Thursday, April 07, 2011

Don't Mention God's Law, Because It's About the Gospel!

True antinomians would simply deny that God's law has any force. Homiletic antinomians would make a comment like the title of this post. Those who have been influenced by a Lutheran division between "Law" and "Gospel" may even go so far as to suggest that preaching God's law is actually detrimental to preaching the gospel.

At least, that's the sense I got from a recent post at the Confessional Outhouse. According to the author, "Zrim," preaching a sermon against abortion (a rather heinous violation of the sixth of God's ten commandments) "goes a fair distance to alienate people from the gospel" (emphasis mine).

Yes, Zrim, people may not want to follow a God who has a law like God's law. People may be turned off by God's commandments. They don't love God's law, they hate it. Preaching repentance and faith is harder than just preaching faith. We get it.

But the gospel that Christ preached was a gospel of repentance and faith. If we want to preach the gospel Christ preached, we are going to have to preach against sin, even if that alienates people. Sorry if that bothers you, but that's how it is.

I know, I know. I've dealt with Zrim before. His response is that he just meant that we shouldn't bring politics into church. But Zrim has it backwards. We shouldn't identify something like abortion primarily as political, but as moral. It is first moral and afterwards political. In America today (unlike America 100 years ago) it is a matter that has become politicized. But just because something has become politicized doesn't mean preachers can't or shouldn't preach about it.

Indeed, the politicization of an issue may coincide with an increased need to preach on that very issue! The fact that people may be unhappy to hear the preaching is simply the cost of standing up for what is right. The Bible never tells us to avoid preaching about sins that are well-loved in a community or society. Quite the contrary: in the midst of a society full of fornication, John preached that fornicators have their place in the lake of fire.

And moreover if a particular political party chooses to support what the Bible teaches, and another particular political party chooses to reject what the Bible teaches, that does not make the Bible's teachings fundamentally "political." If one political party caters to evangelicals, that doesn't make evangelicalism fundamentally "political," even though it may make it a political issue.

The issue of abortion is fundamentally a moral issue. It's not like the difference between a Chevy or a Ford or the Yankees and the rest of major league baseball (I realize that some people may disagree with me about whether the New York Yankees are a moral issue). It's not simply a popularity contest. Political candidates may appeal to that issue, but fundamentally the issue is a moral issue. It is right for ministers to preach about it, and frankly in a society full of that abomination, it is hard to understand how ministers could properly perform their role without preaching about it (they will have to answer to God, not me, about that).

I would agree with Zrim if his point is that a church shouldn't hang banners supporting the New York Yankees up in a church in Boston, because it will alienate people without a good reason. One's sports allegiance is less important than the Truth. But preaching God's law regarding abortion isn't like rooting for the Yankees in Boston. Preaching God's law is a duty of Gospel ministers. Men, like the Bayly brothers, who preach against abortion should be praised, not criticized, for doing so.

-TurretinFan

12 comments:

Craig said...

TF: "We shouldn't identify something like abortion primarily as political, but as moral. It is first moral and afterwards political. In America today (unlike America 100 years ago) it is a matter that has become politicized. But just because something has become politicized doesn't mean preachers can't or shouldn't preach about it."

Me: Precisely. The ironic thing that blows past Steve Zrimec (and DGH) is that conflating infanticide with politics is co-mingling the kingdoms.

R2k isn't 2-K enough.

natamllc said...

TF,

I like this sentence and wish that more Preachers would preach from their pulpits on "everything" that is against God's Laws and Piety!

... "Men, like the Bayly brothers, who preach against abortion should be praised, not criticized, for doing so."

To an alarming aside, just recently the matriarch of the ministry I am a part of died. She was 91 years old and went peacefully full of life and the Joy of the Lord! Many of her friends and family came from all over the country and some parts of the world for a day of celebration of her "life", last Saturday, as another Godly example of life a woman of God is to live in the midst of this grossly ungodly world system Godly women are called out of and are to live in the midst of during their lifetimes on earth.

Consequently I got to spend time with several folks I have known over the years and haven't seen in awhile personally. When speaking to two of them, both men, both living "on the front lines of business and ministry" of society in their respective venues had an almost identical reason for why they do "not" want being out front and vocal with the Law/Gospel message.

They don't know each other. I just happen to know each of them so I am sure they did not compare notes with each other before spending time with me over the last several days getting updated on what each of us is doing these days for the Lord?

