Theology for all!

Saturday, May 30, 2020


As I sit in the pew at this church that closely resembles the atmosphere of my childhood more than my current church, I notice something—a passage from Matthew. If a person gets this one passage wrong, it can be a stumbling block for the many.

Self-worth and confidence are important things—things that we all need to have on a basic level. But when we arrive at the dreaded Matthew 5:48 passage, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” we are befuddled.

If verses 1 through 47 did not show that we’re not pulling off the Christian life, then this passage surely will. Or will it?

At this point many will proclaim the viewpoint that “God would not command, what we could not do,” or “The word in the Greek language can be translated as mature”.

How cute! Seriously, it is a noble attempt at trying to ease the gut punch that Jesus has just landed. (Looking at the context of this passage, both of these premises fall flat, but that is not the point of this article.)

As a Christian, I truly wish I could live a life that is perfect (as described in verses 1 through 47). Viewing this passage as being “attainable,” slowly takes our eyes off of Christ and places them on ourselves. Either we think we are reaching a point where we need Christ’s daily mercy less, or we place a burden on our neighbor about them pulling themselves up by their boot straps. Both postures remove relying on God for our daily bread (Mt. 6:11).

If we could be as perfect as our loving Father, what is the need for Jesus as our substitute? Yes, this question is offensive, but it must be asked. Even if you change the word “perfect” to “mature,” God is still the perfect example of any word change.

Can you be perfect?

I cannot be perfect, and this truth slams my soul to the foot of the cross. I try my hardest to walk the walk and be salt of the world, but I know my only hope is Jesus. But could that be the point of Matthew 5:48? To drive us back to the cross? To remind us that God is holy and perfect, and that is his standard?

Moses was a pretty “mature” kind of guy in the faith. If I recall correctly, after God used him to rescue his people, split the red sea, and lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, Moses was denied entry into it for not trusting God (Num. 20:11-12). If perfect is not God’s standard, was Moses not “mature” enough?

To view this passage wrongly results in people thinking they are David slaying the Goliath of their life, rather than Jesus conquering on our behalf. Such a stance may seem very small, but it eventually leads to the logical question: Is the Gospel for Christians? Do we need Christ in the office of Savior after we come to faith in him, or do we turn the cross into a ladder to ascend to perfection?

I beseech you, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, never to take your gaze off of Christ. Christ tells us he came to fulfill the law, and that is exactly what he did. Everything demanded in the sermon on the Mount, Christ accomplished for us: “But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Christ was spat upon, mocked, and beaten for our sake. Although he could have called a legion of angels, he turned the other cheek. “But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.'” After the bloody melee of Good Friday, Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them.”

God’s standard is perfection, and Jesus was, and is, that. There is zero need to water down God’s law in an attempt to make it attainable for me. I am baptized into Christ (Rom. 6), purchased not by silver or gold, but by his royal blood (1 Pet. 1:18-19), so my comfort rests with my Lord. There is no need to reword Matthew 5:48, because it reminds us of our sin and brings us helpless to the foot of the cross. And that is a great thing.

Grace, mercy, peace.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


“I eat with Sinners.”

This may seem like a trivial statement, but it’s more serious than it appears at first glance. In the first century, to eat with a person was considered a gesture of intimate fellowship and no small matter.

 “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation” (Acts 10:28).

 In today’s climate, fellowshipping with sinners, unbelievers, etc, is viewed in a similar light. Many think we should only have close friends that are Christians. I eat with sinners! I do not say this vaguely or proudly. It seems to me that many unbelievers grasp the impact of the fallen world more than many Christians. I can confide in my neighbor and know that they are struggling in this falling world as much as I am. It is a sad state of affairs when pagans know to weep with those who weep (Ro. 12:15), more than our brethren in the faith. Everybody wants to offer their 12 Biblical Steps to explain why I am struggling or how to resolve my problems, rather than admitting they can relate and empathize. So why should I talk to you? I do not want to hear what you would’ve done, I just want a sinner’s ear to hear a sinner’s problems.

