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Cultural Marxism

Why antiracism zealots are trying to silence black voices like mine – Dr Voddie Baucham (New York Post)

‘As a Christian minister, I’m used to being stifled when I talk about my religion outside of church. If I bring up faith in Jesus Christ, the guardians of the secular public square are quick to inform me that my religion is strictly a private matter. But these days I’m stifled not because of the religion I practice but because of one I reject: the religion of antiracism, which is now the established church of academia, government, the media and business…’

Read more: https://nypost.com/2021/05/15/why-antiracism-zealots-try-to-silence-black-voices-like-mine/?fbclid=IwAR25rHeLKFFLzTQTu70mjZmaQptq-XaynyDauKy7m2VS-fRxtKK9ExOVdEM

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Quote

All Things for Good…

‘Several poisonous ingredients put together, being tempered by the skill of the apothecary [i.e. pharmacist], make a sovereign medicine, and work together for the good of the patient. So all God’s providences being divinely tempered and sanctified, work together for the best to the saints. He who loves God and is called according to His purpose, may rest assured that every thing in the world shall be for his good.’

— Thomas Watson

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Luther's Eight Sermons at Wittenberg

Luther’s Eight Sermons at Wittenberg, March 1522 (Part 5)

In the fourth sermon that Luther preached, he addressed the use of images and the eating of meats. Taking a slightly different tact to what the later Reformed churches would, Luther writes, ‘On the subject of images, in particular, we saw that they ought to be abolished when they are worshipped; otherwise not,—although because of the abuses they give rise to, I wish they were everywhere abolished.’  Luther thinks that there can be images that are beneficial provided they are not worshipped. Once an image is worshipped, the line has been crossed. Luther also admits that images count for nothing before God: ‘This cannot be denied. For whoever places an image in a church imagines he has performed a service to God and done a good work, which is downright idolatry.’ Yet Luther warns against the unthinking destruction of images because he wants people to be taught from Scripture that they are nothing, so that the authority of God’s Word would be the means by which they are rejected. Again, in this approach, Luther is seeking to prevent the institution of a legalism in reaction to a legalism of its opposite. In other words, Luther was concerned not to create a new law in the place of the old, rather he would preach the truth: ‘If they had heard this teaching that images count for nothing, they would have ceased of their own accord, and the images would have fallen without any uproar or tumult, as they are already beginning to do.’

What of Luther’s fondness for the crucifix then? ‘For I suppose there is nobody, or certainly very few, who do not understand that yonder crucifix is not my God, for my God is in heaven, but that this is simply a sign.’ Luther’s logic is this ‘…although it is true and no one can deny that the images are evil because they are abused, nevertheless we must not on that account reject them, nor condemn anything because it is abused. This would result in utter confusion.’ Luther illustrates this by reminding us that many people worship the sun and the stars – should we then rip the sun and stars from heaven? What of women and wine, he continues, both of which can cause much misery to man? Luther postulates with tongue in cheek: should we kill all the women and pour out all the wine? Driving his point home he then concludes that if this is the way we want to reform – by destroying our enemy – we will have to kill ourselves, because ‘we have no greater enemy than our own heart.’ But in the final analysis for Luther, preaching the Word of God is the means of reform, and the gospel is its power.


Luther also addresses the issue of meats: ‘It is true that we are free to eat any kind of food, meats, fish, eggs, or butter. This no one can deny.’ But, Luther adds, we must know when to use our Christian liberty. First, Luther says if you are sick you should eat meat as required irregardless of the offence caused. Second, ‘… if you should be pressed to eat fish instead of meat on Friday, and to eat fish and abstain from eggs and butter during Lent, etc., as the pope has done with his fool’s laws, then you must in no wise allow yourself to be drawn away from the liberty in which God has placed you, but do just the contrary to spite him, and say: Because you forbid me to eat meat and presume to turn my liberty into law, I will eat meat in spite of you. And thus you must do in all other things which are matters of liberty. To give you an example: if the pope, or anyone else were to force me to wear a cowl [a hooded robe worn my monks], just as he prescribes it, I would take off the cowl just to spite him. But since it is left to my own free choice, I wear it or take it off, according to my pleasure.’ Thirdly, there are the weak in the faith. ‘Toward such well-meaning people we must assume an entirely different attitude from that which we assume toward the stubborn. We must bear patiently with these people and not use our liberty; since it brings no peril or harm to body or soul; in fact, it is rather salutary, and we are doing our brothers and sisters a great service besides. But if we use our liberty unnecessarily, and deliberately cause offense to our neighbor, we drive away the very one who in time would come to our faith…Thus we, too, should order our lives and use our liberty at the proper time, so that Christian liberty may suffer no injury, and no offense be given to our weak brothers and sisters who are still without the knowledge of this liberty.’

