A Missourian’s Perspective on Missouri

Started by Weedon, April 29, 2024, 07:11:46 PM

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George Rahn

#90
Quote from: Weedon on May 01, 2024, 08:55:14 PMMerely having the discussion again on the third use of the law is perhaps a good reminder that that is indeed a treasured heritage in the LCMS: the recognition of third use and with it, of the regenerate will's cooperation in the works of the Holy Spirit.


Roman's 3:19ff:
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through law comes knowledge of sin.

Weedon

Ah but we are in the law but not under it. See Epitome vi.5

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: John Mundinger on May 01, 2024, 06:20:28 PM
Quote from: pearson on May 01, 2024, 05:35:36 PM
Quote from: John Mundinger on May 01, 2024, 05:16:44 PM
Quote from: pearson on May 01, 2024, 05:08:38 PMSo, then, in order to avoid "group think," the following:

Quote from: John Mundinger on April 30, 2024, 04:02:40 PMI believe that the God who created all in the image of the loving divine; who created all to love God and to love each other; who created all with free will; desires a mutual relationship of love with the created.  God does have the power to "change all of that".  I believe that God chose to change it through the fulfillment of the promise of forgiveness and salvation through the life, death, resurrection, ascension and abiding presence of Jesus Christ.  Alternatively, God could have used God's power to make us all minions.  I think God desires a loving relationship with creatures who have more depth of character than do the minions.


is -- and should be -- regarded as just one more random hermeneutic among many others.  In order to avoid "group think," of course.

Tom Pearson

The context of that comment was very different from this thread.  Regardless, Tom, I'm curious if you disagree with that hermeneutical piece of group think, especially in the context of the conversation in which it was offered.

You're right; the context of that comment was very different.  But I'm glad that you acknowledge it is a hermeneutical piece of group think.  Do I disagree with it?  Well, I'm certainly skeptical that God created all with free will; either a free will as an original and essential ontological given, or a human will that can function freely subsequent to the Fall. Most of the rest of those statements of belief I would affirm as reliable theological premises.  But I suspect we might disagree when it comes to some of the conclusions that could be inferred from those premises.  However, that's just a suspicion; I could be wrong about that.

Tom Pearson

If God did not create us with free will, how would it be that, given the reality of the fall, we are in bondage to a will that no longer functions as God intended?
What makes you think that God did not intend the first humans to fall - and that the Jesus event had already been planned from before the time of creation?
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

peter_speckhard

Quote from: George Rahn on May 01, 2024, 08:40:15 PM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2024, 08:38:23 PMThe converted will WANTS to please God, thus desires to know what is God-pleasing. The 3rd use tells them. We are like little children wanting to buy a Mothers' Day gift for mom. Yes, we can't use money that isn't already hers, but we want to get her something she likes, so we treasure any knowledge of what will please her. Sure, we'll probably come up with a handful of dandelions. But if we come up with our own favorite candy knowing she hates it, that is a sign we aren't trying to please her. That is, an unconverted will offers up to God things Gid has revealed He hates. A converted will at least tries to offer Him what the Law reveals He loves, not in order to be loved or justified but as a response of faith and love.

Sounds duplicitous to me
Duplicitous in the sense that the Old Adam remains. But much of the NT makes zero sense if the converted will of the Christian does not yearn to do God's will and if God's will is not revealed in the Law.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2024, 08:38:23 PMThe converted will WANTS to please God, thus desires to know what is God-pleasing. The 3rd use tells them. We are like little children wanting to buy a Mothers' Day gift for mom. Yes, we can't use money that isn't already hers, but we want to get her something she likes, so we treasure any knowledge of what will please her. Sure, we'll probably come up with a handful of dandelions. But if we come up with our own favorite candy knowing she hates it, that is a sign we aren't trying to please her. That is, an unconverted will offers up to God things Gid has revealed He hates. A converted will at least tries to offer Him what the Law reveals He loves, not in order to be loved or justified but as a response of faith and love.
Aren't following the rules of the 1st Use God-pleasing?
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

