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What Luther Says

An Update From The Front Lines Of The Antinomian/Pronomian Cyber War...

A few days ago, I published an extremely lengthy piece on the current confusion I have regarding one debate that's raging within the Lutheran church right now and showing up everywhere online.

A couple of days later, I followed it up with a much shorter piece that only seemed to add fuel the the fire.

Today, I'm continuing in my quest to try to sort this out by providing piece after piece that could help put the debate to rest once and for all (at least, that's my prayerful hope).

"Of Flirting With The Law And The Glory Of The Gospel" By Dr. Martin Luther

"Law Of The Instrument" By Rev. Eric J. Brown

"The New Antinomianism: Denying Thesis 18 of Law And Gospel" By Rev. Mark A. Preus

"Christians Need The Law, But Not For Encouragement" By Rev. Matt Richard

"How Martin Luther Ended His Sermons" By Rev. T. David Demarest

"'When Will The Gospel Drop?' A Brief Reflection On Lutheran Preaching Cliches" By Rev. T. David Demarest

"Things You May Have Forgotten You Believed In: Mortal Sin And The Loss Of Salvation" Pr. H.R.

Not sure that will help clear things up for everyone, but they're the latest commentaries I've seen referenced in recent days.

Admittedly, I'm extremely grateful for these articles that keep popping up online from both sides of the debate, but still extremely confused as well (although I still seem to be leading toward the "Pronomian" side of this; that is, toward the side that says it's "ok" for Pastors to "encourage" and "exhort" believers with the Law in their sermons).

I like how another brother in Christ on Facebook put it in response to one of the above articles I linked to...

Bill Whatshisface Sir, it seems the article does deal with the consequences of failure, specifically paragraph 14: "...then the Gospel comes again and again and shouts into the soul of this poor creature, “This man is mine. He is my baptized son. I claimed his sins as my own, and I have the right to forgive them as often as they happen because they all pierced me and lost their power to kill.” 
Perhaps it's just me, but I am sympathetic to this man's views. I have yet to hear this particular author (or anyone on his 'side' of the debate) claim that the Gospel is not to be preached, or that the Law should have predominance. Rather, it seems that these same are trying to advocate that in preaching we must not neglect to also preach the Law in its full sternness, which would include exhortations like those found throughout the epistles.  
What I mean is this, I recognize a tendency in myself to be quite lax with the more "minor" sins (such as laziness and gluttony), which Scripture does not excuse, than with the "major" ones like sexual immorality. Therefore, I find myself constantly needing to be reminded, even exhorted, that these things are sins and effort ought to be made in resisting them, as well as being reminded to repent when I often fail. 
In Walther's L&G, and Luther's antinomian disputations especially, it seems that neither man advocates preaching that neglects hitting Christians with the law from the pulpit, as long as such preaching does not substitute for the pure Gospel, nor its work in sanctification. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding, and I'm open to correction, but this whole debate, as well as both sides' handling of it, including my own, (especially on CLF), just sucks.

That makes a lot of sense to me.

Is it Biblical and Confessional though?

Yes, I believe it is, but I'm still not satisfied and will continue to dig into this topic while praying for the grace to receive discernment and wisdom to help me better understand things.

In one Confessional Lutheran Facebook Group, I added...

Is it ok for me to admit that while I'm extremely grateful that I keep seeing articles pop up from both sides of this debate, I'm still extremely confused and keep thinking I'm missing something here?

Thankfully, I'm in good company!

Pastor Matt Richard then replied, "Don't worry Jeffrey, I am often confused by the ongoing conversation as well" and then Pastor Jonathan Fisk added, "The debate has no tangible thing it is arguing against, nothing to point to. So its very odd."

So, that's definitely comforting to this "Newtheran" who'se trying to figure all of this out for himself.

Pastor Fisk touched on a key point I think and I completely agree with him. I'm glad he mentioned that, because that's been one of the most difficult aspects to this whole debate for me, personally.

I've been trying to figure out exactly what it is that both sides are trying to say on my own from the sidelines, but it's like the elusive and mythical "purple squirrel" that I can't catch!

Is everyone trying the say the same thing, but using different words/phrases to communicate it and that's where the confusion and "debate" comes in? Not sure.

Still, there's something about this on-going "controversy" that I can't ignore either (it's tough for me to not want to read about it and study it for some reason!), which is equally "very odd" in my humble opinion.

Just moments ago, Pastor Richard responded with...

I would agree with Pastor Jonathan Fisk as well that there needs to be some sort of tangible-ness to hold on to, examine, and critique. Furthermore, I believe a compare-contrast method is most helpful as well. For example: the following article has helped me immensely in the ongoing discussions about the 3rd Use of the Law.

Lutheran And Reformed Differences On The Third Use Of The Law

A lot of good stuff for us to prayerfully consider.

In the meantime, I'll continue to share my findings here with all of you as well.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, this has been another update from the front lines of the Antinomian/Pronomian Cyber War.

NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism almost 2 years ago now. 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 inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. 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 they are not blasphemous/heretical, 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). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha!). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm experiencing and/or studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.


  1. Alas, I have no FB or Twitter account, so this is where I am consigned to comment, all alone!

    I will leave simply a link today, and a short commentary:

    See the 3rd paragraph - "On the other hand, to mix the Gospel into the Law..." This paragraph so elegantly summarizes my perspective. By taking the teeth out of the law, by making it a hurdle to jump, one mixes Gospel into Law (aka "covert antinomianism").

    "Walther warns against every attempt to take the edge off the Law by making it less lethal than it is."

    The net effect of covert antinomianism? "The synthesis of Law and Gospel corrupts both, driving broken sinners either to a false security [based on self] or to unholy despair." And this occurs for Christian believers, "post" justification.

    I believe that one may exhort to good works without having this effect, but it isn't easy, although I believe many Lutheran pastors (including my own) do it well. So exhort away, but please put it in the proper perspective, else you heap coals of fire on my head.

  2. I should also point out that I was watching this video by Pastor Fisk (WE), and at the 4:30 mark, he is in full agreement with Forde regarding the definition of a good work:


    The work one does naturally/spontaneously as part of their calling/vocation. It is the work that comes from love, not fear or ambition, and it looks only outward in seeking to serve another. It's not the obsessive introspection and "cleaning up your act" that most espouse.

    Or, as Pastor Marquart points out:
    "Real good works before God are not showy, sanctimonious pomp and circumstance, or liturgical falderal in church, but, for example, "when a poor servant girl takes care of a little child or faithfully does what she is told" (Large Catechism, Ten Commandments, par. 314, Kolb-Wengert, pg. 428)."

    So please, pastors, exhort away, but always in the proper manner!

  3. This video from Pastor Fisk really lays it all out there, from the Formula of Concord. See especially these highlights: 7:50 mark, 12:30 mark, 13:30 mark.


    I must say, it seems like Fisk is in line with Forde in many regards on this particular issue.


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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