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Sunday, October 22, 2017

“God's Word & Luther's Doctrine…” motto – 5a of 5 (rascal Liberals)

      This Part 5a (of 5) continues from my Part 4b (see Intro for Table of Contents), my publication of a serial essay by Prof. E. Pardieck which explains and defends the great Lutheran motto.
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Translation by BackToLuther.  All emphasized words are from the original.  Highlighting is mine.

“God's Word and Luther's Doctrine Pure.”
[by Prof. E. Pardieck]

Now there is one more possible reason where a Christian can stumble at the little proverb of “God's Word and Luther's Doctrine.” And it will probably be the one in most cases. Indeed, it would be strange if even Lutheran Christians were not often stuck on it, because it is, as it were, in the air.  This is unionism and indifferentism, that is, indifference to pure doctrine. One may not hear this when people are certain of their doctrine and say: We have the pure doctrine. This is considered self-praise, arrogance, conceit. Even less may we hear that one says of the contrary doctrine: That is false doctrine.  The people they lead are false believing churches. This is considered to be lovelessness, pride, forbidden judgment and condemnation, and who knows what else.
It is natural and human, when it is disputed for external things, where money, authority, power, and honor are concerned; but quarrels about doctrine in our time is long past, it belongs in the Middle Ages. One should be liberal, that is, do not bother with the doctrine precisely, pay no attention to doctrinal differences.  One should teach and believe what he wants, and in the case of existing differences in doctrine, the churches are to be united externally. The more liberal one is, the more popular he is of course with the unbelieving world. This indifference in teaching has become a formal fashion and plague. Christians should not lose their spiritual understanding over this. They are to be guided in this by God's Word.

What is the correct view? Is there a pure, certain doctrine? Oh yes, and it is very pure and very certain. God Himself has given man His Word, and the Son of God Himself says to the Father, “Thy Word is truth,” John 17:17. “The testimony [page 213, col. 2] of the Lord is sure” (Ps. 19:7-8).  But can we also understand the Scriptures, find in it the truth, and be certain of it?  Yes, when it is true, as the Scripture itself says, that it is a light and a lamp, that it may instruct to salvation, 2 Tim. 3:16; when it is true what the Psalm says: “The testimony of the Lord is sure, and makes wise the simple,” (Ps. 19:7-8). The question of the Son of God has certainly been decided when he says, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth”, (John 8:31-32).
How does one become certain of the truth? By diligently handling the truth that one makes it like those Bereans, of whom it is said: “They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11. Where, then, is there right, pure doctrine? “Where the Word of God is taught boldly and pure.” Who teaches falsely? “Whoever but teaches otherwise than the Word of God teaches.”  “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness,” 1 Tim. 6:3.
Is it from arrogance and conceit when someone says: “We have the right doctrine?” If there was no Bible, yes. If we had to conceive and search for the doctrine of God ourselves, it would be unfortunate arrogance if someone would say: I alone found it, you others are all wrong. But when God gives us His Word and tells us that this is clear, that it can be understood, from which you will know the truth, what is to be conceit if someone who learns this Word and teaches himself to be taught by the Word, says: I have recognized the truth? Is it praiseworthy modesty to be never sure of one’s faith and doctrine, and despair of becoming certain? The Holy Scripture speaks of such people, who are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” 2 Tim. 3:7; but it does not want to praise people. We know [page 214, col. 1] of a man who when faced with the testimony of truth, could only say with a shrug: “What is truth?” Oh, what truth! Go away with your truth! Everyone says he has the truth; there is no such thing. But the man who spoke thus did not have a good name in Scripture and among the Christians; it was Pilate. Is it liberal, is it any good at all, not to take doctrine exactly? If someone goes to a rich man and says, “Here write me a good sum!” and so he writes a statement to his bank, that is liberal.

If, however, an administrator or cashier hands out a handful of someone else’s property and thinks: it is not mine — that is, at most, a rascal Liberal.  If the doctrine were ours, then we could surrender.  But now the doctrine of God is concerned; it demands of us the loyalty that we hold to the Word. Is it unloving judgment and condemnation when we call out false doctrine and reject it? Yes, if we had to make up the doctrine out of our own head. But if God's Word teaches the truth and rejects error, then we simply repeat God's judgment; and God will still have the right to be able to speak and judge in the Church! Do we sin against love when we punish false doctrine? Not if it is true what the Savior says that false prophets are ravening wolves. Do we divide the Church if we keep the pure doctrine and reject the error? No, the schisms in the church come in such a way that "men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them,” Acts 20:30.  No, the uncertainty and indecision in doctrine is a serious disease; thereby the Church loses even the respect of the intelligent world.

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The "Intelligent World"
Pardieck makes a striking statement above :
No, the uncertainty and indecision in doctrine is a serious disease; thereby the Church loses even the respect of the intelligent world.
Even the unbelieving "intelligent world" loses respect for the Church... when through unionism it turns Liberal.  The "intelligent world" knows very well that Christianity has something to do with believing the Bible.  They understand that someone who espouses a cause should believe in their cause.  So when "teachers" in the Church disavow belief in various doctrines of the Bible, even the "intelligent world" knows something isn't right about this and can see that these "teachers" deserve no respect for this. — A corollary to Pardieck's statement is that Christians should not be surprised that the "intelligent world" is gleeful when "Christian" teachers turn away from pure doctrine. Matt. 11:25, Luke 10:21.

      Pardieck uses the term "rascal Liberal" above.  He delineates exactly what it is about the "Liberal" that is bad, explaining that it could mean a beneficial thing.  If an evangelist is "liberal" in proclaiming the pure Gospel, that is beneficial!  But if false teachers are "liberal" in giving up God's doctrine, they are "rascal Liberals" who are to be defended against as rascals, or "ravening wolves", Matt. 7:15.  It seems the world is overflowing with "rascals and ravening wolves" today.
      Many "Liberals" are very intelligent people!  Perhaps a good example of Pardieck's point is when the American television game show "Jeopardy" uses questions and answers about the Bible for its program.  Curiously it uses very few questions or categories about other "religious" books, e.g. the Koran, or books of Buddhism.  Some might think (even me) that this is showing respect for the Bible, but the reality is that rather than respect, the "intelligent world" uses the Bible as a game.  The Bible is only useful for a game, or as myth or legend, something to sport with, but never as something to believe. —  In the concluding Part 5b...

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