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Psalm 5


Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me. For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield. (ESV)

The Camel in the Tent

Friday after Pentecost 13

12 September 2014

There is nothing more intolerant than toleration. History is full of examples of this truth. Tolerationism first demands a place at the table of ideas. It demands the kindness of acceptance so that it can set forth its wares of the acceptance of aberrant ideas. However, it never ends there. Soon toleration begins to rule out of bounds the ideas from which it once demanded a place at the table. Toleration then begins to demand the truth be exiled from the conversation, because the truth itself is ruled to be intolerant.
A professor I had as a seminary student experienced this very thing in his days as a professor at a non-LCMS Lutheran seminary in the Midwest. He reported that he had taught the truth of the confessional Lutheran theology in his classes. When he first began teaching at that seminary that was the presumed position of the seminary's systematic theology department. It wasn't long, however, when men who were trained in modern theology schools, especially in Europe, began demanding a place at the table of ideas for the higher critical assessment of the Bible. That assessment presumed that Holy Scripture was of no greater or better value than any other human literature, just as susceptible to error and falsehood as that other literature. Those who, like my professor, supported the conservative view of Scripture and Lutheran theology, buckled to this request for aberrant theology at the table. To refuse this request was considered to be impolite or even less-than-progressive, which is the modern original sin.
Those who were tolerated in this way, after a time, began to demand that those who gave them a place at the table, no longer should be tolerated. Finally, those who came in with aberrant views took over the department of systematic theology and began to overpower the supporters of the traditional theological views. Soon they were seen to be intolerant and therefore ruled as unworthy of a place at the table. Soon my professor found himself without a job. He had embraced his enemy and was fired for it. Tolerationism refused to tolerate him.
So it happened in Galatia. Paul's law free gospel was at first believed and held to by the Galatians, but soon the Judaizers demanded a place at the theological table. They came and suggested that while Christ had done great things for poor sinners, that was not a complete work and needed to be supplemented by circumcision. However, it wasn't long until those Judaizers demanded that Paul and his law-free gospel should be cut out of the picture. Finally, the gospel itself was fired. Beware of the camel's nose. It won't be long until the camel is in the tent. If you tolerate the intrusion of legalism, soon the gospel will be out of bounds.


Martin Luther


"When Paul says, 'It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose' (Gal 4:18), it is as though he were saying: 'They do indeed burn for you with extreme zeal and love, but they seek by this that you make much of them in return and shut me out. If their zeal were pure and sincere, they would permit you to love us together with them. But they hate our teaching; therefore they want it to be absolutely wiped out and their own teaching to be spread among you. To accomplish this more smoothly, they are trying to alienate you from us by this flattery and to arouse your hostility, so that you may hate us as well as our teaching and may attach your zeal and effort to them, love only them, and accept their teaching.' Thus he makes the false apostles suspect to the Galatians by saying that they are lying in wait for them and making an impression on them by means of a beautiful external appearance. In this way Christ warns us, saying: 'Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing' (Mt 7:15).


"Paul suffered the same trial we suffer today. He was deeply distressed by the indignity of seeing his fine teaching followed by so many sects, upheavals, disturbances of public life, and revolutions, all of which caused endless trouble and scandal. The Jews accused him of being a troublesome fellow, an agitator among his people throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5), as though they were saying: 'He is a seditious and blasphemous fellow who preaches a message that not only subverts the Jewish commonwealth, so beautifully established by divine laws, but also abolishes and undermines the decalogue, our religion, our worship, and our priesthood. Throughout the world he is spreading the so-called gospel, from which endless troubles, seditions, scandals, and sects have arisen.' He was obliged to hear the same thing from the Gentiles, who cried out in the city of Philippi that he was disturbing their city and advocating customs which it was not lawful for them to accept (Acts 16:20-21)."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 4.18

Dear Lord Jesus, help us to defend the truth of Your gospel so that we would not lose it through the toleration of the lie. Amen.


For the Volunteer Sunday activities planned at Memorial Lutheran Church, that God's people would freely give themselves to work of the Lord and in that giving receive everything


For President Obama, as he leads our country, that he might be faithful to his constitutionally mandated duties


For Charles Alexander, who is gravely ill, that the right therapies would be applied and that he would be receive the care he needs


For confessional Lutheran pastors everywhere, that they might continue to preach and defend the holy gospel
Art: Crucifixes  Uppsala Cathedral (medieval)

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