Covenant Seminary and the Federal Vision: Aiding and Abetting

Well, the evidence just keeps mounting that Covenant Theological Seminary is a Federal Vision friendly seminary, if not a downright Federal Vision seminary.  It seems that at Covenant you won’t read Witsius, Turretin, Calvin, or Clark, but you will read a lot of N.T. Wright.  Wes White first started to uncover some of the odd  going-ons at Covenant here and here.

Now, let’s connect the dots.  In September of last year, Federal Visionist Joshua Moon was defending fellow Federal Visionist TE Greg Lawrence over in the schizophrenic Siouxlands Presbytery.  In his defense of Lawrence, Moon made the following statement:

There are those who want to remake the PCA in their own image, according to their own likeness, narrowing what is allowed with the Standards beyond anything our church has ever done. And if they had their way it would lead not only to the exclusion of TE Lawrence, but others in this presbytery and many men in many presbyteries. The fact is, what TE Lawrence says on baptism is held in various ways and with various nuances by a lot of people in our PCA: from ministers and elders here in this presbytery, myself included, to professors at our theological seminary, and even almost entire presbyteries. Some are wanting to drive them all out and are asking you to begin that exile (emphasis mine).

Notice, according to Moon there are Covenant Seminary professors who hold to the same views on baptism as does Federal Visionist Greg Lawrence, the guy whom James Jordan recommended to help plant Federal Vision churches in Russia.  The question is, why should anyone believe Joshua Moon?  After all, here is a man who claims he is not a Federal Visionist, has charged men with violations of the Ninth Commandment for saying that he is, yet publicly confesses the same doctrinal novelties as known Federal Visionists, including a belief in temporary justification, union with Christ via the waters of baptism, and the belief that our final justification is based on our ability to live up to the grace shown to us.  Moon was even a dissenting member of a committee that was charged with examining whether or not Greg Lawrence wa a Federal Visionist (he is), yet he claims to have no knowledge of the Federal Vision.  Clearly, Moon is a man not to be trusted, much less in the pulpit.   However, I do find it interesting that Moon took great steps to hide the above paragraph.   In the official version that appeared in the minutes of the Siouxlands Presbytery the above paragraph along with the reference to the “professors at our theological seminary” mysteriously disappeared and was surreptitiously expunged from the record (perhaps he got raked over the coals by his father-in-law, Rob Rayburn, for implicating Covenant).  Could it be that Moon was trying to pull a Richard Nixon by playing fast and loose with the public record and with the full complicity of Siouxlands Presbytery?

The next bit of evidence comes from Rob Rayburn, who , besides being Joshua Moon’s father-in-law, is also an infamous defender of  Federal Visionist Peter Liethart.  Thankfully,  Rayburn’s defense of Leithart went down in flames before the SJC.  This might make you think that the PCA is taking a stand against Federal Vision.  Not at CTS.  According to Rayburn, during a recent trip to St. Louis he got major kudos for his defense of Liethart before the SJC.  Here’s what he said:

They are now going after Missouri Presbytery and Covenant Seminary, as well as Metro New York and the ministry of Tim Keller…I was recently in St. Louis, and the men in Missouri Presbytery and at Covenant Seminary are fit to be tied. Lest you forget Covenant Theological Seminary is the seminary of the PCA, and my contribution to the defense of Peter Leithart has been as well received there as it has in my own Presbytery of Pacific Northwest.

You can watch an excellent video on Rayburn’s contribution in defense of known Federal Visionists here:

The final confirmation comes from James Jordan’s ultra secret Federal Vision list, the Biblical Horizons yahoo group.  You can get a little peek into the duplicity of these rank heretics at Jordan’s Biblical Horizons group here.   And who do we find mentioned on this list?  None other than CTS professors Mike Williams and Jack Collins.  Mark Horne said, “But everyone was real happy with me. Dr. Collins (the head of the Candidates & Credentials Committee was probably happier with me after Presbytery than he ever has been).”  Notice, Dr. Collins (that’s Jack),  was real happy with Mark Horne.  There’s really only two options here.  Either Dr. Collins is anti-FV but too blind to spot a Federal Visionist when he is right under his Candidates & Credentials Committee’s nose, or Dr. Collins (and probably Missouri Presbytery in general)  are FV friendly and supportive.

But, there’s more.  Apparently, Mark Horne thought Jack Collins was so happy with him that when the FV guys started feeling the heat, as when the Central Carolina Presbytery issued an overture requesting an investigation into Steve Wilkins, he thought he could call on Jack and these seminary professors for help:

Steve, with three of your friends missing from presbytery, what are the chances of this? How vulnerable are you?

Mark

PS. Any chance asking for advice from professors outside the presbytery. Doug Green, Jack Collins, Richard Pratt, John Frame, and Dave Wiliams come to mind.

Steve Wilkins responded saying he had already tried that.  Here’s his account:

well, as you know, Rich, Jim, Doug W., and I talked with Doug G., Jack C., Pete E., Steven T., Reggie, Mike Williams, Al Groves, and Dan McCartney while they were here at the Pastors Conf. and they seemed to be sympathetic toward our predicament. I’m not sure what they can do at present, other than what they said they would begin to do — i.e. speak out and try to get everyone to calm down. This would be a good time for them to start doing that I think.

Notice, Jack Collins and Mike Williams (who Horne misidentified as “Dave”) are among those who told Wilkins that they would begin to “speak out and try to get everyone to calm down.” Isn’t it great to know that future Presbyterian pastors in the PCA are being trained by these stalwarts who conspire with Federal Visionists to make sure they can remain in Reformed denominations?  I’m sure the guys coming out of Covenant are going to be staunch opponents of FV with guys like Collins and Williams “speaking out” and trying to “get everyone to calm down” as the Gospel continues to be shred in the PCA.

Also, I don’t want to give the impression that the PCA is the only FV friendly seminary.  According to Paul Elliot, Doug Green mentioned above, who is also the  Associate Professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary, “is a self-confessed New Perspective enthusiast. In a January 2004 essay, Green revealed that he is not the only NP enthusiast on the WTS faculty, although he made it clear that some of his colleagues are not willing to admit their position publicly.”  Green is also a man who publicly endorsed the book, A Faith that is Never Alone: A Response to Westminster Seminary California, which was edited by well known Vantilian and FV sympathizer Andrew Sandlin and includes essays from Federal Visionists such as Don Garlington, Mark Horne, Peter Leithart, Rich Lusk, and the FV granddaddy of them all, Norman Shepherd.  Green said the book provides “thought-provoking exegesis with a deep indebtedness to Calvin’s emphasis on union with Christ” and that these Federal Visionists “engage in stimulating theological reflection on the relationship of faith and good works.”

Of course, the long and sad history of Westminster Seminary embracing and coddling Federal Visionists is nearly as long and as sad as their allegiance to the irrationalism of C. Van Til.  However, what has seemingly gone unnoticed is Covenant Seminary’s role in the spread of the FV and their cozy relationship with the New Perspectives and FV crowd  – even to the point where Federal Visionists can turn to Covenant as their ace-in-the-hole in order to help diffuse any heat that may come their way.