What they both said was they were not going to mention "Jesus" in what they were doing in the world. Why? Because they noticed they lost business and there was a more radical "hatred" for their Christian perspective when they brought up Christ and His Lifestyle! People these days were taking more aggressive exception to doing business with them because of their Christian beliefs.

Hmmmmm, seems to me, if we aren't upfront and clear about our position in Christ in all of our vocations, we, too, might find ourselves becoming deluded to the Truth and the impact the proclamation of the Gospel has on the hearer?

My continual prayer these days is asking God to send revival and raise up and send forth more and more anointed preachers preaching Christ and Him crucified. And what is to be expected from such anointed preaching after hearing the Word of God and discovering the Truth is for Christ's Church to raise up His Standard, high!:::>

Isa 2:2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it,
Isa 2:3 and many peoples shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Isa 2:4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
Isa 2:5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.


...

Heb 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,
Heb 5:13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.
Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Heb 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
Heb 6:2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Those who have been influenced by a Lutheran division between "Law" and "Gospel" may even go so far as to suggest that preaching God's law is actually detrimental to preaching the gospel."

Hi TFan,

Are you familiar with "lex semper accusat"? I just got introduced it recently and was informed that it's quite foundational to Lutheran theology.

What do you think of "lex semper accusat"?

Thanks for your thoughts in advance.

donsands said...

"I realize that some people may disagree with me about whether the New York Yankees are a moral issue"
Amen.

"Preaching God's law is a duty of Gospel ministers."
Amen.

A pastor should have the wisdom to know how to preach the Gospel and speak out on issues such as abortion, without making the church a political entity.

I have such a pastor, and we hear the Word of God preached and taught from the pulpit, and we hear how we need to be involved in our nations law that gives the right to legally murder babies.

Not like Jerry Falwell, who had political Sunday, and stood up in the churches and told people that they have to vote for George Bush. Jerry knows better now.

Thanks for the good words, and well spoken post.
Have a great Lord's day in our Savior's rest and joy.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"I've deal with Zrim before. His response is that he just meant that we shouldn't bring politics into church. But Zrim has it backwards. We shouldn't identify something like abortion primarily as political, but as moral. It is first moral and afterwards political. In America today (unlike America 100 years ago) it is a matter that has become politicized. But just because something has become politicized doesn't mean preachers can't or shouldn't preach about it.

Indeed, the politicization of an issue may coincide with an increased need to preach on that very issue!
"

I really think this is the heart of this post and this issue. Thanks TFan for addressing it so well and directly.

Consider this: Pastor preaches that Jesus literally resurrected on Easter morning.

His sermon preaches this as historical fact. And that the Resurrection is the Good News of the Jesus Christ. Repent!

Some non-Christian then takes this moralizing as a political statement and says that it's political demagoguery being preached in a church.

What's Zrim and his R2K cohorts going to say then? After all, the non-Christian is using the R2K arguments to prohibit political speech in the pulpit.

Turretinfan said...

Regarding "lex semper accusat" (the law always accuses), it seems to be based on a fundamental lack of understanding of justification by faith.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Regarding "lex semper accusat" (the law always accuses), it seems to be based on a fundamental lack of understanding of justification by faith."

Ho, ho, ho, hee, hee, hee, ha, ha.

You probably didn't intend to make me laugh, but laugh I did anyways.

It's just that your statement would stir such angry, indignant replies by staunch Lutherans that it would just be a loud screech-fest.

TFan, you must have interacted with Lutherans before (I just got an in-depth introduction recently) and I read over and over again ad nauseam about lex semper accusat and its primacy in Lutheran doctrine.

Verification Word (I kid you not): morrons

Turretinfan said...

Yes, I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate my comment. I feel competent to defend it, though.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I respect your time, TFan. They're not going to change their minds about lex semper accusat.

But can you help me by providing some links to arguments showing that their primacy of lex semper accusat shows a "fundamental lack of understanding of justification by faith"?

Turretinfan said...

http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2011/04/lex-semper-accusat-does-law-always.html

For a more Escondido-style response, see here:

http://deregnisduobus.blogspot.com/2007/02/does-lex-semper-accusat.html

-TurretinFan

Coram Deo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Turretinfan said...

Jordan: Please see the commenting guidelines, just above the comment box.

-TurretinFan