Excommunicating the Alt-Right

In an age of squishiness from most church leaders, many rank-and-file Christians are eager for the day when their leaders take a clear an unequivocal stand on God’s Word. Nothing is more disappointing than when that day comes and the clear, fiery denouncements are made on behalf of the world rather than the Word.

So it is in a recent letter  from President Harrison of the LCMS. Shortly after finding nothing of consequence in an official catechism that contains blatant false teachings and adopts the framework of today’s most prominent anti-Christian ideologies, he has mustered remarkable zeal to rally against the real danger to our church body: “a few members of LCMS congregations have been propagating radical and unchristian ‘alt-right’ views via Twitter and other social media.” And he takes this “danger” very seriously indeed, threatening (and encouraging) excommunication for anyone who will not repent of being “alt-right.”

Given the gravity of this threat, it behooves us to consider carefully the content of Harrison’s accusation.

A Nebulous “Sin”

The Word of God certainly stands in judgment over worldly political philosophies and movements, the alt-right included. And while the LCMS has not, to my knowledge, threatened our proponents of explicitly anti-Christian political philosophies like Marxism or feminism with excommunication, Harrison minces no words in condemning the alt-right in the name of God “in toto.” But it’s curious how poorly he defines this supposedly grievous sin for which we must expel people from Christ’s church unless they repent.

The alt-right is a nascent political movement that, by nature of its youth, has no firm definition yet. It’s a right-wing ideology that despises progressivism, but also possesses a great contempt for mainstream conservativism’s failure to conserve anything of value. It’s also willing to question many of the ideals of modernity–equality, democracy, pluralism, multiculturalism, and so forth. But broadly-shared specifics are fairly hard to come by because there is little consensus on what will replace those ideals.

The most prominent definition I know of (that was developed by someone who actually identifies as alt-right) is political commentator Vox Day’s attempt to help define the movement back in 2016 with his 16 points. It hardly caught on or became representative, but as radical as most Americans would consider Vox Day, it’s worth noting that there’s still no overlap between his points and Harrison’s list of supposed alt-right beliefs: “white supremacy, Nazism, pro-slavery, anti-interracial marriage, women as property, fascism, death for homosexuals, even genocide.” How can anyone in good conscience declare the damnation of everyone bearing a label which you cannot even properly define?

But even leaving aside the likelihood that Harrison’s characterization of the alt-right is entirely slanderous, there’s an even bigger problem here. Harrison’s letter is quite explicitly about excommunication–publicly declaring men & women to be brazen unbelievers and barring them from the Sacraments to assure them that they must repent or be damned for all eternity. How can a label as nebulous and non-Biblical as “alt-right” be used in such a serious public condemnation? I don’t advocate for anything on Harrison’s list, but I am a right-winger who has rejected mainstream conservativism and questions the ideals of modernity. “Alt-right” isn’t a label I embrace, but it wouldn’t be unfair to apply it to me either. Must I therefore repent of these views or be damned?

The specifics on Harrison’s list aren’t any better. In contemporary usage, white supremacy, Nazism, and fascism are all practically meaningless. For instance, I’ve personally been called a Nazi simply for believing that marriage is between a man and a woman–a view officially taught by Synod. And yet, here is our President using a spurious label with which I’ve been slandered and deeming it worthy of excommunication.

White supremacy is another label that’s been applied to everything from opposing reparations to preferring white meat on Thanksgiving. One prominent Lutheran pastor recently suggested that there’s a real definition “somewhere between the woke left’s ‘shoelaces are white supremacy’ and the anti-woke’s ‘it’s not white supremacy to think non-whites are gross and should be imprisoned on a volcanic island.'” But when I asked him to provide that real definition, he simply blocked me–this despite him personally harassing at least one LCMS pastor in regards to a specific target of Harrison’s excommunication. Such unseriousness is all too common, which is why these labels no longer mean anything beyond “someone progressives don’t like.” They have no business being applied seriously in any theological context without a specific definition.

The inclusion of “Pro-slavery” and “death for homosexuals” is problematic in an entirely different way. They are at least specific, but both of them can be plausibly applied to Scripture as well in some senses.

