The Law Always Accuses & Always Exhorts

 

Prolegomena:

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…thus read the tweet in question yesterday. In what has now become a Lutheran Twitter cliché (perhaps I flatter myself in thinking so, but this is what I’ve inferred), I piped up in defense of the Law’s so-called “Third Use.” Not really defense, actually— just inclusion…initially.

Had the author said anything untrue? No, certainly not. Did I object to anything he said. No…not initially.

I responded:

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Why did I feel the need to say this? Many have asked me this. Others have chosen, instead of asking me, to vent their frustration via subtweets. For you non-Twitter-users, the illustrious Urban Dictionary provides this handy definition of “subtweet”:

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Perhaps my mentioning of this latter category makes me guilty of the same sort of passive aggression (perhaps this is a sub-blog-post?); I hope not, as I generally try hard to keep my aggression in the active voice. On the other hand, if I mention names, people will say that I’m breaking the eighth commandment. Catch-22. For the moment, I pick the first poison.

Whatever the case may be, it’s eminently fair for people to wonder why I regularly go to bat for the positive function of Divine Law, the “Third Use”, the “Law-as-guide,” etc. This post is my attempt to explain.

 

Narratio: Lex semper accusat et semper hortātur

Most Lutherans are familiar with the truism “The Law always accuses.” (lex semper accusat). To be doubly redundant, it’s true. But it only tells half the story, for God’s Law, when it addresses the Christian, always exhorts him, as well (lex semper hortātur), for the Christian is one person, in whom both Old Man and New Man daily contend. The Law addresses the Christian negatively and positively, accordingly. Lex semper accusat et semper hortātur.

It was wisely stated by an acquaintance on Twitter that…

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Although this kind of statement (coming as it does from Gerhard Ebeling) is often used to contend that the preacher has no ability whatsoever to “use” the law, the author rightly recognizes that the preacher cannot determine what the ultimate effect of his preaching will be. Thus pastors should be bold to preach how they see fit, exhorting and accusing according to the wisdom they have been given. The fact that God will ultimately determine whether their exhortations accuse or whether their accusations exhort does not relieve them of their pastoral duty to tailor their proclamation to the specific needs of their flock, or to the specific needs of individual penitents.

Lex non tantum accusat et non tantum hortātur

Put a little differently, it must be stressed that while the Law always accuses, it does not only accuse. When we are constrained by context — as, for example, the exegete is when he is exegeting the Scriptures— we should speak specifically about what the Law is doing in a particular context, whether curbing, accusing, or guiding, etc. But when we are not constrained by context we should not speak of the Law in a truncated manner and promote a reductionistic understanding of the counsel of God.

It is often said (correctly) that we should not “hyphenate the Gospel”, that the free forgiveness of sins on account of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection should never be followed by a “…but.” This is most certainly true. However, we are often less prone to defend the Law. We are fine with “hyphenated Law.” And this is understandable, for the Gospel can be understood to “hyphenate” the Law in some sense: you are a sinner, and you will remain one until you die and are resurrected, BUT God counts you as righteous on account of Christ. This is what simul iustus et peccator means. Christ Our Lord is the end of the accusation of the Law, for its final accusation— which is to say, God’s final righteous judgment— came to rest on Christ on the cross and killed Him. But in killing Him, it was killed. And unlike Him, it did not rise again. Nothing proclaims this more beautifully than the traditional liturgical hymnody for the Feast of Easter:

Death and life have contended
In that combat stupendous:
The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
(Wipo of Burgundy, Victimae Paschali)

It was a strange and dreadful strife
When life and death contended;
The victory remained with life;
The reign of death was ended.
(Richard Massie, Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands)

But we must be clear that what has been done away with is the Law’s negative— the Law “in the narrow sense”, if you will. This only is what has ended. St. Paul’s words in his letter to the Church at Colossi bear witness to this: “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh,” the Apostle writes…

…He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (Col. ii, 13-15).