peter_speckhard

#95
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on May 01, 2024, 09:36:32 PM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2024, 08:38:23 PMThe converted will WANTS to please God, thus desires to know what is God-pleasing. The 3rd use tells them. We are like little children wanting to buy a Mothers' Day gift for mom. Yes, we can't use money that isn't already hers, but we want to get her something she likes, so we treasure any knowledge of what will please her. Sure, we'll probably come up with a handful of dandelions. But if we come up with our own favorite candy knowing she hates it, that is a sign we aren't trying to please her. That is, an unconverted will offers up to God things Gid has revealed He hates. A converted will at least tries to offer Him what the Law reveals He loves, not in order to be loved or justified but as a response of faith and love.
Aren't following the rules of the 1st Use God-pleasing?
No. Such works might look the same externally, but they are not God pleasing.  Only works done in faith and in accordance with God's revealed will can be God pleasing.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2024, 09:46:00 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on May 01, 2024, 09:36:32 PM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2024, 08:38:23 PMThe converted will WANTS to please God, thus desires to know what is God-pleasing. The 3rd use tells them. We are like little children wanting to buy a Mothers' Day gift for mom. Yes, we can't use money that isn't already hers, but we want to get her something she likes, so we treasure any knowledge of what will please her. Sure, we'll probably come up with a handful of dandelions. But if we come up with our own favorite candy knowing she hates it, that is a sign we aren't trying to please her. That is, an unconverted will offers up to God things Gid has revealed He hates. A converted will at least tries to offer Him what the Law reveals He loves, not in order to be loved or justified but as a response of faith and love.
Aren't following the rules of the 1st Use God-pleasing?
No. Such works might look the same externally, but they are not God pleasing.  Only works done in faith and in accordance with God's revealed will can be God pleasing.
Why aren't they God-pleasing when obeyed by Christians? They are acting in faith. The 1st Use is God's revealed will. 
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

pearson

Quote from: Weedon on May 01, 2024, 07:15:31 PMI don't quite see it the same way. I think that when God created humanity, our first parents did indeed have a free will. This will was impaired in the fall, with the result that it's a mere shadow of itself in the unregenerate. They indeed have free will in regards to the things that reason comprehends (see Ap. XVIII:4). But since the fall, we do not free will in regard to the spiritual things which are above reason's paygrade. This is what the Lutheran Symbols are at pains to emphasize in the Formula. However, the regenerate do have a freed will, a will that by the new powers infused by the Holy Spirit can cooperate in all the Spirit's works, albeit with great weakness. In the glorified body of the resurrection, Lutherans have always assumed that we'd be confirmed in our bliss such as the blessed Angels are, and so unable to fall again. At least, that is how I have been taught and understood the question.


Thanks for this, Will.  The points you raise certainly do give me pause; and if there is still resistance to those points, they nonetheless deserve a thoughtful response by someone more competent than me.

But allow me to explain why I am still uncomfortable with the concept of "free will."  There are two points that are fundamental for me in this discussion.  First, I take the notion of "free" very seriously.  Even with the distinction between the things that reason comprehends and the spiritual things which are above reason's paygrade (and I think that's a very useful distinction), with the things that reason comprehends our wills are nonetheless deeply constrained (that is, unfree; I'll say a little more below).  Second, I think it is a mistake to confuse "free will" with "choice."  We make choices all the time, but it does not follow that such choices entail the existence of free will.

Just musing for a moment:  I don't know how one would be able to demonstrate from the Biblical text that, as created by God, our first parents did indeed have free will.  There's nothing like that in the text.  Adam and Eve certainly made choices, but that's an entirely different matter.

What would a genuinely "free" will require?  Consider:  you're not feeling well, so you go to the doctor.  The doctor puts you in the hospital to run some tests.  The tests come back showing that you have terminal condition with perhaps six months to live.  At this point, do you have choices?  Absolutely.  Choices about treatment protocols, about prayer and sacramental devotion, about putting your affairs in order, and the like.  But if your will were authentically free, what it would actually put into effect is that you would no longer have that terminal condition.  But that is not a matter subject to the dictates of the human will.  On that score, the will is deeply constrained.  The will is unfree.

Also consider: where you were born, when you were born, your DNA, your original familial context -- all of these are vitally important factors in determining how your life goes (or doesn't go).  Yet none of these factors are under the control of your will.  So much of what makes us the human persons that we each individually are is beyond the reach of the will.  On this score, too, the will is deeply constrained.  The will is unfree.

