Richard Smith
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, I appeal to Whitefield and your boy Edwards loved him. So what’s up with that?
    And what’s with all the love? I thought we were discussing joy.

    RS: Yes, Edwards had Whitefield preach in the church Edwards was the pastor of and it was reported that he (Edwards) wept most of one sermon. I know, I know, he was overcome with feelings and there is no place for that. I am just not convinced that there is no room for evangelists who are church oriented in many ways.

    The verses on love were given in the context of Acts 2 where people were getting together and studying the Word and all. I was trying to point out that in many places in the NT the same type of thing is seen, though different language is used. Are confessionalists opposed to love?

  25. Lily
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Hey Zrim,

    Re: I’m not sure what civil disobedience or discipline has to do with issuing formal ecclesiastical statements on political decisions…

    I thought I was teasing you with wise-acre remarks about the differences in our definitions of church (you wrote: ustedes could stand to see the benefits of having discipline figure into identifying a true church). I split it from your full sentence and made civil disobedience a separate topic. Too much temptation since we’ve been a few rounds on the civil disobedience/obedience.

    Re: My own 2k instincts, though, get pretty grumpy about it. I’m glad for a serious moral posture on abortion, but I’d almost be tempted to get Piperian joyous for being even more serious in showing ecclesiastical constraint in response to political goings on. Add Reformed-y spirituality of the church to Lutheran-ish 2k and I think we can have our cake and it eat it, too

    Regarding grumpy: I think we need to send you back to happy hour. ;)

    Okay, I’ll try to settle down and behave, but no more threats about going all Piperian joyous on me – k? Sigh… it’s hard to get serious some days.

    I think we may both be mystified by the other’s 2k instincts. I’ll try to explain my position and apologize ahead of time for being long. The HHS situation is a real threat to our first amendment freedom of religion and a number of us suspect it’s also being used as a political ploy to divert attention from the economy and other pressing issues for the election.

    Yet, the law has been enacted and a response needs to be made to challenge it’s constitutionality. This isn’t a matter of the Church interfering in government or trying to influence or set policy, but a response to a real threat and a pattern of increasing hostility and aggression towards the constitutional protections given to the Church. The HHS mandate is the federal government telling the church what doctrines it can or cannot have. Another recent and serious doctrinal challenge regarded who qualifies as a minister by the DOJ was won by the LCMS a month or so ago in SCOTUS by the unanimous vote of 9-0.

    I see this situation on two levels: 1) private citizens 2) Churches and their institutions. As a private citizen, church members of all stripes can contact their elected officials, vote, and such. Christian churches and their institutions can sue so that the constitutionality of the law will be determined by the courts. Belmont Abbey is the first suit that has come to court and the Obama administration didn’t even respond to the court with an argument, but gave a lame motion to kick the can down the road until 2013. The court has yet to rule on whether to proceed. There are several other cases that have been filed with others to follow. Unless our nation has spiraled even further into the pit than we realize, I think there is a strong case for the law being revoked. But, the way our world is heading, there are no guarantees.

    The LCMS didn’t merely take a moral position on abortion. This is an evil we cannot participate in anymore than the RC can participate in contraceptives. The HHS law violates both Lutheran (LCMS, ELS, WELS) and Roman Catholic doctrines. If the government is allowed to dictate what our doctrines can or cannot be, they can do the same to any other religious groups’ doctrines once the precedent is set. We are dealing with an increasingly hostile government and we’ve ceded ground already. The RC and the LCMS have already given up providing charitable services in several states because of laws regarding homosexuals and our inability to agree to place children in homosexual couple’s homes. We are on the front lines and these things are escalating. If the government succeeds in dictating doctrine to us, we will be placed in a similar position as the confessional churches pre-WWII. If the government succeeds they will have put us in the position of having to choose whether to obey God or man. This is not posturing. This is real.

    As far the Reformed-y and Lutheran-ish union joke. It might be better if the Reformed woke up and joined the Lutherans, the RC, the EO, the SBC, and other evangelicals in recognizing this is a real threat and stand with the rest of us. This is real 2k with the Church saying no to Caesar.

  26. Zrim
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Lily, I was responding to your remark about 1973 RvW, not the current HHS issue. Why does the church need to issue formal statements on political affairs, explicitly or implicitly? Seems like a variation on the world setting the church’s agenda.

