Now Lutherans Are Tightening My Jaws

Triumphalism is always bad but I never knew it was possible from Lutherans who generally keep the rest of us Christians honest with a tenacious theology of the cross. Anthony Sacramone picks up on Gene Veith’s post to argue for Lutheranism’s superiority to Reformed Protestantism. Since Anthony spent time at Redeemer NYC, he may not understand the difference between Reformed Protestantism and Calvinism, which explains his account of Reformed Calvinist strengths:

Calvinism, like other evangelical movements, offers new beginnings. Under powerful preaching, even the baptized come to believe they are starting a new life in Christ. Before they may have experienced, or been subjected to, dead religion with its rituals and liturgies, but now they have living faith — a personal relationship with the Risen Christ. They often mark their lives by the day they came to faith (which had nothing to do with water baptism) and how nothing was the same after that. We love the idea of the do-over. The Lutheran teaching of continual repentance does not have the same psychological effect (nor is it intended to).

Calvinism also offers some of the more potent expository preaching you will hear. Where are the Lutheran Spurgeons or Martyn Lloyd-Jones? Or, for that matter, Tim Kellers? The Law-Gospel paradigm in the pulpit does not lend itself easily to the kind of dynamism, for lack of a better word, often found in Reformed pulpits — preaching that often offers specific direction to the person in the pew, over and above repentance. Lutherans can roll their eyes at such preaching, but it is precious in the life of Reformed Christians, as far as sustaining their life of faith goes.

There is also the call to young men to (a) discipline themselves and (b) engage the culture. This can be very invigorating to young Christians. 2K theology reads too often like defeat in the public square — “Christ is for church on Sundays; at your humdrum job, just keep your head down, do your duty, be obedient, pay your bills, and wait until the Eschaton.” And double predestination, as horrifying as it is, at least makes a kind of logical sense and also has a role to play in motivating the baby believer: “God chooses whom to adopt. And since everyone born deserves to go to hell because of sin, we should be grateful he chooses to save anyone at all.” That’s actually comforting — if you’re convinced you’re one of the Elect. Then you can rest in the fact that you can never fall away, that your faith will never ultimately fail, that God has plucked you out of the garbage bin that is Gehenna* — and for a purpose: not only to grant you eternal life but also to glorify Him.

But how can I know I’m elect? Calvinists have no problem with the subjective element in faith. Romans 8: 16: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Read 2 Peter — it talks of believers making their calling and election sure. (It also talks of making “every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” Try and preach that in a confessional Lutheran church and you’ll be slammed for confusing law and Gospel.) The Lutheran doctrine of predestination makes little sense to most non-Lutherans: a monergism that also says you can lose your justification. Doesn’t the Scripture say that God will glorify all who are justified? Etc. Etc. That subjective element in Calvinism is then balanced by weighty tomes of systematic theology to exercise your noggin.

Odd, but almost none of this is Calvin. It may be Puritan and experimental Calvinist, or Tim Keller and New Life Presbyterian. But it is not the conviction or practice of the original Reformed churches.

Sacramone goes on to explain why folks burn out on Reformed Protestantism Calvinism and turn (like all about him) to Lutheranism:

1. They come to believe that limited atonement is simply not biblical. It may be the logical consequence of double predestination, but if the Faith were reasonable in that sense, where do you begin and end? What is “reasonable” about the Incarnation or the Cross?

2. The lack of ecumenicity (or even simple courtesy). Lutherans are often slammed for teaching closed communion, but it does not deny the name “Christian” to Arminians, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, or, for that matter, the Reformed. Many Reformed do not believe Catholics and Orthodox are Christians, because these communions embrace a false gospel. But that means the overwhelming majority of all Christians who have ever lived got it so wrong that they are almost certainly lost. Which leaves an Elect pool of about 11 people, relatively speaking. Then what constituted the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, for all those centuries before Calvin, Zwingli, Beza, Vermigli, et al.? For a communion that prizes logic, this doesn’t make a helluva lot of sense.

3. Endless debates and factions — including the paedo-/credo-baptism controversy. Now, Lutherans have seen their splits, too. Pietist vs. confessionalist. Mainline (ELCA) vs. “conservative” (LCMS, WELS, and others). But when you start debating whether God hated the reprobate before the Fall or only after the Fall, it’s time to go do something else with your life.

4. The sacraments, as they’ve been understood, again, by the overwhelming majority of all Christians throughout time: baptismal regeneration and the real bodily presence of Christ in the Eucharist**. (I would add auricular confession to an ordained minister/priest and absolution.) Calvinism has this gaping hole in its center — a hole that the Federal Vision folk have tried to address by “thickening” their concept of covenant baptism and the Real Presence, which has raised the ire of those who believe FV types have rejected key points of the historic Reformed confessions. (Google all of R. Scott Clark’s blog posts contra Doug Wilson, and also the Peter Leithart heresy trial.)

Well, if Jesus died for everyone, how about Esau, the Cannanites, the Perizites, the Hittites, and all the other tribes Joshua conquered?

Complaining about whether one Christian regards another as a genuine believer is not an index to ecumenicity, though it is common for experimental Calvinists to assess someone else’s profession as illegitimate (think Gilbert Tennent). Ecumenicity has to do with churches (even if the word has “city” in it and makes Redeemerites go knock kneed). For one example of Lutheran ecumenicity I suggest Sacramone check here.

The point about factionalism is a point that others who have come through Redeemer NYC have also made, though some of those wound up in the place where “real” unity exists, fellowship with the Bishop of Rome. But does Sacramone actually think Reformed Protestants have split over infra supralapsarian debates? If he meant to be funny, then hilarity it up.

And one more time he needs to read the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg, the Westminster Confession and Catechisms on the sacraments and get back to us on gaping holes.

The consolation is that this may not be the reflection of a real Lutheran since it exudes so much triumphalism. Makes me think Sacramone has not gotten Keller out of his system.

Share/Bookmark
This entry was posted in Adventures in Church History, Reformed Protestantism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

293 Comments

  1. The Mad Hungarian
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    This is mild stuff compared to some Lutheran Orthodox theologians that I have read. According to them, the Reformed are worse than Rome because we pretend to believe many of the same things that Lutherans do, hence the “crafty sacramentarian” moniker.

    The Reformed have tended to be much more appreciative of Lutheranism (while not overlooking our differences) than Lutherans have of Reformed theology.

    As I am sure you know, RSC has an article on this phenomenon in the US, “Calvin as Negative Boundary Marker in American Lutheran Self-Identity 1871–1934” in Sober, Strict, and Scriptural.

    I guess this is all to say that I’m not so surprised that a Lutheran would be confused about Reformed theology. But it is still maddening.

  2. kent
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Rosebrough put up a multi-part series on Colossians from a Lutheran perspective.

    The dude was frothing and calling Reformed theology all kinds of bad things.

    Disappointing, I was hoping to listen to more than 20 minutes of the first part of about 11 sermons…

  3. Posted November 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    “Well, if Jesus died for everyone, how about Esau, the Cannanites, the Perizites, the Hittites, and all the other tribes Joshua conquered?”

    Yes, Lutherans believe this.

    Mr. Hart – what would be the best book for a Lutheran who has evidently heard a lot of Reformed Protestants talk but not a lot of Calvinists?

    +Nathan

  4. Posted November 13, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I am a former Calvinist, now Lutheran pastor. I think Sacramone hit a lot of major points as to why a lot of Calvinists end up converting to Lutheranism like him and myself. However, this is largely due to the influence of the worst aspects of Puritanism in the contemporary Calvinist movement. I understand that not all of the Reformed fall into obsessive introspection and anti-sacramentalism, and am grateful that is the case. However, I do believe that this Puritanical form of Calvinism is in many ways the logical conclusion of Reformed theology. I tried to hold on to a Westminster West type of Reformed theology, from the likes of Horton et. al. However, I realized that I could not consistently hold to the objectivity of the Gospel and accept Limited Atonement.

    And if you didn’t know triumphalism was Lutheran, you haven’t read enough Lutherans. We can be pretty arrogant and derogatory toward those with whom we disagree in the same manner many Calvinists are.

  5. Posted November 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    For more on Lutheran’s views on unlimited atonement and predestination, this is an excellent source: http://justandsinner.blogspot.com/search/label/Predestination%20and%20Free%20Will

    Jordan Cooper is a super bright guy with a Reformed background, so he can probably handle nuances a bit more than Sacramone can.

    +Nathan

  6. Bob S
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I have enjoyed Veith’s titles on the arts, but I bought his Spirituality of the Cross expecting – according to some blurb I thought – to hear why he chose Lutheranism over the Reformed faith.
    Was disappointed that he didn’t mention it at all.

  7. Seth
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Pr. Cooper. Lutheran triumphalism is hardly new phenomena. Even great theologians such as Charles Porterfield Krauth toe that line (there are a few cringe-worthy sections of The Conservative Reformation and its Theology that come to mind).

    I do think that some may be a little thin-skinned here, however. To say that Sacramone’s piece is poorly defined is a fair criticism. To say it’s triumphalist? Maybe a bit far. I’ve read and re-read the piece and while I agree that it certainly suffers from misrepresentation, but triumphalism? Maybe you all are seeing more to that piece than I am. I see bullet points not back-patting.

    Let’s be fair: Sacramone plays fast and loose with labels, but what Confessional, Lutheran or Calvinist, hasn’t felt the lick of that lash? I can’t count how many times I’ve received emails from snarky Rad-Trad Romanists with YouTube videos of hideous ELCA or even Anglican(?) “services” with attached messages saying “Haw haw haw look what you Lutherans are doing now Haw haw haw!” My guess is that Sacramone would probably soil himself if anyone associated him with the ELCA (or perhaps I’m the only one whose bowels turn to water when put part and parcel with Priestesses and Her Church shenanigans[?!]). He knows better, or at least he should know better.

    Maybe I’m giving him too much leeway, but I also wonder if the reason why Sacramone confuses Calvinist with Reformed is because the piece that Dr. Hart posted was only an excerpt. The vocabulary (Calvinist, Presbyterian, even Lutheran) of that fragment was largely undefined (no offense intended, Dr. Hart). I’m a dried in the wool Gambleonian and am familiar with you, Dr. Hart, so I saw the distinctions, or at least was able to infer them, as did many others who are acquainted with your style. Not everyone, however, has that luxury. Even if that is the case, it’s still sloppy work.

    As for the comment above about Lutherans disliking Calvinists, I have to agree. I detest Calvinists, particularly Calvinists like my best friend, Adam Peterson, who is too damn smart for his own good. But we still can commiserate with each other as fellow Confessionals while we smoke our cigarettes and drink bourbon and beer. Furthermore, Confessional Calvinists are the only people than can come close to drinking me under the table. The Evangelicals are one-and-done-ers. The Eastern Orthodox just grin and fall asleep. And the Rad-Trad Romans take off their shirts, yell a lot, sing off key, cry, and then fall asleep. It’s usually the Confessionals who are still up by four am. *

    *I jest. Kind of.

  8. Seth
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    I should say that when I said “It’s still sloppy work,” I was referring to Sacramone, not Dr. Hart.

  9. kent
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    People hiding behind avatars of 16th century portraits of Puritans, and quoting Puritan works despite being high school dropouts, or barely much more than that, are highly suspect in Truly Reformed circles.

  10. Posted November 13, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    I was hoping you’d comment, Jordan!

    Sacramone got a bit bloggy there, to be sure. And I’ll ditto Jordan’s nostra culpa: Lutherans can be really acerbic, arrogant, and annoying.

    Other than that, which we all agree on…what’s the point here, Dr. Hart? I think your readership understands that the real differences which make communion between Lutherans and the Reformed do indeed stem from the gnesio-Lutheran insistence on the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and the Formula of Concord — symbolical writings which are equally impossible for any Reformed Christian to accept and any Lutheran Christian to abandon.

    What really separates our confessions are our divergent views of Ephesus and Chalcedon. We kind of think that you’re Nestorians. To whit:

    Is not, then, Christ with us even unto the end of the world, as He has promised?
    Christ is true man and true God: according to His human nature, He is now not upon earth but according to His Godhead, majesty, grace, and Spirit, He is at no time absent from us.
    But are not, in this way, the two natures in Christ separated from one another, if the Manhood be not wherever the Godhead is?
    By no means; for since the Godhead is incomprehensible and everywhere present, it must follow that it is indeed beyond the bounds of the Manhood which it has assumed, but is yet none the less in the same also, and remains personally united to it.

    Heidelberg Catechism; Questions 47, 48

    We’re not comfortable with that.

    Obviously I’m not telling anyone anything they don’t know (I don’t think), but it’s good to restate this: what really divides us is our understanding of what happened at Christ’s Ascension. Where did he go? Where is the “right hand of the Father”? Hermann Sasse’s words are apposite:

    The contradiction between Lutheran and Reformed positions has long been defined by the use of the philosophical axioms, finitum non capax infiniti, and finitum capax infiniti. If these axioms are properly understood — that is, simply as illustrations of different ways of looking at the revelation in the Scriptures, and not as philosophical principles underlying two systems of theology — they will serve to clarify the difference between the two churches on this point. While Reformed doctrine takes great pains to expound the Incarnation of the Son in such a way that time and eternity, finite and infinite, barely touch each other without ever becoming confused, the Lutheran Church teaches that, in the Incarnation, God has really entered humanity and the infinite has actually come down into the finite. (Emphases Sasse.)

    Hermann Sasse. Here We Stand: Nature and Character of the Lutheran Faith, trans. T. G. Tappert; Lutheran Publishing House, Adelaide; 1930. pp.152-153

    That’s it. The genus majestaticum. That’s the nutshell. In this you will find our divergent understanding of predestination, election, justification, the sacraments (especially viz. the Real Presence), et al. Think about it. I’ll get a little anecdotal, if you don’t mind — when people convert from Reformed Protestantism to Lutheranism for reasons other than severe spite for lampoonish caricatures of the former, it’s because of this. You believe in the real absence of Christ the Man, and we believe, with Luther, that “wherever you can say, ‘Here is God,’ you must also say, ‘Christ, the Man, is here too.’ And if you could point to a place where God is, and not the Man, the one Person would be nicely torn asunder; for then I would have to say, ‘Here is God who is not Man, and never was Man'” (WA XXVI, p. 332). It’s about the relation between the Two Natures of Christ and, by extension, the relation between creator and creation in toto. Everything else just flows from this.

    And as far as Esau and the Hittites go…I’ll take a swing, because I know Jordan will correct me if I say something stupid:

    Esau spurned the promise. All of the sons of Ham (the Canaanites, including the Hittites) continued in the sin of Ham, for which God visited wrath upon them, “punishing the children for the sin of the father to the third and fourth generation” of those who hated Him. Only among the sons of Shem (the Semites, specifically the Israelites) was a faithful remnant preserved by grace. And even they were often unfaithful. Cur alii, non aliis? We just don’t know.

  11. Posted November 13, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    I wish I could edit my comment.

    “…differences which make communion impossible…”

  12. Wholesome
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Kent: I’m going to hide behind avatars of 15th century portraits of Puritans. Wolfgang Musculus cut a nice profile.

    Trent Demarest: “We kind of think that you’re Nestorians.” Oddly enough, the Federal Visionists think so do. James Jordan once wrote a book called “Liturigical Nestorianism,” in fact. The funny thing is that I’ve seen Catholics and EOs look at history and claim that Calvinism tends to collapse into arian unitarianism. Samuel Clarke and John Adams came from somewhere, it seems.

  13. Posted November 13, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Jordan Cooper says: “I tried to hold on to a Westminster West type of Reformed theology, from the likes of Horton et. al. However, I realized that I could not consistently hold to the objectivity of the Gospel and accept Limited Atonement.”

    John Y: I don’t follow, can you explain further? Or, link to posts you have made concerning this issue. I am interested in reading further about this. When you say objectivity of the Gospel I am assuming you are meaning the Gospel you eat and drink during Sacramental feeding. How do you get from the atonement that Christ performed in history (for the elect alone in those who believe in limited or effectual atonement) to the Sacraments? There is probably a better way to ask the question. And if the atonement is universal how does it become effectual to only a limited amount of people because obviously not everyone gets saved (propitiated) from the wrath of God. And try to give me a answer with good Scriptural backing not just confessional statements.

  14. Posted November 13, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Seth says: “As for the comment above about Lutherans disliking Calvinists, I have to agree. I detest Calvinists, particularly Calvinists like my best friend, Adam Peterson, who is too damn smart for his own good. But we still can commiserate with each other as fellow Confessionals while we smoke our cigarettes and drink bourbon and beer. Furthermore, Confessional Calvinists are the only people than can come close to drinking me under the table. The Evangelicals are one-and-done-ers. The Eastern Orthodox just grin and fall asleep. And the Rad-Trad Romans take off their shirts, yell a lot, sing off key, cry, and then fall asleep. It’s usually the Confessionals who are still up by four am. *

    *I jest. Kind of.”

    John Y: Careful Seth, oldlifers drink in moderation and always with self-control. You might be labeled a hedonist due to your excess. I am enjoying Lutherans piping in here. They can be just as sarcastic and condescending as the Calvinists on this site. I was an LCMS confessional Lutheran for 3 years (and did become a member of the church I was attending) but had problems with the Lutheran view of the Sacraments, baptismal regeneration, universal atonement and their conception of faith and atonement that can be lost and not continue to propitiate. All this after dialoging with some on this site. I am all ears to the Lutherans doing battle with the Calvinists here.

  15. Seth
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    John, I’m not sure there is really any battle going on. If there is, I won’t be a part of it. As a hedonist, my battle is only with things that come in bottles. To paraphrase Tom Waits: the computer has been drinking, not me.

    You said: ” I was an LCMS confessional Lutheran for 3 years (and did become a member of the church I was attending) but had problems with the Lutheran view of the Sacraments, baptismal regeneration, universal atonement and their conception of faith and atonement that can be lost and not continue to propitiate.”

    Not to be snarky, but wouldn’t it have been easier just to write “I was an LCMS confessional Lutheran for 3 years but had problems with the basic tenants of Lutheran theology,” ? You could have saved yourself some time. 😉

  16. mark mcculley
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Mouw (a “shelf Calvinist”) and Sweeney (Lutheran) in their new book on the Suffering and Victorious Christ suggest that a Lutheran Christology is maybe what we need for a theology of suffering. Without the Lutheran reading of the “communication of the two natures”, they suggest, we are left with a Deity who cannot suffer as they think Deity should.

    I too worry about the macho, militant tone of us “Calvinists”. I (for one example) remain “hostile” to any Lutheran attempt to undermine the Chalcedon disstinction between creator and creature.

    Mouw/ Sweeney suggest that Nevin approached the Lutheran position on the need for God to be incarnate even if they were no sin. But they reference DGH on Nevin (p 146-149) to suggest that Nevin backed away because of His Reformed past and academic location. (p 52 in Mouw/ Sweeney)

    i think one of the most interesting parts of Hart’s biography of Nevin is the part about Hodge criticizing the idea of a general grace based on incarnation. What the Lutherans call “universal objective atonement” gets translated by the Reformed into “common grace”. This I think gets translated into “conditional covenant grace”.

    Barth–the only non-elect is Christ.
    Lutherans–all sinners are provisionally elect
    conditional covenant Calvinists–some non-elect sinners are provisionally in the covenant
    federal visionists (Doug Wilson)—some non-elect sinners are provisionally elect

    many folks: Barth modified by much talk of an “union” created by the Holy Spirit—Christ died for all, but the Spirit does the atonement by bringing some sinners to where they are in Christ.

    Notice that I got this far without talking about “sacrament”? I disagree with both Calvin and Luther that we are eating the humanity of Jesus Christ. From my angle, their differences on the nature of this nourishment are not very significant. I know that they are both saying that eating is something “more than” faith. Eating for them is not “sola fide”.

    I agree with Hart about there never having been a Reformed division about supralapsarian/infralapsarian. Though Hart has to live with his published error on Herman Hoeksema, the Protestant Reformed have always insisted that what they are saying about Kuyperianism is not ultimately about infra/supra. They welcome infras. See Engelsma’s reaction to Mouw on the order of the decrees in his debate book on “common grace”.

    Not that I feel good about the strident anti-supralapsarianism of books like Why I am Not an Arminian (By the two Covenant Seminary guys).

  17. Posted November 13, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Seth says: Not to be snarky, but wouldn’t it have been easier just to write “I was an LCMS confessional Lutheran for 3 years but had problems with the basic tenants of Lutheran theology,” ? You could have saved yourself some time.

    John Y: You will fit right in here, Seth. Although smiley face emoticons are frowned upon. I am just trying to be hospitable and give you the heads up on oldlife culture. I wasn’t sure I had problems “with the basic tenants of Lutheran theology” until dialoging with others about it and trying to think through those tenants. Or, you might just like to correct others writing skills. I might be interpreting wrongly. I often do. I still think the Lutheran doctrine of sanctification is more biblical than the view espoused by the Reformed confessions. And Lutherans are fun to hang out with- much more so than some Reformed and evangelicals.

  18. mark mcculley
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Jordan: I understand that not all of the Reformed fall into obsessive introspection …. However, I do believe that this Puritanical form of Calvinism is in many ways the logical conclusion of Reformed theology.

    mark: Why? If God has already imputed (or not) the sins of the elect to Christ, then why would being more or less a sinner make any difference to the question of assurance? The point of II Peter 1 is to say–before you even attempt to add virtue or works, first make you election sure by means of your calling by the gospel.

    Of course I could make a generalization like—I think Gilbert Meilaender in the December First Things is the logical conclusion of Lutherans who teach possible apostasy from being Christians. Meilaender is agreeing with the pope that, with some sins, you cannot be both sinner and justified at the same time. Mielaender is also insisting that non-Christians are doing some good things before God. He’s rejecting no condemnation for Christians, and he’s rejecting condemnation of the works of Mormons (and other non-Christian Republicans).

    Jordan, i could say that “logically” Meilaendar is where Lutheranism takes you. But I don’t think those kind of generalizations are very helpful. Better to talk (at least in your case) about how Westminster California taught you a provisional grace in the covenant whereby the clergy could announce —“for you”.

    But to respond quickly to your suggestion that those of us Calvinists who are not puritans should be puritan, if only we were bright enough to be as logical as you. I reject the kind of “experimental Calvinism” which attempts to make its calling and election sure by means of working and not sinning (too much). How can works prove anything if we don’t know if the worker even believes the gospel? Who is the one “who does the will of God” in the Sermon on the Mount, if it’s to workers that Christ says, ” I never knew you.”

    I agree with Walter Marshall (the Gospel Mystery of Sanctification) and a minority of Calvinists who point out that II Peter 1 teaches that we have to make our calling and election sure in order to even know if the “additions” are acceptable and pleasing to God.

    Were we called by a gospel which conditioned our being given immortality in the end on our having works and growing away from sin? Or were we called by the true gospel which says that we must be accepted by God in Christ’s righteousness before we can do anything good before God?

    The experimentalists are careful to say that their works are the evidence of Christ’s work in them. (As NT Wright, who is not worried about his salvation but about saving the rest of us from not knowing what he knows, explains—the Holy Spirit is now doing the works in us so that we will be justified one day.)

    And it’s good for business ( and a certain notion of ethics) that none can know how that will work out. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/march/anxious-about-assurance.html

    Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

    3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

  19. Posted November 13, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    John, I would recommend listening to the dialogue I had on The Confessing Baptist with Jeffrey Johnson. I touched on some of these issues there: http://justandsinner.blogspot.com/2013/09/dialogue-with-reformed-baptist-pastor.html

  20. Posted November 13, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Us centrist type Lutrens think the sacraments are what we need to look to for assurance. We believe that’s why Christ commanded them.

    We don’t think it;’s such a hot idea to look inward at one is doing, or how one feels about it all to know whether one is of the elect or not.

    We believe we are about the least religious of all Christian denominations…or Christian what have yous. Because we look to the external Word (which includes the sacraments) alone.

    I think this is where we differ with our Reformed brethren.

  21. mark mcculley
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    A A Hodge: “It does not do to say this presence is only spiritual. If it means that the presence of Christ is not something objective…., then it is false. If it means that Christ is present only by His Spirit, it is not true, because Christ is one person and the Holy Spirit is another person…It is a great mistake to confuse the idea of presence with nearness in space…Presence is not a question of space. Presence is a relation.” (Theology, Banner of Truth, p 356)

    Now, why can’t you Lutherans and Reformed play nice? It’s not a question of the Spirit bringing humanity up or down, or of ubiquity in space. Proclaim together—it’s a question of time and relation. And then join hands before anyone attempts to explain any thing more, and then you can all think (or not) whatever you like. This is not rational—it’s touching and swallowing, and if anybody disagrees with you about that, then they deny the incarnation and are going to hell. This is not mere doctrine. It’s discipline. The eating creates the true church….

    https://www.academia.edu/185285/Why_Luther_is_not_Quite_Protestant_The_Logic_of_Faith_in_a_Sacramental_Promise

  22. Posted November 13, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    It sounds like you are saying above that the Lutheran position of the two natures allows for the suffering of Christ’s divinity. This was taught by the kenoticists but was rejected by the Lutheran Orthodox. The communication of attributes is from Christ’s divinity to his humanity, not the other way around. And your description of Lutherans as believing that all are provisionally elect is confusing. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by that, but that is not language I’ve ever heard a Lutheran use.

    Regarding my statement about the extent of the atonement, as a Calvinist, I struggled with the question of assurance. I was pointed to the cross but kept bumping up against the question: how do I know that Christ’s death is for me? To know that Jesus died for me, I had to look to myself, to see evidence of my election. When looking into myself, I couldn’t help but compare myself to others. Whatever evidence of faith I seemed to have was also evidenced by some I knew who supposedly had faith, and then fell away. So I was left with the question of whether I had true or false faith, and ultimately the reality of Christ’s death was dependent upon the genuineness of my faith. I know that people will say that faith does not look to itself, but looks to Christ. But how, in reality, can I possibly do that if Christ may not have died for me?

  23. mark mcculley
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    hell again, jordan

    1. I was merely reporting on Mouw’s book, not taking sides. I am a baptist pacifist, not Reformed, and I don’t like the macho approach of many baptists and Reformed. If we really believe in effective atonement, we don’t need to prove that we are elect by taking over (or participating in) the “other kingdom” and ruling and killing in God’s place. (I assume you have read Nevin, Mercersburg)

    2. I take your point about the “provisionally elect” phrase. The only people who use that language straight out are “federal visionists” . John Frame writes some about “two kinds of election” but only folks like Doug Wilson write about becoming non-elect (being in Christ and then not).

    So my question for you, Jordan, not to make you speak for all other Lutherans, but for yourself. Were any of those who will perish on the last day elect? Will all the elect be given the everlasting life of the age to come? Of course if you need to explain/ define election to answer that question (which Hart asked above), feel free.

    Remember again that I am not Reformed, and do not speak for them, although I have read some of their books and know a few.

    If you don’t go the introspection route, you could agree with the clergyman telling you–this is for you. But then again, does you being there to hear that mean that you are in the you?

    Two other possible routes. One, go one step further. yes, I know He died for everybody. but so what? Maybe you are one of those many for whom He died who will nevertheless perish?

    Two, you could look where I look— to the righteousness revealed in the gospel. Instead of thinking that the faith given you is the righteousness, listen to the gospel which says that Christ’s death for the elect is the righteousness, and that the imputation of that righteousness results in faith and justification.

    Faith is not imputed. Christ’s righteousness (His doing to death) is imputed. All the sins of the elect were counted by God to Christ.

    You don’t believe this gospel? You don’t think this is the gospel? You think faith is the gospel? If so, then election is of no importance to you Nor is it the death of Christ which ultimately matters to you. Many for whom Christ died will perish, you think, so that cannot give you assurance about the last day.

    That of course does not answer questions about how people like me with this gospel have any assurance. But begin with the fact that you don’t believe this gospel.

    So what’s the solution for you? I think it must be that sacramental human instrument telling you—for you….

    We are agreed, Jordan, against those puritans. They are ‘situationists”. If you get too depressed by your sins, they tell you to “look outside yourself to Christ.” But in a different situation (the next day after the party), they tell you–look inside to see if you are looking to Jesus. Either way, clergy power play…

    Peter looked down at the water to check to see if he was still looking to Jesus.

  24. Posted November 13, 2013 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    I think I speak for all of us — Lutheran, Reformed, et al. — when I say that none of what you just said makes enough sense for anyone to agree or disagree with.

  25. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    On the contrary, mega-dings for McMark on that one.

    (But this coming from another Reformed TULIP-sniffing pacifist anabaptist.)

  26. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    McMark: “Two other possible routes. One, go one step further. yes, I know He died for everybody. but so what? Maybe you are one of those many for whom He died who will nevertheless perish?”

    This in particular. While casting my weary eye over the Rhine’s stormy banks, I found this characteristic of the general atonement to have a complete non-appeal. “As Lutherans, we can tell everyone that Christ died for them!” Yeah, well, a lot of good that does the guy in hell.

  27. Wholesome Severity
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    Mark: About “those puritans,” keep in mind that what people in church circles call “puritans” is a select canon of works. They do represent some great minds, but they are a careful selection that reflects the experientialism. This canon of “the puritans” started with the Whitefield side of Methodism, passed into English nonconformity with Spurgeon, and were revived by MLJ, Packer and BoT. If you dig around in online book archives, you can find plenty of Puritan works that don’t fit this mold. The books on church government, politics, sacraments, Ramism, covenant theology and any number of topics don’t get reprinted. I don’t think it is fair to judge English Reformed theology based on the selective memory of revivalists hoping to stick the library of Baptist ministers.

    Darryl: It should be pointed out that nobody sees TKNY as an exemplar of classical Reformed dogma or practice. Not me, not you, not even TK himself.

  28. Alberto
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 4:05 am | Permalink

    There is plenty more to tighten your jaws over. If any Reformed Christian has seen YouTube videos by Jonathan Fisk, an LCMS pastor, touching upon Reformed Christianity, they will know why I said this. This is part of the reason I don’t understand how some Reformed people play nice with Lutherans; it really does come across as selective.

    As a side-note, when it comes to using images of God, evangelicals and Lutherans tend to agree; but evangelicals might feel uncomfortable with the use of a crucifix as I once saw from the president of the LCMS.

    Beside the Canaanites (I think Darryl’s spelling, “Cannanites,” is incorrect) and Esau, Darryl should have added Judas, the son of perdition, to the list. Interestingly, the NIV says, “None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” The NASB says, “I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” So there is someone in history we know with certainty was doomed to destruction before being born and was necessary to be thus or else the Scripture would not be fulfilled.

  29. Alberto
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    One more thing. It is interesting to hear people say Jesus died for every human being; I guess they include all those that died without saving knowledge of the true God up to the time of Christ. In other words, they think Jesus died even for those who died in a condemned state before Jesus said “It is finished” and died on the cross.

    Sounds odd as well to simply say “Jesus died for you” and not “Jesus rose for you.” If Jesus did not rise for you, he most certainly did not die for you.

  30. Posted November 14, 2013 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Nathan, are you saying that Lutherans believe Jesus died for Esau?

  31. Posted November 14, 2013 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Jordan, you’re going to have to connect the dots between objectivity of the gospel and denial of limited atonement. I thought I believed in the objectivity of the gospel and I cringe at obsessive introspection. So how am I inconsistent? Please, no logic lessons.

  32. Posted November 14, 2013 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Seth, the problem with Sacramone is that he views Tim Keller as representative of Reformed. That makes me wonder how well he understands Lutheranism.

    I know some Lutherans and some are good friends. But I don’t pretend to understand Lutheranism’s nooks and crannies. Sacramone spends several years at Redeemer and now he can tell us what’s wrong with Calvinism (while praising Keller)? Hey, what gives?

  33. Posted November 14, 2013 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Trent, if you are right that it all comes down to the meaning of the incarnation — or how we parse the two natures of Christ — then isn’t Sacramone a bit of a cad to bring up infra and supralapsarian disputes as the basis for endless divisions among Calvinists? I don’t necessarily disagree with your understanding of the difference, but to hang everything — election, justification, the sacraments — on the two natures or the abiding ubiquity of Christ seems presumptuous. (Do Calvinists really disagree with Lutherans on justification? News to me.)

    If you claim finally you don’t know about the sons of Shem’s faithfulness, you do know with absolute certainty where Christ is?

    And if you think Sasse is right about the infinite and the finite, that the finite has come down to the infinite in such a way different from the Reformed, then how do you avoid the cheap sacramentalism that says the whole world is a sacrament or the providential history that you likely learned to distrust from a certain Reformed elder who teaches history at Hillsdale? I mean, I read Luther on the differences between the inner and external, between glory and the cross, in ways that suggest the infinite cannot be identified all that certainly with the finite, without committing some great errors of historical and theological judgment — as in a theology of glory.

    So who are you gonna believe?

  34. mark mcculley
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    McMark: “Two other possible routes. One, go one step further. yes, I know He died for everybody. but so what? Maybe you are one of those many for whom He died who will nevertheless perish?”

    Dnaiel: I found this characteristic of the general atonement to have a complete non-appeal. “As Lutherans, we can tell everyone that Christ died for them!” Yeah, well, a lot of good that does the guy in hell.

    Mark: Of course it’s not only Lutherans who attempt to shift the problem of assurance in this way. The same question can be asked of most Reformed clergy these says–in your preaching, you keep talking about Christ having died for us all, but you also don’t think you can be certain you are elect because it still seems to depend on your having persevered in your project of “progressive sanctification”.

    I am waiting for Jordan to answer my question about election.

    When preaching the gospel, what does John Piper say different from Scott Clark?

    When preaching the gospel, what does Rod Rosenbladt (Lutheran) say different from Mike Horton (subscribed confessionally Reformed)?

    If “limited atonement” is only in your books but not in your preaching, what difference does it make for the grammar of justification?

    Hart seems anxious about baptists wanting to be Reformed. Does he ever worry about the Reformed wanting to be Lutheran?

    First, the 2k approach to Hitler. Second, the two covenants (Abraham and Moses, Moses and the new) are different but still part of the “one covenant of grace”.Third, the two kingdoms are different (Jesus as redemptive mediator, Jesus as mediator of conditional covenant creation grace), but continue to have the one same mediator. .And since we can’t be certain who’s in the invisible, we don’t need to relate election and covenant in terms of the visible church, as they are ultimately one church.

    What is it then that the Reformed have that the Lutherans don’t also have?

  35. mark mcculley
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Severity: About “those puritans,” keep in mind that what people in church circles call “puritans” is a select canon of works. They do represent some great minds, but they are a careful selection that reflects the experientialism. This canon of “the puritans” started with the Whitefield side of Methodism, passed into English nonconformity with Spurgeon, and were revived by MLJ, Packer and BoT. If you dig around in online book archives, you can find plenty of Puritan works that don’t fit this mold. The books on church government, politics, sacraments, Ramism, covenant theology and any number of topics don’t get reprinted. I don’t think it is fair to judge English Reformed theology based on the selective memory of revivalists hoping to stick the library of Baptist ministers.

    mark: Amen to all that. Banner of Truth selectively finds what it wants. Cotton and Sibbes are not the same as Edwards and the “experimentalists”. On top of that, BOT edits out of Pink what it doesn’t like, and promotes Wesley and Baxter, excusing their false gospel as a contextually necessary corrective to what they call “antinomianism”. And the Confessional Reformed, though they find more comfort in sacrament and clergy absolution, do not go out of their way to challenge the self-righteousness of the Paul Washers of our present time. A little legalism is just the “balance” we perhaps need…

    And as Gary North pointed out long ago, BOT carefully avoids seeing the Christendom political presuppositions in most of these writers, not least in John Owen. It’s like David VanDrunnen attempting to talk about “natural law” without noticing that 2kers like Luther and Calvin used the magistrate to enforce what they thought needed to be done.

    The two key books to read in beginning to see the complexity here:

    Theodore Dwight Bozeman, The Precisionist Strain–Disciplinary Religion and Antinomian Backlast in Puritanism to 1638, unc, 2004

    Janice Knight, Orthodoxies in Massachusetts; Rereading American Puritanism, Harvard, 1994

  36. Posted November 14, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    D.G. Hart,

    “Nathan, are you saying that Lutherans believe Jesus died for Esau?”

    Absolutely. And I have never met a serious Book of Concord Lutheran who does not believe that. Now, we could tell a person that Christ’s death is of no avail to them, but that would be because repentance is not present, not because Christ did not die for them. Nor does it always make sense to tell people this – Jesus’ words about pearls before swine come to mind. They are not ready to hear – or to keep getting to hear – such good news that is of absolutely no relevance to them.

    As for our differences, it is very difficult for me to think that Trent is not right about Christology, but perhaps I do not understand: can we say that it is *intrinsically* true of the concrete person of Jesus Christ that He is God become man and man become God (the God-man) for the sake of sinners? And if we can say this, why can we or should we do so?

    As for history, Luther helpfully says “Indeed, one could very well say that the course of the world, and especially the doing of his saints, are God’s mask, under which he conceals himself and so marvelously exercises dominion and rustles about in the world”. The German Lutheran theologian Oswald Bayer fleshes out what this means for us a little bit more:

    “The course of this world and that of their own lives are so concealed even from those who area justified by faith they cannot conceive or experience the divine and the human concern for the world as a harmonious relationship. This ambiguity extends even to the works of the justified done in the new obedience. But this does not mean that they are arbitrary. The fact that we cannot penetrate the web of motives behind our actions, and fail to foresee, let alone predetermine, their results, should not prevent the concern and the basic needs of our neighbors and our fellow creatures from showing us plainly enough what we ought to do. ‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might!’ Those whom God justifies ‘will always be content to do what lies at hand today.’ They must not seek to ‘master and control what things and relations will be in the future.’ … The justified advance no claims to totality in what they do. On the contrary, they can be extremely skeptical about such claims because their justification does not depend on success. They are not condemned to success.”

    However, I would say that although the Christian can never have an air-tight, rational “comprehensive theory of world history” where he can “assure himself about the meaning of the whole” that his old Adam desires, faith, rooted in the loving God revealed in Christ who desires all men to be saved, nevertheless believes this to be the case: all is not meaningless in Christ, but all is rendered meaningful and redeemable. Though there is a danger of making the “intolerable tolerable” [by] show[ing] that suffering has meaning” to a person who simply needs to mourn and lament, we cannot deny this fact which, in the proper context, can comfort us later on. Whatever evil or good may have passed beforehand, the Christian may trust that God has ordered his days, and that now is the time when the “greatest good” – even in the midst of lamentation – can occur for the salvation of the whole world, including oneself. So faith both “frees us from this concern” of assuring ourselves about the meaning of the whole, and assures us that in, with, and through Christ, everything is meaningful.

    Though Bayer does not express this same conclusion his statement here is helpful: “Do not think that you first have to look at the total plan and progress of the world, if you are to know what actions will now make sense, and where they will lead” . Rather, as Luther says, “whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might” – the passive righteousness of faith is mighty and active with the good things God gives it to do – even mourning, wailing, and lamenting in and for the dire state of God’s creation.

    +Nathan

  37. Posted November 14, 2013 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Trent,

    It took me awhile to understand where Mark was coming from too. However, I persevered in reading a lot of his posts and finally saw that his position was different from both the Lutherans and Calvinist’s. Instead of the Sacraments applying the benefits of Christ’s death to the elect, it is the legal delaration to the ungodly that they are imputed with the work of Christ when placed into his death (no water in Romans 6:1-3) that makes the ungodly, godly (imputed with righteousness). As Paul stated in Romans chapter 4- God brings things into existance from nothing. God’s legal declaration applies the benefits of Christ work and then Christ sends the Spirit to the believer to produce the faith which results in justification. The ultimate cause of justification is the imputation of righteousness when God the Father places the elect into Christ’s death. The Spirit is life BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (Romans 8:10). Luther and Calvin did not agree about when union with Christ took place. Luther- union takes place by sacramental feeding (Christ is in the Sacrament); Calvin- union takes place by the Spirit which is aided by sacramental feeding (the Spirit brings the elect into the heavenlies). Mark- God the Father places the elect legally into the death of Christ which produces the spiritual union. I might add that others have said this very thing too.

    At least that is my interpretation of what Mark has been saying and I might be wrong in some of my interpretations.

  38. mark mcculley
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    hart: he views Tim Keller as representative of Reformed. That makes me wonder how well he understands Lutheranism.

    mark: i wonder which living persons Hart thinks are representative of the Reformed. Certainly not Paul Helm or David Engelsma. Would it be somebody who talks about law vs gospel but never about election or atonement for the elect (Tullian Graham) or would it be somebody who says that the law-gospel antithesis is over for you once you are united to Christ (Gaffin) or would it be….

    there is a rumor going around that Machen has died. Where are the warrior children?

    Forde openly rejected a penal reading of the atonement, therefore he is not representative of the Lutheran past, but then who is, if not the early (Finnish) Luther or the pre-Melancthon Osiander-ian Luther (faith is the indwelling Christ, faith is counted for the righteousness) or…

    oh wait, Walther is also dead…

    http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var2=779

  39. mark mcculley
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    hart: you claim finally you don’t know about the sons of Shem’s faithfulness, you do know with absolute certainty where Christ is? And if … the finite has come down to the infinite in such a way different from the Reformed, then how do you avoid the cheap sacramentalism that says the whole world is a sacrament

    mark: Very good questions! Speaking of “providential history”, it’s not only the Reconstructionists doing that now. The Mormons also have “providential history” conferences, so if Mohler has a synagogue sermon (speech) for the Mormons, so can all other Reformed who can inductively find the good and the bad from “what’s happening now”…..

    http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/window-faith-latter-day-saint-perspectives-world-history/22-providential-history-need-conti

    Some say Christ is the one and only Sacrament, but that still sounds too “cheap”. No sacraments at all. The commands for water and remembering are not “sacraments”.

  40. B
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Nathan,

    Have you read John Owen’s “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ?”

    Owen goes quite in depth explaining how the historically Arminian position of “Christ died for everyone but his death is of no avail to everyone” is a denial of Christ’s own claims and a denial of the sufficiency and efficacy of Christ’s death and resurrection.

    The Reformed position has long been that all who Christ died for are in fact saved. None whom the Father gave the Son, the same for whom Christ died, can be lost. If Christ died for all and all are not saved than Christ is not all powerful and “part” of His death is meaningless and purchases nothing.

    A question for you Nathan: If Christ died for all (meaning all people in all time), what did he die for…for all? Was it their sin?

  41. Posted November 14, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Nathan, I’m not going to pretend to exegete Scripture, but passages like John 6 about the relationship between the work of Christ and the Father certainly give some plausibility to the idea that Christ died for the elect — the ones God predestined. If you don’t believe in predestination (which you do, I thought), that’s one thing. But if you do, it seems you’re in the limited atonement ballpark and have to do some ‘splaining to watch another ballgame. Not saying you can’t do that. But just saying that limited atonement is not as repugnant as Sacramore may think — I mean is predestination or hell or the fall of man because of eating a piece of fruit a walk in the park, not to mention God hating Esau?

    But how your understanding of Christology leads directly to the hiddenness of God I don’t get. On the one hand, you want to say that we see God in the incarnation (which a lot of sacramentalists say, not to mention some off the reservation neo-Calvinists). On the other hand, you want to retain the hiddenness of God so that we can’t see divine purposes. It seems to me that the extra Calvinisticum of Reformed soteriology provides a check on all attempts to overread the incarnation and may even preserve the hiddenness of God better.

    Doesn’t make it true or debatable. But also not sure it can be dismissed as easily as some eager Lutheran confessionalists are (who I guess throw Melanchthon under the bus). How Genesio of you.

  42. mark mcculley
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    B: If Christ died for all (meaning all people in all time), what did he die for…for all? Was it their sin?

    mark: Many “reformed” in our day tell us that Christ died for many reasons. One reason, to make an offer to everybody and then to condemn them if they don’t accept the offer (because they had their chance). But we all are already condemned, and the gospel is not the law, so Christ did not need to die for anybody to be condemned.

    b asks the exact question: if not to make them an offer they will refuse, was it for their sin?

    which is it?

    Jesus died so that we would not (have to)?

    Jesus died so that nobody (not even those who had already died, Judas) would (have to)?

    Jesus died so that the elect would not (period)

  43. Posted November 14, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    McMark: “i wonder which living persons Hart thinks are representative of the Reformed. Certainly not Paul Helm or David Engelsma.”

    I can’t speak for DG, but for my money this is part of what OL’ers are arguing for. Individual persons are not representative of “the Reformed.” Churches are. That’s why we have confessions. Persons are quirky, weak, idiosyncratic, foolish, lapsy, easily distracted (speaking of which, are the Colts playing tonight? I can’t remember)

    Confessions are ecclesiastical documents, reviewed, recorded, revised, open to debate. I don’t need to submit, except in the most general sense of Eph. 5.21, to some pastor in New York, Geneva, Zurich, or elsewhere with whom my ecclesiastical relationship is tenuous. But I do submit to the confessions and their officers to the extent that they represent Scriptural teaching accurately. And if they don’t, they can be changed. Put no confidence in princes.

  44. Posted November 14, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Dr. Hart:

    “But just saying that limited atonement is not as repugnant as Sacramore may think — I mean is predestination or hell or the fall of man because of eating a piece of fruit a walk in the park, not to mention God hating Esau?”

    No – we think limited atonement is repugnant. I am also surprised that you would trivialize the Fall to “eating a piece of fruit”. Obviously, much more is behind that.

    “On the one hand, you want to say that we see God in the incarnation.”

    First of all, forgive me if I am implying too much here, but it seems to me that this statement seems to be an indirect answer to my question “can we say that it is *intrinsically* true of the concrete person of Jesus Christ that He is God become man and man become God (the God-man) for the sake of sinners”, but correct me if I am wrong.

