Laughing and Crying with Strange Bedfellows

Either I’m not being sent the memos or I don’t know where to pick them up.  I didn’t get the memo that the confessional position had changed on the order of creation.  The roles of men and women now apply only in the home and in the pastoral office not in the world or in church offices made by man.  Apparently I also  wasn’t sent or failed to pick up the memo about the new understanding of Romans 16:17.

Twenty-three years ago the Concordia Self-Study Bible said this on Romans 16:17: those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way. Not just any divisions and obstacles (offenses), but those which were contrary to the teaching they learned.”

Here is what The Lutheran Study Bible of ’09 says on this passage:  “those who cause divisions. Unnamed people divided the Church from within, probably along Jew/Gentile lines. Contrary to the doctrine. No false teaching is acceptable for God’s Church whether it contradicts the Law or the Gospel….avoid them. As in Galatians, believers are to reject any false teachings and refuse to associate with those who advocate them.  Some [namely the LCMS] have applied this to any and every different teaching, but here it refers specifically to issues that strike at the heart of the Gospel. Cf ch 14, See p 1907.”  “16: 17-23 Paul warns against those who cause divisions and promises God will overcome them.  Those who advocate a false Gospel are to be avoided entirely.

So much for Luther’s doctrine being like mathematics and so being wrong in any one part makes the whole wrong, and for the sainted Professor Marquart’s wheel of doctrine.  The Gospel is the hub, but if you don’t pay attention to the spokes the whole wheel will be destroyed.

If you pair The Lutheran Study Bible’s understanding of Romans 16 with Rev. David Rohde’s understanding as expressed in his 2007 paper Why Stay? you really have some strange bedfellows.  Rohde too doesn’t think Romans 16 should be used against those in the LCMS advocating error.  He defends his view by pointing out that Athanasius never used it against the Arians.  Ergo, based on The Lutheran Study Bible are we do conclude that even a denial of the deity of Christ is not an issue at the heart of the Gospel?

The really funny bedfellows in all of this are the Rev. Dr. Ray Martens and me.  Dr. Martens is a former president of Concordia, Austin.  He is normally not identified by the confessionals as one of their own.  But this paramount Greek scholar agrees with me contra the new confessionals.

In a presentation on Romans 16: 17-19 at Hope Lutheran Church, Austin, TX, January 17, 2006, he wrote: “Yet, ‘the teaching you learned’ seems to be more of a kind with ‘the faith which was once for all entrusted to the saints’ (Jude 3-5), fides quae, the kind of thing which can be heeded (v. 19: obeyed).  St. Paul’s allusions to this message of broader content are more than a few, as indeed a great many things he has written go beyond Gospel in the narrow sense.

I’d rather cry with the confessionals than laugh with the liberals, but I no longer am sure which is which.  If I would just start getting the memos maybe I could keep up.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
This entry was posted in Missouri Megatrends. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Laughing and Crying with Strange Bedfellows

  1. Pastor Harris, with respect, I must point out that you are distorting what TLSB says and both selectively quoting, and even inserting words that are not in the TLSB.

    TLSB asserts in no uncertain terms:

    “believers are to reject any false teachings and refuse to associate with those who advocate them.”

    You however latch on to a phrase and add words to it and then attempt to accuse TLSB of something it is not asserting.

    The point is that some Christians do use Rom 16 to reject anyone who has any teaching that differs in any way from any supposed “essential.”

    For instance, those Christians who have attacked other Christians for not observing the same date for Easter, that was a cause for division in the church when it should not have been.

    Those Christians who attack other Christians for not teaching women are to wear dresses past their knees, never cut their hair, and so forth.

    Or, those Christians who apply this text to other Christians who pray with relatives around a dinner table who are not member of their church, but are Christians.

    You are doing TLSB a disservice with your inaccurate and overstated remarks.

  2. Bart Goddard says:

    Rev. McCain,

    You accuse Pastor Harris of selectively quoting. I have
    TLSB before me, and I can see that he left out some
    words from the footnote he cited. I don’t see that any
    of those words run contrary to his point. I’m pretty
    sure that you don’t either, because if there were some
    phrase whose omission somehow warped the meaning
    of the quote, you would have supplied it. Likewise, your
    further accusation that he added words to the quote
    lacks any attempt at justification These sorts of vague,
    unsupported accusations we expect in politics. They’re
    the adult equivalent of a teenager rolling his eyes and
    slamming his bedroom door.