I suppose when all these FV men continually point to Covenant Seminary as their natural ally, it raises the question where is Bryan Chapell?  Why isn’t he putting together the dots? Also, where are the PCA elders charged with maintaining not only the peace of the church, but also its waning purity?  Don’t they have a responsibility to examine what is being taught at their denomination’s seminary?   I suppose they’re all in the same boat with the rest of the elders in the PCA who are content with just moving their pieces around while their enemies continue to make all the right moves.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Heresies

579 Comments on “Covenant Seminary and the Federal Vision: Aiding and Abetting”

  1. ray kikkert Says:

    excellent points Sean … I am shaking my head agian at these doctrinal idiots and their sick , underhanded attacks at advocating heresy and their heretical buddies.

    Covenant seminary must not be under PCA discipline, but are independent … or else the men in charge of the oversight of the seminary … are as ignorant and FV happy as the rest of it’s doctrinal idiot arsenal.

    Not really expecting anything to get done though … how long has it been now … and none of these doctrinal idiotic snakes have been kicked to the head and given the boot. Satan is stroking their ego’s pretty good, and it seems FV advocates like it that way.

    Does the PCA have any men with spines to do what it takes to root out the venom? Not yet.

  2. Kris Says:

    Rays asks, “Does the PCA have any men with spines to do what it takes to root out the venom?” To which I reply, not me! I fled the PCA, not so much because of these issues arising locally, but rather because no one seemed to mind or care or know anything about thes critical issues. In desperation I actually went back to the PCUSA (gulp, bad move I know) where my enrollment lies lifeless & useless. I now worship with the good folk at a small Baptist church subscribing to the LBCF 1689. I am no elder, no great theologian – merely one of Christ’s sheep, lost & confused. I pray always for the saints and for the great Wind of revival necessary to awaken God’s people.
    In the meantime, however, what’s a guy to do? This is a small community (somewhere in the hinterlands of the Presbytery of the Southwest) and I can’t see moving anytime soon…
    Keep up the Good Fight, Sean. There are probably many like me who lift you up in our prayers – for your strength and continued passion for the Truth of God’s Word.

  3. drake Says:

    Sean,
    I am just about finished with my Christology work. I have one more article to write whether I take a Bostonian View of the Covenant of Redemption or a Rutherfordian view, but all the major pieces are put together. For your reading pleasure:

    Clarkian Christology: A Complete Reading List and a Biblical Defense by Drake Shelton (All of these articles are intimately related to the conclusion)

    http://sites.google.com/a/thekingsparlor.com/the-kings-parlor/christology/articles-that-my-christological-opponents-must-read-by-drake-shelton

  4. drake Says:

    Sean,
    By the by, methinks we Clarkian folks need to get together and hammer out some agreed on issues and wording and have some kind of Clarkian Orthodoxy developed here on Christology. I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I went through the past year.

    Drake

  5. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thank you for your prayers Kris.

  6. Hugh McCann Says:

    God promised us heresies and heretics ~ 1 Cor 11:19

  7. Stephen Says:

    Sean, you may want to add to your list of FV friendly seminaries, Knox in Ft. Lauderdale. This seminary, which was once confessional with great solid men like Fowler White, Robert Reymond, Palmer Robertson, and George Knight, now has Peter Leithart and John Armstrong teaching on its staff. Knox which was once a great seminary is now a haven for Federal Visionists. Ironically, Van Till’s great niece teaches here as well. May the Lord have mercy on the PCA.

  8. evergreen Says:

    No, no, no. You have it all wrong. Your into theology at a level of detail that is just phenomenal–that’s why all these arguments keep occurring. If you simply cease defining things to such an extent you’ll find that everyone’s pretty much on the same page. Listen: During the reign of Elizabeth I puritan preachers were going on and on in the pulpits while engaging in hair-splitting monologues. Each person would go off and become their own theologian. Soon, everyone grew fussy and no one was happy. That’s why the Anglican church had what’s called the via media. I see the same thing recapitulated in this Westminster tradition. It sounds just nutty–really, you’ve got to get an outsiders perspective on this. It’s just zaney. We need to get back to a basic orthodox sense of Christianity. Read C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. All of this nonsense is going nowhere. All we have are heresy trials and endless debate. It’s unnerving. Didn’t you see what happened with Franky Schaeffer? He grew disgusted and left Protestantism altogether. Now he’s over in the Greek church. You guys need to stop this. The novelist Anne Rice recently said she’s quitting organized Christianity. She can’t take it anymore either. The pettiness is just phenomenal. Let’s get back to the basics. If you want to investigate things further, fine. But don’t standardize those things and hurt people who deviate from them. We Protestants are capable of real extremes. Either we don’t read the Bible and we get all muddled in our thinking, or we look into things too closely and get kooky. When are we going to achieve a balance?


  9. Correction, Anne Rice left Roman Catholicism, not Christianity. If there’s no real difference, you have no business using the phrase, “we Protestants.”

  10. evergreen Says:

    I include, of course, all christians who are roman catholic–I just consider their teachings to be a bit too strange to be included in Christianity. So I refer to Protestants–but perhaps we should include the Greeks too. Look, all I’m saying is that there is way too much talk to the effect of how many angels can dance upon the head of a pin. It puts the medieval scholastics to shame. And though Anne Rice left Catholicism, I have reason to believe the dynamic was somewhat similar. Now I’ve been hearing what sounds like a lot of classroom bickering. It’s pretty much all in reference to this business of “how it all works.” The fact that Christ came to put the world to rights ought to be enough for us. Now we need to get on with the business of telling others: we need to introduce this good news of hope and love and newness of life to everyone. Why are people sitting around wasting time talking about so many particulars? It all sounds so very zaney.

  11. evergreen Says:

    And the point I was making had nothing to do with Anne Rice except in terms of this: People get tired of pettiness. All of this talk surrounding the federal vision and all of that jazz–what is all of this? How is this helping anyone? Is this of any assitance to a broken life-to an alcoholic lieing in his own puke on the side of the road, or a person wasting away on a hospital bed? C’mon–I shouldn’t have to explain that–it’s too obvioius. I’m really tired of all of this. I’m wondering if maybe we’re a bit too well-fed. Here we are talking about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Meanwhile, someone without arms and legs is trying to maneuver around in a wheelchair somewhere. Someone else is writhing down a sidewalk in a third world country because he can’t afford a wheelchair. Somewhere else people may not even be allowed to go to church. I think we need to prioritize. All of this theological jazz will do a coke addict no good at all. And it does us no good either! It simply generates argument.