    “On the other hand, you want to retain the hiddenness of God so that we can’t see divine purposes.”

    We certainly can see clearly all that God has revealed in the Scriptures, but that is it. No extra Calvinisticum required for that.

    “not sure it can be dismissed as easily as some eager Lutheran confessionalists are (who I guess throw Melanchthon under the bus). How Genesio of you.”

    Actually, the best history that we have shows us that it was actually Melanchton who threw Flacius et al. under the bus, but Magdeburg survived http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/on-with-the-reformation-circa-1550-the-under-appreciated-matthias-flacius-illyricus-part-i-of-iii/

    +Nathan

  45. mark mcculley
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Noe: Individual persons are not representative of “the Reformed.” Churches are. That’s why we have confessions. Persons are quirky, weak, idiosyncratic, foolish, lapsy, easily distracted

    mark: amen. As hart wrote in the original post above–“Complaining about whether one Christian regards another as a genuine believer is not an index to ecumenicity…. Ecumenicity has to do with churches (even if the word has “city” in it and makes Redeemerites go knock kneed).”

    Not looking for some “great man” to be so important that he can’t ever retire. Not even needing some “great church”, merely one where the good news of Christ’s death for elect sinners is taught and believed.

    Maybe Greg Thornbury will succeed Tim Keller. I hear he lives nearby.

    For God to remove the candlestick from a church is not the same as God removing the candlestick from “the church”….

  46. Posted November 14, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink
  47. mark mcculley
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Nathan, I appreciate your desire to talk Christology. Can you tell me if the divine nature of Christ died or was it only the human nature which died? Don’t be Nestorian while you avoid the “Calvin extra”.

    Or maybe you don’t think Jesus Christ really died, what with the “infinite” suffering and all. And since there is no space where the humanity is not, does that mean that there will be no second coming of Jesus to earth?

  48. Posted November 14, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Nathan (we can dispense with the titles): I wasn’t trivializing the fall. I was hanging the weight of the fall on the act of eating a piece of fruit. If you read the Bible from an outsider’s perspective, you might wonder about the heinousness of that sin. I mean, think of Joe Paterno. There you have a sinner.

    I believe Jesus is God and man. But you want to make a debatable point of Christology to be the reason to find Reformed Protestantism repugnant? Disagree if you want, explain the error all you want. But you and Trent are hanging a lot on that one construction. Does central dogma come to mind?

    And the point about repugnance is that if you find limited atonement repugnant, you might open your own teaching up to that charge. Think of the outsider.

    But since you’re a Protestant, how about arguing from the Bible?

  49. Posted November 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    mcmark and David, I’d actually say that representative Reformed persons are delegates and commissioners to assemblies and synods of Reformed churches.

  50. Posted November 14, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    The Lutheran Confessional tradition has historically referred only to those who are finally saved when using the term “elect.” Samuel Huber taught that all men are elect, but this position was rejected by Hunnius and consequently the rest of Lutheran Orthodoxy. The only Dogmatician who allowed for universal election who I’m aware of after that point is the southern Lutheran A.G. Voigt (whose Dogmatics I recently republished). We speak of a universal saving will in God, but that is not identified as election. God’s saving will is universal, but election is particular. However, with that being said, we would not attribute one’s non-election to God’s decree, but merely to the rejection and unbelief of the sinner.

    You asked what the difference in gospel preaching would be between Horton and Rosenbladt. There is one important distinguishing mark in Lutheran preaching ans that is the two words “for you.” In Reformed preaching, Christ’s death is certainly preached, but I don’t have the assurance that he died for me.

  51. Posted November 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Because I am lazy, I am going to submit what I consider to be the simplest and best (Occamists might find that redundant) explanation of the difference between Calvinist and Lutheran soteriology. Yes, this might fall short because it is not specifically Reformed Protestant, but perhaps it will provide a good springboard for further discussion in which that distinction might become clearer for us Lutheran bears of little brain (speaking of myself and Seth, whom I know — not Pr. Cooper, whom I know to be a more intellectual bear, nor the other Lutherans in this thread, whom I plain don’t know at all).

    Maybe in this further discussion, we can avoid dropping more than one out-of-context name per post of a theological heavyweight from one of our respective confessions 😉 With that said, obviously feel free to keep dropping TK’s name every other sentence…

    “Why Justification By Faith Is Not Quite Protestant,” by John Halton

    In a comments thread over on iMonk, Fr Al Kimel recommended a lecture by Phillip Cary (PDF) on the difference between Luther and Calvin in their understanding of “sola fide”.

    Having now read this lecture, I’m deeply grateful to Fr Kimel for the recommendation. It is a belter, especially the section in which Cary compares the standard Protestant understanding of sola fide with the more sacramental and catholic understanding of Luther.

    Cary, himself an Anglican, begins by pointing out that, while Luther and Calvin both taught that we are justified by faith alone (“sola fide”), there are fundamental differences in their understanding:

    [W]hen the rubber hits the road and it’s a question of how we stand before God, Luther typically thinks of a different set of Scriptural promises than Calvin does, a set of distinctively sacramental promises, which have a different logic from the kind of promises Calvin and most other Protestants think about when they speak of the promises of the Gospel.

    Cary summarises the usual Protestant approach to the promises of the gospel with what he terms “the Standard Protestant Syllogism”:

    The Standard Protestant Syllogism
    Major Premise: Whoever believes in Christ is saved.
    Minor Premise: I believe in Christ.
    Conclusion: I am saved.

    What this leads to is a requirement for “reflective faith”. This syllogism requires us not only to believe, but to know we believe. The conditionality of the major premise means that “I am in no position to say the Gospel promise is about me until I can say, ‘I believe’”. Hence for most Protestants, being able to profess conscious belief is “a really big deal”.

    Luther’s syllogism, as identified by Cary, is strikingly different:

    Luther’s Syllogism
    Major premise: Christ told me, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
    Minor premise: Christ never lies but only tells the truth.
    Conclusion: I am baptized (i.e., I have new life in Christ).

    The major premise is not only a word of Scripture, but is also “a sacramental word”, spoken to each of us personally by Christ, through the pastor, at our baptism. Hence it is not only a word of Christ in general, but “the word of Christ spoken to me in particular”, as an external word spoken at a particular time and in a particular place.

    Crucially, and in stark contrast to the standard Protestant syllogism, the major premise in Luther’s syllogism is unconditional:

    The promise applies to me because it says so: Christ says “you” and he means me. So the promise of the Gospel, on Luther’s reckoning, is inherently, unconditionally, for me.

    Faith does not make it so but merely recognizes that it is so, a recognition that happens because we dare not call Christ a liar when he tells us, on that one momentous occasion, “I baptize you…” That is why the minor premise is not about my faith but about the truth of Christ.

    Cary argues that this is where he thinks “Luther’s got it fundamentally right”:

    What faith says, fundamentally, is “God speaks the truth.” Only secondarily, and not fundamentally, faith may also say, “I believe.” But faith may also say, “My faith is weak” or “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief” or “I have sinned in my unbelief and denied my Lord, like Peter the apostle.”

    Faith may confess its own unbelief. What it cannot do, if it is to remain faith at all, is stop clinging to the truth of God’s Word. For faith does not rely on faith, but on the Word of God.

    This has important pastoral consequences, particularly in relation to those who suffer doubt and despair about their faith (what Luther called Anfechtung):

    If you want to build people up in faith, you have to direct their attention to the Word of God, not to their faith. But don’t direct them to some general principle – direct them to their baptism, and remind them that when they were baptized it was Christ himself who, through the mouth of the minister, said “I baptize you” and he meant you in particular.

    As Cary continues:

    [It is] much easier to confess, “Christ is no liar” than to profess, “I believe” – especially if what that is supposed to mean is: “I have true faith in my heart, I truly, really trust in God,” etc. For this reflective faith, faith relying on itself, is how faith becomes a work, something we must do and accomplish in order to be saved.

    Like our works, our faith will never be “good enough” in itself. It will never be entirely strong, sincere and unreserved. However, this is no cause for despair:

    My faith is not good enough, but the one I have faith in is.

    Cary concludes this section of his lecture as follows:

    If you have to make a choice between the standard Protestant agony of conscience, where you must come somehow to the conclusion that you have true saving faith, and Luther’s agony of conscience, where the only question that really matters is whether God is telling you the truth – well, take Luther’s agony of conscience. It’s the right agony to have.

    And in one form or another, it is the agony you’ll inevitably struggle with if you start with Luther’s premises about the nature of the Gospel. Honestly, in the end the only question that really matters is whether Christ is telling the truth. And there are indeed many, many times we find that hard to believe. Every time we sin, in fact.

    This is why Article 5 of the Augsburg Confession is so important: because it enshrines this understanding that justification by faith must involve faith in an external, objective, trustworthy word of God, rather than an inward, individualistic focus on the state of my own heart. “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” (Romans 3:4).

    Thoughts?

    Dr. Hart, I need more time to respond to your (justifiably) incredulity at my statement that “all of it” comes down to our divergent understandings of the Two Natures of Christ.

  52. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Jordan:

    That last understanding of election makes election meaningless and noncausative. Like, I could say, all who persevere are Gods hoozleflumphs. They have been hoozleflumphed since before the foundation of the world.

    Also, what’s the big deal about having assurance that X died for you if you could still wind up in the BA place? I doubt Dives was thinking, “Whew, think where I’d be if the atonement weren’t general!”

  53. B
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Jordan and Nathan,

    Is Christ’s sacrifice not sufficient to satisfy the wrath of God for the sin of rejection and unbelief?

  54. Posted November 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    First of all, a particular person of God became a particular man, a particular person of humanity. The human nature of Christ is not taken up into the whole Godhead, but one person of God. In like fashion, the divine nature of the Logos is not taken up into the whole lump of man (all of humanity), but in one man, although, this of course, is meant to unite all men to God by grace (not nature) – through the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16) using the faithful word that brings life (Rom. 10:17).

    Yes, the Son of God, the Logos, died – if but just for a moment. Further think on this: one might even object to this regarding his humanity saying that, in one sense, no human being really dies, for God is not the God of the dead but the living. While this is true, because of the infection of sin in human nature it is, in this sense “natural” (since the Fall, a most unnatural of events!) to die on earth.

    Yes – the concrete person of Christ really did die on earth, and we are doing theology with this in mind. Theology is life and is grounded in real life.

    D.G.,

    “If you read the Bible from an outsider’s perspective, you might wonder about the heinousness of that sin.”

    To fail to trust God and His Word is heinous indeed. Yes, we might need to explain that as fallen creatures we are utterly oblivious to how bad we are until God reveals it to us. When you say that you believe Jesus *is* God and man, do you mean that you are permitted to call Him that or that it is appropriate for you to call Him that or that he really, intrinsically, *is* God and man? Honestly, I just want to know, and am not going to consign you or anybody else to hell if they think that. As for Trent, I thought it was Calvin who had more in common with Trent’s Christology via Aquinas (see here: http://books.google.com/books/about/Calvin_s_Catholic_Christology.html?id=1M03AAAAIAAJ ). Lutheranism Christology is more closely associated with Cyril of Alexandria.

    “But you want to make a debatable point of Christology to be the reason to find Reformed Protestantism repugnant?”

    If I recall, it was double predestination that I called repugnant. Not your Christology.

    “Does central dogma come to mind?”

    As one of our theologians has said, “All theology is Christology”. Our view of justification is also quite different from yours (see Jordan’ Cooper’s LOGIA article and http://confessingevangelical.com/2008/01/04/why-justification-by-faith-is-not-quite-protestant/) and it is best to deal with these differences honestly, I think.

    Thank you for your engagement D.G. This will need to be my last post for the day, but I look forward to catching up soon I hope.

    +Nathan

  55. Posted November 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    B,

    That argument proves to much, as it negates a historic Reformed understanding of the atonement as well: http://justandsinner.blogspot.com/2009/11/some-thoughts-on-limited-atonement.html

  56. Posted November 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Did not see there was a page 2 – one more post.

    B,

    “Is Christ’s sacrifice not sufficient to satisfy the wrath of God for the sin of rejection and unbelief?”

    You know the quip about hell being made for persons who ask particular kinds of questions? : )

    Seriously, if a person is not connected to Christ by faith, they remain under God’s wrath – it is that simple.

    Daniel,

    Perhaps the Lutheran doctrine as regards this issue will need to be re-visited and more sharply defined in the future. I don’t want to drive that debate and further formulation, although I have done posts that push understandings a bit (see my post titled “Millstones, Judas Iscariot, and the little ones”). I suggest this post from Jack Kilcrease and the ensuing conversation that might be fruitful for thinking here: http://jackkilcrease.blogspot.com/2012/01/eleonore-stump-lecture-no.html (at issue: Scripture does use the word “election” in at least 2 different senses).

    +Nathan

  57. Posted November 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Shoot – did not notice that my previous comment did not go through – it is in moderation right now. Stay tuned.

    +Nathan

  58. mark mcculley
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    jordan: the Lutheran Confessional tradition has historically referred only to those who are finally saved when using the term “elect.”

    mark: so who elects the elect and when? Do the elect elect themselves by not resisting grace? The elect were not chosen in Christ before the ages, and have to write (and then possibly erase) their names from the book of life?

    Jordan: We speak of a universal saving will in God, but that is not identified as election. God’s saving will is universal, but election is particular.

    mark: i can see how this distinction solves your assurance problem. No matter who you are, you can tell yourself, God has a “saving will” toward me. God wants to be my God, wants to be my boyfriend. But then there’s the but–but election has nothing to do with the Father giving Christ a people, nothing to do with Christ coming to save a people. Ie, God loves me, but I may not be elect–

    I fail to see how that gives anybody assurance. John (6,10,17) and I john seem very clear that election is God’s love. “As many as” believe the gospel, those are the ones God loves and gave the Son for, and that is why all of them believe the gospel, and none of them perish.

    Jordan: However, with that being said, we would not attribute one’s non-election to God’s decree, but merely to the rejection and unbelief of the sinner.

    mark: We are all guilty of rejection and unbelief. So that can’t be the reason one of us is saved from God’s wrath and the other is not.

    Unbelief of the gospel is not the only sin, and belief of the gospel is not the reason a person is elect.
    Oh, you believe now, I guess that means that Jesus has to go back to the cross to die for you now. Election in Christ is the reason sinners believe the gospel.

    Jordan, you have only denied that election is universal. You have not yet told us what election is. What is election for?

    “not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” This is the assurance off Judas before he committed suicide—,”but at least Jesus will die for almost all of my sins. This is also the comfort of many Arminians sitting in Reformed pews—even if I perish, at least I will know that Jesus died for me

  59. Posted November 14, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Trent, this seems to be about baptism, not about faith or about the topic at hand, Christology. Occam’s razor aside, I thought we were talking about the significance of Christ’s two natures.

    How are these different?

    Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. (Augsburg)

    Q118 M. Hence you conclude, that we cannot by any merits anticipate God or call forth his beneficence; or rather that all the works which we try or engage in, subject us to his anger and condemnation?
    S. I understand so; and therefore mere mercy, without any respect to works, (Titus 3:5,) embraces and accepts us freely in Christ, by attributing his righteousness to us as if it were our own, and not imputing our sins to us.
    Q119 M. In what way, then, do you say that we are justified by faith?
    S. Because, while we embrace the promises of the gospel with sure heartfelt confidence, we in a manner obtain possession of the righteousness of which I speak.
    Q120 M. This then is your meaning — that as righteousness is offered to us by the gospel, so we receive it by faith? (Calvin’s catechism)
    S. It is so.

    We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings; Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification. (39 Articles)

  60. mark mcculley
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Kilcrease’s critique of Forde is well worth the time it takes to read. But—–

    Faith is a result of God’s imputation, and faith is not a condition for imputation.

    Even though faith involves the indwelling presence of Christ, the object of faith is not that indwelling presence (or sacramental presence either), because the object of faith is not only Christ “the person” but also what Christ got done in His death and resurrection. The “righteousness of Christ” is not only “the person” but the obedient death and resurrection of that person which satisfied the law for the elect.

    God does not count faith as the righteousness. The righteousness of faith is not faith. Faith has an object, and it’s the object of faith which God counts as the righteousness. Christ’s obedience even to death IS the righteousness).

    When Kilcrease objects to Forde’s “moving the focus away from Christ to the human act of faith as the real thing which saves from law” (p 164), I agree with the criticism.. But all Lutherans and Reformed who work with an universal atonement end up in the same place. If Christ died for every human, and every human is not saved from wrath, then it can’t be the death of Christ which is the decisive thing which saves from law.

    Yes, the gospel is one way to know sin. (Gal 2:17, while we seek to be justified…..p 168) But not all sin is works righteousness. Not all sin is unbelief of the gospel. Those who have never heard gospel are still objectively sinners. Even a sinner not trying to save himself is still a sinner. The law also is a way to know sin.

    Romans 4:6 says that God imputes righteousness without works. Does that mean that God imputes faith without works? It seems like we could say that, if faith is the righteousness. But is not faith something which happens in our mind and will, not something which is imputed?

    When Romans 10:10 says “it is believed unto (not ‘as’ ) righteousness”, what is that righteousness? Does this mean “believed unto believing”? Is the righteousness of Romans 10:10 the righteousness of faith in Romans 10:6? Is this righteousness the same as “the righteousness of God” in Romans 10:3? Romans 10:6 also says “confessed unto salvation”. Notice the unto (not “as”).

    Confession is not salvation. Believing is not the righteousness.

    When Romans 10:3 says that they “did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God”, does this mean that the righteousness is submitting yourself to God? If so, then the phrase means “did not submit themselves to submitting themselves.” But the phrase does not mean “believe in believing”, because the righteousness is not our faith in the righteousness.

    When Romans 1:17 says “the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith”, how could the righteousness be of God if it’s the faith God gives humans? Is it my faith which is “revealed” in the gospel, or is it God’s righteousness done by the obedient death of Christ?

    When I Cor 1:30 says that Christ is our righteousness, does that mean that faith is our righteousness? Is your faith your Christ?

  61. Posted November 14, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    No internet access after this but I saw you are talking about Forde? What article are you referring to? What do you think about the article of Kilcrease’s I linked to (and conversation following) re: the Eleonore Stump lecture? Or maybe you were not talking to me? Will try and read your comments carefully later.

    +Nathan

  62. Posted November 14, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I don’t remember when, but some time ago I came (I thought) to a realization regarding the relationship between the extra Calvinisticum and our divergent views on election, etc. I will try to relate the content of my epiphany in short form. And then y’all can tell me what straw man I am attacking.

    It seems to me that Calvinism imagines God’s election of the…um…elect “before the foundation of the world” as occurring somehow chronologically prior to the creation of time. Time then begins as part of the created order and unwinds according to the immutable and pattern that God had already determined before He created anything. After the end of time, what was decided before the beginning of time comes to pass. In this schema God’s election is outside of time primarily in the sense that it is prior to creation.

    Lutheranism doesn’t necessarily reject this, but it does go one step further, and in doing so possibly negates some of the necessitous conclusions of Calvinism’s more limited schema. Lutherans (well, at least this Lutheran) understand “before the foundation of the world” to mean not only chronologically prior to but also “beyond” or perhaps “dimensionally other than.” If a metaphor would help you, think of time not as a line, but as a sphere. “Each moment is equidistant from eternity,” as Leopold vön Ranke memorably put it. All that is outside of the sphere is chronologically prior to time, sure, but also just…other than it. God’s election of you from before the foundation of the world therefore can happen before the creation of time as well as in time at a particular moment. Why? Because He’s God. Were you already going to believe before you believed? Well, I guess so, but it isn’t really given for us to know. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    While election and calling are separable events on the abstract plane of the ordo salutis, it is also possible to speak of them as coterminous. At baptism, God puts His name on the baptized, personally telling him that he is marked and named with His name. This marking and naming is efficacious, not symbolic; it effects that which it describes. How do you know that you are elect/were elected? Because looking backwards from the point at which God called you “His” (ordinarily, this is baptism), you know that those whom He elects, He also calls. You have been called by Him; you are elect in Him.

    What hath this to do with the Two Natures? This is where it gets…speculative and abstract:

    Calvinism, as well as its more staid theological descendants (thoroughgoing confessional Reformed types like the OPC, Dutch Reformed, etc.), seems to have a very Platonic understanding of salvation — and this is not a dis, just a description of what it looks like to an outsider. God dwells in unapproachable light in metaphysical hyperspace. The perfect form of salvation exists in His mind as an immutable and logical decree. On the other side of line, in the created order, things happen which symbolize this decree from within the hidden counsel of the Trinity, but no part of salvation is actually contingent upon the efficaciousness of any of these things. Baptism isn’t God calling His elect; it’s symbolic of what will happen in a spiritual manner if the baptized person is elect. Preaching is not an actual declaration of Law and Gospel, i.e., “you are a sinner, but the Lord has nevertheless put away your sin — believe it,” which can be believed or rejected; it is rather a description of the form of salvation. And then there’s the most Platonic instance of all: in the Lord’s Supper, everyone eats bread, but on another plane, the elect also eat Christ’s spiritual body in heaven by faith, while the reprobate just eat bread…though they might be having an experience while doing so that makes them think that they’re communing spiritually in hyperspace. The Incarnation, then — or, perhaps, more accurately, the Humiliation and earthly ministry of Christ — is the explanation of the logical proposition of salvation and the symbolic demonstration of what was true before time began and what will be true after time ends. The Incarnation isn’t a loving embrace of the fallen creation in order to mend and heal it; it’s a brief trip to the world below the Bifrost to assure people that absolutely nothing is what it seems. And this could be good or bad news. Afterwards, Christ returns to the Right Hand of the Father, which is a roughly 6’x3’x3′ space in the empyrean, far, far away. Even if He’d like to be Really Present — in the Supper, or anywhere — He can’t be, because His human nature won’t allow him to be.

    So, I still don’t think I cemented the connection between predestination and the extra Calvinisticum, but I do have to go. I think I at least got my train of thought one station closer. Now I need to go to work.

  63. Nick
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Jordan Cooper: However, I do believe that this Puritanical form of Calvinism is in many ways the logical conclusion of Reformed theology. I tried to hold on to a Westminster West type of Reformed theology, from the likes of Horton et. al. However, I realized that I could not consistently hold to the objectivity of the Gospel and accept Limited Atonement.

    Dr. Hart: Jordan, you’re going to have to connect the dots between objectivity of the gospel and denial of limited atonement. I thought I believed in the objectivity of the gospel and I cringe at obsessive introspection. So how am I inconsistent? Please, no logic lessons.

    As a former “Calvinistic” baptist who made his way into Lutheranism, I agree with Pastor Cooper, though I recognize that from a Reformed perspective, our view of apostasy appears to logically lead to a loss of assurance as well.

    The following question is not meant to spark debate because I’m not a theologian, nor do I have the energy. I just really want to understand. For a Reformed person, how do you answer the question, ” How do you know that you are saved?” Maybe that’s the wrong question, who knows.

    Just to play fair, I’ll answer it myself. I am baptized.

  64. Posted November 14, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Trent,

    Or, both Luther and Calvin were so hung up on the sacraments because that was a part of the medieval culture that was so ingrained in everyones heads that they could not see the simple imputation of Christ’s righteousness in Romans chapter 4 without thinking sacramentally. Paul goes to great lengths to point out that Abraham believed the gospel (Galatians tells us that the Gospel was preached to Abraham) before he was circumcised. Follow the flow of the argument in the book of Romans and there are no sacraments in the first 11 chapters (if you don’t see water in Romans chapter 6). Also, election does not have to be that complicated. You just take the biblical texts that talk about election and make logical deductions and inferences from the text. You do have to exegete and interpret in acceptable ways though. Many of those who refuse to talk about election do so because they say it complicates the Gospel too much. Or they use the doctrine in ways to support their not so biblical theologies. The truth is revealed clearly in the Scriptures but we humans like to make it not so clear.

    One last thought. Nathan still wants to condition his salvation on something the sinner does, ie repent. Without the imputation of righteousness the sinner will not repent and believe. Again, follow the flow of Paul’s argument in the book of Romans. God places His elect sinners into the death of Christ, and His elect sinners only, when He sovereignly chooses to do so.

  65. Nick
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    John Yeazel:Follow the flow of the argument in the book of Romans and there are no sacraments in the first 11 chapters (if you don’t see water in Romans chapter 6).

    Come again?? Also, I’ve yet to read anyone prior to the medieval church not thinking sacramentally.

  66. Seth
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    And, single-handedly, John Yeazel brings this conversation screeching to a halt.

    Stunning. Absolutely stunning.

  67. Lily
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    John Yeazel,

    You do have a penchant for wanting that curtain to logically roll back. I am baptized. 😉

  68. Lily
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    DGH,

    Re: “Well, if Jesus died for everyone, how about Esau, the Cannanites, …. and all the other tribes Joshua conquered,”

    Well, Christ died for sinners, dear sir. All sinners.

    Re: “Makes me think Sacramone hasn’t gotten Keller out of his system.”

    So true, dear sir, you are a gracious man.

  69. Posted November 14, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Seth and Lily,

    Perhaps it’s the book I’m reading that is making me see the dangers of where “sacralist” thinking led the Reformation- Leonard Verduin’s THE REFORMERS AND THEIR STEPCHILDREN. I’m a sucker for the underdog and the poor Anabaptist’s that got needlessly slaughtered by Luther and Calvin because they had the where-with-all to question some of the thinking of the Reformers- like siding with the magistrates and questioning some sacramental thinking.

    I enjoy your sarcasm Seth- I’m not going to take that personally. Hopefully you won’t send the magistrates to burn me at the stake or tie my hands behind my back and shove me in the water to drown a gurgling death. I am glad that does not happen these days but it did back during the reformation. How Luther and Calvin allowed that stuff to happen is a mystery to me but I did not live back then so I probably am not seeing the picture like they did.

    Keep arguing and presenting your cases Lutherans- I am still all ears. I’ve allowed the oldlife culture to effect me some so I am averse to smiley face emoticons. After spending the last year in exile down in Savannah, Georgia and living in a tent the last month or so (it got down to 30 degrees last night) I might take you up Seth on a challenge to “drink you under the table.” Alchohol is a good depresant to make you fall asleep in the cold. I’ll be sure to cover my extremities but I might forget. No sighs of sympathy please. I just got done listening to Jackson Brown’s Fountain of Sorrows and can detect a hint of sorrow in smiling faces. I’m getting off subject.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwngpzlN2_s

  70. Lily
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Sigh. John, we aren’t sacralists. The gospel Is not only delivered in the Word, but the sacraments. Our sins are forgiven. And you know better than to lay down laws to Lutherans. We feel bound to break them. :) 😉 :-) 😀

  71. Posted November 14, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Anabaptists. Teaching people to trust in themselves and their decision rather than God’s decision for them in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which IS the gospel in tangible form.

    I have zero sympathy for those gospel deniers. Bad enough for themselves, but to lead others to the neither regions is inexcusable.

  72. mark mcculley
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Lutherans repeating the mantra (I am baptized) and then accusing others of shutting down a conversation!

    mark: I assume this means water, even though seven times in Scripture the promise is that Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit. And in Romans 6, there is neither water nor Spirit, no matter how early back you find people saying so.

    But so what if you are baptized with water? I know some of you might be catholic enough to say that Romanist water and baptist water is still “baptism” (even though done outside a true church), but why say “I am baptized” instead of saying “they are all baptized, including many who will perish.”? Is there something special about you (“I am”) that makes your baptism different from the baptism of those who lose faith and perish?

    Why not say, I have not lost faith? Or, I will not lose faith?

    Gilbert Meilaender in the December 2013 First Things is the logical conclusion of the Lutheran idea that the justification gained in baptism can be lost. If sin ( which is the result of unbelief) can cause you to lose the justification, you once had, Meilaender argues that we must agree with the pope that, with some sins, you cannot be justified at the same time.

    Mielaender is also insisting that people without faith in the gospel are doing some good things before God. He’s rejecting no future condemnation for Christians, and he’s rejecting condemnation of the works of those without faith in the gospel.

    Romans 8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,

    If there is universal atonement but not universal election, does this mean that all sinners have been at some time been “in Christ”? If justification can not only increase and decrease but even be lost, does this mean that those who have once been justified still need to be justified, this time by a faith formed by love? How much love?

    If you manage to stay in Christ, then there is no condemnation? But even though God never intended it, most of those God loved once will perish and that might mean you?

  73. Posted November 14, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Lily,

    You did not catch the drift of the sacral remark. I was thinking more Constantinian than sacerdotal. Luther and Calvin both sought the help of the magistrates of their time and the Anabaptists split from the reformation when they did. Long story but interesting reading.

    Let the debate continue- I am interested in further hearing the Lutheran position against the confessional Reformed. I’m learning further nuances of the groups differences. I was speaking my opinion that the sacraments became a big issue during the reformation and all sorts of philosophical and logical meandering became a distraction to the question what is the Gospel? And then Seth hit me with his Lutheran sarcasm- ouch, not really. You can do better than that Seth- try contributing to the arguments going on.

  74. mark mcculley
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Romans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too will walk in newness of life.

    It’s bad enough to read water and the Holy Spirit into Romans 6. It’s even worse when that mistake causes us to miss the good news which is in the chapter. Romans 6 is about Christ the public representative of the elect being under condemnation, sin and death.

    Romans 6:7 “For one who has died has been justified from sin. 8 Now since we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death NO LONGER has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died HE DIED TO SIN once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

    Christ was never under grace and is still not under grace. Christ was under the law because of the imputed sins of the elect. Romans 6 is about Christ’s condemnation by the law and His death as satisfaction of that law. Christ after His resurrection is no longer under law.

    The death of the justified elect is that VERY SAME legal death. The resurrection of the justified elect in Romans 6 is the result and evidence of that justification from being under law.

    Christ was never under the power of sin in the sense of being unable not to sin. Christ was always unable to sin. The only way Christ was ever under the power of sin is by being under the guilt of sin. The guilt of the elect was legally transferred by God to Christ.

    Christ’s death to sin was death to the guilt of sin, and since the elect are united with His death, the death of the elect is also a death to the guilt of sin. And this is what Romans 6:7 teaches: “For one who has died has been justified from sin.”

    Yet many commentators tell us that “set free from sin” must mean the elect’s transformation by the Holy Spirit so that the justified elect cannot habitually sin . And Lutherans teach that an one time death to sin is not enough for final justification, because they think what is given in baptism can be lost. Many folks want to tell us that justification was in Romans chapter five and that chapter six must be about something more than justification if it’s to be a real answer to the motive question (why not sin?).

    But Christ was never under the power of habitual sin or any sin, and the death of the elect is like His death. Romans 6:10, “For the death He died He died to sin.” When the elect consider themselves dead to sin and alive to God, they think of themselves as dead to the guilt of sin. Death to the guilt of sin means “eternal life” ( justification, life of the age to come). The new birth and the immortality to come are the results of God’s imputation and God’s gift of “eternal life”.

    Romans 6:14 does not say, For sin shall not be your master, because the Holy Spirit has changed you so that you cannot habitually sin, but only occasionally and always with repentance. Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall not by your master, because you are not under law but under grace.”

    Romans 6 says “baptized into” not “baptized by the Spirit into” to Christ’s death Sure, Christ did not die for every sinner, but that death is the only hope any sinner has. There is no other sacrifice for sins. Those who take comfort that Christ died for all sins and all sinners do not ultimately find their comfort in Christ’s death. Some of them trust in church water. Some of them trust in what they think God is doing in them. But those who claim that some of the sinners they say Christ died for will perish cannot put their trust in Christ’s death.

    The inconsistent reading of Romans 6 cannot lead people to know or assent or trust that Christ’s death is what will save them.

  75. mark mcculley
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Steve: God’s decision for them in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

    mark: hey, on the one hand, you used the word “them” instead of “I” and “we”. Cool. But on the other hand, you used the word “them” in a way that suggests that you think that baptists have not been baptized yet, so to get God’s “decision for them”, they maybe will need to decide to get some other kind of baptism than the baptist kind.

    And of course i am open to that logic. But, Steve, I respond not because I want to talk more about water. And I certainly I also reject “free-will decisionism”, which is found not only in anabaptist circles but also in many confessionally Reformed places.

    I want to ask you about that “God’s decision for them”. Steve, do you believe that some sinners will perish, or have you followed Capon and other universalists into the direction of saying that all for whom Christ died will be saved from God’s wrath? Assuming you are not universalist, what happens when Lutherans who have been “baptized” stop believing and lose their justification?

    Has God now made another decision, this time “against them”. If so, how did this happen, if we can indeed be both sinners and justified at the same time (as I think we can)? Did God change his decision, based on them changing their decision?

    That’s probably enough questions for now, but I am intrigued by your idea of ” God’s decision in the Lord’s Supper”. I know that the Reformed teach the efficacy of the “sacrament” to curse some participants. It’s not merely–if you believe, then it’s good for you, but if not, you are no worse off. No, many a time when all other reasons to say “sacraments” fail, we are told–you must use the non-Bible s word, since the Bible says it can kill you. And if I understand what Lutherans are saying, they also would teach that Christ shows up at the “sacrament” to be against those without faith.

    So how does participation assure you that the divine decision is ‘for you”? And what does it mean to say that there is another divine decision after baptism? Is the weekly decision by God sometimes a different decision than God’s original decision? If ‘election” only has to do with those who will be justified on the last day, then surely these temporary decisions have nothing to do with election.

  76. Nick
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Mark, I see you have a very solid understanding of the Lutheran doctrine of baptism. Thanks for putting in the effort.

  77. Nick
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Mark, this may not matter much to you, and I can respect that if that is the case, but are there any theologians during the first 1500 or so years of Christendom who adhered to your interpretation of Romans 6? There very well could be; I’m certainly no expert. Do you know of any?

  78. Posted November 14, 2013 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    Congratulations, you’re a denomination.

    Read water into Romans 6? Are you high? You’re reading water out of it. What cause do you have to believe that the term baptism as it is used in the New Testament ever means something besides, you know, baptism? Everyone in the apostolic age, the early patristic church, and the medieval church understood the word “baptism” to refer to baptism with water. The laver of regeneration. Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

    Did you borrow the Urim and Thummim from Joseph Smith to do your exegesis? Everyone was just thwacking around blindly in the dark, thinking baptism meant water baptism until…BOOM…the “Reformation” (not the one I know and love) turned the light on? This is positively ludicrous. Indeed, Sasse’s words are again prescient: “A church without the fathers becomes a sect.”

    Your description of salvation as an abstract psychological event obviates any need for the Incarnation. Lucky for your argument, you don’t appear to actually believe in it, anyway.

    Irenaeus: For he came to save all by means of himself — all, I say, who by him are born again to God — infants, children, adolescents, young men, and old men (Against Heresies II.22.4).

    Hippolytus: ”And they shall baptize the little children first. And if they can answer for themselves, let them answer. But if they cannot, let their parents answer or someone from their family. And next they shall baptism the grown men; and last the women” (Apostolic Tradition 21.3-5).

    Origen: ”I take this occasion to discuss something which our brothers often inquire about. Infants are baptized for the remission of sins. Of what kinds? Or when did they sin? But since ‘No one is exempt from stain,’ one removes the stain by the mystery of baptism. For this reason infants are baptized. For ‘Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Homily on Luke 14:5).

    [After quoting Psalm 51:5 and Job 14:4] “These verses may be adduced when it is asked why, since the baptism of the church is given for the remission of sins, baptism according to the practice of the church is given even to infants; since indeed if there is in infants nothing which ought to pertain to forgiveness and mercy, the grace of baptism would be superfluous” (Homily on Leviticus 8:3).

    [After quoting Leviticus 12:8 and Psalm 51:5] “For this also the church had a tradition from the apostles, to give baptism even to infants. For they to whom the secrets of the divine mysteries were given knew that there is in all persons the natural stains of sin which must be washed away by the water and the Spirit. On account of these stains the body itself is called the body of sin” (Commentary on Romans 5:9).

    Cyprian: ”In respect of the case of infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day, we all thought very differently in our council. For in this course which you thought was to be taken, no one agreed; but we all rather judge that the mercy and grace of God is not to be refused to any one born of man… Spiritual circumcision ought not to be hindered by carnal circumcision… we ought to shrink from hindering an infant, who, being lately born, has not sinned, except in that, being born after the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death at its earliest birth, who approaches the more easily on this very account to the reception of the forgiveness of sins – that to him are remitted, not his own sins, but the sins of another” (Letter 58 to Fidus).

    Augustine: ”For from the infant newly born to the old man bent with age, as there is none shut out from baptism, so there is none who in baptism does not die to sin” (Enchiridion; ch. 43).

    The Inscriptions:

    Here the words of Everett Ferguson are appropriate: “Early Christian inscriptions, which in the largest numbers come from the environs of Rome, furnish some instances of child and infant baptism for the third century . . . Nearly all the early Christian inscriptions are epitaphs. A considerable number of these are for the graves of children. The vast majority give no evidence whether the child was baptized or not . . . Actually the word “baptism” is seldom used. The idea is expressed by “received grace,” “made a believer” or “neophyte” (newly planted ” used to mean “newly baptized”) — from Everett Ferguson, Early Christians Speak: Faith and Life in the First Three Centuries; Revised Edition (Abilene: ACU Press, 1984) .

    To the sacred dead. Florentius made this monument to his worthy son Appronianus, who lived one year, nine months, and five days. Since he was dearly loved by his grandmother, and she saw that he was going to die, she asked from the church that he might depart from the world a believer (Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres I:1343, from the third century; E. Diehl, ed. [second edition; Berlin, 1961]).

    Postumius Eutenion, a believer, who obtained holy grace the day before his birthday at a very late hour and died. He lived six years and was buried on the fifth of Ides of July on the day of Jupiter on which he was born. His soul is with the saints in peace. Felicissimus, Eutheria, and Festa his grandmother to their worthy son Postumius (ILCV I:1524, from the early fourth century).

    Sweet Tyche lived one year, ten months, fifteen days, Received [grace] on the eighth day before the Kalends. Gave up [her soul] on the same day (ILCV I:1531).

    Irene who lived with her parents ten months and six days received [grace] seven days before the Ides of April and gave up [her soul] on the Ides of April (ILCV I:1532).

    To Proiecto, neophyte infant, who lived two years seven months. (ILCV I:1484)

  79. B
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    These things have I written unto you hat believe on the name of the Son of God that ye may know that ye have eternal life and that ye might believe on the name of the Son of God. I John 5:13

    Nick, arguably I John never discusses baptism…I am not sure how baptism is an assurance apart from what you claim to believe. If you don’t believe that Jesus is God and died on the cross for your sins, I.e. If you do not have faith in Jesus Christ and Repentance unto Life, your baptism is only a false assurance if it is an assurance at all. Can you develop more of what you meant with baptism as assurance apart from faith?

  80. Nick
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    B, Pastor Cooper has some really good stuff about 1 John on his site justandsinner.com. I’d recommend it to you. This is what I was always pointed to for assurance as a baptist. Is this the Reformed answer as well?

    Who said anything about baptism as assurance apart from faith? I get how this is confusing shorthand for those outside of Lutheranism. Luther’s Small Catechism clears this up nicely, but I can explain it a bit, in my own words. When I say, “I am baptized” and derive assurance from it, it is nothing other than a profession of faith in God’s word. Forgiveness of sins (Acts 2), putting on Christ (Gal. 3), united to Christ’s death (Rom. 6), salvation (Mark 16, 1 Pete 3), regeneration (Titus 3) … off the top of my head. In short, these gifts won for us by Christ’s death and resurrection for us are given to us individually through the water combined with the promises in God’s word attached to the water. It’s the same as the preached word being delivered to you through the physical means of sound waves and vibrations in your ear. The water is the delivery method for the word of promise.

    Granted you may disagree with the interpretation of all the baptismal passages, but please don’t misrepresent our position as if we are trusting in plain water. The water is nothing without the promises.

  81. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    Trent, right back at you.

    Could it not be that the church was hugely mistaken about many things for a long time?

    Our forefathers of the circumcision didn’t have such a great track record vis a vis their primary distinction—you know, monotheism. There sure was a whole lot of image-worship and mariolatry before Luther came along. And that seems kind of duh. Like, take a step back guys: should we really be bowing before images? Something seems off …

    And yet it persisted for a *long* time.

    So what?

    Could it be that there was heresy all up in the churches only a decade after the ascension? (Yes, we know this from the epistles.)

    So why would it be weird to have something as attractive as “get baptized w water, get justified!” catch on. Especially for the children.

  82. Posted November 15, 2013 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    So, Dave, how do you know that you aren’t a heretic? Cuz the Bible?

  83. Posted November 15, 2013 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    It seems that there’s a lot of canard-thrashing going on viz. the Lutheran understanding of baptism, so I will attempt to clarify.

    Lutherans do not believe that baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation. Therefore we do not bother to opine as to whether the Baptist who has not yet been “really” baptized is going to heaven. It isn’t any of our concern. Baptism is a means of grace. It is the absence of belief that damns, not the absence of baptism. That baptism bestows the gift of the Holy Spirit, Whose work faith is, is in no way inconsistent with this teaching. As St. Augustine says, “It is not the lack of baptism which damns, but the despisal thereof.” We would absolutely concur with the venerable teaching of a “baptism of desire”, i.e., that those who desire what baptism offers and die without receiving the sacrament receive what is promised in it, because what is promised in it (the Holy Spirit, union with Christ in His death and resurrection) can also be received outside of it, as in the case of the thief on the cross, who likely (though we cannot say for certain) did not receive baptism, but nonetheless clung to the word of promise which Christ preached to him. Either way it is the Word which is efficacious for creating faith. The selfsame Word (Christ) says, “I have called you by name; you are mine,” and “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

    Dave’s imbecilic strawman of the Lutheran position, “get baptized w water, get justified!”, ought to be dismissed for what it is: a crass and irreverent caricature which betrays a lack (be it genuine or affected) of ability or desire to reckon with a doctrine with which he is, evidently, wholly unfamiliar. As B aptly noted, no Lutheran is contending that water does anything in itself. As Dr. Luther’s Small Catechism states, “Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s Word.”

    Dave, do you know what else seems kind of “duh”? The fact that your chronological snobbery cuts both ways. The fact that the Church Fathers fought mightily against heresy, clarified the Church’s confession of the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ, promulgated the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, and compiled the canon. The fact that the errors you describe were not nearly as ubiquitous as you suggest. You trespass greatly against the Fourth Commandment (or however it is you number it) by spurning your fathers in the faith in this way.

    “Duh?” “Like”? “All up in”? I’ll pass on the shoddy ten-year-old valley-girl theologizing and crappy historiography, thank you. You really should leave the rest of the heavy lifting to Dr. Hart and Co., as they are much more able to acquit the Reformed position with dignity and intellectual honesty.

  84. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    Daniel Davis writes: “While casting my weary eye over the Rhine’s stormy banks, I found this characteristic of the general atonement to have a complete non-appeal. ‘As Lutherans, we can tell everyone that Christ died for them!’ Yeah, well, a lot of good that does the guy in hell.”

    If we tell someone, “Christ died for you,” and he doesn’t believe it, then no, it doesn’t end up saving him. But it’s still true, as those who do believe it will discover. Is it actually surprising to you that the Gospel “does no good” for those who reject it? “By grace are you saved, through faith.

  85. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 4:14 am | Permalink

    John Yeazel writes: “How Luther and Calvin allowed that stuff to happen is a mystery to me but I did not live back then so I probably am not seeing the picture like they did.”

    We tend to assume today that the secular authority is responsible for regulating secular affairs only. This is not a natural assumption, or a very old one. Religious toleration is a product of 17th and 18th century thought, greatly expedited by the horrors of the Reformation-era religious wars. In the 16th century, not even the persecuted Anabaptists thought it made sense for the prince to punish a man who deprived his neighbor of his physical life, but ignore another man who was attempting to lead his neighbor into heresy and eternal death.

  86. Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Trent, Calvinism is not an abstraction and I bet if I pointed you to enough Lutheran dogmatics you might think Lutheranism an abstraction too.

  87. Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Nick, because God promised to save me and still promises. I believe God doesn’t lie.

    I don’t see what baptism is assurance ready. If you were baptized as an infant, you’re relying on someone telling you were baptized. You don’t remember.

  88. Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Nick, I thought Luther wrote about “the word” in A Mighty Fortress.

  89. Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Steve, what do you have against hearing the gospel? Is this why Lutheran sermons are so short?

  90. Lily
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    John Yeazel,

    I don’t know how to respond. I don’t worry about the sinful parts of church history and I don’t see any point in arguing Lutheran theology to convince you of anything. In the past, you have said that you spent several years with your Lutheran pastor trying to resolve the mish-mash you learned from McMark and that both you and your pastor finally decided it was best for you to leave the LCMS. Unlike you, I don’t take McMark seriously as he seems to be a theologically confused person who specializes in caricature and potshots at things he doesn’t understand. I am convinced by scripture that the Lutheran doctrines are true. I am not convinced by Reformed logic that goes beyond scripture. It is what it is.

  91. Lily
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    But, DGH, the assurance is always the same. Our faith is always placed in the veracity of God’s promises. Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him as righteousness… Your baptism now saves you. This is my body and blood given for the remission of your sins. Lutherans place their focus on these promises.

  92. Lily
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Oops. I should have written: Lutherans place their focus on these promises (attached to the sacraments), too. Natch, there is no argument between Lutherans and Reformed in trusting the gospel promises in the Word. As for the short law/gospel sermons, the liturgy and hymns are saturated with the gospel, and there is confession and absolution, along with the preeminence of the Lord’s Supper in our Divine services. Natch, we have plenty of learning opportunities in Sunday school and bible studies, and we focus on worship in the Divine services… This prevents the long winded sermons (and series) that are so prone to become hobby horses and the mere opinions of men. I thought you were aware of these differences in our communions?