To conclude, we should use our liberty (even defiantly) when our freedom has been threatened by those who would seek to make us slaves to something i.e. the Roman Catholic dietary laws. But when our liberty affects a weaker brother or sister this is when we must be willing to lovingly put our liberty aside.

LW 51:85-88

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Preaching

‘Recovering the directory of public worship on preaching’ – Chris Gordon

‘When the subject of preaching is addressed today, we are accustomed to asking only about the faithfulness of the message, but we avoid, almost altogether, the question of effectiveness. If T. David Gordon is at all correct, ‘that less than 30 percent of those who are ordained to the Christian ministry can preach even a mediocre sermon’…and that ‘of the sermons he has heard in the last twenty-five years, only 15 percent had a discernable point’, the question of effectiveness in preaching is an important one….’ Keep reading: https://agradio.org/recovering-the-directory-of-public-worship-on-preaching

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Diet of Worms

Are we still standing?

Having reflected on the historical events of Luther’s trial at the Diet of Worms in 1521, it’s time to reflect on what it still means. Are we still standing? At Worms Luther was asserting that no man, neither King, Emperor nor Pope, has the authority to place himself above the authority of God. The authority of God is made plain to us in and by the Word of God. If Luther was wrong about what he had written, he wanted to be shown from the Word that he was wrong. He did not appreciate being told that there would be no discussion at Worms and that he must recant and trust the interpretation of the Pope and the councils. Luther rightly recognised the Emperor, the Pope and the councils were no authority at all because they put themselves essentially above the Word. Five hundred years on, the Roman Church has not changed. Worms is still relevant. What has changed, however, is that many in the Protestant and Evangelical churches have actually succumbed to the same problem Luther was standing against at Worms.

Today many who call themselves Protestants ground their authority in subjective experience and feelings. Some Protestants, wanting to distance themselves from the classical Liberal, claim to believe God’s Word but are so unbiblically reinterpretive of Scripture that – functionally – they remain Liberals. They continue the age old question of the Serpent: ‘Has God Said?’ or more deceptively rather, ‘has God really meant…’. In this way they can keep the illusion that the Bible means something to them while denying it at the same time making it say what they want it to say.

Other Protestants often repeat the same mistakes of the Anabaptists by suggesting that all we need is the Spirit to guide. The way they do this, however, is to drive a wedge between the Spirit and Scripture that if feelings or ‘words from the Lord’ do not match Scripture their experience and feelings still trump Scripture. Or they claim God has said something that cannot be tested by Scripture, therefore they automatically claim it as confirmed because Scripture technically does not speak against it – a dangerous place to be. If it cannot be tested, it cannot be admitted with the authority of God’s Word. In many ways these Protestants are in a position far worse than Roman Catholicism which openly admits the equal authority of tradition and Scripture. These Protestants do, however, often pay lip service to Sola Scriptura but what they really mean is ‘I alone decide…’ and ‘I’ll be the judge.’ Instead of having one Pope, now we have millions.

Are we still standing? Or has culture bent our arm and forced us to succumb to its truth? Culture is the new ‘tradition’ that is seeking to impose its authority on the Protestant church. Cultural Marxism (critical theory, critical race theory etc) is making inroads almost unabated.

Culture, though feminism, says that man and woman should and can have the same roles in the church, family and society. God says man and woman are equal in worth but that they have roles which when obeyed according to Scripture, provide the greatest families, relationships and societies we can have: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ (Gal 3:28) Culture says women should preach and pastor but God says men should preach and pastor. Culture implies women should lead the family, but God says men should lead the family: ‘This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.‘ (Titus 1:5-9) ‘But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.’ (Titus 2:1-5)

Cutlure says homosexuality is good and a human right. God says homosexuality is wrong and that it is a perversion of the good relationship He designed between a man and a woman: ‘Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’ (1 Cor 6:9-11) Did you note that its not just homosexuals who are called out: the sexually immoral (i.e. any sex outside of marriage), the thieves (yes illegal tax evasion and illegal movies are stealing), the greedy (for money, promotion, unjust gain), the drunkards ( yes nightclubs and alcohol soaked parties), and the revilers and swindlers or cheats will not inherit the kingdom of God. Anyone feeling left out? I am pretty sure this list includes all of us at one time.

