Monday, June 28, 2010

Remembering the Words of the Apostles.

Jude 1:17-23 (ESV)
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. [18] They said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions." [19] It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. [20] But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; [21] keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. [22] And have mercy on those who doubt; [23] save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ….
So here you have Jude all but admitting he is not an apostle, in fact he hints that the apostles are dead by this time. So you have it again, antilegomena. It doesn’t carry the weight of apostolic authority. It doesn’t mean that it is to be ignored completely though. Just that you cannot very well draw doctrine from this letter alone, or make it the seat of doctrine.
Yet it is edifying, and has good instruction for the church, and this instruction does not go beyond what is said elsewhere in Holy Scripture. (Though I’m not quite sure where he got the prophecy of Enock, or the story of Michael the Archangel…., I don’t find support for that elsewhere in the Old Testament.)
But then, “remember the predictions of the apostles or our Lord Jesus Christ…” and the predictions he recalls are found in other parts of the New Testament among the Epistles of Paul, the writings of John, and Peter. So… We should remember them.
And this is what they say: “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’ It is these who case divisions, worldly people devoid of the spirit.” So it is that the problem of disunity in the church has been around for a while. It definitely did not start with the reformation…
It is the irony of ironies when considering Mormonism. Supposedly this division of Christendom into denominations was the vexing question that disturbed Joseph Smith. The answer for him was not to study the teachings of the denominations to see which one was true to the Bible, but to start a cult. Hmmm. I don’t see the logic. I fail to see it.
But it is so often leveled at us “stubborn Lutherans” who hold so tenaciously to the truth. And we are no longer told that we shouldn’t believe what we believe, but that it just doesn’t matter so much and shouldn’t be divisive. I get a different vibe from the New Testament. And I always have to wonder why we are the bad guys for believing what we do. If it doesn’t matter much, why don’t they compromise, why are we the ones who have to “compromise.” And that is just it, there can be no compromise and they know it.
Mormons tell me we all believe the same thing. That statement can only be made dishonestly and/or from severe ignorance. Yet I wonder, if they believe the same thing as us Lutheran’s why do they send missionaries on bicycles to Minnesota? Because they know we don’t. I have found that most mormon’s are blissfully ignorant. Often they are hard pressed to tell you what they believe, much less what everyone else believes. And this problem is amplified by an emphasis on morals above doctrine. Then they have the na├»ve suspicion that whether or not to cap the day with a Scotch on the rocks is necessarily a moral question for all believers. Or that because they think a word is bad, it must be bad in and of itself sans any censorship of it in the Bible. So long story short, we don’t even share the same moral outlook, much less doctrinal outlook.
And it isn’t us who cause divisions. Of course, if you don’t think Lutheran Doctrine is sound doctrine you may accuse us of being the ones who cause divisions. But realize it is a question of whether the doctrine is sound or not. It is not a question of whether or not the pope is a nice guy. It is not a question of whether or not we like you or anyone else as a person. It is not a matter of us liking Bratwurst, plenty of Lutherans don’t. There are even a few who don’t drink beer. It is a question of doctrine, and if doctrine doesn’t matter to you, that is your problem, not mine. It matters to me, and I find yours to be blasphemous. Show me I’m wrong.

3 comments:

Jason Zoske said...

Great article Pastor. Mormon's who think we believe the same? Wow! And I thought Reformed and Baptist type who think we believe the same is frustrating.

Bror Erickson said...

Jason,
It can be very annoying, and difficult to deal with when they think we all believe the same thing. It is due to ignorance.

Bror Erickson said...

Jason,
It can be very annoying, and difficult to deal with when they think we all believe the same thing. It is due to ignorance.