Friday, April 08, 2011

Lex Semper Accusat? Does the law always accuse?

Some folks like to throw around the mantra "lex semper accusat" (the law always accuses). This mantra may have value, and may even serve a didactic purpose in certain contexts. It is, however, theologically inaccurate.

A First Exception: Christ
Christ fulfilled the law. The law didn't condemn Christ, it justified Him. Pilate testified to this:

Luke 23:4 Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.

Luke 23:14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:

John 18:38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

John 19:4 Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.

John 19:6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.

A General Condemnation
Aside from Christ, the law condemns everyone, for all have sinned.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

And consequently (Christ excluded) the law cannot justify anyone:

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Romans 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Law's Condemnatory Power Destroyed
But for those who are in Christ, the law has lost its condemnatory power.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Indeed, it is impossible for those who are justified to be condemned by the law any longer.

Romans 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

Law's Other Uses
Moreover, both before and after we are justified by grace through faith in Christ alone, the law has other uses. For example, the law has an evangelical use - it brings us to Christ:

Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Moreover, the law enables us to express our love to God:

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

And I could go on and on. The law has a thousand uses, many of which are celebrated in Psalm 119.

-TurretinFan

49 comments:

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks TurretinFan for this post.

todd said...

Your first counterargument is that "Christ fulfilled the law. The law didn't condemn Christ, it justified Him." I'm going to ignore the bizarre phrasing that the Law justified Christ, which hints at all sorts of problems. But more to the point, you seem to completely miss who the Law is for. Is it for God? Or did God give it to us sinners? You'd think the answer would be obvious, and yet you feels the need to point out that Christ was not a sinner. Duh. When Lutherans say "the Law always accuses", we are not talking to Jesus, we are talking to fellow sinners.

What's more bizarre is that what you meant by "the law didn't condemn Christ" was that, specifically, Pontius Pilate didn't condemn Christ. You spend no small amount of time on this point. Pilate, the same man who proved himself ignorant of both Jewish law and truth in general (cf. "What is truth?"), is held up by you as a competent arbiter of God's Law? What about the more obvious -- and more convincing -- assessment of Jesus by God Himself. Like, I don't know, 2 Corinthians 5, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us"? Or how about just a simple old "with him I am well pleased" (Matthew 3, 17). But no, you point us to the judgment of Pilate. Um.

You continue: "Aside from Christ, the law condemns everyone". Which is really sloppy. The Law "condemns" everyone, does it? Hey, let's just quote from your next point: "But for those who are in Christ, the law has lost its condemnatory power." Ah, so the law condemns everyone, but has lost its ability to condemn. Hmm.

I think you're playing loose with the word "condemn" -- and, you may notice, also conflating it with "accuse". But they are different words. Lutherans aren't saying, as you do, that "the Law condemns everyone", because that would mean we have all been found guilty. Of course, by grace through faith, we have not been found guilty but declared righteous. We are not condemned. But the Law still accuses all of us, because all have sinned. And yet Christians are declared righteous. For Christ's sake.

todd said...

You then go on to discuss "Law's Other Uses". You quote Galatians 3:24 -- though, curiously, you switch from your usual KJV-quoting to quote from the Geneva Study Bible. (I am always wary when people switch translations mid-argument without telling me why!) Anyhow, you note there, "the law has an evangelical use - it brings us to Christ." Of course, to make that claim as such, you have to ignore what Paul wrote all of three verses earlier: "For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law." One would also notice that in Romans 1, Paul tells us, "For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last" -- the Gospel, not the Law!

Of course, even your point about the Law pointing us to Christ reinforces the idea that the Law always accuses -- it is the accused conscience that, by faith, looks to Christ for comfort and to hear he is justified in spite of these accusations.

But Galatians 3:24 doesn't in any way deny that the Law always accuses, anyhow. It is clear that Paul's specific reference is to the Mosaic law given to the Jews until the Messiah came -- note his reference to "430 years" after Abraham. As the ESV (the NIV is similar) puts it, "the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian."

In conclusion, you quote John 14:15 and 1 John 5:3. Which is funny, because any honest Christian that reads those must feel accused! "Keep my commandments", says God. "Be perfect" as He is. Anyone who reads those verses and says, "Yup, I'm all good; my conscience is free" is a liar. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Turretinfan said...

Todd: Thanks for your thoughts. More later, but I thought I'd comment on your bizarre charge that I switched translations.