  27. mark mcculley
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    I am sure that Zrim would agree that besides “affective neonomianism”, we sometimes encounter a cold “justification future” neonomianism. Norman Shepherd simply doesn’t think mere approval of commands as “normative” is enough. He thinks we need sanctions if we are going to obey the law. And Shepherd doesn’t think that “no sanctification means you were never justified” will get it done.

    The “federal vision” reads Romans 2 as saying that our future justification hangs in the balance.
    You see the problem, that people like us, who keep looking at the perfect obedience of Christ (the “virtual reality”) will not be so keen to look at (and do something about) our own lack of obedience. We will be content (and even “relaxed”) to confess that our sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake.

    But the law-gospel-law sandwich is not saying (out loud, at least) that we won’t go on sinning. It’s merely warning that an “unbalanced” focus only on imputation and justification will get in the way of
    fixing the culture. So the sandwich has “perspectives in tension” which together make up a “worldview”. The sandwich has law on both sides to protect the gospel in between. It’s merely warning us, and not making perfectionist claims.

    Like the Galatian false teachers, the law-gospel-law teacher never denies all of the imputation “equation”. He’s simply saying that there’s MORE to the Christian life than justification. You can be
    sanctified also and that happens by by a mysterious “synergism” of work (100% ours, 100% God’s).

    The apostle Paul is the other person in the Galatians controversy. The apostle Paul also thinks some in the other party may not be Christians. If you —– ,“Christ will be of no profit to you.”. So don’t do it. A command to be free, a command to not condition salvation on the sinner.

    Galatians 2:21— If justification is by grace but sanctification is by works, then Christ died in vain for sanctification? No, that’s not how the apostle sees it. If any part of our salvation is by our
    works, then Christ died to NO purpose.

    Paul doesn’t seem to be a “perspectives” kind of guy. Paul does not agree to disagree “Well, some of us are a little more “gospel awake” and others of us are somewhat more neonomian and
    pietistic……

  28. Lily
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Zrim,

    Re: Why does the church need to issue formal statements on political affairs, explicitly or implicitly? Seems like a variation on the world setting the church’s agenda.

    If I understand the way you are framing this situation, it points towards it being wrong or violating 2k for a church to make public statements that abortion is a grievous sin with devastating consequences and to refuse to participate in this sin if ordered by the government to do so?

    If I can pull your thinking back a couple of steps, consider that the LCMS is studiously non-political and does not issue political statements. Nor does it seek to interfere in government fulfilling it’s vocation. With that in mind, I would ask: Is abortion a political affair for the church? Is the world setting the church’s agenda on abortion? Or is the church’s opposition to abortion a historical doctrine dating back to the infancy of the church? Is it within the vocation of the church to seek to legally defend it’s doctrine when it is attacked? Is it within the church’s vocation to refuse to participate in grievous sin? I would answer: no, no, yes, yes, yes.

    I think it is better to frame the situation as one of being whose authority do we bow to when it comes to grievous sin? In this case it is a federal mandate that directly affects the church, not merely her institutions which she employs to extend charity. At what point does the church stop being the church if she bows to the government dictating her doctrine rather than God?

  29. Lily
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Zrim,

    I do have an afterthought. There is an example of how the world or government policies sets the agenda for some churches. It would be the mainline churches who have accepted abortion and homosexuality as their doctrine. Quislings.

  30. Zrrm
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Lily, I think you may be mixing RvW with HHS, since the former doesn’t bind any church to participate in something it condemns. Again, I only have your remark about RvW in mind here (I have agreed with you on the HHS issue).

    That said, I have to wonder when you say the LCMS is apolitical when, as you seemed to suggest, it made a formal statement in 1973 when RvW was decided. I know other denoms, even Reformed, did as well, so I am not singling the LCMS out. But that strikes me as awfully close to making an implicit political statement. I wonder what sort of statements were made pre-1973? If there were, that might seem less political. But when we say “abortion” in the post-1973 age, I do think we have to admit we are at least trafficking somewhat in politics. And this is my point, that we shouldn’t play dumb and act as if we wouldn’t be talking about it the way we do if RvW never happened. Come on. And because it’s become so politicized, and if we really care about maintaining the spirituality of the church, we should be very cautious when we speak that we don’t end up becoming political. My worry is that we can tend to care more about social and political problems and being players in those concerns—meanwhile the gospel gets a little more eclipsed.

