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Interview with Lutheran Pastor Jordan Cooper of Just and Sinner Part 3 of 3

Pastor Jordan Cooper
Pastor Jordan CooperPastor Jordan Cooper

This interview was conducted over a week's period of time and was written in three parts. This is part three. See Interview with Pastor Jordan Cooper Part 1 for the beginning of this article and Part 2 to catch up to this last installment of the interview.

Pastor Cooper has been gracious to allow us an insight into his thinking and theology. It has been a pleasure to interview him.

This part of the interview concentrates a little more on what Martin Luther said, topics such as whether it’s okay for a woman to be a pastor, resources Pastor Cooper believes are important, and his current and upcoming work on his website. He mentions The Two Kinds of Righteouness with Dr. Joel Biermann as well as an interesting conference coming up in August. All the blue links refer the reader to new windows so the articles or podcasts can be seen. There is also an interview Pastor Cooper has done with Boars in the Vineyard on the Calvinistic TULIP which came out two weeks ago.

In regards to whether Martin Luther would have changed his mind about such things as the Sacraments, icons, and displaying a crucifix and would have reformed more, Luther himself wrote in part of what he considered his Last Will and Testament:

“Because I see that the mobs are always growing, the number of errors are always increasing and Satan's rage and ruin have no end, I wish to confess with this work my faith before God and the whole world, point by point. I am doing this, lest certain people cite me or my writings, while I am alive or after I am dead, to support their errors, as those fanatics, the Sacramentarians and the Anabaptists, have begun to do. I will remain in this confession until my death (God help me!), will depart from this world in it, and appear before the Judgment Seat of our Lord Jesus Christ. So that no one will say after my death, ``If Luther was alive, he would teach and believe this article differently, because he did not think it through sufficiently,'' I state the following, once and for all: I, by God's grace, I have diligently examined these articles in the light of passages throughout the Scriptures. I have worked on them repeatedly and you can be sure that I want to defend them, in the same way that I have just defended the Sacrament of the Altar. No, I'm not drunk or impulsive. I know what I am saying and understand fully what this will mean for me as I stand before the Lord Jesus Christ on the Last Day. No one should think that I am joking or rambling. I'm serious! By God's grace, I know Satan very well. If Satan can turn God's Word upside down and pervert the Scriptures, what will he do with my words -- or the words of others?” (Luther)

Pastor Cooper tells us more:

It’s completely bogus. It is very easy for us to say that if a certain figure had lived long enough they would have agreed with us, but there are really no grounds for doing so. This is especially the case with Luther who heard all of the same arguments used today against his views on the Sacraments and icons from the Zwinglians and Anabaptists. If the arguments did not convince him then, they would not have convinced him if he lived twenty years longer.” (Cooper)

Paradoxes are important for understanding God’s Word. Pastor Cooper says:

This is a hard thing for the Reformed to understand. The Bible is full of paradoxes, meaning that there are things in Scripture that seem contradictory but are not. We must accept those things as they are without trying to come up with a reason how these ideas work together. Logic is a good and God-given gift, but when we use our logic to explain away clear words of Scripture, we have a problem. (Cooper)

Moving onto the subject of the Office of the Keys, forgiveness by God through His pastors, he says:

The office of the keys is the idea that the pastors of Christ’s church have been called to forgive the sins of God’s people. We do not simply talk about some past event of forgiveness that God had given in the past, but we forgive sins in the present. This is testified in John 20, Matthew 16, and Matthew 18. One has to do some real exegetical gymnastics to get around the clear words of Jesus on this point.” (Cooper)

Discussing the ordination of women as a problem in some congregations, Pastor Cooper tells us God does not approve:

Paul tells Timothy that in a church setting he does not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man (1 Timothy 2.12). This is consistent with the fact that Jesus chose men to be his apostles, that God used kings rather than queens to rule Israel, and that the Priesthood was made up of men. The ordination of men rather than women into the pastoral office is also the historic Christian practice. Women have just as important of a role in the church as men do; their roles are simply different. To argue otherwise is to disagree with Scripture.” (Cooper)

Pastor Cooper has been interviewed by Boars in the Vineyard a couple times. When asked if they are a good resource for Christians, he said:

Both of the hosts of Boars in the Vineyard are good friends of mine: Pastor Daniel Price and Pastor Lewis Polzin. I highly recommend listening to their program. They deal with all sorts of important theological topics and trends in the contemporary church, and they are very fair in treating the beliefs of other traditions.”

