Lutherans Did Not Spook Machen

Thanks to Gene Veith for the reminder:

Moreover, even among those who, unlike the Roman Catholic Church, hold that the Bible is not only an infallible rule of faith and practice but the only infallible rule of faith and practice, there have been great differences of opinion as to what the Bible teaches.

These differences do not concern merely one or two small details, but they are so extensive that they have led to the establishment of various systems of doctrine, each of which, be it remembered, claims to be the system taught in the Bible.

The Lutheran system is one system; the Arminian system, widely held in the Methodist churches until it gave place to the completely destructive Modernism which generally holds sway there now, is another; the Reformed system (often called, chiefly by its opponents, the Calvinistic system) is still another.

Which of these systems of doctrine, which of these ways of interpreting the Bible, does the ordination pledge require ministers and elders and deacons in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. to hold?

There can really be no doubt about the answer to that question. The ordination pledge requires the candidates to hold distinctly the Reformed or Calvinistic system. That is the system which is set forth with a clearness which surely leaves nothing to be desired in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, which are the Standards of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

Be it noticed that the candidates do not subscribe to the Reformed system of doctrine merely as one allowable system among many allowable systems. They do not even merely subscribe to it as the best system. But they subscribe to it as the system that is true.

Being true, it is true for everyone. It is true for Methodists and Lutherans just as much as Presbyterians, and we cannot treat as of no moment the differences which separate us from Methodists and Lutherans without being unfaithful to the Word of God.

Does that mean that we cannot have Christian fellowship with our Methodist or our Lutheran brethren? It means nothing of the kind. On the contrary, we can have very precious Christian fellowship with them.

At that point I want to utter a word of personal testimony. I just want to say that in these struggles of the last few years against blatant unbelief in the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., one of the most precious gifts that God has given me––and I have no doubt but that many of those with whom I have been associated would say the same thing- has been the Christian fellowship that I have enjoyed with many of my Lutheran brethren, especially those of the “Missouri Synod.” How often, when I have felt tempted to be discouraged, has some message come to me from them bidding me be of good courage and remember that the battle is the Lord’s! How often have I in turn rejoiced when I have thought of the way in which that noble Church [I mean the Missouri Synod] cultivating Christian learning at its great Concordia Seminary and bringing up its people truly in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, has stood firmly against the unbelief and indifferentism of the day!

Will those brethren be offended if they read what I have written regarding my devotion to the Reformed Faith and my belief that it is the system of doctrine taught in God’s Word?

I feel rather sure that they will not. You see, one of the things that unite me so closely to them is that they are not indifferentists or interdenominationalists, but are profoundly convinced that it is necessary to hold with all our souls to whatever system of doctrine God’s Word teaches.

I wish indeed that they were adherents of the Reformed Faith, as they no doubt wish that I were a Lutheran. But I stand far closer to them than I should stand if they held the differences between the Reformed and the Lutheran system to be matters of no moment, so that we could proceed at once to form an “organic union” based upon some vague common measure between the two great historic branches of the Protestant Church.

27 thoughts on “Lutherans Did Not Spook Machen

  1. You see, one of the things that unite me so closely to them is that they are not indifferentists or interdenominationalists, but are profoundly convinced that it is necessary to hold with all our souls to whatever system of doctrine God’s Word teaches.

    Yes.

    Wonderful.

    Thanks.

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  2. As a counter-example from American history to prove Machen’s point in the last paragraph:

    German Lutherans + German Reformed = Evangelical Church of the US (1800s)

    Evangelical Church + German Reformed = Evangelical & Reformed Church of the US (1930s)

    E & R Church + Congregationalist Christians = The United Church of Christ (1950s)

    The United Church of Christ + fill-in-the-blank-beliefs = Apostasy (although some faithful UCC congregations remain).

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  3. Good post, but you missed the title. Should have been “Machen and the L-word.” We have a (surprisingly) growing WELS church in our mid-sized southern Appalachian city. They’re as hard-@ssed as any Old Schoolers and drink like, well, Lutherans. Their parsonage was bigger than their church 20 years ago but they’ve expanded twice since. I believe occasional commenter Amish Ambush is well-acquainted with them.

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  4. I’m one Lutheran who doesn’t care one wit about converting people to Lutheranism.

    There are so many goofy versions of Lutheranism going around it’s enough to make a Lutheran’s head spin.

    I want people to be truly free. To trust in Christ, alone. To trust in His external Word which comes to us as a free gift…that we won’t have to go ‘inward’ for assurance that we are of the elect.

    The ELCA (for the most part) are leftist, Scripture denying, social “3rd users”…and the LCMC are right wing, religious “3rd users”.

    No thanks to falling off either of those sides. The center…which is Christ…ALONE…is the place to be.

    Now…where’s my beer…

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  5. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink
    You see, one of the things that unite me so closely to them is that they are not indifferentists or interdenominationalists, but are profoundly convinced that it is necessary to hold with all our souls to whatever system of doctrine God’s Word teaches.

    I do not know what “soul” means here. Does it have a brain? Can it read the Bible?

    I do not know what “whatever system of doctrine” means either. Is one system as good as the next?

    In a way, I’m OK with that, mind you. Then again, “profoundly convinced” is profoundly problematic: Snakehandlers for Jesus are profoundly convinced. Getting Fatally Bitten for Christ is the ultimate commitment.

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  6. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted January 30, 2014 at 12:56 am | Permalink
    Soul (brain(bible)), Tom?

    You think that I am saying things, and don’t know what they mean.

    I don’t know what you know, Andrew. I do thank you for treating me civilly to my face, but you gossip about me to your pals here as though I don’t even read the comments.

