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.

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292 Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.”

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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

  17. 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…”

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. 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?

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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.

  25. mikelmann
    Posted December 7, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Trent.

  26. 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.

  27. 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

  28. 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.

  29. 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)

  30. 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

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. 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

  36. 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.

  37. Dan
    Posted January 22, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink
  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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

  41. 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

  42. 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

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