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Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

25 August 2005
  Pride and Prejudice Punditry:
Continuing the Carnival Conversation

I'm happy that Pr. Bloghardt enjoyed reading my previous "comical post" addressing the pride of Lutheran bloggers who submit their own work to the Lutheran Carnival of Blogs. Unfortunately, his funny bone seems to have been so tickled that he misunderstood, misinterpreted, or misapplied the serious underlying sentiment. So for a few paragraphs, I'll eschew intentional humor (except, according to the interpretation of individual readers, in the quoting of Bloghardt).

Especially I'd like to take up the idea I broached of "sanctified pride." Bloghardt latched upon the expression, saying, "'Sanctified pride?' Is that related to 'sanctified adultery?' I know! I know! It is it similar to 'sanctified idolatry?' It's related to 'sanctified-despising-of-preaching-and-His-Word' or 'sanctified coveting-the-approval-and-attention-of-others.' Right?"

Wrong. Sanctified pride is letting "your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matt 5:16)"; sanctified pride is "whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31)" [Emphasis added; note that "our" light is Jesus, the Light of the World and "our" good deeds are Christ working in us.]

Pride is not an action, but an attitude. Adultery is the physical expression of lust. The parallel of sanctified pride is not "sanctified adultery" but "sanctified sexual desire" (see Hebrews 13:4). Similarly, idolatry cannot be sanctified; it must be rooted out and destroyed. However, the desire to worship something is sanctified and given the correct Object of Affection by the Spirit, or we would preach to empty churches. Thus, as Bloghardt notes from the Small Catechism, the New Man created by Word and Spirit does not "despise preaching and the Word"; instead, he will "gladly hear and learn it."

Sanctified pride is boasting in Christ while living out one's God-given, God-blessed vocation. Saint Paul noted concerning his call, "As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. (2 Cor 11:10)" He wrote the Galatians, "Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (6:14)" Lest we think that this "boasting" is confined to the Office of the Holy Ministry, Hebrews 3:6 reminds us, "Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope."

Contrast the bragging of the world (see, as but two examples, Romans 3:27 or 1 Corinthians 5:6) with a boasting favored by God: Paul bragged about the believers several times in 2 Corinthians 7-9; he boasted about all God had shown him, given him, or allowed him to do in 2 Corinthians 12.

The difference appears to be whether pride (or boasting) is reflexive or reflective. That is, does it point to me, or does it point to what God has done or is doing (including, perhaps, in and through me)? Is it myself or selfless? Therein lies the rub.

I hope to speak carefully, so as not to wrongly judge or improperly ascribe motive, but over-concern with pride is not humility, since humility allows God to work and isn't overly worried about "what I do." I must be careful about humbling myself, never forgetting that only God can truly humble me.

Thus, in the context of blogging (finally!), we come back to the Carnival. May the New Man boast about Christ? Absolutely! Is he allowed (even encouraged) to provide guidance, direction, or reflection on topics sacred or secular? Certainly, especially if he has expertise or has properly utilized his God-given intellect. If one has a noteworthy confession of faith, should he invite people to listen, to read, and to discuss? Why not? Might he experience temptation to glory in self? Likely. Should this stop him? Should speaks the Law; if that's all he hears, the man should not continue, for it's the Old Adam standing front and center. However, if Christ stands in the forefront, the New Self taking refuge in His shadow, why hold back?

In Psalm 32, David commented on the damage we inflict upon ourselves when our confession of sins remains silent. God responded in verse 8, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." Yet how does he "instruct you and teach you"? Through the words of David! God allows us to experience the fullness of David's confession in this Psalm that it might also become our confession. Similarly, God still allows His faithful people to voluntarily confess the faith that others might believe and join the confession.

When surrounded and burdened by an iniquitous, unresponsive Judah, Jeremiah doesn't dwell on his own motivation but on the Word and the will of God: "My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent, for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. (4:19)" When you are surrounded by a wicked and adulterous generation, why seek an excuse to avoid furthering God's true Word — Law and Gospel?

The people are perishing. How can you not light the warning fires, ring the bells, and sound the alarm? Stand with Wisdom, inviting (through God's Word, as carefully blogged by you) the simple to enter her house and live. Let God work to keep you from adding your voice to that of Folly. Although pride in self as messenger (or top-rated blogger) certainly is a sin to confess, does fear of committing this sin cripple my pride in Christ and His message of reconciliation spoken through and written by me? May this never be!

Will your writings address evil, promote justice, or proclaim peace? Will they convict the unbeliever or instruct the righteous? Do they speak the language of the New Man both to your fellow redeemed and to the Old Adam? Why, then, withhold them from a larger audience?

If you're still wondering, ask yourself about your existing corpus bloggus: "Was it worth blogging once?" If so, it's worth blogging again. If not, delete it, shut down your blog, and seek some other way to brag about your Lord Jesus Christ. To paraphrase Paul in Philippians 2:12-13, "Therefore, my beloved … blog out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who blogs in you, both to will and to blog for his good pleasure."

(All Bible quotes ESV).

Ask not what blogging can do for you but what you can do for blogging.
It ought also to be reflected that, unlike "adultery" and "idolatry," the English word "pride" as two meanings, one sinful and one not. To forget that is to experience a profound distortion in one's theology on the subject.
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