Errors in the Church
The Christian church also needs a serious renaissance of the teachings of teleology and natural law.
The church should be leading people back to sanity through natural law. In some ways, the Roman Catholic Church has tried, but it too has largely stopped teaching truths like natural law to its congregants. As a result, the effects of the enlightenment and the sexual revolution have even infiltrated their church.
This post will focus on the adverse effects from ignoring a teleological view of the world within the church. I will begin with a look at some of the specific moral errors in the modern church. Then I will look at the negative theological consequences of losing a teleological view of God’s law.
Natural Law is the Historic Christian Position
Natural law was the default moral position of most theologians and philosophers throughout history. It is not until the modern era that we have seen a move away from it in the church.
This view of natural law was the common conviction of philosophers and theologians for some twenty-five hundred years, from Plato and Aristotle to Aquinas and Bonaventure, as well as from Luther and Calvin to Kant and Hegel. The bare bones of this common tradition entail the belief that the natural law is grounded in the eternal mind of God and knowable by human beings through reason and conscience. The unwritten natural law is universal, the same for everyone and everywhere. The universal natural law is the norm and standard of all laws enacted in society. This belief in natural law is the bedrock of the Constitution of the United States and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948. Thomas Jefferson’s triad of inalienable rights—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—is founded on the theory of natural law.1
It is tragic that the Christian church has largely lost this core teaching. The church is not only losing the battle against illogical and immoral practices in the world today, but some churches have even bought into acceptance of the same practices!
In the last post, I demonstrated how teleology shows birth control is immoral. And yet, many Christians don’t see a problem with using it. This is another consequence of the lies of the sexual revolution we have all been told for years.
Some Christians say the Bible doesn’t explicitly speak about the morality of modern contraception (like the pill) so it should be left to the individual conscience to decide. There are two big reasons this argument is bad.
Facts or Opinions?
The first problem with the above argument is the morality of birth control becomes mere opinion. What could be right for one Christian may be wrong for another. This is relativism.
There is a double standard here many likely don’t see. Christians will rightly call secular people out for basing their moral choices on opinions when it comes to abortion (“my body, my choice”). With birth control Christians are doing the same.
As we have seen over and again, natural law describes what is objectively right and wrong. Birth control is wrong because it frustrates a natural end of sex: procreation. The morality of birth control is not a matter of opinion.
The second problem with leaving birth control to the Christians individual conscience is the Bible does say something about it.
Sin of Onan
The story of Onan is an explicit statement against birth control from the Old Testament. I find it hard to believe this has somehow become a controversial verse. Historically, it was thought to point to contraception being immoral.
In the Book of Genesis, God tells Onan to take his brother’s wife (his brother just having died) and conceive a child with her. This may sound strange to our modern ears, but was a common practice in this ancient culture.
8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also.
—Genesis 38:8-10 New International Version (NIV)
Some theologians now say Onan died simply because he disobeyed the Lord or because he didn’t fulfill his Levitical family obligations. The problem is that in Judaic Law, an offense against familial obligations was not a capital offense. Plus, the church historically said this passage condemns contraception; condemns thwarting God’s natural purpose for sex. 2
Thankfully, we don’t all suffer Onan’s fate nowadays, but we do all sin against God and act against our telos/nature when we use contraception. It is sad this is a touchy topic nowadays with Christians. We have not only capitulated to the culture on this one, we are embracing sin and acting irrationally to boot.
Martin Luther would also be appalled at what many churches now teach about contraception:
How great, therefore, the wickedness of human nature is! How many girls there are who prevent conception and kill, and expel tender fetuses, although procreation is the work of God!
— Martin Luther (LW 4:304, Commentary on Genesis 25)
I especially recommend all Lutherans (and anyone) to read through Pastor H.R. Curtis’s paper on why Christians shouldn’t use contraception. In it, Pr. Curtis cites many more biblical and confessional Lutheran sources why this was the orthodox position of all churches, including the Lutheran church.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
This is a confusing topic for many today. Since a teleological view of sex affirms that procreation is a good thing, shouldn’t it be in favor of using technology to aid in procreation? Yes, if done morally.