    3. One slogan of the Machen movement was “truth before friendship.” We should laud their intention to act according to principle without compromise. But the biblical balance is “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). We must not speak the truth without thinking of the effect of our formulations on our fellow Christians, even our opponents. That balance was not characteristic of the Machen movement.—Presbyterian theologian John Frame

    Truth before friendship, then. That’s your theology. OK. So don’t speak to me as a friend. I am grateful enough that you keep a civil tongue in your head and don’t call me names, Andrew, that alone separates you from the goats. Surely you don’t wonder why Bryan Cross declines to “debate” here in the Bearded Spock Universe? I mean, really? You don’t really think he’s “chicken,” do you?

    To the substance—A lot of things are said everywhere. A link to another link is not a discussion. Links are useful as footnotes to your argument, but pointing behind the curtain

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  7. Surely you don’t wonder why Bryan Cross declines to “debate” here in the ?

    Tom, I just blogged my latest on golf. Linking (and creating our own support!), this is how we roll in the Bearded Spock Universe, why, just ask Dr. Cross at CtC, yourself. Bryan is in our universe, with bearded spock, and will remain forever, and he’s not in the real one. He’s a Machenista catholic, and keeps coming here because that’s who he is. Period.

    You’ll grow the beard eventually, Tom. Look that up on urban dictionary, yo!

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  8. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted January 30, 2014 at 1:57 am | Permalink
    Surely you don’t wonder why Bryan Cross declines to “debate” here in the ?

    Tom, I just blogged my latest on golf. Linking (and creating our own support!), this is how we roll in the Bearded Spock Universe, why, just ask Dr. Cross at CtC, yourself. Bryan is in our universe, with bearded spock, and will remain forever, and he’s not in the real one. He’s a Machenista catholic, and keeps coming here because that’s who he is. Period.

    You’ll grow the beard eventually, Tom. Look that up on urban dictionary, yo!

    Already have the beard, bro, for about 17 years now. It’s called a Van Dyke. The mullet is c. 1993, 20 years long gone. [Darryl. Always fighting the last war, your mockeries are like so WTF.]

    I completely dig the concept of a “Machenista Catholic,” AB. Ace. As Olivia has been pointing out, “Catholics” are so lame, esp the American variety. You Machenistas got some serious mojo going. That’s why I love you so much.

    Esp you, Darryl.

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  9. I completely dig the concept of a “Machenista Catholic,” AB. Ace.

    Give credit where credit is due, Tom.

    mikelmann
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink
    So, Andrew, you’re saying J&TC follow Machen’s view of the RC rather than the RC view of the RC? That’s kind of a fun hypothesis.

    And respect your elders. Yo.

    PS And I can’t figure out your religion? Are you Bajoran?

    The Kai is the religious leader of the Bajorans, elected from among and by the Vedek Assembly to a life term. A symbol of strength and unity to the Bajorans for centuries, the Kai’s religious authority is rivaled only by that of the Emissary of the Prophets. Besides religious power, the Kai also has a great deal of political influence in the Bajoran government. Disputes between the Kai and the First Minister of the government, while rare, can be extremely divisive. While it is not forbidden for the Kai to serve as First Minister, such involvement in political matters is discouraged. The Kai is properly addressed as “Eminence”. (DS9: “Emissary”, “The Collaborator”, “Shakaar”, “In the Cards”)

    I’m on siesta..

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  10. Link for those of you trekkies who care. Right now, were figuring out Tom’s church. I’m thinking Bajoran. Any other ideas here at OLTS, to present before the assembly?

    emoticon..

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  11. I completely dig the concept of a “Machenista Catholic,” AB. Ace. As Olivia has been pointing out, “Catholics” are so lame, esp the American variety. You Machenistas got some serious mojo going. That’s why I love you so much.

    Tommy-can-you-here-me, it’s called testosterone (even AB has some) under the control of reason and a good confession. And what you have is called envy, not love.

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  12. Mr. Martin sez: “… The ELCA (for the most part) are leftist, Scripture denying, social “3rd users”…and the LCMC [sic] are right wing, religious “3rd users”…. No thanks to falling off either of those sides. The center…which is Christ…ALONE…is the place to be….”

    So why do you hang around here? The confessional Reformed subscribe to the third use of the law as much as do confessional Lutherans.

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  13. Darryl: What about the WELS?

    I was raised WELS but have come to the Reformed side.

    It’s incontestable the ELCA and LCMC are apostate.

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  14. called testosterone (even AB has some)

    I’m going against my testosterone signals, to say a tear wells up when something nice is said about me at OLTS.

    And C, that may be the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me.

    I’m a wreck, and proud.

    PS there’s a reason why dentist was taken aback at something I said a year or two ago. He’s all, whoa, rough childhood, or something?

    I live for moments like that, and thi now, here at OLTS.

    😦

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  15. I’ve done a bit of commenting on Gene Veith’s blog, Cranach. Seriously Christian and seriously Lutheran – I enjoy the exchanges. Missouri Synod types. – not a sister church to WELS but don’t know why not.

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  16. Tom – The mullet is c. 1993, 20 years long gone

    Erik – How much for you to bring it back and send us a picture?

    “David Palmer”? The name warms my heart.

    Also “Dirty Work”.

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  17. Tom – The mullet is c. 1993, 20 years long gone

    Erik – How much for you to bring it back and send us a picture?

    Erik,

    the one I want is the picture of him as a punk kid when he was on jeopardy. he owes us. until then we get to use potty language and do name calling. (tom: neener neener neeeeener)

    I did my part. It’s time for the real tomvd Tom Van Dyke to show up.

    shameless (indeed) self-promoter out, yo

    Like

  18. ps ERIK:

    great job with the callers and stuff. you are a champ.

    oh, and this just in, for tom and any and all who click on my links. neener style

    Like

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