In fact, today they put out a helpful podcast regarding the Third Use of the Law and discussed the Liturgical Calendar.” (Cooper)

Pastor Cooper began becoming a regular feature on Pirate Christian Radio where Chris Rosebrough has a two-hour show Monday through Friday. He remembers:

I started recording the podcast toward the end of 2012. I’m not sure when it began airing on Pirate Christian Radio. I remember receiving an email a couple months after I started recording where someone mentioned that they heard the program on PCR.” (Cooper)

An upcoming conference with Chris Roseborugh of Fighting for the Faith and the pastors who are with Boars in the Vineyard will be happening in August of this year. Pastor Cooper tells us more about it:

I am very excited about our upcoming conference. This is the first annual Pirate Christian Radio conference which is going to be held in Clinton, Iowa on August 14th and 15th. The speakers are myself, Chris Rosebrough, Daniel Price, and Curtis Leins. Lewis Polzin and Daniel Pool will be doing services at the beginning and end of the event.

The theme of our conference this year is “Shalom and the Means of Grace.” We are essentially talking about peace of conscience. The first day will deal with ways that people look for peace of conscience which in fact give no peace, and the second day we will be talking about how shalom comes through the means of grace.

The speakers are all going to be very good. Plus, it will be a great time of fellowship and you will get to meet all of us in one setting." (Cooper)

The Two Kinds of Righteousness has been a topic discussed recently by Pastor Cooper in an interview he did with Dr. Joel Biermann. When asked about 2KR and the debate about this teaching, Pastor Cooper said:

Two kinds of righteousness has been quite a hot topic of debate recently, and I think unnecessarily so.

2KR, as they call it, is the teaching that humans have two different kinds of relationships. There is a relationship that one has with God (corum Deo), and a relationship one has with the broader world (corum mundo). These two types of relationships function very differently.

Our relationship with God is a passive one, wherein God grants the righteousness of Christ to us freely. Here we are purely recipients. However, our relationship to the world is different. In the broader world, we do not merely receive, but we actually perform righteousness. We do this, not for our justification, but for the good of the world. Understanding the importance and distinction between both kinds of righteousness helps us to avoid both legalism and antinomianism.

Pastor Fisk has done a video on 2KR which explains it well and Dr. Joel Biermann, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary, has a three-part series where he teaches on it. Both are helpful resources and are easily accessible online for the public.” (Cooper)

He is still writing and has plans to complete a systematic theology. An interesting topic many are looking forward to is his writing on the differences of Reformed Theology and Lutheranism. Pastor Cooper explains:

I have another book on Theosis which is going to be published by them later this year, and I have also finished a book examining the differences between Lutheran and Reformed Theology. I am currently working on a systematic theology which is projected to be three volumes, though it will be some time before this is released. I have edited a number of books in the American Lutheran Classics series and I have others I would like to release in the coming years.” (Cooper)

There have been some debate going on about the third use of the Law, whether there is one and if so, how is it to be use. Pastor Cooper weighs in on the topic:

I have become quite a controversial figure over the last year due to my position on sanctification and the third use of the Law. Honestly, I am amazed that this debate even exists because it is so clear in the history of our tradition.

Essentially, I argue that sanctification is a process that grows throughout the Christian life, and that pastors should encourage their congregants to do good works. I would recommend looking at the sections on sanctification in any major Lutheran Dogmatics text such as that of Pieper, Hoenecke, or Schmid. The best modern work on the subject is WELS theologian Lyle W. Lange’s book Sanctification in the “People’s Bible Teaching” series." (Cooper)

When we discussed some things about The Two Kinds of Righteousness and legalism, he joked as he was once called an antinomian and a legalist in the same day:

It's true. I love legalism. I think it's evil to drink, wear pants if you are a woman, and especially listen to punk rock music." (Cooper)

Since Pastor Cooper reads so much, to get a good idea of what his upcoming reading list looks like for 2014, he says:

There are quite a few books I would like to read this year. I am going to be working through N.T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God which I imagine will take me a while to get through. I am currently reading some of the works of a relatively unknown American Lutheran theologian named Revere Franklin Weidner, and will be republishing some of these in the coming months. I would also like to read through all of Luther’s treatises on Holy Communion again this year.” (Cooper)

For those interested in Lutheranism and getting a grasp on what they believe, Pastor Cooper suggests the following:

The best introductory resources to Lutheranism are The Spirituality of the Cross by Gene Edward Veith.

Also, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church by G.H. Gerberding, and Lutheranism 101. If someone want to get more in-depth I would recommend reading Francis Pieper’s Christian Dogmatics, Adolph Hoenecke’s Evangelical Lutheran Dogmatics, or anything by Martin Chemnitz.” (Cooper)

This concludes the interview with Pastor Cooper.

Recommended Reading:

Iconoclasm: Carved images forbidden or allowed?
A journey from Baptist to Confessional Lutheranism: Interview with Andrew Taylor
The Bible proves Jesus Christ is God from the Old Testament and New Testament
Baptism for the Christian: Rebaptism is unbiblical
Interview with Lutheran Pastor Jordan Cooper of Just and Sinner Part 1 of 3
Interview with Lutheran Pastor Jordan Cooper of Just and Sinner Part 2 of 3

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You may visit Tamara’s blog: Daughter and Heir or follow her on Twitter @TamaraBlickhan

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J. Cooper (personal communication, February 2 - 9, 2014)