In this passage we see that the “negative of the Law” finds its end in Christ— “end” in the sense of actual termination, not just telos. Here we have the end of the “First Use” of the Law: “having disarmed principalities and powers.” And here we have the end of the “Second Use” of the Law: “having wiped out the handwriting that was against us, which was contrary to us.” Of course, the “curb” and “mirror” are still daily realities in the “already/not yet” experience of the Christian, for the Old Adam is still in the throes of baptismal death this side of the Resurrection. But these first two dimensions of the Law are not eternal, for the Old Adam is not eternal.

It must be recognized— and not merely grudgingly assented to, but joyfully confessed— that we should not, cannot, and ought not want to “hyphenate the Law”. The BUT comes only after the Law’s negating (curbing and killing) address to mankind. It does not come after something like this: “The Law of God is good and wiseBUT…“; or, “Lord, how I love Your Law; I meditate on it day and night, BUT” To speak in this way is antinomian, pure and simple. (And contra Gerhard O. Forde and the tendentious arguments of his popularizers, legalism and antinomianism are not one and the same thing.)

The Law per se cannot and does not end, for it is the eternal will of God— lex aeterna. “Only the Decalogue is eternal,” wrote Blessed Doctor Luther in his Antinomian Disputations (WA 39.1:413.17, p. 75). This is the necessary “broad sense” of the Law. We cannot exclude it, as it is the category sui generis which includes the others. If we as Lutheran Christians are to speak of the Law in a general way, this must constantly be affirmed.

Essence precedes existence

Google auto-fill, FTW...

Google auto-fill, FTW…

And here we get to the root of the problem: you cannot hyphenate the Law in toto; you can only “hyphenate” its first two “uses.” If you attempt to hyphenate the Law in its entirety, you end up an antinomian. If we say that the Law only addresses the Christian as the Old Man and never as the New Man, we’ve stumbled into— you guessed it— the Flacian error. (NB: I believe this is pronounced “FLOT-see-un”, and that its namesake’s name, Matthias Flacius, is pronounced “FLOT-see-us”.) Only a Flacian errorist says that the Law only accuses. And before anyone gets their shorts in a wad and takes offense, let me say that I am not calling anyone in the discussion in question a Flacian. There is a difference between material/intentional error and formal/unintentional error. To me, this seems to be an instance of the latter. To whit:

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Both of these statement fail to recognize that the “Third Use” of the Law is not so much a “use” as it is a revelation of the essence of the Law. That is why I suggested the following when I responded:

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And now my typo will live on in eternity. Mea maxima culpa…

That there is some unintentional product placement. Awkward.

That there is some unintentional product placement. Awkward.

The Law is God’s good, gracious, and eternal will for His creatures. That is what essence refers to (Lat.: sum, esse – “to be”). A philosophy prof of mine was fond of referring to “essence” as the “is-ness” of a thing. On the other hand, the Law’s uses or functions are not constitutive of its essence; they are derivative attributes. One might say that they make up the Law’s economy.

Unfortunately, we American Lutherans are quite used to speaking in existential categories. Raise your hand if the first thing you learned about the Law in catechism class as a child was “S.O.S., Shows Our Sin”— believe me, I’m raising mine. While this is a true statement, it is not a statement of what the Law is; it is a statement of what the Law does, and an incomplete one at that, much like Mr. Grunewald’s original statement. (NB: I’m not saying that this catechetical motif is bad per se; however, it is often coupled with the sort of reductionism which is so prevalent in American Lutheranism, even within that which is putatively “confessional.”)

 

Beware the “Radical ‘Lutheran'” leaven

My dear friend Pastor Rich Shields— who, unlike myself, is an actual trained theologian, as well as one of the most capable exegetes I have ever met— noted wisely that context should determine the emphasis we take from the Law. However, when we’re not doing exegesis, but generalizing about the Law per se — i.e., when there is no context— it is not proper to speak of it as a mere existential category:

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It is presumptuous to speak about only one aspect of what the Law does (the negative) when generalizing about the Law. Again, see Miss K’s wise emendation near the beginning of this piece. When one is not constrained by context, one should speak about all of what it does— it always accuses, and it always exhorts. Ultimately, one should move beyond this to speak about what the Law is. Not only is this proper rhetoric and proper logic, it simply proper theology. It bears mentioning that Gerhard O. Forde, the Obi-Wan Kenobi of “Radical ‘Lutheranism'” completely rejected this view of the Law, i.e. that it is the eternal will of God, and insisted that the Law was simply an existential category, “that which shows us our sin.” This is a prime example of Forde’s famous/infamous prioritization of “act” over “being”, in which God’s address of His creation— His “speech-act”— alone establishes the nature of things. Nothing has its own essence— things only exist inasmuch as they are “addressed” by God. “There is no continuously existing subject,” a thing does not have “a substance that persists over time,” etc., etc. There is, of course, the small problem of this making hay out of Article I of the Creed.

But I digress…

To articulate and proclaim the fullness of the Law and the fulness of the Gospel— this is the proper work of the theologian and the pastor alike. However, it is not popular work. You will never be a celebrity if you do this. You will fail to “reach people for Christ”— according to how this is popularly (and wrongly) understood. You won’t start the Third Great Awakening. On the other hand, if what you really want is the latest trending reductionist one-off of Lutheranism, go to Liberate.org or send your dollars to Matt Popovits; don’t come knocking on the door of the Church of the Augustana. And for the love of God — don’t pretend that there’s an equivalence between these two theologies; there is not.

If I might “drop the open-minded pretense” (hat-tip to John Jeremiah Sullivan) real quick and make an aside, it needs to be said that the recent Lutheran clambering and swooning over Pr. Tullian Tchividjian is embarrassing. It needs to stop, like, yesterday. The influence that actual orthodox Lutheranism has had on Pr. Tchividjian’s theology is practically nil, whereas the (deleterious) influence his theology seems to be having on Lutherans, especially new Lutherans, is ample. (Call it “one way love”— that just came to me.) Pr. Tchividjian has basically taken the worst aspects of heterodox “Radical ‘Lutheranism'”, amplified and sexified them with celebrity mega-church star-power, and then sold the end-product back to Lutherans— literally and figuratively. And he’s made a killing doing it. In this simile the Lutherans are like sick men paying a quack-doctor for transfusions of their own infected blood. The supreme irony of a Reformed-ish pastor peddling “Radical ‘Lutheranism'” to Lutherans is so rich that it would be funny if it weren’t…not funny. And, no, it’s not “doctrinal perfectionism” to say so. As I have written elsewhere:

[T]he reason for the recent hubbub about Forde, Paulson, et al, is that their errors have infected confessional Lutheranism in significant ways— some of them subtle, some of them not so subtle. Many of us were quite attracted to the “Fordean gospel paradigm” when we first came into confessional Lutheranism, even though we might not even have known who Gerhard Forde was— I know that I was in this camp. After awhile, though, the source or official nomenclature of the error doesn’t matter— “Radical Lutheranism”, “Fordeanism”, whatever one calls it, is heterodox and dangerous, especially for recent Lutheran converts. Like a bad gene, it keeps breeding mutation throughout successive generations. “Therefore let any man who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (I Co x, 12). It is important not only to stand fast, but to stand fast in what is true, “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, and by the trickery of men” (Eph iv, 14). For “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (II Co xi, 14) — how much more easily might others deceive, wittingly or unwittingly, if the father of lies himself can mask himself in this way! We must be on guard.

I was about to write, “But I digress…,” (sorry — it’s an annoying habit) but this actually isn’t a digression: the consideration of the Law as an existential category and the denial of lex aeterna are hallmarks of the Elertian (cf. Werner Elert) school of Lutheran theology, from whence Radical Lutheranism largely derives (via such theologians as the late Gerhard O. Forde and Gerhard Ebeling, as well as the contemporary theologian Oswald Bayer; for a more detailed treatment of the Erlangen school of Lutheranism and the “Elertian” gloss of the Law, see Law, Life, and the Living God: The Third Use of the Law in Modern American Lutheranism, by Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray, LCMS Fifth Vice-President).