  93. Katy
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I’m just popping in to say I am really enjoying this discussion. And to apologize for any emoticons I have used in comments on this site in the past.

    (John, I admire your continuing comparison and the hard questions you ask of both sides.)

    Lily, speaking as someone who converted to Lutheranism, I’m with some of our Reformed brothers on length of sermon. Not that length assures orthodoxy, but there’s no reason to claim longer sermons (which were the norm in Lutheranism until recently) are necessarily less orthodox. I think a more noticeable difference is between style (homily on the Gospel assigned vs. exegesis). Lutherans should be comfortable with both (and you’re right, exegesis is usually save for Bible class or studies).

  94. Lily
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Katy, I did not claim long sermons are necessarily less orthodox. I wrote: prone. The proof is in the pudding when one listens to long winders. I do think you will better appreciate the shorter sermons as time passes. American Christianity seems to have been trained to feel neglected if there isn’t a long sermon (which seems to take the place of the liturgy). Try paying more attention to the richness of the message in the liturgy and hymns, and most certainly, go to the bible classes where there is q & a vs. long sermons that do not have q & a.

  95. Zrim
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Katy, or is what animates the “more is better” assumption what Jesus was pushing against when it came to long-winded prayers? I’m not sure this is a strength among the Reformed who can also be known for promoting more than two services a Sabbath (“The question isn’t why two services, rather why not three or more?”). But we creatures are limited and prone to frailty, and if God remembers our frame and that we are dust, why don’t his ministers? There’s being logo-centric and there’s being overwrought.

  96. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Trent, seems like I hit a nerve.

    Trent: So, Dave, how do you know that you aren’t a heretic? Cuz the Bible?

    (Dave isn’t Lutheran shorthand for Daniel, is it?)

    But, yes, ultimately. How do you know you’re not a heretic? Popes Synod presidents and councils?

    So “get baptized with water, get justified” isn’t the Lutheran position now? That’s funny. I seem to recall that was a big selling point. (Oh, of course, the water with the word, etc., etc.,) I do actually understand the Lutheran position. In baptism, God grants faith and regenerates, justifies, and so on, which benefits can later be lost through unbelief.

    It’s still the case that, if you’re looking at a squriming baby, and you’re pondering the surest way to get him justified, a Lutheran’s going to reach for the basin. Why? Because baptism (water, properly performed) justifies.

    And, like, totally gosh.

  97. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Eric: If we tell someone, “Christ died for you,” and he doesn’t believe it, then no, it doesn’t end up saving him.

    Exactly. It doesn’t, in the end, benefit him at all.

    Which is my point. Lutherans in my experience list general atonement as a bonus feature they have over the Calvinists. “WE can tell people that Christ died for them.”

    As you can see, it’s not really so great a feature. How is it superior to a TULIPer saying “Repent and believe, and you will receive eternal life?”

  98. Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    All,

    Quite the discussion here. Will have to catch up on the weekend if I can.

    John Y:

    “One last thought. Nathan still wants to condition his salvation on something the sinner does, ie repent. Without the imputation of righteousness the sinner will not repent and believe.”

    What gave you that impression? To show you how far away I am from this, please see these posts: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/babies-in-church-part-vi-the-arrogance-of-the-infant-b/

    Here is a clip:

    “Lutherans spend much time talking about how God comes to us “extra nos”, or from outside ourselves – and yet, they certainly put a lot of emphasis on their own certainty of faith! Really, how much can we even know our own hearts? Wasn’t the tanner that St. Anthony found in the city right? Is it not presumption and arrogance to think otherwise?

    On the contrary: infants are simple, unassuming, unpretencious, and unreflective: they, in direct faith, receive persons and their good gifts freely, and allowing these to form them wholesale. The child does not doubt the Promise that brings forgiveness, life, and salvation – but rather rejoices in it, assumes that all should possess it, and, as their faith grows, even desires that they themselves might be damned (Rom. 9:1-5) that others might have the surety – peace with God (Rom. 5:1), knowledge of eternal life (I John 5:13) – that they have in Christ Jesus.

    Even “if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (I John 3:20). While we may, upon reflecting on our faith, be attacked by doubt, He knows that we, as simple children, weakly keep His commandment: “that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another” (I John 3:23) – and He seeks to strengthen us in this stumbling faith, that His love may ever flow with greater ferocity in and through us.”

    D.G. Hart,

    “…God promised to save me and still promises. I believe God doesn’t lie.”

    I don’t doubt that you are confident of this D.G., but it seems to make sense to me when I hear other Calvinists say they are not as confident. In addition, I have even heard some people of Reformed background (not necessarily Calvinist, I guess) say the issue of having certainty is overrated anyway. Do you have an opinion about that?

    “I don’t see what baptism is assurance ready. If you were baptized as an infant, you’re relying on someone telling you were baptized. You don’t remember.”

    Your historical skepticism astounds me. I would never think that my baptism – which my parents always celebrated with me – was a lie? How could I doubt this. In any case, I would add this: Lutherans, like Luther should always insist that those who have true faith are concerned that they demonstrate their faith by works – Chrisitans realize faith and works go hand and hand and make their confession believable. Those who don’t have true faith don’t have this concern, even if they were at one point baptized.

    Baptism does give the believer certainty in Christ though. Not so much because we were baptized, but because we are baptized. This 1.5 minute clip from a powerful Lutheran preacher is golden and perfectly addresses D.G.’s concern:

    http://issuesetc.org/podcast/sbotwbaker01-18-13.mp3

    +Nathan

  99. Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    All,

    Had a comment which got stuck in moderation (urls or length?) so breaking it up and taking out urls.

    Quite the discussion here. Will have to catch up on the weekend if I can.

    John Y:

    “One last thought. Nathan still wants to condition his salvation on something the sinner does, ie repent. Without the imputation of righteousness the sinner will not repent and believe.”

    What gave you that impression? To show you how far away I am from this, please see my post “Babies in Church (part VI): the arrogance of the infant” (parts a and b)

    Here is a clip from part b:

    “Lutherans spend much time talking about how God comes to us “extra nos”, or from outside ourselves – and yet, they certainly put a lot of emphasis on their own certainty of faith! Really, how much can we even know our own hearts? Wasn’t the tanner that St. Anthony found in the city right? Is it not presumption and arrogance to think otherwise?

    On the contrary: infants are simple, unassuming, unpretencious, and unreflective: they, in direct faith, receive persons and their good gifts freely, and allowing these to form them wholesale. The child does not doubt the Promise that brings forgiveness, life, and salvation – but rather rejoices in it, assumes that all should possess it, and, as their faith grows, even desires that they themselves might be damned (Rom. 9:1-5) that others might have the surety – peace with God (Rom. 5:1), knowledge of eternal life (I John 5:13) – that they have in Christ Jesus.

    Even “if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (I John 3:20). While we may, upon reflecting on our faith, be attacked by doubt, He knows that we, as simple children, weakly keep His commandment: “that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another” (I John 3:23) – and He seeks to strengthen us in this stumbling faith, that His love may ever flow with greater ferocity in and through us.”

    +Nathan

  100. Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    D.G. Hart,

    “…God promised to save me and still promises. I believe God doesn’t lie.”

    I don’t doubt that you are confident of this D.G., but it seems to make sense to me when I hear other Calvinists say they are not as confident. In addition, I have even heard some people of Reformed background (not necessarily Calvinist, I guess) say the issue of having certainty is overrated anyway. Do you have an opinion about that?

    “I don’t see what baptism is assurance ready. If you were baptized as an infant, you’re relying on someone telling you were baptized. You don’t remember.”

    Your historical skepticism surprises me. I would never think that my baptism – which my parents always celebrated with me – was a lie? How could I doubt this. In any case, I would add this: Lutherans, like Luther should always insist that those who have true faith are concerned that they demonstrate their faith by works – Chrisitans realize faith and works go hand and hand and make their confession believable. Those who don’t have true faith don’t have this concern, even if they were at one point baptized.

    Baptism does give the believer certainty in Christ though. Not so much because we were baptized, but because we are baptized. There is a 1.5 minute clip from a powerful Lutheran preacher is golden and perfectly addresses your concern. I link to it at my post titled: “Broken” Jonathan Fisk versus “Christ-following” David Platt – Reformation vs Rome?!

    +Nathan

  101. Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Here is a direct link to the 1.5 minute audio clip on baptism, if it works: http://issuesetc.org/podcast/sbotwbaker01-18-13.mp3

    +Nathan

  102. Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Lily, right, so the sacraments are signs and seal of the promises. I learned from Luther that words matter, especially the words of Scripture. You’re not putting sacraments ahead of the word, are you? If you are, then you have some ‘splaining to do with the Bishop of Rome, and then you resort to the Word of God, right?

  103. Posted November 15, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Nathan, as I understand assurance, it is a matter of confidence that the law has no claims on me because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to me. Do believers still have doubts? Of course, just read Calvin on assurance as the essence of faith and see how he concedes the fickleness of the saint’s heart.

    Where it strikes me Protestants have gone wrong with assurance is to look to some experience as the basis for certainty. And no offense, but it sounds like you’re a bit of an enthusiast about your own baptism and its celebrations. Is this about you or about the waters of baptism (or the word behind the waters)?

    I don’t know why my historical skepticism should surprise you. Have you not seen Gone with the Wind? Do you think the way that people remember the past has flaws? Have you not been reading Jason and the Callers?

  104. mark mcculley
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I have limited time today, don’t listen to podcasts, but I do try to read all the posts on a thread.

    So some quick responses.

    Trent: In this schema God’s election is outside of time primarily in the sense that it is prior to creation. Lutheranism doesn’t necessarily reject this,

    mark: isn’t this cool? Maybe it does reject it, but if so, not necessarily. But maybe it’s not before ages, and maybe it’s not unconditional, maybe election is conditioned on what the sinner does or not do. No big deal. Luther’s Bondage of the Will was good for its time, and of course we still ‘don’t deny it”, but then again neither do we affirm it anymore, and even if it’s our confessions still, now it’s kinda of a “shelf thing’, not so important as reaching the city with some version of christianity which can be catholic enough to exclude the sectarians and get some things done in public…

    Trent: possibly negates some of the necessitous conclusions of Calvinism’s more limited schema. Lutherans (well, at least this Lutheran) understand “before the foundation of the world” to mean not only chronologically prior to but also “beyond” or perhaps “dimensionally other than.”

    mark: is this something like Hodge’s ” a relation in time but not in space”. It sounds like Barth’s actualism, in which God elected, is electing, shall always be electing, so that we don’t have to keep looking back in time to the cross, then and there, and certainly don’t need to look to the future, to a second coming, because Jesus has never been absent, so there is no need for a return, and so the cross not being back then, what matters is either the Spirit using water to elect and atone now, or Jesus now in the bread keeping the once justified from losing it so that in the end, they will be elect, but then of course, there is no end but only time, a cycle and not a line of redemptive history…

    Trent: If a metaphor would help you, think of time not as a line, but as a sphere. “Each moment is equidistant from eternity,” as Leopold vön Ranke memorably put it. All that is outside of the sphere is chronologically prior to time, sure, but also just…other than it. God’s election of you from before the foundation of the world therefore can happen before the creation of time as well as in time at a particular moment. Why? Because He’s God

    mark:some deep s—–too bad Luther and Calvin didn’t know anything about it, but i fail to see how any of it has to do with differences between Lutheranism and the Reformed. It just sounds like the kind of thing anybody who is offended by unconditional election is likely to say

    trent: Were you already going to believe before you believed? Well, I guess so, but it isn’t really given for us to know. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    mark: And here’s where you contradict yourself, Trent. You pose as if if it’s no big deal, as if it all words about nothing (like infra/supra), but then on the other hand, you are deeply offended by what Calvin and Luther taught about the unconditionality of grace. You won’t have it, you won’t stand for it. for all your dancing (we don’t necessarily deny etc), you reject any salvation which is conditioned on God’s sovereignty and on what CHRIST HAS ALREADY DONE in history. You want to bring everything into the “now”, so that it can be up to us. Why, I am not sure. Humans are born thinking that way. Are you fairly confident that you at least are going to do or not do what is needed so that salvation happens in your case?

  105. mark mcculley
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I asked Nathan about the death of the third person of the Trinity, when the attributes of His deity are supposedly communicated to His humanity, with resulting ubiquity. Does he define the omnipresence as “timelessness” so that there is no such thing as an absence (but if there is to be no “second coming”, how could there have been an incarnation?)

    Nathan: this of course, is meant to unite all men to God by grace (not nature) – through the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16) using the faithful word that brings life (Rom. 10:17).

    mark: Is meant to? But doesn’t? Does this mean that the Holy Spirit is now making the atonement, now being timeless but here in the sacrament and every time all over again? But if so, what did Christ get done in the past by His death (which you say was for a moment)? Were any sins imputed to Christ then and there? Are sins now being imputed by sinners (or the Spirit) to Christ? And most importantly, once those sins have been imputed to Christ, is there still a possibility of those sins still being imputed back to the sinners? or is it that all the sins which were imputed yesterday still need to be imputed again today, and forever? I am still trying to figure out how Lutherans turn the indicative (once and done) of Romans 6 into something else.

    Nathan; Yes, the Son of God, the Logos, died – if but just for a moment. Further think on this: one might even object to this regarding his humanity saying that, in one sense, no human being really dies, for God is not the God of the dead but the living.

    mark: That sure doesn’t sound like Luther. Luther knew that death was a real enemy. Luther knew that the world is now full of s—-. Luther would not ever say that death is real, even if he did later agree to not disagree with Calvin about some kind of “intermediate access” for dead saints in heaven now. But early on, Luther saw through the Platonism of the Romanist “immortality of the soul” which says that “no human really dies.”

    I can’t think of anything more in antithesis to the gospel.

    If no human ever really dies, and if Jesus is really human (which is what we seem to be really talking about, is Jesus still human, or is Jesus now something which is not completely human, not in a place, not there instead of here, not coming again but always here), if Jesus is really human and humans don’t really die, then Jesus did not die, then we have no gospel and no hope. But then again, if humans don’t really die, then there is no real enemy Death, and no need for a gospel…

    Nathan: no human being really dies, for God is not the God of the dead but the living.

    mark: again, the antithesis of the gospel, because it’s a denial of the resurrection, a denial of even the need for the resurrection. Because if no human really dies, then no human ever needs to be resurrected. In context, God is God of the living is not at all about Abraham never dying. it’s about God raising Abraham from the dead

    Matthew 22: 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”

    When Nathan denies that humans really die, that is “triumphalism” of the worst sort, the most dreadful kind of “theology of glory”. Instead of calling a spade, (see Forde vs Longfellow, On Being a Theologian of the Cross), Nathan is for “sacramental” reasons (ie, Christological tradition) leaves out the hope of the justified elect, that we are “children of the resurrection”,

    Romans 6: For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin would be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been justified from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

    Romans 8: 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

    I Corinthians 15: 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.

  106. mark mcculley
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    sorry i don’t have more time today

    here’s a link to Kilcrease’s essay summary of his Forde dissertation

    http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/KilcreaseFordesDoctrineOfTheLaw.pdf

    if and when i find the link to the dissertation itself, i will give that link

    I mean–I like lots of Forde’s Lutheran conclusions and soundbites, but he has no right to say any of them, because he denies that the atonement is about the propitiation of God’s wrath

    In the end, I guess, Forde’s denial of God’s wrath (only human wrath) is not ultimately different than other Lutherans who say that Christ objectively took away the wrath for all but that all who one day “resist the words of promise connected to their baptism” will still suffer the wrath that Christ took away,. But Forde sounds worse. Kilcrease sincerely thinks Christ back then and there did something which might possible appease the wrath of God.

  107. mark mcculley
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I found the link to Kilcrease’s self-donation book. But this is tricky, since only one url per post

    check the first comment on this mockingbird essay

    http://www.mbird.com/2013/05/big-foot-called-my-unicorn-an-antinomian-the-double-bind-of-the-law-jady-koch/#comment-131708

  108. Lily
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Aye, DGH, I’m not great at splainin’. I believe you well know how Luther explains the Lord’s Supper and baptism, so I won’t repeat it and remind you they aren’t signs/seals for Lutherans. God does what he promises (vows) he will do. And the gospel promises (forgiveness/salvation) are attached to the sacraments. They are nothing without his word. So, the reference to Rome seems odd, especially since they say they do not have assurance…. And I simply don’t get the comment about defaulting to the word… oy, the sacraments are nothing without the word.

    I think the point of what I was attempting to make is that our assurance derives from the same place in all three (word, baptism, Lord’s Supper) because we take God at his word and believe him. His promise in baptism is sure and true, so the result is assurance. Better?

  109. Posted November 15, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Will need to be my last response until Monday.

    D.G.

    Thanks again for the reply.

    Actually, I am confident that I don’t appreciate my baptism enough. Why would you attribute “enthusiasm” to what I say there. I just said I had certainty that my parents actually had baptized me. I guess for you, you are saying you don’t think you could trust your parent’s memory or judgment, not to mention baptismal certificates, pictures, film, old cards, etc. (what would be enough for you I wonder)?

    As for what you say about certainty, I like what you say. Still, it seems to me that there is at least room for doubt in Calvinism, based on things like this: http://upstatelutheran.blogspot.com/2010/02/calvin-on-temporary-deep-in-heart-faith.html

    +Nathan

  110. Posted November 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    ….

    Mark,

    You can rest your concerns about my supposed denials. I had said: this of course, is meant to unite all men to God by grace (not nature) – through the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16) using the faithful word that brings life (Rom. 10:17).

    Yes, God unites us to Him by preaching and baptizing (Rom. 10:17). That is biblical. We focus on what happens in time, not before all worlds. Of course, this might become very problematic for persons who do cannot be confident of things like their being baptized as an infant, for example!

    “Does this mean that the Holy Spirit is now making the atonement, now being timeless but here in the sacrament and every time all over again?”

    No, the atonement is once and for all.

    “But if so…”

    Again, no. You could have saved yourself some time here! Still, I will take this one: “I am still trying to figure out how Lutherans turn the indicative (once and done) of Romans 6 into something else”.

    The baptism is valid but apart from faith, which is not something we do, but a gift of God, the baptism is not efficacious. We cannot give ourselves faith, but we can lose faith through faith-destroying and doubt-inducing sins (see Jordan Cooper’s lengthy paper on perseverance in the Bible).

    “early on, Luther saw through the Platonism of the Romanist “immortality of the soul” which says that “no human really dies.””

    You are right – I chose my words poorly. What Jesus was saying was directed to persons who did not believe there was a resurrection of the *dead* – i.e. that does who physically die continue to exist as souls until they are given new bodies. Of course we all really die, and death is a stinking enemy .

    +Nathan

  111. Posted November 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    does = those

    Time to quit for today… : )

    +Nathan

  112. Katy
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I think we agree, Lily (and Zrim). My pastor is an excellent preacher, and his sermons rarely go beyond 20 min. I believe David Petersen is one of the best preachers in our synod, and his are short. But the worst sermons I’ve ever heard, by far, were lcms and Roman Catholic homilies that went 10-15 minutes, and took less time to prepare (I suppose it’s a mercy they were so short).

    Zrim, ha! Forgot about the prayers. Once my FIL (Reformed Baptist) was called on to pray at evening service at a church he was visiting! He’s a quiet guy, and wasn’t happy about it. Also, a distant relative (also RB) married a LCMS PK. He became a true Anabaptist. His reformese prayers are insufferably long. Our corporate prayers are pretty long, though, too. They just don’t have the variety of voice inflections

  113. Posted November 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Eric Phillips says: “We tend to assume today that the secular authority is responsible for regulating secular affairs only. This is not a natural assumption, or a very old one. Religious toleration is a product of 17th and 18th century thought, greatly expedited by the horrors of the Reformation-era religious wars. In the 16th century, not even the persecuted Anabaptists thought it made sense for the prince to punish a man who deprived his neighbor of his physical life, but ignore another man who was attempting to lead his neighbor into heresy and eternal death.”

    John Y: I don’t know if you are Lutheran, Reformed, Catholic or something else Eric. Verduin gives a lot of the credit for the separation of Church and State to Anabaptist thinkers that migrated to the United States after the Reformation. In fact, it seems he gives them more credit than the thinkers of the French Revolution (17th and 18th century thought) which I am assuming you are referring to. I hope you are not implying that you would want to go back to some kind of neo-Constatinianism. I know the 2Kers at oldlife want no such thing. They agree with the amendments that occured in some of the confessional statements regarding magistrates. I don’t think I agree with you last sentence either. The Anabaptist’s wanted almost nothing to do with the earthly magistrates and their weilding the sword in the church or any churchly matters.

  114. Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Lily says: I don’t know how to respond. I don’t worry about the sinful parts of church history and I don’t see any point in arguing Lutheran theology to convince you of anything. In the past, you have said that you spent several years with your Lutheran pastor trying to resolve the mish-mash you learned from McMark and that both you and your pastor finally decided it was best for you to leave the LCMS. Unlike you, I don’t take McMark seriously as he seems to be a theologically confused person who specializes in caricature and potshots at things he doesn’t understand. I am convinced by scripture that the Lutheran doctrines are true. I am not convinced by Reformed logic that goes beyond scripture. It is what it is.”

    John Y: I find Lutherans to be very confused and contradictory and they seem to glory in it too. Just read some of Trent’s and Nathan’s comments. You cannot tell me that they are not using logic and reason to go beyond what the Scriptures are saying. All theologians do it. You have to be able to make logical deductions and inferences in order to formulate biblical doctrines. And I think Mark is being very generous in responding to the Lutherans who have commented without resorting to any accusations regarding how confused they are. I have gotten more out of my dialogs with Mark, and the materials he has sent me, then I did talking with my Lutheran pastor who could not really answer a lot of the questions I had. He got wearied with them too and did not want much to do with them.

    I have to admit I am having a hard time following Mark’s comments with Trent and Nathan and their significance.

  115. Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Katy says: I’m just popping in to say I am really enjoying this discussion. And to apologize for any emoticons I have used in comments on this site in the past.

    (John, I admire your continuing comparison and the hard questions you ask of both sides.)

    John Y: Thank you, Katy- I appreciate your sense of humor and enjoy reading your comments too. A Lutheran open to honest questions and reasonable dialog. I did meet a lot of people I enjoyed being around in Lutheran churches so my experience was not really a negative one. I hold no grudges or resentments with any Lutherans I have had contact with.

  116. Zrim
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Katy, what I’m saying, though, is that what’s good for prayers is also good for sermons (both are in the Word category). Be succinct, economical, reverent, meaningful, thoughtful, and prepared. Seems like a good guard against all forms of pietism, doctrinal or otherwise.

  117. Lily
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Katy, what a gift you have been given in having Pastor Petersen! Agreed that he is one of the best and it’s a mercy when poor sermons are short. I am thankful you have a very good pastor.

  118. mark mcculley
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    reminder for monday for nathan:

    what did Christ get done in the past by His death (which you say was for a moment)?

    Were any sins imputed to Christ then and there?

    Are sins now being imputed by sinners (or the Spirit) to Christ?

    Once those sins have been imputed to Christ, is there still a possibility of those sins still being imputed back to the sinners?

    Do all the sins which were imputed yesterday still need to be imputed again today, and forever?

    Is Jesus Christ coming back, since He is already here?

  119. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    I know this is a bit late, but I think it’s worth it.

    http://youtu.be/LhtaXzu2kto

    Nacho “grabbed him by his baptism” a little early, but maybe it’s still valid.

  120. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Again I ask you, Daniel, “Is it actually surprising to you that the Gospel ‘does no good’ for those who reject it?” You are missing the point.

    “If you believe, then Christ died for you” is a pale shadow of the pure Gospel: “Christ died for you.” The former invites the hearer to gin up some faith. The latter is a gift.

  121. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    DG H says: “Where it strikes me Protestants have gone wrong with assurance is to look to some experience as the basis for certainty. And no offense, but it sounds like you’re a bit of an enthusiast about your own baptism and its celebrations.”

    If Lily was talking about some subjective “burning in the bosom” that she experienced at her baptism, then your comment might make sense. But of course she isn’t. Probably she was baptized as a baby. We look to Baptism on the basis of God’s promise: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). That’s downright logocentric. It’s the farthest thing from enthusiasm.

  122. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Mark to Trent: “for all your dancing (we don’t necessarily deny etc), you reject any salvation which is conditioned on God’s sovereignty and on what CHRIST HAS ALREADY DONE in history. You want to bring everything into the “now”, so that it can be up to us.”

    Suddenly you sound like you don’t know anything about Lutheranism. Here’s a bit from Luther’s Small Catechism, on the Article of the Holy Spirit: “I know that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His grace, sanctified and kept me in the True Church.” Salvation is entirely monergistic.

  123. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    John Yeazel,

    If Verduin gives more credit to American Anabaptists on that score than to the Enlightenment, I’d have to say he sounds like a suspect source.

    As for your last comment, of course the Anabaptists didn’t want to have political power and responsibility themselves. They didn’t have any, so they made a virtue out of necessity. But thinkers such as Menno Simon still recognized that the people who _did_ have the power also had the responsibility to save simple believers from heretics. He just didn’t think governmental coercion to that end should go as far as capital punishment.

  124. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    Eric, in what sense is a general atonement a gift for the damned? God knows the future, right? So it’s not possible for someone who suffers the second death to benefit from the atonement—at least in the sense of “benefit” that they’d actually care about.

    Re: ginning up faith, I think I recall language something like “repent and believe.”

    Like, if this gift of the general atonement is so great, do you tell the prospective convert the caveats? “Yes, Jesus died to propitiate Gods wrath on your, YOUR, behalf!***”

    *** Despite this, may still see corruption, just as if he hadn’t died for you. Because you can lose it. But maybe you can get it back. Just don’t lose it again.

  125. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    The snark conceals genuine befuddlement at the Lutheran position on this. I just don’t get the propaganda. If X’s death “of course” does no good to unbelievers, then how is it a gift to them?

    We’ll, the gift is offered.

    But God knows they’re not going to take it.

    Now, someone who says “yeah, I just believe in a general atonement. It doesn’t benefit the damned. So it’s not superior to a limited atonement on that front”—I can respect and understand that. What I don’t understand is “limited atonement is a pale shadow of the gospel” business.

  126. Posted November 16, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Eric, I have detected in some comments about baptism what I have also heard from evangelicals about their conversion experience. Bosoms burn in various ways.

  127. Posted November 16, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    First off, I think this piece by Canadian Lutheran Matthew Block is germane, and might help clarify the Lutheran position viz. predestination. Yes, I know you all “know” it, but another iteration doesn’t hurt, and might help.

    First Things: Why Lutheran Predestination Isn’t Calvinist

    Pretty clear, eh?

    Dr. Hart, while it may be true that some Lutherans speak of their baptisms as evangelicals might speak of their “conversion experience,” there is something objective about the experience of getting baptized which is undeniably lacking in the subjective experience of “conversion.” With baptism, it doesn’t really matter if your bosom burns — you were baptized; ergo, you are a “baptized one”. When faith weakens, Satan accuses, and doubts arise, we who are baptized ought to cling to the promise that is spoken to us in our baptism, which promise comes to us from outside of ourselves: “I have called you by name; you are mine.” Contrast this with the evangelical who must ask himself, “Did I really get saved that one time when I thought I did? Did I really make a decision for Christ? Was that really the hour I first believed?” Couple this with “believers’ baptism” (which I know you’re not doing), and it’s little wonder why you find that such types have been baptized three or four times.

  128. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 16, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Trent, this is exactly the kind of thing that rings hollow: “cling to the promise that is spoken to us in our baptism.”

    But millions of baptized, who had those same promises, perished and will perish.

    So how is that better? What good is the promise if he’s not going to keep it?

  129. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    That article I’ve read before. He gives up the game by retreating to paradox.

  130. Nick
    Posted November 16, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Daniel, Can you “cling to the promises spoken to us in the word?” Because, for Lutherans, it’s no different than clinging to the promises of baptism because those are in the word. Only, it’s harder to doubt because I know it applies to me as it was applied to my forehead. It’s a lot easier to doubt the preached word, as I can always rationalize how it can’t apply to a sinner like me…especially if I think the atonement is limited.

    That said, maybe we should make doctrine using your method i.e. “from my limited experience, I perceive that all these folks fell away from the promises of baptism, so surely the bible’s promises attached to the waters of baptism can’t be true, and I’m a fool to believe them.”

  131. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 18, 2013 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    D.G. Hart,

    You’ve detected that in comments on this thread? Can you give an example? Confidence in the event of Baptism isn’t automatically subjective confidence.

  132. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 18, 2013 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Daniel,

    > Re: ginning up faith, I think I recall language something like “repent and believe.”

    “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” is a lot different than “If you believe, Christ died for you.” It is necessary, before we invite someone to believe in Jesus, that we have already told them the good news about Jesus: “He died for you.” Otherwise, what the heck are they believing in? “If you believe, Christ died for you” is not a statement of the Gospel. It’s a conditional statement. It’s recursive. “I believe that if I believe…?” Bah.

    > “Yes, Jesus died to propitiate Gods wrath on your, YOUR, behalf!”

    Yes, we tell that to those who have not yet believed, and we keep telling it to the faithful. There is no asterisk. If they scorn the gift, the judgment takes care of itself. That’s even implied in the statement you composed. There’s wrath, and Jesus is the only propitiation, the only way out.

    > But God knows they’re not going to take it.

    Whether some individual believes or not, the Atonement is the same. The Atonement is objective. “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor. 5:19).

    > What I don’t understand is “limited atonement is a pale shadow of the gospel” business.

    It’s because you can’t put your faith in the death of Jesus unless you know He died for you. The Gospel is a promise that faith receives. An if-then statement, or one qualified by an unknowable variable, is not a promise, and cannot be received by faith.

  133. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 18, 2013 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    Daniel to Trent: “What good is the promise if he’s not going to keep it?”

    You’re attributing breach-of-faith to the wrong party.

  134. mark mcculley
    Posted November 18, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Eric: You can’t put your faith in the death of Jesus unless you know He died for you.

    mark: You can’t put your faith in the death of Jesus unless you know that death actually saves people, but on the Lutheran theory Jesus died for persons who won’t be saved, so in order to be saved, they are putting their trust in something else besides the death. They can’t put their faith in the death alone, which they know doesn’t save without them doing something.

    Eric: The Gospel is a promise that faith receives.

    mark: there is only one true gospel, and many false gospels, and many receive a false gospel by faith. For example, they receive the news that Jesus died even for those who perish.. 1. Well, sure, he already did or didn’t, so I don’t see how my receiving it or not changes anything. 2. Even if I don’t receive it, you assure me that Jesus died for me. Fine, I have don’t a problem with that. 3. But what difference does it make anyway? If the death makes no difference unless I receive it, what difference did it make if I do receive it It doesn’t make all for whom it was intended receive it, so what does it do that the receiving alone does do? Occam’s razor. 4. Isn’t the difference here my receiving it and not the death? 5. So what is it that actually takes away the wrath of God? If indeed Jesus died for you and you perish, then the death did not take away the divine wrath from you. So those who are saved from the wrath must do that by their receiving.

    6. The death of Jesus must be like the water that God uses as one instrument (with words, promise) in giving regeneration and justification, since the water and the regeneration and the justification will not last without you continuing to believe that it was for you. And of course the Bible says clearly it was objectively for you but that will have no efficacy in the end without your subjective input. 7. And Jesus did not die to give any elect person this faith, because Jesus died for everybody and not everybody continues in faith, so that faith comes from somewhere else than Jesus or His death.

    eric: An if-then statement, or one qualified by an unknowable variable, is not a promise, and cannot be received by faith.

    mark: If you receive it, then it works is an “if-then statement”. Your continuing to receive it certainly is an unknowable variable, since many who used to receive it stop doing so, and many for whom Jesus died will perish. But that’s on them, not on God, because God did all God could, and Jesus died for them.

    Does an ordained clergyman get to keep his ordination charisma even if he stops being the sacrament that hands out the sacraments, even if he starts teaching math in a college etc?

    Does the baptism of a Lutheran have an efficacy to curse them if they start sinning the sins which are incompatible with faith, so that in their case they can’t be both justified and sinner at the same time? (yes, this is the third time I asked the question about Mielander agreeing with the pope about certain sins causing you to lose justification.)

  135. Posted November 18, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    Sorry – no time to really be here today. That said, looking at your questions briefly, it seems that these questions are fairly easily answered, so will go quickly. God is reconciled with all men through the blood of His Son. It is some of us who are not reconciled to Him (unbelief which rejects this gift). When the forgiveness of sins is personally applied to individual penitent persons (like in absolution, or the Lord’s Supper, for example) faith is strengthened in the heart (or renewed if that person had lost faith) and through this action people are given peace with God, eternal life and salvation. Christians need to continually have the benefits of Christ’s victory of the cross applied to them in the current moment through the means of grace in order that there faith may be strengthened, encouraged, nurtured…. I am not sure I understand your question about the Last Day. Christ will visibly appear in his spiritual human body with his angels before all eyes to judge the living and the dead. The paper by Carey may focus specifically on baptism (I do not recall if it does), but what he says there about baptism is often directly transferable to what Lutherans say about absolution and the Lord’s Supper.

    To understand all of what I am saying here in much more depth, see my discussion with Called to Communion’s Andrew Preslar about Aquinas and the assurance of salvation.

    +Nathan

  136. Posted November 18, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    Real quick: saw this to: “this is the third time I asked the question about Mielander agreeing with the pope about certain sins causing you to lose justification.”

    Of course this is true. See my post post: “Confession: I am narrowminded”. Luther says this directly in the Smalcald Articles. Faith can be lost and it happens in time.

    +Nathan

  137. Posted November 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I highly suspect that Luther and the fathers of Lutheranism would have included the subjective ground of assurance in their preaching.

  138. mark mcculley
    Posted November 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Nate, I understand that Lutherans teach the false gospel that justification can be lost. Different God. My question has more to do with how you think this takes place. Losing faith is sin. So it seems your doctrine of apostasy means that there are rather serious limits to this “justified and also sinner” thing.

    I can understand if you would rather we read some more of your own essays elsewhere than to read the Mielander or the Cary essays elsewhere. But I am going to content myself with reacting to what’s been written in this thread. And it’s not only that Lutherans contradict other Lutherans. You all seem to have a “shell-game” in which you offer a generalization about an objective universal reconciliation (God is no longer at enmity with any sinner, of course Forde denies that God ever was),

    But then it turns out that 1. this objective reconciliation is not enough to actually reconcile many of the sinners for whom it was done and to whom it is proclaimed. It turns out that 2. the reconciliation is not received by God’s imputation. God did something, but that something just sits there and does no good, unless the sinner’s enmity to God is gone, not only in non-resistance in the water but continued non-resistance until you die. Then it turns out in the end that God is at enmity again with those who are enmity with Him.

    But the “shell-game” continues when Lutherans say but 3. we agree that faith which trusts instead of being at enmity, that this is not man’s doing, but God’s gift given through the sacraments, so yes the objective universal atonement depends on our receiving but it turns out that even this receiving was God’s gift. But then 4, here’s the trick, some who receive don’t continue to receive, because God does not continue to give them grace so that they not only are able to but actually do continue to receive. So there’s no certainty here.

    But 5. that doesn’t keep Lutherans from taking potshots at the Reformed for not having assurance, for a systematic inability to have assurance in the Reformed traddition. Lutherans–ok, if and when we perish, well then that will prove that we were not elect and that we did not continue to believe and that God did not give us that gift (no freewill, remember!), but even then unlike the Reformed, we will have the assurance that Christ died for us and that God was reconciled with us, that God as the Holy agent of reconciliation was not at enmity with us because Christ died for us.

    But 6, it seems that this Christ did not die to give us continuing faith, and that faith comes from somewhere else. It turns out that this faith must come not from the atonement and the justice of the cross, that this faith does not continue to be given to some, because despite our objective universal announcements, there is this hidden God, which our preaching ignored. But still we think there’s more assurance in our Lutheran system even with that Hidden God than there is with a logical Reformed announcement in the gospel that God only loves the elect.

    This is why I say ‘shell game”, with stuff hidden in the fine print. In neither system can we know now who’s non-elect before we die. And the Lutherans know they can’t know who’s really elect until a person continues in faith to the end, because some sins are inconsistent with faith, and that person might commit those sins. But despite knowing this, the Lutheran says “for you” in a way that makes the generalization sound sacramentally “for you individually in particular”. But it turns out that the good news was NOT “on the last day I will raise you up and give you immortality’. It turns out that what they were saying is— there is an objective universal justification for you, so that God now is not now at enmity with you.

    And what is left unsaid, while boasting about their advantage over the Reformed, is that God might indeed in the end be at enmity with you again. God reconciled Himself in the death of Son. God is both subject and object of this general reconciliation, but it does turn out for many, that this Reconciliation is not enough….

  139. mark mcculley
    Posted November 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    3 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?

    mark: And the Lutheran says, God is objectively reconciled with every single sinner. But this universal objective thing only works if do what we do. It only works if you do things the right way, like we do. Some of the people God loves and wants to save begin to receive the universal reconciliation by works of love. But then the rest of us receive the universal reconciliation the correct way. You must do “not doing” the way we do.

    Romans 9: 30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works.

    mark: And the Lutherans say, God has an objective righteousness for every single sinner. But this universal righteousness only works for those who keep pursuing it the right way, the way we are doing it. The Reformed preaching makes it as though the righteousness were not for everyone (but only for those who believe), because the Reformed make it sound like the righteousness is enough to save all to whom it is given.

    But the Lutherans know that the righteousness is given to everybody, but that it doesn’t work for those who do not continue to pursue it the right way. And the Lutherans say that it was grace that will cause those who pursue the right way to pursue the right way. But they do not agree with the Reformed that being placed into the death of Christ results in true faith. Instead the Lutherans think that continuing in pursuit and true faith is the difference which makes the righteousness (which is for everybody) only work for some.

    Because the Lutherans have never heard of such a thing as there being no water in Romans 6, because everybody knows that God uses means in imputation, and everybody knows that being placed into the death does not mean necessarily that you will stay in Christ or in Christ’s death. Because everybody knows that there is nothing more real and concrete than the water (with words)

    Because even though the death was really real for every sinner, the water makes the universal justification more real, not for everybody, but for everybody who receives the water, and this is not a subjective reality, because water (with words) is an objective reality.

    “Objective justification” is for the eventually non-elect also, because even though it’s a generalization that everybody is forgiven, in reality only some are in the end forgiven, and they are not forgiven because they are elect. Instead they are elect because they are the ones who are really forgiven in the end.

    The subset of those who are objectively forgiven who get the promise by means of word with sacrament are not given an “if, then” duty. They are told upfront that Jesus died for them, and to therefore believe it.

    But here’s the catch. Since the indicative comes before the imperative, even if we don’t do the imperative, the indicative is still true. This means that those who perish in the second death can remind themselves (as they continue in sin) that they were objectively forgiven, and that this never changed, because it never depended on them to make it true, even though it seems that some other realities did depend on other factors, but as they perish, they can still do so with the comfort that they were objectively forgiven.

    But isn’t it necessary to make the indicative come first in order to avoid Arminianism? Believing it’s so doesn’t make it so, so it’s so before you believe.

    It’s so so that you will believe. But then again, because even though the objective forgiveness which was true from the first is still true when you perish, SO WHAT? The universal objective forgiveness didn’t make it worse for you, since you were already condemned, but then again, the universal objective forgiveness means zero when some of you still die the second death by the just wrath of God.

  140. mark mcculley
    Posted November 18, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Does the gospel give us Christ?

    Or does Christ give us the gospel, which is the divine power for salvation?

    Or both?

    Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes

    Romans 10: 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

    I Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
    20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

  141. Posted November 19, 2013 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    Your grammar is atrocious. Your prose is incoherent. Your reasoning is convoluted. Your argument is impenetrable, and not in a good way. Your manner of quoting of others in this thread is tactless and dishonest. You approach theology like Sudoku, evidently; there is as much of grace in your words as there is in a set of VCR programming instructions. Please don’t flatter your specially-beloved-by-God self by thinking that no one is responding to you because your argument is just that good. In truth, it’s not at all clear what you’re even saying. All that can be garnered from your comments is that you have a slavish devotion to a peculiar set of first principles which seem self-evident to you, but which no one else really understands. Your comments are arrogant, tautological, and masturbatory. I expect that such a metaphor is beyond your ken; please know that I have no intention of clarifying it for you.

    You’re probably thinking “Aha! They have fallen in the face of my superior logic.” Enjoy that thought, as well as the clear and distinct religion that’s going on between your ears. Enjoy your (spiritual, non-sacramental) communion with the Westborough Baptists, and other sundry elect types. Just remember that that limb you’re sawing off is the same one that you’re sitting on. Again, I don’t expect you to understand this, but I don’t think it can be helped just now.

    Aaaaaaaand…I’m out.

  142. Posted November 19, 2013 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Trent, but he is our McMark. You’re welcome here, but careful how you treat the regulars.

    Also, you may be careful of throwing this one around, “you have a slavish devotion to a peculiar set of first principles which seem self-evident to you, but which no one else really understands.” This seems to be a point from which we all suffer. Lutherans don’t appreciate Calvinists and vice versa.

    Can’t we all just get a comment?

  143. mikelmann
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Trent’s comment was so over the top that I’m wondering if MMc hit a bullseye back there somewhere. Hey Trent, look for your mellow place. If you’re in Colorado you’ve got all kinds of options.

  144. mark mcculley
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Dear Trent, Despite my “grammar” problems, it seems that you did understand me enough to be offended. I (think I) understand your reluctance to help me with my language problems, since I wouldn’t understand you anyway. I am just hoping that your offense is not caused only by my not being able to communicate.

    mark: it seems that the Lutheran doctrine of apostasy means that there are rather serious limits to this “justified and at the same time also sinner” thing.

  145. Posted November 19, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    Thanks for the response. I’ll read carefully and try to get back to you with answers soon.

    +Nathan

  146. mark mcculley
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Trent: Your comments are arrogant, tautological, and masturbatory… religion that’s going on between your ears.

    mark: at least he didn’t say I was thinking with my …….
    At least I don’t think he was.
    We think and feel in the same place

    My mind and heart not being ubiquitous, the location is “between my ears”? Or am I accused of having no heart?

    Our minds and hearts are really the same thing. In Hebrew, there is no separate word for “mind”.
    In Greek, there are separate words for “mind” but we still think in our hearts

    Matthew 9:4 Jesus knew the thoughts in their hearts

    If somebody thinks too much, does that mean they will turn into individuals with a religion only for themselves? (Mr Spock?)

    When I get mad at the bad calls on the basketball game on tv, my wife wants me to “use my head”.

    But perhaps consuming basketball on tv is not like the experience of consuming a sermon and “sacrament”,

    Is a “sacrament” less of a burning experience for those who ask too many questions? If we keep asking questions, when will it ever get quiet enough for the clergy to manipulate and forgive us?

    “Make-believe” can be useful at times, but some of us are not ready yet to sell questions of truth to get there.

  147. Posted November 19, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Eminem,

    So could Trent’s remark be construed as scandalous? Mega-dings for you and DGH supporting the regulars.

  148. Posted November 19, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Mark, Dr. Hart et al.

    I apologize for my rant. It was out of line. I don’t think finding my mellow place is the solution, since I was already twee martoonies into my mellow place when I wrote that.

    I will refrain from commenting further until or unless I have time to compose something constructive.

  149. Posted November 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Trent.

    Bottoms up.

  150. George
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Trent sez, “… I don’t think finding my mellow place is the solution, since I was already twee martoonies into my mellow place when I wrote that …”

    I think we’ve identified the problem: Reformed types drink bourbon and scotch.

    In all seriousness, like Yeazel, I enjoy and usually learn some things (if nothing else, how each side differs from the other in their doctrinal views) from these discussions. Don’t give up just yet – we need to flesh out even more details from BoC and how the Lutheran perspective works.

    PS: this is just my own personal opinion, but I tend to think that had Luther and Calvin been peers they would have worked through some of these issues and the Germanic provinces would have had a unified church all along.

  151. mark mcculley
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    No problem, Trent. I always prefer comments to indifference. The cruel thing to do is simply to ignore all comments by some persons. It doesn’t have to be planned to be a conspiracy, as we paranoid folks know.

    mark: Lutherans seem to have a “shell-game” in which you offer a generalization about an objective universal reconciliation.

    And Lutherans are not the only ones.

    We all like our won comfort zones, and why should we not?

    Why should some —– divert our attention to something different or new or short-term?

    What’s good for a consumer economy is everybody always wanting many new ideas between their ears (and experiences in their heads). How many times a day do you consume this blog?

    BUT it is also good for a consumer economy that nobody gets attached long to any of the new ideas or products, so they can “move on” to what’s next on “offer”

    And yet here I am again, still between my ears, and in a comment box

    The “sacrament” pushers think the “sacraments” would transform me, if incrementally bestowed on me, in at least weekly fixes .

    Not tempting enough, unless a new book (or cd) is included with every “sacrament”

  152. mikelmann
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Well Trent all things work for good since you reminded me that I need to pick up some vermouth.

  153. mark mcculley
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    we all like our won comfort zones

    we all like our own comfort zones

    we all like our own first principles

    and it makes us feel better if we think Calvin (or Luther) likes our first principles also

    and why should we not?

    and those who used to be Zwinglians tend to sound more dogmatic about Zwinglianism being something like deism or atheism

  154. Todd
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Trent,

    While your rhetoric was certainly over the top, and your apology is appreciated and praiseworthy, you are not completely out in left field when it comes to Mark’s theology. As one we would label hyper-Calvinist, (I know he doesn’t agree with the label or term), he is devoted to a peculiar set of first principles which seem self-evident to him; in this sense his understanding of election, that he cannot allow any view that seems to challenge his rational understanding of how election works, and any understanding besides his ends up being a denial of the gospel. Not much room for more or less pure as our Westminster Confession states. Thus when the Bible clearly states in many places how God did love the wicked, he cannot fathom a love for the non-elect without it compromising his understanding of election, no matter how clear the biblical texts are. And he certainly does not represent reformed theology when he states that Lutherans worship “another god.” We reformed believe you Lutherans are in error, but also believe one can be wrong on election and still worship the true God if he holds to justification by faith (and obviously, believes in Christ for salvation).