Recently, a person I spoke to regularly on Twitter mentioned that he will not have new friends that are not in the faith. I found this to be a sad state of affairs. God reveals himself in many things and having a friend that is not a believer enables a person to share the Good News in a personable way.
At my previous job, I considered one of my managers a friend. He is an unbeliever with many questions and doubts. For Christmas, I purchased him a New Testament Bible so he could read the Gospels. I was able to do this by being a friend and having honest conversations with him over the years.

When I look across the table and see sinners, I know that the only difference between us is my hope in Jesus Christ. They experience dark days and joyous days, too. And there is no facade that they have to maintain to prove to me that they are an upstanding citizen of Christianity. I already know they struggle in this fallen world too, so their whole demeanor is not a sham!

I grow so weary of carrying my burdens alone and of the constant Oscar award-winning Christians. The ones that boast of their strong faith—always mentioning the peaks but never mentioning the struggles in the valley.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses…” (2 Cor 12:9).

I know this is wrong of me, but I look at you like a fool when I hear your triumphant, braggadocious tales. It’s wrong of me to judge, but I have witnessed too many times the gossip and chatter of the saints, and these always seem to be the ones with the triumphant, never struggle tales.

Over the past two years, I have learned that there is a hidden place in Christianity where you can share your fears, doubts, pain, struggles, and be pointed to Christ. You don’t have to worry about being pointed to the “saints'” examples, or about your image being tarnished. The sinners know they are just as much a sinner as you, so how could they judge you? Luckily, I have found such a place, and now pray the same for you. If you have seen or found this haven cherish it, because it’s rare. If you have not found it, keep looking.

Grace, peace, mercy to you.

Sunday, May 17, 2020


I read an interesting passage in the book The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis that holds a lot of truth:
When he goes to his pew and looks round him he sees just a selection of his neighbors whom he has hitherto avoided… Provided that any of those neighbors sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quiet easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous.
Many find assurance by looking at others’ fruit and patting themselves on the back because they think they are doing better. Or they may view other Christians as hypocrites which causes them to doubt their own walk. Both are bad, but I personally have struggled with the latter. As a youth, I would see my Islamic friends dedicate themselves to prayer or see Jehovah Witnesses knocking diligently on doors, and then would begin comparing them to my fellow believers—going to church and then having no problem being a cheerful sinner from 2:00 p.m. onwards on Sunday, when church might normally end, until bedtime the following Saturday. It bothered me.

It would also bother me to read about people who where unbelievers, doing more good deeds than the “Christians” I knew. Why be a hypocrite? Why even try? Those were the thoughts that floated through my head. That and what if Christianity is not true?
Solus Christus saved my life.

It is the fact that I am saved because I am in Christ and not because of any other factors. Hearing God’s law properly preached to me revealed, “Yes, my neighbor is a hypocrite, but so am I,” enabled me to love my neighbor. We all need Christ! Grasping that it is Christ who saved me fully, allowed me to be honest about my own sin and my neighbors short comings. Yes, I mean fully. Christ did not just walk into my wretched heart and point me to exit, or leave directions for me to use—Jesus came into my wretched heart put me in a headlock and dragged me to safety. Knowing that I don’t tithe fully or that others give to charities more, or even that others are more loving does not mean God loves me less. Faith in Jesus is the key and it is all that matters.
And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…
-Romans 4:5
I always struggled with the concept of “if God has always been God and is never changing,” how is it we are saved by faith in Christ, but the Jews were saved by other means? Once I learned that Solus Christus was their means of salvation also, it rested my weary soul. The promise in Genesis 3:15 is the object of hope for the pre-Christ people. The only difference is their faith was in anticipation and ours is in his completed works. Christ has always been for us, with us, and rescuing us.