Anything that leaves the entire act of sexual procreation intact, but simply enhances the chances of procreation should be moral (licit). There are fertility treatments that are inline with the teleological view of sex, many of which the Roman Catholic Church supports and are very effective. 3
The problem is that many modern reproductive aids take procreation out of the natural context and are therefore immoral (illicit). They involve combing male and female gametes in laboratories. This is immoral as it is not how the creation of life is naturally ordered. Procreation is ordered through a loving act of two parents, not a doctor, a microscope, and a needle.
The bigger problem is that IVF techniques create multiple embryos, even though only certain ones are actually implanted. These embryos are lives. They are people in their earliest stage of development. Some of these people are still in a freezer at a fertility clinic. Other embryos are murdered, or as a clinic would call it, “destroyed”.
Embryos are people with the right to life. If not, then you need to pick some arbitrary point when life or the rights of personhood begin.
For instance, some will say a fetus isn’t a person until it can feel pain in the womb. Or personhood might not begin until it is born. Worse yet, some now argue that it is permissible to kill babies after they are born!
All these points where personhood or one gains the right to life are arbitrary decisions. They all ignore the fact that a new person comes into existence at the very point of conception. Creating many persons using IVF methods and then killing or deep freezing them is immoral.
It is tragic when a couple finds out they are incapable of having children. As we have been discussing, marriage’s telos is having children. The problem is people think we have a right to have children. The actual creation of a child is a gift of God though. This is beyond our control though we try. We do not have a right to act immorally in trying to conceive a child.
In our discussion of contraception we saw how sex becomes distorted when it seeks the union of the couple without being open to life. But the sacredness of the marital act also prohibits any means of procreation that seek the good of being “open to life” without the union of the couple. A child has the natural right “to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage.” We adults tend to think of our “right” to a child, but the Church is clear that a child “is not something owed to one, but is a gift. . . . A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged ‘right to a child’ would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights” (CCC 2378). 4
This is an unfortunate trend in modern society that now sees couples living together before marriage as a natural progression of a relationship. A 2010 study showed that over half of couples married in LCMS churches are living together before being married. 5
Unfortunately, cohabiting couples are simply playing house. They are doing some things that married couples do, and are likely enjoying the pleasures of sex immorally; in a way not naturally ordered towards procreation.
The reasons for cohabiting prior to marriage have been well documented in social science literature. Generally men cohabit for easy availability of sex and shared living expenses, while women tend to see living together as a step toward marriage. 6
The practice of cohabitation is a disordered use of family and sex.
Many churches have bought into the sexual revolution. They only could do so by losing the teleological view sex and marriage.
Even within the Roman Catholic Church, there are priests who advocate acceptance of homosexual relationships as a moral use of human sexuality.7 This goes not just against Rome’s own cannon law, it goes against the teleological view of sexuality that is the backbone of that cannon law.
This also just goes to show how far people will go to justify sin, even within the church itself.
The stats on pornography give us a good indication of the prominence of masturbation among the public. The numbers are hard to believe (64% of Christian men say they watch porn at least once a month).8
Like homosexuality, this is an inherently disordered act. This should not be sugar-coated.
Though human beings have a distorted view of sex, deep down there is a subconscious understanding that sex is for uniting people and procreating children. Contraception seeks unity without babies, and IVF seeks babies without unity, but masturbation strips sexual activity of both of those purposes. Instead of sex as a self-gift between spouses, masturbation is a solitary act of self-centeredness.
Some might argue that masturbation is simply a feel-good release, like having a good sneeze or clearing one’s nose and breathing better. But if masturbation is just another way of “scratching an itch,” then why do masturbatory acts almost always occur while fantasizing about another person? This is just more evidence that sex is made to unite persons, and masturbation perverts this meaning. 9
Unfortunately, many churches have abandoned a historic Christian view of sex. They think our new understandings of the radical nature of the gospel of Christ shows that sexual purity has nothing to do with access to God’s grace. Here is an excerpt from an ELCA publication:
The Gospel writers abolish the link between physical purity and divine favor and reject any connection between sexual purity and access to God’s grace. The practice of purity was and is wrong because of its exaltation of one’s own religious excellence at the expense of others. In the Gospel narratives physical purity remains optional, but it is irrelevant to grace, salvation, or membership in the church. Biblical scholar William Countryman writes:
The Gospel allows no rule against the following, in and of themselves: masturbation, nonvaginal heterosexual intercourse, homosexual acts, or erotic art and literature. The Christian is free to be repelled by any or all of these and may continue to practice his or her own purity code in relation to them. What we [Christians] are not free to do is impose our codes on others (243-44). 10
Often, there is a grain of truth in heresy. God’s grace is a gift. Our good works or adherence to God’s law does not save us, faith in Jesus does. Does this mean we should do what is bad or condone it because Jesus saved us?