    Nevertheless, his criticisms of your position are valid. Finding assurance in your baptism in a system that teaches salvation can be lost is non-sensical and ends up throwing assurance back on the performance/perseverance of the believer instead of the promises of God in the gospel.

  155. Posted November 19, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Todd.

    Are you channeling John Murray’s mono-covenatalism? This does get complicated and discombobulated, doesn’t it? However, I believe that clarity and lucidity can be achieved (probably the wrong word). I think God the Father, like any good father, likes his children to stretch their minds. He does not want to give us all the answers to the jigsaw puzzle all at once. And I think you are wrong about McMark.

  156. todd
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Todd.

    Are you channeling John Murray’s mono-covenatalism?

    John,

    I have no idea what this means. I am very anti mono-covenantalism, but I do not see the connection you are trying to make.

  157. Posted November 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    M&M, what do you use vermouth in, salad dressing?

  158. Posted November 19, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Come on Todd, I think Mark has dealt with this issue here before. The law is not grace. Christ fulfilled the law for His elect. What is it about election that you think McMark is wrong about? I think the major prophets in the Old Testament saw the fulfillment of the law in the man of sorrows, and he who was well acquainted with grief I don’t see what you are saying.

  159. Todd
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Sorry John,

    You’ll have to be more specific. The law is not grace?

  160. Todd
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    John,

    It hit me that maybe you have not read my interactions with Mark in the past. I still do not know what you are referring to in your comments about mono-conventionalism- are you confusing me with someone else, because usually I am accused of being too Klinean?

    As to my differences with Mark – (I like some of what Mark writes, and think his pacifism deserves a hearing,) this is where I believe he is in error, that:

    1. Lutherans and Armenians worship a different god and should not be considered Christians
    2. If election is Biblical, God cannot love the non-elect in any way

    This traditionally is the position of hyper-Calvinist, which the reformed have rejected. (I do believe in election by the way.)

  161. mark mcculley
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    todd: — his rational understanding of how election works

    mark: And opposed to this is your rational understanding of how election works? Or is the idea that those who label as “hyper” are a small minority and that you stand with the greater number who teach that God loves even those who are non-elect and who perish? This has been a debated question among Reformed people for a long time, and it certainly not some individual concern I bring to the table from between my ears.

    It’s a shell game. He loves you, but not in that way. he loves you, but not enough to elect you or save you from perishing. He died for you, but you still might sin so much as to end up non-elect. He forgives you, but that’s now and maybe not later….

    I think a double accusation is being packed in here. First, that many more are on Todd’s side of the question than are on my side. But second, that I am only being “rational” and that Todd is not. But if you (and those with you) are not being rational, what is the claim? Are you saying that the Bible itself only teaches election and not non-election on purpose? Are you appealing to the Westminster Confession as teaching your view? Arguments that rely on lack of rationality tend to not be that rational. For example, they reference Bible texts without references or exegesis. As in, well, most everybody knows…..

    What makes me “hyper”? Is it saying “providence” rather than “common grace”? I don’t teach eternal justification. I teach that election is not to be only taught to some but to all sinners. I teach that all sinners are commanded to believe the gospel . I teach that the gospel is not necessary for the condemnation of any sinner. So how am I hyper? I teach God’s will as a command, and I teach God’s will as the hidden decree of election. I do not teach some other (third) “will” in which God wishes to save from His wrath even those who God has not elected to believe the gospel.

    This is the issue we could discuss. I do think it relates to a ‘conditional covenant” or to an “objective sacrament” “for you’. I am not sure where John Y is going with the covenants vs the covenant thing, but I think the question has more to do with how election governs “covenant”. As some of you know, the Protestant Reformed take a different view of the relation of election and covenant. (And the mainline Barthians (greater in number than you) take a different view of election.

    This is also related (I think) to the distinction between the institutional church and the organic church (Christians in the world), and to the visible/invisible distinction. So it’s more complex than “hyper” would tell you, and since almost nobody Reformed can be bothered with these complications (at least Todd thinks so), the thing to do (if you are still offended, as Todd tends to be) is to bring out the “hyper” word. I mean, mcmark won’t even say “sacrament”, so he has no standing, and the “rationalist” paedos who agree with him should simply be ignored (not encouraged). But Todd, if you read back, you will see not only the many ways you agree with Lutherans, but that I gave them fair warning about me not being kosher….

    The ultimate way we can tell people that the gospel is “outside of you” is to tell them that the gospel they MUST believe excludes even this believing as the condition of salvation. The only condition of
    salvation for the elect is Christ’s death for the elect.

    No debated language about the objectivity of “covenants” or “sacraments” should be allowed to obscure this gospel truth. Unless you preach that Christ died only for the elect, no matter how
    “confessional” you are, you will end up encouraging people to make their faith into that little something that makes the difference between life and death!

    Westminster Confession, Chapter 3: VI. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
    Chapter 8, V. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience, and sacrifice of himself, which he, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up to God, hath fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.

    Do we believe that the glory of God in the gospel means that all for whom Christ died will certainly be saved? Or is that doctrine too “rationalistic” for us? Would that doctrine perhaps take the grace of God out of the hands of those who hand out the “means of grace” and locate grace with the Father who has chosen a people and given them to Christ? (Romans 11:4-6)

    Election is God’s love. When the Bible talks about God’s love, it talks about propitiation. I John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” If all we only stipulate that the appeasement of wrath will not work without our faith, then it’s not enough to add on that God sent His Son to purchase our faith. The nature of the cross as a propitiation will not be proclaimed.

    Since there is only one propitiation, a propitiation for the elect which is also the same thing for the non-elect, amounts to nothing. Does Todd love the gospel of election, or does he suppress that doctrine, either by rationality or by dialectic diversions? Christ loved the church, but the church in this case is not the “federal vision” church where the elect in Christ can be cursed and become non-elect.

    “Hypers’ are accused of not wanting to proclaim the gospel to everybody. But that’s not a real problem for very many people. The problem instead is –what is the gospel, and does it have anything to say about election? Those offended by election want people to give themselves to Christ without knowing anything about election. Are they anxious that some of the elect won’t be saved if they should hear about election?

    The Lutherans say we need to tell everybody of their “objective justification’. But the Reformed tend to agree that we believe the gospel, before we can know if we are justified (and elect). (not before we are in the covenant, however!)

    Lutherans say we can’t know if we are elect until we die. The Reformed agree that knowing our election before we believe is impossible. Knowing our election is NOT our warrant to believe. (See Abraham Booth’s wonderful book Glad Tidings). The gospel does not tell anyone that they are elect. On this Lutherans and the Reformed can agree. But to avoid the shell game, shall we give full disclosure—shall we say, you are objectively justified, but this says nothing about if you are elect in the end? Shall we put the doctrine of election “on the shelf”, as Richard Mouw does and only bring it out when we are trying to convince somebody else that we are also Reformed?

    The Bible doctrine of election does not teach unbelievers that they are elect, nor does the Bible doctrine of election teach unbelievers that they can find out if they are elect without or before believing, The glory of God does not depend on human decisions or humans “not-resisting” grace, and the gospel must not become a hostage to alliance with Lutherans who in the name of universal atonement condition salvation on what God does in the sinner.

    We must not confuse the propitiation with God’s legal application of the propitiation. Romans 6 teaches that God in time places the elect into the death of Christ, and there is a resulting transition from wrath to favor. Free from righteousness, then free from sin, not under the law. But this is legal application of the atonement, not the atonement (impetration) itself.

  162. mark mcculley
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think we have to be wrong in order to label ourselves as still “theologians of the cross”. (not that we need more labels)

    A theology of glory is not about being dogmatic about ‘first principles”. A theology of glory places hope in what we think God has done or will do in the sinner. Being told to look at the doctrine of election to understand who Christ is and what Christ did is not assuming that you yourself are elect.

    Todd— Finding assurance in your baptism in a system that teaches salvation can be lost is non-sensical and ends up throwing assurance back on the performance/perseverance of the believer instead of the promises of God in the gospel.

    http://www.tdaviddemarest.com/2013/11/01/some-thoughts-on-the-feast-of-the-reformation/

    Trent: I’m going to beat this dead horse until it gets up and runs away, but there is no such thing as the Protestant Reformation. There is only the Reformation, and it does not include anything that went outside of the Confession which was first made at Augsburg. It does not include the Reformed with their repristinated Nestorianism and their infernal double predestination.

    Trent: Please don’t flatter your specially-beloved-by-God self

    mark: Since I have met a few people who claim to be five point (tulip) Lutherans, and I have met some paedos who tell me that being Reformed is more than the tulip (I agree) and therefore less than tulip, not needing the five points (I disagree), I won’t presume to say that all Lutherans deny the doctrine of election. But I can’t help but wonder if Trent says “your special” sarcasm to everybody who believes and talks about election. The presumptions being

    1. those who believe in election also think they know who is and who is not elect
    2. that there is no such thing as one sinner being “specially favored”, since all sinners are objectively favored, even those who perish

  163. Wholesome Severity
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    Mark, about “all sinners are objectively favored:” Yep, if everybody is special, then nobody is special. This is the problem with universal atonement and universal objective justification, as well as the “Christ is dead for you” brand of low Calvinism.

  164. Posted November 20, 2013 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the plug, I guess..

    On the other hand, it seems like bad form to say “it’s alright” or “I forgive you” or “apology accepted” and then quote the offending piece over again. Or perhaps I’m not elect, so I can’t actually be forgiven?

  165. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    Mark says, “You can’t put your faith in the death of Jesus unless you know that death actually saves people, but on the Lutheran theory Jesus died for persons who won’t be saved, so in order to be saved, they are putting their trust in something else besides the death.”

    Not at all. All those who die depending on the death and resurrection of Christ will be saved. There is no other object for faith. The damned for whom Christ died simply don’t believe the promise.

    Mark says, “So what is it that actually takes away the wrath of God? If indeed Jesus died for you and you perish, then the death did not take away the divine wrath from you. So those who are saved from the wrath must do that by their receiving.”

    The death of Jesus is “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). In it God “was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor. 5:19). In the God-Man, the wrath of God towards the human race is no more. He is the new Ark, and “the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19 again), the Gospel given to the Church in light of Christ’s atonement, is that everyone has a seat. But those who do not believe, who remain outside, must still reckon with the Deluge.

    “Receiving,” by the way, isn’t something we do. You can’t make yourself believe. Belief is passive. Fact: God has saved the world in Christ. Do you believe? Yay or nay, “Let it be done for you as you have believed” (Matt. 8:13).

    I said, “An if-then statement, or one qualified by an unknowable variable, is not a promise, and cannot be received by faith.” Mark replied, “If you receive it, then it works is an ‘if-then statement.'”

    The only way to “receive” an “if-then” statement is to believe it to be true. In such a case, you have no promise, only a conditional offer–a new law: “Do this and you will live.” What is the content of faith, in this scenario? What is the Gospel, and how is it different from the Law? What promise does the sinner cling to in the face of sin and death?

    Mark asks, “Does an ordained clergyman get to keep his ordination charisma even if he stops being the sacrament that hands out the sacraments, even if he starts teaching math in a college etc?”

    We don’t believe that ordination bestows an “indelible character” on the soul of the pastor, or that the pastor is a sacrament. The Romanists believe the former. As far as I know, no one teaches the latter.

    Mark asks, “Does the baptism of a Lutheran have an efficacy to curse them if they start sinning the sins which are incompatible with faith, so that in their case they can’t be both justified and sinner at the same time? (yes, this is the third time I asked the question about Mielander agreeing with the pope about certain sins causing you to lose justification.)”

    1) The Baptism of a Lutheran is no more efficacious than the Baptism of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, a Romanist, or (in an emergency) an unbeliever. Christ baptizes, through the Sacrament He has given. 2) Baptism has no curse attached. It does enact the drowning of the Old Man, so if the baptized lose their faith and die in their sins, they accept that death as their own instead of accepting the life of Christ, which is the actual point and gift of the Sacrament. So it’s horribly ironic, but Baptism certainly doesn’t cause it. 3) The only way to lose justification is to stop believing that you are justified for the sake of Christ despite your deserts. People approach this point of apostasy from many directions, and the sins they allow themselves to build their lives around always play a big part in their fall. Sometimes the last thing to go is the intellectual illusion that they really still do believe the Gospel. All sins contain an element of unbelief. Some contain more; some suggest that the battle is already lost; but none in itself causes shipwreck of salvation, except for full-grown unbelief (perhaps masquerading as full-grown something else, as in the parable of the unforgiving servant)–and even that one doesn’t damn as an offense too bad to pardon, but as a repudiation of the pardon.

  166. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    Eric: “In the God-Man, the wrath of God towards the human race is no more. ”

    So, when he casts the (at least one) baptized unbeliever into the second death, he’s not mad at them? It’s just, “meh, in you go”?

    So maybe he wasn’t mad, but he will be if you don’t keep faith? But then he’s still mad, and his anger hasn’t really been totally removed.

    “In flaming fire taking vengeance on those he’s not really mad at anymore.”

    Hmm.

  167. mark mcculley
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Eric: Receiving,” by the way, isn’t something we do. You can’t make yourself believe. Belief is passive. Fact: God has saved the world in Christ. Do you believe? Yay or nay, “Let it be done for you as you have believed” (Matt. 8:13).

    mark: Five quick points.
    One, who is the we? If not all of us believe the same gospel, then it does not matter that we agree that God is a Trinity or that salvation is by “grace”.

    Two, believing is something the justified elect do. God causes them to believe, but God does not believe for them.

    Three, Yes, faith is not works. Indeed, one good definition of faith is “not works” See Romans 3 and 4. But that being said, this faith is not the cause or the condition of God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness. God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect immediately must (according to justice) result in the new birth and faith and justification. I hope that’s not being too “rationalistic” for you, but it’s clearly taught, not least in II Peter 1:1.

    Four, the “world” in Scripture simply does not mean “every sinner”. Love not the world.Christ came to save his people, not to make salvation possible for those who were never His people. God gave His Son so that “as many as believe” will not perish. God did not give His Son so that those who never believe would have a chance to not perish. Romans 8:32—32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for US all, how will he not also WITH HIM graciously give US all things?

    Fifth, you need to attend to the difference between what God has done in Christ and the legal receiving of that atonement. Not only has Christ died for the imputed sins of the elect, but that death is then imputed by God to the elect as they believe. But this faith is not what causes them to be justified, nor is it what caused Christ to die for them.

    In other words, there is a “receiving” by faith but it’s a result of a “receiving” by God’s imputation.

    Romans 5: 17 speaks of “those who receive the free gift of righteousness” and how they reign in life through the one man Christ Jesus. This receiving is not the “exercise of faith”. The elect do not impute their sins to Christ. Nor can the elect impute Christ’s righteousness to themselves until after God has already imputed the righteousness. God is the imputer.

    The receiving of the righteousness is not the same as the righteousness. The imputation is not necessarily at the same TIME as when Christ earned the righteousness. God declaring the elect to be joint-heirs with Christ is not the same as Christ having obtained the righteousness. There is a difference between imputation and righteousness.

    Our continuing acts of faith toward the gospel are not the righteousness. But neither is God’s imputation, nor the indwelling of Christ which follows that imputation, the righteousness. Even before they are justified, the elect are entitled by Christ’s work to justification. But the elect are not justified until God imputes the righteousness to them.

    Well, all this sounds logical enough (Todd would not deny it) , but what does it mean in a practical way? Is not the safest and most far away place from legalism to agree with those who teach either an “objective universal justification” (before faith) or who teach “justification again every day” (by means of “sacrament”, which is supposedly not our doing–so sacrament is our doing the not doing and saying that we are not agents in the matter). This is the Lutheran attempt to escape Arminianism while still being offended at the justice of an atonement that saves all for whom Christ died.

    I have no big problem with saying that the elect were “in some sense” always saved, but only if this “sense” is that they are elect. In other words, from God’s perspective, the elect are never in danger of perishing. The Lutherans who teach universal objective justification (or presumptive regeneration by means of water ) want to tell unbelievers that God loves them. But the Bible does not encourage this kind of presumption.

    I Thessalonians 1:4 “For we know, brothers, loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to not only in word but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”

    To insist on the necessity of conversion is not to be a “revivalist”. Faith in the gospel is a gift to the elect purchased by Christ who has made an effective propitiation for all the sins of the elect.

  168. Posted November 20, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Note: I composed the following this morning on a word doc and now just have internet access. I am answering Mark after his questions and comments around post #145/6 or so (last post “Posted November 18, 2013 at 5:34 pm”)

    Mark,

    First of all, your questions make perfect sense to me. I have no reason to think that you are doing nothing more than trying to understand. I think Trent’s comments were out of line (glad to see he apologized). You in fact give us Lutherans a more open door to more clearly communicate just what it is we believe, and for this, I thank you.

    You ask how people lose faith. First of all, my point would be that the Scriptures teach that it can happen. Jordan Cooper’s lengthy paper on perseverance (again, this means that people who actually have faith in Christ keep on having it – they really do have eternal life before they lose it) does a much better job of making the case here. I guess I have never doubted this, and it has always been something I have had some concern about: making shipwreck of my faith, not just being “faithless” but disowning him. Here, I think of atheists and their “de-baptism” certificates as one of the most explicit external signs of such a thing.

    How does it happen? Well, I suppose some might say it could happen by putting too much faith in our faith – but even here I think that it is not wrong to be concerned about the strength of one’s own faith so long as one is grounded in the biblical narrative and realizes that the first and most important thing to say about faith is that it has an Object, which is our Lord Jesus Christ. So – I think it happens by taking our eyes off of Christ, as He consistently comes to us in Word and sacrament. Other things distract. The world. The flesh. The devil. Perhaps sin for a season becomes sin for all seasons. Before we know it, we are spending less time with Him and thinking: “I don’t want forgiveness for *that*”. Sin is doubt-inducing and faith-destroying: again, we don’t put our focus on us – we direct people outside of themselves to Christ. At the same time, as our confessions remind us, faith only lives in repentance. If we are calling ourselves Christians but refuse to call sin what He calls sin, we might want to check the Object that we have.

    So, yes, of course continued non-resistance to the love of God which gives us faith in Jesus Christ as He really is is something that must be there until we die. If this ends up not being the case, the first thing we say is not “God is at enmity again with those who are [at] enmity with Him”, but that “God desires all to be saved” and their unbelief is tragic in His eyes. The reason why persons “remain under God’s wrath” if they do not believe is because there is no Gospel in the world without law, no redemption without judgment – God’s salvation train is barreling through and Satan gets hit – as do all the others who have found themselves carried away in his train, throwing their lot in with him. Hell was not made for men, but men will end up there if they fight in the wrong side of this war. God demands perfect obedience from us here. And He also freely gives His mercy in Christ to those who will see their need for Him.

  169. Posted November 20, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    You say: “here’s the trick, some who receive don’t continue to receive, because God does not continue to give them grace so that they not only are able to but actually do continue to receive. So there’s no certainty here… it seems that this Christ did not die to give us continuing faith, and that faith comes from somewhere else. It turns out that this faith must come not from the atonement and the justice of the cross, that this faith does not continue to be given to some, because despite our objective universal announcements, there is this hidden God, which our preaching ignored…”

    No – if you find yourself running after word and sacrament so that you may cling to Christ and even run after Him in His way, there is nothing but certainty. *The whole point* is that God does “continue to give them grace so that they not only are able to but actually do continue to receive” in the Word and the Sacrament. The “hidden God” does not come into the picture here. In the concrete circumstances of our lives, we can say that those penitent who run to the Word and Sacraments and desire to hear His words of forgiveness, life and salvation most certainly are given peace with Him. Period. In fact, this, I believe, is what drove the entire Reformation for Luther, as I have argued at length on my blog.

    “But they do not agree with the Reformed that being placed into the death of Christ results in true faith. Instead the Lutherans think that continuing in pursuit and true faith is the difference which makes the righteousness (which is for everybody) only work for some.”

    No, being placed into the death of Christ does result in true faith. That said, we live in a fallen world not yet consummated in newness. Because we have faith we pursue Christ. Yes, part of this would say: continue to “go to church” (or perhaps said better “have church”). But here is the key: is “come to me and I will give you rest” law or gospel? See my answer at my post titled: “Come to me and I will give you rest.” Law or gospel?

    “that doesn’t keep Lutherans from taking potshots at the Reformed for not having assurance, for a systematic inability to have assurance in the Reformed tradition… then unlike the Reformed, we will have the assurance that Christ died for us and that God was reconciled with us, that God as the Holy agent of reconciliation was not at enmity with us because Christ died for us.”

    I cited a blog post from Ed Riess about things Calvin said that actually introduced uncertainty into the Christian’s life, and I think you or others need to address that. Any person who dies in unbelief is not going to care one bit whether or not Christ died for them, was reconciled with them, or was not at enmity with them. That is precisely why they get hit by the salvation train that would snatch them up. Again, God’s anger is primarily directed against the One who would destroy His plan to create and redeem man. I can have anger vs. my children without loathing and hating them. God’s wrath needs to be understood here in a way such that it can exist with His weeping over Jerusalem. If you are understanding his wrath in another way, that is simply the wrong way.

  170. Posted November 20, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    “And the Lutherans know they can’t know who’s really elect until a person continues in faith to the end, because some sins are inconsistent with faith, and that person might commit those sins.”

    Actually, we can only say this abstractly, not concretely. Lutherans would insist that we can never know with 100% certainty that others are Christians, even as we ourselves can know that we are. A pastor does his best to properly divide God’s Law and Gospel based on the external evidences that he discerns, but he cannot, like God, ultimately determine what is in a person’s heart. We still speak of wheat and tares.

    “But despite knowing this, the Lutheran says “for you” in a way that makes the generalization sound sacramentally “for you individually in particular”. But it turns out that the good news was NOT “on the last day I will raise you up and give you immortality’.”.”

    No – it really does mean this. The good news is that they will be raised up and given immortality on the last day. There is no reason that they should not think that this will be true. Thought they walk in danger all the way and Satan would try to destroy them (their faith), God will not let that happen (note that the emphasis given here is on God and not one’s faith, even as certainly their personal faith is not irrelevant).

    “Because even though the death was really real for every sinner, the water makes the universal justification more real, not for everybody, but for everybody who receives the water, and this is not a subjective reality, because water (with words) is an objective reality.”

    Mark – I know what you are saying here. All I can say is that baptism for an adult can be a great source of assurance – knowing that it is “God’s *official* adoption ceremony” so to speak. That does not mean that one could not have peace with God before one’s baptism, just that God means to give us baptism to give us more ammo vs. Satan. Baptism’s true comfort however comes into play as regards our children, our babies (see the debate I had with Reformed Baptist rhology at a post called “You know you are in the End Times when…”in the conversation that preceded this one over at Trialoblogue,we discussed parts of Romans 10 that I think you might be interested in in some depth)

    As for contradictions between me and other Lutherans here, I would ask you to point out some specific examples for me, because I don’t see it. I see Trent getting a bit frustrated, but that is about all. Perhaps I missed something though, as I have been skimming much of this. As for “shell games” and things “hidden in fine print”, no, we really do believe that Christ’s blood was shed for all and as I hope I’ve demonstrated above, that figures in strongly to the way our pastors handle things. That may not mean much to the person who firmly rejects what God has done for them, but it should at least mean a lot to us, who are to love them as Christ loved them – and part of this means giving them complete peace with them via baptism, absolution, and the Lord’s Supper.

    “And what is left unsaid, while boasting about their advantage over the Reformed, is that God might indeed in the end be at enmity with you again. God reconciled Himself in the death of Son. God is both subject and object of this general reconciliation, but it does turn out for many, that this Reconciliation is not enough….”

    And here is where we say that this is wrong and not what we say. The objective reconciliation certainly is enough to reconcile all sinners. The problem is not God’s and He is not weak – He simply gives us what we want. We are in the dock, not He.

    As for my sending you to one of my own posts (which I have done above again), I was trying to save time. I read the Mielander piece and I do not find him to be a very capable expounder of confessional Lutheran theology – it is not his strength (ethics, particularly ethics related to biotehics, is) Again, Cary does particularly well on pointing out critical differences between the way that Lutherans and Calvinists approach the matter of faith – showing that Lutheran considerations reside primarily on the pastoral side of things (very concrete situations and applications) and that our dogmatics reflects this.

    I hope this helps Mark. I probably will not be able to talk again for a few days.

  171. mikelmann
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    DGH, I’ll take vermouth in anything that helps me to cope with the post-Garnett era in Boston. Last night they gave up 40 first quarter points to Clownface Howard and the Rockets, and I only see 3 or 4 current players fit to be part of a rebuild.

    But, as you know, I’m always looking for the bright side of things. And, building on that, a Celtics blog reports on the forementioned Rockets game by linking to Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night.” Sweet. Plus Garnett and Pierce may be truly out of gas now, since the Nets have a worse record than the Celts, and the Celts have their first round draft pick.

  172. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Nathan: And here is where we say that this is wrong and not what we say. The objective reconciliation certainly is enough to reconcile all sinners. The problem is not God’s and He is not weak – He simply gives us what we want.

    The problem is that everyone wants the same thing, to disobey and disbelieve. The difference is that God regenerates and preserves the elect to keep them in the faith.

    Again, the Lutheran says on one hand, “Look to your baptism. It’s objective.” On the other hand, “But if you start feeling doubtful, X’s death will be of no benefit.”

    I.e., “Up to you buddy. Hold on till the trumpet sounds.”

  173. mark mcculley
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Daniel Davis: In flaming fire taking vengeance on those he’s not really mad at anymore.”

    mark: I think it would be better not to use the word “mad” because the wrath of God is not like the wrath of us humans. God has always been in control of God’s wrath. God’s patient longsuffering is God’s wrath. We can reject the Barthian “rationalism” which insists that God’s wrath is always a function of God’s love. Why confuse law and gospel, as if God’s love were also a function of God’s wrath? Wrath is not love, and love is not wrath.

    James 1:1 9 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

    John 3:36 As many as believe in the Son have eternal life; as many as who do not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on them. (never before objectively justified)

    Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (present tense, with the only exception those in Christ)

    Romans 2 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

    Romans 9:22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much long-suffering vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,

    Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

    1 Thessalonians 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

    Ephesians 3:9-11. “To make all (even gentiles) see what is the fellowship/union of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places would be known by the called out elect the manifold wisdom of God according to the permanent purpose which He decreed in Christ Jesus our Lord”

    Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ…”

    It is wrong to say that non-election is conditioned on sin. Both the elect and the non-elect are sinners–if sin were the cause/condition of non-elect, then all sinners would be non-elect. The reason for non-election is like the reason for election. God’s justice is no less sovereign than God’s grace.

    The texts in Ephesians remind us that God’s glory is revealed both in His sovereign love and in His sovereign wrath. To know His name is to know Him as the one who has mercy on some and who hardens others. The mystery of iniquity is included in God’s purpose (so that God is not REACTING to sin, not even logically) in which God’s very first concern is to manifest His glory in discriminating between sinner and sinner, so that election in Christ from the beginning is an election of sinners. To be outside Christ from the beginning is to be a non-elect sinner.

    God does not wait for sinners to sin, and then decide to pass some of them by. In the very purpose to elect and to not elect for His glory, God is the Subject and sinners are His objects. God’s choice is the first thing. Sin is not the first thing, and then God reacts. Neither is creation the first thing, and then God reacts.. Only because of God’s choice to choose between sinners, does God ordain sin.

    We often hear the phrase “election is not salvation” and that “election is UNTO salvation”. Or that “election is not the gospel” but that election is what causes people to believe the gospel. But these are folks who want to keep teaching damnation conditioned on the sinner, while keeping their Reformed credentials on the shelf.

    If the righteousness Christ earned is not for the elect until the elect believe, it makes no difference if you say that the righteousness was earned only for the elect or also for others besides the elect. In any case, it is not the righteousness which is the cause of believing.

    The effect of denying election in the gospel is to make Christ’s work of obedience NOT be the ONLY cause of salvation,. It makes the work of the Spirit in the sinner causing the sinner to believe becomes not a result but a condition of Christ’s work. “Becoming united to”. This “alternative way of being Reformed” will end up not glorying in the cross but putting the Spirit’s work in the sinner in the deciding place. “Objective grace in the sacraments” will ultimately decide the matter.

    trying to limit my blog consumption–so be patient waiting for more responses. yes, if I could answer more briefly and more directly…..

  174. mark mcculley
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    mm

    i just hope the celtics don’t get the first pick in the lottery. Because Jabari Parker doesn’t deserve anything as bad as becoming a celtic. But I am glad with you to see mean Garnett and bad shot Pierce lose with the nets

    Spurs are still the chalk

  175. Posted November 20, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Mark —

    The english word “wrath” was invented in 950 CE to translate Mark 3:5 ymb-sceawde hia mið wræððo‥cueð to ðæm menn, aðen hond ðin. Then and now it has always meant: Vehement or violent anger; intense exasperation or resentment; deep indignation. If “mad” is not a good synonym for God’s wrath than God doesn’t have wrath. The greek word (orge) which is used for God’s wrath is associated with temper.

  176. Todd
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    I wish you would write shorter posts. Difficult to respond to so much

    mark: And opposed to this is your rational understanding of how election works? Or is the idea that those who label as “hyper” are a small minority and that you stand with the greater number who teach that God loves even those who are non-elect and who perish? This has been a debated question among Reformed people for a long time, and it certainly not some individual concern I bring to the table from between my ears.

    Todd: Not rational in that we use reason, but rationalistic in the sense that when a verse clearly states a truth, you have so accepted a pre-conceived idea based on your system that you cannot accept what the Bible actually says. For example, when the OT says over and over that God was a husband to wicked Israel and he loved them, your concept of election won’t allow that to be true. When Matt 10:21 states that Jesus felt love for the rich young ruler who rejected him, you cannot except that, but assume according to your theological construct the ruler must be elect, though the passage states no such thing. That is what I mean by rationalistic, where your understanding of how God should act trumps what the bible actually says, even if it makes God, and election, a bit more complicated to understand.

    Calvin on Ez. 18:23 “We hold, then, that God wills not the death of a sinner, since he calls all equally to repentance, and promises himself prepared to receive them if they only seriously repent. If anyone should object, then there is no election of God, by which he has predestinated a fixed number to salvation, the answer is at hand: the prophet does not here speak of God’s secret command, but only recalls miserable men from despair, that they may apprehend the hope of pardon, and repent and embrace the offered salvation”.

    Mark: It’s a shell game. He loves you, but not in that way. he loves you, but not enough to elect you or save you from perishing.

    It’s only a shell game in your mind. Per the Bible, he loves all sinners by virtue of being his image bearers, but he also will judge them for their sin. God can have temporary love and compassion, and wrath, at the same time. It is not a shell game if the Bible teaches it.

    Mark: He died for you, but you still might sin so much as to end up non-elect. He forgives you, but that’s now and maybe not later….

    That is a straw man and you know it. The reformed do not teach that Christ died for or forgives the non-elect. God can have compassion on those he will judge. He can because the Bible says he can.

    Mark: I think a double accusation is being packed in here. First, that many more are on Todd’s side of the question than are on my side.

    That is true but it is not an accusation.

    Mark: What makes me “hyper”? Is it saying “providence” rather than “common grace”?

    No

    Mark:I don’t teach eternal justification.

    Nor do I

    What is considered hyper by the reformed churches is:

    1. asserting that God cannot love or have compassion on those he does not elect
    2. asserting that Lutherans and arminians worship a different god and should not be considered Christians
    3. asserting the preaching of the gospel to the lost means preaching the doctrine of election to them.

    Mark: and since almost nobody Reformed can be bothered with these complications (at least Todd thinks so),

    That’s one of the problem with hyper-Calvinist; an elitist mentality where only a few faithful like them really believe the gospel. I’d be curious to know whether you attend a local church. None of the hypers I have met even joined or attended a local church regularly because none of the churches in their area supposedly preached the true gospel.

    Mark: the thing to do (if you are still offended, as Todd tends to be) is to bring out the “hyper” word.

    I didn’t invent the word. Your position has been labeled years ago by most reformed denominations.

    Mark: I mean, mcmark won’t even say “sacrament”, so he has no standing, and the “rationalist” paedos who agree with him should simply be ignored (not encouraged).

    Todd: You are starting to lose it here. Who says you should be ignored? I wouldn’t be responding to you if I was ignoring you.

    Mark: The ultimate way we can tell people that the gospel is “outside of you” is to tell them that the gospel they MUST believe excludes even this believing as the condition of salvation.

    Show me one place in the Book of Acts where the apostolic presentations of the gospel to the lost includes this idea.

    Mark: No debated language about the objectivity of “covenants” or “sacraments” should be allowed to obscure this gospel truth.

    Agreed

    Mark: Do we believe that the glory of God in the gospel means that all for whom Christ died will certainly be saved? Or is that doctrine too “rationalistic” for us?

    You keep creating false dichotomies. Either hold to Mark’s take on election or deny election altogether.

    Mark: Christ loved the church, but the church in this case is not the “federal vision” church where the elect in Christ can be cursed and become non-elect.

    More false dichotomies, etc… Now I am federal vision? The rest of your posts concerns more positions I do not hold, so I will leave it be.

  177. Posted November 20, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    M&M, Sixers’ fans (ewww) don’t want to hear whining by Celts’ fans unless you want instruction on where to put that vermouth.

  178. mikelmann
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    DGH, didn’t the Sixers have the Cornbread Maxwell / early-Bird Celts down 3-1 in the playoffs and the Celts took 3 in a row?

    MMc, that’s the most backhanded kumbayah that’s ever been sung to me. Pierce had game, and plenty of it. In 2008 the Celtics went through Lebron James and then Kobe. Pierce matched James and flat outplayed Kobe on the way to a championship and the championship series MVP award. Dude was The Truth.

  179. sean
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Spurs 9-1 and I don’t think Timmy has gotten off the bench after shootaround. We’ll see if they have him even suit up for the Celtics tonight.

  180. Posted November 20, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    M&M, so?

  181. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Daniel says, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on those he’s not really mad at anymore.”

    It doesn’t appear that you read to the end of that paragraph.

  182. Wholesome Severity
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    CD-Host: About that “wrath” business, why do you care about this? I, for one, don’t sit around learning the details of organized unbelief. It sometimes makes interesting reading. Like Paul Johnson’s Intellectuals and Robert Conquest’s Harvest of Sorrow But I don’t obsess over it. Are you Austin “Don’t Call Me Brother” Miles or something?

  183. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Eric, I did read to the end if the paragraph.

    You said: “In the God-Man, the wrath of God towards the human race is no more. ”

    So are the people God is inflicting his wrathfully vengeance upon not members of the human race?

  184. Posted November 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I have to know something.

    And I would love it if any response(s) I get is/are limited to, I don’t know…twenty lines?

    Mark, how did you arrive at your interpretation of Scripture? When something in the Scriptures seems unclear to you, what do you do?

  185. Posted November 20, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Todd,

    I believe you are the RioRancho Todd who Pastor’s the church in New Mexico, or somewhere out West. You graduated from Westminster West and sometimes write posts at the Confessional Outhouse- although I have not checked out the Outhouse in a while. I have been busy trying to survive and dealing with family issues that have gotten way one-sided and out of control. McMark’s theology of keeping the good news in the Gospel has been a great source of help in my time of trials and tribulations.

    You are right, I have not followed your and Mark’s posts and arguments with each other in the past. I know Mark rejects the concept of common grace and a lot of Reformed then put the name of hyper on those who do. I find that whole argument about common grace to be somewhat difficult to makes sense of.

    I remember you quoting a lot of John Murray in some of your posts here and calling law an aspect of grace. Now I am trying to remember how I was relating what you were saying to Mark about the Lutheran posts. There has been so much on this thread that I am having difficulty sorting through it all. Perhaps I should go back and read a lot of the comments again but that is very time consuming. Here is what you said to me about Mark:

    As to my differences with Mark – (I like some of what Mark writes, and think his pacifism deserves a hearing,) this is where I believe he is in error, that:

    1. Lutherans and Armenians worship a different god and should not be considered Christians
    2. If election is Biblical, God cannot love the non-elect in any way

    This traditionally is the position of hyper-Calvinist, which the reformed have rejected. (I do believe in election by the way.)

    John Y: Mark did respond to the hyper-Cal accusation. My two cents is that election and limited atonement are intimately entwined and cannot be separated the way Lutherans and Arminians seek to do so. They get very long winded when defending their positions and it seems to me they don’t really address the issues that Mark brings up. They skirt around it in confusing ways. You cannot have universal atonement and election the way the Scriptures talk about election. Whether God loves the non-elect in any way does not really deal with the issue that the non-elect do not gain the immortality that Christ died and rose for. So it that really love?

    I was relating the John Murray grace is a part of law to the mixing and meshing with universal atonement and election. Both concepts are either/or not both/and. You cannot mix and mesh grace and law nor universal atonement with election. Now I need to go back and reread Mark’s response to you.

  186. Posted November 20, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    The Celtics should have broken up the big 3 the year after they won the championship. They could have gotten a lot more for Pierce and Garnett. I stated that before to that guy who seems obsessed with the Dude word lately. What’s up with that? He even duded me once. Maybe he has found his mellow place- what shakes you out of that place Eminem? There has got to be something that makes you blow a gasket. Or, are you too Zen conscious these days with all the meditating and deep-breathing you do before Judo classes?

  187. Todd
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    John,

    I don’t think I have ever quoted John Murray here, so I think you are confusing persons.

  188. Posted November 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Then I guess I will call you incognito Todd- my bad!!

  189. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    Much of your post in reply to me seems to go beyond the point we are discussing. What’s more, I think I agree with most of what you say in those sections. I’ll limit my replies to the following (which is quite enough):

    Mark says: “But that being said, this faith is not the cause or the condition of God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness.”

    Faith is the instrumental cause, the means by which the general imputation is personally applied. “By grace are you saved, through faith.”

    Mark continues: “God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect immediately must (according to justice) result in the new birth and faith and justification. I hope that’s not being too “rationalistic” for you, but it’s clearly taught, not least in II Peter 1:1.”

    Not “too rationalistic,” no. That’s what happens in Baptism. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom. 6:3-5).

    Mark continues: “Four, the ‘world’ in Scripture simply does not mean ‘every sinner’. Love not the world.”

    Why do you quote “Love not the world”? To make the point that “world” doesn’t always mean “the entirety of the human race”? Well, obviously. But 1 John 2:2 says, “not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Try inserting the meaning “temporal system” into that verse. It doesn’t work at all. Nor does it refer to plants and animals, or planetary landforms, because they don’t sin. It refers to people, all the people, us and everyone else. There is no other honest way to read it.

    Mark writes:Christ came to save his people, not to make salvation possible for those who were never His people.

    We’re talking about the Atonement, not the secret number of the Elect. You’re confusing the two, and thus spoiling the purity of what we have been told with speculations about what we have not been told. Although it seems obvious that the ones who finally will be saved are the main object of Christ’s work, that doesn’t change the fact that he offered up His life out of love for the world (John 3:16), and as the Second Adam (Rom. 5). He became a man that He might die for mankind. On the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest made the offering, it covered the sins of the whole nation, even those who would end up in hell. At Calvary, when our High Priest made an offering of Himself, it covered the sins of the whole world, even those who will never believe. If that seems untidy, I’m sorry. It’s what Scripture says. It’s even logical, even if it’s not how you think God should have done it.

    Mark continues: “Romans 8:32—32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for US all, how will he not also WITH HIM graciously give US all things?”

    How do you think this proves Limited Atonement? If Christ died for all human beings, then you can’t go wrong saying “us all.” What you need is “us only.” But you won’t find it. That would be the explicit opposite of what 1 John 2:2 says.

    Mark says: “The Lutherans who teach universal objective justification (or presumptive regeneration by means of water ) want to tell unbelievers that God loves them. But the Bible does not encourage this kind of presumption.”

    Once you’ve done violence to John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, 2 Cor. 5:19, 2 Pet. 3:9, and every other verse that testifies to the universal love of God for His creatures, maybe it doesn’t. If you refrain from mutilating the text, however, you have no case.

  190. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Daniel says, “Eric, I did read to the end if the paragraph. You said: “’In the God-Man, the wrath of God towards the human race is no more.’”

    Uh… yeah, that’s still the middle of the paragraph, not the end. What gives?

  191. Posted November 20, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    DGH: “M&M, so?”
    MM: So there!

    And, JY, these days mikelmanns just wanna have fun. Herbie didn’t want to be a dentist, and sometimes I don’t really want to argue. But that will likely change, so stay tuned.

  192. Posted November 20, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Actually, yeah, Herbie did want to be a dentist. It was elving that didn’t float his boat.

    Sean, the Celts and Spurs are tied at the half, so we already have our moral victory. They can blow our doors off now.

  193. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Eric, you really don’t need to insist that I haven’t read your post.

    I’ve been trying to get a Lutheran response to: if God is not mad/angry/wrathful at the human race any longer, then why do unbelievers perish? Either (a) those who suffer God’s wrath are not humans, (b) “the human race” means “some but not every individual of the human race”, or (c) the second death is not the result of God’s wrath.

  194. Posted November 21, 2013 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    Daniel Davis asks:

    If God is not mad/angry/wrathful at the human race any longer, then why do unbelievers perish?

    He then posits the possible answers. Apparently there are three (despite his employment of the word “either”). Here they are:

    Either (a) those who suffer God’s wrath are not humans, (b) “the human race” means “some but not every individual of the human race”, or (c) the second death is not the result of God’s wrath.

    Let’s retool these:

    1. Unbelievers perish because they are not human.

    Who thinks this?

    2. Unbelievers perish because “the human race” means “some but not every individual of the human race.”

    This is a double strawman. A weak question is posed, and then a bad answer, using the same weak constructions as the weak question, is set forth as an object of ridicule. Remember who wrote the question here.

    3. Unbelievers perish because the second death is not the result of God’s wrath.

    Well, if you look at the grammar of the Scripture which Eric quoted, specifically the bit from Eph. 2, you’ll notice that there are two things which come to bear on man’s salvation: God’s grace and man’s faith. By grace, through faith. Eric has mentioned this twice now, I think. You seem to think that it is a huge inconsistency to say that without faith which receives God’s grace (i.e., His pardon for sin), that grace is of no avail. If it doesn’t mean what Eric contends it means, then what does it mean?

    Earlier on, Daniel ridiculed Matthew Block for “retreating to paradox” in his description of the different understandings of predestination among the Lutherans and Reformed. But what if Scripture sets forth paradoxes? Wouldn’t it be wise to “retreat” to them? It seems axiomatic for you Reformed to believe that these paradoxes are only apparent, and that they can and must be explained away, not simply accepted as mystēria.

    Please, no Tomes of Leo in response. If dialogue and understanding is the goal, shorter and more numerous posts are in order.

  195. mark mcculley
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Nathan: they really do have eternal life before they lose it. I guess I have never doubted this, and it has always been something I have had some concern about: making shipwreck of my faith, not just being “faithless” but disowning him.

    mark: Thanks for reading what I wrote and giving some answers, Nathan. You have never doubted that you should doubt about keeping it? So when you say “eternal” life, you are thinking in some qualitative way, not of a life that necessarily continues forever? It seems to me that there is a distinction to be made between now having “eternal life” and that time on the last day when God will raise up the justified elect and give them immortality. But isn’t “eternal life” now the verdict declared already of “immortality in the age to come”? Isn’t it the verdict that a person will not come into the judgment?

    John 5:2 4 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

    And so the Reformed question (you knew this was coming), how can a person who has passed from death to life, then pass back to life? What is the practical difference between accusing the Reformed of not knowing if they have life (or if they now believe) and a Lutheran saying: I know I believe now, but that doesn’t mean I will keep believing. I know I have eternal life now, but it might not be eternal forever, it might not be life forever.

    I like how you are trying to tell me how it feels, Nathan. So yes this is a “debating question”, but it’s also a really curious one. 1. I don’t see how you have even escaped the Reformed problem–how can you really know that you even really believe now? You go to church? Well, Reformed people do that also. 2. It’s the old Cromwell question. Supposedly he relied on a syllogism on his death bed–if I believed once, then I cannot lose my justification, and I know that I believed once, therefore

    But we agree ( I think) that there are problems with that
    1. He’s believing in his belief. He’s looking at himself believing, not at Christ.
    2. So Lutherans think the solution is to get our eyes off themselves, off of the question if they are believing, and think to do this by telling everybody that they all are justified, before believing.
    3. But it doesn’t work for more than a moment, because Lutherans (at least those who are not universalists) also say that they can’t be sure that they themselves (previously justified) will keep believing and will keep the “eternal life” they once had.

    4. So they have come around to the same place as the Reformed–are you believing now, and you can’t prove it with your living, since that attempt is not believing.
    5. So what was the difference? It was the gospel, the object being believed. The Reformed say, you are not justified apart from believing, not justified before believing. (And I agree with this, even as I insist that God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness is before new birth and faith.) But the Lutherans tell us— believe that you are justified, instead of believing to be justified.

    I am not making this complicated. The differences are more complicated than I have shown. For one thing, the word “justification” is being used in more than one way. For a second thing, Lutherans seem to agree that we need to keep believing in order to stay justified.