That doesn't mean, as I indicated above, that we don't make choices.  But our choices are always profoundly limited by the external circumstances of the conditions of human existence.  If we had genuine free will, we'd change those conditions (including, I'd say, death itself).  Our choices -- and we do routinely make choices -- are simply the leftover fungible options available to us and are severely reduced by those conditions of human existence.  Once again, here the will is deeply constrained.  The will is unfree.

There is perhaps another possibility, one occasionally suggested by some philosophers and theologians.  They want to propose that "free will" is essentially a mental state.  The will is thus entirely free within the confines of the mind.  It has no effect on human agency.  If I can think it, I can will it; and that's the only reality I need.  So I can freely will to be Patrick Mahomes, or Nikola Jokic, or Shohei Ohtani.  The fact that none of that can in fact be actualized makes no difference.  Is this convincing?  I'm doubtful that this is the sort of thing that occurs to folks when they seek to make a strong case for "free will."

So this is what I think about, Will, when I'm trying to make sense of free will.  As for Henry Eyster Jacobs, his eloquent prose is still highly sophisticated theological speculation.  Did he get this directly from angels himself?  Nonetheless, the fact that some such speculation can be found throughout the Christian tradition, both East and West, is for my money reason to consider it seriously.  How seriously, I'm not sure.

But noting that Jacobs' comments come from a chapter titled "Sin" raises another complication.  Can there be sin without free will?  Well, I think of the end of Romans 7 in this regard.  Paul indicates that he "wills" to do good, but winds up doing bad.  And he "wills" to abjure evil, but nonetheless he does that which he wants to avoid.  It looks like sin abounds no matter what the will demands.  Is Paul's will a "free will"?  I'm not convinced.

Thanks again, Will, for trying to set me straight on this conundrum.  If I'm missing something, help me out here.

Tom Pearson     

pearson

Quote from: Jeremy_Loesch on May 01, 2024, 09:55:17 AMAppreciate that, but I don't think that is correct.  The face to face conversations I've taken part in reveal 'group of one' think.  There is far more diversity than is apparent.  Theological diversity?  Yes, there may be some group think, but that is what is to be expected.  Church workers are charged to proclaim the Word. 

I believe I was in Dr. Norman Nagel's class on Holy Baptism when a classmate said in response to a query, "I think such and such."  And Dr. Nagel's jaw dropped, and he probably clutched the lapels of his jacket and got that gleam in his eye then responded: "No one in your congregation cares what you think.  You tell them what the Bible says."

Group think?  Nah.  Unity of thought on God's Holy Word and the doctrine of the church that is drawn from it. 
 

Just a quick reflection on this:

I have sometimes wondered if one of those vast and useless overgeneralizations that seek to find the line of demarcation between the LCMS and the ELCA might not go like this:

The ELCA, very broadly (we can all think of lots of exceptions), views itself as a kind of Community of Enquiry, in which a few Biblical and theological issues are closed and fixed among many other issues that are still open to investigation.  Those Biblical and theological desiderata that are important in the life of the Church are essentially resources for further exploration and doctrinal construction.  The ELCA, again very generally, seeks to be thoughtful and prayerful enquirers into those resources; and the task is never finished.

The LCMS, very broadly (we can all think of lots of exceptions), views itself as a kind of Community of Proclamation, in which most Biblical and theological issues are closed and fixed among a few other issues that are still open to careful investigation.  Those Biblical and theological desiderata that are important in the life of the Church are essentially doctrinal truths to be proclaimed to the world God created and Christ died for, and not simply resources for further exploration and construction.  The LCMS, again very generally, seeks to be thoughtful and prayerful proclaimers of those truths; and the task is never finished.

I suspect that I'm not saying anything that others here (thinking particularly of Pr. Borrasso's dissertation) have already said more cogently.

Tom Pearson

George Rahn

Quote from: Weedon on May 01, 2024, 09:19:03 PMAh but we are in the law but not under it. See Epitome vi.5

No mention of the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation

John Mundinger

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on May 01, 2024, 09:33:11 PMWhat makes you think that God did not intend the first humans to fall - and that the Jesus event had already been planned from before the time of creation?