  12. LGC Says:

    Wow, I just googled “Why did Westminster Seminary California” split from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia/” and bumped into your site… I’ve heard vaguely about FEderal Vision, but had no idea there were so many nooks and crannies regarding what it is… Maybe I’ll google that next… So, does anyone here know why they split in 1982? I ask this not to split hairs, which sounds like what might be going on with this whole blog, but to just get some general information, thanks. If anyone has the answer, and even if it’s “hair splitting” I ‘d still like to know why and what is the difference between the two schools, thanks.

  13. LGC Says:

    Also, just by hearing what this man is saying in the video above, is Paul Washer part of this camp? b/c when I listen to him, I get this “Greg Laurie flashback” feeling of a legalist who isn’s sure if anyone is saved b/c no one is living up to some “standard” that he speaks of so much…

  14. gary Says:

    We orthodox Lutherans are THRILLED to see the rise of the “Federal Vision” in Reformed circles. However, we Lutherans have another term for it: Lutheranism!

    God be praised that the Reformed are coming back to accepting “Repent and be baptized…for the forgiveness of sins” as EXACTLY what God meant and not a mistranslation by Catholic/Anglican/Lutheran translators.

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

  15. Sean Gerety Says:

    I confess Gary, I really don’t follow the theological trajectory of Lutheranism and it’s apostasy, but are you telling me that Lutherans reject salvation by faith alone and the imputation of Jesus’ “alien righteousness” as the means of our justification? If so, I’m thinking brother Marty is spinning in his grave. =8-O

  16. gary Says:

    If we orthodox Lutherans (those Lutherans who hold ALL of the Lutheran Confessions, otherwise known as the Book of Concord, as a true interpretation of Holy Scripture, and a correct Statement of Faith) had a dollar for every time that a Reformed Christian, Baptist, or evangelical accused us of betraying Luther’s teachings, we would be extremely rich!

    Many Reformed have read Luther’s Bondage of the Will and think they know all that there is to know about Luther. They are wrong. Luther’s position on some issues “matured” as his break with Rome became permanent. Early on, Luther wanted to keep the Pope as the head of the Church!

    Bottom line, Luther NEVER denounced his (Catholic) infant baptism as the moment when God “gifted” him faith and salvation. Any idea that Luther had an evangelical “born again” experience while reading the Book of Romans is wishful thinking on the part of Baptists and evangelicals.

    Luther never wavered in his belief in Baptismal Regeneration: Baptism is God’s act, not man’s. God saves in Baptism by the power of his Word, working through the Holy Spirit. Salvation is a monergistic act of God. Salvation is not based on your “decision” to believe nor is it based on your “feelings of belief that you are one of the Elect”. That is where the Reformed, Baptists, and evangelicals get tripped up. The Church Catholic, the Church of the Apostles and the Early Church Fathers have ALWAYS taught that God SAVES and forgives sins in Baptism. It is NOT a Roman Catholic invention. You Reformed threw the baby out with the bath water!

    So, please explain to me, dear Reformed brother, which of Luther’s teachings am I contradicting?

  17. Steve M Says:

    Gary
    Does baptism save one if it is done in a Reformed, Baptist or evangelical church?

  18. Sean Gerety Says:

    I thought Luther believed that one could be saved without baptism, despite his belief in a form of baptismal regeneration (which was different from Rome in that he believed something along the lines that the Word was mixed with the water which gave rise to faith by which even infants trust (believe) the Word.

  19. gary Says:

    This may surprise you but ALL orthodox Christian Churches teach that a sinner can be saved without baptism, even the Roman Catholics. This has been the teaching of the Church Catholic for 2,000 years.

    The Word of God can save without Baptism. An adult sinner can hear or read the Word of God and be saved by faith in Christ. If he dies before having the opportunity to be baptized he will go to heaven. He is a Christian.

    However, God has chosen baptism as the principle “when” of salvation and the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Luther’s squabble with Rome was about the Satisfaction for Sins/Purgatory, it was NEVER about the moment of salvation: Baptism.

    Luther’s differences regarding Baptism are significant but in reality are irrelevant to the infant being baptized. Both Rome and Luther believed that ANY Trinitarian baptism is effectual, even the baptisms of the Ana-Baptists! An Ana-Baptist converting to either Lutheranism or Rome would NOT be re-baptized, because Baptism is an act of God, not to be repeated.

    Today, a Mormon or a Oneness Pentecostal WOULD be rebaptized in ALL orthodox Churches as these groups are not recognized as Christian Churches: they do not believe or baptize in the Trinity.

    The key hurdle that non-orthodox Christians must overcome is the belief that Baptism is a work of the sinner. Scripture says that Baptism is an act of God. The baptism of an infant is the perfect demonstration of God “gifting” faith, belief, and salvation. What did the infant do to be saved? Nothing.

  20. gary Says:

    Rome teaches that the act of Baptism (the Word spoken while water is applied) saves in an of itself. Luther taught that it was faith that saved IN Baptism.

    However, Luther’s definition of faith is much different than the typical Baptist and evangelical. Luther believed that “faith” is gifted to the adult or infant sinner by a supernatural act of God in Baptism, whereas the Baptist and evangelical believes that faith is OUR faith, a product of our intelligence, maturity, and decision-making capabilities.

    Again, Luther’s difference in theology with Rome makes no difference to the infant being baptized. Whether Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, or Methodist, the little baby IS saved by this marvelous, supernatural, common-sense defying act of God.

    Unfortunately, Baptists and evangelical children must wait until an Age of Accountability to receive this marvelous gift from God, but at least they receive it.

  21. Sean Gerety Says:

    Rome teaches that the act of Baptism (the Word spoken while water is applied) saves in an of itself. Luther taught that it was faith that saved IN Baptism.

    Yes, but you said: “Luther NEVER denounced his (Catholic) infant baptism as the moment when God “gifted” him faith and salvation.” They believe as you rightly point out that the act of baptism itself saves. So, Rome doesn’t teach that Baptism is the moment when God gifts an infant or person with faith and salvation. I’d say that’s a significant difference. Luther was also wrong on the Lord Supper, so what’s your point? The FV argues that a man is brought into union with Christ through baptism, whether they believe or not, whether they’re “gifted” withfaith or not, and they remain there through their works. They teach that “initial” justification occurs at the moment of baptism and “final” justification occurs on the last day according to our works. Are you saying Luther believed in justification by works. That’s news to me.

    Also, I’m not a Baptist, but I know plenty of Reformed Baptists who disagree with your characterization of them. They too believe that belief is God’s gift alone, given to God’s elect alone. Read Gill.

  22. gary Says:

    So if I correctly understand your question: Is the efficacy of a Baptism based upon the theology of the person (priest/pastor) performing the Baptism?

    Absolutely not!

    The efficacy of a Baptism is based solely on the power of God’s Word: the invocation of the Trinity while water is applied to the person.

    Let me give you an example: a couple brings their child to an Lutheran church to be baptized. Unbeknowst to them, the pastor of this church is living in sin, has denounced Christ, and considers himself an atheist. However, he remains in his job as a minister because he has no other job training and he has a family to feed. He keeps his rejection of the Christian faith and Christ a secret!