Now, I’ve said my piece on a Biblical view of slavery at length elsewhere. I believe it’s a product of the Fall; I’m glad it’s no longer part of American society; and I have no desire to reintroduce it. Nevertheless, can we truly proclaim being “pro-slavery” to be an undeniable sin worthy of excommunication in the absence of repentence? After all, the Bible gives instructions specifically to masters, and while it requires good treatment of their slaves, demands for unilateral emancipation are conspicuously absent. Must Paul therefore be excommunicated for his pro-slavery “oversight?” Should he have, in fact, threatened Philemon with excommunication rather than urging Onesimus’s freedom in love? Must the Old Testament patriarchs and kings be sentenced to eternal hellfire because they all committed the pro-slavery act of owning slaves? Must Walther and other early fathers of the LCMS be excluded from the Church because they refused to go all-in on abolition? If not, then why would we attach such a penalty to being pro-slavery today?

“Death for homosexuals” is an even clearer matter. God himself gave that very law to ancient Israel. Now, that is certainly part of the Old Testament’s civil law, and therefore it is not binding on Christians today because we aren’t ancient Israelites. We are under no obligation to enforce the death penalty against those guilty of the sin of homosexuality. At the same time, Scripture contains no prohibition against supporting such a civil penalty. Biblically speaking, this is adiaphora, plain and simple. What’s more, that penalty was explicitly commanded by God himself for a specific place and time. Are we therefore to join with the Marcionites and other heretics who posited an evil demiurge in the Old Testament who was opposed to the loving God of the New? By no means! Contending that this is grounds for excommunication is fundamentally anti-Scriptural and anti-Christian.

Now, let’s consider “Anti-interracial marriage.” As I understand it, some of Harrison’s targets do count that as a sin. I think they are wrong about that. There are certainly circumstances such as parental disapproval which would make some interracial marriage a sin and practical/medical concerns which could make it unwise. Nevertheless, I see no reason to consider it sinful in itself. But is error about sin truly the issue here?

There is likely not a single person on earth with whom I completely agree about everything–including members of the LCMS. And in my experience, our pews are filled with people who openly hold to some error or another. I’ve seen men speak up in Bible Study to denounce the idea that a Pastor forgives sins in God’s name despite Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Those who think our official position on closed Communion is sinful are, unfortunately, legion. There are many who wrongly said it was a sin not to wear masks and not to take experimental vaccinations. There are even people among us who believe restricting access to abortion is a sin. But I’ve yet to see Synod broach the subject of excommunication over errors such as these. There, they are content to address the matters through longsuffering and patient instruction.

What’s different about alleging that interracial marriage is a sin? Well, the most obvious difference is that the contention is quite offensive in the eyes of the world, leaving many modern Americans up-in-arms. But do we excommunicate for open defiance of the world or defiance of God? I might not think they are correct, but it’s a position held in good faith that God never instructed me to be offended over. I can certainly see why those involved in interracial marriages would be personally offended over the contention, and I can hardly blame them for taking offense. But neither do we typically excommunicate over personal offense. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that this error is being targeted with such extreme prejudice solely because of its opposition to the Spirit of the Age.

That just leaves us with “genocide” and “women as property.” I’m entirely comfortable dismissing the former as over-the-top nonsense cynically added to Harrison’s letter to raise the stakes rather than anything that’s seriously at issue here. I invite anyone to produce evidence to the contrary before I’ll say any more on “genocide.” As for “women as property”, I suspect the biggest problem there is that most Americans posses a child’s view of property: “It’s mine so I can break it if I want to!” We exclude any of the authority and responsibility inherent in true ownership, and so we find it fundamentally dehumanizing. Now, that assurance of misunderstanding is precisely why I wouldn’t describe women as property–our language is what it is at this point. But Christians nevertheless need to remember that Scripture describes us as God’s property, bought with a price. That does not dehumanize us or instrumentalize us in His sight.

Who Stands Condemned?

Having established the dubious nature of Harrison’s accusations, we must also consider just who he is accusing. Yes, at least one individual who is being subjected to church discipline for alt-rightism is common knowledge at this point (and I encourage you to consider his side of the story), but that’s not what I mean. The open question is who else falls under his condemnation made in the name of Jesus.

As Harrison writes, “These ‘alt-right’ individuals were at the genesis of a recent controversy surrounding essays accompanying a new publication of Luther’s Large Catechism.” But he also writes, “I am not speaking about the individuals who may have expressed theological concerns about the essays published alongside the Catechism. I’m talking about a small number of men who based their opposition upon racist and supremacist ideologies. The former we welcome. The latter we condemn.” So who is who in these two groups?

