Friday, March 01, 2013

When a True Statement is made to be False

     There are many examples of this in the world. A statement is made, using portions of the truth to present a falsehood. The devil is the inventor of this tactic. He used this tactic in the garden of Eden to tempt the woman to doubt the truth and to refashion God’s Word according to her own reason. The result was that Mankind was cut off from the Truth, cut off from Life. Death thereby came to mankind in connection with the blindness and corruption of sin. The devil foolishly tried this tactic with Jesus, too. The devil actually quoted Scripture to Jesus in an attempt to move Jesus to accept something false. The devil actually quoted the Scripture verbatim. But he used the Scripture out of context, applying it to try to present a false precept, and therefore the true statement was actually false. Even though the statement was true in the context in which it stands written, used as the devil used it, it was nevertheless false.

     At When Love Encounters Impenitence, Love Does Not Go to War a statement is quoted as a beautiful “bit of grace and truth.” The statement is made at Steadfast Lutherans within the comments concerning the article Interesting Interview of Pastor Morris in the Newtown Bee, by Pr. Rossow. Notably, Pr. McCain in his blog post quoting this statement does not provide a link to where it was made. Thereby he uses the quote without allowing his readers to examine how it was used.

     The quoted statement was actually used to attack other Christians, using the deliberately controverted guise of love. The statement is actually an attack on people who are openly and honestly addressing a serious issue and calling for dishonesty within their church body to be swept away so that the truth may prevail among them.

     Here is the statement, which, divorced from the context in which it was presented, is a truly beautiful “bit of grace and truth.” It sounds wonderful until one reads it in the context in which Pastor Fiene has written and presented it.

When love encounters impenitence, love weeps while shaking the dust off its feet. Love doesn’t go to war. It doesn’t badger. It doesn’t shout. It doesn’t scream for everyone to fix their eyes on the sin that’s already been made as public as it can be.

Love doesn’t continually appoint itself to the task of penning another epistle of rebuke. It doesn’t repeatedly provide online fuel for those who easily explode in anger and cruelty. Love doesn’t seek to stir up more anger over vacations or preferential treatment.

Love is patient. Love recognizes that, were it not for the calling, gathering, enlightening, and sanctifying of the Holy Spirit, not a trace of orthodoxy would beat in any of our hearts. Love remembers that countless saints spent far more time than Pr. Morris has defending their sins before the Lord brought them to repentance. Love waits, hopes and prays that our brother in Christ will one day see his error.

And, in the meantime, if love must shake the dust off its feet, then that’s what love must do. But it does so in tears, not in a manner like this.

     The issue being raised by the original article is the issue of a blatant sin committed within the LC-MS. The pastors and congregations of the LC-MS take an oath not to partake in unionistic worship. In the situation being addressed, a pastor openly, publicly, and proudly violated this oath. When he was called on it, he apologized in a way that actually accused those who sought to bring him to repent. I posted concerning this at An Apology Is Not Repentance. The end result was that the LC-MS president apologized for attempting to do his sworn duty, while the one who should have been called to repent denied that he did any wrong. The way it was finally presented was as a call to the members of the LC-MS to repent of their desire to call sin “sin” and to call sinners to repent of their sins, especially their public sins against the Gospel.

     The falsehood begins with the very first sentence, where Pr. Fiene says: “When love encounters impenitence, love weeps while shaking the dust off its feet.”

     This is a very devilish use of the truth. For this is exactly what the Lord Jesus has commanded the saints to do regarding those who reject the truth that has been presented to them. However, Pr. Fiene is not in agreement with Jesus that Pr. Morris should be confronted openly with the truth and then told that he is not a Christian on account of refusing to acknowledge his sin and repent of it. The people whom Pr. Fiene is countering are actually calling for Pr. Morris, as well as his district president and Pr. Harrison to be called to repent of their public sin in this matter, the sin of calling sin as “righteousness” and righteousness as “sin.” They are calling for repentance of all three lying pastors. But even they are not speaking of shaking the dust off their feet. Even they are not saying that if these lying pastors refuse to hear the truth and be called to repentance that they should be excommunicated for the sake of showing them the seriousness of their impenitence. Pr. Fiene especially is not calling for this. He is trying to condemn those who are at least calling their leaders to be accountable. He is trying to change the focus from the call to the leaders to repent, so that the focus becomes one of calling those who are calling for repentance to repent. But because this devilish maneuver is masked as love, it is a very effective deception.

