Why Not Lutheranism?

While Joe Carter is yet again telling me what I should do, this time how to think about October 31st, Protestants (and others) in Hillsdale will be observing Reformation Day with a book talk by (all about) me on Calvinism. What follows is an excerpt:

Why Calvinism (Why not Lutheranism?)

One of the stranger features of religion in the United States is the level of comfort that Americans seem to have with Calvinism even though it is a version of Christianity that many, along with H. L. Mencken, place in their “cabinet of horrors” – the Baltimore journalist put it on the shelf right next to cannibalism. One way to illustrate this peculiarity is to compare Americans’ familiarity with Calvinism to their general indifference to and ignorance of Lutheranism. If you do as I do and have Google alerts set up for both Calvinism and Lutheranism, you will daily receive an email with at least three or four references to Calvinism. You will also usually go three or four days between emailings with a reference or two (at best) to Lutheranism.

This is odd at least for a couple of reasons. First, Lutherans are the ur-Protetstants, the original Christians who broke with the papacy, and yet few Protestants in the United States seem to have any awareness of the debt they owe to Martin Luther – or the reasons for convening this lecture in competition with costumes and candy on a day known as Reformation Day, the alleged date when in 1517 Luther nailed a piece of paper to a cathedral door and destroyed the sacred canopy of Christendom in Europe. Second, Lutherans far outnumber Calvinists in the United States. The mainline denomination, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is almost 6 times larger than the mainline Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. – roughly 6 million compared to 1 million. And outside the mainline denominations, Missouri Synod Lutherans are almost 30 times larger than the Orthodox Presbyterian Church – roughly 3 million compared – ahem – to 30,000. Even the Wisconsin Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, to be precise, a communion that even with “evangelical” in its name is unknown to most American Protestants – even the Wisconsin Synod is larger than the Presbyterian Church in America, a denomination that thanks to Tim Keller’s popularity in the Big Apple seems to be poised to transform America into a nation of urban chic Protestants. The Wisconsin Synod has roughly 400,000 members and the PCA has only 300,000.

But does that kind of history and those raw numbers make American pundits, scholars, and laity take notice of Lutherans? Hardly. If you want to glom on to an influential form of Protestantism, one with world-shaping significance, in the English-speaking world you go not to Lutheranism but to Calvinism.

To illustrate Calvinism’s appeal – again which is hard to believe because of its associations with teaching total depravity and predestination, thus qualifying for Mencken’s cabinet of horrors – think back to this past summer when Baptists of all people, Southern Baptists specifically, received a report about the propriety of Calvinism within the Southern Baptist Convention. For several years, fellows like Al Mohler and Russell Moore, both at the oldest Southern Baptist seminary in Louisville, had carved out a place for Calvinist teaching in the denomination. But Baptists have long been hostile to Calvinism, even if some Baptists have gone by the name of particular or Calvinistic. To make this point we need only think of Hillsdale College’s origins. It began as a Baptist college and only severed its church ties in 1913 – one hundred years ago. It was associated with a particular brand of Baptist churches – the Free Will Baptists. And these Baptists were not at all comfortable with Calvinism’s teaching about the bondage of the will (thanks to the fall) or to Calvinism’s notion that Christ’s death was effective only for those God elected or predestined to save. One Kentucky preacher spoke for many Free Will Baptists and other democratic Protestants when he sniffed, “We are not personally acquainted with the writings of John Calvin, nor are we certain how nearly we agree with his views of divine truth; neither do we care.” And those words would likely have likely received support from Hillsdale College’s original board of trustees.

So why would Baptists like Mohler and Moore today find Calvinism to be a brand of Protestantism worthy of emulation? Why do we hear about Protestants like John Piper, the famous pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, being called a Calvinist or Reformed Baptist? Why not a Lutheran Baptist? Why is the former unexceptional but the latter – Lutheran Baptist – why does THAT sound oxymoronic? Isn’t Calvinist Baptist just as much of an oxymoron? After all, Calvinism has as many foreign Christian elements as Lutheranism. If Lutherans have funny views about baptism and the Lord’s Supper, so does Calvin. If Lutherans don’t sing revival hymns, Calvinists don’t even sing hymns – or at least they didn’t used to; they only sang psalms. And if Lutheranism has odd notions about church membership, Calvinism has its own set of difficulties for Protestants who prize congregational autonomy and rule by church members. It was Calvin, after all, who wrote an order for church government, conveniently excerpted in Hillsdale’s Western Heritage Reader, which lays down a precise Presbyterian polity that would drive Baptists, who thrive on congregational autonomy, batty.

Last summer a writer for the conservative journal, First Things, tried to account for Baptist preferences for Calvinism over Lutheranism. He observed that when Lutherans came to North America, they actually had a far more flexible form of church government than Calvinism. Yet the irony is that Lutheranism is associated much more than Calvinism with a fixed understanding of church organization, whereas Calvinism is associated almost exclusively with ideas not about the church but about salvation – as in the Five Points of Calvinism, or T-U-L-I-P. Gene Veith, academic dean at Patrick Henry College, and a Missouri Synod Lutheran himself, weighed in on the spectacle of Calvinstic Southern Baptists and argued that Lutheran theology cannot be detached from its understandings about the nature of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The same would have been said of Calvinism at least in the sixteenth century.

But by the time English Protestants had appropriated Calvinism, they had concocted an idea that could not only be severed from Calvin’s own views on the sacraments but also potentially from much having to do with Christianity. Indeed, a common occurrence among pundits in the United States and the United Kingdom is to associate Calvinism with aspects of modern life well beyond the church – politics, economics, education, science, art. In other words, quite apart from the merits or defects of Calvinism’s ideas – human sinfulness to the point of total depravity, the scope of the benefits of Christ’s death, and divine sovereignty in relation to human freedom – Calvinism has become for English-speakers a familiar term, even a brand, that makes it as easy to talk about the effects and influence of Calvin and Geneva as it does to talk about Thomas Jefferson and Jeffersonianism. Calvinism, no matter what it actually means, is a word with which most English-speakers are comfortable. In contrast, Lutheranism feels like a foreign word, sort of like Hegelianism. If you are going to drop that into a sentence or two to explain developments in the West, you better be sure you know what you are talking about. But with Calvinism, English-speakers know enough (they think) to use it to account for a host of world-wide developments, which again is strange since Lutheranism, the original Protestantism, did as much to disrupt Europe’s received patterns, and was as much on the ground floor of world-changing significance as Calvinism – perhaps even more so. After all, Calvin didn’t start to make things happen in Geneva – the 1540s – until the very last years of Martin Luther’s life.


141 thoughts on “Why Not Lutheranism?

  1. It ain’t Luther and Hobbes, is it? Nothing better to do, on a day off, than read my old comic books (not really comic books, technically), like “something under the bed is drooling,” or “scientific progress goes boink,” or “the calvin and Hobbes lazy Sunday book.” I still have the whole set. Ahh, nosaltgia….

    Thanks for the post, Darryl.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Probably for the same reason that Lutheranism has only ever really spread through state imposition and emigration. It’s distinctives are just not really very attractive to people, even Christians.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Darryl:

    Two desultory notes.

    1) In 1528, old Thomas Cranmer, Cambridgensian Fellow, Dr., and Professor at the time, was pondering Mr. (Bp.) John Fisher’s diatribe against Mr. (Rev. Dr. Prof.) Luther. Fisher was doing the academic lifting for Mr. (Henry VIII) Tudor. Old Thomas was not happy with Luther according to the marginalia in his copy of Mr. Fisher’s book (name eludes me now). Mr. Cranmer was a committed Concilarist and was against Petrine supremacy (like many Englishmen), but could not abide Mr., Luther’s comments about Councils. While Mr. Cranmer chides Mr. Luther on these points, he also comments on the over-the-top comments by Mr. Fisher (later to lose his head to old Henry). Hence, at this point, 1528, I don’t think Mr. Cranmer was involved with the White Horse Inn. That’s being held in abeyance. A point entirely off your main idea, other than to note the influence of Lutheranism’s expanding influence on early English Protestants.

    2) On another note. I well remember the musing, later anger, upon finding Mr. Martin Chemnitz’s volumes, the “Second Martin of the Reformation.” This was decades after some formal schooling. His work on the “Council of Trent,” that 3-volume set from CPH, should be mandatory reading by any in the Reformed world. Never mind these amnesiacal anti-Reformation folks in the Anglican Church in America, that would be another digression. But, pray tell, how did Mr. Chemnitz escape greater visibility? Alas, lest I be like the rude multitude in the wilderness wanderings, complaining, sniffling and whining, I give thanks for finding Chemnitz. All whining operations are hereby suspended. A must-have and must-read.

    3) Back to the books.

    Donald Philip Veitch

    PS…Happy Reformation Day 2013


  4. It’s distinctives are just not really very attractive to people, even Christians.

    I don’t know, Riley. I can think of one distinctive, usually measured in twelve-ounce units in this country, that is pretty attractive. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hate to scotch your argument Chort, but that really is small beer.
    Small potatoes, not so much. The Ref never came to Russia.
    As far as the OP, baptist community church evangelicals aren’t into liturgies and vestments. So puritan plainess wins out over medieval dress in ecclesiastical smocks (in the lutheran service I attended). And modern CCWM, announcements, jeans and RB glasses.


  6. Ah — Bob, me laddie. Contemporary worship has invaded many LCMS congregations. Why, the one local to me has two services — classic and contempo. And the emerg-vangelicals are getting more liturgical, high, and faux-ancient in some places. Images abound everywhere. It goes both ways, but it mostly gets worse. This is a funny world.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Chortles,

    And here’s the reformer himself on that fine contribution! D.G., this is the real reason neo-cals don’t call themselves Lutherans – they’re afraid of booze

    Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: “do not drink”, answer him: “I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.” One must always do what Satan forbids. What other cause do you think that I have for drinking so much strong drink, talking so freely and making merry so often, except that I wish to mock and harass the devil who is wont to mock and harass me.


  8. I believe 3 million compared to 30,000 is a hundred times larger, not 30 times. Or did you mean to say 1 million to 30,000?


  9. This sounds like “should have been, could have been” to me. The original Calvinism for which you wish has mostly been long gone for a while now, well before the “moderation” of the PCA.

    Reformed views of the “perseverance of the saints” can be assimilated into “eternal security”. There are more baptists than Lutherans, and these baptists won’t accept the Lutheran idea that Christians can stop being Christians, but the Mohler/Schreiner branch of the Southern Baptists can live with the idea that assurance of justification is conditioned on good works.

    Not enough Presbyterians know or believe Calvin’s “funny ideas about sacraments” to make them stick, but Lutherans in the pews really believe it when they say “means of grace”. And then also, there is the argument that the five points hang together, and since the Lutherans don’t believe in definite atonement, then they don’t really believe in imputed guilt or unconditional election either.

    (Ten Myths About Calvinism: Recovering the Breadth of the Reformed Tradition , Kenneth J. Stewart, IVP, 2011) Mr. Stewart seeks to exclude those he refers to as “thoroughly reformed” (p 15) as extremists. Even though they don’t call ourselves that, he will label them that and then find fault with their “primitivism”

    On p 93, Stewart tells us that “TULIP cannot be allowed to function as a creed”. This dogmatism about what cannot be allowed follows a caricature of those who use the acronym “tulip” for Dordt’s response to the five points of Arminius. Stewart writes as if “traditional Calvinists” were more concerned about the acronym than about the specific doctrines. He does this, even though on pages 94-95, he lists various five-point books which use different acronyms. Stewart accuses traditionalists of having a “Procrustean formula” (p 84) and also with being “uncritical”. Stewart’s criticism is itself uncritical. If you don’t join him in rejecting any emphasis on “limited atonement”, then you become guilty of defending the acronym.

    If some baptists who teach definite atonement insist on antithesis with universal and governmental notions of the atonement , Stewart tells us they are “strident” (AW Pink, p 280) and “contentious” and “belligerent” Stewart wants to return to the tradition which preceded the five points. But is it really true that those at Dordt saw the five points as only one of many versions of being Reformed?

    If Lutherans are to be included in a “modern reformation”, this will involve an exclusion of any baptist who won’t tolerate a propitiation that does not propitiate. Aiming at “accomodation” with Lutherans may very well be a reactionary reflex against one’s immediate origins (Arminian baptists), but that alliance cannot accomodate baptists who reject the Lutherans’ idea of an unviersal objective atonement.

    Stewart writes about the “adequacy and capaciousness” of the atonement to save the non-elect. But if the death of Christ does not save the non-elect, then it was not enough to save them. Since this is true, either God never intended the death of Christ to save the non-elect or (unacceptably) the death of Christ itself is not adequate to save anybody. (On this topic of “sufficiency”, I would recommend the book by baptist Tom Nettles, By His Grace and For His Glory, which is another five-point book not mentioned by Stewart.)

