Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Antinomian and the Legalist (3/5)

In a previous post, I observed that Dr. Scaer and Dr. Marquart appeared to have different definitions of antinomianism. Dr. Scaer defines antinomians as those who reject the entire law in all its uses. Dr. Marquart has a definition limited to the apparent rejection of the Third Use of the Law.

Aaron provides a quote from Chemnitz (via Jonathan Lange's article Using the Third Use) by which he says that Chemnitz provides the link between Scaer's and Marquart's definitions. [In an attempt at full-disclosure, I should say that I am not a Chemnitz fan (oops, I guess that gives some people a reason to call me a heretic). I think his contribution to Lutheranism is overrated.]

The readers of this blog can look at the quote themselves and make their own judgment. I prefer to follow the Formula's definition: "Therefore we justly condemn the Antinomians or nomoclasts who cast the preaching of the law out of the churches and would have us criticize sin and teach contrition and sorrow not from the law but solely from the Gospel" (FC.SD.V.15).

The Lutheran Confessions' definition of antinomianism trumps Chemnitz's definition from a non-confessional document. A disagreement over the Third Use of the Law does not constitute sufficient grounds to throw out epitaphs such as 'antinomianism.' It for this reason that I believe Marquart's label of 'antinomianism' is incorrectly applied.


Paul T. McCain said...

Pastor Gehlbach, I've been checking in occasionally to see what new posts you have put up. I just noticed this post in which you indicate that, in your opinion, the contribution of Martin Chemnitz to Lutheranism "is overrated."

I wonder if you would consider in a future posting elaborating more on that comment.

As you know, Martin Chemnitz was known, even in his own lifetime, as the "Second Martin." That label was applied to him first by his Roman Catholic enemies who said of him, "If the second Martin had not come, the first Martin would not have remained." They meant by this simply that the life and work of Chemnitz was essential for continuing the reforming efforts of Luther.

Martin Chemnitz was one of the chief architects of both the Formula of Concord and the Book of Concord.

His works on Christology and the Lord's Supper remain to this day unsurpassed.

His "Examination of the Council of Trent" is still the best response made to the most foundational of all Roman Catholic councils, the Council of Trent.

So, I'm left scratching my head over your assessment of Martin Chemnitz as "overrated" and would appreciate the chance to understand why you feel this way.

Thanks Gary and blessed Eastertide to you and yours.


Lutheran Enigma said...

"I wonder if you would consider in a future posting elaborating more on that comment."

Yes, I can do that.