Culture says almost any sexual sin is permissible even premarital sex, adultery and many other heterosexual sins: ‘Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.’ (1 Cor 6:18–20) ‘Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.’ (1 Tim 1:8–11)

Culture says a man can be a woman and a girl can be a boy. God says, we are born either a male or a female: ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’ (Gen 1:27) ‘But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ (Mark 10:6)

Culture says that to ‘repent and believe’ in the gospel, is either unnecessary or just not true. God says repent and believe or you will perish: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’ (Mark 1:15)

Culture says all Christian sects, religions and denominations are equally right and true. God says we are justified by faith alone and if we deny this we are cut off from Christ: ‘You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.’ (Gal 5:4)

Of course there are many other things that culture is bidding us to come and lay down at the altar of Satan – after all our battle is not against flesh and blood against the devil and his cronies. Is our conscience captive to the Word of God or to the words (i.e. dribble) of man? Are we still standing, or have we bowed the knee to Baal?

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Quote

Luther Quote #6

Luther wrote an Open Letter to Leo X (the Pope) which was attached to his Freedom of a Christian. Almost a last ditch attempt to allay the Pope that he wasn’t attacking the him personally, Luther defends his polemical language…

‘I have, to be sure, sharply attacked ungodly doctrines in general, and I have snapped at my opponents, not because of their bad morals, but because of their ungodliness. Rather than repent this in the least, I have determined to persist in that fervent zeal and to despise the judgment of men, following the example of Christ who in his zeal called his opponents “a brood of vipers,” “blind fools,” “hypocrites,” “children of the devil” [Matt. 23:13, 17, 33; John 8:44]. Paul branded Magus [Elymas, the magician] as the “son of the devil, … full of all deceit and villainy” [Acts 13:10], and he calls others “dogs,” “deceivers,” and “adulterers” [Phil 3:2; 2 Cor. 11:13; 2:17]. If you will allow people with sensitive feelings to judge, they would consider no person more stinging and unrestrained in his denunciations than Paul. Who is more stinging than the prophets? Nowadays, it is true, we are made so sensitive by the raving crowd of flatterers that we cry out that we are stung as soon as we meet with disapproval. When we cannot ward off the truth with any other pretext, we flee from it by ascribing it to a fierce temper, impatience, and immodesty. What is the good of salt if it does not bite? Of what use is the edge of a sword if it does not cut? “Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord deceitfully …” [Jer. 48:10].’

 LW 31:335

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Diet of Worms

A Diet of Worms… (3) 500 years ago today (18th April 1521)

At four o’ clock in the afternoon on the 18th of April Luther again presented himself before the Emperor. Although he was not given attention until six o’ clock. With the assembly seated and Martin standing in their midst, the secretary then spoke confirming that Luther agreed the books were his and they were awaiting the answer to the second question, whether he wished to withdraw anything he had written. But before Luther would respond, the secretary would take a stab at Luther by implying he should have thought about his answers for some time and that he did not have the right for a longer period of deliberation. ‘Moreover’ the secretary continued, ‘it is generally agreed that the obligation of faith is so certain for all that anybody, whenever he is asked, should be able to give his certain and constant reasons, not least of all you, so great and so learned a professor of theology…’ Then the question came (in both Latin and German) ‘Do you wish to defend all your acknowledged books, or to retract some?

After a few pleasantries Luther commenced:

Most serene emperor, most illustrious princes, concerning those questions proposed to me yesterday on behalf of your serene majesty, whether I acknowledged as mine the books enumerated and published in my name and whether I wished to persevere in their defense or to retract them, I have given to the first question my full and complete answer, in which I still persist and shall persist forever. These books are mine…In replying to the second question, I ask that your most serene majesty and your lordships may deign to note that my books are not all of the same kind. For there are some in which I have discussed religious faith and morals simply and evangelically, so that even my enemies themselves are compelled to admit that these are useful, harmless, and clearly worthy to be read by Christians. Even the bull, although harsh and cruel, admits that some of my books are inoffensive, and yet allows these also to be condemned with a judgment which is utterly monstrous…Another group of my books attacks the papacy and the affairs of the papists as those who both by their doctrines and very wicked examples have laid waste the Christian world with evil that affects the spirit and the body. For no one can deny or conceal this fact, when the experience of all and the complaints of everyone witness that through the decrees of the pope and the doctrines of men the consciences of the faithful have been most miserably entangled, tortured, and torn to pieces…Therefore, I ask by the mercy of God, may your most serene majesty, most illustrious lordships, or anyone at all who is able, either high or low, bear witness, expose my errors, overthrowing them by the writings of the prophets and the evangelists. Once I have been taught I shall be quite ready to renounce every error, and I shall be the first to cast my books into the fire…

Once Luther had finished this response the Emperor said—as if in reproach—that he had not answered the question. Moreover, Luther should not call into question, ‘those things which had been condemned and defined in councils.’ What was wanted from Luther was not a ‘horned response, but a simple one’ whether or not Luther wished to retract. In Luther’s own words, he answered:

Since then your serene majesty and your lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, neither horned nor toothed: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, may God help me, Amen.