    So when this atheist pours water over the head of this child while pronouncing the Words of God: “I baptize you ____, in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit”, is this baptism valid? Is this baptism effectual in saving this child, making him or her a child of God, and forgiving him of original sin?

    Absolutely!

    Why? Because Baptism is God’s act, not man’s. It is the Word of God that saves in a supernatural, almighty act of God. The character, beliefs, and theology of the person performing the baptism cannot nullify God’s Word. Therefore, the Roman Catholic child is saved in an RCC baptism just as is a Lutheran child in a Lutheran baptism, or a Presbyterian child in a Reformed baptism.

    Baptism is God’s act, not man’s.

  23. gary Says:

    You said, “The FV argues that a man is brought into union with Christ through baptism, whether they believe or not, whether they’re “gifted” withfaith or not, and they remain there through their works. They teach that “initial” justification occurs at the moment of baptism and “final” justification occurs on the last day according to our works.”

    I am assuming this is a correct assessment of the FV view, as I am new to this theology.

    We Lutherans would agree that man is brought into union with Christ in Baptism because Scripture states that we are buried with Christ and become a new person in Baptism.

    We believe that the power of God’s Word always gives faith and belief to the sinner in a Trinitarian baptism. We believe that ALL Trinitarian baptisms are effectual because it is God’s act, and God is not dependent on the mental state of the recipient or the one baptizing. It a supernatural act of God. It is so easy but yet so difficult to comprehend. Man brings NOTHING to the “salvation transaction”, not even HIS belief. God creates belief by his Word, usually at the time of Baptism.

    Once given, however, the gift can be rejected and discarded. Salvation can be lost, but not due to a lack of good works but only by a willful rejection of Christ or a life of ongoing, willful sin.

  24. Steve M Says:

    gary: “Man brings NOTHING to the “salvation transaction”, not even HIS belief. God creates belief by his Word, usually at the time of Baptism.”

    Is understanding God’s word necessary to believing it?

  25. Sean Gerety Says:

    I am assuming this is a correct assessment of the FV view, as I am new to this theology.

    It is correct and I’ve been dealing with the FV for longer than I care to think about.

    We believe that the power of God’s Word always gives faith and belief to the sinner in a Trinitarian baptism.

    Well, and no offense, that’s just silly. Catholics don’t believe the Gospel and they don’t even preach the Gospel. Good Reformed and Presbyterians, and I suspect even Lutherans, know people in their own flock, even their own family, who were baptized as infants, even brought up in the church, and never come to saving faith. Did they really have the gift of faith? I don’t see how?

    Once given, however, the gift can be rejected and discarded.

    Not much of gift. Seems to me you’re basically an Arminian, which is weird since you deride free will Baptists and Evangelicals above for their imagined sovereignty in salvation having a will that is free to believe or not believe. As far as I can tell, you’re no different.

  26. gary Says:

    No.

    Salvation is not an intellectual transaction between two parties negotiating a contract. Salvation is 100% a FREE gift. The sinner is not required to do or believe ANYTHING as a prerequisite to salvation. That includes understanding what is being said to him by the Word.

    Man always wants to bring himself into the act of salvation, but according to Scripture, God doesn’t need or allow the sinner to bring his good deeds, his good “decisions”, his intelligence, his maturity or his ability to understand language to his salvation. This is why the Church has always believed that God can and does save infants and the severely mentally ill without the need for them to comprehend what is happening in their baptism.

    This is why non-believers consider the Christian faith as “nonsense”. “What??” they say. ” All I have to do is go down and dip in the water and I will be healed/saved?? That’s too easy!!”

    In all other world religions the human being has to do SOMETHING to earn the god’s favor. In Christianity God’s favor is given without ANY merit on our part. We don’t deserve his free gift, but he gives it anyway.

    God “gifts” faith, belief, repentance, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life by the power of his Almighty Word, most often at and in Baptism, but the Word can and does save outside of Baptism.

    Read the Early Church Fathers. This has been the position of the Church on Baptism for almost 2,000 years.

  27. gary Says:

    To Sean:

    Lutherans believe in SINGLE predestination. We believe that God predestines the Elect, but does not predestine the Damned.

    We also believe that a sinner is spiritually dead and therefore has no ability to “choose” God. God chooses salvation, not sinners. However, Lutherans believe that once God gives the gift of salvation, a BELIEVER does have a free will. He is not a robot. He can turn his back, spit in the face of God, lose his faith, and God will take the Spirit from him, as God did to King Saul and as is described in Hebrews chapter 6.

    We Lutherans are accustomed to having the Reformed call our beliefs “silly”. They have been saying this for the last 500 years. Lutherans believe that God has many “paradoxes” that we do not believe should be picked apart with human reason and logic to attempt to understand with the human mind. We are willing to leave these issues as mysteries, whereas the Reformed usually want and are unsatisfied unless they have “figured it out”.

    We accept paradoxes such as: The Christian whose faith and trust is in Christ need never fear his loss of salvation. The believer who rejects Christ and turns to a life of willful, ongoing sin may well wake up in hell.

    Baptism nor a “decision for Christ” are automatic tickets into heaven. Heaven only accepts faith, not one time decisions of faith that have not endured to the end.

  28. Sean Gerety Says:

    First, while faith is God’s gift and justification is 100% a work of God alone to which man can play no part, I’ll cut to the chase by saying if Lutherans don’t believe in justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in the Gospel alone, and by Christ alone, then they’re no better than the heretics of the FV and are similarly damned.

    But to your reply, the baptized Damned, not being among the Elect, end up where? And, what happened to the faith they received at baptism? How do you know you’re not one of the Damned? You may say you have faith and trust in Christ today, but on what basis can you say you may never lose your salvation through unbelief? Certainly if all receive the gift of faith in baptism and some end up not so believing, then there has to be some cause, yes? And, if that cause is not God then it must be caused by . . . yep, man. I guess you’ll say it’s a “mystery,” but I’ll just say it is incoherent B.S. Also, I never said baptism or making a decision for Christ saved anyone. I think you have me confused with some opponent you’ve manufactured in your own mind.

    Christ’s death completely outside of ourselves on a cross is what saves. Belief is merely the instrument by which the elect might apprehend what God has accomplished for them on the cross. The Damned never truly come to saving faith, even through baptism, because they were not predestined to that end and were never given to Son by the Father before the foundation of the world.

  29. gary Says:

    Sean: After all that I have said, how do you still see that…

    ” if Lutherans don’t believe in justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in the Gospel alone, and by Christ alone…”

  30. gary Says:

    The Arminian believe that he was saved when he made a decision to believe.

    The (cradle) Lutheran believes that he was saved by God’s gift of faith and belief in his infant baptism.

    Many Calvinists can’t tell you the “when” of their salvation. They will say something like, “I don’t know when I was saved, but I know that I am now because of the existence of my belief” or they will say, “I was born saved since I am one of the Elect”.

