Monday, May 12, 2014

A Question of Reaction

I remember.

Having a memory is somewhat of a curse in this life.  It gives you a sense of history that is so... annoying.

I remember the day when the complaint about the "liberals" was that everything was about how they felt and not about the clear Word of God.  That the liberals would be the ones speaking about the fight, the cause, bringing the changes to synod that were needed.  That when the "conservatives" sought to counter something, they would begin with the Scriptures - this is what God has declared... and thus our reaction, our response, our position.

Now, when I am critical, who shows me the Scriptures?  Who shows me even the Confessions?

I was pondering comments I have received here when I have been critical of the line or attitude that some of the conservative types have taken... and I noticed something.  Scripture is... rare.

I mean, I get derision.  I get mockery.  That's fine - I can speak sharply, speaking sharply back to me is fine - but where is the use of the Word of God for the reproof?

I mean, we are Lutheran - we above all ought to know that our arguments, our positions must be based upon the clear Word of Scripture... here we stand, we can do no other.

Or at least we ought to do no other.

I think Sasse is right - we ought speak when the Scriptures speak and be silent when the Scriptures are silent.  Yet, how often do we want to go beyond the Scriptures?

We deride the students who write up additional vows designed to promote unity... even when we cheered That They May Be One, even when I've heard talk about how we ought to have additional Confessions (oh, thank you kind Profs at the Sem for mocking that idea!).

We deride the vow as being anti-confessional or supra-confessional, while even AC VII, the passage that describes true unity in the Church admits that rites and ceremonies need not be the same everywhere!  (Although I do think it is highly ironic and foolish, especially given our history and the history of our two Seminaries to not have both folks at St. Louis and Fort Wayne say the same thing... because it's not like there's been any rivalry or faction between the two).

And all is based not upon the Scriptures, not upon the clear Word of God, not upon the Commands of our Lord and what must be done - but rather our preference, our judgment, our wisdom.  And the thing is - we might be right.  Our preference might indeed be better, our judgment sounder, our wisdom deeper - and yet... where are the Scriptures?  Where is that bedrock, that Solid Rock upon which we stand?

When the Reformation happened, Luther cast aside the speculation that Rome had turned into Dogma and returned simply to the Scriptures.

I ask the question.  Have we not just created new speculations that go beyond the Scriptures and made them the new dogmas that we expect others to hold to or to be castigated as faithless?  Have we become the very medieval theologians that Luther decried?

Where is the Scripture, my friends?  Where is the Scripture?


Myrtle said...

Thanks for this. Primary resources. I'm all for that!! The Bible. The Confessions. Give me that!!

the Old Adam said...


And the Bible trumps the Confessions, where the Confessions try to usurp the Bible.

Such as, "Christ is the end of the law…"

(for all the "3rd users" who point to the Confessions and that humanist Melancthon who is responsible for that Scripture denying doctrine)

Sorry…I just couldn't help myself.

But I do believe it is a perfect example of which you speak. And it applies to the wacky ELCA, as well(who are mired in 3rd use - social projects)

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Don't blame that "usurping" on the Confessions. People can abuse the Confessions and read them out of context just as folks can the Scriptures.

Steve Martin said...

The Confessions are great!

But…they are in NO WAY Holy Scripture.

Even Holy Scripture contains words that do not carry the gospel. St. James, for instance.

We Lutherans don't read the Confessions OR the Bible woodenly…as if to ascribe the same weight to all the words.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I point you to my podcast in which we read through James in 4 episodes.

Steve Martin said...

I'll try and listen when I get the chance. Thanks.

But I, like Luther, don't think too much of James. Or Leviticus, or Numbers.

Is it Holy Scripture? Sure!

But we do have a canon within the Canon.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Luther kept getting beat over the head by people using James out of context. There's some good mortification of the Old Adam in James, which is a good thing.