God coming to earth as man, his perfect life, resurrection, substitutionary atonement at Calvary, is the cornerstone of our faith (Eph 2:20). He not only nailed our sins to the cross, but imputed his righteousness to us. So when the Father looks at our filthy, sin ridden, corrupted, prideful flesh, all he sees is his perfect Son and his obedience covering us. The beautiful and glorious exchange. It is Christ alone that saves. Not how much better you feel than your neighbor, not the number of homeless people you gave a dollar to, or anything of your own means—it’s just Jesus the Christ!
For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 1:8
Grace, Peace, and Mercy to you!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Baptismal Hypocrisy

"I’m not welcomed at this Church!" 
How did it come to this? Imagine for one second, you have visited a church for a few months and have decided to join. There are not many churches in your town, but you need to be around the preached Word of God. You do the walking to the front of the church routine to publicly show you want to be a member—many in my tradition do not understand this practice, but it's normal in the evangelical land. Everyone is happy. They give you full on and side hugs as church comes to an end.
Then you go to the office. It looks quite shabby. There are degrees and pictures everywhere. There is even a Billy Graham photo next to Michael Bolton ... wait, nevermind that's supposed to be Jesus. Still, you talk to the leaders and they ask you a few questions. You inform them “Yes, I am baptized.” They ask if it was full immersion and what the status is for your kids. You answer, “We are all baptized. We were sprinkled in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit some as adults and others as infants. As our Lord commanded in Matthew 28:19-20.”
The tone changes, a look of puzzledness appears in their eye. They regretfully inform you that your baptism does not count and you are in rebellion to God. Okay, they might not say rebellion, but from their view, baptism is an act of obedience and you sir/madam are disobedient! And so they ask you to enroll in their 6-week new members class that ends with baptism to welcome you to the family of the Lord (as a symbolic gesture to represent your new life and being buried with Christ).
At first, you are puzzled, befuddled, and then angered because in all your studies you have never heard of this stance. You have studied the Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, Reformed/Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic church and never once have you heard that your baptism was "invalid."

In Holy Writ, there are serious passages about taking the Lord Supper incorrectly. If this hypothetical church which stands against church history is correct, then you and your family have been taking the Lord's Supper wrong for decades:
28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself (1 Cor 11:28-29)
This passage is not directly about a non-baptized believer partaking in the Lord's Supper. But it would be hard to say that an unbaptized believer—in purposeful rebellion—should not be viewed in the same light. One stance universally and historical agreed upon throughout Christendom is that baptism is a sign of entrance into the new covenant and is required to be viewed as a member. (I would not be me if I did not tell you baptism is much more than that!)
In Holy Writ, people are baptized as soon as possible. Thus, the concept of a person in the faith that is not baptized is unfounded. They are basically saying I am not a Christian or that I am not in good standing as a Christian. So in the previous example, my family and I cannot officially be one with this visible church until I stop my rebellion and get really baptized (in my view re-baptized).
It is an un-argued fact, that since the 2nd century, church history states the universal church practice was infant baptism and sprinkling was not forbidden. But I am convinced by Scripture as well. A passage in Luke shows that it is possible for an infant to have faith and be moved by the Holy Spirit:
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41)
If this was in modern times little Johnny would be denied baptism and viewed as outside of the body of believers. When Scripture cites "bring the little children to me," do they think Jesus wanted to play peek-a-boo with the kids or hide-and-seek? Nowhere in any part of the bible has a child of a believer been viewed as a pagan or outside of the covenant of God because the promise is for the parent and their children:
“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” (Acts 2-38-39)
To think that a church body would dis-fellowship and deny the majority of historic Christians from fellowship is appalling and offensive. Martin Luther one of the reformers credited with starting the Protestant Reformation would be denied membership because he was baptized as a baby. John Calvin’s father was close to the Rome Catholic Church, so it is safe to assume he was baptized as a baby too. He too would be denied. And a host of others from 100 A.D. til about 1800 A.D. would be told “you are not welcome or able to join our church body” by some churches. Let's look at a few.
"He [Jesus] came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God: infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age" (Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189]). 
"What the universal Church holds, not as instituted [invented] by councils but as something always held, is most correctly believed to have been handed down by apostolic authority. Since others respond for children, so that the celebration of the sacrament may be complete for them, it is certainly availing to them for their consecration, because they themselves are not able to respond" (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 4:24:31 [A.D. 400]). 
"The custom of Mother Church in baptizing infants is certainly not to be scorned, nor is it to be regarded in any way as superfluous, nor is it to be believed that its tradition is anything except apostolic" (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 10:23:39 [A.D. 408]). 
"Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them" (The Apostolic Tradition 21:16 [A.D. 215]). 
"Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin. . . . In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous" (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3 [A.D. 248]). 
"The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit" (Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]). 
Cyprian of Carthage
"As to what pertains to the case of infants: You [Fidus] said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born" (Letters 64:2 [A.D. 253]). 
"If, in the case of the worst sinners and those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin, except that, born of the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he [an infant] approach more easily to receive the remission of sins: because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another" (ibid., 64:5). 

