While there is one only Church of Jesus Christ, we always acknowledge that necessity requires companies of the faithful to be distributed in different places. Of these assemblies each one is called Church.
But in as much as all companies do not assemble in the name of our Lord, but rather to blaspheme and pollute him by their sacrilegious deeds, we believe that the proper mark by which rightly to discern the Church of Jesus Christ is that his holy gospel be purely and faithfully preached, proclaimed, heard, and kept, that his sacraments be properly administered, even if there be some imperfections and faults, as there always will be among men.
On the other hand, where the Gospel is not declared, heard, and received, there we do not acknowledge the form of the Church. Hence the churches governed by the ordinances of the pope are rather synagogues of the devil than Christian churches.*
Bam! Take that, Francis! And Pentebabbleists! And Emergents!
*Calvin: Theological Treatises (p. 31).
“I sure hope I don’t actually have to do anything God demands”…
Why not put God first even if it kills you? Who cares if you’re last? What does it even mean to be last? Last at what? Nothing says love of God quite like the good old mercenary motive.
I believe that with this commandment “as yourself” man is not commanded to love himself but rather is shown the sinful love with which he does in fact love himself, as if to say: “You are completely curved in upon yourself and pointed toward love of yourself, a condition from which you will not be delivered unless you altogether cease loving yourself and, forgetting yourself, love your neighbor.
For it is a perversity that we want to be loved by all and want to seek our interests in all people; but it is uprightness that if you do to everyone else what in your perverseness you want done to yourself, you will do good with the same zeal as you used to do evil.7 In this we surely are not commanded to do evil, but the zeal should be the same. – Martin Luther (Lectures on Romans).
He’s not wrong. Most of the time when people talk about ‘loving their neighbor as they love themselves’ what they really mean is that they love themselves more than anything.
They’ve found the only church they love in self-worship! They have embraced “Incurvatus in se”. The millennials were described 500 years ago by Martin Luther in his lectures on Romans-
[Their] “Nature, by the corruption of the first sin, is so deeply curved in on itself that it not only bends the best gifts of God towards itself and enjoys them or rather even uses God himself in order to attain these gifts; but it also fails to realize that it so wickedly, curvedly, and viciously seeks all things, even God, for its own sake.”
For its own sake indeed.
EIN BEITRAG ZUR CHRISTLICHEN HERMENEUTIK DES ALTEN TESTAMENTS, von Ludger Schwienhorst-Schönberger, Professor für Alttestamentliche Bibelwissenschaften an der Universität Wien. Read it here.