The Glory Has Departed

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I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Final Chapter of The Faith of Jesus: Against the Faithless Lutherans

I am having some printing glitches, but I followed the advice of a very good author and editor and added a chapter.

Here it is below.


The Catholic Moment – Celebrating the Reformation’s 500th Anniversary
By Reverting to Roman Triumphalism, Legalism, and Clericalism

          Before Pastor Richard John Neuhaus became a Roman Catholic priest, he was a “Confessional Lutheran”  pastor in ELCA. As a member of that Confessional Lutheran tribe, he wrote a book called The Catholic Moment, which I neglected to read. One might notice more characteristics of a Judas goat leading the Lutherans to Rome than a disciple of Luther and the son of a conservative Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor. Neuhaus identified and motivated a group to begin leaving ELCA and the LCMS for a weeping reunion with Rome, hoping that the terms of reconciliation would not be too strict. His friends at the Lutheran Forum magazine beca,e priests or laity in the Catholic Church. The senior editor of Luther’s Works joined Eastern Orthodoxy and donated a princely sum to their seminary, St. Vladimir’s in New York.
          A second Catholic moment is upon us as we approach the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, the date a reference to Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms, standing with Huss on the Word alone, against the Roman tyrants.
          Following the LCMS-WELS-ELS cheerleading for justification without faith – at the Emmaus Conference in 2015, the three synods declared their joy in their mutual love for Objective Justification.
Last but certainly not least, there was special joy to understand that we all hold to objective justification—that God declared the world righteous through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and that we all recognize it to be the urgent mission of the church to take this gospel to the entire world.[1]
Since they also agree about the Means of Grace, the unamused wonder how the entire world was forgiven without the Spirit at work in the Means of Grace, the Word and Sacraments. Like many of the stealth Objective Justification salesmen, they like to use the phrase “justification by grace through faith,” but they really mean universal absolution and salvation without faith, plus trust in that universal absolution – a dogma in complete opposition to the Gospel.
          If any doubt remains about the dishonest and deceitful promotion of Objective Justification, the best remedy is the essay by Forrest Bivens, professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WELS).[2] He began with this often quoted statement by Martin Luther –
“The article of justification is the master and prince, the lord, the ruler, and the judge over all kinds of doctrines; it preserves and governs all church doctrine and raises up our consciences before God. Without this article the world is utter darkness and death.” Bivens - Luther’s appraisal of the doctrine of justification is also ours. We hold it to be the primary doctrine of Scripture, that is, the central and most important teaching revealed by God for us sinners.[3]
Although justification is clearly defined in Luther’s works and the Book of Concord as justification by faith, Bivens has a different definition for the Chief Article of the Christian Religion –
What precisely is this “master and prince, lord, ruler and judge” over other doctrines? Justification is a declaratory act of God, in which he pronounces sinners righteous. As revealed in the Bible, this declaration of God is made totally by grace and on account of Jesus Christ and his substitutionary life and death on behalf of mankind. To phrase it somewhat differently, God has justified acquitted or declared righteous the whole world of sinners. He has forgiven them. They have been reconciled to God; their status in his eyes has been changed from that of sinner to forgiven sinner for the sake of Jesus Christ. Since all this applies to all people, the term universal or general justification is used. In our circles an alternate term, objective justification, is also used. If justification is universal, it must also be objective - sinners are forgiven whether they believe it or not. This is precisely what Scripture teaches in Romans 3:23-24, when it says, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”[4]
Thus black must be white, and white must be black.
          The old, established, mainline denominations agree with the unanimous praise of sinners forgiven whether they believe it or not. The Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and others join the modern, rationalist, liberal theologians in cautioning everyone about making faith a contingence. They snort, “If faith is required, then it is no longer grace.” Bivens would have no trouble with Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, or Schleiermacher, for God is so filled with grace that He cares little about faith in His beloved Son, our Savior.
          This is not a caution against adopting mainline Universalism, which is already an accomplished fact, but a warming against magnifying the error by serving as the Judas goat in leading Protestantism to Rome in the name of justification, the Reformation, and reconciliation.
          The New Romanism
          The Objective Justification advocates are promoting reunion with Rome by establishing their own papacy, fulfilling the New Testament prophesy about Antichrists in the plural.
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. [5]
They join the Antichrist in method, so there is no compelling reason to join Rome as a formality. Some pastors realized this early and chose to leave the Romanizing process for the real deal, as they like to say today.
Lack of Clarity in the Word
To advance Objective Justification and other errors, the Lutheran synods must teach the Scriptures being unclear, incomplete, and filled with grey, debatable matters. In fact, the Word of God is so difficult to understand that only the elite – the pastors – can interpret it in harmony with Holy Mother Synod.
The Synod as Pope, and the Lutheran Curia