    Neither one of these scenarios are found in the Bible. We never see salvation being a process. There is always a moment of salvation. And no one is born saved. We are all born with original sin.

    How and when were you saved, Sean.

    To answer your question: as is stated in Hebrews chapter 6, someone can be a true believer and lose the Holy Spirit and perish. The Church of the Apostles has NEVER taught “Once saved, always saved.” I can give you quotes by Early Church Fathers if you would like.

    “Once saved, always saved” is an invention of western Europeans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It was never heard of in the Church before that time.

  31. Steve M Says:

    gary: “No.

    Salvation is not an intellectual transaction between two parties negotiating a contract. Salvation is 100% a FREE gift. The sinner is not required to do or believe ANYTHING as a prerequisite to salvation. That includes understanding what is being said to him by the Word.”

    I am confused. You wrote “God creates belief by his Word, usually at the time of Baptism.”

    God creates belief in what? Does this belief God creates have no object? If the believer has no understanding of the object of this “belief”, how can it rightly be called belief at all?

  32. gary Says:

    To Steve:

    Just because an infant can’t verbalize to you his belief, does that mean it is impossible that belief exists in the infant? Human reason and logic tell you it is impossible, but salvation is an act of God, not bound to the rules of logic and reason.

    Infants can believe and can have the Holy Spirit. Read the Gospel of Luke. John the Baptist was given the Holy Spirit at birth and jumped for joy when he HEARD the voice of the Virgin Mary.

    My Reformed brothers and sisters, God is not bound by human laws of logic and reason. Why did Christ say that we must have the faith of a small child?? Small children do not tell their fathers: “What you are saying is contradictory and makes no sense, so I refuse to believe you!”

    Do you believe that Christ is the Son of God but as eternal as his Father? Doesn’t the very definition of the word “son” imply a begetting, a beginning?? You Reformed have no problem accepting this nonsensical, illogical, unreasonable paradox, so why do you balk at believing the other paradoxes of Scripture?

  33. gary Says:

    Here is the official Reformed Doctrine of Baptism. Do you believe this statement, Sean? It sounds awfully similar to the Lutheran position.

    As to Reformed understanding of baptism. WCF 28:

    1. Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church; but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his church until the end of the world.

    2. The outward element to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the gospel, lawfully called thereunto.

    3. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring, or sprinkling water upon the person.

    4. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.

    5. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it; or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

    6. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.

    7. The sacrament of baptism is but once to be administered unto any person.

  34. Sean Gerety Says:

    Yes, Gary, I believe WCF is an accurate reflection of the system of doctrine taught in Scripture; WCF 28 included. I would be surprise if WCF 28 was dramatically different from the Lutheran position, but then you came here praising the FV men saying how excited you were by what these dogs were teaching and that it is basically Lutheranism. Maybe it was just due to ignorance and your unfamiliarity with what these FV men are teaching. Hopefully you’ll forgive me for my questioning your adherence to JBFA and the doctrine of imputation when you see so much in common with those who don’t.

  35. gary Says:

    Maybe I am ignorant on FV.

    Could you tell me how they are different from the statement above from the WCF regarding Baptism? I will be happy to retract my endorsement of FV if I am in error.

  36. justbybelief Says:

    “We orthodox Lutherans are THRILLED to see the rise of the “Federal Vision” in Reformed circles. However, we Lutherans have another term for it: Lutheranism!”

    This is not surprising as the FV’ers are heading back to Rome–In the direction of Lutheranism–the Lutheran reformation being a stunted reformation at best.

    Eric

  37. Sean Gerety Says:

    Gary,as you know, the clever thing about a good counterfeit is that it often looks like the genuine article. So, I can see how someone, perhaps especially a Lutheran, could think the FV is just a form of Lutheranism.

    There are many points where the FV differ from a proper understanding of WCF 28 and I don’t have time to go into them all right now. But, for example, the FV first flatten the visible/invisible church distinction and replace it with an historic/eschatolical distinction. They believe that all baptized are given all the blessings of faith including regeneration, forgiveness of sins, new birth, etc., (save the blessing of perseverance) through the act of baptism itself. They believe that all baptized are the “elect” and all are both outwardly and inwardly members of the Covenant of Grace. The problem is WCF 8:3 states that the CoG promises the blessing of the Covenant to “all those that are ordained unto life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.” God makes no promise to the non-elect, even in baptism, which is why WCF 28 states that the “grace and salvation” pictured in the sacrament is “not so inseparably annexed unto it” that we’re to expect “that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.” The FV men insist that they are “undoubtedly regenerated” and the baptized non-elect receive all the blessings of the CoG including the Holy Spirit Himself. The only difference between the elect and non-elect (the reprobate) is that latter lacks the gift of perseverance (which is probably why their scheme looks a lot like yours).

  38. gary Says:

    I’m going to have to study FV more, but based on your last comment I would say that Lutheranism differs from this aspect of FV in only one manner:

    1. Lutherans do not believe that the Elect can lose their salvation.
    2. Lutherans do believe that ALL Trinitarian baptisms invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to regenerate spiritually dead sinners, forgive all sins, and grant the promise of eternal life. ALL baptized persons are saved in their baptisms.
    3. Lutherans do not believe in “Once saved, Always saved”. Therefore one who is truly a believer, truly regenerated, truly a Christian, can lose his salvation by a willful rejection of Christ (ie. conversion to Islam) or ongoing, willful sin. The quantity or quality of good works plays no role in “keeping” your salvation.
    4. Again, however, those who are the Elect, will never lose their salvation.

    So even though FV use different wording, it seems like we are saying the same thing. Am I still missing something?

  39. gary Says:

    Eric,

    We Lutherans are amused when Protestants accuse us of being “Catholic”, especially when it is meant as an insult.

    Lutherans ARE Catholic, just not ROMAN Catholic.

    We never left the Church Catholic. We were kicked out by an arrogant Pope. Our goal has always been to reform the Church, not to destroy it and create a new Church.

    Lutherans believe that we are the restoration of the Early Church, the Church Catholic of the Apostles.

  40. justbybelief Says:

    The Lutheran reformation was a stunted reformation for the same reason that Van Til’s system is stunted; It can be traced to the same erroneous teaching about scripture, although the Lutherans do not use the word ‘paradox’ while articulating their version of the same error.

    Many of their ‘theologians’ blame the morass that is called Christianity on the Reformed whose (our) theology they say cannot be nailed down. Yet, many of the errors that are embraced by this ‘morass’ come directly from Lutheranism itself not from the Reformed.

    For example: The Lutherans say that when a person calls himself Reformed/Calvinist, it means nothing at all. For this reason they determine to call everyone Reformed, even though they aren’t, even people like Chuck Swindol (an Arminian); yet, my pet cat is more Reformed than he. Subsequently they blame many, if not all, the ills of modern American Christianity on us. If you read Harold Senkbeil’s book ‘Sanctification: Christ in Action’ it will bear this out. In his book, Senkbeil, blames Calvinism for Benjamin Franklin’s statement, “God helps those who help themselves,” which is as foreign to Calvinism as the east is from the west. This is one (among many) manifestations of Senkbeil’s lying tongue and his gross ignorance of the Reformed Tradition and Calvinism actions embraced by not a few Lutherans.