Galatians 3:24 (KJV) "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. "

Galatians 3:24 (Geneva) "Wherefore the Lawe was our scholemaster to bring vs to Christ, that we might be made righteous by faith."

I'm pretty sure I quoted from the KJV, but feel free to explain why you would accuse me of switching to the Geneva Study Bible.

-TurretinFan

todd said...

TFan, ah, my fault. Sorry.

I was Googling to find out what translation you were using and was directed to this page with multiple translations. I did a find on that page for that exact phrase, and the only result it turned up was the Geneva Study Bible.

I now see the reason for this. That site has the KJV as reading "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." The square brackets threw off my too-exact search.

Sloppy of me. Again, sorry.

Coram Deo said...

TF,

Please explain what you mean by this statement:

"The law didn't condemn Christ, it justified Him."

In Him,
CD

solarblogger said...

So according to your manner of reading, if a statement has exceptions, it is an inaccurate statement.

So that would make Romans 3:23 inaccurate since Christ is an exception to it.

As to the other uses passages, the schoolmaster drove the student by beating him. So also, the law drives us to Christ by its accusations.

Romans 8:1 and 8:33 are true. The law drives to Christ, and when we are in him, there is no condemnation, because the condemnation falls on him rather than us. But our actions are accused by the Law, even when our persons are safe from it in Christ.

John 14:15 and 1 John 5:3. What does grievous mean? Asking too much, perhaps? Yet the law is able to accuse even when it doesn't ask too much. If the commandments can be summed in Love your neighbor (Romans 13:9), and the commandments include a commandment not to covet, then St. Paul has explained how a commandment can make sin worse (Romans 7:9-12). The commandment is good, not grievous. But we are not good.

Psalm 119 might refer to the whole Torah, and not narrowly to the commandments.

Turretinfan said...

Jordan:

That's strike two. Third similar comment will result in banning.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

"So according to your manner of reading, if a statement has exceptions, it is an inaccurate statement.

So that would make Romans 3:23 inaccurate since Christ is an exception to it."

There's context in Romans 3:23 that illuminates its meaning. One of the problems of mantras is decontextualization.

"As to the other uses passages, the schoolmaster drove the student by beating him. So also, the law drives us to Christ by its accusations."

Is that what the text says?

"Romans 8:1 and 8:33 are true."

:sigh of relief: :D

"The law drives to Christ, and when we are in him, there is no condemnation, because the condemnation falls on him rather than us."

right

"But our actions are accused by the Law, even when our persons are safe from it in Christ."

Our sinful actions could be said to be accused. But, we are not. The law's accusatory power over us is broken.

"John 14:15 and 1 John 5:3. What does grievous mean? Asking too much, perhaps? Yet the law is able to accuse even when it doesn't ask too much. If the commandments can be summed in Love your neighbor (Romans 13:9), and the commandments include a commandment not to covet, then St. Paul has explained how a commandment can make sin worse (Romans 7:9-12). The commandment is good, not grievous. But we are not good."

a) We are not yet glorified, but we are being sanctified.

b) The law can help us express our love to God. In that role, it has a positive character - not an accusatory one. How do you please God? Well, look in the law!

c) The reason they are not grievous is not so much because of the level of their demands but rather our love of them. It is also relates to the use. We are not trying to gain God's acceptance through them, so they are no longer a bar or obstacle.

"Psalm 119 might refer to the whole Torah, and not narrowly to the commandments."

It refers variously, no doubt. But drawing a rigid Law/Gospel distinction (a la the compendium of the formula of concord) isn't a Biblical approach (whether or not it may be useful).

-TurretinFan

Coram Deo said...

TF,

I'm sure you're very busy, but would you respond to my 1:56 p.m. comment?

Thanks in advance for your consideration.

In Christ,
CD

Turretinfan said...

I have something in the works, CD.

Brigitte said...

Have you read Luther's Heidelberg disputation?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

An interesting discussion ensues from a fellow who describes himself thusly:

"Some who know me consider me an enigma - a puzzle. I am Lutheran, but of what ilk. I do not seem to fall into any one category. I appear inconsistent in some of the positions I hold. But appearances are deceiving, the one anchor that holds all my views together is the article of justification - the article on which the Church rises and falls. What is an enigma to some can be clearly seen in the light of Jesus' cross."

(cont.)

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

This Lutheran Enigma writes the following:

"An assertion must be true or else it is false. If is true, it is always true. If an assertion is considered true some times and false at other times, then it is no longer an asertion.