    If you have an argument, by all means make it. But
    personally, I’ve had my belly full of the political posturing
    in what’s left of LCMS. Sound arguments can not be
    constructed from exasperated sighs.

    Pastor Harris’ comment about Arius clearly went over your
    head, so I won’t reply to that. The main point, however,
    is that there is a definitive change in the “Lutheran”
    interpretation of this verse. The gut-wrenching part of
    the change is that it smacks of the same double-speak
    we’ve been getting out of St. Louis and Texas District
    for several years.

    Let me be clear: I spent 4 years on Concordia Austin’s
    campus listening to garbage-filled, pharisaical homilies,
    sermons and lunch discussions. And hidious “Christian”
    music loaded with charismaticism and gross pietism. Any
    complaint about the inherent heresy was met with “I
    heard a clear Gospel message.” This “clear Gospel message
    was, at most, a mumbled (or sung) “Jesus did it all”
    tacked on, quite incongruently, at the end of the real

    But, even if you tack the exact words of the 4th Article on
    to the end of a pietistic sermon, you will not redeem it.
    A “clear Gospel message” is not “clear” when it’s
    subverted by a context works righteousness.

    Likewise, the phrase “believers are to reject any false teachings” does not redeem the footnote which
    finishes with a
    line that tells us that “any” here doesn’t really mean
    “any”. It’s the same brand of double speak which St.
    Louis has become so adept at. The childish ploy of
    stating both P and not-P so that one can point to P
    when accused of not-P, and point to not-P when one
    is accused of P, is wearing very thin in confessional

    I don’t care if you disagree with orthodox theology, and
    by all means, post here if you have something relevant
    to say. (Heck, we’ve been trying to get honest discussion
    with the liberals for years now.) Open-ended innuendo
    and political posturing are NOT relevant.

    In sum, you say, “You are doing TLSB a disservice with
    your inaccurate and overstated remarks.” Your
    accusation of inaccuracy is based on your assertion that
    he left out words. But the words you cite to support
    your argument _were_ cited by Pastor Harris. So
    what words did he leave out that would make your
    argument? More important, why didn’t you supply them?
    And which remark was “overstated”? That fact that you
    don’t tell us is symptomatic.

    Bart Goddard

  3. Bart, you should read Pr. Harris’ remarks more closely.

    He inserted words in TLSB notes:

    Some [namely the LCMS] have

    He misinterprets TLSB and uses it to engage in a rant, not a responsible blog post.

    I’m sorry you appear to be following his poor examples and indulging in overstatement as well.

  4. Bart Goddard says:

    Rev. McCain,

    You continue your unjustified accusations. Here’s
    a few points you ought to consider:

    1. It’s “Dr. Goddard” to you. Extend the same courtesy
    to me that you I extended to you.

    2. The words “inserted” are in square brackets which
    the entire English-speaking world understands to be
    editorial comments. Only you think he’s asserting that
    the TLSB contained those words. Further, even given
    your misunderstanding, they don’t justify your point.

    3. It’s not an interpretation of the the TLSB, but
    only a footnote. And it not even an interpretation, but
    only the observation that the footnote says something
    different from the one in the Condordia NIV. And
    I sure don’t know how you construe his comments as
    a “rant”. I guess it’s your “misinterpretation” of his

    4. It’s your post which was irresponsible. You accuse
    Pastor Harris of being ingenuous, but fail to supply the
    the words he left out that would support your assertion.
    Now you’ve re-posted, which gave you the chance to
    supply those missing words. Where are they? If you
    can’t supply them, you owe Pastor Harris an apology.

    5. Speaking of apologies, you say “I’m sorry you…”
    Apologies start with “I’m sorry I…” Make sure you
    use that form when you contact Pastor Harris.

    6. I overstated nothing. You’ve erred. I called you
    on it. Either man up and apologize or go away. I
    remind you that you’ve yet to supply the missing words
    which you say makes Pastor Harris’ comments ingenuous.

    7. Yours is the poor example: Tossing off unsupported
    accusations and then posturing like an also-ran
    alderman. This insult also needs to be answered.
    Condescension is also a sin.

    Bart Goddard.

Comments are closed.