    But, even in this case, in the tomorrow and the day after that, the object of faith is not the same gospel. “Believing that you are justified” is not the gospel. The gospel is not the Velveteen Rabbit, in which what we believe makes something real. Reality doesn’t disappear because you don’t believe in it. If we are justified before faith, then faith does not keep us justified, and lack of faith does not make justification disappear.

    So if we want to avoid Barthianism or universalism, if we agree that those who do not believe the gospel are not justified, then we had better stop telling people that they are justified before they believe the gospel. And we certainly should stop telling people that they have passed from death to life, if we need to also tell them they can now pass from life to death.

    But if we run away from Lutheran “objectivity”, do we end up in a Jonathan Edwards place where he says that God’s justification is conditioned on “future grace” (future acts of faith created in us by God)? I hope not. I certainly know that many Reformed persons are now in this place–they hate “eternal security” more than any Lutheran does. They put perseverance first every time over God’s preservation because they despise the idea of “once justified, always justified.”.

    I don’t know enough, Nathan, about Lutherans to know the differences (except between no wrath ones like Forde, vs conservatives). But I do know that not all Reformed are alike. Not all Reformed rely on a practical syllogism which is looking at the I who is believing, and saying, well that’s God also, since it’s God the Spirit working in the I. No, not all Reformed are like that.

    Lutherans can’t solve their assurance problems by saying that Jesus even died for those who perish. And Nathan, you seem to agree that you live with an assurance problem every day. And Reformed people can’t solve their assurance problems by saying that water is a ‘seal” about justification being conditioned on faith. Those who have that kind of water are in no better place than others without the water but are hearing the gospel.

    The question still comes down to—what is the gospel? Do we look at a verse in Acts and say, all you need to say is “Jesus is Lord” and nothing else should or needs to be said, even if you think that a person is saved by doing what the Lord tells you to do? But the gospel does not make faith a condition of election, because the gospel tells us that faith is a result of election.

    And that gospel does not tell you or anyone that they are elect. That gospel tells us that “all for whom Jesus died will be justified.” Trent still thinks that’s some kind of weird individual thing I dreamed up by myself, but it’s nothing more than the l in tulip. If you don’t like that idea, you don’t like the gospel. And if you don’t like the gospel, then you might want to say it’s a gnostic idea that almost nobody knows or believes.

    John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

  196. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Trent, I count this as a ding. (And how is it ridiculing someone to say they retreat to paradox? Seems a little much.)

    You’re just not dealing with the double talk, namely that Gods wrath is on the one hand removed from the human race and on the other hand he still reserves wrath for a significant portion of the human race. You say, well, they didn’t keep the faith. But that wasn’t part of the original equation, which was: X’s death objectively removed the wrath of God from the human race, which sure includes a lot of unbelievers.

  197. mark mcculley
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Nathan: it could happen by putting too much faith in our faith – but even here I think that it is not wrong to be concerned about the strength of one’s own faith so long as one is grounded in the biblical narrative and realizes that the first and most important thing to say about faith is that it has an Object, which is our Lord Jesus Christ.

    mark: I agree that there is a difference between making our election sure by looking at our calling and faith, and having faith in our faith. Indeed, II Peter 1 tells us that God won’t accept our works (not for justification but as good works) unless we first have faith (assurance). So I agree that the question about who Christ is the main thing.

    Is Christ the one who died for everybody, or is Christ the one who died only for the elect?

    Is Christ the one who saved people with His death?

    Is Christ the one who saved all the people for whom He died?

    If not, then Christ did not save anybody with His death.

    There was something else.

    Romans 8:32 does NOT say He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for every sinner

    Romans 8:32 does NOT SAY He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for everybody, how will he not also with him graciously give some of those people all things?

    a fraction of those God loves will get food and drink (and some will starve)?

    a fraction of them will get eternal life but then lose it?

    a fraction of that fraction will receive….

    no

  198. mark mcculley
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Nathan: “God desires all to be saved” and their unbelief is tragic in His eyes. Hell was not made for men, but men will end up there if they fight in the wrong side of this war. God demands perfect obedience from us here. And He also freely gives His mercy in Christ to those who will see their need for Him.

    mark: If God desires all to be saved, but only elects some of them to be saved, that is not only a tragedy for man but for God. And it’s not a paradox, but a contradiction. The only way that people can call his contradiction a mystery is that they refuse to submit to what God has revealed about hardening some on purpose (not plan B) for His own glory. So they put what they think they know along with what the Bible clearly says, and conclude that it must be a paradox since what they think can’t be wrong.

    The second death of the non-elect brings glory to God. The second death of the non-elect is not a tragedy for God.

    And before I go on to deal with the— but what you think about “the difference between God’s command and God’s desire”is also wrong (or no less wrong)—- let me deal with the tragic conditionalism in the statement above. I know it only wants to condition “hell” on the sinner, but in doing that, it cannot escape also conditioning salvation on the sinner.

    Nathan: “if they fight in the wrong side of this war”

    mark: I know you were justified before you believed. (were you justified when you were watered, or before that?) But let me ask you–are you today fighting on the right side of the war? how do you know? 100percent? never on the other side? What about tomorrow? Remind me again about what you said about the Reformed looking to their faith and not to the Christ who already justified everybody.

    nathan: “to those who will see their need for Him.”

    mark: I know the guilt problem was solved for you before you saw your need for a solution. But let me ask you, do you still see your need for it? Or has a justification which you can lose left you needing to believe that you are continually (not always, but as a pattern, most of the time, often) seeing your need of it, but what happens if suddenly you don’t? Tragedy. It turns out that God will NOT give non-resistance to all for whom God gave the Son, because only a fraction will do that.

    And since the non-resistance is scarce (less than everybody) what makes you think you are so special that you will be one of those who will “resist sin” and therefore “not resist gospel”? I mean, the death of Christ does not make you special—that was for everybody. So what does make you special?

    Oh, I remember, you were baptized with water.

    Here’s another slogan. “Hell” being created for non-humans does not mean that it was not created for humans.

    Proverbs 16: 4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
    even the wicked for the day of trouble.

    John 10:26, “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you

    I Peter 2: “The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”8 and “A stone of stumbling,
    and a rock of offense.”
    They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

    Romans 9: 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction

  199. mark mcculley
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Even though I don’t spend much time trying to define “evangelical”, one definition would be those people who think that “many non-evangelicals are still christians”. Of course that doesn’t mean much if you don’t already know what an “evangelical” is. (I know I am not an evangelical nor Reformed even if somebody calls me those things).

    But making a judgment that other people are Christians who do not share the same gospel does tell us something about our attitudes. First, we can’t accuse sectarians of “making judgments” when what we mean is that they don’t agree with our positive judgments.

    Second, in the interests of tolerance, we can go two different ways. We can reduce the definition of the gospel into some “fundamentalist” simple slogan that can accomodate more people and not have as much antithesis. For example, we can say that the gospel is “Jesus is the risen Lord” so that those who believe in salvation by doing what the Lord says can be accepted. But this excludes some sectarians who talk about “grace not works”. We can define the gospel so that those with the new perspective on justification can stay in and the “double-predestination” folk will get out.

    But there is a second way to go, and I see this in many people who affirm the sovereignty of God. We can say that “non-evangelicals” are Christians because God sovereignly saves apart from the gospel. Instead of bending to say that we have basically the same gospel (in the ballpark), we can say that God does not necessarily need gospel to save. But of course, you probably should only think that and not say it out loud, because it does sound like fatalism.

    I do welcome input on this question. Can we define gospel one way but the boundaries of fellowship another way? Or is it better to define the gospel in such a way that an Arminian would find it consistent with his first principles? (his comfort zone). Because God can and does use a conditioned on the sinner” gospel to bring glory to His Own Gracious Self?

    I mean, Hilary does sound a little different when she’s giving a speech down south.

    Lutherans (and others who say that Christ died for every sinner) think that they honor Christ by saying that the decree for Christ to die is before the decree to elect some sinners. They claim in this way to put Christ before election.

    Lutherans want to equate election with preaching and sacrament, and to that end they teach that the atonement was not restricted to the elect. They think of election as something that causes some to believe, but they will not teach an atonement as just satisfaction only for the specific sins of the elect.

    But election in Christ is first! The death of Christ is not the cause of God’s election in love. God’s election in love is the cause of the death of Christ.

    Jesus, the incarnate, the eternal Son of God in the flesh, is the foundation of election by being Himself the object of election. “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things.” Colossians 1:16-17

    The true Jesus Christ is not simply the one whose atonement makes election work.

  200. mark mcculley
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Nathan: being placed into the death of Christ does result in true faith. That said, we live in a fallen world not yet consummated in newness. But here is the key: is “come to me and I will give you rest” law or gospel? See my answer at my post titled: “Come to me and I will give you rest.” Law or gospel?

    mark: Sorry, but I am running out of time today (my dad is sick), and I do remember that you said you wouldn’t have time either for a while. Can you please give me the url for the essay referenced above. And I will try to respond to the rest of your thoughtful responses.

    Both of Abraham’s sons were heirs of “the covenant of grace” but were they in there by law or gospel? God’s freedom in election (gospel, not only national) was maintained and Isaac received the (gospel) promise while Ishmael did not. So was the promise to Ishmael gospel?

    Romans 9:7 “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his children.”

    Reformed people disagree with each other about if the Hebrews warnings are law or gospel. Are they “gospel” warnings to Ishmael that he many not have ever “really” (internally) been part of the covenant but only “externally” related to “the covenant”? Or are these “law” warnings that many who enter the covenant are not promised they will be kept in the covenant?

    Like circumcision, water baptism is done by human hands but is represented by the Reformed not as our decision but as God’s decision and claim on Ishmael and Esau. So the question —- if this divine claim law or gospel?

    Although “the covenant” obligates us to respond in faith and obedience, water baptism is God’s seal of God’s oath. So is this oath about law or gospel? Can we ever find out if we are Isaac or Ishmael? Both were heirs of the covenant. Both received the promises of the covenant.

    In God’s act of water baptism, as in the preaching of the universal “offer”, God pledges His covenantal commitment to us. (Is the “offer” to those in the covenant different from the “offer” to those outside the covenant?). Is this covenantal commitment law or gospel? (or both separately, or both confused?)

    (Some baptists would rather say that water baptism is something humans do than even imply that God fails to deliver on a covenant promise, but many paedos solve that problem by saying that the promise is conditional. Ie, the promise can curse, can make it worse for you than it is for those never externally in the covenant. )

    Even if it turns out that little Esau is never justified, it certainly feels good to think that Esau has been promised the same grace as Abraham has. But if that grace turns out to be ineffectual in the face of human failure to meet conditions, then some might think that the seal of righteousness (circumcision) was only for Abraham. and not for those who refused to be baptized with water by John the Baptist.

    It comes back to the question of law and gospel. Do we regard our children as born under the law or do we assure them they are already not under the law? Do we cling to God’s promise to work by His Spirit to keep Esau in “the covenant” in which he began, or do we only have some (gnostic?) notion of sovereign imputation (with resulting conversion) in which every person begins life under condemnation and outside the covenant?

    Even though we want to maintain God’s freedom in election (perhaps God will maintain that freedom for Himself), that is not something we really want to know about and while we do not deny it. we see no need to mention election when we could be emphasizing “the covenant” and that ordinarily there is no salvation outside the true visible church (regular or irregular).

    When water baptism is understood as a promise made to Esau by God, then it will always be important to ask if this promise was law or gospel. So what if Esau does not believe the gospel right now, certainty is always impossible, and since God promised Esau grace and claimed Esau, who is to say already if that divine promise was law or gospel? As Nathan said, we live in a fallen world, Not yet. Jesus has not yet come, and we have to be practical in the meanwhile.

    It makes a lot of difference to Esau if he was born in the covenant and is invited to the covenant table because circumcision is a means of grace to Esau. Except when the sacraments are not means of grace..Then they can kill you, just like the law does!

    Every time I witness a water baptism today, I cling to God’s public certification that God has claimed not only that person but also Esau and me. And so while I am happy to be in the covenant, I always need to ask myself if God will cut me off if I do not keep (enough of) the law.

    I am wondering what the difference between Lutheran and Reformed on the perseverance of the saints (and election) practically amounts to.

  201. Posted November 21, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    In one of his podcasts entitled “Hyper-Calvinism, Bishops, and Christology,” Pr. Jordan Cooper (who was commenting earlier, but probably has better things to do now), spends some time with the work of Aegidius Hunnius, a Lutheran scholastic theologian known mainly for his polemical works contra Calvinism. Hunnius raises an interesting question, and I wonder if it might be worth discussing.

    According to St. Mark 16:16, those who do not believe are condemned for their unbelief. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” St. John 3:16-18 of course concurs:

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

    Hunnius poses this question:

    Why are the reprobate condemned for not believing that Jesus died for their sins if He didn’t, in fact, die for their sins? “You are condemned for not believing what isn’t true for you, anyway.” That doesn’t seem to make sense.

    Please, let’s just do some exegesis. Take turns. Spare me the novel-length strings of rhetorical questions and logical abstractions.

  202. Posted November 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Oops. Bad HTML formatting. Please note that everything from “Hunnius poses this question…” to the end is me, not Pr. Cooper.

  203. Posted November 21, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Eminem says: And, JY, these days mikelmanns just wanna have fun. Herbie didn’t want to be a dentist, and sometimes I don’t really want to argue. But that will likely change, so stay tuned.

    mikelmann
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink
    Actually, yeah, Herbie did want to be a dentist. It was elving that didn’t float his boat.

    John Y: What the heck are you talking about? You must have found that Vermouth and made a good couple of dry martinis with some of that aristocratic Kentucky Bourbon that you and DGH obviously imbibe in. I am taking all this as a threat but in my mind your my Bud big guy- like the way I call my oldest son Budster. I am miffed!!!

  204. Posted November 21, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    JY, think Rudolph and the Land of Misfit Toys. Don’t let your miffed become a rift. Good to see you hanging around and hope things are looking up for you. You know we’re pulling for you.

  205. Posted November 21, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Trent, it’s not for us to know who is elect and who is not. The invitation goes forth and we may not / can not peer into the secret things of God. Why are you so selective in which mysteries you will embrace and when you will accept what God has plainly stated? Maybe your theology of the cross needs to be more robust.

  206. mark mcculley
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    John 3: 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world would be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

    Trent/ Hunnius: Why are the reprobate condemned for not believing that Jesus died for their sins if He didn’t, in fact, die for their sins? “You are condemned for not believing what isn’t true for you, anyway.” That doesn’t seem to make sense. Please, let’s just do some exegesis.

    mark: give me the exegesis that gets from John 3:16 says (as many as believe) to it saying that “Jesus died for the sins of those who will never believe”. Look up every use of the word “world” in the New Testament, and see the diversity depending on the context.

    I oppose a Velveteen gospel. If Jesus did not die for you, then your believing that Jesus did will not make it so. And if Jesus did die for you, then your not believing that He did will not make it not so.

    Trent has made no arguments from the text that Jesus died for those who do not believe. He assumes this, and then assumes that Reformed people are asking non-elect people to believe a lie, to believe something which is not true

    John 3:16 does not say that Jesus died for the sins of those who will never believe the gospel. Some of the elect do not yet believe the gospel (may not even be born yet), but all of the elect will believe the gospel. (If “world” means “those who never believe in Him”, did Jesus also die for those who will believe in Him?)

    Trent starts with a bad exegesis, and then asks for an explanation of the contradiction which results from his false reading of the text..

    The gospel is not “died for everybody’s sin”. The gospel is not “died for your sins”. The gospel is “died for the sins of those who believe”.

    If you don’t believe that Jesus died “for the sins of those who believe”, then you don’t believe the gospel. But your condemnation (even in this case) is NOT because you don’t believe the true gospel. We are all born condemned “already”, because of Adam’s imputed sin and because of our own sins, even if we never heard the true gospel (even if we never heard any false gospel).

    “Condemned because we do not believe” means that those who do not yet believe the gospel remain condemned. They were born that way, and apart from faith in the gospel, they stay that way.

    I do hope Trent believes in original guilt. Is he saying that the only sin that (watered?) people can now be condemned for is rejecting the gospel?

    These are real questions. I am not sure what Trent thinks about original sin..

    But I do know that the gospel is not the law. Jesus did not come to condemn. Not dying for some of those already condemned is not the reason for their condemnation. Jesus not healing every sick person is not the same as Jesus causing them to be sick in the first place.

    Please. No more assuming that the text says that “Jesus died for everybody” when the text does not say that.

    Where do you get your interpretations? Do you have to think about why your Confession agrees with the Scripture? Do you read a verse based on what most people assume it says? If you quote Hunnius, does that make your false assumption more real?

    Let me quote A W Pink:

    Kosmos” is used of the whole human race: Rom. 3: 19, etc.—”Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”

    “Kosmos” is used of humanity minus believers: John 15:18; Rom. 3:6 “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you.” Believers do not “hate” Christ, so that “the world” here must signify the world of unbelievers in contrast from believers who love Christ. “God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world.” Here is another passage where “the world” cannot mean “you, me, and everybody,” for believers will not be “judged” by God, see John 5:24. So that here, too, it must be the world of unbelievers which is in view, humanity minus believers:

    “Kosmos” is used of Gentiles in contrast from Jews: Rom. 11:12 etc. “Now if the fall of them (Israel) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them (Israel) the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their (Israel’s) fulness.” Note how the first clause in italics is defined by the latter clause placed in italics. Here, again, “the world” cannot signify all humanity for it excludes Israel!

    “Kosmos” is used of believers only: John 1:29; 3:16, 17; 6:33; 12;47; I Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:19

    http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Miscellaneous/kosmos.htm

  207. Posted November 21, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Eminem says: JY, think Rudolph and the Land of Misfit Toys. Don’t let your miffed become a rift. Good to see you hanging around and hope things are looking up for you. You know we’re pulling for you.

    John Y: I appreciate that- after living 3 months on a roof top loft (that’s what I called my abode on top of a parking garage right next to the Mellow Mushroom on Liberty near Bull St) and then having to set up and break down a tent every morning at a public park on Broad St for a month and a half after that, I am happy to be going to a place where I can rehabilitate and come to my senses again. Although I have learned a lot in my year of exile. Long story which I hope to be able to tell one day if God providentially allows me to. Thanks for your support- that means a lot to me.

  208. Nick
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Mark: Please. No more assuming that the text says that “Jesus died for everybody” when the text does not say that.

    Nick: I for one am not seeing where Trent assumes that in his most recent. Sounded to me like he was saying that in John 3:16 the reprobate are specifically condemned for not believing in Jesus. In Reformed theology, there is nothing Jesus did for the reprobate. So what is it they are being condemned for in this passage?

  209. Nick
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Obviously, both Calvinists and Lutherans believe that the other side’s theology produces a lack of assurance, the former due to the limited atonement and the latter to the possibility of apostasy. As assurance is an experiential thing, I can’t help but bring up that there are about a billion of us who have ditched Calvinism (where we lacked assurance) and found assurance in the Lutheran faith. On the other hand, the Calvinist accusation seems nothing more than an exercise in logic. I grant that my experience is limited and there may be examples going in the opposite direction. But I’ve never come across one. It doesn’t exactly prove anything, but I think it’s a pertinent observation.

  210. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    Lutherans say “nothing more than an exercise in logic”; WCF says “good and necessary consequence”; I say ding.

    NIck, you admit that you, you personally, could lose your justification, correct. That’s true–”for you”.

    And this somehow doesn’t weaken your sense of assurance? But limited atonement does?

    Maybe neither does, and that’s fine, I suppose.

    See, Bryan Cross uses formal logical pedantry as low cover while his shields regenerate (but maybe I’m pulling a petitio principii); but here I’m just noting that, if one side (the Lutherans) is always accusing the other side of being too logical, maybe that says something?

    In the beginning was the logos, after all.

    (Off topic, Fighting for the Faith is a very entertaining podcast by one of our Rhine-slick brethren.)

  211. Nick
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Daniel, a couple things…

    I don’t know what it means when you say ding.

    It’s an exercise in logic because assurance is not an abstract theological doctrine. It’s experiential. Those of us who used to be Calvinists know that we had little assurance there. So where does that leave us? You Calvinists yelling, “hey, you logically shouldn’t have assurance!” Us former Calvinists answering, “well, I had none in your system. What do you want me to say?”

    I think it’s silly that we are constantly trying to point each other away from Christ and try to prove to each other why we shouldn’t be assured of Christ’s favor toward us. Our problem as Lutherans is that when we encounter Calvinists wondering whether they have false faith (like I did), the cross has become a secondary means of assurance for them and until they believe it was for them, it provides no hope.

    All that said, look to the cross, brother. It is for you. I hope no Reformed folks here ever experience the doubts I had.

  212. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    Daniel,

    Until you deal with the explanation I already gave, I’m not going to answer the same question posed in a different form.

    And on the assurance question, you ask NIck how limited atonement could shake his assurance when the possibility of future apostasy doesn’t? Here’s the answer in two parts:

    1) It’s not just Lutherans who believe apostasy happens. Or more correctly, who observe that it happens. If that can shake assurance, then you’re in the same boat we are, because Calvinists lose their salvation too, they just have a different post hoc explanation for it: “I guess he was never really saved / elect in the first place.”

    2) At least we can be sure that Christ really did die for us, which being-sure is faith, through which we are saved. Even if I eventually reject the faith (Lord have mercy), I am not believing a lie right now. Whereas, if you eventually reject the faith, and you are right about Limited Atonement, then you are completely deluded at the moment about God’s love and forgiveness to you-ward.

  213. Eric Phillips
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    Since Mark hasn’t replied to my last post, I’ll just push it a little further with a link to some pointed (and inspired) levity.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD4784EdSvI

    “The Real John Calvin”

  214. Posted November 22, 2013 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    St. John, writing to the Church:

    “[I]f anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (ii, 1-2).

    So a plain reading of the text would suggest that “anyone” means “anyone” (and the Greek substantiates this). The rest of the text — “not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” — needs to be read in light of this.

    With that said, this text does seem to suggest that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins not just of those who believe [by definition, the Church], but for all men’s sins. I will explain why.

    I’m familiar with the standard Calvinist rebuttal to this: “sins of the world” could mean something other than “all men’s sins”, but given the contextual suggestion to the contrary, pace Pink, that simply does not stand.

    “He is the propitiation for our sins…”

    Let’s assume that this means “He is the propitiation for [Christians’] sins” — a sensible reading. Why, then, does St. John go on to say, “and not for [our sins] only, but also for the sins of the whole world”? The Calvinist interpretation would mean that the text is saying the following:

    “He is the propitiation for the sins of Christians, and not for the sins of Christians only but also for the sins of Christians.”

    This doesn’t make any sense. The grammar is set up to contrast two things — the sins of Christians and the sins of the world — but the Calvinist eisegesis would prevent a contrast from being made. How do you reckon with this?

    I’d also like to go back to the section from St. John’s gospel that we were talking about earlier:

    “For God so loved the world…”

    The same Greek word for world, kosmon, is used here as is used in 1 John ii, “sins of the world.”

    Let’s start there. How do you get around that?

    “..that he gave his only Son…”

    The grammar here is very clear: God sends His only-begotten Son because of His love for the world. Do you deny this?

    I think it is piquant to point out that in the part of your Pink quotations where kosmos is purported to refer only to believers, there is NO EXEGESIS. It’s pure assertion.

    “…that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

    We should note the subjunctive form of the verb here: “might be saved.”

    This would seem to militate against the Calvinist argument (made by Pink, quoted by McMark) that kosmon in this verse refers only to believers. If it refers only to believers, then there shouldn’t be this future-less-certain subjunctive-mood verb in there! Believers/the elect might be saved? So, no, it’s not at all tenable to suggest that kosmon here means “only believers.” It means all mankind.

    “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

    McMark, here is where your assertion flatly contradicts the text of Scripture:

    If you don’t believe that Jesus died “for the sins of those who believe”, then you don’t believe the gospel. But your condemnation (even in this case) is NOT because you don’t believe the true gospel.

    Mark, you may think that my exegesis is bad, but at least it’s exegesis. All you have done in this thread is set forth strings of long-form syllogisms based upon begged first premises. Gaseous Hindenburgs of commentary.

    And perhaps you pretend to wonder what I think about things like original guilt for rhetorical effect, but, well, you’re selling yourself a little short — or did you not know by now that I’m a Lutheran? Do you know what Lutherans believe regarding original sin?

  215. Posted November 22, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    Thank you again sir. A pleasure. Again, following this, I will not be able to talk until Monday, at the earliest – maybe later.

    It is a little bit funny. Reading your stuff, I sometimes get the impression that you are determined to re-frame everything I say. I am sure you feel the same way. And yet, I think a lot of this simply comes from the desire to understand, to be ask good questions, and to be faithful to the One we know loved us so much in His Son that He would take our punishment upon Himself to be with us.

    “Thanks for reading what I wrote and giving some answers, Nathan. You have never doubted that you should doubt about keeping it? So when you say “eternal” life, you are thinking in some qualitative way, not of a life that necessarily continues forever? It seems to me that there is a distinction to be made between now having “eternal life” and that time on the last day when God will raise up the justified elect and give them immortality. But isn’t “eternal life” now the verdict declared already of “immortality in the age to come”? Isn’t it the verdict that a person will not come into the judgment?”

    Mark, first of all, I don’t have “assurance problems”, as you said. There have been times I have been particularly troubled by my sins and it was helpful for me to go to personal confession and absolution. That said, this is not something I think that anyone necessarily needs to go. Corporate confession and absolution and the Lord’s Supper – where God again forgives personally, individually, forgiven people – is always very comforting here. You ask “You have never doubted that you should doubt about keeping it?” but I would say that thinking that way is not helpful. Rather I have never doubted that He will keep me and no one can snatch me out of his hand, but that I can, if I am determined, jump out of His hand and I cannot blame Him if He chooses to let me go. Again, if you have time see the post I did about Judas and millstones (Just copy and paste this: theology like a child judas millstones or here: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/millstones-judas-iscariot-and-the-little-ones/)

    “What about tomorrow? Remind me again about what you said about the Reformed looking to their faith and not to the Christ who already justified everybody.”

    I look to Christ today, not tomorrow, now not later, as the One who preserves and will preserve me now and forever. The Jesus prayer the EO talk about is appropriate, and I don’t keep saying that because I don’t believe he saves me now but because he saves me now and for eternity. Salvation is justification and ongoing sanctification, even as these two are properly distinguished for the sake of terrified consciences.

    “Or has a justification which you can lose left you needing to believe that you are continually (not always, but as a pattern, most of the time, often) seeing your need of it, but what happens if suddenly you don’t?…. And since the non-resistance is scarce (less than everybody) what makes you think you are so special that you will be one of those who will “resist sin” and therefore “not resist gospel”? I mean, the death of Christ does not make you special—that was for everybody. So what does make you special?

    Oh, I remember, you were baptized with water.”

    The first thing to focus on here is that it is God who sustains us in faith. He comes to us again and again apart from our efforts, and in spite of our lack of efforts. Even in spite of our lack of repentance or even if we rebel against him. That said, if you find yourself floundering in sin-destroying and doubt-inducing sin and running from Him, repent – for you are baptized, and that baptism was given for this moment (hey, that was the theme of this summer’s LCMS convention)

    ….

  216. Posted November 22, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    “Reality doesn’t disappear because you don’t believe in it. If we are justified before faith, then faith does not keep us justified, and lack of faith does not make justification disappear.”

    I appreciate that you are able to think through these things in a very logical way – here and elsewhere. That said, of course, I will again point out that Lutheran theology is basically constructed around the notion of giving terrified sinners comfort. That is what I have already been trying to demonstrate above. It is about giving peace to the penitent by applying the Gospel to them – comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, as it has sometimes been said. If you can keep that frame in mind, I think a lot more of this will make sense. Perhaps it is just this approach that you might want to consider questioning.

    “…then we had better stop telling people that they are justified before they believe the gospel.”

    If you think about what you wrote here in the context of my comments above, you will realize that all of this is ideally done or not done in the context of a pastor, for example, properly dividing the law and gospel while dealing with a particular human being. Here, the whole “pearls and pigs” thing comes into play. Unbelievers – that is those hostile to the Gospel – are not going to benefit from a statement like “you are justified before believing the gospel”. No, there might be some situations though, where a pastor, in addressing a person’s misunderstanding, looks them directly in the eye and says “the problem is not God – He is reconciled to you through Christ…. Be reconciled to him”. That is one way you might imagine this. Likewise, we understand Romans 8:32 to be Paul administering comfort to people. It assumes that persons have been following him in his letter for 7 chapters and have been saying “Amen”. Anyone can pull a passage out of context and insist it is saying something it is not necessarily saying. So no, Romans 8:32 does not say that Christ died for every sinner, but a) Paul’s purpose here is not that but rather to comfort believers in the Romans congregation at this point that Christ saves and will save those who look to him and b) other passages of the Scriptures do say Christ died for every sinner.

    “they refuse to submit to what God has revealed about hardening some on purpose (not plan B) for His own glory.”

    Mark, have you ever read a detailed Lutheran exegesis of Romans 9-11? I simply do not see what you see. I am impressed even with the insights of some [conservative Augustinian] Roman Catholic exegesis here (see the post Kilcrease did on this again I referred you to earlier and the ensuing conversation there). Your point about Isaac receiving the (gospel) promise while Ishmael did not would be re-framed here: Isaac receives the promise that it is from his line, in accordance with God’s purpose and preference, that the Gospel which is for all persons should come through him. We Lutherans can talk about God doing things like hardening sinners for his glory to, but that said, God’s principle glory is that He is the One who humbles himself and who saves sinners in Christ, and not only this, but He desires that all persons be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, that all would repent, that those who he hardens and binds over to disobedience He does so with the intent that they receive His mercy (Romans 11:32). Again, for the questions this inevitably produces, wee my Judas and Millstones “pious reflection”. And then, if I terrify you there and you are not sure if you are saved, see this one: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/if-you-want-salvation-you-already-have-salvation/

    Circumcision was Gospel and was always meant to be so. It also pointed ahead to the Savior (can’t find a great quote from Chemnitz now illustrating this)

    See here: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/the-law-is-not-of-faith-like-a-child-part-ii/

    “or do we only have some (gnostic?) notion of sovereign imputation (with resulting conversion) in which every person begins life under condemnation and outside the covenant?”

    I am not sure what you mean here Mark. We Lutherans do not believe God imputes our sins to us. Our sin is something that infects our good human nature, poisoning it and making it bad.

    “Every time I witness a water baptism today, I cling to God’s public certification that God has claimed not only that person but also Esau and me. And so while I am happy to be in the covenant, I always need to ask myself if God will cut me off if I do not keep (enough of) the law.

    I am wondering what the difference between Lutheran and Reformed on the perseverance of the saints (and election) practically amounts to.”

    I know what you are saying here Mark, but yes, we Lutherans at this point would simply say “don’t ever think for a minute that you can keep (enough of) the law!”

    “Come to me and I will give you rest.” Law or gospel? Is here: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/come-to-me-and-i-will-give-you-rest-law-or-gospel/

    By the way, Trent’s/Hunnius’ question about John 3:16-18 strikes me as a real hum-dinger. Nick’s follow-up deserves to be said again: “In Reformed theology, there is nothing Jesus did for the reprobate. So what is it they are being condemned for in this passage?”

    Have a good weekend all.

    +Nathan

  217. mikelmann
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    MMc, you say
    “The gospel is ‘died for the sins of those who believe.'”

    I really seems like your formulations are a hybrid of gospel and decree. But the gospel invitation goes out freely, and hearers are invited to Christ. I don’t recall the preaching in Acts being a proclamation of an atonement theory. Definite atonement and election are comforting truths but how about “come unto me you weak and heavy laden,” and “Christ died for sinners”?

  218. mikelmann
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Some day I’ll proofreed my komments.

  219. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Nick, thanks for the reply. I’m not arguing for the superiority of TULIP-assurance because, as you point out, one can deceive one’s self. I’m arguing against the superiority of the Lutheran position on assurance because of the (seems to me) obviously big warning sign of “you can lose it if you don’t perform.” For the Lutherans, you can lose it; for the Reformed, maybe you never had it. Again, not arguing superiority.

    Eric, I don’t recall a satisfying explanation, which is why I reiterated. But maybe I’m just hard to please.

    Trent, nice to see some exegesis.

    I understand the Refirmed to have an understanding of the relevant terms (us, world) in 1 John differently in this passage. Of course, results are absurd if you plug in the meanings you did (us=Christians). So that’s not what we do.

    I understand the terms in question like they are in John 11:

    “51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”

    You are interpreting them to refer to religious affiliation; the reformed take them ethnogeographically.

    The text doesn’t say itself to do one or the other. That’s what systematic is for.

    Re Jn 3:16, the subjunctive mood doesn’t equal “MAYBE they’ll believe.”

  220. mark mcculley
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    mark: sorry I haven’t had time to respond to all the comments, and won’t have now. But it’s a two way street. I have left lots on this thread which has not been commented on.

    Erick: how limited atonement could shake his assurance when the possibility of future apostasy doesn’t? Here’s the answer in two parts: 1) It’s not just Lutherans who believe apostasy happens. Or more correctly, who observe that it happens. If that can shake assurance, then you’re in the same boat we are, because Calvinists lose their salvation too, they just have a different post hoc explanation for it: “I guess he was never really saved / elect in the first place.”

    mark: Yes and no. Apostasy from profession (or from water) is real in both cases. But the difference is between losing justification and finding out you were never justified (not yet justified). So in either case, you might find out that you are not justified now. And in either case, you might still be justified in the future, because you might come to hear and believe the gospel yet.

    But no, apostasy looks (and feels) different to a Lutheran who thinks he needs to be re-justified, who thinks he has been justified and lost it, but that he can be justified once again. First, there is a question of what the Bible says about the possibility of repentance after apostasy. In some cases (the unforgivable sin, Judas) , it seems repentance is no longer an option. I know Arminians and Wesleyans disagree with each other about this. But I don’t know enough about Lutherans to know what they say on the topic.
    But second, the idea of losing justification and then (possibly) regaining justification raises serious questions about the nature of justification. Is justification something which increases and decreases, as the Roman Catholics teach? What is it that makes justification decrease or disappear? if not any sin, what sins, and how much sin? (I take it as a fact that all Christians are still sinners, sinning as a pattern and characteristic of life, and justified at the same time, despite being sinners.).
    Third, are Christians being ‘re-justified” every day, so that you don’t have to think of justification as an once and done “passing from death to life” or “having eternal life”? (John 5:24). There are many questions here–when was Abraham justified, in Genesis chapter 12 or 15? Was Abraham rejustified in chapters 15, 17, 22?

    I want to make this brief. I just don’t have time. I don’t mind long comments, or long responses. Let me say that the question of assurance is not an abstract theory for me. I thought I was a Christian from the time I was 12, but then I found out (from the power of the gospel, I think) that the gospel I believed then was a false gospel, so I lost my assurance, and that was a good thing, as far as I am concerned, because when I was in my 40s, I was delivered to a different gospel (Romans 6:17) and now I am ashamed not only of my moral sins but of my attachment to that old false gospel (Romans 6:21, things of which now ashamed). I say all this not to start a discussion about me, or even about what the old gospel is, or what is the new gospel, but to say that I agree that assurance is a serious concern for all of us, no matter what our “first principles”.

    Eric: Calvinists lose their salvation too, they just have a different post hoc explanation for it: “I guess he was never really saved / elect in the first place.”

    mark: Eric begs the question from the start, as he tends to do. When he says that Calvinists lose their salvation also, he’s simply repeating how he sees it, even as he points out that Calvinists don’t think they lost their salvation, but found out that they were never saved. I don’t see how this helps advance the discussion. Better to say: both sides can come to think that they are not justified yet, even when they thought they were. The Lutheran addition to this says “and they really were” does not solve the problem of finding assurance now in the gospel. Indeed, as I have suggested above, it raises beg questions about the nature of justification. Is justification something which can be lost.

    But I am still agreeing that discovering that you are not now justified before God is a problem that both Lutherans and Calvinists and baptists have. (We cannot escape it by taking the Charles Stanley approach of saying–even if you don’t believe now, you walked the aisle once, and it’s like a tattoo you can’t remove.)

    eric.2) At least we can be sure that Christ really did die for us, which being-sure is faith, through which we are saved.

    mark: I have tried to understand this statement. I can’t. The being sure is faith? Being sure that Jesus died for everybody, including those who perish, is the same as faith that Jesus died for everybody, including those who perish? Being sure is faith? Well, sure, but this is simply saying the same thing over again. If it’s not the death of Jesus which saves, so what if Jesus died for you? And it seems clear, that on Lutheran first principles, not everybody will be saved, even though Jesus died for everybody. So I fail to see the assurance. So what?

    eric. Even if I eventually reject the faith (Lord have mercy), I am not believing a lie right now.

    mark: if Jesus died for everybody, then Jesus died for everybody. It’s not a lie, no matter if you believe now or don’t believe it now. But that besides the point. It’s not true that Jesus died for everybody. And what good did it do for you to “believe it”? And what does it change if you stop “believing it”. Faith does not make reality happen. (no matter what Hagin and Copeland and Osteen might say)

    eric: Whereas, if you eventually reject the faith, and you are right about Limited Atonement, then you are completely deluded at the moment about God’s love and forgiveness to you-ward.

    mark: I think I understand this one. if you believe in election (which Eric seems not to), but you find out that you don’t now believe the gospel, then that might mean that you are not elect, and if you die not believing the gospel, then that does mean that you were not elect, even though you believed the truth about God having an elect people. Yes, this is true. The gospel never tells anybody–you are elect. The gospel never tells anybody–Christ died for you. If you believed in election but did not believe in the gospel, this does not mean that there is no election in the gospel, and this does not mean you were deluded about election. But if you never believe the gospel, this is evidence that you were not elect.

    So much for the situation of the Calvinist. But where is the Lutheran advantage? First, while you were justified, before you lost your justification, you had the advantage of thinking that Jesus died for you? is that an advantage? in what way? So what? Second, even after you lost your justification, you can still say that Jesus died for you, since that’s what the Lutheran gospel says. Your believing it or not believing doesn’t change it being true, or not true. So if it were true that Jesus had died for you, but today you had lost your justification, what comfort or assurance could there possibly be in your idea that Jesus died for everybody including you?

    Wasn’t all the comfort in your believing, which you have now lost, even though you still abstractly assent to the idea that Jesus died for everybody? (or did your unbelief involve your becoming a Calvinist who denied that Jesus died for everybody? Did it involve you becoming an atheist who denied that Jesus even existed or died for anybody? I am asking, even in your unbelief, is it “Lutheran unbelief” in that you still agree that Jesus died for everybody but that this does not necessarily mean anything or save anybody, as in your case, when your unbelief makes the real difference?

    I need to stop. I am asking, how does it really feel? I don want to know.

  221. Posted November 22, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    @mark —

    kosmos is a word for order in Greek. Kosmos used in those sentences literally means the order of the heavens, that is the patterns discernible for the motion of the sun, moon, planets and stars. For later Greeks it applies to the actual content of the order i.e. the earth, sun, moon, planets and stars themselves the way we use the English word “cosmos” today.

    It cannot possibly mean stuff like gentiles minus believers.

  222. mark mcculley
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    michael mann: MMc, you say
    “The gospel is ‘died for the sins of those who believe.’”
    It really seems like your formulations are a hybrid of gospel and decree.

    mark: I was simply reading John 3;16. It’s not “my formulation”. John 3:16 does not say that God gave His Son for every sinner. John 3:16 says that God gave His son for the world. Yes, there is an Arminian formulation of “world” which assumes that it means “every sinner”. Michael, is your formulation a hybird of the Arminian view with something else?

    Now, i don’t doubt that you can quote some famous “Reformed” people who agree that “world” means “every sinner” (although I would disagree that Spurgeon and DA Carson are “Reformed”) And I could quote many Reformed who say that “world” in John (not only this one verse) means those who will believe and who will not perish.

    But my main point, Michael Mann, is that it’s not fair for you to call what I said “my formulation”. I didn’t use the “desire” word. You did. That’s your ‘formulation”. With Calvin, I would argue that God obtains what God desires. God desired and desires that those who won’t perish not perish. So they won’t. God gave His son as the Necessary (and sufficient, it’s enough without additional factors, it causes the means, the other factors) decisive reason that these persons will not perish.

    So, Michael, if you want to argue for the Arminian reading of “world”, put out your own formulation, but don’t pose the question as if I am saying something that other Reformed people don’t say, and as if the “obvious natural reading” has something to say about God loving those who perish or God desiring that those who perish not perish.

    God commands all sinners to believe the gospel. But the gospel is not that God loves all sinners. If you think that the gospel must be that in order for God to command all sinners to believe the gospel, then make that argument. All of this is me asking you: what is the gospel? Do sinners have to believe the gospel? or does God save sinners even when they don’t know or believe the gospel? And isn’t the “as many as who believe” (compare the original text, but I don’t mind if you say “whosoever”) what we find in John 3:16?

    I am not importing “the believers” into the John 3:16 text. Are you importing “and also for those who never believe” into the text? I welcome your answer on this, Michael.

    Michael: But the gospel invitation goes out freely, and hearers are invited to Christ.

    mark: And what did I say that denied that? It comes back to “what is the gospel”. Are you agreeing with the Arminians that the gospel has to say that God wants to save everybody before we can preach it to everybody? if so, you will find your theology in that section of Dordt in which the antithesis of the gospel is explained and condemned. Again, not my formulation.

    michael: I don’t recall the preaching in Acts being a proclamation of an atonement theory.

    mark: I don’t know why people want to rush to I John 2 or Acts when they can’t first argue for their assumptions about John 3:16. Michael, I know paedos like arguments from silence, but is the conclusion here that there is no “atonement theory” in the gospel? Again, what is the gospel? Is the Gospel simply that Jesus is God, and risen Lord? Are you assuming a Kantian distinction between fact and theory (value, meaning) in which there is atonement in the gospel but not “atonement theory”? Are you sure that the apostle Paul who wrote Romans 3-6 did not talk about the atonement in Acts? Are you assuming that the apostle Peter who wrote about the atonement in his letters did not talk about the atonement in Acts? Are you some kind of dispensationalist who thinks there are different gospels even in the New Testament? Or, are you saying that the basic simple gospel (all you need to know) is the one you think is in Acts, which has the “fundamentals” without any discussion of the nature (intent, effect, justice) of the atonement?

    Michael: Definite atonement and election are comforting truths but how about “come unto me you weak and heavy laden,” and “Christ died for sinners”?

    mark: First, I don’t believe you. You don’t find those truths comforting. or you wouldn’t be so uncomfortable with them. If you thought they were good news, then you wouldn’t want to restrict the preaching of those truths to conferences and seminars and RC Sproul on video Sunday School classes. You would invite all sinners to believe in the good news of election. So I don’t think you are being completely honest with yourself when you stipulate they are comforting.

    Second, you are pulling two phrases out of context. Unless you are playing a “shell-game’ with lost people, why put stuff into the fine print (strings attached)? When you yourself are comforted by the idea that “died for sinners” really means ‘died for some sinners, died for elect sinners, died for those sinners who believe the gospel”, and the comfort is not in the idea that some are non-elect but in the fact that this means that the death really accomplishes something, that the death means that they will believe, if you are truly comforted by this, why leave it out of the gospel, when the effect of leaving it out means that lose people will simply go on saying, so what? Sure, Jesus died for everybody, and everybody in america knows that, and I don’t deny it, but what does it matter unless I am a good person and go to church?

    Third, I didn’t even use the ‘elect” word. I merely said “for those sinners who believe”. Isn’t that what John 3:16 says? Not one less than those who believe. Not one more than those who believe. So where’s the problem? Do you have a “formulation” which insists that ‘world”means “everybody gets a chance” and “nobody is condemned for original sin, or even for any sin, except this one sin of not accepting it”. If that’s not your gospel, why would you object to what I said? Why would you put your “desire and decree” formulation on it.

    Context

    Matthew 11: 255 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

    John 6: 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast
    out.

    Acts 2:39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

    As many of you as God calls are elect. As many of your children as God calls are elect. As many of all who are far off as God calls are elect. Not more, not less. Michael, would you not agree that this call is not the external command and invitation of the gospel, but the effectual call which comes only to the elect for whom Christ died?

    But this promise about election and calling is something that Peter preaches to everybody in Acts 2

  223. mikelmann
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    MMc, I can’t respond to all that today. My macro-point is that the gospel is what is preached, and that gospel invites sinners to Christ. It seems to me that you want to synthesize gospel and decree and call that the gospel. It’s no denial of election or definite atonement to say those are not necessary components of a gospel proclamation. If it is, start calling Peter and Paul Arminians.

  224. mark mcculley
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Trent: Do you know what Lutherans believe regarding original sin?

    Nathan: We Lutherans do not believe God imputes our sins to us. Our sin is something that infects our good human nature, poisoning it and making it bad.

    mark: Maybe I don’t know. Lutherans don’t talk about sin or sins being imputed? If so, this is news to me, and I need more education. I know that some Lutherans talk of sinners exchanging their sins in return for Christ’s righteousness, but I think that is a category mistake. God is the one who makes imputation, and any “reckoning” that we do is based on that. See Romans 6.

    And God does not count faith as the righteousness. Faith is unto righteousness, and God counts the object of faith (Christ’s righteousness) for what it is, once it is legally shared (imputed by God) to those who are to be justified. What is the “it” which is the object of faith? Christ’s death, with the meaning given by Scripture (FOR, whatever that means, for whoever that means)

    But save that topic for another day. Please help me know what Lutherans do or do not say about the imputation of sins. Do Lutherans say that only the corruption of Adam but not the guilt is passed on to the children of Adam (all of us)? This is not a debate question. I simply don’t know. Corruption is not “imputed”. Guilt is “imputed”.