The answer is no as St. Paul says:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
Compare this ELCA excerpt against what the Catholic Catechism says so clearly on the matter:
2351 Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.
2352 By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.”138 “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.”11
Natural law isn’t a bunch of arbitrary rules. It is simply using our bodies as God designed them to be used. It is sad that Christians would twist God’s Word and even logic in such a way to justify immoral acts.
Loss of a Teleological View of God’s Law
*EDIT* I wrote this section back when I was Lutheran, before converting to the Catholic Church in November of 2019. While I no longer agree with the Law/Gospel hermeneutic or sola fide, the critiques of Lutherans that do not hold to an eternal view of the Law are still relevant. See my posts on my conversion for more details: Fullness of the Truth series.
Switching gears, we will now look at a major theological error that underlies these misunderstandings of moral obligations for the Christian that we have been discussing. This is a loss of the teleological view of God’s law.
Is God’s Law is Eternal?
It seems some modern Lutherans are prone to having too small a view of the purpose of God’s law. The main problem is that they don’t see the law as part of God’s eternal nature.
For Paulson, the law is not eternal and cannot be identified with God. “Obedience to the Father and obedience to the law are two different things. . . . God and the law are not the same; he uses the law as a tool with a definite purpose in mind.”58 Since the law does not belong to who God is—that is, to his nature—Paulson follows his own logic that law is not eternal.59 This raises the question of whether God is moral. If he is moral, in what sense is this so? If God and law are not the same, does God then prescribe a moral standard for man that has little or no resemblance to his own? To make short of a controverted issue, the phrase lex semper accusat is misappropriated to defend a view that eliminates the law from Christian life. All three theologians—Gerhard Forde, Timothy Wengert, and Stephen Paulson—present their positions as Luther’s and are received as such by many identifiably confessional Lutherans. 12
–Pr. David Scaer
As we saw in our discussion of divine simplicity, this leads to troublesome views about God’s nature. This also causes problems for seeing the world teleologically.
Lutherans hold to a law/gospel distinction of the Bible. They believe that the Bible contains God’s commands and His promises.
God’s commands are the law. They show us His will and how we ought to live. The law can show us we do not live up to the standards that God has set for us. It convicts us of our sins.
God also shows us His promises of grace and mercy. This is the gospel. The Lutheran view of the gospel shows us it saves us from punishment for our sins, not through our own good works, but through faith alone in Jesus.
The Law Only Accuses or Always Accuses?
Because the law shows us our sins and the need for the gospel, Lutherans often use the saying “lex semper accusat” to describe how the law always accuses us of our sins. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession states:
“For the law always accuses and terrifies consciences.” (Ap. IV.38).
The error that some modern Lutherans make is thinking lex semper accusat means “the law only accuses”. As such, another problem arises in that these theologians view the law only in negative terms. 13
The Latin word “semper” does not mean only, though, it means always. 14Just because something always functions one way, doesn’t mean it only functions that way.
God’s law, in fact, has another very important function: it instructs!
No one would say a father that teaches his son right from wrong is doing a bad thing. A father does this out of love for his son so he may become a virtuous man and live a good life.
Likewise, God’s law is also good. God’s law instructs us on what the good life is. The law’s instructive nature is what Lutherans call the third use of the law.
Third Use of the Law
Traditionally, Lutherans held there are 3 purposes of God’s law.
- The law as a curb – Through fear of punishment, the Law keeps the sinful nature of both Christians and non-Christians under check. This does not stop sin, since the sin is already committed when the heart desires to do what is wrong, yet it does stop the open outbreak of sin that will do even further damage. 15
- The law as a mirror – The Law serves as a perfect reflection of what God created the human heart and life to be. It shows anyone who compares his/her life to God’s requirement for perfection that he/she is sinful.16
- The law as a guide – The law shows the regenerate heart (believers in God) what God’s will is and how to live according to it. It instructs us on what is right and wrong.