Assertions are fundamental to Christian doctrine (such as, God created the heavens and the earth; Jesus was born of a virgin; Jesus rose from the dead; etc.). An example of a doctrinal assertion from the Lutheran Confessions is the Law always accuses (lex semper accusat). The phrase the Law always accuses is used nearly ten times in the Book of Concord (and only in the Apology to the Augsburg Confession).

While the phrase the Law always accuses is a doctrinal assertion, some people say that the law accuses only according to its second use (function), but not according to its first or third. With this exception, the statement the Law always accuses is no longer true. On several occasions, I have asked where this distinction comes from. However, no one has provided substantive documentation. So I remain at a loss as to the origin and necessity of this distinction.

If someone says "the law always accuses, except...," then he in essence denies the doctrinal assertion that the law always accuses. This is very confusing."

From True or False -- Doctrinal Assertions.

-----

In the comment thread, a rejoinder to Rev. Paul McCain:

"If the Formula indicates that the law is not only accusatory and the Apology specifically asserts that 'the law only accuses,' how is one to approach this apparent contradiction?"

(There is no further response to the Lutheran Enigma's question.)

solarblogger said...

"There's context in Romans 3:23 that illuminates its meaning. One of the problems of mantras is decontextualization."

The phrase is used among Lutherans because it appears many times in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession. Given how many times it appears, it has lots of context.

You can do a search on "accuses" to see the passages on this page:
Apology of the Augsburg Confession

The concept of three uses or functions of the Law is found in the Lutheran confessions in the Formula of Concord. The writers did not retract the Apology when they wrote about those as they saw the two teachings in harmony. The three uses of the law is answering a question something like, "What different ways is the Decalog used in the world?" This is very different from taking the Law under the aspect of a conditional promise of life.

Brigitte said...

The law does not only accuse, but it always accuses. It can do more than one thing at a time.

(Except with Christ. There are a lot of things that are different with him.)

Brigitte said...

Disputation Against Scolastic Theology #38.

There is no moral virtue without either pride or sorrow, that is, without sin.

Heidelberg Disputation #7:

The works of the righteous would be mortal sins if they would not be feared as mortal sins by the righteous themselves out of pious fear of God.

Heidelberg Disputation #8

By so much more are the works of man mortal sins when they are done without fear and in unadulterated, evil self-security.

Heidelberg Disputation #11

Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work.

Heidelberg Disputation #26

The law says, "do this", and it is never done. Grace says, "believe in this, " and everything is already done.

St. Paul:

So I find this law at work: "When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Romans 7: 21-25.

The fact that the law always accuses is a necessary point towards realizing that we are free of the law. If we could be righteous through the law, we would have to put our trust in it.

Seeing my sin, always brings me before my Savior. And only there does the law no longer accuse.

When I read that your posts have been made "to the glory of God", again that is your hope, but either pride or despair is not far off, and thus sin is to be feared in even this.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Jordan Cooper has posted the following as the beginning of his response to this TFan post:

"I was recently pointed to the blog of TurretinFan, the anonymous blogger of Aomin fame, for his recent attacks on proponents of two kingdom theology. There was a bit of a back and forth between himself and R. Scott Clark of Westminster Seminary California. In a recent post, he even claimed that "Escondido Theology" (the theology of Michael Horton, R. Scott Clark, David VanDrunen, Darryl Hart, and others) was a cause for conversions to Roman Catholicism.

What is the problem with these theologians? Well, apparently they are too Lutheran. Regardless of whether or not TurretinFan's interpretation of historic Reformed orthodoxy is correct on the issue of two kingdoms (which for some reason always has the word "radical" attached to it), TurretinFan has been attacking at least the historic Lutheran doctrine which he apparently does not understand."
------

Jordan, TFan, et al,

The following post might be of interest:

Luther's Two Kingdom Theology, Lutheran Germany, & Radical Two Kingdom Theology.