The Law qua lex aeterna will always guide our doings, even in the Resurrection; it will, however, no longer accuse or curb, for there will be no sin. “The secret of the angels is: first they do, then they hear” (Rabbinic saying, source unknown). If we as Lutheran Christians are to speak of the Law in a general way, we must speak of it as a good and wonderful thing. The words of “Quiet George” are apposite here:

[W]e have not yet convinced ourselves that the Law is beautiful, and should in every way be our delight, simultaneously the object of our meditation, the joy of our contemplation, and ultimately (though not necessarily most importantly) the true work of our hands; for God is the Law, just as God is Love. If we say the Law only accuses, then we say that God only accuses. But it is the Love of God, that is, the Law of God, which effected our salvation. Therefore, we should rejoice in the Law always, for the Law is not something separate from God, a list of requirements; it is the essence of God made comprehensible to a created mind.

Amen.

Conclusion, or something like it…

In fine, when Lutherans make faulty generalizations about the Law in public forums, it isn’t just bad rhetoric and bad logic (though it is both those things); no, it is a misrepresentation of our doctrine, that is to say, a departure from the “sound pattern of words” and a misrepresentation of Christianity. As Mr. Grunewald knows, I generally don’t care when non-Lutherans say insipid and spurious things about the Faith. But when Lutherans, especially Lutherans who should ostensibly know better (i.e., pastors and teachers), misrepresent Lutheranism in public, I just might have something to say about it. And why wouldn’t I? I’m a Lutheran; therefore I have as much stake as any other Lutheran in how our confession is made before the world. I know that my position really bothers some people and that not everyone agrees with me. But the same is true for everyone else, so sue me. If you’re reading this, and you have a face, somebody is complaining about you to somebody else — I guarantee it. I hardly think my interest in sorting through the issues in contemporary Lutheranism and critiquing people I disagree with is shocking or somehow “beyond the pale.” But, at the end of the day, that’s just my three cents. That and a dollar bill won’t even get you a cup of coffee. If this really gets your goat, and the only thing that will keep you from opening a vein is a ragey bout of sub-tweeting and passive-aggressive hash-tagging, then by all means be my guest. But if you can manage, please try to avoid doing either of those things.

 

+SDG+

svenstclaire

13 Comments

  1. Read last post & had a question: I’m not all theological and stuff. I respond better to more practical language, but not practical in that theologically soundness should be ignored. Just have trouble grasping it at times. All that to say, do You think using tweets in the manner which the article did is effective or could it be more divisive because it could seem like a personal attack as well as appear to puff up your personal intellect and knowledge over others. Especially when you kind of admitted what was said in some of the tweets weren’t necessarily bad or unsound, just incomplete.

  2. The structure and style of the post add a great deal of clarity. Thanks for taking on the issue in a pointed way. This is a fundamental issue in the “confessional” camp.

    • Interesting post. Though I’m not entirely unsympathetic to some of the sentiments posted on this blog or in this post specifically, I think the author is uninformed about the genesis behind some of the theological impulses in the thinkers he criticizes – particularly Elert, Forde, and Bayer. If I’m understanding correctly, the argument is that these theologians are operating with an existentialist framework that drives their theology to prioritize act over being, thus resulting in an instrumental construal of the law and a denial of the lex aeterna.

      This is an inherently problematic assertion to make since Elert’s formative years actually predate the work of Sartre and Heidegger. To say that Bayer is operating with existentialist concerns is patently ignorant, since he himself states that the impetus for his original doctoral study of promissio was to overcome the existentializing tendencies within German Protestantism’s Bultmannian milieu (see Oswald Bayer, “How I Became a Luther Scholar,” Lutheran Quarterly 27 [2013]: 250). Furthermore, Bayer’s use of speech act theory is derived not from existentialism, but rather from the Anglophone analytic tradition. I recommend J.L. Austin’s How to Do Things With Words and the more recent work of Searle on speech act theory. Forde is possibly the more complicated theologian, but to argue that existentialist concerns drive his theology is simplistic and careless.