I have come to realize that I am not welcomed in many Baptist, non-denominational, or Pentecostal churches. Yes, all church bodies throughout history acknowledge that a member of a church should be baptized. But for these sects (!) that have requirements not accepted or practiced in the majority of the 2000 year history of the church (or forbidden in scripture), I wonder if they realize the weight of their stance?
It's just a minor doctrinal point in their eyes and it truly shows how ignorant they are to the weight of their stance. I contend that they should at least acknowledge the full weight of their stance and deny complete fellowship with every other tradition. If a person is not baptized, should a church body really welcome them into fellowship? Draw the line in the sand and stand by your choice to cast out most of the Holy Saints that have ever lived! Truth be told, most of these church bodies would rule me (and the Saints quoted) a heretic anyways, once I informed them what biblically happens in baptism. So maybe the mode or age isn't even of real importance.
This hypothetical example is the reality for many people. Teaching or requiring someone be re-baptized doesn't just mean their first baptism was invalid. It means they are not true members of the church. Please consider the full impact of the doctrines you and your church body hold.

Sola Scriptura and Paedobaptism

 I was asked an interesting question on twitter a few days ago:
"What one passage would you use to show paedobaptism?"
This is a common question from various Christian traditions in conjunction with their current evangelical definitions of "Sola Scriptura" to understand infant baptism. The scripture I chose to answer with was:
"And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you" (Gen. 17:7)

Most would go with Acts 2:39. But I'd go with the above passage. It's not explicitly about baptism, but it does show that God's covenant is for believers and their children. This passage establishes that the eternal, non-changing, Creator has decreed and established a covenant including believers and their offspring.
To show membership in the covenant, God established a sign to show this membership. God's covenant promise is to be God to you and your children. Further, God says it is an everlasting covenant—"So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant."
Here the road divides. Many people focus on "what the sign is" rather than "did God use a sign to show His covenant." By changing the primary focus, we get lost in trees and, eventually, one can not see the forest for the trees. The mode of the sign is not what is promised eternally or even the gist of the covenant. The topic at hand should be, "what is the covenant and who is it for?" Only after this is established then a conversation of how members of the covenant are shown (e.g. the sign proper).
God views entry into the covenant and the sign and seal of entry so serious that He decreed:
"Any male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant" (Gen. 17:14)

No Jewish person protested saying, "I'm not saved by the sign, thus it is not needed." They took God at His word and gave their children the sign and seal. Even Jesus received the covenant sign.
Fast forwarding to the New Testament, a very important thing is shown—when God establishes previous ordinances have been fulfilled and new modes implemented, He informs His people clearly. An example of this is when God lifts the dietary laws from His people. God clearly informs the Apostle Peter that all things are clean. The dietary laws were a huge thing in Jewish customs and traditions. To change this, a clear and distinct message had to be sent. The inclusion of a believer's seed was more fundamental than any dietary laws. I feel comfortable saying this because I do not see the dietary laws worded with a context of "[he] shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."
Instead of seeing passages in the New testament distancing children of believers from the community of faith, we see:
"In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism" (Col. 2:11-12)

And circumcision was typically done to infants.
"For the promise is for you and for your children" (Acts 2:39)
The New Testament also includes multiple statements of households baptized (if a person's child is not a primary definition of household, nothing is).
In our day, many have concocted many lines of reasoning to establish that kids were not included in these passages. But the true line of reasoning should be, "how would a first-century Jewish person view these passages?" This is an important question because these statements were to people in the first century. People that had no religious notion of child exclusion. How would they know their kids were kicked out now? (Keep in mind the Acts 2 passage is the first Christian sermon ever preached by Saint Peter. So in-depth teaching of removing kids from the covenant could not have been and, coincidently, was not taught.) 
And that is why I used the Genesis 17 passage to answer my friend's question.
"And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you."