Part of the problem is the aforementioned nebulous nature of the accusation. “Alt-right” can mean a lot of different things. But then, “genesis” can mean a lot of things too. The true genesis of the controversy is the theologians who included false doctrines in their essays and the editors who invited false teachers to write for it.  Clearly that’s not what Harrison means, however, since he blessed the individuals and the project in toto.

So what then does he really mean by the beginning? There were concerns raised privately by pastors before it was even published. Was that the genesis of the controversy? Do they stand condemned? Or was the young man who most widely publicized some of the most egregious inclusions the genesis? My own commentary was pretty close behind, so do I get included as the beginning or was I too late to the party to be condemned?

And let me just take the opportunity to point out that when President Harrison quotes Luther’s Small Catechism as part of his grounds for excommunication (“hating, despising, or slandering other groups of people (prejudice, racism, and so forth)”)  he is quoting a recent (and dubious) addition that was not present in the edition I  was catechized with. It’s a very clear example of why Lutherans must be vigilant indeed about what gets added alongside our Catechisms. We therefore ought to be grateful to everyone who raised the alarm over the additions in the Large Catechism and its application of critical theory to our Confessions–regardless of any supposed motivations.

What’s more, Harrison’s two groups–the “genesis” and the “concerned”–are hardly mutually exclusive. I’ve certainly expressed theological concerns about those essays. But as I said, I did so early on and could plausibly be labeled “alt-right.” Do I therefore stand condemned here? Or is my critique welcomed? I’d wager there are many faithful critics of the new Large Catechism out there asking themselves the same question. When we’re just tossing about eternal damnation here, it might behoove us to be clearer and define our terms better.

But then, it’s hard to dismiss the possibility that this ambiguity is precisely the point. Inasmuch as we ask ourselves now whether we are targets for excommunication, we will be asking the same question before we speak out next time Synod publicly embraces false teaching. If a pastor acts like Luther did and publicly stands against the official errors of his day, will Synod come for his pulpit? If a layperson talks about public teaching on social media, will he be getting a call from his elders if he gets too many views? Whatever the letter says about welcoming theological concerns, the clear and objective effect is to place a Sword of Damocles over the necks of any would-be critics.

Who’s Next?

That threat-point is something every Lutheran needs to take very very seriously today. Just as the meaningless labels used by Harrison make his current set of targets ambiguous, they also make it easier to move on to others. The first of the excommunicated are the easiest marks. They hold very extreme positions; they are very blunt about doing so; and they have triggered many people. It’s tempting to simply write them off as outliers because in many ways, they are.

But the labels used by Harrison to justify excommunication are not outliers. In America, they are being applied ever more carelessly and liberally every day. Is it easy to call the guy who opposes interracial marriage a “racist“? Sure. But how often have you been called a racist by a liberal media, by strangers on Twitter, or by real-life acquaintances over entirely innocuous matters? Like it or not, that is it’s own cottage industry now. And make no mistake: there are already Lutheran men at the heart of this controversy with the president’s ear who openly call people racist even for trying to be color-blind, the gold standard for every Boomer. There are groups like Lutherans for Racial Justice already trying to push Critical Race Theory in the Synod. Do you really think this will stop with the easiest targets?

Lutherans have a reputation for being behind the times, but surely cancel culture has been around long enough for us to be aware of how it works. Surely we have seen wokeism consume enough institutions by now to recognize it when it starts happening to our own. This danger is already inside our walls. Do you really think it won’t intrude into your congregation or your home as well if you just ignore it now? Do you think they won’t teach your children to fear fake sins to advance their activism? Do you think they won’t condemn you if you do your job and interfere those efforts?

President Harrison’s letter is exactly what an ideological purge looks like in its early adolescence. But the stakes are far higher than the mass graves filled by cultural revolutions of the past. The weapon that has been put into play is not the barrel of a gun, but separation from the life-giving Word and Sacrament of Jesus Christ. The battleground which may be reduced to ash is the rarest of church bodies–one where God’s Word has long been taught in its purity and the Sacraments administered properly. And if we simply accept the false-teachings among us, we face nothing less than the removal of our lamp-stand.

This Is Not The End

I have been a member of the LCMS my entire life. I was baptized, taught, and communed in her congregations. I was educated in her grade schools and seminaries. I want the same for my children. If there were nothing worth fighting for here, then Satan would not be attacking us like this. And that is why we ought to continue to publicly object to these travesties.

I do not know what the future holds for our Synod. I do know that God will not abandon his faithful. The Word of God which President Harrison misused in his letter does not return void:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:31–39).