          Many Lutherans recognize that the primary authority for their organization is the synod itself, not the Word of God. They even personify this ever-changing group of people by saying, “Synod says…” The synod president is more of a figurehead symbolizing the Lutheran Curia, a group of politicians who move the organization in the direction they desire. Thus Objective Justification was made into an infallible dogma by changing Biblical translations, removing traditional catechisms, shunning the traditionalists, and re-educating those who learned justification by faith.
          Mirroring the Reformation, these new thinkers cannot win an argument based on the Scriptures alone, so they cite their:
·       Authority as granted by the Holy Spirit, by being elected or appointed.
·       Awesome learning in knowing a little Hebrew and Greek.
·       Knowledge of what the synod has written about the topic.
·       Blood relationship to leaders in the past, thus sharing the ancients’ infallibility.
·       Great works accomplished for the synod.
Justification by Works Is the Repudiation of the Gospel
          Rome teaches justification by faith too, but they clearly and persistently add “plus works.” They have a deep bench, so they massage the words well and make them winsome and appealing. Faith is good, even essential, but not sufficient. Works of love must be added. This argument is completely consistent with St. Paul’s warning. We are either justified by works or by faith in Christ. Those who argue against faith alone are necessarily in the works camp, no matter how often they chant Lord, Lord and speak of grace.
The Lutheran Romanists Excommunicate with Vindictive Glee
          Few read the stories of the Reformation today, about martyrs burned at the stake by Rome, women and children slaughtered with the Protestant men on St. Bartholomew’s Day in France, 1572. The Lutheran Romanists are prohibited from the complete expression of their wrath, but they do excommunicate those who teach Luther’s doctrine, and they do it with vindictive glee. If they can steal some church property through foreclosure, they grab that title and the parish treasury as well. They feel no remorse and have little restraint. They have already excommunicated Luther, Chemnitz, Gerhard, Calov, and Gausewitz. The clergy know more about Star Wars than Melanchthon. Once they have removed a pastor through hateful shunning or direct dismissal, everyone forgets his name.
Degradation of Learning
          The Middle Ages were a thousand years of building a paper wall around the papacy. The more someone extolled the Pope, the more he was honored as a saint, scholar, and Teacher of the Church. The Gospel remained but it was largely hidden and distorted by those with institutional lusts.
          The Lutheran Reformation should have been impoverished, if judged by the numbers. The Pope owned the biggest and oldest schools and wielded his power with savage delight. How did the Lutheran Church gather so many brilliant Biblical theologians over a few decades, from Luther to Gerhard? God blessed their study of the Word and their faithfulness in the midst of Muslim invasions and Roman Catholic persecution. Where the Middle Ages offered up a vast collection of mummified traditions and dead scholasticism, the Reformation gathered the brightest and most gifted to give us so much in Biblical teaching that we can hardly imagine mastering a sliver of their published books.
          To maintain this muddle of Objective Justification, Holy Mother Synod must carefully choose the dullest and most conformist candidates to teach Lutheran papism – triumphalism, legalism, and clericalism.
Triumphalism – We are the best, the most glorious, the true heirs, the purest, and most grace-fileld.
Legalism – If anyone wants to get along with us, he must learn the unpublished rules and all the exceptions applied to certain people when they violate those rules.
Clericalism – No matter what is said, the pastors dictate the agenda, but not all of them, just certain family names. No layman, no matter how much he studies the Word, can win an argument because “I went to school 8 years, and I …studied…Greek.”
          As someone who left the personality cult of the Disciples of Christ, I looked forward to the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. I joined a congregation where my friends expressed excitement about Luther’s Works being published. I worshiped in a church with the traditional liturgy and real hymns for the first time.  Holy Communion was a solemn event, a Sacrament – not a ritual. I attended a college named after the Augsburg Confession and met my wife there on the first day of classes. Later, my biggest academic thrill was meeting the author of Here I Stand, A Life of Martin Luther – Roland Bainton – and hearing his lectures. We talked to Jaroslav Pelikan at church on Sunday and found the most respected professors at Yale Divinity were Paul Holmer, Nils Dahl, and George Lindbeck. Bainton was an honorary Lutheran and Pelikan was the genius dean of the Graduate School.
          But now I see the most admired professors among the Lutherans are from Fuller Seminary, Willowcreek Community Church, and Trinity Divinity School. The Lutherans are falling all over each other to get rid of the Sacraments, the sermon, genuine hymns, and justification by faith. They are overjoyed at their triumph and offer ecclesiastical high-fives to ELCA.
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Even more ominous is the warning in 2 Thessalonians –
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
These things must take place before the End Times.
          Years ago a church member said this about our Age of Apostasy – “We are going to be few, but we will be closer together, no matter where we live.” And she was right. We are united through publications, streaming broadcasts around the world, blogs, and personal contacts. During the Reformation and times of crisis afterwards, no one thought to write a book called The Be-Happy Attitudes or a hymn called “Fear Not Mega-Flock.” Instead we have something better, from someone who struggled with lax doctrine and became faithful –
"Lord Jesus Christ, With Us Abide"
by Nikolaus Selnecker, 1532-1592
Translated by composite
1. Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide,
For round us falls the eventide;
Nor let Thy Word, that heavenly light,
For us be ever veiled in night.