      Now, the drive to prioritize being over act that I sense in this post and in other posts on this blog is theologically dangerous, since it can seemingly (in my view) only result in the fatal Augustinian soteriological problematic that can structurally never arrive at sola fide, since justification is only really “real” if it results in some change in the subject on an ontological level. (I would recommend Mr. St. Claire read Daphne Hampson’s Christian Contradictions: The Structures of Lutheran and Catholic Thought to correct some of his misunderstandings of Lutheran theology). Such ontologizing of justification can only terrorize the conscience, since the assurance of my salvation rests on some alteration of my being, rather than on God’s gracious address through the external word proclaiming the work of Christ for my sins. Luther’s stroke of insight was that it is faith – and not first and foremost love – that grasps hold of the promise that is entirely external to the self, thus transforming Christian existence from one of incurvation toward the love of God and the love of neighbor. Without being overly direct, this prioritization of being over act undermines the structure of Lutheran theology itself, and blunts the kerygmatic radicalness of the NT’s (and specifically Paul’s) preaching.

      • Dear Elertian,

        Thanks for reading and commenting.

        You write:

        I think the author is uninformed about the genesis behind some of the theological impulses in the thinkers he criticizes – particularly Elert, Forde, and Bayer.

        You’ll be relieved to learn that I am not uninformed. Rather, you have extrapolated a point I made into a thesis, and then criticized my essay as thought it were driven by that thesis. To whit:

        If I’m understanding correctly, the argument is that these theologians are operating with an existentialist framework that drives their theology to prioritize act over being, thus resulting in an instrumental construal of the law and a denial of the lex aeterna.

        That is an argument I’m making, yes.

        This is an inherently problematic assertion to make since Elert’s formative years actually predate the work of Sartre and Heidegger.

        Au contraire, it is your assertion which is problematic. One can be need not have postdated Sartre or Heidegger in order to manifest existentialist thinking — this shouldn’t even have to be said. These men — Sartre and H-digger — are far from being the twin founts of existentialist thought. Elert got his existentialism honestly, like most of the continental German Protestants of his day: from Kierkegaard.

        To say that Bayer is operating with existentialist concerns is patently ignorant…

        …is it, though? You’re proceeding from bad premises (see above), so this critique definitely lacks weight. “Patently ignorant” does have a certain zesty feel to it though. I’ve used that one, too, on occasion, usually as a way of letting off steam. That’s about all it’s good for.

        “…since he himself states that the impetus for his original doctoral study of promissio was to overcome the existentializing tendencies within German Protestantism’s Bultmannian milieu.

        So…because Bayer himself says something (in this case, that he’s not “operating with existentialist concerns”), the matter is then settled? I think not. Bayer has a beef with other existentialists — so what? It’s a family fight, much like Arminians vs. Calvinists.

        Such ontologizing of justification can only terrorize the conscience, since the assurance of my salvation rests on some alteration of my being, rather than on God’s gracious address through the external word proclaiming the work of Christ for my sins. Luther’s stroke of insight was that it is faith – and not first and foremost love – that grasps hold of the promise that is entirely external to the self, thus transforming Christian existence from one of incurvation toward the love of God and the love of neighbor. Without being overly direct, this prioritization of being over act undermines the structure of Lutheran theology itself, and blunts the kerygmatic radicalness of the NT’s (and specifically Paul’s) preaching.

        Ah! Some substance/an effective address to respond to — pick your metaphysic. You’re wrong, and you’re thrashing a straw-man, but this is solid enough to chew on. I look forward to responding within the week.

        BTW, my name is Trent. Sven is a pseudonym. See the “About” section of the blog. No need to call me “Mr. st-Claire.” “Trent” is fine. You should also feel free to speak to me in the second person, since I am the author of the piece.

      • Elertian writes: “Now, the drive to prioritize being over act that I sense in this post and in other posts on this blog is theologically dangerous, since it can seemingly (in my view) only result in the fatal Augustinian soteriological problematic that can structurally never arrive at sola fide, since justification is only really “real” if it results in some change in the subject on an ontological level.”

        I don’t see the problem. Justification does result in ontological change. Everyone God declares to be righteous ends up as ontologically righteous, forever. But not in this life, so in the mean time we need to embrace the promise of forgiveness and renewal by faith alone.