About Matt

Software engineer by trade; lay theologian by nature; Lutheran by grace.
This entry was posted in Lutheranism, Politics, The Modern Church, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Excommunicating the Alt-Right

  1. Oakthorn says:

    Excellent, Matthew.

  2. dave pota says:

    Did he excommunicate the pro-abortion, pro-lgbtqwertyiopasdfghjklzxcvbnm+, and anti-white? Of course not, so he simply is those things and therefore is goin to hell from whence he came as he is a demon is a skinsuit.

  3. Valtandor says:

    I note that in his letter, Harrison condemns the “absolutist ideologies” of the alt-right.

    Does he condemn all absolutist ideologies, or just theirs? If the former, what does he do with the absolutist position that no-one can be saved except through Christ? If the latter, what is so against Scripture about alt-right doctrines that their adherents, alone among holders of political positions, merit excommunication for those positions?

    Does Harrison believe in salvation through faith alone, or through faith plus works, the “works” in question being renunciation of offensive political stances or identification by self or, even worse, by others?

    He himself needs to be called out on this. If he believes in salvation through “Christ plus” — in this case, Christ plus inoffensive politics — he’s a false teacher and a heretic, of just the sort that Luther opposed in 1517. And his pious ramblings don’t change the fact any more than “Exsurge, Domine” changed the errors of the Catholic Church.

    Hold firm, and God will reveal both unexpected enemies and unexpected friends.

  4. Matthew Etzell says:

    Well said.

    Regarding “women as property”:
    I suspect what President Harrison is condemning here is any suggestion that 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:11-14 apply to more than the pastoral office or that Ephesians 5:22-24 really means that women should submit to their husbands as to the Lord. In other words, I suspect he is condemning anyone who agrees with God’s Word regarding the role of women.

  5. Matthew Etzell says:

    Here is a reply from Gottesdienst to those who criticize them for commenting on confessional matters. I am posting it here because their critics are trying to get President Harrison to silence them as part of this purge. I doubt the authors/podcasters at Gottesdienst consider themselves “alt-right”, but their critics would probably label them as such.


  6. Adriane says:

    Thank you, Matthew!

  7. EB says:

    I am a Lutheran today because of SuperLutheran and the Godcast and I’m sure there are plenty of others who could say the same. My family was all but done with church and its leftward shift until listening to Super and decided to visit an LCMS church. I thank God for his ministry and pray for him and his family as well as anyone else caught up in this Cheka dragnet.

  8. Corey&Woe Fan says:

    Kind of a weak article IMO, it really doesn’t get to the root of the problem. You can list reasons why Matt Harrison (he doesn’t deserve the title president) published the letter all day long, but at the end of the day it all boils down to the world hating the Word truthfully taught.

    Corey and Woe’s podcast is revolutionary (in terms of application) because it’s the first to podcast to actually address attack the Marxists, Satanists, etc. using the pure Word…..not man’s opinion, not catchy phrases like “wokeism”, but the authoritative, inerrant Word.

    Matt Harrison’s list of characterizations, as someone who regularly listens to Corey, aren’t that far off. I can’t speak for Corey or Woe, but I think they would agree that slavery and racism aren’t condemned in the Bible, women are property under the 10th commandment, interracial marriage is breaking the 4th commandment, and Fascism/Nazism/White Supremacy are just scary words to smear people (what do these words actually mean?).

    Matt (I’m addressing the the author of the article): Stop riding the fence and pick a side.

    • Brad says:

      LOL. First, biologically, there are no races. There are only human beings with minor genetic differences.

      Second, many white people have Neanderthal genetic ancestry. Neanderthals were a separate branch of humanity. If you have trouble with people of different races marrying and procreating, what does that mean for people with Neanderthal DNA? Should those carrying the DNA of a separate hominin family be excluded from whiteness into their own group? Should they be shunned for having the genes of a subspecies? There is the old One Drop Rule that said that anyone with a drop black blood was therefore black. Should that logic be applied to anyone with the genes of Homo Neanderthalis?

      Of course, there is also the recent genetic analysis of the oldest human Europeans remains that showed that those early Europeans had dark brown skin. They would eventually procreate with migrants from the Caucus regions.

      So, again, if races are based on skin color, and the DNA of Europeans shows inclusion of ancestry from people who would certainly not be considered white by their looks, then does that mean white people are born of sin?