    Hart wants the baptists to go away, if not to the Lutherans, to the big evangelical melting pot out there away from the Reformed. (Hart wants this because he doesn’t much like the big melting pot which now calls itself Reformed) But Stewart worries the other direction— that the Reformed will end up in a marginalized “self-imposed ghetto”. He want us to learn to teach a gospel of which Tim Keller, CS Lewis, and the Arminians can approve.

    Stewart does manage to show that his kind of moderation and “balance” is not new in Reformed history. New School Presbyterians have always been a tolerant bunch, and the old school has at least often managed a way to tolerate the new school, since it confessionally has the essence of the Reformed faith.

    Could it be that we have ideology at work here and not history only? Even if we were to agree that Calvinists have not been as faithful to Calvin’s “funny ideas” as they “could have and should have” been, why not say that what we need now is more antithesis and fidelity” Now is the time for identity religion, not generic religion.

    The Reformed tradition is a good thing, we are told, but then Stewart warns us that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Those who pose as relativists always tell us this, even as they are in the very act of attempting to change our notions of what is “moderate”.


  10. Riley, they’re German Ukranians aren’t they? Russia proper never had a national protestant church/the Russian Orthodox is another case of semper eadem, though the lies and enthusiasm for it have never matched certain newbs in favor of its western alter ego.


  11. “Probably for the same reason that Lutheranism has only ever really spread through state imposition and emigration. It’s distinctives are just not really very attractive to people, even Christians.”

    Right on.

    They are NOT attractive to people. They really solely on God’s work in Word and sacrament and leave NONE of it up to the sinner.

    This is the MOST Lutheran sermon that I have ever heard:


    And it’s one of the best at putting everything in Christ’s corner.


  12. McMark, “Hart wants the baptists to go away, if not to the Lutherans, to the big evangelical melting pot out there away from the Reformed. (Hart wants this because he doesn’t much like the big melting pot which now calls itself Reformed) But Stewart worries the other direction— that the Reformed will end up in a marginalized “self-imposed ghetto”.”

    But I’m in the land of chocolate — the OPC, small, marginal, and unattractive. Heaven on earth.


  13. The last OPC meeting for worship I attended had nothing uniquely Reformed about it, not in the music or the sermon on the prayers. Fundamentalist baptists still meet on Sundays. But this does not prove anything about OPC congregations in the aggregate.

    Of course I know that you know the problems the OPC in terms of maintaining a “justified already by grace” identity. I can see how it bothers you that baptists who would never attend an OPC nevertheless presume to call themselves “Reformed” when they are not anymore “Reformed” than they are Lutheran.

    That OPC congregation had way more Piper books in the entrance than it did books by Machen or Hart. But I did see one book by Martin Luther….

    The next time you recommend that the baptists try the Lutherans and leave the Reformed alone, consider why you yourself are not yet Lutheran. Did you ever write out the reasons why? Would it be a courtesy to the baptists for you to include these cautions?

    At the end of the day, we need to do a little more than say that the “other” has funny (or zwinglian) ideas about the bread and cup….


  14. “To illustrate Calvinism’s appeal – again which is hard to believe because of its associations with teaching total depravity and predestination, thus qualifying for Mencken’s cabinet of horrors – think back to this past summer when Baptists of all people, Southern Baptists specifically, received a report about the propriety of Calvinism within the Southern Baptist Convention…”

    GW: This is an interesting comment. If total depravity and predestination are “horrors,” then they aren’t Calvinist horrors only, but Lutheran ones as well. While obviously Lutheranism does not affirm all the petals of the Calvinist TULIP, it denies that fallen man has free will (i.e., it recognizes a form of what we Reformed would call “total depravity”), and it affirms sovereign unconditional election (i.e., it holds the “T” and the “U,” but denies the “L” and the “P”; not sure what it does with the “I”). After all, was it not Luther, the double-predestinarian Augustinian monk turned Reformer, who wrote “The Bondage of the Will”?

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to watch the uber-confused eeeeevangelical world rediscover these Lutheran distinctives and begin a “Sovereign Grace Lutheran” (Young, Restless & Lutheran?) movement? (Not that that would ever happen, but it’s fun to think about.)


  15. small, marginal, and unnatractive…Heaven on earth

    Would that oldlife become this way as well (emoticon). I stick around to keep this website unattractive.

    Genius, Darryl!


  16. Mcmark, you can rest assured. Way too much Hart and Machen going on in my OPC….the one you went to was our counterbalance, or something.

    It was actually kind of weird learning “Fighting the good fight” in Sunday school last summer, then to find that author out here in the flesh (if such a thing exists over the interwebs).

    Anyway, don’t let one OPC get you down. I’ve been a part of three different ones now, different though they were, I got the same teaching by and large. Thanks for sharing your experience of it, here, with us. Take care.


  17. I’m not sure there’s any Lutheran equivalent to Bible Presbyterians. Carl McIntire and Francis Schaefer are why Calvinism. So in a way, isn’t it the OPC that’s to blame?

    Exhibit A:

    Old Tyme Bible Hour:


  18. I noticed that there was no mention of 2k as a reason for the rejection of Lutheranism. That seems to to be a biggie as far as I can tell. Americans have liked to marry their religion with politics since the colonial times – haven’t they? Would you please chime in on this, Dr. Hart?


  19. How is the OPC to blame for Schaffer, the Bible Presbyterians, and other Christendom culture partisans? Falwell was an egocentric liar without any help from the OPC.

    At least at this one point, the Bible Presyberians were more in line with the Christendom thinking of Calvin than the OPC. And I say this in praise of the OPC.

    Of course there are different kinds of “2k”. To the extent that we agree that both Luther and Calvin are two kingdom, we also need to agree that there was/ is a version of 2k which approves of Constantinianism. If there are no “god and country” Lutherans even here in America Lily, then that truly is a wonderful thing….


  20. McMark,

    Lutheranism is not adverse to serving in the vocation of a soldier or serving in a political vocation in the government, nor is it opposed to monarchies or love for one’s nation. At it’s best, Lutheranism doesn’t confuse the two kingdoms.


  21. Sorry, gotta throw a flag on all this Lutheran love. Being on the wrong side ethnically in both world wars had to make it a little easier not to wave the flag in this country. And Lutherans’ church-state record may not be quite so stellar in, ahem, Germany.


  22. Lily, that may have something to do with it. But when you look at how American Presbyterians and Baptists have affirmed separation of church and state, I can’t understand why 2k would spook English-speaking Protestants — unless, of course, you’ve gone culture warrior.


  23. CW, Lily, and McMark, but the silence of Lutherans in the U.S. about Christian America is remarkable, especially when after those world wars, you might want to fit in by affirming America’s redemptive character.


  24. Thanks, DGH. Perhaps, the way confessional lutheran 2k is integrated with the teaching on vocation helps explain the difference. Our focus is on serving our neighbor through our vocations in this world and a clear preaching of law and gospel. It seems to lead to living quiet lives that tend to not get caught up in the latest Christian fads. Confessional lutheran 2k would prevent us from thinking America is redemptive vs Christ alone.

    I would also guess that our belief that Christ died for the whole world rather than limited atonement makes a difference in our views. If I remember correctly, the only thing we agree with in the TULIP is total depravity, so that may make many differences in how we live out our earthly lives and view redemption vs Calvinistic beliefs. Not to mention the role of the sacraments.

    Chortles, your comment shows a lack of understanding of the history of confessional Lutheranism. It is not the equivalent of the state churches or liberal Lutherans.


  25. Lily, lack of understanding is a way of life with me. Mea culpa. But it’s fair to point out that Lutheranism is not so genetically wonderful that it is impervious to modern problems. If you make that assertion you sound like a Caller. We don’t contend that just having a good confession or an admirable lineage is enough.


  26. Lily, all true and admirable, but like the neo-Cals and Catholics you guys also have day schools, which seems to suggest that not all the culturalism is shaken off. Then again, like the neos and Cats, those schools tend to be top flight. See, 2k Calvinists can be charitable in the midst of criticism.


  27. It’s nice to see a Lutheran (Lily) not claim to believe four of the tulip points. I know one Lutheran who claims to believe all five.

    Berger’s bias: “they solemnly promised to witness to their faith and to live a godly life—even if they should know that they were predestined to go to hell” .

    Peter Berger can’t document that. It’s a myth. Who are the “they”? Not only can nobody before death know that they are non-elect, but it is possible for those who believe the gospel to know that they are elect. A Kantian self-less-ness is not commanded by the gospel of unconditional election and definite effective atonement.

    Nor is the puritan “practical syllogism” inherent in the gospel taught by John Calvin, since he equated faith with assurance of salvation. Since you cannot know what you will do tomorrow, it makes no sense to seek assurance in what you are doing today. Assurance and gratitude are the motives of works which are acceptable to God (not as conditional and necessary for extra blessings outside of Christ). Of course the Weber thesis does not take the true gospel into account.


  28. @Chortles

    You seem to be channeling the Baylys…judging Lutheranism on its alleged complicity n the Holocaust. Never mind that Hitler was most popular in the Catholic regions of Germany. Lutherans also had a role in drafting the Barmen Declaration, although the Reformed like to take exclusive credit for it.


  29. @Lily

    You seem to make a good point. In America, Calvinism has generally been open to embracing the Constantinian impulse. The 2k trends in Reformed circles seem to have only sprung up once theonomy’s silliness showed that the Constantinian emperor had no clothes. (And, no, I’m not trying to make a reference to certain theonomists who have a penchant for public nudity.)


  30. Lilly, just curious about your comment concerning “TULIP”:

    “… If I remember correctly, the only thing we agree with in the TULIP is total depravity, so that may make many differences in how we live out our earthly lives and view redemption vs Calvinistic beliefs …”

    While understand that Lutherans embrace the concept of Total Depravity (as I would like to think so do all Protestants, though I know better), I would assume that so do they agree with Unconditional Election. Here’s a clip from Article 6 of the Canons of Dort on the matter:

    “… The fact that some receive from God the gift of faith within time, and that others do not, stems from his eternal decision. For “all his works are known to God from eternity” (Acts 15:18; Ephesians 1:11). In accordance with this decision he graciously softens the hearts, however hard, of his chosen ones and inclines them to believe, but by his just judgment he leaves in their wickedness and hardness of heart those who have not been chosen. And in this especially is disclosed to us his act–unfathomable, and as merciful as it is just–of distinguishing between people equally lost. This is the well-known decision of election and reprobation revealed in God’s Word. This decision the wicked, impure, and unstable distort to their own ruin, but it provides holy and godly souls with comfort beyond words …”

    Seems to me that this verbiage overlaps perfectly with what I know about Lutheran doctrine, that our ruination is our own choice; our salvation is a gift of God not of our own doing. To think otherwise is Arminianism, which is what the CoD were all about. The rest of the canons (L,I,&P) are, of course, a point of contention with the confessional Lutherans.


  31. Aye, Chortles, there is no perfect church since we are but sinners saved by grace.

    Hmm… Zrim. Whatcha got against confessional church cultures? I’d dare say the OPC has one too. As for schools, thank you for the compliment. Have you considered that these schools are a wonderful way to serve our neighbors and offer the gospel – both to our members and nonmembers. It’s not unusual for non-religious families to send their children to lutheran schools and then become members down the road. Stealth evangelism. 😉

    Still thinking about your comments, DGH. I’m not thinking confessional Lutheranism cares about fitting in, religiously speaking, and is more interested in preserving it’s confession and it’s proclamation of the clear gospel. I would point you back to Walther and the early history of the LCMS, and then to Hermann Sasse’s role in confessional Lutheranism before, during, and after WWII. They are clearly not interested in popularity contests or a national profile, but faithful Lutheranism. Their legacies are still at work.

    I would remind you how much confessional Lutheranism is loathe to being forced to merge with Calvinism. Those forced mergers are a lesson learned that does continue to color our views. How familiar are you with Sasse? Sasse is brilliant on preserving our confession in difficult times (eg: during and after nazism), church relations with other confessions, and so forth post WWII. Much can be learned from Sasse now that we are facing a state that is more and more unfriendly towards our beliefs. Matt Harrison is extremely well versed in Sasse . I think he is not only is well read in Sasse, but has also translated some of his work, so we are blessed with an astute synod president for our times. Does that help shine any light?


  32. Lily, that’s what neo-Cals say. But here’s where Reformed according to Scripture might trip you both up: where’s the biblical warrant for church culture or it as a vehicle for the gospel? Aren’t Word and sacrament sufficient for the task? Of course, that’s more a problem for neos who claim the Reformed tradition than Lutherans who don’t.