    Thank God for Clark who in these days of drought truly discharged his God-given duty and left an example for us to follow according to the scripture.

  41. justbybelief Says:

    We Lutherans are amused when Protestants accuse us of being “Catholic”, especially when it is meant as an insult.”

    No one accused you of being Roman Catholic. You were accused of a stunted reformation that retained many of the errors of Catholicism.

    On their trek back to Egypt the FV’ers will pass by the same ‘houses’ the elect passed by on their way out.

  42. Sean Gerety Says:

    3. Lutherans do not believe in “Once saved, Always saved”. Therefore one who is truly a believer, truly regenerated, truly a Christian, can lose his salvation by a willful rejection of Christ (ie. conversion to Islam) or ongoing, willful sin. The quantity or quality of good works plays no role in “keeping” your salvation.

    4. Again, however, those who are the Elect, will never lose their salvation.

    You don’t see a contradiction here?

    So even though FV use different wording, it seems like we are saying the same thing. Am I still missing something?

    Yes, it does seem like you and the FV have a number of things in common regarding baptism. As a matter of fact, the FV men have been accused of being Arminian, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic at different times and depending on which aspect of the FV you’re talking about. But, yes, you should learn more before you decide you’re one of them. There are many good resources, but I would recommend Not Reformed At All by the late John Robbins and myself. 🙂

  43. gary Says:

    Well, since we Lutheran Catholics have been around for almost 500 years and the FV are newcomers, I would suggest that instead of causing turmoil for the Reformed, they should jump ship, and join us.

  44. gary Says:

    Sean,

    Lutherans see a divine mystery/paradox but the Reformed can only see contradiction.

    Reason: childlike (silly) faith

  45. justbybelief Says:

    “Well, since we Lutheran Catholics have been around for almost 500 years…”

    God’s elect have been around since God preached the gospel in the hearing of Adam, Eve and the serpent.

    “Lutherans see a divine mystery/paradox…”

    Reason? A stiff neck!

  46. justbybelief Says:

    “…Not Reformed At All…”

    This book shreds FV theology and condemns those who hold it.

  47. Sean Gerety Says:

    I would suggest that instead of causing turmoil for the Reformed, they should jump ship, and join us.

    If they only would. And, what the heck is a “Lutheran Catholic”? You really do want to see Marty spin in his grave don’t you.

    Lutherans see a divine mystery/paradox but the Reformed can only see contradiction.

    Reason: childlike (silly) faith

    Yeah, we would want logic interfering with a bunch of incoherent religious nonsense that renders God’s word a morass of conflicting “truths.” Have fun with that.

  48. Steve M Says:

    Am correct in understanding Gary to be contending that some of those who are regenerated are not among the elect?

  49. Sean Gerety Says:

    That’s how I read him. Which I suspect why the FV at best is warmed over Lutheranism. But, then, I’m being kind..

  50. gary Says:

    In case you don’t believe that what I am saying truly reflects confessional (orthodox) Lutheranism. Here is a statement by the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, the largest orthodox Lutheran Church in the United States:

    Q: Can you lose your salvation and if you can, what do you need to do to regain it again?

    A: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod believes and teaches that it is possible for a true believer to fall from faith, as Scripture itself soberly and repeatedly warns us (1 Cor. 10:12; 1 Pet. 5:8; 2 Pet. 3:17; Heb. 2:1-3; 3:12-19; 6:4-8, etc.). Such warnings are intended for Christians who appear to be lacking a right understanding of the seriousness of their sin and of God’s judgment against sin, and who, therefore, are in danger of developing a false and proud “security” based not on God’s grace, but on their own works, self-righteousness, or freedom to “do as they please.”

    By the same token, the LCMS affirms and treasures all of the wonderful passages in Scripture in which God promises that He will never forsake those who trust in Christ Jesus alone for salvation (John 10:27-29; Romans 8; Heb. 13: 5-6, etc.). To those who are truly repentant and recognize their need for God’s grace and forgiveness, such passages are powerful reminders of the true security that is ours through sincere and humble faith in Christ alone for our salvation.

    A person may be restored to faith in the same way he or she came to faith in the first place: by repenting of his or her sin and unbelief and trusting completely in the life, death and resurrection of Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation.

    Whenever a person does repent and believe, this always takes place by the grace of God alone and by the power of the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word in a person’s heart.

  51. gary Says:

    And here is a statement on Election/Predestination from the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. I would be curious after reading this and the above statement how close you feel the FV Reformed are to we orthodox Lutherans.

    Q: “Why are some saved and not others?” Theologians throughout history have referred to this question as the “crux theologorum” (“the cross of the theologians”) because of the difficulty (and from the Lutheran perspective, the impossibility) of giving an answer to this question which is satisfactory to our human reason.

    A: Some answer this question by pointing to man’s “free will”–only those are saved who “choose” to be saved. Lutherans reject this answer as unscriptural because according to the Bible even man’s will is “dead” and powerless to “choose” God and his grace in Christ. We are saved not because we “choose” to be saved but because the Holy Spirit works faith in our heart through the Gospel (even faith is a gift!). Others answer this question by pointing to God’s sovereign will: God himself predestines from eternity some to be saved and others to be damned. Lutherans reject this answer as unscriptural because according to the Bible God sincerely desires all to be saved and has predestined no one to damnation.

    So how do Lutherans answer this question? The answer is that Lutherans do not try to answer it, because (we believe) the Bible itself does not provide an answer to this question that is comprehensible to human reason. Lutherans affirm, with Scripture, that whoever is saved is saved by God’s grace alone, a grace so sure that it excludes all human “action” and “choice” but rather rests on the foundation of God’s action in Christ and his “choice” (predestination) from before the beginning of time. Lutherans also affirm, with Scripture, that those who are damned are damned not by God’s “choice” but on account of their own human sin and rebellion and unbelief. From a human perspective, there is no “rational” or “logical” way to put these two truths together. Lutherans believe and confess them not because they are “rational” and “logical,” but because this is what we find taught in Scripture.

    For a further discussion of this issue, you may want to read Of the Election of Grace in the Brief Statement of the LCMS, and/or Articles II and XI in the Formula of Concord (contained in the Book of Concord, the Lutheran Confessions).

  52. gary Says:

    Here is a statement by Martin Luther condemning the Reformed Doctrine of “Once saved, Always saved”:

    (From the American Edition of Luther’s Works 5:43-50; Luther’s Genesis Commentary, commenting on Genesis 29:9).

