Todd Wilken: “Is the Law Bad?”

Image by Esox11.

Image by Esox11.

Several months ago, I wrote a piece here on my blog entitled “If anyone should say XYZ, let him be anathema” – On The Usefulness of the Negativa; in that piece I made the following observation regarding the “‘No one’s actually a soft antinomian’ argument that’s been regaining currency in the Lutheran blogosphere and social media”, noting some common objections:

“This is a fake problem”, “You’re hunting for Sasquatch”, “You’re thrashing a strawman”, “No one actually does this”, etc. There are varied refrains, all with the same gist: extended critiques of aberrant doctrine and practice are a waste of time, a tilting at windmills, and “confusing to the laity.”


But the (perhaps absurd) irony of this claim— i.e., that those LCMS pastors who are concerned about the specter of antinomianism (be it soft, neo, functional, practical, what have you) are just shadowboxing— is that, to a man, ever single one of the pastors whom I have seen writing about this problem have identified themselves, first and foremost, as epitomizing the tendency towards practical antinomianism at some point in their past.

Today the Rev’d Todd Wilken, LCMS pastor and host of Issues, Etc., published a piece in the Issues, Etc. Journal entitled “Is the Law Bad?” Here are his prefatory remarks:

For this edition of the Journal, I have written something of a confession: “Is the Law Bad?” For many years, I, like many other Lutherans, have become sloppy in the way I thought and spoke about God’s Law. It’s time to rid ourselves of the many myths about God’s Law that endanger the Gospel.

And from the article itself:

You might say, “Wilken, you’re just setting up a straw man. No Lutheran really thinks that the Law is a bad thing.” I certainly did…without even realizing that I did. In truth, this is a personal story. For the better part of the last 25 years, I have been sloppy too. How? Because at one time or another, intentionally or unintentionally, I accepted and perpetuated some or all of the following myths about the Law.

wilkenThank you, Pastor Wilken, not only for your honesty and humility in confessing a former error, but for your testimony of the truth at a time when it is sorely needed. May it be that all pastors, teachers, and laymen in the LCMS and in North American Lutheranism as a whole take courage from your example and learn from your words.

You can read Pastor Wilken’s article here.