    • Thanks for reading, Paul! I’m glad you found the post helpful. I will be writing more on the topic soon.

      • Trent,

        I have a couple of points in response.

        1. So if Kierkegaard really is the source of Elert’s prioritzation of act over being, then you need to provide textual documentation of that claim. If you respond to this, I will expect sustained engagement with the primary sources. But either way, even if Elert’s usage of Kierkegaard can be substantiated, I didn’t think it worth mentioning that Kierkegaard really is not an existentialist in the proper sense of the term, which really only refers to Sartre’s thought, though can more generally be applied to philosophers like Heidegger as well as others. Indeed, it was scholars like Sartre and Heidegger who brought Kierkegaard into the mainstream continental conversation in the aftermath of World War One. The Danish thinker was not before that time a significant topic of conversation. So needless to say, you and I are using the term “existentialism” in incommensurate ways.

        2. I think the elements of Elert’s thought that you find objectionable could be far more easily attributed to the influence of Schleiermacher and German idealism on the Erlangen school (and that school’s subsequent influence on Elert) rather than on some nascent existentialism that never existed until the interwar years anyways. But none of this is going to be productive for you intellectually without sufficient engagement with and critique of the original sources. Indeed, in the spirit of concession, I would agree with many who have critiqued Elert for over emphasizing the phenomenology of the law’s condemnation as fundamental to Christian experience, and thus as the starting point for theological reflection – rather than the actual, scriptural content of the law. But this is more a prolegommenal issue rather than a properly dogmatical one. I just don’t find Kant’s ethical theories quite as convincing as those nineteenth century confessionalists at Erlangen happened to. However, I think a defender of Elert’s theology like Lowell Green would be able to document the dynamics of this conversation far more competently than I.

        3. Regarding Bayer, I think your response indicates your own unwillingness to actually engage in a substantive interaction with the primary sources. Have you read the LQ article I referred to above, and if so, what do you think about the claims he makes therein? You’ll also need to account for the fact that the philosophical categories Bayer deploys in his work, specifically the Theolgie, come from analytic, not continental philosophy. If you’re aware of other, more contemporary conversations about ontology, such as those generated by radical orthodoxy, you would understand that Bayer is viewed as an ally in the struggle to de-existentialize theology. In particular I’m referring to Paul R. Hinlicky’s positive assessment of Bayer’s work, at least as good Luther interpretation, as well as the positive interaction with Bayer’s Hamann scholarship by the radical orthodox theologian John Betz. Both of these thinkers would be very sympathetic to the anti-modernist, ontological trajectory for theology that you would seem to be charting.

      • Trent,

        1. Wouldn’t dismembering what I’ve anonymously written in later blog posts just falsify the claims you’ve advanced? Constructing such a straw man pretty much proves that even you don’t believe that the assertions you’ve made have been substantiated. Great strategy: arrive at some conclusions, worry about evidence later. Perhaps that worked at Hillsdale, but it won’t elsewhere.

        2. Regarding the smugness, I don’t think I’ve taken up an attitude substantively different than yours – I’ve just done the research to merit acting as such.

        3. I think your shyness about posting my comment indicates your inability or unwillingness to actually engage in a debate on an academic level – and it saves you more embarrassment than it does me. But in a sense I don’t blame you for refusing to post it. Doing so would not be in your best interest intellectually.

        4. On the other hand, I dare you to post my response that is now lingering in limbo, and actually respond to what I have said therein. Perhaps doing so would prepare you to engage academically on the graduate level.

        5. But ultimately, I think you have a serious problem if you haven’t actually read the primary sources that you’ve criticized here. I can’t say that it isn’t obvious just on the basis of reading through your posts, but seriously dude, if you’re going to engage in a public discussion like this where those who are actually conversant with the subject matter at hand could come by, then perhaps you should actually read the texts.

        • 1. I think I know who you actually are.

          2. Yes, correct: you are smug. I, too, have done my research.

          3. I’m not a shy person.

          4. OK, I posted it.

          5. “I think you have a serious problem if you haven’t actually read the primary sources that you’ve criticized here.” — Well, I have. So that takes care of that conditional statement. I’ve got ninety-nine problems, but not having read the primary sources isn’t one.