Clearly, the Triune God is before time, as we know it, began.  I believe that God created humans with free will; with the capacity to fall; and, that God knew that humans would fall.  Thus, the "Jesus event" preceded creation.  But, saying that God knew the first humans was fall is not the same thing as saying that God intended for the first humans to fall.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

John Mundinger

Quote from: pearson on May 01, 2024, 06:27:43 PM
Quote from: John Mundinger on May 01, 2024, 06:20:28 PMIf God did not create us with free will, how would it be that, given the reality of the fall, we are in bondage to a will that no longer functions as God intended?


What I'm doubtful of is that God created us with a free will.  In other words, we never had "a will that no longer functions as God intended."  As best I can tell, free will is a concept that would be hard for Lutherans (or anyone) to maintain.

Tom Pearson

We can't know how humans were before the fall.  But, I don't think it takes much introspection for me to know that, post-fall, I live in bondage to a will that is in conflict with the commandment to love God and love neighbor; to know that "I can't".
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Jeremy_Loesch

Quote from: pearson on May 01, 2024, 10:43:43 PM
Quote from: Jeremy_Loesch on May 01, 2024, 09:55:17 AMAppreciate that, but I don't think that is correct.  The face to face conversations I've taken part in reveal 'group of one' think.  There is far more diversity than is apparent.  Theological diversity?  Yes, there may be some group think, but that is what is to be expected.  Church workers are charged to proclaim the Word. 

I believe I was in Dr. Norman Nagel's class on Holy Baptism when a classmate said in response to a query, "I think such and such."  And Dr. Nagel's jaw dropped, and he probably clutched the lapels of his jacket and got that gleam in his eye then responded: "No one in your congregation cares what you think.  You tell them what the Bible says."

Group think?  Nah.  Unity of thought on God's Holy Word and the doctrine of the church that is drawn from it. 
 

Just a quick reflection on this:

I have sometimes wondered if one of those vast and useless overgeneralizations that seek to find the line of demarcation between the LCMS and the ELCA might not go like this:

The ELCA, very broadly (we can all think of lots of exceptions), views itself as a kind of Community of Enquiry, in which a few Biblical and theological issues are closed and fixed among many other issues that are still open to investigation.  Those Biblical and theological desiderata that are important in the life of the Church are essentially resources for further exploration and doctrinal construction.  The ELCA, again very generally, seeks to be thoughtful and prayerful enquirers into those resources; and the task is never finished.

The LCMS, very broadly (we can all think of lots of exceptions), views itself as a kind of Community of Proclamation, in which most Biblical and theological issues are closed and fixed among a few other issues that are still open to careful investigation.  Those Biblical and theological desiderata that are important in the life of the Church are essentially doctrinal truths to be proclaimed to the world God created and Christ died for, and not simply resources for further exploration and construction.  The LCMS, again very generally, seeks to be thoughtful and prayerful proclaimers of those truths; and the task is never finished.

I suspect that I'm not saying anything that others here (thinking particularly of Pr. Borrasso's dissertation) have already said more cogently.

Tom Pearson

Tom, I appreciate what you have written here and I believe you have given a good distinction. To address the LCMS summation you shared....preaching is a kerygmatic act. My homiletics professors guided me to see preaching as proclamation. The congregation gathers around what is true and the sermon is a moment to proclaim that truth, to address an issue and then proclaim what God's Word has said/is saying.

I do think your summation of the ELCA is also correct but that is from limited conversation and interaction. But I appreciate how you properly distinguished the two bodies.

Jeremy

Rob Morris

Quote from: pearson on May 01, 2024, 10:04:57 PM
Quote from: Weedon on May 01, 2024, 07:15:31 PMI don't quite see it the same way. I think that when God created humanity, our first parents did indeed have a free will. This will was impaired in the fall, with the result that it's a mere shadow of itself in the unregenerate. They indeed have free will in regards to the things that reason comprehends (see Ap. XVIII:4). But since the fall, we do not free will in regard to the spiritual things which are above reason's paygrade. This is what the Lutheran Symbols are at pains to emphasize in the Formula. However, the regenerate do have a freed will, a will that by the new powers infused by the Holy Spirit can cooperate in all the Spirit's works, albeit with great weakness. In the glorified body of the resurrection, Lutherans have always assumed that we'd be confirmed in our bliss such as the blessed Angels are, and so unable to fall again. At least, that is how I have been taught and understood the question.


