Wednesday, August 26, 2009

3rd Law of Theology

"For every error there is an equal and opposite error" - Brown's third law of Theology

This is something that seems to be true - that for every error that pops up in the Church, something opposite comes. You have people who deny that Christ is God, you have folks who deny that He was really a man. You have folks who say that the Lord's Supper is nothing but our Lord's Body and Blood, you have those who say it is nothing but Bread and Wine. There is a pendulous motion to error and heresy in the Church.

We have seen one error demonstrated this past week in the ELCA - the error of gross antinomianism, where the clear Word of God is ignored and written off so that people can do whatever they want (and feel good about how enlightened and open minded they are). When we see this error happen, we who recognize this for the error it is must not fall into the equal and opposite error in response - the error of legalism - where we go beyond the Word of God (which is ignoring it just as much) and mandate things which are not mandated by God (and feel good about how righteous and moral and dedicated we are).

It is the error of legalism that is more common in the LCMS - where we will place the traditions of man above the Word of God - and not merely place the traditions as something to follow because they are a good idea, because they are beneficial, because they ensure good order among us - but because they are "right".

I once heard a pastor who I like and respect (although disagree with on occasion - as we shall see) say that if we do not see God give permission for something in Scripture, we cannot do it. In somethings I can see this - if God is telling the priests how they are to do something. . . that's how you do it. Period. Unless God says, do this this way.

However, the vast majority of commandments are not descriptive (Do things this way), but prohibitive (Thou shall not). When a command is descriptive, we dare not go beyond it. However, when it comes to things that are forbidden, we cannot *add* to these either.

Thus, I will say this - Unless God has forbidden something, we dare not forbid it.

There is a reason for this. We have the great and wonderful gift of freedom - that we are free as Christians to go and love our neighbor is pleasing to us as God's new creations. However, when we see people eschew this freedom and return to the yoke of sin (often in the name of "freedom"), our reaction can be to flee to the law ourselves and make new lines in the sand so that we not abuse our freedom in the same way. We will abandon freedom for fear of sin - and that is not Godly, for freedom is His gift to us.

I would say that same thing happens politically - when there is fear because people break the law, our response is often to make more laws - it makes us feel better. Oh, someone shot someone else with an illegal gun -- well, how would making more guns illegal have fixed that? Sadly, in the Church we will do the same thing, create new laws of our own devising that do nothing but curtail freedom.

Hold on to your freedom - live it out. And when you fail, confess your sins and delight in Christ's forgiveness. But neither and antinomian nor a legalist be!

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