          “I can’t say that it isn’t obvious just on the basis of reading through your posts, but seriously dude, if you’re going to engage in a public discussion like this where those who are actually conversant with the subject matter at hand could come by, then perhaps you should actually read the texts.”

          OK. Whatever…dude. I think I might style you “You Who Are Conversant With The Subject Matter” from this point forward.

          The rest of you: since “Elertian” wants everyone to know how smart he thinks he is, I’ve taken him up on his “dare” to publish his magna opera comments. Since apparently openness is the name of today’s game, here was the email I sent to him in private, which he responded to in a comment (the second numbered list):

          “Elertian”,

          Actually, my response indicates what I made clear in my first comment: that I’ll be thinking and writing about this more later on. No, I didn’t read the LQ article. I work on Saturdays. Not surprisingly, immediately reading all of your suggestions wasn’t at the top of my list of priorities.

          Kindly keep your smug intellectual self-pleasuring off my blog. If you want to have a conversation, act like you’re a guest, because you are. Right now you’re just dropping names and begging questions. Saying “Aha! You haven’t provided documention!” might work in high school Lincoln-Douglas debates, but when you pull such hijinks here, it just makes you look like an ass. I have documentation, but I don’t always keep Turabian on my computer desk. In any event, I’ll save you the embarrassment for now and just leave your comment in limbo. And I’ll get back to your original comment at my leisure.

          If all of this philosturbating makes you feel superior, by all means continue. You’re probably smarter than me, and you’ve probably read more — many people can say that. But you’re all wet on this. I may take the time to prove it on this blog; then again, I may simply document this interaction, slap a John Doe on you, and use the material later on when I have more time. If you find my censorship of your genius offensive, go write your own blog.

          TDD

          “Elertian” — back to you:

          An open forum is like a free market — just because it’s free doesn’t mean everything bought and sold is good or edifying. Since this is my blog, I decide whether comments meet the minimum standard of…well…being worth publishing. I am certainly no stranger to criticism, nor do I shrink from good-faith debate with people who may or may not be more well-read than I, are interested in similar topics, and share a love for the life of the mind, especially theology. But I don’t like wasting time engaging in jib-jab with priggish braying donkeys who invite themselves into discussions simply in order to get off on hearing themselves bray. You don’t have the right to be an ass on my blog. You lack manners.

          As I said before, I’ll respond at my leisure to your…weird accusations. But as I said before, it’s anything but a high priority right now. Knowing you (as far as I have observed), you will surely read that as me bowing out, saying “Uncle”, shutting up because I can’t put up, something along those lines. And that’s fine. You’ve worked hard for that feeling, and you deserve it — I won’t try to take it away from you. In any event, feel free to engage the substance of what I wrote at any time. I might edit out the annoying smugness of your future comments to help keep it relevant, for the benefit of the other interlocutors (I see you there, Eric) who aren’t interested in the size of your academic phallus, etc. Since I’m going to edit it out anyway, though, you might save yourself some time and not include it in the first place.

          Think carefully before you respond.

  3. Well now…. the confessions say this: “the :Law always…ONLY….necessarily…continuously….accuses. did you see that always. Let’s modify our theology to that only rather than the confessions to our theology?
    And no I am not a fan of elert or forde. i am of the confessions!!!! :).

    the confessions also say that the law terrifies the conscience. and in this terror of conscience faith is strengthened and grows.

    yes the law instructs!!!! it instructs us that we fail to measure up!! so see? it doesnt ONLY accuse…it does OTHER things!…. but…um…it still only ends up only accusing us…. fc article 6 says that we should exercise ourselves in good works. Why? to become more aware of our sinfulness and so rely, alone on Christ. so yes. the law ALSO guides us on good works! and… while it does that, it relentlessly accuses us at exactly the same time.

