I've never seen this book myself, but I understand that the contents are broken down into "truth" versus "error" sections.
In any event, it reminded me of that famous St. Augustine quote about the truth and how it's like a lion that doesn't need our help to do what it does.
"It is not a popular task to be on guard against falsehood. The world today is especially ready with the words 'bigoted' and 'narrow-minded.' So if we take this Christ-given responsibility of fighting falsehood and false prophets, we will find that even some of our friends will use these and other uncomplimentary epithets. For this, too, Jesus has a word, 'woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers of the false prophets' (Luke 6:26). We need hardly look for praise from the world when we take a definite stand against heresy. This is the era of 'tolerance,' 'interdenominationalism,' and 'nonsectarianism.' He that dares to raise the banner of his confessional standard too high must be ready to meet ridicule. The above words of Jesus suggest that we should rather be afraid of the praise and approval of the world, lest we, too, shall have slipped from our moorings of faith."
-- Christian Truth And Religious Delusions (Nervig, 1941)
It almost sounds like something Sasse wrote too, which makes sense, because Rev. Nervig was a former student of Hermann Sasse in Erlangen.
Regardless, it's an important truth to keep in mind, just as Vanessa Rasanen reminded us in her piece titled "For Those Weary In Discernment" that identifies the real problem we constantly face: "How wonderful would it be if we could trust anything with the 'Jesus' label on it?"
That would be fantastic, but we all know that it will never be the reality until we're all gathered together before the presence of God in heaven.
"A fellowship in which the Word of God is fundamentally falsified, or in which a fundamental falsification of it is tolerated, is not a true orthodox church, but a false, heterodox church or sect."
-- C.F.W. Walther (Essays For The Church Vol I, "Communion Fellowship," Concordia Publishing House, 1992, p.207)
False teachers and their false doctrine must be identified and dealt with, otherwise, the more we tolerate it, the more time it will have to grow deeper roots in Christ's Church day-after-day.
We need to recall what St. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 5. God will judge the unbelieving world. The Church is given to judge within itself. In other words, the divinely inspired Apostle Paul exhorts the Church to judge within the Church, not the world outside, and yet, whenever we attempt to do so we are met with charges of being "too judgmental" or "too unloving" or "in violation of Matthew 18 and the 8th Commandment" even!
I found myself thinking about all of this for a number of reasons today.
First, it's just days after we collectively celebrated Easter and Christ's resurrection. I'm certainly no "Gospel Reductionist," but I also hate to see the the whole counsel of God as well as the Gospel perverted on a regular basis by believers who should know better (or by Christians who have been warned about repeatedly doing such things).
Second, I'm thinking about the focus of several posts published here lately and the sheer frustration and sadness that it causes me to see such things being done over and over and over again by those I truly care about despite my constant attempts to get it/them to stop.
Finally, I thought about all of this today after attending an excellent Bible study yesterday for the first time ever. It was led by a Pastor who was being faithful to his calling and who is serving Christ's sheep the food we so desperately need. It shouldn't be that hard for others to emulate.
Contending and defending the faith. As Rev. Nervig stated, "It is not a popular task to be on guard against falsehood." Come to think of it, Jude comes to mind too.
Rev. Joshua Scheer had a few words about this sort of thing in a commentary he wrote way back in 2012 that's worth sharing in light of all of this...
We have yet to see any error corrected. I keep hearing that there are efforts at coming to resolve on issues that divide us, but I also hear a whole lot of talk about this requiring more and more time – the same way that politicians in Washington talk about needing more and more time. All of it smacks of just kicking the can further down the road. But let us as a Church remember that this is no can – this is error – and it is destructive to souls – it ruins, corrupts, and kills faith in Jesus.
You see, tolerated error does more than that also for a Church. It ruins our witness. The community of Corinth was watching the small Christian congregation there. They mocked it for its hypocrisy, for while they claimed to stand on a set of beliefs, they allowed those within it to continue to do things contrary to those beliefs. The man who was to be thrown out for his sexual sins must have been important enough to make the leadership of the congregation look past his public sins which were ruining the reputation of the congregation. Paul didn’t care how important this man was. Salvation in Christ was more important than that worldly nonsense. God is not a respecter of persons. But you also see that the final goal of kicking this man out of the congregation was not so that the congregation could be "pure", but that the man would come to repentance and faith in Christ once more. Sure the community would also understand that the congregation’s beliefs were not hypocritical as well.
Perhaps that is what is missing from most "confessional" discussions about error, a hearty love for the salvation of even those who are in error. I know many times my love has grown cold when thinking about the rampant error allowed to operate in our midst. Perhaps others should consider their desires and correct them if #1 is not the salvation of those who are stuck in error. After all, the holiness of the "one, holy, Christian, and apostolic Church" does not come from within us, but from Jesus. The desire for their eternal welfare being what it is, we need to actually do something to correct them – including throwing them out if it is necessary in order that we could welcome them back in as true brothers in the faith, instead of just co-members in an organization.
That being said, I also wish to encourage us to think of two types of people in error. One is the poor soul who has been taught error. These are the folks in the pews (or chairs). They deserve patient teaching and admonition. The other is the poor soul who has been willfully teaching error – that man needs discipline. Nowhere in all of Scripture do we find any encouragement to be patient in dealing with false teachers and false teachings. It is loveless both to the people they teach and also to them to allow them to carry on such a way, spreading falsehood and promoting error. But then again, who could say we have enough love within our Synod? We certainly do not if we allow these things to go on. Therein we see a further error which has made great inroads – the error of a false love. This is the love which esteems tolerance more than truth. This is the love which cannot get past how nice a guys is, or how close a friend this person may be in order to speak a word of correction to them. This kind of love is a respecter of persons. This kind of love is sickened at the thought of a judgment on error now in order to gain repentance later. This kind of love cherishes temporal peace at any cost. In the end, this love is selfish and sinful. In the end, this love is not love at all, but the leaven of malice and evil. This kind of love will never understand Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The Corinthian congregation was very immature. The LCMS is very immature. We have the same faults (sins) that they had, so the Word of God meant for them is also meant for us.
Such godly wisdom for all of us to prayerfully consider in our dealings with one another.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, we all know what the ongoing issues are within Christianity today (and particularly within the LCMS), and we need to simply let Scripture and our Confessions speak to them definitively.
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, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 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/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) 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 I 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 footnotes 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 under-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 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!