      If you believe interracial marriage is forbidden, then what say you to King Solomon and Queen of Sheba? He from Israel and she from Ethiopia? The Bible is filled with people marrying and procreating with people of other backgrounds. For instance, Moses and his wife, who was a black woman from Cush. Moses is not recorded to have divorced her.

      The reality is that no one in the ancient world separated people into races as people have done in the last 400/500 years.

      Of course, there is also the truth that the ancient people of the Bible were not white. They were mostly brown and black people.

      Genetic research shows that we are all human with the people of sub Saharan Africa having the most genetic diversity. Humans migrated from Africa and adapted to different climates. Some groups of humans experienced bottlenecks where many died off. The remainder provided a founder effect and when we the reduced genetic diversity in that population.

      The randomness of creating races based on skin color is amusing when one also considers that slightly over a century ago, white Anglo Saxon Protestants in America believed that the Irish, Italians, and Slavs were separate races from their own white race. WASPs feared how the genetics of those others would pollute their legacy. Hmm….

      Of course, the thing that I find pathetic about white supremacist Christians is their denial of the Jewishness of Jesus Christ, a man born of Jewish woman, a man raised in a Jewish family, a man raised in the Jewish faith. In flesh, Jesus and His human ancestors were Jews. The earliest Christians were Jewish converts. Christianity is born of the Jewish faith. No matter how supremacist lie, no matter how many pictures that paint Jesus as a white man with pale skin and northern European features, the fact remains that Jesus in his flesh was a brown-skinned Jewish man.

    • info says:

      “interracial marriage is breaking the 4th commandment”

      Yet God rebuked Miram the sister of Moses for criticizing his marrying a Cushite/Ethiopian Woman:

      She had Leprosy afterwards. But Aaron pleaded with God and she was cast out of the camp temporarily.

  9. Matthew Etzell says:

    “Death for homosexuals” is an even clearer matter. God himself gave that very law to ancient Israel. Now, that is certainly part of the Old Testament’s civil law, and therefore it is not binding on Christians today because we aren’t ancient Israelites. We are under no obligation to enforce the death penalty against those guilty of the sin of homosexuality. At the same time, Scripture contains no prohibition against supporting such a civil penalty. Biblically speaking, this is adiaphora, plain and simple. What’s more, that penalty was explicitly commanded by God himself for a specific place and time. Are we therefore to join with the Marcionites and other heretics who posited an evil demiurge in the Old Testament who was opposed to the loving God of the New? By no means! Contending that this is grounds for excommunication is fundamentally anti-Scriptural and anti-Christian.

    I must disagree that this command was only given to ancient Israelites or that it is only for a specific time and place. The command was first given to the ancient Israelites, but not only to them. This, and all other parts of God’s Law, are given to all who are of the faith of Israel, meaning Christians (Romans 9-11); it is not adiaphora. Therefore, we ought petition the civil authorities to bring the laws of our counties, states, and federal republic into conformity with the civil aspects of God’s Law (and not only in this matter), and pray that God would move them to do so.

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
    Matthew 5:17-18

    This passage is both a Law and Gospel passage. Every part of the Law, all three uses, shall remain until the present heaven and earth are destroyed. And, since we cannot be justified by observing the Law, Christ perfectly fulfilled it in our place (His active obedience).

    And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
    Matthew 28:18-20

    What is included in “all that I have commanded you”? Since Jesus Christ is true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, just as He is true man, born of the Virgin Mary, it follows that “all that I have commanded you” includes all of God’s commands in the Old Testament.

    Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”
    Acts 15:19-21

    What is the meaning of this passage? That the Council of Jerusalem, inspired by the Holy Spirit, having proclaimed that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, also gave basic instruction in God’s Law to new Christians, with the intention that they should then learn and obey the rest of God’s Law.

    To be sure, some commands are only given for a specific time and place, and God’s Word tells us which commands those are and what that time and place is. The civil law is not limited to a particular time and place, so all magistrates/judges have the duty of applying it. Let me emphasize that point, magistrates and judges have the authority and responsibility to apply the civil law; ordinary citizens have neither the authority nor the responsibility (except in cases of immediate self-defense) to do so, and are, in fact, forbidden to do so (again, excepting cases of immediate self-defense).

    • Matt says:

      The question of whether Christians first need to become Jews was settled not just at the Council of Jerusalem, but also in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. And we do not. That’s not just a transitory “until we’re ready to become Jews” decision.