    i think for some lutherans they think of before/after…. or then/now. the fc art six is about now and now. the law is ALONE for the Old Adam. Not for the new man. it is about death. and that death is worked by the same holy spirit at the same time he is making us alive in christ. both death and raising up are happening simultaneously in the simul. its so not before and after. that is to completely misread fc art 6.

    and the Law? Only about death. Luther in his antinomian disputations says this: “the law, sin and death are inseparable. to the extent that you are alive you are under the dominion of the law, sin and death. to the extent you are dead in christ, hidden in christ, you are lord over sin death and the law. so where is this man who is lord over sin death and the law? i cant show you. he is dead. is is in another eon in heaven already with christ. ”

    the problem with those who misunderstand or deny the 3rd use is this: they dont fully understand that original sin is not only a defect but it denies to man the power to do anything at all spiritually, with or without the help of the hs. powerless. the second error is because everyone glosses over the reference to the “veil of moses”. at the start of fc art 6. if one does not understand that small reference, he is going to read art 6 in a calvinist sense. calvinists too have a 3rd use. but it is not a lutheran 3rd use. calvins 3rd use has the law doing something other than kill and terrrify and accuse and … well. for calvinists the law is a sanctification-helper. its where we cooperate with the hs in our sanctification. um. no.

    • Dear William,

      Your comment doesn’t make much sense. If you’re going to participate in the conversation on my blog, I’d appreciate it if you took the time to capitalize, punctuate properly, and write with a little more clarity. You contradict yourself several times with what you say. Frankly, it’s just plain awkward to point this out — I would assume that it was a mistake had I not had the misfortune of reading your inchoate comments on Dr. Veith’s blog over the years.

      I would also appreciate it if you’d cite those parts of the confessions (article, section, etc.) you are quoting. By the way, it’s sort of poor form to excise huge chunks of text out with ellipses.

      My impression is that you’re very confused. To whit:

      The problem with those who misunderstand or deny the 3rd use is this: they don’t fully understand that original sin is not only a defect but it denies to man the power to do anything at all spiritually, with or without the help of the Holy Spirt. Powerless.

      I’m sorry, but you’re out of your mind.

      [A]s soon as the Holy Ghost, as has been said, through the Word and holy Sacraments, has begun in us this His work of regeneration and renewal, it is certain that through the power of the Holy Ghost we can and should cooperate, although still in great weakness. But this [that we cooperate] does not occur from our carnal natural powers, but from the new powers and gifts which the Holy Ghost has begun in us in conversion, as St. Paul expressly and earnestly exhorts that as workers together with Him we receive not the grace of God in vain, (2 Cor. 6:1). But this is to be understood in no other way than that the converted man does good to such an extent and so long as God by His Holy Spirit rules, guides, and leads him, and that as soon as God would withdraw His gracious hand from him, he could not for a moment persevere in obedience to God. But if this were understood thus [if any one would take the expression of St. Paul in this sense], that the converted man cooperates with the Holy Ghost in the manner as when two horses together draw a wagon, this could in no way be conceded without prejudice to the divine truth. (2 Cor. 6:1: Συνεργοῦντες δὲ καὶ παρακαλοῦμεν): We who are servants or coworkers with God beseech you who are God’s husbandry and God’s building, 1 Cor. 3:9, to imitate our example, that the grace of God may not be among you in vain, 1 Cor. 15:10, but that ye may be the temple of God, living and dwelling in you, 2 Cor. 6:16.)

      Therefore there is a great difference between baptized and unbaptized men. For since, according to the doctrine of St. Paul, (Gal. 3:27), all who have been baptized have put on Christ, and thus are truly regenerate, they have now arbitrium liberatum (a liberated will), that is, as Christ says, they have been made free again, John 8:36; whence they are able not only to hear the Word, but also to assent to it and accept it, although in great weakness. (FC SD II:65–67)

      Let me guess — I’m “denying the Simul”, which you’re going to tell me means that the Christian is two persons/has two wills, etc. Or perhaps the Christian is the man of sin who participates in Christ outside of himself ecstatically by faith. Either way, I’m not really interested in having that conversation.

      And as far as Luther’s Antinomian Disputations go, you are either ignorant, deluded, or just plain dishonest.

      Good day.

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