    Do Lutherans deny imputed guilt from Adam?

    Do Lutherans say that Christ died “for sinners” but not “for sins”? I have no reason to think that Lutherans make this distinction, but maybe you do. Though John 3;16 does not say the words “sins” or “sinners”, I had assumed that both were involved in the the need for eternal life. Even though the words “the forgiveness of sins” are not in the context, the idea that people are condemned “already” seems to be saying that people will “perish” because of being sinners and because of their sins . How were we born corrupt and God be just if we were not born guilty?

    And of course there are two other imputations, first the one above, in which Christ’s righteousness is imputed to those who believe the gospel. But for those who believe in a penal substitutionary atonement, is there not also another imputation–a legal transfer (to the Substitute) by God of the sins of the sinners for whom Christ is the Substitute?

    I know not all Lutherans now believe in a “penal substitutionary atonement”. I know even some “conservative” (non-universalist) Lutherans deny penal substitution. But I was under the impression that some Lutherans did teach that God imputed the sins of some sinners to Christ.

    Was I wrong on that? Or is it impossible for one Lutheran to tell us what Lutherans believe about imputation of sins? I do want to keep talking about “extent” questions, and about”‘assurance” questions, and everything else. I am sorry I am so far behind. But now i did want to ask this question about “imputation”.

    Psalm 32:2 Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord IMPUTES not iniquity

    Romans 4:6– David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
    8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not IMPUTE his sin.”

    Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not IMPUTED when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

    Romans 6: 7 For one who has died has been justified from sin. 8 Now IF we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must IMPUTE yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    Colossians 1:14–“In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”.

    Hebrews 9:22– “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins”.

  225. Nick
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    http://bookofconcord.org/sd-originalsin.php

    It’s not terribly hard to find, if you’re really interested.

  226. mark mcculley
    Posted November 23, 2013 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Still on the search for the word “imputation” in Lutheran standards. I found this in a Missouri Synod enclopedia

    sin, Original— 1. In its ordinary meaning this term does not refer to the origin of sin but to the guilt of Adam’s sin imputed to his offspring (hereditary guilt, Ro 5:12–19; Eph 2:3; cf. FC SD I 9) and the corruption of man’s nature that occurred when sin entered and which inheres in the human will and inclinations
    http://cyclopedia.lcms.org/display.asp?t1=s&word=SIN.ORIGINAL

    Now I need to find Solidia Declaration 1:9

    If God does not “impute sins” to anybody, then it would not be good news to talk about God not imputing sins to “us” (His people)

    The “non-imputation of sins” to those who (as many as) believe the gospel is justification

    The transformation from corruption to being one who believes the gospel is regeneration.

    No?

  227. mark mcculley
    Posted November 23, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    ok, i figured it out–it was right there, subhead 9

    9:1— That this hereditary evil is the guilt [by which it comes to pass] that, by reason of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, we are all in God’s displeasure, and by nature children of wrath, as the apostle shows Rom. 5:12ff ; Eph. 2:3.

    It doesn’t use the word “imputation”. It does use the word “guilt” It doesn’t spell out the relationship between imputed guilt and corruption.

    But surely God could not justly pass on the corruption if God if not pass on the guilt, right?

    Isn’t death a result of guilt before God’s law?

    I Corinthians 15: 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
    “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
    55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”
    56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

    Our corruption was not transferred to Christ, but our guilt was, and this is the reason Christ died.

    Romans 6: 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all

    I am aware of some “Reformed” theologians who put death before sin, and corruption before guilt. But I agree wth John Murray (The Imputation of Adam’s Sin) that those theologians are wrong.

    I know that there are some (Seifrid, the Finnish) who warn us to not think of “imputed righteousness” when we think of Luther (faith in us is Christ indwelling us) but I think it would be difficult to improve on what Calvin writes about Osiander. But I do not assume that Osiander is representative of Lutherans, then or now.

    It would be a curious thing if Lutherans were to talk of an “imptued righteousness” but not of “imputed guilt”.

    John 3–The Lord Jesus did not come to condemn. The Lord Jesus did not have to die for a person in order for that person to be justly condemned. Everybody is already born condemned. We do not have to change what the gospel says in order to command every sinner to believe it.

  228. mark mcculley
    Posted November 23, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Nathan posted November 20, 2013 at 8:04 am

    mark: But despite knowing this, the Lutheran says “for you” in a way that makes the generalization sacramentally “for you individually in particular”. But it turns out that the good news was NOT “on the last day I will raise you up and give you immortality’.”.It was only about some “objective universal justification” that could be lost.

    Nathan: No – it really does mean this. The good news is that they will be raised up and given immortality on the last day. There is no reason that they should not think that this will be true.

    mark: well, except you have agreed that they might not be. You have agreed that not all who are watered will persevere in faith. We all know this, even those of us who only “baptize” those who first profess to believe the gospel.

    How is “no reason not to” different from “no reason to”?

    The more basic question is–what is the “this” is for you? Is the “this” that Jesus died for you but you might still perish? Is the “this” a promise that the “baptism” will be effectual IF YOU KEEP BELIEVING? If that’s the case, then it’s difficult to see how it was the “baptism” which proved to be effectual even in the case of those who continue to believe. Since the “baptism” was not effectual to keep others believing in some cases, it seems we need to look at other factors. (The analogy would be Jesus dying for everybody, but not effectually in some cases–then neither was it effectual in any cases–some other difference)

    a footnote—As I understand your view of the Supper, there is a certain “negative efficacy” in the case of those who come to the table without faith. (Jesus really shows up, but in a bad way.) But am I to understand that this is not the case with water baptism–if it does no good in some cases, at least it never brings more curse or condemnation? Please correct me on either summary, if I have it wrong here.

    I know the Reformed theologian Meredith Kline (with emphasis on the parallel nature of the two covenant canons, with negative “present intrusions” in both) wrote a lot about “covenant curses”–that baptism was never a neutral thing, that having been in the covenant could make it worse for you. But it seems like nobody but federal visionists (or unreconstructed reconstructionists) make that emphasis. I have not heard such warnings in the few “infant baptisms” I have witnessed in conservative Reformed congregations.

  229. mark mcculley
    Posted November 23, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Nathan: God’s anger is primarily directed against the One who would destroy His plan to create and redeem man. I can have anger vs. my children without loathing and hating them. God’s wrath needs to be understood here in a way such that it can exist with His weeping over Jerusalem. If you are understanding his wrath in another way, that is simply the wrong way.

    mark: I see the qualification “primarily” there and would like some more explanation of that. I would say that God’s wrath is against all sin and all sinners, unless their sins have been propitiated for by Christ’s death. Christ, who is God, died to appease God’s own wrath toward the sins of the sinners for whom Christ died. Would you agree with that, Nathan?

    Nathan: I can have anger vs. my children without loathing and hating them

    mark: Without doing a word study of wrath/anger, Nathan, are you saying that the judicial wrath of God which results in the second death of those who perish is like your fatherly anger with your children? I have no idea what you think of Barth, but are you saying that all human creatures are the children of God? Are you denying that we sinners need to become the children of God? Are you saying (with Barth) that God’s wrath is always a function of God’s love? That God only has wrath toward those whom God still loves? That God only has wrath toward those whom God once loved (once upon a time)?

    Nathan: God’s wrath needs to be understood here in a way such that it can exist with His weeping over Jerusalem.

    mark: I certainly would welcome hearing more from you about what you think this text means. Does it mean that God attempted to save some people but could not pull it off for some reason? Did God Himself (in His just wrath) have anything to do with the destruction of Jerusalem? Does God continue to love those who have perished because of God’s wrath?

    Where do you get this idea about how God’s wrath “needs to be understood”? We all need our sins forgiven, but that does not mean that we will. We all need to believe the gospel, but that doesn’t mean we will. We should not read the Bible to make it say what we think we need it to say so that we can be “pastoral” and thus not talk about election or divine wrath without divine love.

    Romans 9: 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—

    Nathan: If you are understanding his wrath in another way, that is simply the wrong way.

    mark: I do like dogmatic statements, such as this one. So you need to tell us “the right way” to understand Romans 9. Does it turn out that the vessels of wrath are also vessels of mercy? Does it turn out that the vessels of mercy are also vessels of wrath? Or was Barth correct to “understand in the right way” that Christ Himself is the only vessel. both loved and hated?

    one footnote–I have not here addressed the question of God’s wrath on the elect before they are justified, before they have been placed into Christ’s death. Another time, another place.

    Romans 3: 5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world?

    Romans 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

  230. Posted November 23, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    It would more helpful if you took things piecemeal. For example, it would be more helpful to ask, “How do Lutherans understand the imputation of sins?” rather than asking things like,

    “The transformation from corruption to being one who believes the gospel is regeneration. No?”
    “But surely God could not justly pass on the corruption if God if not pass on the guilt, right?”
    “Isn’t death a result of guilt before God’s law?”
    “How is ‘no reason not to’ different from ‘no reason to’?”

    This is becoming less like a conversation and more like alternating broadsides. Well, mostly just you issuing broadsides, dropping names, and posing abstract word puzzles while various interlocutors, even those who agree with you, ask you to slow down and consider this or that particular. It’s just become logomachy.

    It’s like you’re at a dinner party, and someone has just offered you two options for dinner: Swedish meatballs or corned beef & cabbage. Instead of merely picking one, you start talking about what soldiers ate during the Thirty Years War and then treat everyone to an equally effusive lecture on the fare consumed during the Easter Rising of 1913. Everyone was ready to sit down and eat, perhaps break out into other conversations, but now they’re all awkwardly listening to you talk for half an hour, and the food has gotten cold.

    It’s hard to know what to talk about now because you’ve picked so many threads loose at once. One wonders what the point is of doing things this way.

    I’m still waiting on your response to my exegesis of St. John’s Gospel and Epistle. It would be great if you could do so in short, concise sentences. Please use concrete logic with reference to the particulars of the text, not abstract logical paradigms.

    And, please, don’t do the whole “let me answer that with a question” thing.

  231. Posted November 24, 2013 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—”

    Mark: I do like dogmatic statements, such as this one.

    You do realize that you cut the verse off prematurely, right? Allow me to remind you that Romans 9:23-24 is not a dogmatic statement. It’s a hypothetical question that St. Paul doesn’t answer.

    “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”

    Now, I’m certainly not accusing you of trying to deceive us, the other commenters. I mean, we all read the Bible; it’s not like we couldn’t look up the verse for ourselves. It’s not like you were misleading some fledgling Awanas. Indeed, since none of us seems to be a stranger to this particular sort of donnybrook, we’ve probably got the Romans 9 bit embedded in the membrane. But it is really telling of your…what shall we say? exegetical habits? that you 1) cut the verse off before the end, and 2) regard the fact that this is a question, not a statement, as irrelevant. It seems unlikely, but perhaps you’re just so used to reading it as a statement that you’ve forgotten that it’s…not a statement?

    Why, exactly, do you do that?

  232. Posted November 25, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    As is typical, I have bitten off a bit more than I can chew, time-wise. It may be a while before I can get back to you her – have only skimmed some of what you wrote above. Regarding imputation, again, I have probably not spoken as carefully or wisely as I should.

    Roughly, imputation: The act of imputing or ascribing; attribution. 2. Something imputed, ascribed, or attributed.

    My main point there is that when we say that God does not impute our sins to us but instead imputes Christ’s righteousness to us by faith. This kind of imputation is what I have in mind when I talk about original sin. It is not an imputation based on anything that is in us, but is something that is applied to us from the outside and not based on any goodness or righteousness on our part.

    As I have come to [perhaps incorrectly] understand Reformed theology, there is something significant about Adam’s being the head of all persons and his actions being imputed to us. Is this understood in a way analogous to the way that I just described justification above? If it is, we would reject that because God’s “imputation” here would be based on something that is *in* man as a result of the Fall.

    Does that make sense? I heard one Lutheran pastor – again, perhaps incorrectly – say that one must not attribute to the Lutherans the Calvinist idea that God imputes Adam’s sin to us, for we are all responsible for our actions that do not derive from full fear, love, and trust in God (man’s ignorance God is in fact a culpable ignorance – but as Paul reminds us, it is to precisely such as these that He is merciful)

    Hopefully, more from me later – and soon. I also note in passing here that our critique of this view of imputation seems like it could be related to particular forms of Reformed Christology, Zwingli’s in particular (for more on that see here: http://wp.me/psYq5-HS )

    By the way, you asked how it feels – it feels great knowing that I can have utter confidence and peace of my salvation in Christ via the means of grace He uses to reach and nourish me – and not having any Confessional Lutheran teachers that I am aware of suggesting that such certainty may not be justified.

    +Nathan

  233. mark mcculley
    Posted November 25, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I John 2:2 If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world”

    Trent: So a plain reading of the text

    mark: This mean’s Trent’s reading, but he’s not going to give arguments for his reading of this first clause.

    trent: would suggest that “anyone” means “anyone” (and the Greek substantiates this).

    mark: But of course Trent thinks this means “everyone”. Instead of looking at the “we” which follows in the sentence, and asking “who is this we”, Trent is assuming that “us” and “we” always means “every sinner”, and then using this assumption concludes to “anyone of the everyone”, instead of “anyone of those for whom Christ is interceding”.

    But what is the purpose or the comfort of saying that Christ is the advocate for every sinner, when Trent agrees ( I think) that many sinners will perish in the second death? What is the point of saying that Jesus is the advocate of those who will nevertheless die (if not for all their sins, at least for the sin of rejecting Jesus)?

    Trent can say, well Lutherans don’t concern themselves with rational theological questions like this .Why bother with “does Jesus want to be your advocate, or is Jesus still your advocate even after you perish” questions, when instead you can be call mark a “hideous gasbag” (and other ad hom, “masturbater”)

    Why is this so personal? If indeed we have different gospels, shouldn’t the major point be about showing how it’s good news that Jesus is the advocate even of those who will not be saved from the wrath of God? Good news—His advocacy will work for you if you meet the conditions for allowing that to happen???

    Trent: The rest of the text — “not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” — needs to be read in light of this.

    mark” “This” being what Trent has now told you that “anyone” has to mean. But why does anyone (of us) “need to read” it his way, and why? Did Trent get his interpretation from the pope? Is Trent something more than an individual thinking about the Bible? Is he merely reporting what everybody but Calvinists knows is obvious?

    trent: With that said, this text does seem to suggest that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins not just of those who believe [by definition, the Church], but for all men’s sins.

    mark: his conclusion repeated. “Suggests”? It doesn’t say it? I certainly will stipulate that the death of Jesus will take away the wrath of God from the elect who do not yet believe the gospel. Though all the elect will believe the gospel, they had not yet when John wrote this statement (and unless Jesus comes again this minute, there are more elect who will believe the gospel but haven’t yet).

    I stipulate this because of Trent’s phrase “those who do not believe”. He tends to avoid the election word, which is not in this text, but then again “those who do not believe” is not in the text either.My main point—he uses the word “propitiation” but he does not mean the same thing by that word as the Bible does. At most he thinks of propitiation as potential, something which might happen for a person depending on other factors. Either that, or he thinks of propitiation as something which has happened for those who have already died in unbelief, ie, he thinks of propitiation as some kind of gesture made by God which has not effectively and justly removed the wrath of God from the sinners for whom the attempt was made.

    trent: I’m familiar with the standard Calvinist rebuttal to this: “sins of the world” could mean something other than “all men’s sins”, but given the contextual suggestion to the contrary, pace Pink, that simply does not stand.

    mark: If he were more familiar, he would know that different Reformed writers have different readings of the verse–there is no one “standard”. My view (jew and gentile) might be the majority view, but I am not going to take the time to quote different commentaries. I am more interested in the “what is the good news here” question than I am in either ad hom or the Reformed tradition.

    Trent: “He is the propitiation for our sins…” Let’s assume that this means “He is the propitiation for [Christians’] sins” — a sensible reading.

    mark; I don’t think it’s a sensible to construct a straw-man for the purposes of demolishing it. Even if you could get it away with it, what would it prove? Would it assure Trent of the glad news that the propitiation actually fails to propitiate in many cases? The distinction to be noticed is between jews who have NOW already believed the gospel, and jews and gentiles who have not yet (but shall!) believe the gospel. Of course, Trent could just say–not sensible, mark is weird, nobody thinks that.

    Trent: Why, then, does St. John go on to say, “and not for [our sins] only, but also for the sins of the whole world”? The Calvinist interpretation would mean that the text is saying the following:
    “He is the propitiation for the sins of Christians, and not for the sins of Christians only but also for the sins of Christians.”

    mark: I guess Calvinists are all pretty stupid. None of them ever thought about how dumb this was, but this is their view—“the Calvinist interpretation”.

    I am not going to waste my time with the personal insults. I should be catching up on Nathan’s discussion. Trent doesn’t need to me to talk. He can give both sides–“the Calvinist interpretation” and the truth. And I have already written enough here for him to trash me for a long time to come.

    John 3:16-18 does not teach that the only sin for which sinners are condemned is not believing that Jesus died for everyone. The true gospel is not that “Jesus died for you”, therefore I don’t need to tell anyone that “Jesus died for you”.

    If you reject election (not based on what sinners do) , this is not the reason for your condemnation but only one means God has used in that process. We are all born condemned, before we reject the gospel. Jesus died to propitiate the wrath of God even for the sin of the elect in rejecting the gospel, until in this life those same elect stop rejecting the gospel and began believing the gospel.

  234. mark mcculley
    Posted November 25, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Nathan: We are able to say no to God, but God is no longer able to say no to us, for according to St Paul, “there is only yes in God” (2 Cor 1:19), the yes of his Covenant which Christ has given on the Cross….”

    http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/if-you-want-salvation-you-already-have-salvation/

    mark: Is this your version of the CS Lewis gospel? The doors will still always be open, even if you choose to stay inside there and continue to sin forever? God will always say yes, but his yes is not enough? Without yours?

    So the propitiation has not quite taken away all the wrath? Your own “yes” makes the ultimate difference? Thank you god that i said yes, and I am not like those other persons to whom you are also saying yes? Thank you god for giving me the gift of saying yes, not like those other persons who “could have” and “even now still can” say yes, except let’s not think about what we don’t think about, which is why you give it to me to say yes, but didn’t give it to them????

    One thing you know, all objectively justified already. The wrath of God no longer abides on anybody. The only thing keeping “them” (and not me) condemned is their own enmity, their own wrath, their own no???

    I think this sounds like Joel Osteen. I know the reason you don’t have that new car yet. God wants everyone to have it. And if you wanted it (enough, like I do), you already have it. But you don’t, well you still already have it but at the same time you don’t.

    The little engine said, I think can say yes, I think I can say yes, I think I can…

    The little engine said, I have already got up the hill, I already got up here….

    The cross is not the difference, because the difference is God causing some to say yes to the cross????

  235. mark mcculley
    Posted November 25, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Nathan, I do thank you for your responses and your courtesy. I do understand that even we “have a life” and that our time is limited. Though I too won’t be able to catch up with everything, I do want us to continue to help and teach each other as we can. Let me respond here to just one question about information.

    Nathan: perhaps I have come to [perhaps incorrectly] understand Reformed theology, there is something significant about Adam’s being the head of all persons and his actions being imputed to us. Is this understood in a way analogous to the way that I just described justification above?

    It is not an imputation based on anything that is in us, but is something that is applied to us from the outside and not based on any goodness or righteousness on our part.

    If it is, we would reject that because God’s “imputation” here would be based on something that is *in* man as a result of the Fall.

    mark: I must begin by saying that not all Reformed agree on this. (And it might be that all Lutherans don’t agree about imputed guilt either, because some seem to say that corruption is a result of guilt). Calvin himself followed Augustine in putting the emphasis on inherited corruption, and not on guilt. But I myself would stand with the “federal theology” of John Murray, Hodge, Turretin, which talks about “original sin” in terms of legal representation. (as for contemporaries, both Mike Horton and John Piper speak of legal representation from Adam, but there are “realists” who are more in the tradition of Jonathan Edwards and Shedd–people like Schreiner and Blochers)

    But I digress. This imputation from Adam to humans, is about the legal transfer of the guilt of Adam’s one action, his first sin. The guilt of Adam is “external” to Adam–it’s the value, the demerit of his action, as judged by God, and that guilt is transferred to every human (Christ, the God human, the second Adam, excepted). This guilt is not simply the liability or punishment for sin, but is the sin.

    This might seem very esoteric, but it’s important, as you indicate, Nathan. That which is transferred from Adam is EXTERNAL.

    1. When Christ “bears sins” or is “made sin”, this does NOT mean that Christ himself ever became corrupt. Christ had no need of regeneration, which is why Romans 6 is not about regeneration, not about water, but about legal placing into the death of Christ. Why was the legal death of Christ necessary—because of the guilt of the Adam imputed to Christ, this guilt demanded his death, and his death demanded the remission of this guilt. Justice has been done, and those in Christ legally must have their guilt forgiven. This is good news indeed!

    2. Now the guilt of the elect imputed by God to Christ is not the same as the guilt of Adam imputed by God to all humans, but the nature of the imputation of guilt is the same in both cases. This is why I say this is important, and why you are right to talk about it being “external”. Nathan, your only mistake here is a misunderstanding about what the Reformed teach. We do teach an external (judicial) imputation. The more basic solution is not a regeneration of our insides (though that is necessary for other reasons, so that we believe), because the most basic problem we have is that apart from the cross (the death of Christ) God counts everyone’s sins against them.

    3. Yes, this is my favorite topic, as others on this blog who are no longer reading this thread could tell you. Your emphasis, Nathan, on the external is very important when we consider II Corinthinians 5: 21. I won’t extend the discussion here to talk about who died with Christ (5:14-15) or to whom the appeal to be reconciled is made (II Cor 6;1), but I will point out that “become the righteousness of God in Christ” is about having an external righteousness imputed to us. Because that is so, the “made sin” of the first part of the verse must be seen as about external guilt being imputed to Christ.

    In other words, if the first part (made sin) is about some “inner corruption”, then 1. that says that Christ needed to be born again. God forbid! but 2. it would say that our righteousness is something found in us, or something in our faith, or something in Christ in us, or something indwelling. When the gospel is first of all about LOOKING OUT to Christ outside us, to Christ external to us. To become the righteousness of God in Christ is to be imputed with Christ’s righteousness, the external “merits” of the obedience of Christ for the elect.

    This is not denying that the “in us” or the “new birth” is important, but it’s saying that those miracles are a result of the legal imputation of the EXTERNAL. So your concern, Nathan, is correct, even though your information about what Reformed say is incorrect.

    Romans 8: 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,

    Nathan: Does that make sense? I heard one Lutheran pastor – again, perhaps incorrectly – say that one must not attribute to the Lutherans the Calvinist idea that God imputes Adam’s sin to us, for we are all responsible for our actions that do not derive from full fear, love, and trust in God

    mark: I am hoping that not all Lutherans would agree with this, because it seems to be an outright rejection of any notion of “original sin”. If we are only responsible for our own sins, then what is left of original sin on any reading (external or any other way). If we find the imputation of Adam’s sin not just, why should we find the imputation of Christ’s finished work to be acceptable? If we can’t be condemned for Adam’s sake alone , how could we be justified for Christ’s sake alone?

    Of course most people in our day do reject both imputations. Certainly the “new perspective on Paul” does. But it seems that many others reject it as well. I am hoping at the this point, Nathan, I misunderstand you. Are you saying that the only effect in your life from Adam’s sin is death and being a sinner, but rejecting any idea that you are a sinner because of Adam’s guilt? If you deny that you can be legally judged because of Adam’s sin, must you not also deny that you can be legally justified because of Christ’s righteous death?

  236. Posted November 26, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    Thanks again for the ongoing dialogue.

    You said to Trent:

    “His advocacy will work for you if you meet the conditions for allowing that to happen???”

    Here our preachers would stay away from such language – the only conditions we should be talking about with the impenitent are how they fail to measure up to God’s expectations – His law, forcibly preached. They think they are justified because they are “good people” and so God meets them on these grounds. When it comes to coming to faith however, we will talk about how it is necessary for repentance to be present – and that salvation is by faith, which could be called a condition, but it really is a gift (along with repentance) that God creates in us via preaching (Rom. 10:17). All of this is what God needs to do in the sinner via the preaching of the word, which can occur one on one in conversations or in more public venues. That is how His Holy Spirit works.

    “John 3:16-18 does not teach that the only sin for which sinners are condemned is not believing that Jesus died for everyone. The true gospel is not that “Jesus died for you”, therefore I don’t need to tell anyone that “Jesus died for you”.”

    Mark, we see the message of “Jesus died for you” (“Jesus loves me this I know”) as being a very important tool in the pastor’s toolkit, which he can confidently administer to those he discerns have been broken by the law, i.e. are penitent. The pastor can be confident to give persons peace with God through the message of the Gospel because they are a part of the whole world for which Christ died – spiritual wisdom helps them to know when the person is ready to receive that message. Obviously, all aren’t, and some actively resist the message that they are sinners who sin who require the propitiation provided by the Son of God.

    You also said to Trent: “Jesus died to propitiate the wrath of God even for the sin of the elect in rejecting the gospel, until in this life those same elect stop rejecting the gospel and began believing the gospel.”

    Mark, the real problem with this language is that it is so far removed from the Scriptural language, the biblical pattern of preaching. What do you do about the fact that the New Testament clearly talks about election in at least two senses? (see more below)

    +Nathan

  237. Posted November 26, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    On my blog, I quoted an E.O. writer saying this: “We are able to say no to God, but God is no longer able to say no to us, for according to St Paul, “there is only yes in God” (2 Cor 1:19), the yes of his Covenant which Christ has given on the Cross….”

    You ask:

    “mark: Is this your version of the CS Lewis gospel? The doors will still always be open, even if you choose to stay inside there and continue to sin forever? God will always say yes, but his yes is not enough? Without yours?”

    Since that time I have found out that this E.O. writer is a universalist. That said, his statement here can indeed be used in the proper context, i.e. with a Christian who is concerned that they may not be a Christian because of their sin. The post is written for them. This does not mean that a person who is baptized and/or once believed may never need to hear the words “if we disown Him, God will disown us”, or that they can make shipwreck of their faith. So no, those who remain unrepentant should not here this message. This is all about proper application of law and gospel to concrete individuals. Perhaps the real question here should be: should I be trying to do this on the internet, at least with all the explanation I have just offered you? “God’s ‘yes’ is enough” – but it is to be applied to those who are penitent.

    “So the propitiation has not quite taken away all the wrath? Your own “yes” makes the ultimate difference?”

    No. The wrath remains on those who do not believe (which may mean simply that they do not call “sin” what the real Jesus calls “sin”, meaning they do not need forgiveness for this or that), but that does not mean we talk about our “own ‘yes’ mak[ing] the ultimate difference”. Good preachers never do that, because it is God who uses the word to break the sinner with the law and put him back together with the gospel. This is not something we do.

    “One thing you know, all objectively justified already. The wrath of God no longer abides on anybody.”

    Again, see above. I have explained that if you do not see “God’s wrath” remaining on people who do not believe in the Son as being compatible with the Son’s weeping over Jerusalem, you do not have a biblical understanding of God’s wrath.

    “The cross is not the difference, because the difference is God causing some to say yes to the cross????”

    The cross is the difference – this is what we are to preach. That said, we are to preach it rightly, for by it and the resurrection “all is prepared” – “come to the feast” – “be reconciled to God”. Because we say these words does not mean that they are the ones coming under their own power or that we are not saying the cross is not the difference.

    “the most basic problem we have is that apart from the cross (the death of Christ) God counts everyone’s sins against them.”

    Yes, but it is also true that God sends Christ precisely because He is merciful as well as just.

  238. Posted November 26, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    …“In other words, if the first part (made sin) is about some “inner corruption”, then 1. that says that Christ needed to be born again. God forbid! but 2. it would say that our righteousness is something found in us, or something in our faith, or something in Christ in us, or something indwelling.”

    I do not follow why you are saying Christ needed to be born again. Christ shared our nature but not the infection of our nature. As for our righteousness being “extra nos” that is precisely to comfort terrified consciences – to guard the faith of Christians who feel the weight of their sin. When we believe in Christ outside of us, He is present in faith as well, dwelling in us. This means that His righteousness is in us and that he has begun to make us truly righteous as well (where we begin to fear, love and trust in God above all things). Chronologically, this happens at the same time: again, the reason for the focus on the extra nos however, is that we might have total peace with God, realizing that faith does not talk about itself or cling to its self, but rather its object.

    Nathan: Does that make sense? I heard one Lutheran pastor – again, perhaps incorrectly – say that one must not attribute to the Lutherans the Calvinist idea that God imputes Adam’s sin to us, for we are all responsible for our actions that do not derive from full fear, love, and trust in God
    mark: I am hoping that not all Lutherans would agree with this, because it seems to be an outright rejection of any notion of “original sin”. If we are only responsible for our own sins, then what is left of original sin on any reading (external or any other way). If we find the imputation of Adam’s sin not just, why should we find the imputation of Christ’s finished work to be acceptable?….

    As the hymn says “In Adam we have all been one, one huge rebellious man”. After he ate the fruit, they realized they were naked. Their natures have been poisoned with the venom of Satan. Because of Adam’s sinful action, we sin and are guilty with him. How does this reject original sin? It simply means that we can’t not act in a way that is devoid of fear, love and trust in God. *No one* is exempt from this problem, and hence we are *all* under God’s just condemnation. Again, *no one* escapes this. We are all sick and we are all guilty, period. I am a sinner because I sin because of Adam’s sin. We have no business making appeals based on justice. How is that not a definition of original sin? This is why we can’t say that our sin is “imputed” to us in the same way that we can say that the guilt of our sin certainly is imputed to Him, and His righteousness is certainly imputed to us. Real righteousness only comes to us from the outside, for we are infected with sin from head to toe, and need this great Physician.

    “If we can’t be condemned for Adam’s sake alone , how could we be justified for Christ’s sake alone?…. If you deny that you can be legally judged because of Adam’s sin, must you not also deny that you can be legally justified because of Christ’s righteous death?”

    Just read Romans 5 again – I don’t find it to be incompatible with what I’ve said above at all.

    Back to your old posts now: I said: “The good news is that they will be raised up and given immortality on the last day. There is no reason that they should not think that this will be true.”

    You said: “well, except you have agreed that they might not be. You have agreed that not all who are watered will persevere in faith. We all know this, even those of us who only “baptize” those who first profess to believe the gospel.”

    Mark, being aware that one can fall does not mean that one needs to worry that they will fall. In Christ I will not fall. We fall when we are out of Christ. When I speak of my faith in Christ, I speak of now, with confidence now that Christ will preserve me then.

    “Since the “baptism” was not effectual to keep others believing in some cases, it seems we need to look at other factors.”

    Mark – that factor would be doubt-inducing and faith destroying sin, ever tempting. But we are not to focus on this, look to this, reflect on this, but to Christ and His good words.

    “But am I to understand that this is not the case with water baptism–if it does no good in some cases, at least it never brings more curse or condemnation? Please correct me on either summary, if I have it wrong here.”

    I have never really thought about this. The Scriptures assume baptism accompanies faith. That said, the condemnation spoken of in the context of baptism is specific: Mark 16.

  239. Posted November 26, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    “Without doing a word study of wrath/anger, Nathan, are you saying that the judicial wrath of God which results in the second death of those who perish is like your fatherly anger with your children? I have no idea what you think of Barth, but are you saying that all human creatures are the children of God? Are you denying that we sinners need to become the children of God? Are you saying (with Barth) that God’s wrath is always a function of God’s love?”

    Mark – there is mystery here. In Acts 17 Paul says that we are all God’s offspring, but some of these children will perish forever in hell, because of the wrath of God. I do not know if I can satisfactorily answer your questions, but I will re-iterate my point about Jesus’ weeping over Jerusalem. It is fully compatible with God’s wrath, or anger. Mark, you ask “Where do you get this idea about how God’s wrath “needs to be understood”?”, but it seems to me that you are trying to understand it as well to some degree, right?

    “Does it mean that God attempted to save some people but could not pull it off for some reason?”

    No. The fact that God gives us what we want does not mean He is weak.

    “Did God Himself (in His just wrath) have anything to do with the destruction of Jerusalem?”

    Yes. It was His judgment over them.

    “Does God continue to love those who have perished because of God’s wrath?”

    I don’t think that we have Scripture that can help us much here as far as explicitly speaking to this. Here is something I wrote in the past: All I know is that it is we not He, who are those who destroy relationships. Rather than seeing others as those whom we can welcome and share life with – and who have significance outside our own desires and pursuit of happiness – we, often, would rather they simply not exist (for ours is not so much the age of anger and hatred, but apathy and indifference). Men might enjoy using this or that “God” for their own self-centered pursuits, but the flip side of this is that oftentimes, man, the fool, wishes the jealous and zealous God of Israel out of existence (Psalm 14:1). Perhaps this explains why there is eternal punishment with God, and not annihilation (the cessation of all personal existence, popular in Eastern conceptions such as Nirvana). Though God certainly expressed regret in the O.T. at creating man, He emphatically can not be said to “take life”, or “snuff out life” in order to be rid of relationships forever, dePersonalizing reality. Said differently, it is man who desires that God not exist, not God who desires that man not exist. Is man really so foolish that he would tell God what love is – namely treating others as if they do not exist, disregarding their presence, and ultimately destroying life, destroying relationships? Evidently. “Would you condemn me [to non-existence or otherwise] that you may be justified?” (Job 40:8). Indeed this is our problem.

    “So you need to tell us “the right way” to understand Romans 9. Does it turn out that the vessels of wrath are also vessels of mercy? Does it turn out that the vessels of mercy are also vessels of wrath?”

    Here is where I point to Romans 11 again, with the two elections, etc. I do not see this as all so clear cut as you do. In the beginning of Romans 9 and the end of Romans 11 (see 11:28) it seems that all of Israel, is in *some sense* elect, or chosen by God (despite impressions that parts of chapter 9 might seem to give – where it initially might *seem* that Esau would not have been able to claim this), for their call is irrevocable (see Rom 8: 30 and 33 as well) – even as ultimately, we must note Galatians 6, and say that the “Israel of God” is going to be those who are circumcised in heart before God and not only outwardly (here we think of “elect” as it is used in Romans 11:5-7) What to make of this – does it not seem clear that there are different ways the term is used, i.e. wide and narrow senses? (we already pointed out how Judas was “elect” but a devil). When I think of the parable of the wedding banquet I tend to see a parallel in the Roman 11:28 sense of “elect” and the *original* invitation list.

    Note also that some kind of “elect” (it seems not the narrow [11:5-7], but the wide [11:28]…) are said in chapter 11 to be grafted in and out of the vine (due to belief [which only God can create] or unbelief [which even redeemed Christians can fall into]) – along with Gentiles who replace them, get taken out themselves due to unbelief, etc…..

    Will need to take a break here for a while Mark. Again, nice talking with you.

    +Nathan

  240. mark mcculley
    Posted November 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    The Lutheran Arminian appeal to the lament of Jesus Christ over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37 is erroneous. They understand the text as Jesus’ grief over the perishing of citizens of Jerusalem whom Jesus would like to save. This would imply a love of Jesus for all the citizens of Jerusalem at that time, and a desire on the part of Jesus to save them.

    First, Jesus does not declare that He desired to save all the citizens of Jerusalem. It was His will to gather Jerusalem’s children together, that is, the true, spiritual, elect Israel in Jerusalem. And Jesus did gather them, regardless of Jerusalem’s opposition. Jerusalem in the text is the officialdom of Jerusalem, scribes, Pharisees, Sanhedrin, and the like. The children of Jerusalem are the spiritual offspring of Jerusalem by divine grace. In spite of Jerusalem’s not wanting Jesus to gather her children, Jesus did gather them, by His redeeming death and then by the gospel of the apostles.

    The loving will of Jesus the Messiah is not ineffectual. Jesus did not only pay the price of redemption but actually redeemed Jerusalem’s children, and Jesus converted them to Himself by the Spirit of Pentecost.

    Second, Jesus’ grief over the stubborn unbelief of Jerusalem and over Jerusalem’s impending destruction in the wrath of God does not imply a helpless love on Jesus’ part for the non-elect, ungodly leaders of the city and their wicked followers. The lament of verse 37 is in harmony with the wrath and threats in the preceding verses. According to verse 35, the purpose of Jesus’ sending prophets and others to Jerusalem was that upon that city might come all the righteous blood that Jerusalem shed in the past. Jesus purposed the destruction of Jerusalem with its dreadful carnage.

    What about Jesus’ grief over Jerusalem? It was NOT the grief of some Savior, who, in disregard of the predestinating purpose of His Father (and Himself as the second person of the Trinity), desired the salvation of many who would perish everlastingly in Jerusalem’s destruction.

    Rather, it was the grief of Him who as well as being God the Son was and is genuine man–man of sorrows. That the grand city of Jerusalem with its significance in the history of the kingdom of God should be thus hard and face impending destruction was cause of sorrow to the man Jesus, without any implication that He wished anything else for the city than this righteous judgment of God. It was not only the destruction of the city, with all that that portended, that grieved Jesus, but also the unbelief itself especially with regard to the Messiah.

    There are no Arminian verses in the New Testament. Zero. It should never be assumed that the apostles were Arminians, even in those cases in which they are not talking about election.

  241. mark mcculley
    Posted November 26, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    mark: His advocacy will work for you if you meet the conditions for allowing that to happen???”

    Nathan: our preachers would stay away from such language – the only conditions we should be talking about with the impenitent are how they fail to measure up to God’s expectations – His law, forcibly preached.

    mark: I agree that we should not talk about conditions in the gospel. Jesus Christ died to save all for whom He died, and their believing the gospel is a result not a condition of Christ’s accomplishment. If we are to talk about “conditions” in the gospel, we must talk about Christ having kept all the conditions for the elect that divine justice requires.

    In John 3:16, absolutely nothing is offered or promised to those who never believe, so nothing must necessarily have been purchased for them – See more at: http://www.ccwtoday.org/article/speaking-biblically-about-the-death-of-christ/#sthash.RJR72Knh.dpuf

    From what I have read here in recent days, I see a two-fold problem with Lutheran sacerdotalism. First, Lutherans seem way over-confident of clergy ability to “apply” and “administer” the gospel depending on the “pastoral” situation. Second, their situational gospel operates by concealing the truth. In some situations, where the clergy thinks there is repentance, the clergy says one thing. In other situations, the clergy does not tell a person that God loves everybody, even though the clergyman still thinks this to be the case.

    This makes Lutheran clergy like politicians in more ways than one. Not only do they presume to have the power to do what only the Holy Spirit can do, but they also say one thing in one place and another thing in another place. The result is that what they say at any place is always leaving out some “truth” that they might share as “gospel” elsewhere.

    But in every place, the truth of Christ’s death which actually propitiates God’s wrath for every sinner for whom Christ died, that truth is omitted, because that truth is not believed, and in its place the falsehood of an ineffectual atonement is taught.

    If you keep the “conditions” of the law, do those “conditions” then turn into promises? Does the law turn into gospel, if we believe? Does the distinction between law and gospel disappear, if we believe?
    If we avoid the language of “conditions”, does that mean we can have a gospel in which rejection is only on us, but “grace causing us to continue to accept it” is not God making the difference to be found in us between saved and lost, and not in the death of Christ for the elect alone?

    As in, Jesus loves you too, but that loves works for me, because God causes me to believe. And you will never die, and Jesus will keep loving you but that love will never work for you, because you didn’t believe like I did. (And that’s on you, and not on God for not giving you faith, even though I know God gave me faith).

    But we don’t say it that? It’s a “mystery” because Lutherans don’t want it to depend on election or on Christ’s death, but Lutherans also don’t want to say it the way you are “re-framing” it?

    Say it any way you want. But it seems that whatever justice Christ satisfied for everybody is not enough, in the stories told by Lutheran clergy .

  242. mark mcculley
    Posted November 26, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Both the elect and the non-elect are sinners–if sin were the condition of losing our “objective universal justification”, then all sinners would lose their “objective universal justification”. God’s glory is revealed in both His sovereign love and in His sovereign wrath. To know His name is to know Him as the one who has mercy on some and who hardens others.

    God manifests His glory in discriminating between sinner and sinner, so that election in Christ from the beginning is an election of sinners. To be outside Christ from the beginning is to be a non-elect sinner. God does not wait for sinners to sin, and then decide to pass some of them by. In the very purpose to elect and to not elect for His glory, God is the Subject and sinners are His objects.

    The effect of denying election in the gospel is to make Christ’s external work of obedience not be the ONLY cause of salvation. Denying election in the atonement turns the work of the Spirit INSIDE the sinner causing the sinner to believe into a condition (not a result) of Christ’s work.

    II Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

    Romans 11: 4 But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. 7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,

    “God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes that would not see
    and ears that would not hear,
    down to this very day.”

    9 And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap,
    a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
    10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
    and bend their backs forever.”

  243. mark mcculley
    Posted November 26, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Nathan: You said : “Jesus died to propitiate the wrath of God even for the sin of the elect in rejecting the gospel, until in this life those same elect stop rejecting the gospel and began believing the gospel.” Mark, the real problem with this language is that it is so far removed from the Scriptural language, the biblical pattern of preaching.

    mark: On the one hand, this is ironic, since your talk of “Sacrament” is all imposed on the Bible, as is all talk of “clergy administration of means of grace”. But on the other hand, you never claimed to be a biblicist.

    I agree that I often attempt to pack too many propositions into one proposition, and in doing that I often fail to communicate even one proposition. And I agree that I attempting to be rational and systematic. I know I don’t always succeed, but I never boast in rejecting logic or consistency.

    I could unpack into parts.
    1. What does the Bible say about “propitiation”?
    2. What does the bible say about “election”?
    3. When are the elect justified?

    It was this last point I wanted to stress. Even for the elect, they are not born justified. There has to be a transition from death to life. One Bible example of this is John 5:24 4 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

    mark: even though the justified person does not yet have immortality (not until Jesus comes again), that person was not justified when they were born, even though they were already elect. It seems to me that Lutherans are reversing the order of transition. First, they tell everybody that they are “objectively universally justified”. But then, in some pastoral situations, they introduce the possibility that some of the people for whom Jesus died (and who have at least once been justified) will nevertheless perish.

    One problem here is Lutheran clergy talking out of both sides of their mouth. You are justified (but only in one sense of the word, and even then you can lose that.). You cannot be punished for sins, since Jesus died for your sins (except for one sin alone, which is rejecting Jesus)

    My statement again: “even for the sin of the elect in rejecting the gospel, until in this life those same elect stop rejecting the gospel and began believing the gospel.”

    mark: No elect person dies in unbelief of the gospel. But no elect person begins life as already justified. There is a transition from wrath to judicial favor. Before justification, the elect were still condemned, still in their sins. But Lutherans seem to start from an universal fatherhood of God, and then have that lost (in a certain sense only of course, because you say that God is still in another sense the Father of those who will sin forever and never die)

    Romans 6:17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

    Romans 6:9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

  244. mark mcculley
    Posted November 26, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    “Jesus died to propitiate the wrath of God even for the sin of the elect in rejecting the gospel, until in this life those same elect stop rejecting the gospel and began believing the gospel.”

    I agree with John Owen against the idea of double jeopardy. If Jesus died for a sin, then the sinenrs who sinned that sin cannot die for it. But I cannot all together agree with John Owen’s trilemma about all the sins of all people, or all the sins of some people, or some of the sins of some people.

    I cannot agree because the cross-work (the righteousness) of Christ not only entitles the elect to justification (even before they are justified) but also because Christ’s righteousness entitles the elect to conversion. Even before they believe the gospel, the elect are entitled (because of Christ’s work) to the converting work of the Holy Spirit. Christ bought both the forgiveness of sins and the application of this forgiveness.

    What does the application of Christ’s work mean? First, it means that God imputes Christ’s work to the elect. Before the cross, God imputed the work to some of the elect (the OT saints) After the cross, God continues to impute the work to some of the elect. There is a difference (not only in time) between the work and the imputation of the work. Romans 6 describes being placed into the death of Christ. There is a difference between the federal union of all the elect in Christ before the beginning of the world and the legal union of the elect with Christ when they are justified.

    Second, the application (purchased by Christ for the elect, and thus now their inheritance includes the conversion which follows the imputation of righteousness. We could go to every text in the New Testament about the effectual calling into fellowship, but let us think now of only two.

    Galatians 3:13-14: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come…, so that we would receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

    Romans 8:10–but if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Because Christ’s work (Christ’s righteousness) is imputed, the result will be life as the Holy Spirit gives the new birth by means of the gospel, so that the elect understand and believe, and are converted.

    We need to be careful about John Owen’s trilemma because Christ did not die to forgive any elect person of the final sin of unbelief of the gospel. Christ died to give every elect person faith in the gospel and conversion. Christians do disbelieve even in their faith, and Christ died for all the sins of all Christians including all those after they are converted. But no elect person dies unconverted, because Christ died to give them the new birth and the conversion which follows.

    I am not saying that John Owen did not know this or believe it. I am only saying that the trilemma (as it is often used) does not take into account the time between Christ’s work and the imputation of that work. Nor does that trilemma give us the necessary reminder that Christ died to obtain not
    only the redemption but also the application of the redemption. Christ did not need to die for final disbelief by the elect because Christ died instead that the elect will not finally disbelieve.

    Romans 5: 17 speaks of “those who receive the free gift of righteousness” and how they reign in life through the one man Christ Jesus. This receiving is not the sinner believing. It is not an “exercise of faith” . The elect “receive” the righteousness by God’s imputation.

    The elect do not impute their sins to Christ. Nor do the elect impute Christ’s righteousness to themselves. God is the one imputes. Our receiving of the righteousness is not the same as the righteousness. There is a difference between Christ’s righteousness and then God’s imputation of that righteousness.