  31. Zrim
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Lily, re the after thought, I suppose. But I am here talking about the ways in which confessionalists could be guilty and not just the other guys.

  32. Lily
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Zrim,

    Re: I do think we have to admit we are at least trafficking somewhat in politics. And this is my point…

    I would not use the word: traffick. I would use the word: respond. I would offer that an act of government, in the form of legalizing abortion-on-demand back in ’73, put the church in the position of needing to speak publicly about the sanctity of life still in the womb. Consider whether: In publicly speaking the truth, the world sought to politicize it and the world has progressed to the point of not only wanting to silence the truth, but remove it. If I am on track, the better points to address might be: Can we speak the truth in love and can we love our enemies?

    Re: I wonder what sort of statements were made pre-1973? If there were, that might seem less political.

    If this is not only an historic, but true teaching of the church, I would think the argument can be made that church doctrine is not political. I think of the examples of public statements given by the RC regarding the decisions to close their adoption services and close their services for those who have been victims of the sex slave market. These statements/actions were taken because the government dictated policies in violation of church doctrine. I don’t think the church is trafficking but is being placed in the position of being a respondent. Please note these actions were taken before the HHS fiat.

    Re: And because it’s become so politicized, and if we really care about maintaining the spirituality of the church, we should be very cautious when we speak that we don’t end up becoming political. My worry is that we can tend to care more about social and political problems and being players in those concerns—meanwhile the gospel gets a little more eclipsed.

    We are walking on a tightrope and appreciate that your concerns about the dangers of forgetting who we are and the gospel becoming muted are valid. Amidst these dangers, we have been placed in a position where we can’t ignore the situation and continue to practice our faith as normal. Government has inserted itself into the very life of the church. I don’t see how confessional churches will be able ignore that we are participating in evil and worship God, if this law stands. It seems to me that now is the time to be clear about what is at stake and to take the proper steps to repeal it. Is it possible that God has called the church to take a public stand in the midst of this perverse generation? Kyrie eleison. May God grant the Church heart and wisdom to do his will in all.

  33. Lily
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    If you are interested, here is an interesting article from the LCMS resources. You will need to scroll down the webpage for it – it automatically downloads on my computer and I can’t figure out how to link it directly.

    Title: A Historical Summary of Abortion from Antiquity Through Legalization http://www.lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=849

    The history of abortion helps put the Roe vs. Wade decision and why the church would need to speak in defense of the unborn child in context. I hope this is useful – if not you can always sue me. ;)

    Section on Roe vs. Wade:

    On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, struck down most of the state laws against abortion. Although only two states—Texas and Georgia— were directly involved in the decision, almost every state will have to rewrite its antiabortion laws, and until new state laws acceptable to the Supreme Court are passed, it seems unlikely that abortions performed at any stage can be considered illegal.

    Specifically the court held that during the first three months of a pregnancy, the decision on whether to have an abortion lies solely with the woman and her doctor; state laws cannot interfere in any way with this decision. During the next three months, when the risk of an abortion is greater, the state may regulate abortions to protect the health of the mother: abortion may not be forbidden, nor may it be regulated on the basis of any rights of the fetus. Only in the late stages of pregnancy, when the fetus might survive outside the womb, may the state forbid
    abortion; in these cases too it must be permitted where it is necessary in appropriate medical judgment for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.

    The decision was rendered on a 7 to 2 vote and held that any prohibition of early abortion was an unconstitutional invasion of a woman’s right to privacy. The majority held that in the early months of a pregnancy the state’s only legitimate interest is in seeing that an abortion, like any other medical procedure, is performed under circumstances which insure maximum safety for the patient. Only after a fetus reaches that stage where it is capable of independent life may the state step in to protect the life of the unborn child.

    The court did not answer the question of when an unborn child actually becomes a human person with a legal right to live, and it will be interesting to see what the effect of this decision will be in cases where lawsuits are brought for damages to compensate for injury to an unborn
    child. The court said “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins” and continued “When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

  34. Zrim
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I would not use the word: traffick. I would use the word: respond. I would offer that an act of government, in the form of legalizing abortion-on-demand back in ’73, put the church in the position of needing to speak publicly about the sanctity of life still in the womb. Consider whether: In publicly speaking the truth, the world sought to politicize it and the world has progressed to the point of not only wanting to silence the truth, but remove it. If I am on track, the better points to address might be: Can we speak the truth in love and can we love our enemies?

