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