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What Luther Says

Facebook (False) Theology At Its Finest -- Err, Worst!

Here's another prime example of Facebook theology -- false theology -- that is so prevalent these days.

Now, at first glance, you might think, "Jeff, what's the big deal? This is how I believe God operates anyway. I mean, what about Romans 8:28, right? Isn't that sort of what this picture is reminding us of?"

As is so often the case these days, a picture like the one above certainly feels good to the "Old Adam" in us all (or to those who truly despise doctrine), but it's so dangerous because it leaves so much open to one's own interpretation.

For starters, there are no specific Bible verses attached to this one. Big red flag! Just words that we are supposed to identify with and then accept as Biblical truth without much thought since the picture is supposed to be the main thrust here anyway.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, see, this is why I keep saying that it's so important for each and every one of us to not only know what we believe, but to also know why we believe it.

Yes, I know that Martin Luther once said that "Reason is the Devil's whore" (or something to that effect), but he also made several statements to suggest that he wasn't entirely against rationalism/reason at all times, but only that we keep it in its proper place as believers.

It's ok to use the brain that God gave us and to view this picture critically with the Word of God at the forefront of our minds rather than simply accepting it at face value. Otherwise, we wouldn't have passages like 2 Timothy 2:15, Acts 17:11, and 1 Thessalonians 5:21 among many others that caution us about this very thing.

Thankfully, there are several groups on Facebook that exist solely to examine these sorts of things and get good Biblical discussions started about them so that we can protect ourselves and protect others we love as well.

With that in mind, here are some good comments in response to this particular picture.

Rev. Bob Liichow: What the kid gives up their cherished "little sin" and Jesus gives them a much much bigger sin?
DA Dean There is a sense that it makes good sense. In that, what God gives us is always better than what he asks us to "give up." But, it doesn't necessarily mean it will always be, or even usually, a "better version" of what we give up. Meaning, giving up 20 dollars wont always get you more money or giving up a beat up car wont get you a corvette. So there is truth in this, and can be take in a "biblical way," but also danger as well. Just shows how important theology is when seeing something like this. 
DA Dean And on another note, God has already gave him self, through the death and resurrection of Christ. So to encourage us to give up anything/everything Christ himself should be more than enough. To receive Christ, in effect, is like gaining all you can gain. So by giving up anything/everything for Christ alone should be more than sufficient. We should not expect anything else, be it money, earthly possessions, health, good human relationships, etc.

Both are spot on, aren't they?

Below are the comments that make up my own two cents on this one.

As a new Lutheran who escaped this kind of twisted theology, I kinda wish this picture was of Jesus with nothing behind His back to make the point that He is what we need (and should want) because of Who He is and what He has already done (and does) for us, and that it said something above His head that pointed us to John 6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." But that's just me. Besides, I'm told that that kind of "doctrine" is "way too much" for many Christians and many churches these days anyway so I guess it's asking too much for a Christian cartoon to go down that road, huh? Forgive me, I don't mean to be so cynical and snarky here, but I know the kind of danger and damage these types of "Feel Good Christianity" cartoons pose, because they negatively impacted me for far too long. I'm glad there's a place here on FB where we can discuss them and learn how and why to warn others about them. Thanks for sharing and grace and peace to you and yours!

At the end of the day, yes, many of the Christians who post and share these kinds of pictures online mean well and have good intentions. The problem is that merely having "good intentions" does not give you (or me) a free pass when it comes to peddling false doctrine from false teachers.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, we always need to respond to this kind of "Facebook Theology" since we can't tolerate false doctrine due to the fact that "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" (Galatians 5:9), but we must be very careful that we are always "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) since it's likely that many Christians who promote these sorts of things simply don't know any better.

After all, I believed this sort of thing up until only a year ago.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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