  245. mark mcculley
    Posted November 26, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Nathan: “God’s ‘yes’ is enough” – but it is to be applied
    to those who are penitent.

    mark: I am alarmed at the “yes but’ gospel. Propitiation for everybody, but many will perish by means of God’s wrath. But it was their fault, and not God’s, that God does have wrath toward them, but this is despite Christ bearing all their sins. But one. All but one sin, the sin of rejecting Christ. Christ did not bear that sin for them ( or anybody), So it seems that “god’s yes” is not enough, but almost enough. A propitiation which is “sufficient” for everybody, except for it not being enough to prevent many sinners from being justly punished for their sins.

    So here is problem #1, a gospel which is less than good news. Problem #2 then follows–it turns out that we make the difference, or that what God does in us makes the difference. There being no difference in the cross, since Lutherans teach that Jesus died for all sinners just the same.

    mark: “So the propitiation has not quite taken away all the wrath? Your own “yes” makes the ultimate difference?”

    nathan: No. The wrath remains on those who do not believe but that does not mean we talk about our “own ‘yes’ mak[ing] the ultimate difference”. Good preachers never do that,

    mark: I am beginning to see that Lutheran preachers always hold back on some of the truth (even what they know), because they reject other parts of the truth, and they want to avoid language which openly displays the “strings attached” nature of what they are saying. When Lutherans get done preaching, it seems that the hearers ought to make one of two conclusions.

    Possible conclusion One, God is an universalist. We all are born objectively justified, and no matter what, God loves us, and there is no caveat attached, and this means none of us will ever be condemned. We have it if we want it, and if we don’t want it now, surely we will want it then, and so we will have it. And so it turns out that some of the Lutherans that Nathan (and Tullian Graham) likes to quote are universalists.

    Possible conclusion Two, God is not going to save everybody, even though Jesus died for everybody, and this means that there have to be other factors but we have to be cautious about when and how we talk about these other factors, and we must never ever say that the whole thing depends on God getting us (by grace) to say yes, because we don’t want to say that, because we want to say it all depends on Jesus.

    Lutherans want to say—you are accepted, accept your acceptance, but what if you don’t, well that’s on you (if we must say it out loud for some stubborn people) but in any case, even if we say that the no is on you, we must still be careful to not say that the “yes is on you” because that would shed too much light on the con-game being played.

    It’s God yes, not your yes, but if you say no, well that’s you. But if you don’t say no, that means you say yes, but that yes is not yours, your yes is God’s doing in you. So it was yes, by default, you were born justified, but then you lost it by your no. But of course, only in one sense, you never lost it, because God will still be saying yes to you, even as you perish in the second death.

    Even infralapsarian Calvinists start at the other end. By default, we all begin as condemned sinners, and then election saves some. I myself think that infralapsarian Reformed theologians flatten out Romans 9 so as to make it seem reasonable and non-objectionable, but even they do read the default as we all being lost sinners.

    But the Lutheran default seems to run the other way–God is saying yes to everybody, and you will be justified, unless you say no. Your no will stop God from getting what God’s wanted but your no will be an excuse (theodicy) to explain why it’s still not God’s fault because at least you all started with a “common” justification.

  246. mark mcculley
    Posted November 26, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Mark out of context: “In other words, if the first part (made sin) is about some “inner corruption”, then 1. that says that Christ needed to be born again. God forbid! but 2. it would say that our righteousness is something found in us, or something in our faith, or something in Christ in us, or something indwelling.”

    Nathan: I do not follow why you are saying Christ needed to be born again. Christ shared our nature but not the infection of our nature.

    mark: This is a failure to communicate. I do NOT think Christ needed to be born again. I do NOT think that Romans 6 is about “inner regeneration” or “inner corruption”. I think that Romans 6 is about Christ’s death by law because of imputed sins. I think that Romans 6 is about those sinners who are justified legally sharing in Christ’s death by imputation.

    I don’t mind when we disagree, Nathan, and I still think we can learn something from the disagreement, even if it’s about what we believe it and how we say it (even if we don’t switch sides!)
    But I do mind if we are not understanding each other. And I am sure that this is not intentional or your fault. I can only attempt to say it clearly and briefly once again.

    You started this part of thread by saying that Lutherans don’t teach imputation of another person’s sin, That surprised me, because I didn’t think it always was true. But WHY don’t Lutherans believe in the imputation of Adam’s sin? Well, first you say, you believe that we are born with a corrupt nature. Yes, so do I. But that belief does not cancel out a belief in imputed sin, in legally transferred sin. Indeed, I would claim that the foundation for the transfer of corruption is the transfer of guilt. Second, you say that you believe in a transfer of external righteousness. And again, so do I. And again, that belief does not cancel out a belief in a transfer (imputation) of an exteranl guilt. At that point, I went to II Cor 5:21 (he has made sin). Christ was not made corrupt, His nature was not infacted.

    So we are agreed on that, Nathan. Christ did NOT need to be born again. That’s why I wrote –“God forbid”. And my point was that Christ DID NEED TO BE JUSTIFIED BEFORE THE LAW, Why? Because of the imputed guilt from elect sinners to Christ. Though this imputation is not the same from Adam to us, it’s the same kind of imputation, a transfer of external guilt.

    Please revisit this, Nathan, if you still don’t understand, if I still have not communicated my thought. I know sometimes we make mistakes because we are in a hurry, but I still like trying to communicate rather than just –forget him or her

    The imputation of Adam’s sin to us is not based on the corruption in us but on Christ being the federal head (legal surety) for the elect, so that his first sin is counted against them.

    from the old post, the last on Nov 23—-Nathan, It is not an imputation based on anything that is in us, but is something that is applied to us from the outside and not based on any goodness or righteousness on our part. If it is, we would reject that because God’s “imputation” here would be based on something that is *in* man as a result of the Fall.

    mark:This imputation from Adam to humans, is about the legal transfer of the guilt of Adam’s one action, his first sin. The guilt of Adam is “external” to Adam–it’s the value, the demerit of his action, as judged by God, and that guilt is transferred to every human (Christ, the God human, the second Adam, excepted). This guilt is not simply the liability or punishment for sin,

    This might seem very esoteric, but it’s important, as you indicate, Nathan. That which is transferred from Adam is EXTERNAL.

    1. When Christ “bears sins” or is “made sin”, this does NOT mean that Christ himself ever became corrupt. Christ had no need of regeneration, which is why Romans 6 is not about regeneration, not about water, but about legal placing into the death of Christ. Why was the legal death of Christ necessary—because of the guilt of the Adam imputed to Christ, this guilt demanded his death, and his death demanded the remission of this guilt. Justice has been done, and those in Christ legally must have their guilt forgiven. This is good news indeed!

    2. Now the guilt of the elect imputed by God to Christ is not the same as the guilt of Adam imputed by God to all humans, but the nature of the imputation of guilt is the same in both cases. This is why I say this is important, and why you are right to talk about it being “external”

    Nathan, your only mistake here is a misunderstanding about what the Reformed teach. We do teach an external (judicial) imputation. The more basic solution is not a regeneration of our insides (though that is necessary for other reasons, so that we believe), because the most basic problem we have is that apart from the cross (the death of Christ) God counts everyone’s sins against them.

    3. —- “become the righteousness of God in Christ” (II Cor 5:21) is about having an external righteousness imputed to us. Because that is so, the “made sin” of the first part of the verse must be seen as about external guilt being imputed to Christ.

    In other words, if the first part (made sin) is about some “inner corruption”, then 1. that says that Christ needed to be born again. God forbid! but 2. it would say that our righteousness is something found in us, or something in our faith, or something in Christ in us, or something indwelling. When the gospel is first of all about LOOKING OUT to Christ outside us, to Christ external to us. To become the righteousness of God in Christ is to be imputed with Christ’s righteousness, the external “merits” of the obedience of Christ for the elect.

    This is not denying that the “in us” or the “new birth” is important, but it’s saying that those miracles are a result of the legal imputation of the EXTERNAL.

  247. mark mcculley
    Posted November 26, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Do not think that I came to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household (Matthew 10:34-36).

    Jesus came with a message of truth designed to divide, not a gift purchased for all. Some believed the truth and found peace with God while others disbelieved and remained God’s enemies (Romans 5:10). In this way, the earthly peace that formerly characterized many close relationships was replaced division. Jesus told us that His purpose in coming was to make such a division.

    Paul describes the gospel in terms of this separation in both of his letters to the Corinthians:

    But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved, and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma of life to life (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

    I Corinthians 1:18–“for the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, IT is the power of God.”

    The gospel needs to be proclaimed to all sinners. The gospel is only good news for the elect, but we don’t know who the elect are until they have believed the gospel. If the object of the faith alone is a false gospel which says that Christ loves everybody and desires to save everybody but that faith is some kind of condition of this salvation, then this faith alone is not in the true Christ but is instead in faith alone.

    Romans 1:16, “the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Evangelicals understand this as teaching that salvation is conditioned on faith alone. Evangelicals don’t understand the gospel. Election is God’s idea. This idea goes along with the idea of not works. Romans 9:11: “In order that God’s election might continue, not because of works.”

    Romans 11: 5, “So too at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. But if it by grace, it is no longer by works; otherwise grace would be no more grace.”

    Does not the apostle Paul understand that there are other “more pastoral ways” to say “not by works “ without talking about election? Why can’t he just say: “by faith and not by works”?

    Why does Pau bring in this idea of a separated remnant? Paul writes about election in order to explain what he means by faith. Paul does not regard faith as a substitute for works.

    God imputes the righteousness revealed in the gospel to a person justified through hearing the gospel. According to Romans 4:5, faith alone is “not works”. Our faith is not in our works and it’s not in our faith. The point of faith alone is Christ and His work alone. “

  248. Posted November 27, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    I see you’ve been busy. Again, good having this discussion with you. Some of your questions I know I also addressed at my blog, but here is some more in way of response.

    First of all, Lutherans also begin with the default that we are all lost sinners. We insist that faith comes by hearing remember (Lutherans will emphasize this passage over and over again as well as Isaiah 55), and baptism is the word of God combined with water. Schwenkfeld is the clear antithesis to this position, which it seems to me many a Protestant Christian is tempted by: http://wp.me/psYq5-MI

    “37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

    The reason for the lament here seems pretty clear to me. At this point, let me say when you are quoting Scripture to me I can generally understand them and explain them from my position, wearing my Lutheran glasses. How do you explain this particular one? Also, did you address the John 3:18 passage Trent mentioned? If so, I missed your response (perhaps you would be kind enough to point it out to me).

    Thanks for explaining your understanding of imputation a bit more as well. You say, “The guilt of Adam is “external” to Adam–it’s the value, the demerit of his action, as judged by God, and that guilt is transferred to every human (Christ, the God human, the second Adam, excepted). This guilt is not simply the liability or punishment for sin”. We would not say this, I think. We would say the guilt of all people in Adam is both internal in them by fact and external to them by reputation / imputation because God, who sees everything, judges them all guilty. Romans 6 can be said to be about legal placing into the death of Christ, but this is really not the point – the point is that this is first and foremost an organic grafting that happens in water baptism.

    “I see a two-fold problem with Lutheran sacerdotalism. First, Lutherans seem way over-confident of clergy ability to “apply” and “administer” the gospel depending on the “pastoral” situation. Second, their situational gospel operates by concealing the truth. In some situations, where the clergy thinks there is repentance, the clergy says one thing. In other situations, the clergy does not tell a person that God loves everybody, even though the clergyman still thinks this to be the case.”

    Mark – what the clergy do in regards to absolving fellow Christians, any Christian can do as well. We are all called to speak the oracles of God, to rightly discern when to use the law and gospel. My brother can assure me of Christ’s forgiveness and even tell me that God forgives me. Pastors essentially say “I forgive you on behalf of Christ”, as His called and ordained servant. Same forgiveness, different role. It is there for our comfort. Some persons may be particularly comforted by the pastor forgiving their sins, but again, any person can do this. That is why it is so important to know one’s self, one another, and the words of Christ’s law and gospel – because yes, we can really mess this up without the Spirit’s guidance. Further, we simply cannot know people like Christ can.

    “And you will never die, and Jesus will keep loving you but that love will never work for you, because you didn’t believe like I did. (And that’s on you, and not on God for not giving you faith, even though I know God gave me faith).”

    Mark, do you really want to set election vs. faith in Christ? We can say Christ saves and faith in Christ saves. What do you mean, “you didn’t believe like I did?” Even the weakest faith which, in repentance, clings to Christ will save, even as if you ask faith what saves faith says “Christ’s blood and righteousness”. It’s really that simple.

    Further, I agree the elect are not born justified. In fact, they are elected in one sense at their baptism.

    “But then, in some pastoral situations, they introduce the possibility that some of the people for whom Jesus died (and who have at least once been justified) will nevertheless perish.”

    Right – when the baptized live in unrepentance, no one should fool themselves that their baptism is efficacious. That’s a lie – faith only lives in repentance.

    “the cross-work (the righteousness) of Christ not only entitles the elect to justification (even before they are justified)”

    I have an issue with the word “entitled” here. We can tell Satan to get lost based on Christ’s work for us, but using the word “entitled” is a bit much for me. We are entitled to nothing.

    “John Owen’s trilemma”

    I had never heard of this until now.

    “We need to be careful about John Owen’s trilemma because Christ did not die to forgive any elect person of the final sin of unbelief of the gospel. Christ died to give every elect person faith in the gospel and conversion. Christians do disbelieve even in their faith, and Christ died for all the sins of all Christians including all those after they are converted. But no elect person dies unconverted, because Christ died to give them the new birth and the conversion which follows.”

    Mark, I fail to see how this is Scriptural or comforting. In Romans 8, it is clear Paul’s intention is to comfort Christians and strengthen their faith in Christ, even as those who have weak faith, subject to much doubt, will be completely saved. Again, I give you the post by Ed Reis I noted above, where Calvin talks about God giving temporary *real faith in Christ* in some persons. I am really glad no Lutheran ever talked that way.

  249. Posted November 27, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    “I am beginning to see that Lutheran preachers always hold back on some of the truth (even what they know), because they reject other parts of the truth, and they want to avoid language which openly displays the “strings attached” nature of what they are saying. When Lutherans get done preaching, it seems that the hearers ought to make one of two conclusions.”

    Mark, I don’t think this is fair at all. What you call “holding back on some of the truth” I call the application of the truth in real life, in concrete circumstances. From our perspective, you are systematizing theology at the expense of this, even as this is to be the purpose of all theology.

    “Lutherans want to say—you are accepted, accept your acceptance, but what if you don’t, well that’s on you (if we must say it out loud for some stubborn people) but in any case, even if we say that the no is on you, we must still be careful to not say that the “yes is on you” because that would shed too much light on the con-game being played.”

    No good Lutheran preacher ever says anything like this nor do we believe it. You are simplifying things way too much. There is no con-game being played here: we are just talking about how God would have us deal with persons in their particular circumstances and in various states of unbelief or faith. Pearls and pigs, my man. Man is the one who plays the “con-game” with God and God breaks through these games and gets to the real issues with and through His servants.

    “God’s glory is revealed in both His sovereign love and in His sovereign wrath. To know His name is to know Him as the one who has mercy on some and who hardens others.”

    You know, I really don’t have a problem saying this, even if some other Lutherans might. That said, this is not where His first glory is found. His first glory is that He is the God who dies for all persons, period. In fact Mark, it is offensive to me when you say that because some reject that blood that His love is ineffectual. Here is how I have reconciled things in my own mind, even as I am open to correction from my brethren. What follows is “pious opinion” (or not, I suppose), not official Lutheran doctrine. It was posted on my blog and I mentioned it earlier:

    “Thanks be to God that the Church is called to administer the His Word and Sacraments – and not millstones. With relief, we leave that job to God, in the mystery of His Providence. The Church does things like judge (like your dentist judges) – and sometimes even “hands members over to Satan” (!) – only so that they may be saved – to turn from their sin to Christ and His forgiveness, life, and salvation. In fact, we are told that God desires all people to be saved (I Tim 2:4, II Peter 3:9, Romans 11:32).

    But when it comes to this salvation, what about Judas, one of the 12 disciples – chosen by Christ Himself (see John 6:70,71)?

    That this is such a common question should not surprise, given his very tragic and sad story…

    Lutherans believe that God’s Word is “efficacious“, meaning He creates faith in the hearts of people when and where He pleases. But, one may ask, if He really desires *all* people to be saved, why did God allow Judas, whom He chose, to damn himself? Why did He not turn him again (presuming Judas at some point believed), as He did, for example, King David? After all, one may argue, if I have no intention of acting to prevent a murderer from utterly deceiving, maiming and destroying the one I say I love – or if I have no intention of acting to save the one I say I love after they have destroyed themselves – when I am the only one who has the power to do so – what kind of lover would I be? (see I Cor. 13 here)

    Really now, if Judas really was truly sorrowful and broken by his sins (“I have betrayed an innocent man!”) – as he certainly appeared to be – why did God allow those to whom he confessed to say “that’s your problem” (i.e. “its not our burden” – see Gal. 6:2)? And if none of those who sat in “Moses’ seat” (Mathew 23) were willing to lift a finger to offer Judas any words of comfort, why did the Lord not save Judas like he did Paul – by perhaps at least sending an angel?

    Ah, the mysteries of God, who yes, really does desire all men – even the one Jesus called “a devil” – to be saved. In one sense, such questions: “Why are some saved and not others?”, cannot be answered. We can say that God gets all the glory when someone is saved, and that a man gets all the blame when he is not – but that is about all we can say with certainty. This is commonly called the “crux theologorum“, or the cross of the theologian.

    But still, as ones who follow the One who said “Father forgive them….” must we not wonder about – and mourn for – this man, who God created in His image? Why… why then did God not just turn Judas to Himself – creating faith in him where and when He pleased? (like He restored Peter or converted Paul, the persecutor?)

    I tread lightly here, but I suspect it is because God means for us to see Judas as a sign against spiritual apathy. When we sin, it is God’s Spirit who turns us again, convicting us, breaking us, and leading us to Christ (see John 16). We would not do this apart from Him. And yet – we dare not presume on such kindness and grace… God may not renew. While God’s redeeming grace is always free and unearned, there is indeed a “cutoff” point… we must all face our final judgment or the Final Judgment… Therefore, we disciples must be wise about how we walk, so a loss of faith does not result – we walk in danger all the way. Don’t say of sin “its something I want… yeah, I know its wrong, but…”. Instead, always huddle close by the Shepherd! Could Judas be a sign that God may indeed, at some point, give us over to the un-Life we, in our flesh, are prone to seek?

    But do you say “Why?” again? Consider this: when we seek un-Life, we become the odor of death, devoid of the Gospel and its power. We rob God, rejecting His will for us and our neighbor. “God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you”, Paul asserts, echoing the Old Testament. Understandably, God desires that His people to point to Him. He desires that we be hot or cold, not lukewarm. “Why” again? Perhaps for the sake of our neighbor? He desires that they to be saved, for they, like us, are among “the whole world” for whom He died for, and is, in fact, already reconciled to. As those who are either “hot” or “cold”, we can be seen as “clearly with Him” or “clearly against Him” – for the sake of the world.

    Judas was not damned because God didn’t deeply care for him. The Son of God wept over Jerusalem, and I believe He weeps for Judas – for He never desires the death – especially the eternal death – of the wicked. God takes no pleasure in the millstones administered for the sake of the children, but perhaps, He simply does what He needs to do.

    So perhaps, for the sake of the children, God administers not only millstones, but Judas’ fate as well.

    In which case, better to have never been born indeed. May this not be the case with us. Lord have mercy.”

    (End blog post)

    One more thing Mark – you have not dealt with my point about the two kinds of elections we can discern in Romans 11. There is much more I could say about those passages in Romans 9-11, but I can’t get there until you deal with the point I made above.

    Have a good thanksgiving!

    +Nathan

  250. mark mcculley
    Posted November 27, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    appeal to the lament of Jesus Christ over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37 is erroneous. They understand the text as Jesus’ grief over the perishing of citizens of Jerusalem whom Jesus would like to save. This would imply a love of Jesus for all the citizens of Jerusalem at that time, and a desire on the part of Jesus to save them.

    Nathan does not deny the legal. He only thinks that the legal is “not the point”. He only wants to think about what makes him comfortable, and so he misreads Bible texts in the interest of a “good news” which desires to save but does not save.

    Jesus does NOT declare that He desired to save all the citizens of Jerusalem. It was His will to gather Jerusalem’s children together, that is, the true, spiritual, elect Israel in Jerusalem. And Jesus did gather them, regardless of Jerusalem’s opposition. Jerusalem in the text is the officialdom of Jerusalem, scribes, Pharisees, Sanhedrin, and the like. The children of Jerusalem are the spiritual offspring of Jerusalem by divine grace. In spite of Jerusalem’s not wanting Jesus to gather her children, Jesus did gather them, by His redeeming death and then by the gospel of the apostles.

    The loving will of Jesus the Messiah is NOT ineffectual. Jesus did NOT only pay the price of redemption but also actually redeemed Jerusalem’s children, and Jesus converted them to Himself by the Spirit of Pentecost.

    Second, Jesus’ grief over the stubborn unbelief of Jerusalem and over Jerusalem’s impending destruction in the wrath of God does NOT imply a helpless love on Jesus’ part for the non-elect, ungodly leaders of the city and their wicked followers. The lament of verse 37 is in harmony with the wrath and threats in the preceding verses. According to verse 35, the purpose of Jesus’ sending prophets and others to Jerusalem was that upon that city would come all the righteous blood that Jerusalem shed in the past. Jesus purposed the destruction of Jerusalem with its dreadful carnage.

    What about Jesus’ grief over Jerusalem? It was NOT the grief of some Savior desiring the salvation of many who would –despite the divine desire— perish in Jerusalem’s destruction. Rather, it was the grief of Him who as well as being God the Son was and is genuine man–man of sorrows. That the grand city of Jerusalem with its significance in the history of the kingdom of God should be thus face impending destruction was a cause of sorrow to the man Jesus, without any implication that He wished anything else for the city than this righteous judgment of God. It was not only the destruction of the city, with all that that portended, that grieved Jesus, but also the unbelief itself especially with regard to the Messiah.

    Wishing to make God into a god who merely wishes is not as comforting as Nathan seems to think.
    That wishing is idolatry, the projection of a false god who is not the God revealed in the Bible.

  251. Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    All I can say in response to this is that I would hope others would read my two posts previous to your response. When you say that my position can be reduced to “Wishing to make God into a god who merely wishes”, it seems to me that you obliterate the complexity not only of what I just wrote in my two previous posts, but also of Romans 9-11, particularly Romans 11, where it talks about the grafting and re-grafting that takes place.

    Best regards,
    Nathan

  252. mark mcculley
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    WCF 3:6 . As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,[ are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

    WCF: 3:7 . The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.

    WCF 6:3. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.

    WCF 8:5 The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father;[ and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him.

    WCF 8:6 Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after His incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein He was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world; being yesterday and today the same, and forever.

    WCF 8:7 Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.

    WCF 8:8. To all those for whom Christ has purchased redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mysteries of salvation;effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by His word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.

    WCF: 11:1 Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

  253. Posted December 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    Thanks. Yeah, we don’t believe that. Moreover, we think double predestination is not a good teaching and that it takes the focus off where it should be, which is the external words of forgiveness administered by the church (baptism, absolution, Lord’s Supper).

    I mentioned it earlier, but here is something Ed Reis posted years ago that seems to me highly significant in this debate. Am cutting and pasting from here: http://upstatelutheran.blogspot.com/2010/02/calvin-on-temporary-deep-in-heart-faith.html

    “Calvin on temporary, deep in the heart faith (title of post)

    This passage seems a little odd, given the Reformed doctrine that one can know that one will persevere, that one is elect. In this passage from Calvin’s Institutes he states that even those who will fall away–i.e. they do not have the gift of perseverance, will have what is preached take deep root in their hearts:

    There will be no ambiguity in it [Mt. 22:14], if we attend to what our former remarks ought to have made clear–viz. that there are two species of calling: for there is an universal call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savor of death, and the ground of a severer condemnation. Besides this there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts. Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness. (Calvin Institutes III 24.8)

    It seems to me there can be no assurance at all if it is possible for God to enlighten us so that the word takes deep root, but then later he abandons and consignes to even deeper darkness due to ingratitude. Indeed, the passage above even implies this is God’s plan. This goes far, far deeper than even the temporary faith I blogged about before because at least temporary faith was described as a sort of false faith. Here Calvin says one can have true faith for a time and yet have this gift taken away. He postulates two species of calling, but there can be no assurance that one is effectually called at any given time–God could remove what he has placed in one’s heart just like he can implant it there. That this is just like the faith of the effectually called is brought out by his statement that “for the most part” God only grants deep faith in the heart on believers.

    The more I read of Calvin, the more I see that what he purportedly gives for assurance he takes away due to implanting doubt in those who want to know they are elect. The pastoral difficulties are readily apparent: if Christ died only for the elect and if the faith deep in my heart today can be taken away tomorrow due to ingratitude, where is the assurance?”

    (end post from Reiss)

    Good question I think.

    +Nathan

  254. Posted December 2, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    McMark, quoting:

    I John 2:2 “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

    Trent: So a plain reading of the text

    mark: This mean’s Trent’s reading, but he’s not going to give arguments for his reading of this first clause.

    Hermeneutically speaking, “plain reading” means that one is looking at the bare grammatical signification of the words, possibly even irrespective of context. It’s how one establishes a baseline.

    McMark, quoting:

    trent: would suggest that “anyone” means “anyone” (and the Greek substantiates this).

    mark: But of course Trent thinks this means “everyone”. Instead of looking at the “we” which follows in the sentence, and asking “who is this we”, Trent is assuming that “us” and “we” always means “every sinner”, and then using this assumption concludes to “anyone of the everyone”, instead of “anyone of those for whom Christ is interceding”.

    Well, it may be that my exegesis of the first sentence is indeed off, since St. John is writing to the Church at this time. Touché.

    Nevertheless, I think that your questions would be good to answer.

    First:

    But what is the purpose or the comfort of saying that Christ is the advocate for every sinner, when Trent agrees…that many sinners will perish in the second death?

    Second:

    What is the point of saying that Jesus is the advocate of those who will nevertheless die (if not for all their sins, at least for the sin of rejecting Jesus)?

    These questions both ask “what is the purpose/point in saying ‘X’?”. This is a red herring. It doesn’t matter what the “point” of us saying something is. If Scripture says that Christ is the advocate of every sinner, then that’s what we are to say. This is an exegetical question: what does Scripture really say?

    Calvinism and Lutheranism agree that no man can regenerate himself, “make a decision for Christ,” “accept Jesus into his heart,” etc. This is abundantly clear from the manifest testimony of Sacred Scripture: faith is created ex nihilo by the Holy Spirit. (Lutherans, however, make the important caveat that the Holy Spirit works through the means of grace—the Word and the Sacraments—to create and sustain this faith.) All who are raised up to eternal life on the last day are saved by God’s gracious working alone: He foreknew us before the foundation of the world; He predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son. He has called us by the Gospel and enlightened us with His gifts, sanctified us, and kept us in the one true faith. This faith believes Christ’s promises—your sins are forgiven, I will raise you up on the last day, etc.—because it knows that Jesus is LORD. No one can originate this faith in himself, and no one is acceptable to God without this faith. We contribute nothing to our salvation.

    At the same time, man can reject all of this, and this is not God’s doing, nor His will, nor His good pleasure, for He does not desire that any should perish, but that all should be saved. Man damns himself. As others have said before and Nathan has reiterated, in salvation God gets all of the credit; in damnation man gets all the blame. Lutherans stand with the historic Church catholic in affirming that man has the capacity to make shipwreck of his faith, and this does not mean that God is failing to make good on His promise to save him, or that He is too weak to prevent such shipwreck from happening. It means that God has allowed man the awful freedom to commit spiritual suicide.

    As you have shown in ample fashion, man’s reason bucks against the foregoing proposition because it does not conform to our human logic. It does not make sense that God would not simply make what He desires to happen just happen. But God’s way is mysterious. It is the way of grace. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. God could do everything by His omnipotent divine fiat, but He chooses not to.

    Why stand we thus in such a paradox? Because this paradox is what the apostolic Scriptures teach, as I will show you.

    If it isn’t within man’s power to drive away the Holy Spirit and make shipwreck of his faith, why does St. Paul tell the Thessalonian Christians, “Do not quench the Spirit” (I Thess. v, 19)? If a believer had no ability to quench the Holy Spirit, such exhortation would be pointless. Indeed, the Epistles themselves would be somewhat pointless.

    Why does the Apostle tell St. Timothy that some have “rejected faith and a good conscience,” and “concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” (I Tim. i, 19)? He goes on to name “Hymenaeus and Alexander,” saying, “I delivered them to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” Does St. Paul say this because he knows that they are elect, but just naughty? Or does he take such pastoral action because their salvation really is at stake? Or is he just saying, “Good riddance”?

    McMark, quoting:

    Trent can say, well Lutherans don’t concern themselves with rational theological questions like this. Why bother with “does Jesus want to be your advocate, or is Jesus still your advocate even after you perish” questions, when instead you can be call Mark a “hideous gasbag” (and other ad hom, “masturbater”)

    Hmmm. I never called you a hideous gasbag. I said that your contributions are, for the most part, gaseous Hindenburgs of commentary. That’s a metaphor. And I never called you a masturbator; I said that your comments were masturbatory. That’s a metaphor. Scatological, yes, but apt, I think. And never more apt than lately. With that having been said, I apologized for making those comments because I spoke in anger and frustration, and that was not right.

    But I digress…

    We Lutherans do concern ourselves with such rational theological questions, actually. (This seems to me to be the pot accusing the kettle of thrashing a strawman.)

    Q: Does Jesus want to be your advocate?

    A: Yes.

    “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for (1) all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires (2) all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself (3) a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (I Tim. ii, 1-7).

    Now, I know that most Calvinists (perhaps you, Mark, among them) will contend that “all men” (1 & 2) here simply means “all kinds of men,” and that “all” (3) means “all kinds of men” or “the elect” or summat. But…really, wouldn’t it say “all kinds of men” if it meant that? And wouldn’t you expect a consensus of the commentators throughout the history of the Church interpreting it to mean “all kinds of men” rather than “all men”? I won’t say that no one interprets it to mean “all kinds of men, but only the elect”; notably, this is St. Augustine’s gloss of the verse, but he is certainly in the minority among the patristic exegetes. If you doubt this, consult Volume IX of the Ancient Christian Commentary series. (It’s no surprise that St. Augustine is virtually the only Church Father that the Reformed like to quote, and even then, they quote him very, very selectively.)

    Q: Is Jesus still your advocate even after you perish?

    A: We don’t know.

    I guess we could speculate about this, but what would be the use? Interestingly enough, it is in light of such uncertainty that the gnesio-Lutherans retained (or at least did not reject outright, though it is not a commonplace in our liturgies) prayers for the dead. Intercessory prayer is motivated by love, which endures even in the face of uncertainty. It’s very human, weak, and frail, yes, but I do not think God despises this in His creatures. I pray for my departed nieces, both of whom passed away shortly after being born prematurely (they were baptized at birth, thanks be to God), that they would be refreshed in the light of God’s presence as they cry out “How long?” with the rest of the blessed dead who await the Day of Resurrection. Why do I pray for them? I’m not sure, to be perfectly honest. Because I love them.

    Again, I digress…

    The foregoing two questions are related. Unless the Lutheran contention that man has the ability to drive away the Holy Spirit despite Christ’s desire to be his advocate is disproven from the Scriptures, and not from mere syllogism (and it has not been thus disproven—it has only been mocked and derided as “Arminian”), it is not inconsistent to claim that if Christ is not your advocate after you die, it is due to your choice and your will, not God’s, for God desires that all should be saved.

    McMark, quoting:

    If indeed we have different gospels, shouldn’t the major point be about showing how it’s good news that Jesus is the advocate even of those who will not be saved from the wrath of God? Good news—His advocacy will work for you if you meet the conditions for allowing that to happen???

    You believe that the Gospel is, in a nutshell: “Christ died for those who did/do/will believe.” This is what the Church is to preach to the world, and, by extension, what the Christian should tell an unbeliever. You have opposed this to what you say is an erroneous summation of the Gospel: “Christ died for you.” This, you say, is not what the Church should preach to the world, or, by extension, what the Christian should tell an unbeliever. It is, you say, a “false Gospel.”

    “How is it good news,” you ask, “that Jesus is the advocate even of those who will not be saved from the wrath of God?”

    First of all, there’s a problem with speaking of “those who will not be saved from the wrath of God” as a category in the present. In the present, there are only those who believe and those who do not believe. Some who believe today may not believe tomorrow, and visa versa. You’re begging the question viz. double predestination through a subtle grammatical sleight of hand here. So, for starters, I think it would be more accurate to speak about “those who are not saved on the Last Day.” But since it’s not the Last Day, we really can’t speak about them all that much. There is no “them” yet, because it isn’t the Last Day. This is the point that we Lutherans have been making: we don’t know much about them because Scripture doesn’t tell us much. Your particular strain of Calvinism seems to think that we can reason pretty confidently from the silence of Scripture (and a rhetorical question posed by St. Paul in Romans 9) that these people were damned from all eternity.

    But let’s work with your categories, just for fun.

    You ask: “How is it good news that Jesus is the advocate even of those who will not be saved from the wrath of God?”As Eric said earlier, you’re attributing the breach of faith to the wrong party. It doesn’t stop being good news if you stop believing it, or even if you never start. If you get a letter saying that your deceased uncle has left you a house on Nantucket, and you don’t believe it, he did still in fact leave you that house, and it is still yours. His leaving it to you was still an act of love. If you don’t enjoy the house, it’s not because he didn’t/doesn’t love you. It’s your fault, not his.

    St. John Chrysostom, in his Discourses Against Judaizing Christians, presents the following analogy. It’s much better than mine:

    Suppose someone should be caught in the act of adultery and the foulest crimes and then be thrown into prison. Suppose, next, that judgment was going to be passed against him and that he would be condemned. Suppose that just at that moment a letter should come from the Emperor setting free from any accounting or examination all those detained in prison. If the prisoner should refuse to take advantage of the pardon, remain obstinate and choose to be brought to trial, to give an account, and to undergo punishment, he will not be able thereafter to avail himself of the Emperor’s favor. For when he made himself accountable to the court, examination, and sentence, he chose of his own accord to deprive himself of the imperial gift. This is what happened in the case of the Jews. Look how it is. All human nature was taken in the foulest evils. “All have sinned,” says Paul. They were locked, as it were, in a prison by the curse of their transgression of the Law. The sentence of the judge was going to be passed against them. A letter from the King came down from heaven. Rather, the King himself came. Without examination, without exacting an account, he set all men free from the chains of their sins. All, then, who run to Christ are saved by his grace and profit from his gift. But those who wish to find justification from the Law will also fall from grace. They will not be able to enjoy the King’s loving-kindness because they are striving to gain salvation by their own efforts; they will draw down on themselves the curse of the Law because by the works of the Law no flesh will find justification. (Discourses Against Judaizing Christians, Discourse I:6-II:1)

    Scripture tells us that those who are not saved on the Last Day will be condemned because “they did not believe in the name of the only Son of God.” They spurned the gracious advocacy of the Son of God on their behalf. They denied and rejected the Incarnation—which was not an event that is over, but an event that encompasses both Christ’s Humiliation (His earthly ministry) and His Exaltation to the right hand of the Father, where He is our advocate.

    There is another problem with your distinction.

    Although we Lutherans do believe that we can say to anyone, “your sins are forgiven,” or “Jesus died for your sins,” though true, neither of these statements by itself is the Gospel. I’m not sure if we Lutherans have been saying that they are, but I think that it would be somewhat inaccurate to say so—I’m sure that my coreligionists will correct me if I’m misspeaking. They are Gospel promises, yes. But “Jesus is LORD” is the Gospel. “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” is the Gospel. This means that your sins are forgiven. This means that your warfare is ended. Yes, faith believes that sins are forgiven, but only because Jesus the LORD, the God-Man, says they are! Jesus does more than just say, “your sins are forgiven”—He Himself is the Incarnate Word of Absolution. He does not explain an abstract proposition to which the elect merely give assent—He is the creating and absolving Word Who is spirited forth from the mouth of God the Father; He is the same Word which brought creation into being from a formless void. In the Incarnation, heaven has come down in Christ to minister to the sin-sick world.

    So, yes, if you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God whose coming was foretold by the prophets, who in the fullness of time was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose on the third day, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father—if you believe all of this, then forgiveness is yours. The whole Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension was Christ forgiving sin. That’s what it means to say that He is the Messiah. If you believe that He is LORD, that is the same as saying that you believe He is YHWH come in the flesh to redeem sinners. That’s what the Messianic prophecies said He would do. What He does (forgives sin) is inextricably bound up with Who He is (the Christ). This is also why the Third Article of the Creed, in which we profess belief in the forgiveness of sins, is the third article, not the second or the first. It’s also not a bare abstract proposition, but it is rooted in the reality of Creation and Incarnation.

    Ah, yes. But how can you know that it’s for you?

    Is this how?

    God became man, died, and rose for sinners who believe.

    I believe this.

    Therefore I am saved.

    For reasons which have been stated ad nauseam already, this self-questioning initiates an infinite regression in most people. The Lutheran “litmus test” is a little more straightforward:

    Are you a sinner? Then Christ is for you. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (St. Mark ii, 17; St. Luke v, 31; St. Matthew ix, 12). “This is a faithful saying and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Tim. i, 15). The Incarnation is for you, whoever you are, because you’re a sinner. He came into your sinful flesh. He partook fully of your human nature so that you might partake of His divine nature. The Incarnation makes syllogistic speculation regarding election moot. Or, if you’d rather, the Incarnation is the second term of the syllogism. It isn’t composed of words. The second term is the Word—the Logos-made-Flesh. The God-Man.

    I am a sinner.

    The LORD is come.

    Therefore I am saved.

    The Law reveals the truth of the first term to us. One need not ask (for one cannot really answer), “am I elect” or “do I really believe?” One need only agree that the verdict of the Law is true and cling to the Gospel: the revelation that Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Incarnate Logos, is LORD and God. This is repentance. And it is ongoing. Your belief will waver, like St. Peter’s and St. Thomas’s, but it will waver in reference to this fixed point. Knowing that the LORD has united Himself to you in baptism really helps when this wavering gets bad; receiving the Body and Blood of the LORD helps even more. There is, in fact, no greater comfort this side of heaven than the “little Gospel” of the Words of Institution: “Take, eat; this is My Body, which is given for you for the forgiveness of sins. Take, drink; this is the New Testament in My Blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

    Scripture says that if you believe in your heart that Jesus is LORD and confess with your mouth that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom. x, 9). The use of the present tense followed by the future tense is no doubt eschatological: if you believe and confess this now, today, you will be saved on the Last Day. Today and the Last Day, Time and Eternity, are joined together in this confession.

    Yet, it is a struggle to believe all one’s life long, as world, flesh, and devil constantly attack us. Any man that thinks he stands fast in this confession should take heed, lest he fall.

    And I’ll reiterate what we as Lutherans confess regarding this belief, lest you once more wish to calumniate us “Arminians”:

    I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true. Small Catechism; Explanation to the Creed, Art. III

    Moving on…

    McMark, quoting:

    Trent: The rest of the text—“not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world”—needs to be read in light of this.

    mark: “This” being what Trent has now told you that “anyone” has to mean. But why does anyone (of us) “need to read” it his way, and why? Did Trent get his interpretation from the pope? Is Trent something more than an individual thinking about the Bible? Is he merely reporting what everybody but Calvinists knows is obvious?

    trent: With that said, this text does seem to suggest that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins not just of those who believe (by definition, the Church), but for all men’s sins.

    *SIGH*

    Mark, for being such a devotee of “logic,” you certainly seem to lack the ability to recognize its basic operation.

    First of all, and before we go any farther, thank you for giving me a chance to clear the air:

    Did Trent get his interpretation from the pope?

    What an idiotic question.

    Is Trent something more than an individual thinking about the Bible?

    Thank God, yes. I’m a member of the Body of Christ, the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I strive for catholicity in my views; this is why I am Lutheran.

    “Is he merely reporting what everybody but Calvinists knows is obvious?”

    So it would seem, though you seem to be a Calvinist denomination of one, judging by how some of the other Calvinists in this feed speak to you.

    Moving on:

    Mark, the only reason that we’re all even able to communicate right now in this lovely internet comment-feed is because we’re all making use of a shared set of signifiers, grammatical rules, and hermeneutical principles. My use of the phrase “needs to” does not imply a moral obligation which I am inventing arbitrarily by my own authority; I am merely noting an ineluctable hermeneutical obligation which flows from the rules of grammar and logic. Frankly, this should really gel with you; I’m surprised that it does not.

    With that said, we “need to” go over this verse again:

    “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

    Apparently you, Mark, and a majority of Reformed exegetes understand “we” to mean Jewish believers. If “we” means “Jewish believers”, then the contrast being set up in the second half of the verse is, “not for the sins of Jewish believers only, but also for the sins of Gentile believers.” Crisis avoided. With this reading, God can still hate some people from all eternity. And you’re right—this is much tidier than the straw man I created.

    Tidy as it may be, it’s still eisegesis. What is the basis for the assumption that “we” means “Jewish believers”, and not simply “believers”, or that “our sins” means “the sins of Jewish believers,” and not simply “the sins of believers”? It does not come from the text itself. What is more, from what we know of the authorship, purpose, and audience of this epistle, such an assumption is not historically defensible. “We” means “believers”, both Jew and Gentile. “Not for the sins of believers only, but also for the sins of the world.”

    St. Paul agrees with the Beloved Apostle when he writes to St. Timothy, “we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (I Tim. iv, 10). Panton anthropon. All men. Again, you really have to get out the Urim and Thummim to get around this. You also have to mangle the adjective “especially” (Greek melista) and make it mean “specifically” rather than “especially” (some Calvinists are wont to do this). It should be noted, though, that this adjective is used only twelve times in the New Testament. The incidences are as follows:

    Acts of the Apostles xx, 37-38: “Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.”

    Acts of the Apostles xxv, 25-27: “But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving of death, and that he himself had appealed to Augustus, I decided to send him. I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write. For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”

    Acts of the Apostles xxvi, 2-3: “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.”

    Epistle to the Galatians vi, 10: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

    Epistle to the Philippians iv, 21-22: “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.”

    I Timothy iv, 10: “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.”

    I Timothy v, 8: “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

    I Timothy v, 17: “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”

    II Timothy iv, 13: “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments.”

    Titus i, 10: “For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision.”

    Philemon i, 15-16: “For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.”

    II Peter ii, 9-10: “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority.”

    In each of these verses, melista is used to indicate a difference in degree, not a difference in kind. When specificity or a difference in kind (i.e., an exclusion) needs to be indicated, a different adverb is used: eidikós.

    McMark: John 3:16-18 does not teach that the only sin for which sinners are condemned is not believing that Jesus died for everyone. The true gospel is not that “Jesus died for you”, therefore I don’t need to tell anyone that “Jesus died for you”.

    Yes, you’ve beat your head against this wall plenty. We all know what you think the “true Gospel” is. But the question remains: Why?

    Why does v. 18 say, “he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” What is the cause of a man’s condemnation? The text says that it his not-believing in the name of the only begotten Son of God. You contend that the cause of his unbelief is God’s will, but what is the basis for this? St. Paul’s rhetorical question in Romans 9?

    McMark, you need to make an argument from Scripture for the final cause of damnation being God’s will. Without this, your bellicose commentary (which by now has offended even the seemingly-implacable Nate), is so much gas. We need exegesis, not syllogisms.

  255. mark mcculley
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    I certainly agree that the Lutherans don’t believe what the Reformed Confessions teach. But it is cool to get lectured by Trent on being “bellicose”. I think Trent’s scandalized by the justice of God as taught the Reformed.

    For Lutherans, both believer and unbeliever partake of the bodily substance of Christ but with differing outcomes, one to life but the other to judgment. For Calvin, a person either receives both Christ and the Spirit, or neither Christ nor the Spirit. Unbelievers do not receive the Spirit, therefore they do not (in the “sacrament”) receive Christ.

    “The matter now disputed between us, is whether unbelievers receive the substance of Christ without his Spirit.” Lutherans teach that— if Christ is truly present–that Christ is present independent of the communicant’s new birth or faith or unbelief.

    Calvin says that one cannot truly partake of Christ without partaking of His life-giving Spirit.
    Since Christ was baptized with the Holy Spirit, Christ is not where the Spirit is not.

    Garcia, “Christ and the Spirit”, in Resurrection and Eschatology, ed Tipton and Waddington, p 430

  256. mark mcculley
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Jacobus Andreae, Acta Colloquij Montisbellogartensis, 1613, p 447

    “Those assigned to eternal destruction are not damned because because they sinned. They are damned for this reason, because they refused to embrace Jesus Christ with true faith, who died no less for their sins than for the sins of Peter, Paul and all the saints.

    Beza, p 448–“To me what you say is plainly new and previously unheard–that men are not damned because they have sinned….

    Garry J Williams, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, ed Gibson, Crossway, 2013, p 513—“The notion that the lost will be punished for the sin of unbelief and not for sin in general allows Lutherans to hold that Jesus died for every general sin of every individual, and yet not all must be saved, because unbelievers may still be justly condemned for their unbelief since Christ did not die for it. This reply limits the sins for which Christ died.”