  33. McMark, I dare say you know a very confused person who doesn’t understand basic confessional differences between the Calvinists and Lutherans.

    Bobby, in general, confessional Lutheranism seems a little bit better than Calvinism in understanding the need for good fences in order to be good neighbors (confessionally speaking). I find the churches’ history during WWII fascinating, too.

    George, Lutherans don’t believe the Calvinist version of unconditional election because we don’t believe double predestination. We believe in single predestination. Also, confessionally speaking, we would say it is the bondage of the will, not total depravity.


  34. P.S. DGH, I didn’t mean for my last comment to you to sound bossy or know it all, but I’m afraid it did. Apologies for that.


  35. Too funny, Zrim. Here’s the lutheran answer for you: where is it prohibited? An age old difference between us! ;D


  36. Too funny, Zrim. Do remember that’s a difference between reformed and lutheran? The lutheran answer is: where is it prohibited? ;D


  37. Lily, sure. But that dictum puts you all closer to the eeeevangelicals, from worship to Christian culture. While where-is-it-prohibited may yield dignified ritual, it also yields undignified geetar solos. Not to sound Callerish, but at least the regulative and prescriptive approach give us a principled way to avoid all the extra-biblical build up and silliness whether dignified or not.


  38. True, Zrim. It is easier to not allow for any liberty in worship services and the choices in some of our lutheran churches have caused great grief. Our BOC does address important topics like preaching and the sacraments in the Divine service, but not all things. At it’s best, Lutheranism is silent where God is silent, so that gives liberty, which is not necessarily a bad thing. All good things can be abused.

    But we were originally talking about church culture not worship, sooo I still believe the reformed have their own church culture which does not seem like a necessarily bad characteristic… Eh?


  39. Lily, the Reformed do have a culture (it’s inevitable among human beings religious or not), but from where this Calvinist sits it’s not necessarily good. Isn’t what aligns with the provisional order supposed to diminish among the eternally oriented? Otherwise, what’s it mean to seek a better country? Isn’t it a form of this-worldliness to nurture and affirm what we’re calling “church culture”?


  40. True, that all human beings create cultures, and some cultures are surely better than others. I think I understand your point, but it seems to go too far in one direction and forgets the numerous scriptures that address how we deal with one another and I don’t see how church cultures should be other worldly? For example, the scripture says that those who do not take care of their own household’s needs are worse than pagans (paraphrase). Or how we treat others is how we treat Christ (another paraphrase). Or the warnings about becoming so heavenly minded that we are no longer of earthly good. The church has many members who need our service in diverse ways (eg: patience with small children or disabled persons during the divine service).

    I guess I see participating in the church culture I have been given to be a member of as normal. The lutheran focus on living our Christian lives out through our vocations (eg: serving others as a spouse, parent, citizen, church member, etc) prevents us from not getting our hands involved in the cultures we live in and getting too heavenly minded. We have neighbors to serve and church members are a part of our family that we need to care for. Lutheranism is a very earthy confession. Even the Divine service is one about giving, in that Christ has come to serve us through the preaching of his Word and Sacrament. I hope this makes sense.


  41. Lily, it does. But when I refer to church culture, I’m not talking about the life that comes in being members of the household of faith, which is to say, yes, we do take care of each other’s needs, etc. I’m talking about all those facets of creation that need no baptizing being baptized. School, for example, is an aspect of creation, not redemption. If the church is the agent of redemption, she really has no interest in it. But once she assumes a creational task, she is doing the world’s work and is distracted from her redemptive calling. That’s likely what you think is being too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good. But it seems to me this is what naturally flows from a doctrine of the spirituality of the church.


  42. Lily, have you met Richard from the UK, who writes: “My concern about reversible apostasy is that, if we take ourselves out of God’s hands in apostasy, then is it not us who must bring ourselves back in (unlike our ‘first’ conversion when God acts monergistically)? Or is it a repeated sequence of man-rebellion and God-rescue? If so, this begins to sound like the Catholic desperate need for final absolution. As I said elsewhere, I see myself as a TULIP Lutheran….”


  43. On second thought, Lily, Jason Loh might be a better example of a “tulip Lutheran”

    jason: “Luther’s proclamation is sacramental, i.e. “I forgive you” — & therefore personalistic. The Incarnate God’s “desire to save” is hence limited to proclamation which cannot be turned into a theological principle (abstracted and universalised). Proclamation is not a word about God but *from* God, a performative word which does what it says and says what it does. Re ectypal theology, Luther’s approach is different vis-a-vis the Hidden and Revealed God. It’s not about different knowledge about God but different existential encounter *with* God. The Hidden God is *beyond* understanding. The Revealed God has bound Himself to the Word and Sacraments.”


  44. “Isn’t Calvinist Baptist ….. an oxymoron?”

    I agree and went onto Jeremy Walker’s website to suggest the same, hopefully more gently – he has joined the Ref 21 line-up sometime in the recent past – just to make the point that Calvinism is more than the so called 5 points, its as much a polity, way of worship, understanding of the sacraments as the 5 points. However far better a “Calvinistic” Baptist than a “Free will” (Arminian) one.

    Personally, if I wasn’t Reformed the next best thing is Lutheranism, though unfortunately in the case of those who consider themselves Luther’s true heirs, is moving in a Romeward direction.


  45. Zrim, I misunderstood what you were saying. If I understand what you are saying, the church should only have a worship service and nothing more? If so, it will still necessarily have the creation duties of administration. I’m not sure that the purity you are looking for is possible. Any service or charity given to your members will fall into the creation category.

    I would not agree that there is any baptizing of our schools or any other services that our church is involved in. Theses activities are part of the life of the church in service to its members and the community it is located in. This would include the true religion of caring for widows and orphans, which is a creation task… so I guess I’m not understanding your disagreement with these things.


  46. No, McMark, I do not know your friends. They sound like people who don’t understand the contradictions in the names they make up for themselves. But that isn’t unusual, numerous people are cafeteria style Christians.


  47. David Palmer, true Lutheranism has always been accused of being too Roman Catholic. Luther sought to reform the RC from within and did not seek to create a new church. The lutheran church came into being because the RC excommunicated him. He didn’t throw out the baby with the bath water when he reformed the theology, so yes, there are many things that have been retained.


  48. Hey Lily…
    I am a ‘tulip’ Lutheran. There are actually quite a few of us.
    Now, as to your ‘single predestination’ idea, I wonder if you have truly considered it?
    If God is the only enlightening agent able to illuminate us with His truth(a la the small catechism), why doesn’t He enlighten ALL people? Why are so many ‘passed’ by God’s illuminating grace.
    It’s their fault, you might say. Well, how can they respond to teh Gospel if God has chosen not to illuminate them? That spells double-predestination, Lily. God calls His sheep and they come to Him. All others are left in sin, God choosing not to enlighten their souls with their need for the Gospel.
    And of course, God holds His sheep to the end, even through dark paths and dark days. Our Lord said so, in spite of what LCMsers might contend.
    It’s always funny to me when they go on about how Calvinists have no ‘assurance’ of being among the elect, and they think this is just a horrible burden to bear, yet THEY say that a true Christian can lose his/her faith(no perseverance), which seems to me an even greater burden, a constant fear that bedevils some Lutherans all the days of their earthly life.
    I guess, because of LCMs’ belief in baptismal regeneration, they HAVE to believe, in spite of our Lord’s words, that many people CAN be snatched out of His hands, because so many fall from their baptism. It would be better for Lutherans to hold to presumptive baptismal regeneration, rather than absolute baptismal regeneration. Then they wouldn’t have to rely on that useful word ‘paradox’ so often.
    I love my Lutheran brethren, but sometimes they are so foolish, mainly because they don’t want to have anyone mistake them for those wicked Calvinists. All because of the hatred created, stirred over the centuries, and still slurped up in the Concordias re: old political histories.

    Here’s that bit (with which communicant members of the LCMS must agree)from Luther’s small catechism, btw:

    “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.”


  49. Read the Second London Confession of Faith (1689) side-by-side with the Westminster Confession of Faith, and it is really not difficult to understand why English speaking particular Baptists historically identify themselves with the English speaking Calvinists in the Westminster tradition. There are no comparable parallels between Baptists or other independents and Lutherans — certainly not in the English speaking world.


  50. Lily, the point is to have limitations, not impoverishment. If we’re following the prescriptive principle then there is clearly place for the care of orphans and widows, etc. But if it’s the be-all-things-to-all-men principle, what keeps the church from not stopping at schools and providing any number of creational needs like healthcare and athletics?

    I think it was Godfrey who said if the church doesn’t build hospitals (insert schools here as well, though his Kuyperianism may resist), somebody else will, but if the church doesn’t preach the gospel, nobody else will. The point is nobody needs the church to create community, it will naturally arise. But what the world needs is the church doing her simple gospel task. That doesn’t preclude the church from serving her members or her wider community whatsoever. All it means is that she has a particular task and it’s limited for good reason.


  51. Lily, I know something about Sasse. But I should read more.

    I guess one point is that for every Sasse in Lutheranism you can find a Machen in Calvinism. But how representative are either of the drift of their respective traditions.

    I do think Lutherans not being of Anglo-American stock have had trouble assimilating to the U.S. compared to Anglo-American communions.


  52. Darryl, so true about the drifts in our respective confessions, though I suppose that is part of the need for continually contending for the faith. I think the confessional Lutherans, most likely, far outnumbered the confessional Reformed for most of our history. I’m guessing that may be, in part, because we have one confession vs. the variety held by different Reformed communions so there wasn’t as much unity?

    At present, we have been fortunate to have strong confessional leadership restored in the LCMS and there is growing interest in Sasse, I’m guessing that some of the interest may be because of the times we are now in. May both our tribes increase!

    In part, I agree with your observation about the Lutherans not assimilating as quickly as the Anglo American communions. Some of it, obviously, was language, but I think some of it was deliberate. I think Lutherans were aware of the deep difference in our confession vs. American Christianity which becomes very noticeable when it comes to worship and practice. That may be evidenced, perhaps, by all non-Lutherans being labeled Reformed.

    Machen and Sasse! Two formidable men! If you haven’t already read it, you might enjoy starting with volume I of “The Lonely Way.” Or perhaps someone else, like Matt Harrison, could make a better suggestion. Here’s a short interview with Harrison on the topic of Sasse:



  53. Zrim, while I agree that it is foolish for the church to think it can be all things, I think your worry over these things a bit worrisome! Probably because I wholeheartedly support local lutheran schools under parish supervision and see them as a tangible blessings for church members and their communities.

    I suppose Lutherans don’t worry about preaching a clear gospel because we are fortunate to have many to whom it is as natural as breathing… But then again, we are the Christian liberty loving folk rather than the prescriptive loving folk, too.

    P.S. We also offer athletics and it’s a hoot to play the RC schools. Can’t resist giving you a tough time on this school topic! ;D


  54. But, Lily, the prescriptive is exactly what ensures liberty, as in the Bible doesn’t command schools so refrain from building them in the name of the Christian religion and tempting implications of impiety for those that don’t participate.

    PS I wonder it’s as fun watching church culturalists compete as it is culture warriors fight.


  55. I enjoyed the article and the distinctions that were made. From the standpoint of accurately expressing the nuances of reformation ecclesiology, your point is well taken. In the (particularly American) colloquial standpoint, however, it misses the point. “Reformed” and/or “Calvinistic” Baptists are usually neither in the classic sense. Nonetheless, we Americans regularly take words and make them our own. A good example is when we say something has “morphed” into something else. Of course those who are careful, in the sense of lexical meaning, know that “change” is found in the “meta” and not the “morph.” Nevertheless, if I said someone “meta-ed,” I would get strange looks from my uninformed hearers. In much the same way, “Calvinist” (which clearly means a great deal more than an American reader might infer from the term) is a synonym for one of hundreds of “flavors” within the TULIP tradition. “Lutheran” on the other hand is read more as a term of art – one that narrowly defines people who are part of that denominational family. The unfortunate reality is that “Calvinism” (and “Reformed” for that matter) has been distilled to a single common denominator (i.e., a soteriological identity) and is not recognized in its more pregnant fullness. Hence, “Calvinist” has taken on a nearly exclusive adjectival weight, and Lutheran is understood in a more nominal way.


  56. Talking about “tulip baptists” and even “tulip lutherans” makes me want to ask if there are any “tulip unionists”?

    Click to access Was%20Calvin%20a%20Calvinist-12-26-09.pdf

    Of course, we are all “unionists”, if that means we get to define “union”. Certainly I believe that all the justified are in Christ and that Christ is in all the justified. But if “unionist” means saying that participation in Christ is the central dogma, then no, I don’t want to take sides with Albert Schweitzer .

    So are there any “tulip unionists”? Many folks can redefine the t in tulip but want no part of the l.