2. In these last days of sore distress
Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness
That pure we keep, till life is spent,
Thy holy Word and Sacrament.

3. Lord Jesus, help, Thy Church uphold,
For we are sluggish, thoughtless, cold.
Oh, prosper well Thy Word of grace
And spread its truth in every place!

4. Oh, keep us in Thy Word, we pray;
The guile and rage of Satan stay!
Oh, may Thy mercy never cease!
Give concord, patience, courage, peace.

5. O God, how sin's dread works abound!
Throughout the earth no rest is found,
And falsehood's spirit wide has spread,
And error boldly rears its head.

6. The haughty spirits, Lord, restrain
Who o'er Thy Church with might would reign
And always set forth something new,
Devised to change Thy doctrine true.

7. And since the cause and glory, Lord,
Are Thine, not ours, to us afford
Thy help and strength and constancy.
With all our heart we trust in Thee.

8. A trusty weapon is Thy Word,
Thy Church's buckler, shield and sword.
Oh, let us in its power confide
That we may seek no other guide!

9. Oh, grant that in Thy holy Word
We here may live and die, dear Lord;
And when our journey endeth here,
Receive us into glory there.[6]

[1] A Report on the Meetings of ELS, LCMS, and WELS Leaders 2012–2015. Issued by WELS, December, 2015.
[2] The Primary Doctrine in Its Primary Setting: Objective Justification and Lutheran Worship [Prepared for the WELS National Conference on Worship, Music and the Arts Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin, July 23, 1996.] By Forrest L. Bivens
[3] What Luther Says, II, p. 703, quoted as the opening of the essay.

[4] This astonishing reversal in meaning  takes place in the third paragraph of the essay - The Primary Doctrine in Its Primary Setting: Objective Justification and Lutheran Worship [Prepared for the WELS National Conference on Worship, Music and the Arts Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin, July 23, 1996.] By Forrest L. Bivens
[5] 1 John 2:18

[6] The Lutheran Hymnal Hymnal, #292 Nikolaus Selnecker et al., 1611