Why Not Lutheran Baptist?

oxymoronOr, why do Baptists want to be Reformed (as opposed to Calvinistic or particular), and why do Reformed Protestants present an object more attractive than Lutherans to Baptists?

These questions continue to bump and push around the mush in my mind, especially when I read folks like James White taking exception to Presbyterians who want to say that Reformed Baptist is something of an oxymoron, and then read the follow-up discussion over at Scott Clark’s blog. I understand how some may take the narrowing of Reformed identity to exclude Baptists as needlessly exclusive. Though I also can’t understand why no reviewer complained about the Dictionary of the Reformed and Presbyterian Tradition in America’s exclusion of Baptists from the scope of entries. (Mark Noll and I didn’t even include those Baptists who do baptize infants – Congregationalists.) I also understand that a Baptist might try to be covenantal in his understanding of redemptive history and still reject infant baptism.

What I don’t comprehend is how few seem to notice or take issue with the traffic for so long running between confessional Reformed and Baptists instead of between confessional Reformed and other confessional Protestants. Mind you, I enjoy the company of Calvinistic Baptists as much as the next Orthodox Presbyterian, and find all sorts of signs of health among those congregations known as Reformed Baptist.

But why are Lutherans chopped liver? Why, in fact, has Lutheran become in some Reformed circles almost as objectionable as the other l-word – “liberal”? One could actually argue that confessional Lutherans share as much in common with confessional Reformed as particular Baptists, and our history is even longer (though it obviously has some rough spots). Could it be the objections to Lutherans run along ethnic lines – dare we say the twentieth-century German problem that forced German-Americans in Pennsylvania to become “Pennsylvania Dutch”? Or is it a problem of liturgy and the triumph of John Owen and Banner of Truth among American Presbyterians as opposed to the liturgical traditions of the Reformed churches on the continent?

If the latter, then as is so often the case, the turning point in American Presbyterian history is 1741 and the anointing of George Whitefield as the Boy George of vital Calvinism. Odd though that no one called that Episcopal priest Reformed.

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  1. Posted January 8, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    You’ve nailed it, Lily. Stomped toes have never felt so welcome.

    But it’s not as if Reformed aren’t challenging the royal pedigree of the 1GA a la Edwards, etc. Scott Clark does exactly that in Recovering the Reformed Confession.

  2. Lily
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Zrim, thanks once again. It is good to know that my thinking wasn’t skewed, toes will survive, and that Reformed men are challenging Edwards and his revival. I never could understand the Puritan authors and the adulation for Edwards can be daunting. Looks like I need to add another author to my list (Clark), thanks.

    What is it with all the WSC flavored Reformed men? Whenever I start praying and asking God to please help me with some question, I often seem to end up with their articles, books, or listening to their lectures. My latest question seemed to land me reading DGH’s blog and now reading one of his books. Hmm… does this mean that I’m quite blessed or have I fallen into step with a bunch of simpatico rapscallions? :)

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