  57. The Lutheran Church also adopted a 5-Point counter to T.U.L.I.P. and S.C.U.R.F. following the Canon of Dort.

    The 5-Points of Lutheranism (T.U.U.R.F.) as taught within the LCMS, WELS, CLC, ALC, UCC, ELCA, and etc..

    Three Views of Divine Election (LCMS publication)


    T otal Depravity (Gen. 6:5, Gen. 8:21, Jer. 17:9, Eph. 2:1, 1 Cor. 2:14, Rom. 5:12, Rom. 7:18, Rom. 8:7)
    U nconditional Election (Gen. 25:23, Rom. 8:29-34, Rom. 9:6-13, Eph. 1:3-6, Col. 3:12, 2 Thess. 2:13)
    L imited Atonement
    I rresistible Grace
    P erseverance of the Saints

    Conclusion: This is a logical system, but the last three letters of TULIP are not Biblical. The far most damaging teaching here is that God deliberately elects and chooses eternal damnation for people which stands in direct contradiction to Holy Scripture.


    S ynergism
    C onditional Election
    U nlimited Atonement (Rom. 3:28-29, Ezekiel 33:11, John 1:29, John 3:16, 1 Tim. 2:3-4, 1 John 2:2)
    R esistible Grace (Jer. 26:1-9, Ez. 2:1-8, Matt. 11:20-24, Matt. 23:37, Luke 18:22-23, Acts 7:51)
    F allibility of the Saints 1 Kings 11:9, 1 Tim. 1:19-20, 1 Tim. 6:10, 2 Tim. 2:16-18, Heb. 6:4-6, Rev. 3:1-16)

    Conclusion: This also is a logical theological system, but the first two letters of SCURF are incorrect. Here the danger is that people believe that they are partly responsible for their conversion and life of faith. This will eventually lead to pride and works righteousness.


    T otal Depravity (Gen. 6:5, Gen. 8:21, Jer. 17:9, Eph. 2:1, 1 Cor. 2:14, Rom. 5:12, Rom. 7:18, Rom. 8:7)
    U nconditional Election (Gen. 25:23, Rom. 8:29-34, Rom. 9:6-13, Eph. 1:3-6, Col. 3:12, 2 Thess. 2:13)
    U nlimited Atonement (Rom. 3:28-29, Ezekiel 33:11, John 1:29, John 3:16, 1 Tim. 2:3-4, 1 John 2:2)
    R esistible Grace (Jer. 26:1-9, Ez. 2:1-8, Matt. 11:20-24, Matt. 23:37, Luke 18:22-23, Acts 7:51)
    F allibility of the Saints (1 Kings 11:9, 1 Tim. 1:19-20, 1 Tim. 6:10, 2 Tim. 2:16-18, Heb. 6:4-6, Rev. 3:1-16)

    Conclusion: This is not completely logical according to humanity’s sense of reason, but it is Biblical. This is precisely why it is often not received. The great blessing here is that when a person comes to faith, God receives the glory. It is the result of the awesome and mighty working of the Holy Spirit. When a person does not receive the faith, it is their own fault.


  58. Open Arms Parochial Schools are for Christian education without the influence of government imposed atheism theology and evolutionary promotion. Christian education precedes secular achievements in what the “state” deems important. The Obama administration sued the LCMS for letting go of an instructor who became unstable in one of our Open Arms Parochial Schools. The lawsuit was based on EEOC regulations saying a teacher or instructor isn’t performing a religious function, so a religious objection can’t be made to remove any individuals who aren’t ordained clergy. The LCMS took the Obama administration to the US Supreme Court and won the case; and established our rights within the LCMS to discipline and terminate employment within our schools based on our religious affiliation.

    Lutherans operate the 2nd largest parochial school system in the US, behind the See of Rome.


  59. The Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) was established under a charter drafted by Dr. Martin Luther, voted into existence by the Electors of Saxony, appointed by the Holy Roman Empire, under the Augsburg Confession of 1530. Martin Luther’s ministry continued in the EKD until his death.The EKD is the 1st chartered conglomerate Protestant congregations to ever exist.

    John Calvin began setting-up government sponsored charters so that Reformed theology could also establish a legalized worship, just like the Protestants. He was most successful in 1559 when several confessions were accepted and chartered legally operational congregations. The Belgic Confession of 1559 being one of the most quoted and popular for instance. The Protestant-Reformed congregations were essentially in a race to charter congregations throughout Europe where ever the See of Rome was rejected.

    Following the death of Luther, the Phillipists introduced Calvinists points of view to the EKD and many of the doctrines were challenged. Luther’s view of “sacramental union” in the Eucharist was changed to consubstantiation, for instance. Ardent followers of Luther challenged the leadership of the EKD and split from it under the Triglotta Concordance of 1580 (Book of Concord). The Electors of Saxony sanctioned the charter of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany. Dr. Martin Luther was never technically alive when an official “Lutheran” Church was established.

    The Prussian Union conquered Luther’s establishment in the 1800’s. The EKD fell under direct civil and secular control. The now government ran EKD forced Protestant-Reformed congregations to merge together, against their wills. These two theologies were forced to reconcile their differences and merge on common ground. This created disunity among those “confessionally” faithful to their native theology and resentment developed against either side who won out on specific issues. Confessional Luther fled the region, which included other provinces, states, or countries in the region that also conducted similar activity to that of the Prussian Union.

    Prussian Lutherans fled to establish the Evangelical Synod of Missouri (LCMS); Germanic (ambigous) Lutherans fled to establish the Evangelical Synod of Wisconsin (WELS); Scandinavian Lutherans fled to establish the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod of Illinois & Wisconsin; and Norwegian Lutherans fled to establish the General Synod of Pennsylvania (ULCA). The Prussian Union establish the German Evangelical Synod of America to challenge Confessional Lutheranism on US soil, which now operates under the name (UCC) United Church of Christ. The UCC has been working with the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI to be considered for status as a “Rite” within the See of Rome. The EKD for the most part functions under the name UCC at the congregational level, while Germany still exercises control over the EKD as an ecumenical Church registration and management tool.

    The Roman-Catholic, Adolf Hitler, was able to use his religious majority to win a third of the German vote to win election as an alternative (essentially 3rd party) plurality. He utilized the EKD to diminish religious effectiveness in Germany. He won support from the Pope and Vatican by slaughtering the Lutherans and Jews that survived centuries of Papal Bull Inquisitions. Lutheran Reverend, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, made a failed attempt at assassinating Hitler to save the lives of Lutherans and Jews alike. He was however, successful at establishing an underground Confessional Lutheran movement that smuggled intelligence to Allied Forces, and attempted to hold Lutheran congregations together. Many Confessional Lutherans are torn on the substance of Bonhoeffer, because his early ministry was socially liberal under the EKD, but the advancement of the NAZI made him more conservative and focused on a more rooted and confessional theology. Unlike the gloating seen with exterminating Jews, the Lutherans had to be exterminated quietly, to prevent the general public from turning against the NAZI.

    Arminianism flooded Lutheran seminaries throughout the US and most other denominations as well throughout the 1950’s. This was mainly through Dutch, Scandinavian, and Norwegian congregations that were more heavily influenced by Arminianism. Lutheran schism developed between the free-will (Pelagianism) or Arminians and Confessional Lutherans, with many Synods splitting from unity. The 1970’s Seminex walkout was another example of Confessional Lutherans weeding out Arminianism from its ranks. Confessional Lutherans have become more proficient at dealing with Arminianism and has a watchdog approach to monitoring congregations and seminaries, some say this creates too much centralized power and authority (papal), but voting in the Synodical President is still a function of the Synods throughout the US, who themselves are voted-in by the Districts, who themselves are voted-in by the Congregations. I personally disagree with the papal argument at the LCMS, because congregations simply have too much control. The LCMS has removed funding from congregations that have left the faith and refuse to acknowledge the Lutheran Confessions of 1530 and 1580.

    In the US, the ELCA and UCC, are largely Arminian (non-Lutheran to the point of bashing Luther himself) and practice open-communion with the Episcopal-Methodist, United Methodist, and possibly anyone from off the street… The UCC & ELCA are most responsible for the Arminian students who enrolled into the Lutheran Seminaries, causing the 1970’s Seminex walk-out.


  60. The Holy See of Rome appointed, Andreas Rudolph Bodenstein von Karlstadt, to the Evangelical ministry from the Catholic Church to serve as the Dean of Theology, Wittenberg University (All Saints Cathedral’s “Castle Church” monastery). It was Andreas Karlstadt who handled the ordination of Martin Luder to the position of Dr. Martin Luther professor of theology at Wittenberg University. Andreas Karlstadt and Martin Luther were excommunicated together in 1521.

    While Martin Luther went on to draft a charter at Augsburg to establish the 1st Protestant congregations under the new EKD (Evangelical Church of Germany); Andreas Karlstadt went on to form the Congregationalist Church, but Saxon officials rejected any notion of approving these congregations under a charter. Saxony didn’t want competing theologies, since Catholic-Protestants and See of Rome-Catholics were too much to deal with as it was. Andreas Karlstadt was exiled and traveled to French and Scandinavian controlled areas, where he met John Calvin. Just before Andreas Karlstadt died, he moved back to Saxony and was taken into protection by Martin Luther himself, until his death.

    Andreas Karlstadt’s Congregationalist Church movement spread quickly and many of its followers adopted John Calvin as a central figure in its theological understanding, since the Congregationalist saw John Calvin as a late student of Karlstadt, not unlike Luther once was. The Dutch, Scottish, and Irish influence within the Congregationalist Churches brought some aspects of Episcopal-Anglicanism (Church of England) to the theology, resulting in the formation of the 1st generation of Presbyterian Churches (presbyter ecclesiastical hierarchy). So, this is the link between the founding of the Congregationalist/Presbyterian Churches under Karlstadt; and of the Evangelical/Lutheran Churches under Martin Luther.


  61. In terms of (T.U.U.R.F.)

    For Lutherans atonement takes on two forms “universal atonement” under baptism and “vicarious atonement” under the Eucharist. I used the 1984 “blue” catechism under the subject of atonement for a general overview. My personal approach to explaining this is below and not quoted from the catechism itself. I don’t have my catechism with me now, so I’m doing this from general memory.

    Lutherans denounce the Council of Trent position that depravity to original sin no longer exists following baptism under “universal atonement”. Lutherans also denounce the Council of Trent position that “vicarious atonement” is more of a focus on venial sins.

    Universal atonement is God’s covenant promise in baptism to instill a lasting faith, in the form of a pure gift from God, no will of the individual is in play. This is why infants are covered by the full armor of God under infant baptism, in addition to blocking demonic possession of the body, regardless of age.

    Vicarious atonement is the use of the “free-will” experienced where the Holy Spirit makes himself present through our baptism. No baptism, no “free-will” exists for God’s faith to remain. It’s in the Eucharist that our vicarious atonement takes place, which atones in full for all sins. The focus of vicarious atonement is our sinning against the Holy Spirit, which means sinning against our baptism. Participation in these two covenant promises of atonement is where Lutherans derive our basis for unconditional election. Lutherans are very specific that spiritual “free-will” isn’t the same as cognitive or logical free-will experienced in carrying out tasks. Under Lutheran “free-will” you’re a slave to Christ, when and where the Holy Spirit stirs; we however remain in depravity under original sin so long as we occupy our flesh. Lutherans believe we are insufficient to choose God by any means, so when we have spiritual “free-will” we can only remain in the faith that’s already present or fall from our faith by way of our access to the “free-will”. A Lutheran should be aware of whether or not they’ve denounced God in some way, shape, form, or fashion (otherwise we remain confident in our eternal election).

    I’m not a scholarly theologian so I would highly recommend verifying the precision of this against how an actual Lutheran pastor would explain it. Reverend Jordan Cooper at Just & Sinner is a good source for comparing Lutheran and Calvinist views on election and atonement. Some of his publications cover the broad spectrum of popular-Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism, or Calvin himself in traditional Reformed approach to the subject; so you may need to be picky with the article you select from his archive. He sometimes addresses falsehoods attributed to Calvin that were never part of Calvin’s own interpretation; because these may also overlap with similar falsehoods attributed to Luther as well.


  62. Thanks for the link to Pastor Harrison’s blog, Dan. I don’t get to read his posts as often as I would like. I greatly appreciate that he consistently posts solid theology and trustworthy scholarship.

    I can’t recommend the blog, Just and Sinner, because it often has inaccuracies in its posts. One example of its inaccuracies, is saying Lutherans agree with the U in the tulip. We do not because of double predestination. An important distinction.


  63. Ephesians 1:9-11–” making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…”

    “All things were created for Christ”. (Colossians 1:16) Christ “is before all things” (Colossians 1:17).