Excerpts:

o "I took a research class in my Senior Year that dealt w/ the holocaust. I spent a whole semester reading, watching films of the death camps, and listening to interviews on old audio. I kept asking the question; What was it that drove this national behavior. Sleepless nights were spent digging into the psyche of a nation that had embraced the National Socialists. I ended up writing a Senior thesis that dealt with this subject. My Thesis paper was on the role of the German Church in the holocaust. This whole class and the research I did has never left me."

o "In all my study and research I concluded long ago and continue to conclude that, at least as it pertains to the West, it was largely because the Church had embraced retreatist, pietistic, defeatist and quietistic theology that these crime regimes were allowed to take root, prosper and grow. This is the same kind of theology that is being advanced by WSCal that I have named R2Kt as it is developed by the Escondido Hermeneutic."

o "Germany, for example, was widely influenced by the kind of theology that is retreatist, pietistic, defeatist and quietistic. Historically, Germany was influenced by Martin Luther’s Two Kingdom theology."

o "No one doubts that there were many factors that contributed to the rise of criminal Nazism in Germany during the 1930’s but one of the factors that cannot be ignored in this rise of National Socialism was Luther’s Two Kingdom theology. This has been noted repeatedly by various authors."

O "In his book “Things That Are Caesar’s: The Genesis Of The Church Conflict” (Round Table Press, 1935), Paul Banwell Means chronicles why the German Church was so useless in its resistance to Hitler and the National Socialists,"

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

(continued)

o "If this Lutheranization of the Reformed Church is successful (and it has already made great strides to that end) the Reformed Church will go from its current almost complete irrelevance to be as irrelevant as the Lutheran Church was in Nazi Germany. This is not a academic discussion that can end with everyone who disagrees joining hands while ignoring the differences. This discussion is the life or death of what is left of the Christian Church in the West. If the R2Kt position wins out the Reformed Church will eventually inevitably become as compromised in our lifetime as the Lutheran Church became in the 1930’s."

Turretinfan said...

"recent attacks on proponents of two kingdom theology"

I haven't attacked the proponents, I've criticized the theology. I wish people would learn to discern between the two.

Turretinfan said...

Brigitte:

Largely, I agree with you. Where I disagree is with comments like "Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work."

That comment may sound nice, but the Scriptures are clear that condemnation does not remain to those that are in Christ Jesus. A fear of condemnation, therefore, is not pious and proper, but faltering and unbelieving.

The law no longer accuses those against whom the law has lost its power.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Solar Blogger:

As a mantra, it lacks context.

In the work you cited, it seems that the author (Melancthon?) uses it in a way that would admit of the exceptions set forth in my post.

For example, he states: "For God's Law is not a matter of pleasantry; it ceaselessly accuses consciences outside of Christ, as Paul says, Rom. 4, 15: The Law worketh wrath."

Or if there is any ambiguity there, consider his comment in part 6:

"But since they are accounted righteous, the Law cannot accuse or condemn them, even though they have not actually satisfied the Law."

- TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

TU&D:

You quoted TLE as saying:

"If someone says "the law always accuses, except...," then he in essence denies the doctrinal assertion that the law always accuses. This is very confusing."

Perhaps he should read the link that Solar Blogger provided.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

By the way, here is a link to the (1518) Heidelberg Disputation (link).

Interestingly, one could argue that the disputation I criticized above is intended to refer only to unregenerate man (in which case, of course, my criticism is moot).

-TurretinFan

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Todd: "In conclusion, you quote John 14:15 and 1 John 5:3. Which is funny, because any honest Christian that reads those must feel accused!"

Versus

Melanchthon: "But since they are accounted righteous, the Law cannot accuse or condemn them, even though they have not actually satisfied the Law."

Brigitte said...

Turretinfan says:
Largely, I agree with you. Where I disagree is with comments like "Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work."

That comment may sound nice, but the Scriptures are clear that condemnation does not remain to those that are in Christ Jesus. A fear of condemnation, therefore, is not pious and proper, but faltering and unbelieving.

The law no longer accuses those against whom the law has lost its power.


"Largely" agreeing, is easily "not at all" agreeing.

"Arrogance can not be avoided..." is not a "comment". It is a thesis in a disputation that kick-started the reformation, and underlies the whole reasoning why we cannot be saved by works.

"fear of condemnation" is not a construct, nothing that we try to have. It is the fact of honest, repentant life.

Faith is indeed to counteract this. And precisely this fear of condemnation keeps us in the true fear of God, which also drives us to Christ and therefore also kindles the love of God. It is a daily and constant tension, as Paul describes it himself.

Turretinfan said...

"'Largely' agreeing, is easily 'not at all' agreeing."

Agreed. Though it is not that in this case.

"'Arrogance can not be avoided...' is not a 'comment'. It is a thesis in a disputation that kick-started the reformation, and underlies the whole reasoning why we cannot be saved by works."