     If those who practice unionism don’t believe that it is sinful, then they should admit this and end their participation in the LC-MS communion. However, the sad fact is that the LC-MS is not what it claims to be. The LC-MS has openly practiced unionism at many levels for decades, perhaps really even for its entire existence. The LC-MS has only pretended to be against unionism, while allowing it and actually practicing it for years.

     From that perspective Pr. Fiene would be correct, if indeed he were saying that the members of the LC-MS should admit the longstanding impenitence of the LC-MS and with tears shake the dust off their feet and walk away.

     But Pr. Fiene’s dishonest use of the truth goes further still. He says:

     Love doesn’t go to war. It doesn’t badger. It doesn’t shout. It doesn’t scream for everyone to fix their eyes on the sin that’s already been made as public as it can be.
     Love doesn’t continually appoint itself to the task of penning another epistle of rebuke.

     This ignores the very obvious fact that war has already been declared and imposed upon those whom he is condemning. War has already been declared by those who gave an oath not to partake in unionism and then have openly done so and furthermore have publicly sought to make unionism the accepted practice of the church. Those who stand up against this are persecuted until either broken or driven out of the LC-MS. Those who do resist, those who do fight against those making war against them, are doing so not only for their own sake, but for the sake of their loved ones who are being destroyed spiritually in this war imposed by the so-called tolerant ones.

     This is true also for those who have admitted the truth of the impenitence of the LC-MS and have shaken the dust off their feet and walked away in tears. They still look on as they see their family and friends being led further and further away from the narrowness of the truth into the broad path of relativism and tolerance of adulterated doctrine and practice. As they view the changes effected in their family and friends, their love does move them to pen yet another and another epistle. They do experience and even express holy anger as they stand helplessly watching their loved ones spiritually eviscerated.

     And then Pr. Fiene and Pr. McCain cry out that love does not cry out against such things.

     Truly there is a point where one must finally say, “I have nothing more whatsoever to do with thee.” There does come the time where mourning and even praying for such comes to an end, as the Lord told Samuel to stop mourning for Saul and John says not to pray for those who sin unto death (1 John 5:17).

     I must admit that I don’t really know how to make this distinction and so I simply continue as the Lord Jesus teaches in the Our Father and as the General Prayer follows the admonitions of the apostles, praying for everyone generally. As for those who seem to be beyond receiving anything good from me, I do eventually stop praying for them specifically, including them in my general prayers for all and for all of the enemies of the cross. And even though I have shaken the dust off my feet concerning the impenitent churches and those who remain in their clutches, my heart nevertheless longs for their repentance unto the way of true peace and life.

     It seems that a big issue for those still in churches like the LC-MS is that they imagine that they are still fighting to protect their home and loved ones. They seem not to realize that their church body that they call home has been confiscated by the enemy. So they continue fighting for what is no longer theirs. They fight battles that are nothing more than futile rebelling against the established rulers of the household. From this perspective they would do well to hear Pr. Fienes that such is not the way of love. Love rather would admit the impenitence of their false church so that they would shake the dust off their feet and walk away in tears. Then they would be free to embrace the true faith, the true doctrine, and the true worship without continually fighting the enemy whom they falsely call brother. Then they would begin to understand what St. John declares, saying:

     Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. (1 John 3:13-14)

     In order truly to love the brethren, one must first rightly acknowledge the brethren. Continuing in fellowship with those who are not the brethren is to malign and despise the brethren. Those who love the brethren do not join themselves to the world that hates the brethren. Rather, in love for the brethren, they stand together with the brethren apart from the world. It seems odd that so many have forgotten this so that they continue to cling to worldly corporations that use “Church” in their corporate identities while ignoring and even despising those who stand apart, gathered into the name of Jesus. They somehow seem to have become convinced that love means holding to the church that bears the name and works of their fathers and grandfathers rather than the Church founded upon and preserved through the name and works of Jesus.

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