    Lutherans (and others who say that Christ died for every sinner) think that they honor Christ by saying that the decree for Christ to die is before the decree to elect some sinners. They claim in this way to put Christ before election.

    Lutherans also want to equate election with preaching and with the eucharist. Instead of believing in a finished atonement that happened back then and there at the cross, they want to teach an atonement that is happening now, an atonement is conditioned on what God is now doing in the sinner. They cannot teach that the High Priest has already finished the atonement only for the specific sins of the elect, because they condition election on the present non-resistance of sinners to preaching.

    But election in Christ is first! The death of Christ is not the cause of God’s election in love. God’s election in love is the cause of the death of Christ. Jesus, the incarnate Christ, the eternal Son of God in the flesh, is the foundation of election by being Himself the object of election. “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things.” Jesus Christ is not simply the one who makes election work. Jesus Christ Himself is first.

    Jesus Christ Himself is chosen first, before all the other elect. All the other elect were chosen before the ages in Jesus Christ, and not apart from Jesus Christ. Those God loves are “chosen in Him”. Ephesians 1:4

    God only has one purpose in history, and that is to bring glory to Jesus Christ. God does not have a second cultural purpose apart from Christ.


  64. Mariam:Lutherans also want to equate election with preaching and with the eucharist. Instead of believing in a finished atonement that happened back then and there at the cross, they want to teach an atonement that is happening now, an atonement is conditioned on what God is now doing in the sinner. They cannot teach that the High Priest has already finished the atonement only for the specific sins of the elect, because they condition election on the present non-resistance of sinners to preaching.

    Me: I am neither reformed or Lutheran, but this strikes me as wrong. Not only do they believe in universal atonement, it seems that the predominant views of WELS and LCMS go so far as to say that Christ’s completed work includes Universal Objective Justification, i.e. that Christ’s death and resurrection justified all mankind. Those who hold this view say that this is not teaching universalism since the individual sinner has to have faith in order to be justified. This doctrine is disputed by what appears to be a minority of Lutheran pastors, but those who dissent, while vocal on the issue of justification, all claim to believe that Christ’s atoning work was finished at Calvary and is universal.

    I don’t have a dog in this fight, but the paragraph quoted above seems to way over simplify doctrines that are in some cases still controversial among Lutherans today, and certainly have been historically. I would much rather have Lutheran’s tell me what they believe and question them directly instead of relying on reformed caricatures.


  65. http://cyclopedia.lcms.org/display.asp?t1=p&word=PREDESTINATION

    The LCMS upholds TUURF as its doctrine.

    Atonement is the means by which we’re cleansed and purified into God’s election. Conditional atonement means we humans must do something to make ourselves part of God’s elect. Which is why the LCMS teaches unconditional election, because the works of God in us, not us, makes election possible.

    Martin Luther’s definition of unconditional election isn’t the same as the limited atonement taught by Calvin. There are different approaches to how unconditional election is explained, and both single/double-predestination are forms of unconditional election; “double” isn’t the default from the Lutheran perspective.


  66. Dan,

    The tulip shows where there are irreconcilable differences between the confessional Lutherans and the confessional Reformed. I believe most in these respective communions on this blog respect one another and do not attempt to convert one another, but may clarify our positions. As such, the false accusations that were offered by McMark serve no purpose.

    Here is a succinct answer to our differences on the tulip from the LCMS perspective:


  67. (deep sigh)… What this article says to me is: Why are America’s radical-Protestant hyper-individualists, who’ve retained only a barebones minimum of historic Christianity, more attracted to Heresy B than to Heresy A?

    How do so many folks not get that Jesus prayed for unity of His flock, promised us the Spirit to lead us into all truth, and gave us His flesh and blood for our spiritual life-sustenance?

    It’s a shame that so many in the U.S. who claim the name of Christ don’t see that full-fledged, genuine Biblical Christianity is alive and well in the sole communion Jesus founded personally in 33 A.D.: the Catholic Church.


  68. Thanks to Tony I have a great commenter name for whoever needs it: Deep Cy.

    ps. note the ambiguity of “deep.”


  69. The attempt to convert each other from “another gospel” is not a sign of respect but is indeed taking seriously the “other”. A liberalism with regard to false gospels is not “respect”.

    Lily accuses me of making false accusations against Lutheranism, but is not specific on how I have done this. Lily and I agree that almost all Lutherans are not tulip Lutherans, that there are “irreconciliable differences” and I also think we agree that the difference is not inconsequential. So what is “false” in my argument?

    Certainly Jordan Cooper is not the same as other Lutherans, and not all Reformed sound alike each other, but it’s not a lack of a respect for scholars from either sides to make arguments against the position of the other side. How can there be a common front against Rome if some Lutherans move the “vicarious atonement” into the present tense?

    Schurb permits himself to make the typical misrepresentations of Calvin and Reformed theology, for example, that one is elect and sure of salvation even though he does not believe the gospel, quoting II Thessalonians 2:13 against this purported tenet of Calvinism. If one is not theologically acute enough, or morally upright enough, to present the Reformed faith correctly, but rather smears it with the canards of its enemies (Roman Catholic Pighius originated the misrepresentation), I have neither time nor use for him as he supposedly instructs concerning the difference between Luther and Calvin.

    If there was a difference between the two regarding unconditional election, the Lutheran theologian should explain to the audience how it is possible to hold that God eternally and unconditionally chose all humans without exception to eternal life but that some of those unconditionally chosen nevertheless perish. Also, regarding the difference a theologian such as Schurb should explain to the audience how an atoning death of Jesus Christ for all without exception, thus suffering the punishment of sin for all alike, so that no debt remains for them to pay, nevertheless fails to redeem some so that they must also pay the debt of their sins .

    Schurb should explain what in fact makes the difference between those for whom Christ died who are saved by the death and those for whom Christ died who are not saved by that death. Must it not be something God does in the sinners themselves? Could it be “union with Christ” (faith as the indwelling presence of Christ) instead of the righteousness obtained by Christ?


  70. Lutheran Jacob Preus (Just Words: Understanding the Fullness of the Gospel, Concordia, 2000) writes: “Faith is necessary to appropriate the reconciliation of Christ. However, our faith does not make Christ’s work effective. Christ’s work is effective even if no one approves it, even if no one is saved.” (p 140).

    Lutherans have an “objective reconciliation” that does not reconcile. That kind of objectivity is not gospel. It’s not good news to make salvation depend on “appropriation” or “faith”. Salvation results in faith, as hearing results from the power of the gospel. But it’s also not good news to say that Christ’s work is effective “even if no one is saved”.

    One, do contemporary Lutherans have any notion that Christ’s death purchased the work of the Spirit and faith for the elect.?. The faith in the gospel that God gives the elect is a certain and purchased result of Christ’s work (I Peter 1:21;II Peter 1:1; Ephesians 4:7-8; Phil 1:29).

    Two, do contemporary Lutherans have any notion of a penalty for specific sins imputed? Why do they end up with a propitiation that does not propitiate, a ransom that does not redeem, and a reconciliation that does not reconcile?

    When writing about the Father and the Son (p 142), Preus cliams that “Christ was at enmity with God”. This is wrong. His error is a result of not talking about the imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ. Instead of seeing that Christ was “made sin” legally because of imputation, Preus turns Christ into a sinner angry at God. Christ is human (not only divine), but in no way a sinner except by imputation.

    But no Lutheran who teaches an universal objective 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. On p 84, Preus explains that the ransom “should not be understood to be only for some and not for others…”

    Unless you are an out and out universalist, an universal ransom always means an ineffective ransom. Faith becomes what ransoms, even if you deny that and try to give the credit to a false Christ who died for everybody.

    Romans 5:17 speaks of “receiving the reconciliation”. Surely, this does not mean overcoming your enmity in order to overcome your enmity! It means to passively receive by imputation what Christ did.

    Matthew 5:24 commands people to “leave your gift there before the altar and first be reconciled to your brother.” Even though the elect are the objects of reconciliaton, though the elect receive it by imputation and then by faith, the reconciliation is not only the overcoming of sinner’s hostility, but what God has done in Christ to overcome God’s own wrath against elect sinners.

    Instead of the death of Christ being what God has done to expiate the sins of the elect, Preus thinks of the cross as a “means of grace” people in the church can use to get the divine wrath averted. (p 171).

    Sinners become the ones who make the great exchange, whenever you leave out the good news that God is the imputer and that God has already imputed the sins of the sheep to the Shepherd (and already not the sins of the goats ).

    There is a distinction between what Christ has done, and God’s declaring the elect to have legal union with that (justification). But Preus contradicts all this by claiming that faith is credited as the righteousness.

    On p 111, Preus writes: “God’s righteousness is in the one who justifies, not in the one who justified.” That is right, but you cannot maintain that if you say that Christ did the righteousness even for those who perish. You cannot maintain that if you say that God counts the faith of the sinner as the righteousness. This disastrous inconsistency is inherent in an universal atonement which is conditioned on the faith of the sinner. An atonement in which possibly nobody ends up saved up is not atonement.


  71. http://www.orlutheran.com/calvinisttheology.html


    At our core, Lutherans have to believe in unconditional election, because once our names are written into the Scroll of Life, our election is guaranteed.

    Single-predestination is a form of unconditional election from the Lutheran point of view, because in our baptism, infants are claimed by God’s Kingdom in the unfortunate event of their death.

    God knew us before we’re born, and God has counted the number of hairs on our heads.

    Lutherans accept the mystery as to, why some have been allowed to fall, from God’s predestined path of salvation for their benefit. The Holy Spirit gives and withholds the free-gift of faith, which enables spiritual free-will, this ties into election. Some are elect to receive the Holy Spirit while others have the Holy Spirit withheld at times, but all are given at some point the opportunity to participate as one of God’s elect.


  72. McMark, I believe you are well aware that you were taking potshots at Lutheran theology that are worthy of being called what they are: false accusations. Since, over time, it appears that this is a continual habit with you, along with purposely misshaping and misquoting lutheran theology out of context to fit your biases, there is no reason to respond.


  73. Lilly, as one who has only tried to understand Lutheran theology as an interested bystander, and not from any motive of wanting to convert myself or convert Lutherans away from their beliefs, I would only observe that clarity is lacking in modern American Lutheran theology surrounding the various issues raised by the doctrines of election, predestination and so forth. I think this is probably due to the various synod splitting conflicts in the past. The Augsburg Confession as I recall it seems pretty clear in affirming election and that God desires all men to be saved, so maybe this is a hangover from the past. Kind of reminds me of my Antiochan Orthodox friend who readily affirms that God is sovereign, has perfect foreknowledge, and that man has free will. Drives me up the wall, but he sincerely does not see what the problem is.


  74. I’d like to know exactly what are the false accusations that McMark is supposedly making and how he is “misshaping and misquoting lutheran theology out of context” to fit his biases. I tried to bring a lot of McMarks comments about lutheran theology to a confessional LCMS pastor and he could not and would not respond to the questions I had. It made me quit going to the Lutheran church I was going to. He could not tell me when the imputation of righteousness occured in the sinners life and then told me if I was having trouble with what the Lutheran confessions taught it was better if I left the Lutheran church. So I did. I found Daniel Stinson’s posts to be incoherent. What is up with universal atonement in baptism and vicarious atonement in the Lord’s Supper? Huh? And that short and succint link on the differences between Reformed and Lutheran does not get to the heart of the matter on what Gospel the Reformed and Lutherans are really believing in. It does no one any good to say you are not worthy of my response without a sufficient explanation. When and how union with Christ occurs (in the eternal decrees, legally during the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and then spiritually because of the imputation) seems like essential gospel issues that need to be sorted out by those struggling with what the Gospel actually is. To refuse to answer and then imply that you are not worthy of a response is a copeout. There is a lot I like about Lutheran theology and the Lutheran church but they are a stubborn bunch that sometimes refuse to respond to honest inquiries. Calvin respected Luther tremendously but seemed to have gotten very aggravated with Luther’s bullheadedness.



  75. Yes, Dan, the Lutheran confessions do affirm election and that God desires for all men to be saved. These things should be clearly taught in confessional lutheran churches. Unfortunately, not all lutheran churches adhere to a clear teaching of lutheran theology and practices. Thus the addition of the descriptive word of confessional to lutheran which means they do believe, teach, and confess the Book of Concord, which includes the Augsburg Confession.

    When it comes to understanding the differences between the Confessional Reformed and Lutherans, it’s been my experience that it is not always an easy task and time consuming. There is much we agree on and much we disagree on. I’ve also found comment boxes difficult to expound on doctrines properly and since this is a Reformed blog, I try to keep it as short and succinct as possible. I’ve also learned to stay away from getting into the weeds. I hope that helps answer some things?