    Lily, this is the sort of thing I’ve never really understood. Why does this particular piece of American jurisprudence demand that the church respond publicly? The HHS thing I can see for sure, since it has direct bearing on the life of the church. But why RvW? What’s it got to do with the life of the church that states were disallowed to rule themselves on this particular legislative question? Frustrating for anti-federalist sensibilities for sure, but incumbent upon the church to pipe up just isn’t clear to me.

    But if the world politicized the question then doesn’t that suggest more caution and restraint is in fact due? Otherwise, it just seems to me that we are saying the church can get political when it’s something many of us care about and care about in a very particular way, but when other Christians want the church to weigh in politically in ways we wouldn’t then it’s cultural Christianity or social gospel. Huh?

  35. Lily
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    Re: Why does this particular piece of American jurisprudence demand that the church respond publicly? The HHS thing I can see for sure, since it has direct bearing on the life of the church. But why RvW? What’s it got to do with the life of the church that states were disallowed to rule themselves on this particular legislative question? Frustrating for anti-federalist sensibilities for sure, but incumbent upon the church to pipe up just isn’t clear to me.

    I would not want to make it a law whether the church should speak or not. It would be un-Lutheran – n’est ce pas? I would think it fell under Christian liberty?

    I’m not convinced our lives of faith should be limited to freedom to worship but would argue the life of the church is also exercised outside it’s membership (natch, with the usual caveats). I would give you a hard time about considering the subject of good works and care for our neighbors – especially regarding the weakest and most vulnerable. Who will stand for the unborn child who had been stripped of his humanity so that no one is allowed to argue for him in court? Who will offer his mother the truth and the gospel? Why not the church?

    In our Large Catechism, Luther explains the 5th commandment (thou shalt not kill) in this way: “Briefly, he wishes to have all people defended, delivered, and protected from the wickedness and violence of others, and he has set up this commandment as a wall, fortress, and refuge about our neighbor so that no one may do him bodily harm or injury … Not only is murder forbidden, but also everything that may lead to murder … we should neither use nor sanction any means or methods whereby anyone may be harmed.”

    The whole federal overreach into the states does make me lean hard toward Ron Paul. Meddlers! Busybodies! ;)

    Re: if the world politicized the question then doesn’t that suggest more caution and restraint is in fact due? Otherwise, it just seems to me that we are saying the church can get political when it’s something many of us care about and care about in a very particular way, but when other Christians want the church to weigh in politically in ways we wouldn’t then it’s cultural Christianity or social gospel. Huh?

    I think we are both in agreement for the need for wisdom in all, but would pose this dilemma: should we refrain from proclaiming the gospel because the world politicizes it? I think not and I also think you know that in this climate anything and everything is in danger of politicization if people think they can use it to further their agenda. I would argue to not let it daunt us even though we are living in awful times. It seems like we are reaping the whirlwind from the seeds planted in the 60′s and early 70′s.

    I would disagree a bit with you about cultural Christianity and social gospel here. It’s too easy to scapegoat them. Please keep the baby and toss the bath water. 1) A culture influenced by Christianity is a good thing not a bad thing. Our nation’s founding and English law were influenced by Christianity and we have benefited greatly from the religious freedom here. 2) We do not limit our good works to our own members, but reach out to any in need. I would guess that the Reformed have mercy and educational institutions that do this work and you would not want to stop the good works/outreach to those in need either. I thought the Reformed doctor who testified before the Oversight Committee was a very good witness. Eh?

  36. Lily
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    P.S. I would posit that the cultural Christianity and social gospel that is derided belongs to the progressives who seek utopia and/or the ones who have the messed up eschatology.

  37. Posted February 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Lily, I know Christians love to think otherwise, but plenty of unbelievers will come to the aid of the weak and vulnerable. But only the church can hold out the unfettered gospel. And that’s why not the church, because she wasn’t ordained to rescue the world’s weak but rather to make disciples, baptize and teach to obey. Besides, it seems to me that to really come to the legislative aid of the weak and vulnerable actually requires a lot more than pious (and I daresay self-righteous) sounding formal statements. It requires actual political effort; so those who think the church is called to rescue the weak and vulnerable either need to go beyond their rhetoric and admit the church really is as socio-political as she is spiritual, or realize that they can’t have it both ways and show some more political restraint.