God stated that His eternal covenant to be God to you and your children and He has never rescinded this promise.  Yes, the sign has changed (as noted in Colossians 2), but the primary focus of this conversation should be on the substance of God's promises in His covenant and what (potentially) changed in membership requirements. To be in the new covenant is to have Christ's life and death applied to you. His righteousness imputed to you and the Holy Spirit indwelling in you. The precedent has been established by God that the people in the covenant receive a sign of being in the covenant:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Rom. 6:3-4)
In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Col. 2:11-12)

All of the traits of being in the new covenant are shown to be apart of baptism. Nowhere in Holy Writ has a believers' child been denied their part in the covenant or asked to prove that they qualify for entry. God has made a promise to be God to you and your children, say "Amen" and baptize your kids!
Peace, mercy, & grace to you.
Many will say, "infant baptism is an argument from silence." And I agree. The fact that it is silent, is the biggest supporting factor to me. Silence on a topic so crucial establishes nothing changing. And in all honesty, both sides argue from silence. There are no passages of kids being turned away in holy writ.
A claim of "it is tradition" always arises as well. This is why I mentioned "the current evangelical definition of Sola Scriptura" earlier in the article. Yes, tradition shows infant baptism and it is built upon Old Testament to New Testament continuity. And the Old Testament is clear about the inclusion of kids. Man is overstepping the boundaries to throw out a clear historic teaching to discontinue including kids in Gods covenant.  Sola scriptura was never intended to make tradition a bad thing. Traditions that go against Scripture were to be addressed. Here is an example of tradition, "praying with your eyes closed." Per the current thought on how sola scriptura is used, "closed eyes while praying" is clearly wrong because the bible does not state to do it. The only reason you pray with your eyes closed is that you were taught it by another person. It is a man-made tradition. You should repent!
Seems idiotic to draw that line in the sand, but this is the same argument used against infant baptism.
“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.” (Isa. 59:21)

