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MARTIN CHEMNITZ DOCTRINAL BULLETIN

A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

6421 W. Poinsettia

Phoenix, Arizona 85304

chemnitz@ic.new-ulm.mn.us

 

CONTINUED DOCTRINAL CONFUSION AND ERROR

IN THE CLC

ON THE ISSUE OF “HOLY SELF-LOVE” OR “SELFLESS SELF-LOVE”

 

The Church of the Lutheran Confession adopted a statement at its June 1998 convention, supposedly resolving the conflict created by Pastor David Schierenbeck and Board of Doctrine chair Pastor Paul F. Nolting. The two pastors, supported by the board of doctrine, argued that the Bible teaches us to love ourselves, that there is a “holy love of self” or a “selfless self-love.”

 

Some statements are correct, but others are completely wrong and anti-Scriptural. For instance:

“Whereas we cannot establish from Scripture that every passage which speaks of love for self must be understood as referring to sinful love…”

 

This is a clear attack on the perfection or sufficiency of the Scriptures, as Pieper wrote:

 

"It is self-evident that if the perfectio, or sufficientia, of Scripture be surrendered , the Scripture principle is given up. If a deficiency in the Bible must be supplied from some outside source, the Christian Church is eo ipso moved off its foundation, the Word of the Apostles and Prophets, and based on the Ego of the alleged supplementers."

Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., St. Louis:Concordia Publishing House, 1950, I,p. 319.

 

These tactics are Roman in origin, as Chemnitz, the Corcordist, noted:

 

"The method of debate on the part of the papalists is far different now than it was at the time of Eck, Emser, and others like them.These men did not refuse to fight with us with the weapons of the Scripture.Pighius, however, has perceived that this arrangement has done the papal kingdom more harm than good.Therefore he has shown a different and shorter way by which, provided they stuck to it, they could obtain practically anything without trouble.It consists in this that they bring together every oratorical device and then declaim loudly about the shortness, the incompleteness, the insufficiency, ambiguity, and obscurity of the Scripture and strenuously fight for the necessity, authority, perfection, certainty, and clarity of the unwritten traditions."

Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis:Concordia Publishing House, 1971, I,p. 71.

 

 

"When they are proved wrong from the Scriptures, they turn and accuse the Scriptures themselves, as if they were not correct and were without authority, both because they speak now one way, now another, and also because the truth cannot be found from Scripture by those who do not know the tradition; for (so they say) the truth was not given through epistles, but through the living voice, etc."[Irenaeus, Contra haereses, chapter 2]

            Ibid., I,p. 82.

 

"All things are clear and plain from the divine Scriptures; whatever things are necessary are manifest."[Chrysostom, commenting on 2 Thess. 2]

            Ibid., I,p. 152.

 

The longest “whereas” statement of the CLC reiterates a previous attempt to prove that self-care of the body is God-pleasing and therefore an example of holy self-love. Various passages are simply quoted without offering any foundation or explanation for such a bizarre anti-Lutheran concept. The passages, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 9:24, 27; Ephesians 2:10; and Philippians 2:12-13 all war against the stated thesis. The Holy Spirit teaches us in these passages to overcome the Old Adam, motivating us with the Gospel. The Bible and the Book of Concord teach consistently that all our works, even our greatest acts of love, are tainted by sinful self-love, selfishness, self-centeredness.

 

The conclusion is necessarily a poor attempt to patch together a consensus from two opposing ideas: a) self-love is holy and God-pleasing; b) self-love is sinful.

 

“THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the question of ’96 Convention be answered bythe following Scriptural principles:

 

            All love proceeding from the Old Man is sinful, and

           

All love proceeding from the New man is God-pleasing. Gal. 5:22-23; 1 Cor. 10:31)

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all essays and study papers addressing this subject heretofore have no standing among us as a [sic] expression of our position on the subject, and that everyting contrary is rejected.”

 

"Here we discover the first mark of unionism:A difference in doctrine which hitherto has been regarded as divisive, is suddenly made to lose its divisive significance." (About the Augsburg Confession, Variata, Real Presence)

M. Reu, In the Interest of Lutheran Unity, Columbus:The Lutheran Book Concern, 1940, p. 19.

 

"The second mark of unionism, therefore, is this:Differences in doctrine are made to lose their divisive significance with a view to uniting hitherto separate churches." (about unification of all Protestant forces)

            Ibid., p. 19.

 

"The third mark of unionism, therefore, is this:A formula of unification is found which each of two hitherto separate churches may accept but which each of them interprets differently.An external bond is found for internally divided groups."(About Melanchthon using 1 Cor. 10:16 as the basis for uniting the Reformed and Lutherans, Luther's favorite text against the Reformed.)

            Ibid., p. 19.

 

We must agree with what Francis Pieper declared:

 

"If any one shows us that even only one pastor preached false doctrine, or that even only one periodical is in the service of false doctrine, and we did not remove this false doctrine, we thereby would have ceased to be an orthodox Synod, and we would have become a unionistic fellowship."Lehre und Wehre, Jahrgang 36, Nummer 8, S. 262-3

Francis Pieper, The Difference Between Orthodox And Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon:St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 55.

 

C. F. W. Walther has shown what must be done about false doctrine in the Church of the Lutheran Confession:

 

"If a minister who is otherwise conscientious has had the misfortune of putting something into his manuscript that is wrong and even saying it from the pulpit, he must, if he notices his mistake while preaching, immediately correct himself and tell his hearers that he really did not mean to say what they have just heard from him. If he notices his mistake later and the matter is of considerable importance, he must make the correction later, lest his hearers be led utterly astray. Yea, he may not only have to correct his wrong statement, but solemnly to revoke it. That will not lower him in the esteem of his listeners; on the contrary, his conscientious striving for accuracy will rather impress them favorably. He must not rely on the ability of his hearers to give the correct interpretation to incorrect statements of his, but must speak so as not to be misunderstood in what he says."

C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, trans., W. H. T. Dau, St. Louis:Concordia Publishing House, 1928, p. 296f.