Unlike the Luther movie, there was no standing ovation at this point. Rather, the secretary accused Luther of answering impudently and not to the point. Moreover, they virtually accused him of being a Hussite, ‘But now you revive those [errors] which the general Council of Constance, composed of the whole German nation, has condemned, and you wish to be refuted by means of Scripture. In this you are completely mad…’ An argument then continued over the erring of church councils which Luther claimed he could prove but the Diet had no patience for that argument. ‘Lay aside your conscience, Martin; you must lay it aside because it is in error; and it will be safe and proper for you to recant. Although you say the councils have erred you will never be able to prove it, in matters of faith at least, and even in matters of morals I fancy it will be with much difficulty.’ Getting nowhere he exclaimed ‘God help me!’  

Luther was in Worms for another week attending a number of meetings as requested. The impasse was certain but Luther was assured of the Emperors protection for only a matter of weeks. However, with Jan Hus in mind, the Emperor’s uncle – and Luther’s protector – Frederick the Wise, had Luther ‘kidnapped’ and moved to Wartburg Castle where Luther would be kept safe, write many letters and translate the New Testament into German.

(See LW 32:103-133)

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Diet of Worms

A Diet of Worms… (2) 500 years ago today (17th April 1521)

Luther arrived in Worms on the 16th of April. Sometime before lunch on the 17th of April (500 years ago today) Ulrich von Pappenheim came to Luther where he was staying and told him that his audience with the Emperor (including the electoral princes, electors and dukes) would be at four o’clock that afternoon. At the appropriate time, Luther was taken via side streets to avoid the growing crowd who wanted to see Luther. Once in the presence of the Emperor Luther was warned not to say anything unless he was asked. But the time came to respond when Johann Eck, the secretary of the Bishop of Trier, made this statement:

His imperial majesty has summoned you here, Martin Luther, for these two reasons: first, that you may here publicly acknowledge if the books published so far under your name are yours; then, whether you wish all these to be regarded as your work, or whether you wish to retract anything in them.

The books were read out and Luther responded:

Two questions have been put to me by his imperial majesty: First, whether I wish all the books bearing my name to be regarded as my own work; second, whether I intend to stand by them or, in fact, retract anything from those which have been published by me till now…First, I must indeed include the books just now named as among those written by me and I shall never deny any of them. As for the next question, whether I would likewise affirm everything or retract what is supposed to have been uttered beyond the testimony of Scripture…

Luther was evidently feeling the weight of the world, standing in front of the Emperor who could sign his death warrant. Yet I think, more than that, Luther felt the weight of getting the Scriptures right. Did he interpret the Scriptures faithfully in what he wrote? This is a question of faith and salvation! Being slaughtered by the Emperor—or being excommunicated or exiled by the Pope for that matter—was nowhere near as important as getting the Scriptures, and thus the gospel, right. As a result of this Luther requested, ‘I beseech your imperial majesty for time to think, in order to satisfactorily answer the question without violence to the divine Word and danger to my own soul.’

Through a pretentious grant of clemency Luther’s wish was satisfied. He was to return at the same hour the next day and declare his answers to the Diet ‘by word of mouth.’ Luther went back to his residence, was admonished not to fear and was encouraged—no doubt—by the shouting of a bystander who exclaimed, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you’.

(See LW 32:103-133)

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Uncategorized

A Diet of Worms… (1)

On the 18th of April 1521 Martin Luther stood before Emperor Charles V during the Imperial Diet held at Worms in Germany. The Emperor had summoned Luther for what would be his ‘most dramatic public event of his career.’ Luther had already been threatened with excommunication by Pope Leo X. Now he was facing the fury of the Roman Catholic Emperor. Given a pledge of safe conduct from the Emperor (i.e. the promise to protect Luther in order for him to appear at the Diet) Luther held in close memory the pledge of safe conduct given to Jan Hus almost 106 years earlier. Hus too had questioned the infallibility of the pope and despite the promise of safe conduct was burned at the stake at the Council of Constance. Hus’s last words were reported to be that they can burn the goose (His name means goose in Czech) but in 100 years a swan will come that they could never kill. This swan—or so it was inferred—was now standing before the Holy Roman Emperor hoping to have the opportunity to argue his case from Scripture.