      Now, I find the traditional civil/ceremonial/moral law framework to be both Biblical and useful on questions like this. And, of course, only the moral law extends to Christians in that framework. The other two were fulfilled when both national Israel and the Temple cult were destroyed in 70 AD.

      Are you rejecting that framework altogether in some way? (e.g. collapsing civil law into the moral law, contending that all three are still binding, or some other option) Or are you just contending that the specific part about the death penalty for homosexuals belongs to the moral law rather than the civil? I’m not sure I’m understanding where you’re coming from on this.

      • Matthew Etzell says:

        Part 1 of 2 of my reply:

        Where did I say anything about Christians needing to become Jews? I said nothing of the sort, because I believe nothing of the sort. What I said is that Christians, having received salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, are called to obey God’s Law.

        The point of disagreement here is that you say that parts of God’s Law are only for the Jews, while God’s Word says nothing of the sort. Please show me where it says so if you think otherwise.

        Even if one thinks that some parts of God’s Law were initially only given to those who are Israelites (note: “Israelite” and “Jew” are not synonyms) by blood, Christ extends the whole Law to disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20), when He commands the Apostles to teach them (disciples of all nations) to observe everything He commanded. Everything He commanded includes the Old Testament, because Jesus Christ is begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. Whatever God commanded in the Old Testament is something Christ commanded.

        • Matthew Etzell says:

          Addendum to part 1:

          The Council of Jerusalem and Paul’s letter to the Galatians are primarily about the Gospel, not about the Law. They do not address distinctions between moral/civil/ceremonial law; they address soteriology. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Observing the Law does not, and cannot, save us; it contributes nothing to our salvation. As Paul writes in Romans 3:28-30:

          For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one–who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

          Paul then goes on to write in Romans 3:31:

          Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

          Rome makes a distinction between works of the law that justify (moral) and works of the law that do not justify (ceremonial). Paul makes no such distinction; he says none of our works justify us. We ought not introduce a distinction between law we uphold and law we do not uphold where Paul makes no such distinction.

      • Matthew Etzell says:

        Part 2 of 2 of my reply:

        I agree that the moral/civil/ceremonial law framework is useful; therefore, I do not reject it. However, I do not recall seeing that framework used in the Bible (if I am mistaken, please show me where it is used); therefore, we must be careful how we use it (we may use it in a ministerial sense, but not in a magisterial sense).

        The moral/civil/ceremonial law framework is better understood according to the three uses of the Law:

        Moral law has all three uses, and is binding on all people.

        Civil law is primarily First Use; it is instructions to magistrates and judges, of all nations, about how to punish sin. The civil law is binding on magistrates and judges. We, as ordinary citizens, have neither the authority nor the responsibility to carry out the civil law; however, we should want those entrusted with the task to carry it out, because it is God’s command.

        Ceremonial law is primarily Second Use; it shows us the gravity of our sin and our need for a Saviour, because of the imperfection of the sacrifices/cleansings offered by sinful men (Hebrews 9:1-10:18). The ceremonial law (the various sacrifices, ceremonial washings, etc.) is inoperative since the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, but it is still part of God’s Law. What I mean in drawing this distinction (inoperative, but still Law), is that God’s Law makes the ceremonial law conditional on the existence of the Tabernacle/Temple and the Aaronic priesthood, neither of which existed after 70 AD; however, God never says anything to the effect that these are removed from the Law. We should rejoice that God has replaced these imperfect sacrifices/cleansings with Christ’s perfect sacrifice, by which we are made perfectly clean when the Holy Spirit gives us faith in Him.

        There is also a fourth type of law (for which I do not have a good name) that is primarily Third Use. It neither restrains sin, nor shows us our need for salvation, but is part of the Law; therefore, by process of elimination, it must be Third Use. We should obey it because it is God’s command.

  10. Brad says:

    It’s hilarious that you refuse to define the Alt-Right in terms of its well known belief in white supremacy, antisemitism, and fascism. The fact that you skirt the truth should make most decent people look at you askance and question your motive for doing so.

  11. James Huffman says:

    Harrison is a near textbook example of “conservative” logic. (Noting that he grumbles about leaders of “other conservative denominations” having to deal with people who disagree with them). He is content to lose slowly, if only he can lose in a respectable and ladylike manner. What he and others of his boomer ilk will not tolerate are people who don’t want to lose, however slowly, but want to win, and see no virtue in going down with the ship.

    • Matt says:

      That about sums it up. They cannot tolerate the courage of others putting their own cowardice and complacency to shame.

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