The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord even has an entire section devoted to the third use of the law. 17
Unfortunately, some modern Lutheran theologians outright deny this third use of the law.
Proposing a “third use of the law”—a law for Christians after faith—arises from a fear of freedom. It is finally a christological problem, since Christ put an end to the law not only in himself but also in us. 18
Some theologians only see the law as being able to show us our sins. They also claim that the law is not eternal and say that the law has no bearing over the Christian.
Of course, the law does condemn us (the second use). It does show us our sin and how far we fall short of the glory of God. But the law also shows us the good and gracious will of our loving God and encourages us to live according to it (the third use).
The Teleological View of God’s Law
The problem is modern Lutherans have lost sight of a teleological view of the law. They also have turned lex semper accusat into something it was never meant to be. They have worked up an entire theology through a false lens.
The law is God’s will and is a part of his nature (as we saw in the post on divine simplicity). When we act in accord with God’s law, we are being good. We are more closely fulfilling our telos.
Oh, how I love Your law! All day long it is my meditation.
While we will all fall short of our telos in this life, we must still try for Jesus said “be perfect as your father in Heaven (Matt. 5:48)” and “If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15) and “If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).”
John Warwick Montgomery warned some Lutherans have a tendency to only see the Gospel and lose the bigger picture of the Christian story. He termed this narrow view gospel reductionism.20
When one reduces everything to just the gospel, they lose sight of God’s teleology and that God wants us to act in accord with it. They also lose sight of the fact that Christ dwells within us and that He and the Holy Spirt are sanctifying us each day, bending us more towards God’s will and our telos. We can and should cooperate with this process, a process called sanctification.
Here, the Lutheran Confessions and the Bible say similar things about sanctification:
“For when the Holy Spirit has effected and accomplished new birth and conversion and has altered and renewed the human will solely through his divine power and activity, then the new human will is an instrument and tool of God the Holy Spirit, in that the will not only accepts grace but also cooperates with the Holy Spirit in the works that proceed from it.” (FC Ep II.18).
“These words say absolutely nothing about our will, nor do they say that it effects something, even in the newborn human being, of itself, but they ascribe that to the Holy Spirit, which cleanses human beings and daily makes them more upright and holier.” SD II.35
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 ESV
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
This could not be more clear! Christians are to strive to follow God’s law! Christians should cooperate with the Holy Spirit and grow in this process of being sanctified.
Weak on Sanctification
This is a tough topic for many well-intentioned confessional Lutherans today. For a lot of Lutherans, to speak of a Christian as trying to do good works is to put the cart before the horse. They will say these works will just naturally follow conversion. No effort needed on our part. In the end, they will proudly state that they are “weak on sanctification”. 21
I think there are two main problems in this realm. First, there is a mountain of biblical evidence and evidence from the Lutheran confessions that state the contrary. God compels Christians to do good works; to become more sanctified.
The second, and deeper problem is people on both sides of this sanctification debate are ignoring teleology. They are missing viewing sanctification as a process embedded within a teleological view of the world.
Why do we do good works?
Christians should do good works because it is what God made us for. Good works are simply doing what is right and good. Good works are acting rationally and aiming at truth. Good works are loving our neighbor and worshiping God. Good works are our telos.
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Eschatological View of Teleology
On a teleological view of creation, living in accord with this telos is what God has always intended for man. Before the fall Adam and Eve were perfectly fulfilling their telos. After the fall none of us do. However, the holy spirit gives Christians the ability to see this teleological view of creation again.
For those who are according to the flesh think the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit think the things of the Spirit. Rom 8:5-6
God’s law shows what is truly good and gives a glimpse of what we will be like after the resurrection.
In our current state, we will often fail to do what is good. But just because we will fail to fulfill our telos, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Doing so is simply trying to always do what is good, what is right. Why wouldn’t we tell our Christian brothers and sisters to strive for this?
Unfortunately, some modern Lutheran theologians do lose sight of teleology and fall right into these false assumptions about what orthodox Lutherans believe.