I'm sorry that the description "comment" isn't lofty enough. Arrogance indeed!

"'fear of condemnation' is not a construct, nothing that we try to have. It is the fact of honest, repentant life."

No, it isn't. See Melancthon and my comments above.

"Faith is indeed to counteract this. And precisely this fear of condemnation keeps us in the true fear of God, which also drives us to Christ and therefore also kindles the love of God. It is a daily and constant tension, as Paul describes it himself."

Paul says that there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. I think you must have misinterpreted his other statements.

-TurretinFan

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Lex Semper Accusat? Does the law always accuse?"

For an answer, and as TFan has pointed out earlier, let's turn to Philip Melanchthon's The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Part 6, Article III: Of Love and the Fulfilling of the Law and examine the following paragraph.

"Paul teaches this in Gal. 3, 13, when he says: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us, i.e. the Law condemns all men, but Christ, because without sin He has borne the punishment of sin, and been made a victim for us has removed that right of the Law to accuse and condemn those who believe in Him, because He Himself is the propitiation for them for whose sake we are now accounted righteous. But since they are accounted righteous, the Law cannot accuse or condemn them, even though they have not actually satisfied the Law. To the same purport he writes to the Colossians, 2, 10: Ye are complete in Him, as though he were to say: Although ye are still far from the perfection of the Law, yet the remnants of sin do not condemn you, because for Christ's sake we have a sure and firm reconciliation, if you believe, even though sin inhere in your flesh."

-------

Q: Does the Law always accuse?

Melanchthon Answer: "But since they are accounted righteous, the Law cannot accuse or condemn them, even though they have not actually satisfied the Law."

Cf. Todd: "In conclusion, you quote John 14:15 and 1 John 5:3. Which is funny, because any honest Christian that reads those must feel accused!"

I would hope that Melanchthon was an honest Christian who was accounted righteous when he wrote: "[T]he Law cannot accuse or condemn them, even though they have not actually satisfied the Law."

Lex Semper Accusat?

No.

todd said...

TFan, you said on Friday that you'd write "more later" in regard to my two lengthy comments, but I have yet to see any response since then, either in the comments here or in a subsequent blog post by you. You have, however, found time to reply to comments posted after mine. Just wondering if you're still considering replying to me or not.

Turretinfan said...

Yes, your comments were more interesting and therefore require more thought from me.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

TFan: "Solar Blogger:

As a mantra [Lex Semper Accusat], it lacks context.

In the work you cited [Apology of the Augsburg Confession], it seems that the author (Melancthon?) uses it in a way that would admit of the exceptions set forth in my post."


-----

TFan, it's rather interesting and amusing to see you use a Lutheran Apology to make your argument.

I do appreciate the exquisite elegance of your riposte in a most delightful way.

Brigitte said...

You do not accept "simul justus et peccator"?

"comment" vs. "thesis"--are you saying it makes no difference whether something is a comment vs. quoted from someone else in a foundational document?

todd said...

TFan, thanks, just wasn't sure if I should keep on checking in.

TUaD, are you actually reading what you're posting, or are you merely doing a word search in the Book of Concord based on the word "accuse"? Because your comment here shows little understanding of what is being said.

I mean, if all you do is read the entire sentence you've quoted, you will see that it upholds my point, even if it contains the phrase "the Law cannot accuse". After all, the sentence you have deemed crucial to your argument ends thusly: "... even though they have not actually satisfied the Law."

It is clear from the context that the word "accuse" there is being used as synonymous for "condemn". But to note that Christians "have not actually satisfied the Law" is to do the very opposite of what you want the passage to do: to accuse them according to the Law.

Go back a paragraph from where you started quoting, even, and you will find this: "on account of faith, there is no imputation of the imperfection of the fulfilling of the Law, even though the sight of our impurity terrifies us." What does "the Law always accuses" mean but that (a) we are imperfect and (b) that said fact terrifies us? As the Apology, article IV on Justification, says, "For the Law always accuses and terrifies consciences."

In fact, I'll somewhat take back what I earlier said to TFan about the distinction between "accuse" and "condemn". I was using those terms according to their modern (dictionary) definitions, in which accusation (a mere claim) precedes condemnation (an actual ruling). But the Confessions sometimes don't adhere to those definitions, even if they maintain the same dichotomy of ideas.