Thanks for this, Will.  The points you raise certainly do give me pause; and if there is still resistance to those points, they nonetheless deserve a thoughtful response by someone more competent than me.

But allow me to explain why I am still uncomfortable with the concept of "free will."  There are two points that are fundamental for me in this discussion.  First, I take the notion of "free" very seriously.  Even with the distinction between the things that reason comprehends and the spiritual things which are above reason's paygrade (and I think that's a very useful distinction), with the things that reason comprehends our wills are nonetheless deeply constrained (that is, unfree; I'll say a little more below).  Second, I think it is a mistake to confuse "free will" with "choice."  We make choices all the time, but it does not follow that such choices entail the existence of free will.

Just musing for a moment:  I don't know how one would be able to demonstrate from the Biblical text that, as created by God, our first parents did indeed have free will.  There's nothing like that in the text.  Adam and Eve certainly made choices, but that's an entirely different matter.

What would a genuinely "free" will require?  Consider:  you're not feeling well, so you go to the doctor.  The doctor puts you in the hospital to run some tests.  The tests come back showing that you have terminal condition with perhaps six months to live.  At this point, do you have choices?  Absolutely.  Choices about treatment protocols, about prayer and sacramental devotion, about putting your affairs in order, and the like.  But if your will were authentically free, what it would actually put into effect is that you would no longer have that terminal condition.  But that is not a matter subject to the dictates of the human will.  On that score, the will is deeply constrained.  The will is unfree.

Also consider: where you were born, when you were born, your DNA, your original familial context -- all of these are vitally important factors in determining how your life goes (or doesn't go).  Yet none of these factors are under the control of your will.  So much of what makes us the human persons that we each individually are is beyond the reach of the will.  On this score, too, the will is deeply constrained.  The will is unfree.

That doesn't mean, as I indicated above, that we don't make choices.  But our choices are always profoundly limited by the external circumstances of the conditions of human existence.  If we had genuine free will, we'd change those conditions (including, I'd say, death itself).  Our choices -- and we do routinely make choices -- are simply the leftover fungible options available to us and are severely reduced by those conditions of human existence.  Once again, here the will is deeply constrained.  The will is unfree.

There is perhaps another possibility, one occasionally suggested by some philosophers and theologians.  They want to propose that "free will" is essentially a mental state.  The will is thus entirely free within the confines of the mind.  It has no effect on human agency.  If I can think it, I can will it; and that's the only reality I need.  So I can freely will to be Patrick Mahomes, or Nikola Jokic, or Shohei Ohtani.  The fact that none of that can in fact be actualized makes no difference.  Is this convincing?  I'm doubtful that this is the sort of thing that occurs to folks when they seek to make a strong case for "free will."

So this is what I think about, Will, when I'm trying to make sense of free will.  As for Henry Eyster Jacobs, his eloquent prose is still highly sophisticated theological speculation.  Did he get this directly from angels himself?  Nonetheless, the fact that some such speculation can be found throughout the Christian tradition, both East and West, is for my money reason to consider it seriously.  How seriously, I'm not sure.

But noting that Jacobs' comments come from a chapter titled "Sin" raises another complication.  Can there be sin without free will?  Well, I think of the end of Romans 7 in this regard.  Paul indicates that he "wills" to do good, but winds up doing bad.  And he "wills" to abjure evil, but nonetheless he does that which he wants to avoid.  It looks like sin abounds no matter what the will demands.  Is Paul's will a "free will"?  I'm not convinced.

Thanks again, Will, for trying to set me straight on this conundrum.  If I'm missing something, help me out here.

Tom Pearson     

Not sure how helpful this is, but didn't the ancients perceive freedom not as "I have boundless liberty to do or be whatever I want," but as "I am unhindered in my pursuit of virtue?"

Using that as the definition, then free will existed in Adam and Eve, does not exist in us, and will not only exist but be our only possible state in the new creation.

Thus, Augustine's formulation of posse non peccare (Eden) - non posse non peccare  (post-fall) - non posse peccare (new creation).

Rob Morris

And, I should add: we live in the already/not yet of...

post-fall/new creation
Old Adam/New Adam,
perfectly free lord/perfectly dutiful servant
Passive righteousness/Active righteousness
Justification/Sanctification

And thus we are simultaneously slain by (Old Adam) and delight in (New Adam) God's Law.

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