Dear Lutheranism

Written originally at Torrey Gazette
Original date Feb 2019

Dear Lutheranism,
I am a member of an LCMS congregation. But I addressed this letter to our brothers and sisters as a whole. We are all united by the Augsburg Confession, Small and Large Catechisms, and (for the majority of us) the complete Book of Concord. With this shared doctrinal background, I feel my concerns can and should be directed to all.
For various reason we Lutherans do not engage or associate much with other Christian denominations. I am not here to judge if any or all of the reasons are justified, but more so to air a concern that I have when we detach ourselves from the larger church. We all agree that our view of the Gospel—as explained in our confession—is the most accurate of the denominations and various groups of Christendom. No matter our feelings about our self-imposed isolation from many post reformation groups, there is a time where we must engage these groups. We must engage to show our historical approach of law and gospel accurately and have it be heard by Christendom as a whole. Keeping our accurate profession a secret, does no good for anyone involved or the universal church. I’d make a case that it is a part of our vocation to share God’s truth when miscellaneous events happen in the universal church. I say all of this to petition that we not remain quiet regarding the ‘Social Justice’ conversation that is currently taking place in the broader Christian community.
The majority of evangelical Protestants do not work with a correct framework including Law/Gospel distinction, Horizontal vs Vertical righteousness, or 3rd use of the Law. The conversation taking place about social justice would be a great opportunity to share our biblical approach to the masses and demonstrate the validity of our doctrine. One popular evangelical theologian has recently stated that “this recent (and surprisingly sudden) detour in quest of ‘social justice’ is, I believe, the most subtle and dangerous threat so far.” Instead of this position, Lutheranism offers the distinction between vertical righteousness (God to person due to being found in Christ) and horizontal righteousness (Person to person righteousness founded in our ability to love neighbor freely without concluding it is impacting justification). We can help demonstrate that it is possible to engage culture to attempt to end a form of oppression or hardship of neighbor and not falsely conclude that our relation to God is impacted by these acts of good works. 
We believe, teach, and confess also that all men, but those especially who are born again and renewed by the Holy Ghost, are bound to do good works. - Epitome of Concord IV
And first, as regards the necessity or voluntariness of good works, it is manifest that in the Augsburg Confession and its Apology these expressions are often used and repeated that good works are necessary. Likewise, that it is necessary to do good works, which also are necessarily to follow faith and reconciliation. - The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord IV
As confessional Lutherans, we can show a correct dynamic between faith and works. We can demonstrate how the 3rd use of the law is applicable as God intends for use to live holy lives in the world. Even though we fail, are aim as the new washed and regenerate man is to drown the old Adam daily and strive to live per Gods commands.
Jesus stated that He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill the Law, and the law to love our neighbor is as real and applicable as ever. To conclude as the celebrity pastor John MacArthur has, that social justice is not the concern of the church is effectively a form of Gnosticism and denial of the command to love neighbor.
“But social justice means social equality, making sure everybody gets the social equality. That’s never going to happen in a fallen world, in the best of circumstances. But that is not the church’s concern.”- John MacArthur
It is true that there will always be the poor amongst us, but we are not called in holy writ to accept a problem because it will always remain until our Lord returns. To ignore the “fallen world” because it is inherently evil and only focus on the spiritual side of a person’s needs is a form of Gnosticism. This dynamic leads us to show preference, remove real empathy, and starts towards antinomianism. “Who cares that a lady was raped and murdered? We should not engage culture to state that women are made in the image of God and worthy of respect and dignity.” This could be a logical conclusion to women rights issue if this stance of evangelicalism is followed consistently. The world will never be perfect until Christ returns, but for us to be salt and light is a command of our Lord to us. Professor Joel Biermann has made an interesting statement on this:
“… to fulfill the 1st great commission, of being fruitful and multiple and have dominion over creation, means that culture building is good. So when we are working on culture building, what I mean by that would be life in the modern world … a way of honoring God and serving each other. This is God pleasing; it’s not a negative thing. And the implication of this is the material world is not evil. This idea just continues to hound us in the church and this idea is Gnosticism … Sin has messed everything up, but it’s still God’s good creation.” (Humanity in Creation by Joel Biermann, around 58min mark)
There is a striking difference between Professor Biermann’s focus on God’s command to nurture and shepherd creation (1st great commission) and John MacArthur’s argument that social equality will never happen in this fallen world and concluding it is not the church’s concern. To ignore the hardship and plight in the world because the world is fallen is not a biblical concept. We are actually commanded to the exact opposite. Refusal to love neighbor in our daily vocation is Gospel reductionism and against our creation mandate. I truly feel the world would benefit by Lutherans getting involved and sharing our doctrinal truths with Christendom.
Further, the majority of Protestantism has corrupted the understanding of the sacrament of Baptism. Thanks be to God that the sacrament is valid based His Word and Promises—not the understanding of man—but many Protestant have tried their hardest to remove God from the equation. To be able to speak to the objective truth in the waters of Baptism, God Himself unites us with Him making us brothers and sisters in Christ. Not hypothetical. Not kinda sorta. He truly washes us and applies Christ’s finished work to us and unites us.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-16
