Thesis Thursday

A final bit of interesting stuff from Lecture 9, concerning

Thesis V.

The first manner of confounding Law and Gospel is the one most easily recognized — and the grossest. It is adopted, for instance, by Papists, Socinians, and Rationalists and consists in this, that Christ is represented as a new Moses, or Lawgiver, and the Gospel turned into a doctrine of meritorious works, while at the same time those who teach that the Gospel is the message of the free grace of God in Christ are condemned and anathematized, as is done by the papists.

In its sixth session the Council of Trent passed this decree: “If any one says that men are made righteous solely through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ or solely through the forgiveness of sin, to the exclusion of the grace and love which by the Holy Spirit is poured out in their hearts and is inherent in them; or that the grace by which we are made righteous is nothing else than the favor of God, — let him be accused. … If any one says that the faith which makes men righteous is nothing else than trust in the divine mercy, which remits sin for Christ’s sake, or that it is only this trust that makes us righteous, — let him be accursed. … If any one says that a justified person does not, by reason of the good works which are done by him through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, truly merit an increase of grace, eternal life, and the actual obtainment of eternal life, provided he dies in grace, — let him be accursed.” Unless you are utterly blind and know nothing of the Christian religion, I believe that a plainer proof that the Pope is the Antichrist cannot be offered you.

Everywhere the papists set up the cross and make the sign of the cross; but that is sheer hypocrisy. They have the cross, but without its meaning in connection with Christ. Again and again we read that they call upon Mary to keep the ship of Peter from perishing. They do not readily say: “Jesus is our Fortress, our Rock,” etc. Verily, the worst sects in the Christian Church are less harmful than the Pope. For all sects without exception admit that the only way in which a person may be saved is by faith in the grace of God in Christ Jesus. All sects, by their teaching, obscure the Gospel, but they do not, as the Pope does, anathematize and curse it. Inasmuch as all sects allow this thesis, that salvation is by the grace of God, through faith in Christ Jesus, to stand, they are incomparably superior to the Papacy. They are corrupted churches, but the Papacy is a false Church. Just as counterfeit money is no money, so the papal Church, being a false Church, is no Church. Compared with the corrupted sectarian churches, the papacy is a non-church, a denial of the Church of Christ. I am not speaking of the Roman Catholic, but of the papistic Church, the Church which submits to the Pope, accepts his decrees, and repeats his anathemas. This Church is the one which history knows as the ecclesia maligna, the malign, pernicious Church, and the synagog of Satan.

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7 Responses to Thesis Thursday

  1. RubeRad says:

    I am not speaking of the Roman Catholic, but of the papistic Church

    Now that’s an interesting distinction I’ve never come across before.

  2. kazooless says:

    What do you mean you haven’t come across that distinction before? I have constantly made that distinction to you in our discussions about Rome and its adherents. Do you remember me saying that I tend to think the closer a RCC person gets to really knowing and understanding his church’s official doctrine and zealously believing it the more difficult it is for me to think he’s saved?

  3. Zrim says:

    Really? It seems like a classic (and vital) distinction between the individual and the church.

    But, unlike Kazoo, I’m not convinced it’s wise to gauge individual status on sincerity and zeal for truth or falsehood. Better to render judgments on visible churches and compel pious souls to adhere to true ones and reject false ones. I expect to see some who did not cling to a true militant church in the church triumphant, as well as some who did to be curiously absent, regardless of zeal and sincerity which are way over-rated thanks to pietism.

  4. kazooless says:


    Don’t take me so hard and fast on that last comment. It was a quick one assuming Rube’s familiarity with me and our history. Overall, I actually agree with you as far as the ideal. You need to know my background to understand my comment. And here is a little of it for you…

    I come from a RCC family. Most of my family are all staunch Catholics, but not out of knowledge. They don’t study or concern themselves with RCC apologetics. They are just baffled that I would have left “Christ’s True Church.” In converstation with them over the years, I note how much they love Jesus, and say that they trust in Him. This might be a child-like faith or it might be a smokescreen and they are really trusting in their good works. However, most of them have no assurance of salvation, instead just trying to be pleasing to God. They still trust in Christ though.

    For these, I am certainly not willing to pass any judgement. I do think it is certainly possible that they have true faith in Christ, and if so, then bless God! On the other hand, I have other RCC friends that are actively studying the papist doctrine, asserting it and arguing for it. The more they understand this RCC doctrine and hold to it, the more it seems to me that they are rejecting the true faith, and no longer trusting in Christ, but trusting in an apostate church and the pope. These I have concerns for much more so than others.

    But, I pray and earnestly plead with all of them that they would do as you say, and leave the apostate and join a true church. Pray with me please. 😀


  5. Zrim says:

    Kazoo, I think I get it. But my point is that church membershp far outways any personal acumen or theological awareness. And it cuts both ways. Those who cleave to a true church and are more theologically aware shouldn’t earn more confidence than those who cleave to a true church but are less theologically aware. What matters is that both are cleaving to a true church. Contrariwise for those, theologically aware or not, who cleave to a false church. I wouldn’t want to suggest that those who are theologically aware are in any more danger than those who are not. What matters is that both are outside the true church.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for theological awareness. But my concern would be the potential for over-realizing theological awreness one way or another, such that it functions in a way that really should be reserved for church membership.

  6. RubeRad says:

    What I’ve heard a lot before is the distinction between the RC Church as an institution, vs. elect that might be within it. Walther’s distinction seems different: Roman Catholic Church vs. Papistic Church. Although perhaps I parsed the grammar wrong; do you think he meant Roman Catholic person (sheep) vs. Papistic Institutional Church (goats/wolves)?

  7. kazooless says:


    That’s how I took it.


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