As an example of that, looking to the section of the BoC that TUaD has pointed us towards, it says in the Apology, article V on Love, "the Law condemns all men, but Christ, because without sin He has borne the punishment of sin, and been made a victim for us, has removed that right of the Law to accuse and condemn those who believe in Him". This usage of the word "condemn" actually lines up fairly close with TFan's usage in the original post.

However, I maintain that, particular usage of the words "accuse" and "condemn" aside, the point remains: we are always guilty of failing to fulfill the Law, and, absent faith that looks only to Christ's propitiating work for comfort, this fact terrifies us. This is what I -- and the Confessions -- mean by "accuse". But, though my sin is clearly a fact, yet I am judged not guilty for Christ's sake. This is what I -- and the Confessions -- mean by not "condemned".

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Turretinfan said...

"You do not accept "simul justus et peccator"?"

It's not a part of my confession of faith, but if it is understood as "simultaneously justified in God's eyes and the doer of sin," then of course I agree with the phrase.

"'comment' vs. 'thesis'--are you saying it makes no difference whether something is a comment vs. quoted from someone else in a foundational document?"

To me it's a comment from 1518. If you choose to revere it, I leave that up to you. I'm not a Lutheran, as presumably you've noticed. :)

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Todd:

I think you submitted approximately the same comment 3-4 times. Please try to avoid that, as it makes my spam filter think you are a robot.

-TurretinFan

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi TFan, et al,

Here's another post that you might find interesting: Bavinck on Lutheran Law & Gospel vs. Reformed Law & Gospel.

“Viewed concretely, law and Gospel differ not so much in that the law always meets us in the form of command and the Gospel in the form of promise, for the law too has promises and the Gospel too has warnings and obligations. But they differ especially in content: the law demands that man work out his own righteousness, while the Gospel invites him to renounce all self-righteousness and to receive the righteousness of Christ, to which end it even bestows the gift of faith.

Law and Gospel stand in that relationship not just before and at the point of conversion; but they continue standing in that relationship throughout the whole of the Christian life, all the way to the grave. The Lutherans have an eye almost exclusively for the accusing, condemning work of the law and therefore know of no greater salvation than liberation from the law. The law is necessary only on account of sin. According to Lutheran theology, in the state of perfection there is no law. God is free from the law; Christ was not subject to the law for Himself at all; the believer no longer stands under the law. Naturally, the Lutherans speak of a threefold use of the law, not only of a usus politicus (civilis), to restrain sin, and a usus paedagogicus, to arouse the knowledge of sin, but also of a usus didacticus, to function for the believer as a rule of living. But this last usus is nonetheless necessary simply and only because and insofar as believers are still sinners, and must still be tamed by the law, and must still be led to a continuing knowledge of sin. In itself the law ceases with the coming of faith and grace, and loses all its significance.

The Reformed, however, have thought about this in an entirely different way. The usus politicus and the usus paedagogicus of the law became necessary only accidentally because of sin; even with these uses aside, the most important usus remains, the usus didacticus or normativus. After all, the law is an expression of God’s being. As a human being Christ was subject to the law for Himself. Before the fall Adam had the law written upon his heart. With the believer it is again written upon the tablets of his heart by the Holy Spirit. And all those in heaven will walk according to the law of the Lord.

The Gospel is temporary, but the law is eternal and is restored precisely through the Gospel. Freedom from the law consists, then, not in the fact that the Christian has nothing more to do with the law, but lies in the fact that the law demands nothing more from the Christian as a condition of salvation. The law can no longer judge and condemn him. Instead he delights in the law of God according to the inner man and yearns for it day and night. [Ala Psalm 119]

Therefore, that law must always be preached to the congregation in connection with the Gospel. Law and Gospel, the whole Word, the full counsel of God, is the content of preaching. Among Reformed people, therefore, the law occupies a much larger place than in the teaching of sin, since it is also part of the teaching of gratitude.” [Here Bavinck has a footnote providing bibliographical references relating to the views of Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Zanchius, Witsius, De Moor, Vitringa, Schneckenburger, Frank, and Gottschick.]

(from paragraph 521 of Herman Bavinck’s Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, 3rd unaltered edition, vol. 4 (Kampen, J. H. Kok, 1918), emphases in bold added, and taken from this translation from the Dutch)"

[Emphasis added].

Brigitte said...

To me it's a comment from 1518. If you choose to revere it, I leave that up to you. I'm not a Lutheran, as presumably you've noticed. :)

I see, I thought Reformed try to claim Luther as one of their own "Reformers". But even when he explains to the scholastics that justification is not by works, he is really not quite right, then?