    Re your postscript, I can only surmise that you think rightists are somehow immune to immanentizing the eschaton and bad eschatology. But what about Dispensational religious rightists? Moral Majority? Is it at all possible that pro-lifers are after a utopia where babies never die? Sorry, Lily, but your last statement sounds an awful lot like those who think social gospel is only a bad thing when it’s the other guy’s but just good old-fashioned Christianity to link up our politics with true religion.

  38. Lily
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Zrim, has anyone told you lately that you can be a real party-poop? ;)

    Unbelievers don’t have the gospel, so we’re not necessarily interchangeable. Besides, it’s impossible to save the world. And, no, I’m not gonna “admit the church really is as socio-political as she is spiritual” – I’m a long time fan of mercy ministries and a nut for babies. I would concede that churches can be, but I’ve not seen that bent in the LCMS. I think they do 2k quite well. There is a great LCMS paper on civil obedience/disobedience that gives us oodles of room to exercise wisdom and I’m thinking that latitude may be part of what you may object to? The RC did get themselves in a real pickle using government $ to further their social justice beliefs. They should never have gotten into bed with the government. I was surprised at their Bishops written disclosure at the Oversight Committee on the money they receive – over $88+ million. Yikes. Natch, ours was zero.

    Zrim, I don’t think the rightists are immune. I was including the dispensationalists, but I think there are some others aren’t there? I can’t remember them all. Aren’t the theonomists/reconstructionalists in that category too? I thought the moral majority died out? There are a lot of flavors on both sides aren’t there? Aren’t we amillennialists a minority?

    A world where babies never die? Sigh… I hope there are babies in heaven, but I can’t imagine making somebody never grow up. I’m not thrilled about the idea of heaven not having children to dote on. Yes, I can get loony and heartbroken over abortion. I hate it. You may just have to put up with me on this subject. I will not participate in the HHS law that kills them and thankfully many in my tribe are on the same page so I won’t be lonesome in jail if that day comes.

    Zrim, I wish you would rearrange your head on this social gospel idea (yes I do know it has a negative connotation). I thought you guys were kings at making distinctions, seeing the nuances, and all the jazz? I can’t understand why you think service should mean you’d be free from dealing with some kind of political nonsense at times. Shoot, one can’t work without running into office politics – even at church! Much less enter Africa with their governmental rules and intrigues that missionaries deal with. Politics shouldn’t stop us. To express our faith in a fallen world by serving in it and knowing trouble and travail will always be with us and we can’t fix much of it… well, what objections do you reasonably have to church institutions that try to alleviate suffering and share the gospel? You seem to think we have to have some kind of political agenda if we disagree with something. The only people I’m tempted to drop-kick into next Tuesday right now are the progressives. Totalitarians! And if they take over, I’ll have to get some duct tape for my keyboard. Until then, I have responsibilities as a citizen in an open society and hope to do my part in preserving the good in it. I hope that made sense?

  39. Posted February 24, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Lily, my point has to do with the church speaking and acting qua church, not about her individual members. How’s that for a distinction? So it’s one thing for you and I to be politically engaged to whatever degree and kind our consciences lead, but quite another for the church. And if we’re not willing to make these distinctions then I don’t know how we can really maintain any meaningful criticism of either the Protestant liberals or the religious righties which seem to be two sides of a skewed applied Christianity coin. You may want to lament government invading the church, but in my poorly arranged head I see worldly intrusion in another, perhaps more theoretical way going on.

  40. Lily
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Zrim,

    I’m quite fond of your poorly arranged head (I hope you realize I’m teasing you about the Reformed mind). You are very right. We act both individually and corporately and I was blurring and interchanging the two. Apologies, please. I do think it good to not lose sight of the fact that we do act corporately in our expression of faith through good works towards the world around us. We also act corporately in approving and condemning certain beliefs and actions. We corporately condemn abortion, and provide education, support, and services for women faced with these kinds of choices – primarily through Lutherans for Life.

    I don’t see any conflict in seeing what is good and bad in both the left and right wings of the church. And as you mentioned in an earlier comment, our own blind spots and/or weaknesses. I lament the left-hand kingdoms insertion of itself into the life of the church, because it is poisonous and can be rectified under left-hand law. As far as the churches’ affect upon the world, I don’t see how our corporate good works will not have some kind of affect whether implicitly or explicitly. Some of those good works will include telling the truth about sin. We don’t hide the fact that we believe abortion and homosexuality are sin even though many within and without the church would like to mute it. Even if we rely on using natural law and reason with the world, it will point to the fact that there is a God. We both know that is true because Romans teaches that.