A major theme found throughout the 1 Corinthians book is unity and not showing partiality.  We truly are united to Christ in baptism and have become a part of the body of Christ.  How can one part of the body ignore the suffering and plight of another part of the body.  Or to be more accurate, how one member of the body of Christ declare that the concerns of another member in the body is not the concern of the church. 
That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together – 1 Corinthians 12:25-26
This unity found and accomplished in baptism should draw us together to love and care about the trials and hardships that our brothers/sisters experience and face.  This is a beautiful gospel truth. Is this not a perspective that can be added to the racial reconciliation conversation that is greatly over looked? Protestants talk about baptism but since God’s activity is removed, it is hard to articulate the reality of what took place by them.
The influence of the anti-social justice people goes far beyond just evangelical Protestant circles. Even in our Lutheran bible studies, I do not think it is rare to find people with a John MacArthur study bible being used. I would go as far as to bet that many in our pews can recognize and are more influenced first or second hand by John MacArthur than Greg Seltz. Many will hear the name Greg Seltzs and ask “Who?” That is exactly my point. Greg Seltz was a prominent speaker on the Lutheran Hour (Lutheran flagship radio ministry with estimated over a million listeners) from 2011 to 2017.  One of our biggest celebrities in our tradition is less known/impactful than MacArthur and other prominent anti-social justice supporters. John MacArthur’s reach and influence is truly massive. I as a black man cannot avoid or ignore a movement in broad Christendom driven by MacArthur that declares that Social Justice is against the Gospel.  A pastor named Josh Buice was involved in the creation of the, “Social Justice and the Gospel” statement went as far to state one reason they created the statement was “That civil rights movements end was that there is no end game.” He followed this by saying the people in the 1950s and 1960s—like the faithful Lutheran Reverend Bob Greatz and other stand up men—that risked it all did it for fame and because racial division was big business. I have three baptized saints that God has placed in my care who will live in this world when I am gone, ignoring this is not a reality for me.
Without social justice efforts Jim Crow may have never ended. Without social justice from a few faithful pastors, the truth that Africans in slavery were made in God’s image deserving dignity would not have been proclaimed. Without Social Justice efforts that amazing testimony and precedent set by the first Rosa would never have happened in Alabama. I know there have been Lutheran statements composed for Lutherans by Lutherans on the subject of racism and racial relations, but broader Christendom is releasing public statement. In contrast, our statements seem like backroom conversations not written for the world. This is not satisfactory. I know within our doors we can point to these documents, but I live in a world where most have no idea about anything Lutheran. We have removed ourselves from the dialogue between Christians on major issues that impact and influence God’s creation.
I know none of the theology I mention in this letter is new. But I needed to lay out my thoughts. I also know I could be barking up the wrong tree in writing this. The outreach of MacArthur and his friends are far reaching. In our small sector it is easy to just ignore him. But in the broader American church, his voice has impact. There is a chance you agree with John MacArthur and the anti-social justice crowd, but I am willing to take this chance. There is more good to be accomplished than negative from my point of view. I have seen some Lutheran blogs leaning in agreement with MacArthur’s and the published statement. Alt-right influence is increasing on various Lutheran platforms. We even have Lutheran discernment ministries quoting individuals who says “Thank God and white people for slavery” while dismissing social justice and racial reform. They do this attempting to join forces with the MacArthur brigade. These are not the Lutheran interactions we want to be known for. In general, the confessional Lutheran doctrines—of which we should be proud—are missing from dialogue.
I have been placed in this situation with nothing to lose. Denying the outworking of the gospel shown by actually loving and caring for your neighbor is a gnostic notion. I cannot be convinced otherwise. And it is an actual position being solidified in opposition to Social Justice. I pray that this is received with an open heart and that the benefits of actually stepping in the fray to respond to John MacArthur and this public statement will be considered. The opportunity to share our sound confessional principles with the American church, comfort those in our pews, and reject unbiblical notions which directly support social oppression cannot go unanswered. I pray that once again Lutherans will be willing to stand up for the Biblical principles they confess.

Love, Grace, and Peace,
Ty aka @Lex_Lutheran

The proceeding letter was sent originally to multiple leader within my particular Lutheran denomination. The results of my request were lack luster at best. I do not have much impact in Lutheranism but many of the people I reached out to do and I was met with various responses. Some were defensive while in agreement, others were in agreement but subtly pushed responsibility back on me (a lay person) to do something, and others were strictly—“you should go talk to this other guy”—passing the buck.
I should say that I didn’t expect much even before I wrote it, but I had to try.  From my perspective, most of the responses fell into a “not my problem, leave me out of it.” There are people considered to be some of the most influential evangelicals of the 20th century leading a charge and our leaders expect a lay person to effectually take a stand. That’s laughable. The notion of “go talk to this other guy” is a joke as well, because chances are this “celeb guy” would be more likely to read it coming from them, than a lay person. Essentially they stated they agreed, but did not want to get their hands dirty. 
Anyhow, I am still thankful many read it and verbally—if not with action–stated they agreed. Needless to say, no major response from Lutheranism has been made and no true entry into the conversation from our theologians with a broad impact has been attempted.