Natural Law is the Best Way to Connect with Everyone
Truth is the natural end we all seek. Teleology offers our best chance to get through the irrational thinking that pervades much of the moral confusion today.
The first thing to note is the confusion between purpose and design common in antiteleology. It may well be that one implies the other, but they are not the same. Natural law theory does not hold that the natural law is written only on the hearts of the theists, or theists and deists; it is written on every heart and so must be recognizable even by the person who denies any sort of transcendent source of telos. This is not to say that a person could justifiably recognize one without the other: just as the old saying goes that there are no atheists in foxholes, and as the Psalmist asserts, “the fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God,’”30 it may be that no one who consults his conscience in a matter of natural law, recognizing for instance that it is wrong to steal or to commit adultery, could be anything other than culpably ignorant of the need for a lawgiver. 22
We all experience the natural law. Sin clouds our judgement though. Many people need to reawaken to the natural order all around us.
As I wrap up this discussion of teleology, I hope it is clear now that Christians are not bigots. We are, in fact, acting rationally. We simply want to share the message of God’s love with everyone and see everyone come to know truth.
I do not intend any of the topics in these discussions on teleology to be mean spirited or demeaning. We all are sinners.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
We all need help to save us from these sins.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Unfortunately, for many, the modern mind has been so corrupted that they don’t see things as sins that truly are. Or worse yet, some simply believe that there is no such thing as sins.
Sometimes hearing from a doctor what is wrong with you and the resulting medicine needed is a tough pill to swallow. Thus is God’s relationship with man, his fallen creatures. It’s traumatic to the mind when you are first convicted of your sins. But there is hope! Christ died, so that we may live! Christ is the remedy for our sin.
If you truly love someone you will always want what is best for them even if it requires suffering as part of a remedy. This is also why we need to stand up to the modern culture and share both God’s law and God’s gospel. They are both God’s prognosis and God’s remedy.
And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
- Baker, R. C., & Ehlke, R. C. (2011). Natural law: A Lutheran reappraisal. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House. loc. 41 ↩︎
- https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/the-real-sin-of-onan and also see here for a list of church father quotes on this passage.↩︎
- A common form of licit fertility treatments is called NaProTechnology. ↩︎
- Miller, L., & Horn, T. (2018). Made this way: How to prepare kids to face today’s tough moral issues. El Cajon, CA: Catholic Answers Press. loc. 191 ↩︎
- Unfortunately, statistics concerning cohabitation among Missouri Synod members seem to mirror those of the National Marriage Project. In January 2010, as part of the research for my doctoral thesis, I conducted a detailed survey of 51 LCMS pastors, asking them to make written responses to 31 questions on cohabitation in their parishes. These Lutheran pastors reported that over 57 percent of the couples they now marry are living together prior to the wedding, and that the rate of cohabitation in their congregations is increasing. https://blogs.lcms.org/2011/where-practice-doesnt-make-perfect-6-2011/ ↩︎
- https://blogs.lcms.org/2011/where-practice-doesnt-make-perfect-6-2011/ ↩︎
- https://www.patrickcoffin.media/how-lavender-is-the-church/ ↩︎
- https://www.covenanteyes.com/pornstats/ ↩︎
- Miller, L., & Horn, T. (2018). Made this way: How to prepare kids to face today’s tough moral issues. El Cajon, CA: Catholic Answers Press. loc. 251 ↩︎
- Stoltzfus, Michael. Sexual Intimacy, Spiritual Belonging, and Christian Theology. https://www.elca.org/JLE/Articles/751 ↩︎
- http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm ↩︎
- Scaer, David P. Will the Real Martin Luther Please Stand Up? Concordia Theological Seminary Journal Volume 81:3–4. July/October 2017. p. 293-294 ↩︎
- http://surburg.blogspot.com/2015/08/marks-thoughts-what-is-soft.html ↩︎