    If we consider that the churches are not going to be uniform in how they interact with the world because of the differences in doctrine and the secular governments they live under, I think that helps understand some of our choices, too. The Chinese churches will necessarily interact in their culture differently than US churches simply because we have more responsibilities via more freedoms as institutions in the US. Things will always be difficult and messy in the temporal life. None of us is without sin.

    I think Lutheran 2k thinking allows more give-and-take between the kingdoms than the Reformed 2k thinking. I may be wrong, but the Reformed view seems more cast in stone with a strict wall of separation between the two kingdoms when it comes to our corporate interaction with the world. I think Lutherans are more in tune to freedom of conscience both individually and corporately, and why conscience is vital in faith. I don’t see that at work as much in the Reformed 2k when it’s uncomfortable with the idea of the possibility of civil disobedience whether individually or corporately (include the necessary caveats please). I think Lutherans are more comfortable with the idea that politics affect us and we need to talk/deal with how it affects us, and know that our beliefs and good works may affect politics even though we do not seek to tell the government how perform it’s vocation. As always, Christ given to us through Word and Sacraments is our life and non-negotiable. Christ is our first and most important gift to offer the world. And the good works that flow from faith spills into the world around us both individually and corporately. Natch, I’m speaking ideally here. We both know it’s much messier in practice – right?

    I believe one reason we are seeing such a sustained movement against religious freedom is because it stands in the way of full implementation of the progressive agenda on abortion and homosexuality. Their idea of women’s health includes surgical abortion and that will be the next step in HHS if the new mandate is allowed to stand. There is also their agenda on homosexuality that has to be faced. This kind of left-hand ideology seeks to remove the obstacles presented by the existence of the right-hand theology. Our mere existence is a threat and no matter how we stand firm in our faith, an aggressive progressive agenda will not be prone to living in peace with our faith. As far as it is up to us, we will seek to live in peace, but we do not sacrifice our children to Molech and that offends them.

  41. Lily
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Zrim,

    I would add something to our political menu to eat. It is the protestant response to the use of contraceptives early in the twentieth century. It was a time when progressivism was raising it’s ugly head and produced Margaret Sanger with her mission of eugenics via birth control and abortion (her legacy is Planned Parenthood). The Catholic Church is the only church that I know of who didn’t cave to artificial contraception. I’ve read parts of Human Vitae (written in 1968) and it shows us protestants our poverty in theology on the subject. Their work describing man and woman in marriage is exceptional and captures the essence of love between a man and a woman. They have much to teach us if we would listen.

    Of interest were their predictions on the consequences of artificial contraception. Pope Paul VI warned of four cultural problems that would worsen, if Church teachings regarding married life and contraception were ignored:

    1. Contraception would lead to a rise in “conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality.” [self-explanatory]

    2. Contraception would lead men to cease respecting woman in their totality and would cause them to treat women as “mere instruments of selfish enjoyment” rather than as cherished partners.

    3. Widespread acceptance of contraception by couples would lead to a massive imposition of contraception by unscrupulous governments. [Today, first-world leaders regularly export "contraceptives, abortion and sterilization" to developing nations, often as a prerequisite for financial aid. Remember China]

    4. Human beings would be tempted to believe that they have “unlimited dominion” over their bodies.[remember sex change operations]

    Indeed, Pope Paul VI could see the handwriting on the wall.

  42. Posted February 24, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Lily, again, I don’t doubt that we have much to learn from one another’s traditions, which includes learning from the Reformed the spirituality of the church. And where you may want to deem it “cast in stone with a strict wall of separation between the two kingdoms when it comes to our corporate interaction with the world,” which sounds like a pretty dim assessment, I see a doctrine that preserves the integrity of the gospel in ways I just don’t see any other tradition able to do.

  43. Richard Smith
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Lily
    The Catholic Church is the only church that I know of who didn’t cave to artificial contraception. I’ve read parts of Human Vitae (written in 1968) and it shows us protestants our poverty in theology on the subject. Their work describing man and woman in marriage is exceptional and captures the essence of love between a man and a woman. They have much to teach us if we would listen.