So Luther is discounted. And I see previously, we also had the Romans 7 passage discounted and I'm getting Paul wrong.

Turretinfan, I am going to leave you be and go cook dinner.

Turretinfan said...

"I see, I thought Reformed try to claim Luther as one of their own
'Reformers'."

He's one of the Reformers, but he's not Reformed. While some of the Reformed were more or less conciliatory toward him, and some may even have adopted the title "Lutheran," we don't. He wouldn't be welcome (I would think) to be minister in our churches, although he could be a member.

"But even when he explains to the scholastics that justification is not by works, he is really not quite right, then?"

Well, it's not like Luther invented the idea of justification by faith. But when he argued for justification by faith against those who argued for justification by works, he was clearly on the right side, whether or not all of his arguments are sound. (Hence the "largely agree" comment above, which was disdained.)

"So Luther is discounted."

That's the normal Reformed take on the matter, just so you know. A bold man, and we're glad he spoke out when he did, and that God used him as He did - but he's not completely Reformed.

"And I see previously, we also had the Romans 7 passage discounted and I'm getting Paul wrong."

Just the latter.

"Turretinfan, I am going to leave you be and go cook dinner."

I trust others will thank you for a tasty dinner, just as I think you for a pleasant discussion. Go in peace!

-TurretinFan

Coram Deo said...

TF,

In reply to Todd's inquiry you said:

Yes, your comments were more interesting and therefore require more thought from me.

Not to come across as impatient or self-important as I don't feel either, but is your reply to my prior two requests for clarification queued up behind your reply to Todd?

Just trying to gauge.

In Christ,
CD

Turretinfan said...

LOL CD - no, I hope to address you and Todd together in a first post, and then perhaps (we'll see) more of Todd in a further post.

Turretinfan said...

Todd/CD:

A first installment here (link).

-TurretinFan

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

TFan,

In a prior thread you wrote:

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

The reason I asked you was because of this response Here.

(Me): “I wonder how integral “lex semper accusat” is to Lutheran theology.”

(fws): "It is essential, of the essence, fundamental, and foundational to Lutheran Theology.

You simply cannot understand the Lutheran Confessions, which exactly and only define what the word “Lutheran ” means without always remember that “The Law ALWAYS accuses.

There is NO use of the Law this means that is a “sanctification helper” or that is merely a “helpful guide” or that does not kill us. For Lutherans, the Law-in-action is noted by the word Mortification which is latinate for “Deathing”.

This is why Luther says “Life is Mortification” . “Live is Death”. And Lutherans believe that this is true for Christians in exactly the same way it is true for Pagans.

Lutherans say that this is why Saint Paul says this “The just shall live by faith alone in Christ alone” and not by what they can do in their life. And that faith, is the kind of faith that is a gift of God, it is not a faith that we can do, lest any man should boast in his faith.

Not even by faith, that is, not even making a decision to believe is anything but a form of death, or mortification, or “deathing” of our Old Adam. The Law commands that we believe. Doing the Law is about our death. This is true even and especially when we obey the command of God to have faith that what the Bible says is inerrantly true.

The Law always accuses."

JD said...

"Christ fulfilled the law. The law didn't condemn Christ, it justified Him. Pilate testified to this"

I thought we were talking about God's Law, i.e. the Mosaic Law, not Roman law. I don't see what relevance Pilate's acquittal has to the idea of whether God's law always accuses us.

Also, even without Christ as an exception that principle (lex semper accusat) is just not true. What happened to Romans 2:15, which says that the conscience of the Gentiles (i.e. the law of God in their hearts) alternately accuses and defends them? The Law sometimes accuses us, when we do something wrong, but it also sometimes exonerates us, when we obey it.

Turretinfan said...

JD:

I especially liked your comment about Romans 2:15. Thanks for your comments!

-TurretinFan

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

JD: "Also, even without Christ as an exception that principle (lex semper accusat) is just not true. What happened to Romans 2:15, which says that the conscience of the Gentiles (i.e. the law of God in their hearts) alternately accuses and defends them? The Law sometimes accuses us, when we do something wrong, but it also sometimes exonerates us, when we obey it."

(Romans 2:14-15)

"(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)"

Lvka said...

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.


-- Do we walk by the Spirit?
-- Do we keep Christ's commandments?