    Martin Luther: It pleases me to take from this passage the opportunity to discuss doubt, God, and the will of God; for I hear that here and there among the nobles and persons of importance vicious statements are being spread abroad concerning predestination or God’s foreknowledge. For this is what they say: “If I am predestined, I shall be saved, whether I do good or evil. If I am not predestined, I shall be condemned regardless of my works.” I would be glad to debate in detail against these wicked statements if the uncertain state of my health made it possible for me to do so. For if the statements are true, as they, of course, think, then the incarnation of the Son of God, His suffering and resurrection, and all that He did for the salvation of the world are done away with completely. What will the prophets and all Holy Scripture help? What will the sacraments help? Therefore let us reject all this and tread it underfoot.

  53. Steve M Says:

    gary: “However, Lutherans believe that once God gives the gift of salvation, a BELIEVER does have a free will.”

    Am I understanding correctly that Lutherans believe that unbelievers lack freedom of the will, but believers have a free will?

  54. justbybelief Says:

    You’ve been confronted with the truth, gary; it’s time to repent. Lutheranism is exposed today as the inconsistent garbage it’s alway been.

  55. justbybelief Says:

    Gentlemen (Lutherans excepted),

    In debating Lutheran pastors in the past and walking them through plain passages of scriptures (among them Romans 8 and 9), which concern some of the topics in this thread, it was plain to me that they were deluded, as if God Himself had His fingers in their ears.

    Eric

  56. Gary Says:

    Steve,

    Lutherans believe that unbelievers do not have a free will in spiritual matters. God makes the decision for salvation, not the sinner. However, once we receive God’s gift of faith, belief and salvation we are spiritually awakened and thereafter we then have a free will to choose to follow Christ or to turn back, reject him, and perish in hell.

  57. Gary Says:

    Eric,

    I have a challenge for you:

    Pick any passage from Scripture that discusses salvation or baptism and let’s see if it is the Lutherans or the Reformed who refuse to accept the plain, simple interpretation of the passage, but instead use all sorts of linguistic excuses to reinterpret the passage to fit their doctrine.

  58. justbybelief Says:

    Steve M,

    “Am correct in understanding Gary to be contending that some of those who are regenerated are not among the elect?”

    That’s exactly right, this is one among many errors that Lutherans teach.

  59. Gary Says:

    JBB:

    Lutherans can show from the plain, simple interpretation of Scripture and from historical records that our beliefs are the beliefs of the Early Church.

    The Reformed must reinterpret Scripture to arrive at their doctrines that deny baptismal regeneration, the Real Presence in the Lord’s Supper, and the belief in “Once saved, Always saved”. And, the Reformed have no explanation for why their teachings on these issues did not exist in the Early Church of the Apostles.

  60. gary Says:

    The Church Fathers believed in Baptismal Regeneration:

    Didache: 9:5 “And let none eat or drink of your Eucharist but such as have been baptized into the name of the Lord, for of a truth the Lord hath said concerning this, Give not that which is holy unto dogs.” (circa 80-100)

    “He was born and baptized so that by His passion He could purify the water.” St Ignatius (c. 105)

    “There is no other repentance than that which takes place, when we descended into the water and received the remission of our former sins.” Hermas (circa 150)

    “Before a man bears the name of the Son of God, he is dead. But when he receives the seal, he lays aside his deadness and obtains life. The seal, then, is water. They descend into water dead, and they arise alive.” Hermas (circa 150)

    “This washing of repentance and knowledge of God has been ordained on account of the transgression of God’s people, as Isaiah cries. Accordingly, we have believed and testify that the very baptism which he announced is alone able to purify those who have repented. And this is the water of life. For what is the use of that baptism which cleanses only the flesh and body? Baptize the soul from wrath and from covetousness, from envy, and from hatred.” St Justin Martyr (circa 160)

    “We who have approached God through His Son have received, not carnal, but spiritual circumcision, which Enoch and those like him observed. And we have received it through baptism by God’s mercy, since we were sinners.” Justin Martyr (circa 160)

    “But there is no other way than this: to become acquainted with this Christ; to be washed in the fountain spoken of by Isaiah for the remission of sins.” St Justin Martyr (circa 160)

    “Christ has redeemed us by being crucified on the tree and by purifying us with water.” St Justin Martyr (circa 160)

    “The things proceeding from the waters were blessed by God, that this also could be a sign of men being destined to receive repentance and remission of sins, through the water and bath of regeneration- as many as come to the truth and are born again.” Theophilus (circa 180)

    “When we come to refute them [the Gnostics], we will show in its proper place that this class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God. Thus, they have renounced the whole faith. For the baptism instituted by the visible Jesus was for the remission of sins.” St Irenaeus (circa 180)

    “But there are some of them [Gnostics] who assert that it is unnecessary to bring persons to the water. Rather, they mix oil and water together, and they place its mixture on the heads of those who are to be initiated . . . This they maintain to be the redemption. Other heretics, however, reject all these practices, and maintain that the mystery of the unspeakable and invisible power should not be performed by visible and corruptible creatures . . . These claim that the knowledge of the unspeakable Greatness is itself prefect redemption.” St Irenaeus (circa 180)

    “Man, with respect to that formation which was after Adam, having fallen into transgression, needed the bath of regeneration. Therefore, the Lord said of [the blind man] after He had smeared his eyes with the clay, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ By this means, He restored to him both confirmation and regeneration that takes place by means of the bath.” St Irenaeus (circa 180)

    “Scripture says, ‘And he dipped himself seven times in the Jordan.’ It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was a symbol for us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean from our old transgressions by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord. We are spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, just as the Lord has declared: ‘Unless a man is born again through water and the Spirit, he will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’” Irenaeus (circa 180)

    “Being baptized, we are illuminated. Illuminated, we become sons. This work is variously called grace, illumination, perfection, and washing. Washing, by which we cleanse away our sins. Grace, by which the penalties accruing to the transgressions are remitted. Illumination, by which that holy light of salvation is beheld, that is, by which we see God clearly.” Clement of Alexandria (circa 195)

    © John J. Bombaro, PhD, 2011

    “And he who has just been regenerated- as the name necessarily indicates- and has been enlightened, is immediately delivered from darkness, and instantly receives the light… Thus, also, we who are baptized, having wiped off the sins that obscure the light of the Divine Spirit, have the eyes of the spirit free, unimpeded, and full of light, by which alone we contemplate the Divine, the Holy Spirit flowing down to us from above.” Clement of Alexandria (circa 195)

    “John prophesied up until the baptism of salvation.” Clement of Alexandria (circa 195)

    “Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life . . . We, like little fishes, after the example of our Ichthus, Jesus Christ, are born in water.” Tertullian (circa 198)

    “Oh, miserable unbelief that denies to God His own properties, simplicity, and power! What then? Is it too wonderful that death should be washed away by washing?” Tertullian (circa 198)

    St Irenaeus (d. 202) remarks, “For He came to save all through means of Himself all, I say, who through Him are born again to God, infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men” (Against Heresies, Book 1, Ch. 22.4).