  76. Tony, you remind me of those illiterates who used to tell me that John the Baptist founded the BAPTIST church.


  77. John Yeazel, I am sorry to hear that you and your pastor decided it was best for you to find a different church. I am surprised that you did not know that confessional Lutherans are adverse to those kinds of speculations and being continually asked to get into the weeds. And, yes, we have limited patience for those kinds of things.


  78. “but all are given at some point the opportunity to participate as one of God’s elect.”

    mark: I am not sure how Lutherans can at the same time boast in how irrational they are, and then expect us to listen to their reasons for rejecting God’s election of some sinners unto salvation. When election gets turned into an “opportunity to participate”, then Christ’s atonement also gets turned into a WallMart offer that depends on our non-resistance. No Calvinist has ever denied that the non-elect resist the gospel, but the glory of the gospel is that those for whom Christ died (the elect) will not resist the Holy Spirit and the gospel.

    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?

    If the “us all” is every sinner, then every sinner will be given faith and have their resistance overcome. Saying that Christ did not die for every sinner is logically necessary for saying that a sinner for whom Christ died will receive every blessing, including final salvation from God’s wrath.

    If Lutherans are going to boast in paradox, how can we know the “reasons” that what I say is a “potshot”? I have agreed with Lily that Lutheranism has “irreconciliable differences” with the “Reformed faith”. Can “reason” tell us if she is being properly respectful?


  79. Ephesians 3:9-11. “To make all (even gentiles) see what is the fellowship of the MYSTERY which from the beginning of the ages has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places would be known by the called out elect the manifold wisdom of God according to the permanent purpose which He decreed in Christ Jesus our Lord”

    Both the elect and the non-elect are sinners–if sin (resistance) were the cause of non-election, then all sinners would be non-elect. God is the reason for non-election as well as the reason for election. God’s justice is no less sovereign than God’s grace.

    Ephesians reminds us that God’s glory is revealed in His sovereign love and in His sovereign wrath. To know His name is to know Him as the one who has mercy on some and who hardens others.

    Sin is included in God’s purpose, so that God is not REACTING to sin, as if the human sinner has the first and final say. If this offends you, Lily, does it offend your own sense of reason? God’s very first concern is to manifest His glory in discriminating between sinner and sinner, so that election in Christ from the beginning is an election of sinners. To be outside Christ from the beginning is to be non-elect sinner.

    In the very purpose to elect and to not elect for His glory, God is the Subject and sinners are His objects. God’s choice is the first thing. Sin is not the first thing, and then God reacts. Neither is common cultural creation the first thing, and then God reacts.

    What is called “single predestination” (not to be equated with infralapsarianism, btw) asserts that in the case of those who will not be saved, God’s choice is dependent on man’s choice, while in the case of those who will be saved, man’s choice is dependent on God’s choice. According to this Lutheran RATIONALISM , God condemns those who God foreknew would condemn themselves.

    It’s a kind of Arminianism coming through the backdoor. Change “God chooses those who He knows won’t resist Him” to “God does not choose those who God knows won’t choose Him.

    Has the potter no right over the clay to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory – Romans 9:21-23

    Paul does not ask whether the potter has the right to leave as a lump the portion of the lump that He has not made for honorable use. Paul asks instead whether the potter has the right to make two vessels out of one lump, one for honor and one for dishonor. Many Lutherans (but not Luther!) attempt to rationalize their way into discovering an alternative reason for why God made two lumps rather than just one.

    God made the non-elect in order to make known the riches of His glory. They did not become non-elect after God created them. God loves the elect for one reason, and one reason only. He elected them IN CHRIST. The elect are in Christ because God put them there for the praise of His glory and grace. God’s refusal to put the non-elect in Christ was not based on the fact they would sin, but rather to glorify His wrath and His power, and to make known to His elect the glory of His grace.

    Lily, does reason tell you that God is duty bound to love all humans that God has created?

    Lily, I believe you are well aware that you are trying to be rational about your being non-rational, especially when you falsely accuse me of: false accusations. Since, over time, it appears that this dialectic between reason and paraodox is a continual habit with you, along with your ignoring questions and quotations that don’t fit your biases, there was no reason for me to respond. But I tend to like gratuity….


  80. Would any of you participating Lutherans (tulip or not, rational or not) care to comment on Philip Cary’s essay on “Why Lutheran is not quite Protestant”? I certainly would appreciate the time and effort. Even though Cary is Anglican, his theology is closer to Luther (at least on this point, I think) than either Forde or Preus.


    I like this quotation from Harold Senkbeil, “In its most blatant form heresy claims that we must place our own good works into the balance to give us a favorable standing before God. Its subtle form seems more attractive. God does all the work in justification, but we finish the work in our sanctification….We may be declared right by God’s judicial decree through faith alone, but then it is up to us to perform the works of love and obedience that true holiness requires. This error makes justification merely the first stage of sanctification. God get us on the path of holiness and then we continue. God starts and we finish…” (Justified; Modern Reformation Essays on the Doctrine of Justification, p 96)

    Of course Senkbeil needs to say more. And he does.

    There’s a reason Lutherans and the Reformed don’t do joint conferences on “sanctification” or the atonement.


  81. Lily,

    I did not think my honest questions were “speculations” or continuous questions which led one “into the weeds.” If questions about election, atonement and when the imputation of righteousness takes place lead one “into the weeds” than the book of Romans might lead one “into the weeds” too because the book of Romans (and many other New Testament books) talk a lot about those subjects. I was not inquiring and speculating about the hidden God; only about what God has revealed to us in His word. I was seeking clarity not confusion. Into the weeds implies confusion.


  82. John,

    Do you remember that where the bible is silent, so are Lutherans silent? The questions that seem to be troubling you are ones that I only hear in Reformed circles. Lutherans put their trust in God and his promises to us. We trust in the promise that Christ died for us; for the forgiveness of our sins. We trust in the promise that we are in Christ because we are baptized. We know we are elect because that is the promise of comfort that Paul gave to the believers in the church. These are truths that have been clearly revealed in scripture.


  83. MM: The Cary article you linked to is excellent. I read about a third of it, scanned the rest and bookmarked it to read later. Since I am not Lutheran I will withhold comment except to say that, to answer DGH’s opening inquiry re:why no Lutheran Baptists, it reenforces the point that the Lutheran view of the efficacy of the sacraments is simply a non-starter, and Luther’s system makes no sense otherwise. Thanks for the pointer.


  84. Chortles, she’s awesome. Driscoll wants to be her. TGC will be coopting her any moment now, 5,4,3, 2,……………


  85. She eats Baylys for breakfast and uses their broken-off limbs to stir her washtub-sized triple caf lattes.


  86. How ’bout we take up a collection and send her to Moscow, ID for a couple of weeks? She could bust up Wilson’s church pub.


  87. “Members of the visible church, including infants, are considered to be elect by faith unless and until they prove otherwise by committing apostasy,” based on Proverbs 22:6

    Proverbs 22:6
    English Standard Version (ESV)
    6 Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it.

    Both Luther and Calvin, agreed that only a covenant promise from God capable of atonement are worthy of being called a “sacrament”. Both Luther and Calvin, accepted and embraced God’s two means of grace (Covenant of Grace) in baptism and Eucharist. We see two sacraments and two forms of atonement, as seen in the earliest days of the Christian Church.

    It’s from “universal” atonement that the “catholic” faith receives its name, which is taught by the earliest Christian congregations. Christ Jesus affirms with exceptional redundancy that he died for all, Jews (the elect) and Greeks (the non-elect). Both Luther and Calvin saw themselves as a continuation of the Church “catholic”.

    Luther, in keeping with the early church, retained the ancient Church’s teaching of “universal atonement” and “vicarious atonement”. It’s under universal atonement at the cross that children are eligible and worthy of baptism into one faith in Christ Jesus, as members of his elect. In catechesis the catechumenate proclaims vicarious atonement in their personal salvation between him/her self and God publicly affirming the validity of his/her baptism; and it’s only upon this confession that participation in the Eucharist is permitted. The Catholic Rites have retained their teaching of universal and vicarious atonement since before the Nicene Creed was drafted.

    Vicarious Atonement is the teaching that the atonement which states that Christ’s death was “legal.” It satisfied the legal justice of God. Jesus bore the penalty of sin when he died on the cross. His death was a substitution for the believers. In other words, he substituted himself for them upon the cross. Jesus hung in our place as he bore our sin in his body on the cross. See 1 Pet. 2:24.

    Calvin got hung on Pope Augustine’s overreaction to Pelagianism, which is where the pope expressed double-predestination and limited atonement. Calvin ate this up to an extreme and replaced universal atonement with limited atonement; Calvin also replaced vicarious atonement with penal atonement. It’s under limited atonement that infants are eligible and worthy of baptism in one faith in Christ Jesus, as members of his elect. In catechesis the catechumenate proclaims penal atonement in their personal salvation between him/her self and God publicly affirming the validity of his/her baptism; and it’s only upon this confession that participation in the Eucharist is permitted.

    Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed Presbyterian, Reformed, Dutch Reformed, UCC, and etc… all participate in infant baptism; whether under universal or limited atonement.

    The Protestant-Reformed theologies were directly challenged by the Radical-Reformation, which introduced “believers baptism” denouncing Luther and Calvin for performing infant baptisms. The Radical-Reformers claim to predate the Protestant-Reformation because their Ana-Baptist teachings were often linked to Peter Waldo in the 1200’s. Waldo’s Waldensian followers in the 1600’s were so adamant that they started the “Reformation” rather than Luther and Calvin; that they even put “1st” in front of their congregation names i.e. 1st Baptist and 1st Presbyterian which assimilated Baptist and Presbyterian into the Waldensian Church. The Waldensian dropped “Waldensian” from their congregational names to avoid further Inquisition from Rome, so they adopted Baptist and Presbyterian to their congregational names. The Radical-Reformers were also successful in establishing the Great Commision which altered many American Reformed congregations to a more post-modern (anti-Calvin, anti-Luther) Radical view against infant baptism and the sacramental Eucharist (replacing the Eucharist with multiple baptisms).

    Both Luther and Calvin acknowledged one baptism for the remission of sins (universal- or limited- atonement); and both acknowledged an age of cognitive awareness, reason, accountability, or maturity for catechesis that would put on display a confession of faith, whereby the faithful catechumenate could publicly proclaim either (vicarious- or penal- atonement) by way of God’s active grace in their lives.

    I think some of the posts were beginning to incorrectly establish a universal vs. vicarious argument against Luther, and the Church catholic that’s been expressed for nearly 2k+ years. Unfortunately, such posts equally damn Calvin for likewise supporting two forms of atonement as though limited vs. penal are in opposition to one another. One form of atonement brings you into God’s predestined-election; while the other is an extension of the first which builds us deep into conviction through our faith, a faith that was given in baptism and regenerates in the Eucharist. The function of the Eucharist is an acknowledgement of our depravity and need for regeneration of our baptisms. Where the waters of baptism are spread over many, the consumption of sacrament is more personal and individualistic. I hope this begins to open-up the discussion beyond the string of misconception.


  88. Another form of atonement exists that’s more thoroughly rejected by both Luther and Calvin, known as Universalism.

    Universalism is in itself its own sacrament, because it teaches that Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection are the only physical means of grace. Universalists won’t accept the baptismal waters nor the Eucharist as a valid physical means of grace connected to a Covenant promise, and denounce priests’ perception in consecration of any physical substance. The Charismatic movement has a very strong prosperity Gospel that’s aggressively pushing post-modern Arminianism into relativity, rationalization, and universalist viewpoints of scripture. It’s creating an open-door for scientific paganism, mysticism, and unrealistic “Holiness” experiences with spirit filled speaking in tongues and such. Former Luther based congregations like the UCC and ELCA have been swept away by this, to such an extent that aside from maybe having Luther’s Catechism laying around somewhere, any existence of Lutheranism is all but lost. Catholics, Episcopal-Anglican, Methodist, and Presbyterians are having a great deal of difficulty fighting off the Charismatics. Confessional Lutherans and Confessional Reformed congregations are but few who remain steadfast against the worldview here in the US and Western Europe.

    Unfortunately, universalism and universal atonement, are frequently confused with one another.


  89. Imputed Righteousness

    Impute: to attribute (righteousness, guilt, etc.) to a person or persons vicariously; ascribe as derived from another.

    vicarious: taking the place of another person or thing; acting or serving as a substitute.

    1.) It happened on the cross, predestined before our birth
    2.) It happens in our baptism into a universal proclamation at the cross of salvation through Christ Jesus alone
    4.) It happens in our vicarious partaking of the Eucharist as a public confession in our faith of the Holy Spirit
    5.) It happens every time you pray in Christ Jesus name for the remission of sins and forgiveness

    Obviously, some come to faith in God through a conversion later in life than those receiving infant baptism. So, there isn’t a one-glove-fits-all approach to the Holy Spirit actively stirring in us at a particular age, place, or situation in life. Our responsibility is to be the visible Church that converts our lead too by way of the Holy Spirit.