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Luther's Eight Sermons at Wittenberg Uncategorized

Luther’s Eight Sermons at Wittenberg, March 1522 (Part 4)

As a pastor returning to the mess that Karlstadt had begun – in trying to bring revolution – Luther explains the method he uses to decide whether something is to be considered ‘free’ or a ‘must’. Remember this is Luther’s third sermon having returned from Wittenberg from isolation in Wartburg Castle (although he probably didn’t have to wear a mask): ‘We have heard the things which are “musts,” which are necessary and must be done, things which must be so and not otherwise: the private masses must be abolished. For all works and things, which are either commanded or forbidden by God and thus have been instituted by the supreme Majesty, are “musts.” Nevertheless, no one should be dragged to them or away from them by the hair, for I can drive no man to heaven or beat him into it with a club. I said this plainly enough; I believe you have understood what I said…’

It seems that through Karlstadt’s influence some had sought to correct the forbidding of marriage by forcing Nuns and Monks to marry. This, Luther knew, was as wrong as the forbidding of marriage in the first place. How does Luther address this? ‘Now follow the things which are not necessary, but are left to our free choice by God and which we may keep or not, such as whether a person should marry or not, or whether monks and nuns should leave the cloisters. These things are matters of choice and must not be forbidden by any one, and if they are forbidden, the forbidding is wrong, since it is contrary to God’s ordinance. In the things that are free, such as being married or remaining single, you should take this attitude: if you can keep to it without burdensomeness, then keep it; but it must not be made a general law; everyone must rather be free. So if there is a priest, monk, or nun, who cannot abstain, let him take a wife and be a husband, in order that your conscience may be relieved; and see to it that you can stand before God and the world when you are assailed, especially when the devil attacks you in the hour of death. It is not enough to say: this man or that man did it, I followed the crowd, according to the preaching of the dean, Dr. Karlstadt, or Gabriel, or Michael. Not so; every one must stand on his own feet and be prepared to give battle to the devil. You must rest upon a strong and clear text of Scripture if you would stand the test. If you cannot do that, you will never withstand—the devil will pluck you like a parched leaf…Therefore I say, what God has made free shall remain free. If anybody forbids it, as the pope, the Antichrist, has done, you should not obey. He who can do so without harm and for love of his neighbor may wear a cowl or a tonsure, since it will not injure your faith. The cowl will not strangle you, if you are already wearing one...’

As an heir of the reformation I often look impatiently at Luther and wonder why he takes such a mediating role even though other reformers would later go further than Luther on some issues. This impatience, however, might even tempt me to run – not just fall – into the revolutionary trap of Karlstadt. But we have to remember that the reformation is in its early days. Luther himself is still in the process of reforming. However, I think the main reason for Luther’s ‘mediating’ tact here, is found in his recent discovery of justification by faith alone. What Luther did not want to do was to remove one erroneous ‘must’ (priests must not marry) only to replace it with another erroneous ‘must’ (priests must marry). Or, in other words, to remove one work and simply to replace it with another work. For both these attitudes contradict the theology of grace and justification by faith alone. This should help us to understand Luther at this point.

Now, the reformed churches would go onto modify this method of working out what is free and what is a must. In general, Luther would say what God has said is a must – is a must. But with what God has not said is a must – therein is freedom. The reformed tradition would generally agree with this if applied as a general principle. However, when it comes to worship, the reformers would understand ‘must’ and ‘free’ slightly differently. ‘Must’ and ‘free’ must be interpreted through the lense of what God has explicitly said and commanded, and only what God has commanded must be done in worship. If God is ‘silent’ on something, Luther might give the freedom to do it, whereas the later reformers—in view of worship in particular—where God is silent, so must we be (i.e. it does not automatically give us the right to practice it, for example like the lunacy of waving of flags in worship etc.). This is where the regulative principle of worship comes in. For example, if God hasn’t commanded us to wear a cowl in worship, the reformers would say we must not wear it. Whereas Luther would say it isn’t forbidden so it is free with regard to conscience. I do however, agree with the reformers here. How we worship our holy God has never been left up to us to decide for ourselves. The worship of God must follow only what God has commanded.

The regulative principle of worship can be justified to support a number of different things, so we should be careful how we come to our conclusions. But what we can learn from Luther here, is that we must not replace a law-work with another law-work, and that our conclusions must – to the best of our ability – be drawn from Scripture (or be deduced by good and necessary consequence) so that we stand on them in good conscience.

LW 51:79-84