    Of interest were their predictions on the consequences of artificial contraception. Pope Paul VI warned of four cultural problems that would worsen, if Church teachings regarding married life and contraception were ignored:

    1. Contraception would lead to a rise in “conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality.” [self-explanatory]

    RS: So will not allowing priests to marry.

    Lily: 2. Contraception would lead men to cease respecting woman in their totality and would cause them to treat women as “mere instruments of selfish enjoyment” rather than as cherished partners.

    RS: So will not allowing priests to marry (not just women, but other men and boys). Luther spoke of special brothels for priests in Rome. In past and very recent times the use of boys as instruments of selfish enjoyment has been exposed.

    Lily: 3. Widespread acceptance of contraception by couples would lead to a massive imposition of contraception by unscrupulous governments. [Today, first-world leaders regularly export "contraceptives, abortion and sterilization" to developing nations, often as a prerequisite for financial aid. Remember China]

    RS: The illegitimate use of something does not deny a legitmate use. Painkillers, for example.

    Lily: 4. Human beings would be tempted to believe that they have “unlimited dominion” over their bodies.[remember sex change operations]

    RS: That is what all unconverted people basically believe anyway.

    Lily: Indeed, Pope Paul VI could see the handwriting on the wall.

    RS: Too bad he could not read the Scriptures about the true Gospel.

  44. Lily
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Richard,

    Human Vitae does not address RC theology about clerics. I’m not advocating an uncritical embrace of RC theology, but a specific body of teaching that could be of value for protestants. If it provokes us to revisit the subject and consider why we accepted artificial contraception, it may be of benefit. I would think that very few of us have given the subject much depth of thought, if any.

  45. Lily
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Zrim,

    If I properly understand what you are saying, Lutherans don’t agree with Reformed ideas on the spirituality of the church. It seems good to remember that there are not only shared beliefs but strong disagreements on some things that will not be resolved this side of heaven. We do not believe a presbyterian style government is scripturally mandated and we will not remove our crucifixes, musical instruments, hymns, and so forth. Both traditions have done their theological homework and come to different conclusions. We think ya’ll removed too much and ya’ll think we didn’t remove enough. I am content to interact on what subjects we can and I greatly appreciate your thoughts. Plus I enjoy joshing with you.

    True, our 2k differs and my view of Reformed 2k is dim in some ways. It seems good to acknowledge the differences and as far as Reformed 2k being more protective of the integrity of the gospel, I would beg to differ. Legalistic notions applied to civil obedience does not protect the gospel. Now we’re back that old Lutheran are antinomians and the Reformed are legalists impasse. ;)

  46. Richard Smith
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Lily: Richard, Human Vitae does not address RC theology about clerics. I’m not advocating an uncritical embrace of RC theology, but a specific body of teaching that could be of value for protestants. If it provokes us to revisit the subject and consider why we accepted artificial contraception, it may be of benefit. I would think that very few of us have given the subject much depth of thought, if any.

    RS: I was just noting the use of bad, to say the least, logic of the pope. One can show that there have been bad things that resulted from Christianity, but that does not demonstrate that Christianity is false.

  47. Posted February 24, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Lily, if the Baylys et al could learn a thing or two from Harrison about how to address their magistrate, they could also learn a few things form you about how to interact with those who champion SOTC. Thanks for indulging me.

  48. Lily
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Doggone, Zrim, is SOTC the spirituality of the church? I’m still baffled by why you would think I was indulging you? Or why you would think the Bayley’s could learn something from me? I don’t understand why acknowledging the differences in traditions or joking about it should be a problem. I had no intention to belittle or insult or other ilk. I am scratching my head. Please help me out. I’d love to apologize.

  49. Posted February 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Lily, I was complimenting you (and Harrison). You and the Baylys take a dim view of Spirituality Of The Church, but your charity in engaging those who have a brighter view of it is exemplary and more manly than the Bayly’s hissy fitting.

  50. Lily
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Zrim. I recognized the compliment to Harrison, but didn’t see it in my situation. I am clueless why I would be low SOTU? The life of the church is centered in the Divine Service and the corporate works of mercy flow from there… still scratching my head. Sigh, a girl can’t win. We’re supposed to be antinomians, so I try to point out we do good works and deliver the gospel to the world, then we become low church… I need an attorney! ;)

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