    If you can’t vicariously accept Christ Jesus as a valid substitute for your sins on the cross, in baptism, or through the Eucharist; then the Church is failing to reveal the fullness of grace it has to offer. Where you’re at isn’t the correct congregation for you; if the pastor and elders are confident that sermons, Bible studies, catechesis, and fellowship sufficiently supplied enough law and gospel to make imputance known by faith. There’s also the issue of too much law and poorly balancing Gospel, which can crush us under sin to such an extent that it’s too hard to ask for forgiveness of sins, not realizing atonement exists. This will mark the fall from grace under the law, but the Holy Spirit can work in us to bring us back into the grace offered through the Gospel.


  90. “Lutherans accept the mystery as to, why some have been allowed to fall, from God’s predestined path of salvation for their benefit. The Holy Spirit gives and withholds the free-gift of faith, which enables spiritual free-will, this ties into election. Some are elect to receive the Holy Spirit while others have the Holy Spirit withheld at times, but all are given at some point the opportunity to participate as one of God’s elect.”

    I apologize for my use of the word “participate” in my quote above, as it was poor word choice, and a slip of the tongue and doesn’t accurately portray the belief system of the LCMS or myself. Lutherans don’t pretend to know who is or isn’t a member of the elect, so the Church allows all infants and confessional adults participation in baptism for instance, but the Church is carrying out the will of God, it’s not humans participating on behalf of God.

    This quoted “participate” was used against myself and Lutherans in discussion completely ignoring my obvious usage of “predestined” (not of human nature under depravity), “Holy Spirit gives and withholds the free-gift of faith” (not of human nature under depravity), “spiritual free-will” (not of human nature under depravity), and “Some are elect to receive the Holy Spirit” (not of human nature under depravity).

    Lutheran theology only allows enough “free-will” to fall from grace, not to initiate our relationship with God, God alone initiates his relationship with us and maintains such a relationship, so long as we don’t “fall from grace” by way of what little “free-will” that we’re granted.

    I don’t mind being quoted so long as I’m taken in context to the point that I’m driving. It’s not like it was too big of a paragraph to quote the wholeness of the point I was really trying to get across. This was nothing more than a cheap-shot at trying to design an Arminian angle to Lutheranism and myself.


  91. Formula of Concord, part 4
    The Righteousness of Faith
    Includes imputation of righteousness for those of you asking for it:
    [audio src="http://issuesetc.org/podcast/14011104131.mp3" /]


  92. I have not bowed out of these discussions I just had a lot I had to do today and just got to a computer. I am very tired so will probably not comment back until tomorrow. I appreciate you posting those Lutheran positions Daniel Stinson, whoever you are, I will read them in the morning and try to make some comments. It is good to hear from you again Lily. Hope your health is better. Alas, I can barely keep my eyes open right now. I watched the Bear/Packer game last night and then had to get up early to do all I had to do. I am not mentally alert and I would rather post when fresh and have adequately read the posts with comprehension.


  93. what’s going to happen to my fantasy team now that the Bears injured my quarterback? Did you see the cheese cutters on the heads of the Bears fans?


  94. Yes, I did see those cheese cutters on the heads of the Bears fans- that was quite the topic of conversation at the establishment I was at here in Savannah, Georgia. I was at JJ’s on Bay Street and the owner is from Green Bay, Wisconsin. It is a Packer place down south. Us Chicagoans at the place were having quite the time gloating all game long. I even won 10 bucks. The game evened out quickly when Rodgers got injured. It was a fun game to watch, McCown was amazing as the Bears backup Quarterback.


  95. John Yeazel,

    You’re welcome, any time, and I’m a LCMS congregational member on the northside of Greater-Metropolitan-Atlanta. My pastor is in his 30’s but is a 3rd generation LCMS pastor, his older brother is also a LCMS pastor around the Warner Robins AFB. Our congregation has just grown above the “mission” status level allowed by the LCMS, so we’re now a self-sustained congregation without LCMS charity. We’ve just purchased our 1st property and did a groundbreaking ceremony not too long ago, with a LCMS loan. Our congregation has helped in the ordination process of two congregational members through Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MS. One of them just completed his training and has opened a “mission” congregation near the Mall of Georgia in Gwinnett County. The other is still attending courses in St. Louis. We’ve also helped to start a “mission” congregation in Dahlonega, GA which is in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Our elders are in rotation to aide these two congregations.

    We now have a Korean pastor among us who’s growing the Korean ministry relatively rapidly and he’s also helping in the ordination training of some Korean congregational members. We’re currently one of the fastest growing Lutheran congregations in the Atlanta market with about 15 members a few years ago to now just over 200 members. We’ve also had some local transfers from other LCMS congregations that wanted a more confessional Church than what some other LCMS congregations were offering. Our congregation has the highest percentage of participants in Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, of any Church in the Florida-Georgia District, which automatically lowers the interest rate on LCMS loans for building projects.

    Our pastor has setup an adult catechesis to reeducate our congregation and to help better integrate spouses who married into Lutheranism. Atlanta has a substantial transfer presence of Lutherans into and out of the area, so we’re growing off those Lutherans coming in from out of town, who are just now discovering that Lutherans do exist somewhere between all these Baptist Churches. We seem to be retaining young couples who like the consistency of our liturgy, which is more traditionally sung hymns, chanted Psalms, Christ centered, flower-petal sermons (each petal is either Law or Gospel, with the iris as God in the center), and the means of Grace through the Eucharist. Once the adult catechumenate is complete, we’ll begin our Book of Concord class, and further introduce new congregational members to Lutheran Confessionalism, and why we’re confessional to traditional liturgy and doctrinal Orthodoxy, as opposed to contemporary liturgy. I’ve actually seen guest leave because they couldn’t use a hymnal and hadn’t been to a Church before that isn’t dependent on overhead projectors.

    I attended Georgia Southern University in the 97-98 academic year, so that’s about as close as I’ve ever lived in proximity to Savannah. The whole campus pretty much attends St. Patrick’s week on River St.

    Hopefully, this breaks the ice a little bit…


  96. Daniel Stinson says: Both Luther and Calvin, agreed that only a covenant promise from God capable of atonement are worthy of being called a “sacrament”. Both Luther and Calvin, accepted and embraced God’s two means of grace (Covenant of Grace) in baptism and Eucharist. We see two sacraments and two forms of atonement, as seen in the earliest days of the Christian Church.

    It’s from “universal” atonement that the “catholic” faith receives its name, which is taught by the earliest Christian congregations. Christ Jesus affirms with exceptional redundancy that he died for all, Jews (the elect) and Greeks (the non-elect). Both Luther and Calvin saw themselves as a continuation of the Church “catholic”.

    John Y: You are making a huge assumption here that the sacraments are the means whereby atonement is made instead of the death of Christ on the cross in history. How did atonement switch from the historical death of Christ on the cross into the sacrament? How is this different from the reinactment of the Catholic mass and transubstantiation of the elements? Another question I would ask is are you interpreting the Scriptures rightly when you place all authority in the sacraments and those who hand out the sacrament? That is a dangerous amount of power to delegate to the fallen clergy. Plus, I am not as concerned about what the earliest Christian congregations taught as what the Scriptures teach. You sound like a modern Catholic apologist when you appeal to “early Christian congregations” instead of the Scriptures.

    Daniel Stinson says: “Luther, in keeping with the early church, retained the ancient Church’s teaching of “universal atonement” and “vicarious atonement”. It’s under universal atonement at the cross that children are eligible and worthy of baptism into one faith in Christ Jesus, as members of his elect. In catechesis the catechumenate proclaims vicarious atonement in their personal salvation between him/her self and God publicly affirming the validity of his/her baptism; and it’s only upon this confession that participation in the Eucharist is permitted. The Catholic Rites have retained their teaching of universal and vicarious atonement since before the Nicene Creed was drafted.”

    John Y: Again, huge assumptions are being made here without sources being supplied. Plus you are talking about election in ways that I don’t think the Scriptures talk about election- especially in Ephesians chapter 1 and Romans chapters 9-11. And you sound like the Catholic apologists that frequent the Old life web site, ie Jason and the callers.

    I am going to defer the rest of the comments from that first post to McMark because he has read far more theological works on the atonement than I have. I have trouble with sacramental theology being Scriptural. There is scant evidence in Scripture for a full blown sacramental theology. I don’t know enough of historical theology either to trace the development of sacramental theology. It seems to have its roots in how the church began to view its authority and usurp the authority of the Scriptures. That is probably the main reason why there was such a huge reaction against it and why it became a huge distraction during the Reformation of the Catholic church in the 1500’s. Of course, those who adhere to a sacramental theology do not think of it as a distraction but a vital Gospel issue. I think this is a tough case to make Scripturally and Sacramentalists imply that it is not that huge of an assumption to make. They appeal to early church congregations rather than the Scriptures.

    Lastly, the post on imputation is completely foreign to the way I have been thinking about imputation for the last 3 to 4 years. You want to make all the benefits of Christ’s death to be applied by sacramental feeding. Again, I don’t see that in the Scriptures at all. I have not listened to the issues, etc. podcast but when I do I will comment further if I have any questions about it.


  97. John Y: I don’t know how the word “Sacrament” could even be used in any context that doesn’t on some level acknowledge the means of Grace existing through God’s works?

    Calvin disagreed with Luther over the issue of “real presence” or “true presence”. Calvin still administered sacramental water in baptism and sacraments of the altar in communion.

    Transubstantiation says the elements cease to exist, so bread and wine aren’t present. Luther’s “sacramental union” says the bread and wine still exists in union with the true or real nature of God. Consubstantiation adopted by the Phillipist is a hybrid between Luther and Calvin points of view.

    The gifts of the Holy Spirit defines a special “calling” into the priesthood or clergy apart from other gifts. Those called and ordained are to handle the sacraments. God alone performs the work of atonement where his sacraments are present. Baptism and the Eucharist replace circumcision, anointing with oil, and burnt offerings; as previous means of grace under the law.


  98. Daniel,

    I know the difference between Calvin and Luther on the real presence and the true presence. My main question and problem is the assumption that sacramentalists make that the means of grace is only applied through the sacraments. I read the book of Romans and don’t see any sacramental feeding at all. How do you read Romans chapters 4-11 and see sacramental feeding as the means God uses to apply the benefits of Christ’s bloody death to his elect? How do you interpret Romans chapter 4 where the imputation of righteousness is explained in full without any mention of sacramental feeding? And I think Romans 5 through 8 is just a continuation of the explanation of the legal ramifications of what took place for the elect when Christ died, rose and ascended for them into heaven where He now intercedes for them until they are joined with Him in glory.

    I am not expecting you to be able to answer these questions on a blog site, I am just explaining how my thinking has changed and why I have come to have doubts about the sacraments. I see grace being applied to the elect when God the Father places the elect into the death of Christ and declares the person justified. This is what applies the death of Christ to the elect. This has nothing to do with sacramental feeding at all. And I think this is clear in the books of Romans and Galatians. Sacramental theology is in direct opposition by declaring that God applies the benefits of Christ death through the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. I want biblical proof not appeals to church authority for the sacramentalists position. Luthers appeal to “this is my body” is scant biblical proof.

    I was close to buying into sacramental theology while attending a LCMS church for 3 years. I asked many questions to the pastor of the church where I was attending about some of the problems I was having but he never adequately answered my questions. He was more into liturgy than theology though so I went to the LCMS church in Naperville, Illinois on some occasions too to try get some of my questions answered. I ended up having family difficulties and had to leave Illinois so I never did sufficiently get to know the Pastors there to start inquiring about the questions I had.


  99. Bill Evans: Scott Clark is much closer to Barth on the question of soteriological solidarity than I am, and I critiqued Barth on precisely this point in the book (Imputation and Impartation, pp. 243-245)…
    Barth’s soteriology, despite his use of terms like “participation,” is (particularly in connection with justification) rather thoroughly extrinsic (see, e.g., Adam Neder, Participation in Christ, p. 12). In fact, some excellent contemporary Barth scholars have contended that precisely in his insistent emphasis on the extra nos of Christ “for us” Barth is the truly consistent Protestant.

    Evans: Thus Bruce McCormack takes Calvin to task for saying that justification flows from mystical union with Christ. This, according to McCormack “would seem to make justification and regeneration the effects of a logically prior ‘participation’ in Christ that has been effected by the uniting action of the Holy Spirit.” This, he says, is a problem from a truly Reformational standpoint in that “the work of God ‘in us’ is, once again (and now on the soil of the Reformation!) made to be the ground of the divine forgiveness of sins.” (Bruce McCormack, “What’s At Stake in the Current Debates over Justification,” in Justification: What’s at Stake in the Current Debates, ed. Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier [IVP, 2004], pp. 101-102, 113-117).