- A second symptom of this law-gospel theology is the elevation of the Latin phrase lex sempre accusat (Ap IV 38) to an absolute theological principle. One cannot fail to note the irony in the fact that in 1531, Melanchthon’s position about the law as accusation was made the standard for theology, but then just three years later, he became the villain for offering a Calvin-like definition of the third use of the law. In this law-gospel program, after the law condemns the sinner, it is eliminated from the theological task. The battle cry for the lex semper accusat position could be a variation of Cato’s Carthago delenda est—that is, lex delenda est, “the law must be destroyed.” In this approach, faith relies on the proclaimed word and not on such concrete “things” outlined in the creeds like the virgin birth and the resurrection. Gospel liberates from hearing the law at all.45 With good reason, Yeago calls this approach Gnosticism followed by antinomianism, which is, after all, Braaten’s concern.By itself, the law-gospel becomes its own Gnosticism, and a more damaging antichrist than the papacy. In saying “Lutherans who love the ‘gospel’ must at the same time be enemies of the law,”46 Braaten could have any number of theologians in mind. But it fits Stephen D. Paulson, who, in Lutheran Theology, says that for Luther, “Where Christ is preached as crucified for our sins and sakes, the law comes to an end.”47 This view reappears in his article in the Reformation 2016 issue of Logia—a publication that presents itself as “A Journal of Lutheran Theology.” Scaer, David P. Will the Real Martin Luther Please Stand Up? Concordia Theological Seminary Journal Volume 81:3–4. July/October 2017. p. 292-293 ↩︎
- https://wayback.archive-it.org/all/20080102114247/https://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl?1518&cuTopic_topicID=46&cuItem_itemID=6414 ↩︎
- ibid. ↩︎
- SD VI. The Third Use of the Law
1) Since the Law of God is useful, 1. not only to the end that external discipline and decency are maintained by it against wild, disobedient men; 2. likewise, that through it men are brought to a knowledge of their sins; 3. but also that, when they have been born anew by the Spirit of God, converted to the Lord, and thus the veil of Moses has been lifted from them, they live and walk in the law, a dissension has occurred between some few theologians concerning this third and last use of the Law. 2) For the one side taught and maintained that the regenerate do not learn the new obedience, or in what good works they ought to walk, from the Law, and that this teaching (concerning good works) is not to be urged thence (from the law), because they have been made free by the Son of God, have become the temples of His Spirit, and therefore do freely of themselves what God requires of them, by the prompting and impulse of the Holy Ghost, just as the sun of itself, without any (foreign) impulse, completes its ordinary course. 3) Over against this the other side taught: Although the truly believing are verily moved by God’s Spirit, and thus, according to the inner man, do God’s will from a free spirit, yet it is just the Holy Ghost who uses the written law for instruction with them, by which the truly believing also learn to serve God, not according to their own thoughts, but according to His written Law and Word, which is a sure rule and standard of a godly life and walk, how to order it in accordance with the eternal and immutable will of God.4) For the explanation and final settlement of this dissent we unanimously believe, teach, and confess that although the truly believing and truly converted to God and justified Christians are liberated and made free from the curse of the Law, yet they should daily exercise themselves in the Law of the Lord, as it is written, Ps. 1:2;119:1: Blessed is the man whose delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law doth he meditate day and night. For the Law is a mirror in which the will of God, and what pleases Him, are exactly portrayed, and which should [therefore] be constantly held up to the believers and be diligently urged upon them without ceasing. http://bookofconcord.org/sd-thirduse.php ↩︎
- Paulson, Steve. Law and the Danger of Freedom. https://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/content/pdfs/21-3_The_Law/21-3_Paulson.pdf ↩︎
- The Solid Declaration III. Righteousness of Faith 3. That neither renewal, sanctification, virtues nor good works are tamquam forma aut pars aut causa iustificationis, that is, our righteousness before God, nor are they to be constituted and set up as a part or cause of our righteousness, or otherwise under any pretext, title, or name whatever to be mingled in the article of justification as necessary and belonging thereto; but that the righteousness of faith consists alone in the forgiveness of sins out of pure grace, for the sake of Christ’s merit alone; which blessings are offered us in the promise of the Gospel, and are received, accepted, applied, and appropriated by faith alone. http://bookofconcord.org/sd-righteousness.php ↩︎
- https://issuesetc.org/2017/09/22/2651-gospel-reductionism-dr-john-warwick-montgomery-92217/ ↩︎
- https://shop.1517.org/products/tshirt-weak-on-sanctification-nrp?variant=30907954508 ↩︎
- Oderberg, David. Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Law. P. 62 ↩︎