    Williams: “The Lutherans have created a difficulty with biblical texts referring to the sins for which Christ died. Every affirmation that sins have been borne by Christ must now be understood to contain a tacit restriction—except the sin of unbelief….If a sinner believes and becomes a Christian at age forty, since the Lutherans teach that Christ did not die for the sin of unbelief, this means that Christ did not die for this man’s sin of unbelief committed over forty years.

  257. Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    I think Trent’s scandalized by the justice of God as taught by the Reformed.

    No, Mark. I’m not really scandalized at all. I’m actually fascinated by the fastidious consistency of Reformed theology. In that sense it is all very Dutch — and very Prussian, actually, in a way that Lutheranism is surprisingly not. But double predestination, however logical it may seem, is just not Scriptural.

    Apology of the Book of Concord (Chemnitz, Selnecker, Kirchner): “Nor does the Christian Book of Concord deny that there is in God reprobation, or that God casts some away. Hence the Book of Concord does not go counter to the dictum of Luther, in his treatise De Servo Arbitrio against Erasmus, that this is the acme of faith, to believe that this same God who saves so few persons is nevertheless the most gracious God, and to be careful not to ascribe to God the real cause of such casting away and condemnation of men, which is the purport of the teaching of our adversaries, and to hold that, when this question is mooted, all men must put their finger on their lips, and, first, say with the Apostle Paul (Rom. 11): Propter incredulitatem defracti sunt; and, Rom. 6: ‘The wages of sin is death.’ In the second place, when this question is raised, why our Lord God does not convert all men by His Holy Spirit, and make them believers, which He could easily do, we must again say with the Apostle: Quam incomprehensibilia sunt judica ejus et impervestigabiles viae ejus! But we must by no means charge God with having willfully and really caused the casting away and damnation of those who do not repent. However, if they urge this point, viz.: If you accept the choosing of the elect, you must also accept this other fact, viz., that in God Himself there is from eternity a cause why men are cast away, even regardless of their sin, etc., we reply that we are in no wise minded to make God the cause of reprobation (which really has its origin, not in God, but in sin), nor shall we ascribe to God the real cause of the damnation of the wicked, but we shall take our stand on the saying of the Prophet Hosea, chap. 13, where God says: ‘O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.’ Nor shall we try – as we heard Luther saying above – to search out our heavenly Father as far as He is a hidden God and has not revealed Himself. For, though we try, the matter exceeds our ability, and we cannot comprehend it; the more we engage in such questioning, the further we get away from God, and the more we begin to doubt His gracious will regarding ourselves. Thus, the Book of Concord does not deny either that God does not operate in all men alike; for in all ages there have been many whom He did not call publicly through the office of the ministry. But our adversaries shall never succeed in convincing us that for this reason we must conclude, as they do, that God is the real cause of the casting away of these people, and that in His bare counsel He has decreed to reprobate and cast them away eternally, even regardless of sin. For when we approach this depth of the mysteries of God, it is sufficient if with the Apostle Paul in Rom. 11 we say: ‘His judgments are unsearchable,’ and, I Cor. 15: ‘Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ All that is beyond this will be revealed to us by our Savior Christ Himself in the life everlasting.” (Apol. of the Book of Conc. Dresden, 1584, fol. 206 f.)

    I don’t think it would be helpful to get sidetracked into a tangential discussion about the Lord’s Supper right now. We’re 255 comments into this now; I think we should be a little deliberate about which threads we choose to pull on.

    I think we should stick to exegesis for now, lest we spin off again into abstraction. I think it would be good if you responded to the exegesis I laid out in my last post. We can proceed from there.

    Nate, if you’re reading this, let me know if you agree.

  258. Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    McMark, quoting Williams:

    The Lutherans have created a difficulty with biblical texts referring to the sins for which Christ died. Every affirmation that sins have been borne by Christ must now be understood to contain a tacit restriction—except the sin of unbelief….If a sinner believes and becomes a Christian at age forty, since the Lutherans teach that Christ did not die for the sin of unbelief, this means that Christ did not die for this man’s sin of unbelief committed over forty years.

    This is pure logomachy, and it is easily answered. All who resist the Holy Spirit unto death blaspheme Him and separate themselves from Christ. They thereby choose to be judged by the Law, and so perish eternally under its just sentence. To blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to reject forgiveness. It cannot be forgiven because it cannot even truly be committed until there is no chance for repentance.

    “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (St. Matthew xii, 31-32).

    “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” (St. Mark iii, 28-29).

    Call it an exception, call it what you will.

  259. mark mcculley
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Of course the unforgivable sin will not be forgiven by God. No sinner for whom Christ died will commit the unforgivable sin. The unforgivable sin is by definition not a sin for which Christ died.

    Lutherans worry about how Calvinists can know they are elect. But what Lutherans need to worry about instead is if they will commit the unforgivable sin—if that would happen for them, would they take comfort in their universal objective justification? Would they take comfort in Christ having died for all their sins, except that one?

    Money You Can Always Return, but not Christ’s Death

    John Owen, The Doctrine of Justification, 5:217—” A man may lay down a great sum of money for the discharge of another, on such a condition as may never be fulfilled; for, on the absolute failure of the condition, his money may and ought to be restored unto him, whereon he has received no injury or damage. But in penal suffering for crimes and sins, there can be no righteous constitution that shall make the event and efficacy of it to depend on a condition absolutely uncertain, and which may not come to pass or be fulfilled; for if the condition fail, no recompense can be made unto him that has suffered. Wherefore, the way of the application of the satisfaction of Christ unto them for whom it was made, is sure and steadfast in the purpose of God

    http://bloggledegook.blogspot.com/…/john-owen-on.

  260. mark mcculley
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    Bruce Ware, Southern Baptist Seminary;—”Those in hell, who never put their faith in Christ and so were never saved, are under the just judgment for their sin, even though Christ has paid for their sin. Just as the elect before they put their faith in Christ (which is before union with Christ) are still children of wrath, even though Christ has paid for their sin.”

    p 649, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, Crossway, 2013

    Bruce Ware—“This reconciliation (Colossians 1:18-20) must be one which includes a sense in which those outside of Christ, consigned to eternal punishment in hell, are at peace with God. The peace they have is simply this—-they have now seen God for who He is, they have bowed their knees before God, and have confessed with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. The deception is removed, their rebellion is over, and they now know and accept the truth of what they rejected the whole of their lives. As a result, there is peace–no more rebellion, no more deception, no more lies. The truth is known and accepted by these hell bound sinners, and they go to hell knowing that God is holy and was right….

    Luke 4: 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”

    mark: Did Jesus die for all the angels who sinned also? Was Christ to die for these demons so that they would know who He was? To what purpose a death for those who will die the second death? How was such a death “substitutionary”?

    Was the sacrifice of Christ as payment of sins worthless in the case of many? “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).

    If Christ paid for all the sins of the damned except the sin of not believing, that would imply an insufficient sacrifice, a partial payment, a death which which was ultimately not enough——payment for all the sins of humans except the one sin that renders payment of all the other sins useless.

    Perhaps it’s time to pause in our discussion about for whom Christ died, and instead ask about the nature and purpose of Christ’s death.

  261. mark mcculley
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Why not proceed from the beginning? (ie, what I wrote)

    November 13, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink
    A A Hodge: “It does not do to say this presence is only spiritual. If it means that the presence of Christ is not something objective…., then it is false. If it means that Christ is present only by His Spirit, it is not true, because Christ is one person and the Holy Spirit is another person…It is a great mistake to confuse the idea of presence with nearness in space…Presence is not a question of space. Presence is a relation.” (Systematic Theology, Banner of Truth, p 356)

    Why can’t Lutherans and Reformed play nice? It’s not a question of the Spirit bringing humanity up close or down far, or of ubiquity in space. Proclaim together—it’s a question of time and union. And then join hands before anyone attempts to explain anything more.

    When it suits you, try to be rational. When it doesn’t suit, accuse the “others” of being gnostics who “assent alone”. The means of grace is experiencing and touching and swallowing, and baptism always means getting wet, and if anybody disagrees with you about that, then they deny the incarnation. Water plus eating creates the true church….

    https://www.academia.edu/185285/Why_Luther_is_not_Quite_Protestant_The_Logic_of_Faith_in_a_Sacr

    When it suits you, mark is a denomination of one. When that doesn’t suit you, explain that all Reformed commentators are rigidly consistent and Dutch. Or Prussian.

  262. mark mcculley
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    The proposition that faith is a gift of God is not in direct dispute (although I think Lutherans reject the idea of “Irresistible Grace” defined as God continuing to give the elect hearing and faith). What is in dispute is the connection of this gift of faith to Christ’s death. Did Christ’s atonement purchase faith (even up to first death) for all for whom God gave His Son? Does justice for God the Son mean that all for whom He died will be given faith?

    Nor is the central question the sovereignty of God in non-election. My questions have not been first about God’s sovereignty but about God’s justice in Christ’s death. Are all sins but one alone excepted paid for by Christ’s death?

    November 15, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    what did Christ get done legally in the past by His death ?

    Were any specific sins imputed to Christ then and there?

    Are specific sins now being imputed by sinners (or the Holy Spirit) to Christ?

    Once those sins have been imputed to Christ, is there still a possibility of those same sins still being imputed back to the sinners? Or will objectively justified sinners perish only for their future sins?

    Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

    Isaiah 53: it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
    when his blood makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
    the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
    11 Out of the anguish of his blood he shall see and be satisfied;
    by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
    12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
    because he poured out his blood to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
    he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for them

    Ephesians 4: 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives and he gave gifts to men.”

  263. Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Hey guys,

    I don’t know if I can make the time to return to this for a while. Its an important discussion to be sure, but I don’t know if I can handle this and my other responsibilities now. Will try and check in soon to at least quickly skim.

    +Nathan

  264. Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    We can all quote the Bible as though our position is self-evident in a few verses.

    We can all quote our respective confessions until we’re blue in the face.

    We could all, if inclined, quote Bruce Ware and Bloggledegook.

    Who cares?

    At this point you’re just being evasive. You either need to respond to my exegesis or provide some exegesis of your own. Actually, you really need to do both of these things. Yes, “need to.” Convince me (and Nate, and any other Lutherans who are still reading this thread) from Scripture that God has elected some to damnation from before the foundation of the world. Convince me from Scripture that God creates some out of pure love, but others out of pure hatred. This you have not done. Instead you issue strings of loaded rhetorical questions ad nauseam, questions along the lines of “could God make a pizza so big that even He couldn’t eat it?” As I said before, you are practicing logomachy, not theology.

  265. mark mcculley
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Carl Henry—“The justice of God is questioned by some critics who protest that election love is discriminatory and therefore a violation of justice. But all love is preferential or it would not be love…., Through No Fault, p 253

    I am continuing to investigate what Lutherans believe and don’t believe. My most basic question is if Lutherans even claim to teach a “penal substitutionary” atonement, whereby the sins of sinners are imputed by God to Christ so that Christ’s death legally satisfies justice by paying for these sins.

    Trent writes many words but evades my questions. Did the Lord Jesus die even for those sinners who never hear the gospel? Did the Lord Jesus die even for those who never have access to the “means of grace”. What good does it do those who are “universally objectively justified” if they never hear about that or believe it?

  266. mark mcculley
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    p 507, “Punishment God Cannot Twice Inflict”—Garry J Williams

    “My argument stands against an unspecified penal satisfaction narrowed only by its application. The sacrifice for sin in Scripture is itself specific…If the penal substitution of Christ has no relation to one person’s sin, then it is not in itself God’s actual answer to any sin, and therefore not penal at all…An unspecified “No” is not an answer to anything; it is without meaning….I cannot see how anyone who excludes the identification of Christ’s satisfaction itself with the specific sins of specific individuals can avoid the logical outcome of denying its truly penal character.

    From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, Crossway, 2013, Ed Gibson and Gibson

  267. mark mcculley
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Jacobus Andreae, Acta Colloquij Montisbellogartensis, 1613, p 447 “Those assigned to eternal destruction are not damned because because they sinned. They are damned for this reason, because they refused to embrace Jesus Christ with true faith, who died no less for their sins than for the sins of Peter, Paul and all the saints.

    Beza, p 448–”To me what you say is plainly new and previously unheard–that men are not damned because they have sinned….

    Garry J Williams, From Heaven He Came, p 513—”The notion that the lost will be punished for the sin of unbelief and not for sin in general allows Lutherans to hold that Jesus died for every general sin of every individual, and yet not all must be saved, because unbelievers may still be justly condemned for their unbelief since Christ did not die for it. This reply limits the sins for which Christ died…The Lutherans have created a difficulty with biblical texts referring to the sins for which Christ died. Every affirmation that sins have been borne by Christ must now be understood to contain a tacit restriction—except the sin of unbelief…”

  268. Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    Hopefully, I will read all of page 6 here tonight. For now….

    “I am continuing to investigate what Lutherans believe and don’t believe. My most basic question is if Lutherans even claim to teach a “penal substitutionary” atonement, whereby the sins of sinners are imputed by God to Christ so that Christ’s death legally satisfies justice by paying for these sins.”

    I don’t know if this is specifically laid out in the Book of Concord, but I think most all Lutherans would have no trouble saying this. Is this not what Isaiah 53:4 says? How else do we understand it? I myself recently wrote: God demands that our sins be punished and provides what He demands.

    “Did the Lord Jesus die even for those sinners who never hear the gospel?”

    Yes.

    “Did the Lord Jesus die even for those who never have access to the “means of grace””

    Yes.

    “What good does it do those who are “universally objectively justified” if they never hear about that or believe it?”

    None. Theology is for proclamation, and the proclamation of the good news and comfort of the Gospel is for the whole world.

    “Henry: But all love is preferential or it would not be love…., Through No Fault, p 253”

    Not sure what this means. Love all my children, though not all in the same way.

    “Jacobus Andreae, Acta Colloquij Montisbellogartensis, 1613, p 447 “Those assigned to eternal destruction are not damned because because they sinned. They are damned for this reason, because they refused to embrace Jesus Christ with true faith, who died no less for their sins than for the sins of Peter, Paul and all the saints.”

    In a manner of speaking. On the other hand, they are condemned because they are sinners who sin by not believing in the One whom God has sent.

    John 3:18: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

    That would be a sin. And *that* would be the ultimate reason for their condemnation. It is a wicked thing to not trust the living God whose mercy is given to all men in His Son – who is totally inclusive and yet totally exclusive.

    By the way Mark, in case you think I or any Lutheran are too close or overly friendly with Rome (or other Pelagians, Arminians, or Synergists), I’d encourage you to go to my blog and read my take on the Pope’s latest encyclical, particularly parts II and III.

    +Nathan

  269. Posted December 5, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    Hello again. Popping in here again after reading p. 6 in full.

    You said:

    “Lutherans worry about how Calvinists can know they are elect. But what Lutherans need to worry about instead is if they will commit the unforgivable sin—if that would happen for them, would they take comfort in their universal objective justification? Would they take comfort in Christ having died for all their sins, except that one?”

    Mark,

    Here is where I direct you to Reiss again. Maybe I need to be shown otherwise, but based on what Reiss says there responding to Calvin, it seems to me that this is an issue that you guys would have, not us. Lutheran pastors like to say that if a person is worried about committing the unforgivable sin, that is evidence that they have not done it. Those who have don’t worry about having done it. I think a good verse to connect with this is the one that says He is faithful when we are faithless but it we deny Him He will deny us.

    Trent – whose arguments I agree with – talked about not bringing the Lord’s Supper into this, but I find it to be really interesting that you brought that up (I’ll admit I tend to have trouble taking topics one at a time, since I see them as all connected with each other). You said: “Calvin says that one cannot truly partake of Christ without partaking of His life-giving Spirit. Since Christ was baptized with the Holy Spirit, Christ is not where the Spirit is not.”

    The first thing I think about is Paul’s words about those who partake of the Supper unworthily in I Corinthians. Again, we let the text drive things.

    The second thing I think about is that when persons here the Word of God, they might indeed partake of the Holy Spirit in that He uses the words to create true guilt in them (because of the external clarity of the Word of God – see John 16:8-11) – whether they feel they believe these words or not (they might suppress this knowledge) – but not partake in the Holy Spirit in that they do not believe words about God’s answer to their sin(s) in Christ (in other words, they would not experience the internal clarity of the Word of God, which we attribute only to those who have faith in His Son).

    On the other hand, there is, of course, also false faith in this or that “another Jesus” (II Cor 11) that persons might have as well. It is good to “check your Jesus”, as I recently read on a blog – and this is something that believers are always eager to do, letting the Scriptures regulate what they believe, teach and confess.

    I mention all this because I am not convinced that this has nothing to do with our conversation. We comfort persons with the knowledge that the Holy Spirit always uses deliberately communicative acts to persons – that is, the spoken or written word (and the sacraments) – as the means of grace by which faith in Christ is created. This is our charge towards all men – the Spirit and Word cannot be separated – we must not ever assume that they can be, for faith – and comfort (Rom. 5:1, II Cor 1) – come by hearing the word. Of course, that’s for you to Mark.

    Not all say as much: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/on-with-the-reformation-circa-1567-the-under-appreciated-matthias-flacius-illyricus-part-ii-of-iii/ – even if they do not go entirely Schwenckfeldian.

    +Nathan

  270. Dan
    Posted December 5, 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    Universal Objective Justification is not completely without controversy in Lutheran circles. You will need to scroll around, but this blog has a lot of resources against the doctrine.
    http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com

  271. mikelmann
    Posted December 7, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I just came across a church called “ZION EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CONGREGATION OF THE UNALTERED AUGUSBURG CONFESSION.” Now that’s an earnest name. Can anyone give me some history on the unaltered confession business?

  272. Posted December 7, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Mikelmann,

    Yes, I can.

    The parish you came across says explicitly what we all mean when we use the shorthand, “Confessional Lutheran.” To be a Confessional Lutheran is to subscribe without reservation to the Confessionis Augustana Invariata of 1525 because (quia, as opposed to “insofar as,” quatenus) it is a faithful exposition of the Word of God, the faith once delivered to the saints, etc.

    Why these caveats? Because another version of the CA (or AC for the Anglophonic) was promulgated which was substantially different, i.e., free of anything distinctively Lutheran. Lutherans hold Phillip Melanchthon in high regard for his inspired scripting of the CA and its Apology — indeed he was one of the most gifted linguists and theologians the Church has ever seen. But after Luther’s death, Melanchthon’s weaknesses overcame him. At one point he almost surrendered to the papal party, and at another point he gave into pressure from the Reformed. The latter resulted in his redaction of the original Confession made at Augsburg. The fruit of this was the Augustana Variata, which John Calvin himself signed. It was disowned entirely by the gnesio-Lutherans, and it is disowned equally by their confessional spiritual descendants.

    There’s more I could say, but I need to run. In the meantime:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippists

  273. Posted December 7, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Dan,

    UOJ has been taught by Lutherans from the very beginning, even if it was not explicitly stated. As Jack Kilcrease helpfully points out, “justification already exists extra nos, that is, outside of the believer and creates faith. In the Galatians commentary of 1531, he speaking of Christ as “the only sin and the only righteousness.” In the commentaries on John’s Gospel, he states that in Christ all sin has already been forgiven, the only sin left is not trusting the gospel. In the Large Catechism, Luther states that we are already forgiven prior to our reception of it in faith.” (from here: http://logia.org/blogia/?p=216)

    The unaltered AC is the original one, before Melanchton, the author, started tinkering with it in order to make it more palatable to certain non-Lutheran folks.

    +Nathan

  274. mark mcculley
    Posted December 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    The Lutheran Jacob Preus has written an interesting book entitled Just Words: Understanding the Fullness of the Gospel (Concordia, 2000). About reconciliation, Preus writes: “Faith is necessary to appropriate the reconciliation of Christ. However, our faith does not make Christ’s work effective. It is effective even if no one approves it, even if no one is saved.” (p 140).

    That kind of “objectivity” is not gospel.

    One, there is no understanding that Christ’s death purchased the work of the Holy Spirit and faith for the elect. Even if God by grace gives the faith, Lutherans don’t teach that this faith is a certain result (a just reward) of Christ’s work. But the Bible teaches this good news (I Peter 1:21 ;II Peter 1:1; Ephesians 4:7-8; Phil 1:29).

    Two, Lutherans do not teach a penalty for specific sins imputed, and therefore Preus ends up with a propitiation that does not propitiate, a ransom that does not redeem, and a reconciliation that does not reconcile.

    Part of the problem with the Preus chapter on reconciliation is that he seems to have no idea of God Himself being both the object and subject of His own reconciliation. Preus reduces the gospel to proclamation to the sinner, to persuade the sinner to believe. But he himself does not believe that Christ died for the specific sins of specific sinners. As John 3:16 teaches, the Son is given so that only as many as who believe the gospel will not perish..

    Preus limits the gospel to the sinner’s enmity to God, and not to God’s enmity to unjustified sinners. When writing about the Father and the Son (p 142), Preus tells us that “Christ was at enmity with God”. This sounds much like the “vicarious repentance” taught by the Reformed heretic McLeod Campbell. This is a false gospel, a gospel about what God does in the sinner instead of about legal satisfaction by Christ “bearing” the sins imputed to Christ by God.

    Despite all talk about law and gospel, this is an attempt at an end-run around the law. .Proclamation to the sinner alone will not kill effect the death of the sinner. If there has been no just satisfaction of the law for specific sins, then there can be no just imputation of Christ’s death (His righteousness) to sinners.

    Instead of announcing that Christ was “made sin” legally because of imputation, Preus turns Christ into a sinner angry at God. Christ is and was human, but in no way a sinner except by imputation.

    But no Lutheran who teaches an universal but non-penal-substitution atonement can dare talk about the imputation of the guilt of the elect to Christ. They cannot even talk about an imputation of the elect’s penalty to Christ. Lutherans who are not universalists must turn faith into the thing which effectively ransoms a sinner. Even as they \deny that faith is what makes the death effective, they also attempt to credit a false Christ who died even for those who perish.

    Since they teach a death which does not justify in the case of those who perish, the death they teach also is not what justifies those who don’t perish. The universal theory means there must be some other reason folks don’t perish, and it has to do with their (God-enabled) response to proclamation and nothing to do with Christ legally bearing sins.

  275. mikelmann
    Posted December 7, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Trent.

  276. Dan
    Posted December 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Nathan,

    Just to be clear, I have no dog in the fight as I am neither Lutheran nor reformed. When I first came across the term Universal Objective Justification, I came across the blog cited above. Whether all Lutherans everywhere have always taught the doctrine would be challenged by some, though it is the official position of the LCMS, WELS and ELCA. It does strike me as a bit odd, in that some of its proponents have gone so far as saying that it extends to even the sin of unbelief. Again, this is not an issue of any particular moment to me. By the way, you have a nice blog.

  277. Posted December 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    I have not read Preus’ book.

    Jacob Preus: However, our faith does not make Christ’s work effective. It is effective even if no one approves it, even if no one is saved.” (p 140).

    You: That kind of “objectivity” is not gospel.

    Me: I think Preus is speaking a bit clumsily here. We know that some will be saved, although not because of anything they could possibly claim to take any credit for, but because of God’s mercy in Christ.

    “One, there is no understanding that Christ’s death purchased the work of the Holy Spirit and faith for the elect. Even if God by grace gives the faith, Lutherans don’t teach that this faith is a certain result (a just reward) of Christ’s work.”

    Sure we do. When the penitent hear the words of absolution or receive the Lord’s Supper, they can be absolutely certain and should be absolutely certain – no questions asked. As I pointed out in the quote from Reiss above, it seems that if anyone has this problem it would be the Reformed.

    “Two, Lutherans do not teach a penalty for specific sins imputed, and therefore Preus ends up with a propitiation that does not propitiate, a ransom that does not redeem, and a reconciliation that does not reconcile.”

    Where have Lutherans – in any of their confessional documents – ever denied that Christ did not take the penalty for specific sins of each and every person who belongs to the race of men? Please show me where we deny that there is something about legal satisfaction here. Again, how else are we to understand Isaiah 53? How can one avoid legal satisfaction?

    “Proclamation to the sinner alone will not kill effect the death of the sinner. If there has been no just satisfaction of the law for specific sins, then there can be no just imputation of Christ’s death (His righteousness) to sinners.”

    Mark, who are you talking to? This is why we talk about how the law “kills” sinners, convicting them of the guilt of their sins which put to death the Son of God. They are a part of the sinful human race that is responsible for Christ needing to die their sins might be paid for. Only when one knows the depth of one’s guilt is one ready to receive the Gospel. No one is denying this here.

    “Instead of announcing that Christ was “made sin” legally because of imputation, Preus turns Christ into a sinner angry at God. Christ is and was human, but in no way a sinner except by imputation.”

    ??? Page numbers please. I will check this out and look it up myself.

    “But no Lutheran who teaches an universal but non-penal-substitution atonement can dare talk about the imputation of the guilt of the elect to Christ.”

    Right, because it is not *only* the sins of the elect that Christ died for.

    “…they also attempt to credit a false Christ who died even for those who perish.”

    We speak thusly: there is no other Christ. He is the Savior of all men, especially those who believe.

    “The universal theory means there must be some other reason folks don’t perish, and it has to do with their (God-enabled) response to proclamation and nothing to do with Christ legally bearing sins.”

    Confessional Lutherans do not teach this. If we are saved, God gets all the glory. If we are damned, we get all the blame. We can reject the gift. That is what we teach and we do need not speculate further than this. We are not predestined in view of our faith (see the predestination controversy with C.F.W. Walther and the LCMS in the late 19th c.)

    +Nathan

  278. mark mcculley
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    maqrk: One, there is no understanding that Christ’s death purchased the work of the Holy Spirit and faith for the elect. Even if God by grace gives the faith, Lutherans don’t teach that this faith is a certain result (a just reward) of Christ’s work.”

    nathan: Sure we do. When the penitent hear the words of absolution or receive the Lord’s Supper, they can be absolutely certain and should be absolutely certain – no questions asked

    mark: read what I wrote, Nathan. “Lutherans don’t teach that faith is a certain result (a just reward) of Christ’s work. ” Now you assure us that Lutherans can have a present sacramental assurance, for now. But what you don’t do is relate this to Christ’s death, or to Christ’s penal satisfaction for the specific sins of specific sinners. You claim that Christ “died for” everybody, but not necessarily for all sins. You do NOT agree that all for whom Christ died will be given the Holy Spirit as that which has been purchased by the death.

    We can talk to each other and learn from each other, without ignoring what the “other” is teaching. Beware hasty “assimilations” which ignore the differences.

    John 8:24 told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

    mark: on a Lutheran reading, Jesus died for all sins except one, so logically for them Jesus should not threaten anybody with dying for “sins”. According to Lutherans, there is now only sin we can die for, and that’s the sin of unbelief. Jesus died for all the other sins of all sinners, according to Lutherans.

  279. mark mcculley
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    In the Reformed tradition, Baxter’s neonomianism is the analogy to the Lutheran idea that the only sin which can condemn is unbelief.

    In reality, this “new law” (or “new plan of salvation”) makes the situtation worse for the sinner, not better. Richard Baxter claimed to offer an easier way. Baxter said that God no longer commanded “do and live”. Baxter said that God has transferred His right to punish over to Christ, who had new terms of mercy, not the old law which condemns “in rigor of justice”
    Universal Redemption, 1694, p 26

    But in reality Baxter has not relaxed the terms but always wants more and more from the sinner. The satisfaction of the old law by Christ’s death is NOT ENOUGH FOR BAXTER. Baxter has a new law (which he calls a gospel plan) and this new law will accept no obedience by a “substitute”, but will only take obedience from the sinner himself who needs to be saved.

    What Baxter called the “obedience of faith” is more about obedience than faith. No salvation for the ungodly. No salvation for the disobedient. Baxter warned that Christ did not and cannot deliver us from the punishment of the new law for disbelief. “Christ died not for any Man’s non-performance of the conditions of the law of grace.” (p 33) Baxter concluded that “Christ by His law has made a far sorer punishment than before belonged to them, to be due to all those that believe not on Him. Only for refusing their Redeemer shall they be condemned” (p 44)

  280. mark mcculley
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    nathan: Please show me where we deny that there is something about legal satisfaction here.

    mark: Two parts. 1. You say that many of those for whom Christ made legal satisfaction will nevertheless have to pay twice, will have to pay legal satisfaction themselves. We Calvnists see this as injustice, as exposing the reality that what was called “satisfaction” was not really enough to silence the demands of the law, since these demands now come back and call for many of those who say Jesus redeemed to still perish.
    2. You seem to be saying that there is one sin (unbelief of the gospel) which Jesus never died to pay for, and also that the will to believe (and continue to believe) is not something purchased for any specific elect sinner by the death of Christ.

    Nathan: Again, how else are we to understand Isaiah 53? How can one avoid legal satisfaction?

    mark: Indeed, if you read Isaiah 53 correctly, you cannot avoid legal justice, not only in Christ’s death but in Christ’s sovereign and just distribution of the benefits of that death.

    p 261 Motyer—Isaiah 53:6 is a corrective to the misinterpretation of verse 4. Personal conversion has taken place, yet nothing is said about hearing and responding to the truth. There is no reference to personal decision, commitment or faith. It is the secret history of every conversion, the real story of “you did not choose me but I chose you”. It is also the death knell to any open-ended understanding of the atonement which seeks to posit a disjunction between redemption accomplished and applied.

    Could any whose iniquities the Lord laid on His Servant fail to be saved? Could that laying-on prove ineffectual? Were any iniquities laid on the Servant save with the divine purpose of eternal salvation? The “we” of these crucial verses were locked into a failure to grasp what the Servant was all about, but our iniquities were laid by Yahweh on His Servant, and THIS is what led to our “seeing”. The atonement itself, and not something outside the atonement, is the cause for any conversion.

    The Lord Himself is at work. he is the Agent behind the bruising (verse 10) and the Guarantor and Apportioner of the results (verse 12), by making sure that the Servant is rewarded as he deserves. The Servant’s reward arises not from His righteousness, nor even from His shocking suffering, but solely from His sin-bearing death. His death, that and nothing else, ensures the results of redemption applied.

    The Servant is not just the Procurer of the results of His death. He is also the adminstrator of the results of His death. The Servant is not like others who died, but lives to administer the atonement he accomplished by His death. The Servant is not engaged in further self-offering. He is administering the fruits of a past historical act.

    Alec Motyer, p 251, From Heaven He Came—Isaiah’s “Behold, my servant shall succeed” matches the great cry, “It is finished (John 19:30) and forces us to ask what “finished” means in John and what “succeed” means in Isaiah. On any “open-ended” view of the atonement–that is, that the work of Christ only made salvation possible rather than actually secured salvation–“finished” only means “started” and “succeed” only means “maybe, contingent on God contributing something else “in” the sinner

  281. mark mcculley
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Of course I am not going to assume that you and Preus are totally agreed, Nathan.

    Preus, Just Words, p 140-142) limits the gospel to the sinner’s enmity to God, and not to God’s enmity to unjustified sinners. Even when writing about the Father and the Son. Preus tells us that “Christ was at enmity with God”. This sounds much like the “vicarious repentance of taught by the Reformed heretic McLeod Campbell. This is a a gospel about what God does in the sinner instead of about legal satisfaction by Christ “bearing” the sins imputed to Christ by God.

    Even as they deny that faith is what makes the death effective, Lutherans still try to give the credit to a false Christ who died even for those who perish. Since they teach an ineffective death in the case of those who perish, the death they teach is also ineffective for those who don’t perish. They have some other reason these folks don’t perish, and it has everything to do with their response to proclamation and nothing to do with Christ legally bearing sins.

    But does not the Bible use the word “reconcile” only with human sinners in mind? No.

    First, Romans 5:17 speaks of “receiving the reconciliation”. This does NOT mean overcoming your enmity in order to overcome your enmity! It means to passively receive by imputation what Christ did.

    Second, Matthew 5:24 (sermon on the mount) commands us to “leave your gift there before the altar and first be reconciled to your brother.” Even though the elect are the objects of reconciliation, though the elect receive the reconciliation, that receiving is NOT the overcoming of our hostility, but instead is the imputation of what God has done in Christ to overcome God’s own hostility to sinners.

  282. mark mcculley
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Many sentimental religious songs have those who sing them confess themselves as “maggots” for having put Christ on the cross. But I question this theology. First, if we all put Christ on the cross, then Christ died for all sinners, and that is the false gospel, which teaches that Christ’s death is not enough to save all for whom He died.

    Second, nobody but God has the ultimate power to put Christ on the cross. If we all are supposed to feel bad about crucifying Christ, is God the Trinity also to “feel sorry” about it? May it never be! Acts 2:23-24, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

    The Bible teaches that God’s sovereignty does not eliminate the accountability of sinners. Certain specific lawless men killed Christ. But also, God gave Christ up to die for the sins of the elect alone. God and not man determined for whom Christ would die. Both the creation and the incarnation was means for Christ’s death of Atonement.

    God’ sovereign plan does not eliminate the accountability of “the lawless men”, or of the “you” Peter is addressing in Acts 2. Specific humans two thousand years ago purposed that Christ would die. This means that not all humans purposed that Christ would die. His mother Mary, for example, did not kill or intend to kill Christ.

    We did no ourselves put Christ on the cross. Nor are we the ones who impute our sins to Christ. We do not get to decide when and if we put our sins on Christ. We do not get the opportunity to contribute our sins so that then Christ contributes His righteousness. Neither election nor non-election is conditioned on our sins. It might sound heroic of us to say that damnation is all our fault, but that tends to be one of the ways that we also get to say that our salvation was conditioned on our contribution.

    Although believers are commanded to reckon what God has already reckoned, we can never be the original reckoners.. Yes, those specific lawless men were guilty of what they did, But the cross is not what condemns. The cross is about the gospel, and the gospel is not the law,

    Even though the gospel is Good news for the elect, the gospel is not what condemns the non-elect. Rejecting the cross is not what condemns the non-elect, becausethey are all already condemned in Adam .

    The false gospel which says that Jesus Christ died for every sinner is neither true nor good news.. The false gospel limits the judicial effects of a supposedly universal death into even more guilt for those who don’t satisfy the new conditions (faith, obedience, perseverance) which supposedly make that death effective.

  283. mark mcculley
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    II Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

    p 352—”Some conclude that the efficacy of Christ’s work occurs only at the point of faith, and not before. This ignores the fact that union with Christ precedes any reception of Christ’s work by faith. It is union with Christ that leads to the efficacy of Christ’s work to those who belong to Him.”

    Jonathan Gibson, “The Glorious, Indivisible, Trinitarian Work of Christ”, From Heaven He Came,
    p 355

  284. mark mcculley
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    the truth that some sinners have been baptized into Christ
    is no evidence that I have been baptized into Christ
    not all sinners have been baptized into Christ
    not all sinners watered have been baptized into Christ

    those who have once been in Christ stay in Christ
    it did not depend on sin or faith for them to be in Christ
    it does not depend. on sin or faith for them to stay in Christ
    those put in Christ by God’s imputation will now always be out of Adam

    not everybody is God’s own child, :
    Jesus died for Christians
    the gospel is for Christians
    not everybody is or will be Christians

    not everybody is baptized into Christ!
    even though everybody needs His death to pay for
    ALL their sins, even their unbelief
    Christ did not die for every sinner, and not every sinner died with Him

    Christ gave the full redemption price only for those who believe
    And this is why they believe
    This is why even their believing is not part of the payment
    Christ did not pay the price for those who will not be redeemed

    Do I need clergy and sacrament
    to make sure that eternal life last
    at least until I die
    Or is salvation free because Christ paid it all?

    The water cannot comfort
    because many with water perish
    but none for Jesus made the sacrifce
    will perish for their guilt

    It was not water or clergy
    that placed me into Christ’s death
    by God’s imputation I am located
    in the righteousness of Christ

    Satan accuses those whose guilt
    has not been paid with Christ’s death
    Satan turns even gospel into law
    claiming that Christ paid but then condemns
    those who sin the one sin the false gospel
    says that Christ did not die for

    Satan says that death is nothing
    Satan promises that the real you will not die
    Satan lies that salvation depends on you
    Satan deceives with a false gospel conditioned on the sinner

    Satan tells us that we are immortal
    tells us that we have freewill
    tells us that God loves everybody
    but where we will live depends on us

    But Genesis tells the truth
    Dust plus God’s breath becomes a ;living human
    but the wages of sin is death
    only Christ is the life-giving Spirit for those the Father has given Him

    those once justified will be glorified
    they will not be condemned again
    they will not fall from grace
    having passed from death to life,
    their resurrection from the sleep of the grave
    is not another justification, not another judgment:

    those resurrected to immortality on that day
    will have already been justified
    and those raised for condemnation
    were never in Christ, never out of Adam

  285. Posted December 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    Thanks again for the ongoing conversation.

    “But what you don’t do is relate this to Christ’s death, or to Christ’s penal satisfaction for the specific sins of specific sinners.”

    “on a Lutheran reading, Jesus died for all sins except one”

    “It might sound heroic of us to say that damnation is all our fault, but that tends to be one of the ways that we also get to say that our salvation was conditioned on our contribution.”

    These are things you say about us, based on your own logical deductions from your own specific understanding of our systematic theology. ***These are not things that we say. I venture that no Lutheran pastor who knows his Bible or Confessions has ever said these things.*** This kind of talk makes this conversation unfruitful, because you are not really talking to anyone. Go ahead and accuse us of being illogical if you want but the point is that we aim to speak as the Bible speaks, with the underlying assumption that God really does mean it when He talks about desiring to save all in Rom. 11:32, II Peter 2:9 (I think) and I Timothy 2 – also when He talks about dying for the sins of the whole world.

    “You seem to be saying that there is one sin (unbelief of the gospel) which Jesus never died to pay for…”

    No, he does die for the unbelief of the believer, but not the unbeliever. Strength of faith is not what saves, even as a lack of faith is sin.

    “We do not get to decide when and if we put our sins on Christ. We do not get the opportunity to contribute our sins so that then Christ contributes His righteousness.”

    Yes, this does not apply to us. We don’t do decision theology. Often adults who come to Christ realize they have been converted. Even those whose experiences seem more active will often realize later on they were chosen by God.

    “You say that many of those for whom Christ made legal satisfaction will nevertheless have to pay twice, will have to pay legal satisfaction themselves. We Calvnists see this as injustice, as exposing the reality that what was called “satisfaction” was not really enough to silence the demands of the law, since these demands now come back and call for many of those who say Jesus redeemed to still perish.”

    I do appreciate your putting things this way. We certainly disagree here. What you see as unjust – and unbiblical – we simply see as a natural reading of John 3:16-18, 36 and the other passages above.

    “Rejecting the cross is not what condemns the non-elect, because they are all already condemned in Adam .”

    In one sense yes, but you also need to deal with the reality of what John 3:16-18 say of those who hear the Word of Christ, as He is lifted up to draw all men to Him, and do not believe. They are condemned, because they remain in Adam, under God’s wrath, *because* they do not believe in Christ.

    “The atonement itself, and not something outside the atonement, is the cause for any conversion.”

    We have no problem speaking this way as well. These are the words the Spirit uses to create faith – because “it is finished” indeed.

    I’ll try to read those pages in Preus and see what I can make of it.

    “Even though the elect are the objects of reconciliation, though the elect receive the reconciliation, that receiving is NOT the overcoming of our hostility, but instead is the imputation of what God has done in Christ to overcome God’s own hostility to sinners.”

    Ah, OK – I get this now. We would say that because God chooses to overcome his own hostility to His enemies and those who hate Him via Christ’s atoning work – to be fully reconciled with them in this way – our hostility towards God – our sinful hearts, will be changed. First, we hear that our sins incur God’s wrath and displeasure. The cross is about justice. Then, broken, we receive the word of grace, won at the cross, personally administers. The cross is about mercy. This changes our hard hearts of stone.

    I think you can say of us that it is true that what happens in time on the ground is important about anything that we think may have happened in God’s secret counsel before time as well. True. The doctrine of double predestination might cause a baptized person to think that what happens in space and time in their body has no ultimate significance or meaning. As Luther alludes to in the Smalcald Articles, actual sins, if persistent, habitual and unrepentant, can drive out faith in Christ. The Scriptures assert that when we are faithless He will be faithful, but if we disown Him He will disown us. Therefore, we don’t want to mess with faith-destroying and doubt-inducing sins. That said, we of course would assert that faith is always God’s gift to us, and not something we have by our own powers. Satan indeed lies that salvation depends on you – we agree here.

    The II Corinthians 5:14 you quote to argue that about the order of salvation explicitly says that Christ died for all, which you deny.

    You go on to give your poetic confession, and among other things, say these things:

    “Do I need clergy and sacrament
    to make sure that eternal life last
    at least until I die
    Or is salvation free because Christ paid it all?

    ….It was not water or clergy
    that placed me into Christ’s death
    by God’s imputation I am located
    in the righteousness of Christ”

    You set in opposition things we see working in harmony, or things that are to work in harmony. The clergy and sacraments are God’s gifts to you that you might believe and be strengthened in your faith. To not accept this is to spurn God’s gifts to you in space and time. Further, God places you into Christ’s death through the water baptism administered through those He gives to speak His voice in an official and public capacity (“He who hears you hears me”… “those whose sins you forgive will be forgiven”… etc), even as all Christians are to speak the oracles of God.

    Thanks again Mark for the conversation. Let me be clear- I think that the things you are saying are quite awful – but my hope and prayer is that Christ overcomes these things in you to the glory of His holy name.

    +Nathan

  286. Posted December 21, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Trent Demarest
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 3:37 am | Perm

    That comment was a classic, followed by the repentance. Rarely is anything good written at 3:37 am.

    A post on Lutheranism brings lots of new folks out of the woodwork.

  287. Dan
    Posted January 22, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink
  288. Posted January 22, 2014 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Erik,

    Gareth is still out here, I gotta believe. That comment you allude to was proceded by a better similar one by my golfing Jewish doctor friend, on hole 11 or so.

    Does a blog like this exist anywhere else?

    Be of good cheer.

  289. Posted February 4, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Decided to take another sounding. Looks like this thing died a natural death.

    @Andrew — who’s Gareth? I have a cousin by that name, but I know he didn’t comment on the linked piece. Also, since it’s better to confess than to be exposed, I am the “young, saber rattling, Missouri Synod Lutheran” alluded to.

  290. AB
    Posted February 4, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Trent, you rock. I’m done posting for a while. Look up the office, from great Britain. Tv show. Youre so cool, that you don’t get hangovers because you don’t believe in them

    Send me a Twitter message @andrewbuckingha, if you want to chat. I’m focusing in a quiet soliatoey place on stopping my online habits. Nice to “meet” you Trent
    From a presby bro,
    Andrew

  291. AB
    Posted February 4, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    http://twitter.com/AndrewBuckingha

    My new blog, at the link. It’s a reboot. Like star trek, if you dig it. Yo

  292. mark mcculley
    Posted March 16, 2014 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Do some of those who receive the Holy Spirit and regeneration by means of water never hear or believe the gospel?

    Do some of those who are born from above lose this new birth?

    Can those who lose their new birth regain their new birth, and this second or third time, apart from water?

    Q: Can you lose your salvation and if you can, how can you regain it again?

    A: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod teaches that it is possible for a true believer to fall from faith, as Scripture itself soberly and repeatedly warns us (1 Cor. 10:12; 1 Pet. 5:8; 2 Pet. 3:17; Heb. 2:1-3; 3:12-19; 6:4-8, etc.). Such warnings are intended for Christians who appear to be lacking a right understanding of the seriousness of their sin and of God’s judgment against sin, and who, therefore, are in danger of developing a false and proud “security” based not on God’s grace, but on their freedom to “do as they please.”

    By the same token, the LCMS affirms and treasures all of the wonderful passages in Scripture in which God promises that He will never forsake those who trust in Christ Jesus alone for salvation (John 10:27-29; Romans 8; Heb. 13: 5-6, etc.).

    http://www.lcms.org/faqs/doctrine#salvation

    “Repenting, we turn again to Jesus. He takes us back to the font where both died with Him and were raised in the power of His resurrection.”

    “If Baptism also saves, it must not save adults since an adult would not say I do not believe but I want to be baptized to get the faith to believe. If indeed the prooftexts of baptismal regeneration actually refer to salvation, it must only be for babies since adults would of necessity believe before being baptized. And if they do only speak of babies who do not have the capacity to believe, why don’t these verses say so?

    A….while Baptism is God’s gracious means of conveying to human beings His saving grace revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Savior, it is not the only means It is no less a miracle of God’s grace at work that an adult should believe by hearing the words of the Gospel, than that an infant should receive through Baptism the Spirit who creates the very faith by which one receives incorporation into Christ

  293. Mark Mcculley
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    It’s only rational that Lutherans would say that any view not Lutheran is merely “rational”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2011/05/if-you-forgive-the-sins-of-any-they-are-forgiven-2/#disqus_thread

4 Trackbacks

  • By My take on the Lutheran/Calvinist discussion on November 15, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    […] Some thoughts on the discussion about Lutherans and Calvinists that was provoked by thoughts from Peter Leithhart and D. G. Hart.  (To get up to date with the latest contributions, see also what Anthony Sacramone had to say about it, as well as Dr. Hart’s rejoinder.) […]

  • […] For those interested in this debate, Lutheran Anthony Sacramone asks Why Calvin and Not Luther? and Darryl, or D. G., Hart responds with Now Lutherans are Tightening My Jaws. […]

  • By Lutherans and, or vs., Calvinists - Hardcore Catholic on November 29, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    […] For those interested in this debate, Lutheran Anthony Sacramone asks Why Calvin and Not Luther? and Darryl, or D. G., Hart responds with Now Lutherans are Tightening My Jaws. […]

  • […] of Trent when I found myself commenting with him on a blog post by the Reformed writer, D.G. Hart: “Now Lutherans are Tightening my Jaws”.  I took […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>