    Evans: It is this effort to protect the doctrine of forensic justification by means of an extrinsic soteriology that connects Barth with later federal theology of the sort that Clark espouses. The similarities are fairly obvious, and this, I think, may account for the interest that some contemporary Barthians are now showing in Reformed orthodoxy. It also helps to account for the use that Clark’s colleague Mike Horton is now making of McCormack’s Barthian theological ontology, though Horton does not endorse McCormack’s indictment of Calvin (see Michael Horton, Covenant and Salvation [WJK, 2007], pp. 200-204).

    For Scott Clark, the crux of the matter is his conviction that the doctrine of forensic justification demands the sort of extrinsic relationship between Christ and the Christian that he advocates.

    Scott Clark: On what basis does God accept us? Who earned that righteousness? How does a sinner come into possession of that righteousness? Where is that righteousness to be found relative to the sinner, within us or without? Evans may scoff at the doctrine of an “extrinsic” doctrine of justification but Paul himself asked these questions and historically the only alternative to extrinsic (alien) righteousness is a “proper” or “intrinsic” ground of divine acceptance and in that case we’re right back in the medieval soup or, to switch metaphors, moving in with Andreas Osiander.

    mark: on this point, Scott Clark has it right. If that makes him “Lutheran”, so be it.



  100. John Y: OK, so despite Luther’s or Calvin’s views on the subject of sacraments, who have a general falling-out with the use of sacraments in general, as a “means of grace”.

    The Sacraments are primarily viewed as a “covenant” promise through the Gospels: Baptism and Lord’s Supper, because of the literal usage of “covenant”.

    Only the Baptized are worthy to partake of the Eucharist, so the Eucharist is only discussed among those already Baptized. This does limit discussion of the Eucharist in the Epistles, because many hadn’t yet been converted into Christianity by baptismal waters. Paul was a witness to the un-elect (Greeks), while other Apostles were commissioned to the Jews first.

    Many of the Biblical Books specific to regions where large numbers of Hellenistic-Jews and Orthodox Synagogues resided and converted to Christianity do discuss the Eucharist in greater detail. I would recommend starting with the Lord’s Supper in each of the Gospels, followed by the 1st & 2nd, Epistles to the Corinthians, which discusses the Eucharist in more detail than most other Epistles. The other Epistles often use the word “covenant” and it’s our responsibility to know from the Gospels by which context “covenant” is referring to “Baptism” or “Eucharist”.

    There’s sometimes comparisons made between (Covenant) Old Law and New Law, because the New Testament in many ways actually still requires some adherence to new laws, and many associate these around the two Sacraments.

    I’m fortunate to have a pastor of pastors, I think he got a head start on Koine and Hebrew, while others don’t experience it until their 1st day of class in the seminary.

    Prayerfully, these passages can be made of use, below without causing further discontent:

    Acts 2
    English Standard Version (ESV)

    The Fellowship of the Believers

    42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[e] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    1 Corinthians 11
    English Standard Version (ESV)
    The Lord’s Supper

    17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,[d] 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

    23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[e] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[f] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

    27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.[g] 31 But if we judged[h] ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined[i] so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

    33 So then, my brothers,[j] when you come together to eat, wait for[k] one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

    Galatians 3
    English Standard Version (ESV)
    The Law and the Promise

    15 To give a human example, brothers:[f] even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

    19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

    21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

    23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

    Hebrews 9
    English Standard Version (ESV)

    The Earthly Holy Place

    9 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. 2 For a tent[a] was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence.[b] It is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a second section[c] called the Most Holy Place, 4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 5 Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

    6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age).[d] According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

    Redemption Through the Blood of Christ

    11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,[e] then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify[f] for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our[g] conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

    15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.[h] 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

    23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.


  101. John Y: On the “too Catholic” point of view that Lutherans frequently hear from southerners here in the “Deep South”, we didn’t fair very well against the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK didn’t appreciate the many African-American congregations founded by the LCMS. They also didn’t like Jews and Catholics much either. Lutheranism, Catholicism, and Judaism weren’t tolerated by the KKK, which only supported various forms of Baptist denominations, and tolerated Presbyterians and Reformed traditions so long as they weren’t pushing the anti-slavery movement. Basically, from the 1860’s-1950’s, it’s in the 1950’s that Lutheranism began mission work and growth projects for Lutherans that were left without congregations in areas that weren’t safe to publicly do so.


  102. Here in the “Deep South” the KKK viewed those born into slavery as being God’s non-elect who are predestined for Hell. Their viewpoint of double-predestination and limited atonement was used to justify the continuation of slavery.

    In the 1980’s the Southern Baptist Convention declared abortion as part of God’s plan, because God’s elect could never possibly be aborted under double-predestination and limited atonement. The LCMS immediately announced that salvation is no longer available within the Southern Baptist Convention, due to their theological position that abortion is part of God’s plan, which goes directly against the Lutheran teaching of infant Baptism, and universal atonement. The LCMS agreed to organize new congregations in the “Deep South” with the specific purpose of conversion of Southern Baptist. The Southern Baptist recanted their position and withdrew their approval of abortion under Roe vs. Wade, but not before some LCMS congregations had already been planted throughout the “Deep South”.

    The Lutherans and Baptist really have no history of euceminicism, unlike the Dutch Reformed and other similar congregations that have good relationships with Lutherans.

    Two Calvinist politicians in 2012 implied that double-predestination and limited atonement makes rape impossible among God’s elect, meaning that those raped must not be of God’s election. The whole issue of “legitimate rape” became a campaign issue for Presbyterian, Todd Akin (Master of Divinity, Covenant Theological Seminary) and non-denominational, Richard Mourdock. Many strong Christian families have had to deal with daughters or wives victimized, and Calvinism in many respects has been used in “hellfire & brimstone” congregations to imply such an act only occurs against God’s non-elect alone who are predestined to Hell. The sin of murder and sexual assault are typically viewed as a sin against the Holy Spirit who dwells within us as his temple, and the Calvinist view portrays that the Holy Spirit could never be attacked in this manner. So, the “legitimacy” of your election under predestination can fall into question, under various interpretations of Calvinist followings, where human atrocity occurs. Calvin’s double-predestination and limited atonement makes no room for compassion in too many instances, hardening many hearts against God, when victims can’t come to terms with the possibility of not being members in God’s election.

    I feel Lutheranism handles election with a better balance of Law and Gospel, and has a more realistic approach to Christian suffrage in a sinful world against God, with God’s Grace being adequately proclaimed in a way that tragedy can actual be a reason to come closer to God.


  103. D.G. Hart: “Why not a Lutheran Baptist? Why is the former unexceptional but the latter – Lutheran Baptist – why does THAT sound oxymoronic?”

    Hopefully, from a Lutheran perspective, this question is adequately answered.

    There’s obviously various denominations that poorly portray Lutheranism and Calvinism. Just as Confessional Lutherans reject the Arminian, ELCA, and UCC; I would hope that the Confessional Reformed likewise reject certain Baptist, Arminian, & UCC groups that misuse or missrepresent Calvin.

    Many Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Wesleyan congregations worked together in the “Deep South” to crush racism associated with the Southern Baptist. They helped to create the Dixiecrats and Free-Soil Parties to liberate Africans.


  104. Orthodox Lutheranism, Confessional Lutheranism of 1530 and doctrine of 1580
    Triglota Concordance of 1580 (hyperlinked Adobe searchable)

    Click to access TrigBOC.pdf

    John Y, I don’t know if you still have access to those Lutheran documents discussed between yourself and your former LCMS pastors? The table of contents is (.pdf) searchable, if you desire to compare the theology against how your former pastors presented it in Illinois.

    Erroneous Faiths; statements against false religions appears towards the end of the table of contents, which includes many Baptist associated with the Ana-Baptist movement.

    Predestination has a summary statement towards the end of the table of contents as well.

    Both the Small and Large Catechism are available as well.

    The 2001 Catechism editions use the ESV translation primarily, some passages may also use NKJV or NIV (1984 edition).


  105. Daniel,

    I am going through the posts and trying to think through what you have posted along with some links others have posted too. There is a lot of material to digest and I want to be more careful in what I say. Plus I have a lot of other things going on in my life right now. I have been interested in the conflicts between the confessionally Reformed and the confessional Lutherans for a while now and the issues between them can get complex and difficult to sort out. Plus the differences can get highly inflammatory when certain testy issues surface. A big point of impasse occurs when Lutherans claim they never go beyond what the Scriptures say while the Reformed have no problems with making logical deductions and inferences from biblical doctrines. I forget the way the Westminster Confessions states this but most are familiar with this difference between the two traditions. With that said, I will continue reading the posts while trying to think through what I think are major issues and differences while trying to show how my thinking has developed too in the process. Signing off for now.

    I appreciate you telling me a bit about your backround. What are some of Lutheran theological writings that have influenced you the most besides the Lutheran confessional writings? Have you read a lot of Luther, Walther, Sasse, etc. etc? What about Pipers dogmatics?


  106. That is not Piper but Franz Pieper. I always have wanted to read Pieper’s book on pietism but have never gotten around to it. There is also another Lutheran book that traces the various approaches to God, ie the moral approach, the mystical approach, etc but I forget the name of it. I am thinking the authors name starts with a K (Kaberly?) but not sure.


  107. By the way, I have no idea if Dr. Hart will allow such shameless self-promotion, but I have written an extensive answer to the question: Why are there no Lutheran Baptists, jumping off of Gene Veith’s insights.


    I will admit I have not had time to read the full conversation above, but am looking forward to it. Another good response to this article just came out (same guy I linked to above who talks about Köberle), where the author, a Lutheran, tries to explain the appeal and influence of Reformed theology (he worshiped at Tim Keller’s church for 8 years as he was drawn to it): http://strangeherring.com/2013/11/13/why-calvin-and-not-luther/#comment-9239



  108. Pingback: Jon Jordan
  109. One does not need to be baptist to want to avoid the Lutheran theology about the justice and efficacy of Christ’s death

    “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.
    Gary Williams, p 107, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, Crossway, 2013, ed Gibson and Gibson

    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
    and 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
    nor does it now 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 redemption causes them to 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 lasts
    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 die the second death for whom Jesus made the sacrifice

    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 still condemns
    those who sin the one sin the false gospel
    claims 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


  110. D.G. – even the Wisconsin Synod is larger than the Presbyterian Church in America, a denomination that thanks to Tim Keller’s popularity in the Big Apple seems to be poised to transform America into a nation of urban chic Protestants.

    Erik – Nice.


  111. I’m having trouble getting caught up reading these posts & comments. In rebellion against the Pope I’ve been busy trying to be an even better capitalist than I was previously.


  112. Tony – It’s a shame that so many in the U.S. who claim the name of Christ don’t see that full-fledged, genuine Biblical Christianity is alive and well in the sole communion Jesus founded personally in 33 A.D.: the Catholic Church.

    Erik – Since when does the Catholic Church care about being biblical?

    Jason has taken it on as one of his pet projects, though.


  113. D.G. – Tony, I hear Jesus actually built the portico for St. Peter’s in his days as a carpenter.

    Erik – According to Pope Francis Jesus lived in a Sears refrigerator carton that he found by a dumpster.


  114. The “for you” does not comfort the Lutheran during Lent iif it’s not for everybody, therefore for the Lutheran the “for you” IS for everybody (in church who hears the preacher)

    But this “for everybody” would mean a “proposal of marriage kind of promise”, therefore “for everybody” means Christ died for all sinners but now it’s up to you and the Holy Spirit.

    mystical unionist—“Many denunciations of the “feminization of the Church” that I have encountered are highly anecdotal (— yes, I am aware of the irony in my saying this), often amounting to little more than protracted exercises in begging the question. Does not Dr. Luther himself speak of the believer being united to Christ “as a bride is united to her bridegroom” by the wedding ring of faith? Luther’s On The Freedom of a Christian–The third incomparable benefit of faith is that it unites the soul with Christ as a bride is united with her bridegroom. By this mystery, as the Apostle teaches, Christ and the soul become one flesh The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation. Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ’s, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul’s
    ….We must distinguish between what is properly and Christologically mystical, i.e. denoting the mystery of our salvation as wrought for us and in us by the Holy Trinity, and what is mysticism, i.e. vain questing for immediate contact with “the divine.” Luther’s theological motif is bridal and mystical, but it is the farthest thing from “bridal mysticism.” Yes, Luther is applying predicates to individuals (members of the Church) which Scripture explicitly applies to the whole (the Church). Is this analogy per synecdoche necessarily wrong?



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