    In his commentary on Romans, Origin (d. 254) writes, “The Church has received from the apostles the custom of administering baptism even to infants. For those who have been entrusted with the secrets of divine mysteries, knew very well that all are tainted with the stain of original sin, which must be washed off by water and spirit” (Romans Commentary, 5.9).

    St Cyprian (d. 258) writes, “In respect of the case of infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day, we all thought very differently in our council. For in this course which you thought was to be taken, no one agreed; but we all rather judge that the mercy and grace of God is not to be refused to any one born of man . . . Spiritual circumcision ought not to be hindered by carnal circumcision . . . we ought to shrink from hindering an infant, who, being lately born, has not sinned, except in that, being born after the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death at its earliest birth, who approaches the more easily on this very account to the reception of the forgiveness of sins – that to him are remitted, not his own sins, but the sins of another” (Letter 58 to Fidus).

    And in his Enchiridion, St Augustine (d. 430) declares, “For from the infant newly born to the old man bent with age, as there is none shut out from baptism, so there is none who in baptism does not die to sin” (Enchiridion, ch. 43).

  61. gary Says:

    The Church Fathers believed that salvation can be lost:

    “And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men; for there is hope of the repentance, that they may attain to God. For ‘cannot he that falls arise again, and he may attain to God.’” (Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, A.D.110)

    “Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ye ready, for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh. But often shall ye come together, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if ye be not made perfect in the last time.” (Didache, A.D.140)

    “That eternal fire has been prepared for him as he apostatized from God of his own free-will, and likewise for all who unrepentant continue in the apostasy, he now blasphemes, by means of such men, the Lord who brings judgment [upon him] as being already condemned, and imputes the guilt of his apostasy to his Maker, not to his own voluntary disposition.” (Justin Martyr, fragment in Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, 5:26:1, A.D.156)

    “Christ shall not die again in behalf of those who now commit sin, for death shall no more have dominion over Him; but the Son shall come in the glory of the Father, requiring from His stewards and dispensers the money which He had entrusted to them, with usury; and from those to whom He had given most shall He demand most. We ought not, therefore, as that presbyter remarks, to be puffed up, nor be severe upon those of old time, but ought ourselves to fear, lest perchance, after [we have come to] the knowledge of Christ, if we do things displeasing to God, we obtain no further forgiveness of sins, but be shut out from His kingdom. And therefore it was that Paul said, ‘For if [God] spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest He also spare not thee, who, when thou wert a wild olive tree, wert grafted into the fatness of the olive tree, and wert made a partaker of its fatness.’” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4:27:2 A.D. 180)

    “But some think as if God were under a necessity of bestowing even on the unworthy, what He has engaged (to give); and they turn His liberality into slavery. But if it is of necessity that God grants us the symbol of death, then He does so unwillingly. But who permits a gift to be permanently retained which he has granted unwillingly? For do not many afterward fall out of (grace)? Is not this gift taken away from many?” (Tertullian, On Repentance, 6 A.D. 204)

    “Therefore, the ones who are pardoned are those who slip into sin unintentionally and incautiously. He who sins willfully has no pardon.” (Lactantius, A.D. 304)

    “By believing in Him you will live. But by disbelieving you will be punished.” (Apostolic Constitutions, A.D. 390)

    “Grace with the Lord, when once learned and undertaken by us, should never afterward be cancelled by repetition of sin.” (Tertullian, A.D. 203)

    “He who keeps them will be glorified in the kingdom of God. However, he who chooses other things will be destroyed with his works.” (Barnabas, A.D. 70)

    “Only those who fear the Lord and keep His commandments have life with God; but as for those who do not keep His commandments, there is no life in them.” (Barnabas, A.D. 70)

    “We ought therefore, brethren, carefully to inquire concerning our salvation. Otherwise, the wicked one, having made his entrance by deceit, may hurl us forth from our life.” (Barnabas, A.D. 70)

    “Let us therefore repent with the whole heart, so that none of us perish by the way.” (Second Clement, A.D. 150)

    “I hold further, that those of you who have confessed and known this man to be Christ, yet who have gone back for some reason to the legal dispensation [i.e. the Mosaic Law] and have denied that this man is Christ, and have not repented before death—you will by no means be saved.” (Justin Martyr, A.D. 160)

    “Rather, we should fear ourselves, lest perchance, after we have come to the knowledge of Christ, if we do those things displeasing to God, we obtain not further forgiveness for sin, but are shut out of His kingdom.” (Irenaeus, A.D. 180)

    “He who hopes for everlasting rest knows also that the entrance to it is toilsome and narrow. So let him who has once received the gospel not turn back.” (Clement of Alexandria, A.D. 195)

    “God gives forgiveness of past sins. However, as to future sins, each one procures this for himself. He does this by repenting, by condemning past deeds, and by begging the Father to blot them out.” (Clement of Alexandria, A.D. 195)

    “The world returned to sin…and so it is destined to fire. So is the man who after baptism renews his sins.” (Tertullian, A.D. 198)

    “Rather they must be preserved. It is not the actual attainment, but the perfecting, that keeps a man for God.” (Cyprian, A.D. 250)

    “A son who deserts his father in order not to pay him obedience is considered deserving of being disinherited and having his name removed forever from his family.” (Lactaintius, A.D. 304)

    “He who sins after baptism, unless he forsakes his sins, will be condemned to Gehenna.” (Apostolic Constitutions, A.D. 390)

    “These things, beloved, we write unto you, not merely to admonish you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling on the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to both of us. Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling. Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us. Let us look stedfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God, which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world. Let us turn to every age that has passed, and learn that, from generation to generation, the Lord has granted a place of repentance to all such as would be converted unto Him. Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved. Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God.” (Clement to the Corinthians, 7:33-36)

    “Day and night ye were anxious for the whole brotherhood, that the number of God’s elect might be saved with mercy and a good conscience.” (Clement to the Corinthians, 2:7, 8)

    “On account of envy, Aaron and Miriam had to make their abode without the camp. Envy brought down Dathan and Abiram alive to Hades.” (Clement to the Corinthians, 4:20, 21)

    “Having obtained good proof that thy mind is fixed in God as upon an immovable rock, I loudly glorify [His name] that I have been thought worthy [to behold] thy blameless face which may I ever enjoy in God! I entreat thee, by the grace with which thou art clothed, to press forward in thy course, and to exhort all that they may be saved. Maintain thy position with all care, both in the flesh and spirit.” (The Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp, 1:1)

  62. Steve M Says:

    John 6
    “37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

    “44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    Am I correct in understanding that it is the Lutheran position that the group that Christ promises to raise up on the last day is a different group than the one the Father draws unto Christ?

  63. Steve M Says:

    “the ones the Father draws”

  64. gary Says:

    Please give the full passage, Steve. Otherwise I could do this: “and Judas hung himself…go and do likewise” 🙂

    John 6:44 ESV

    No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

    Plain, simple interpretation (PSI): God the Father chooses who will be saved. Sinners do not have the capacity to come to Christ of their own initiative. The concept of “making a decision for Christ” defies Christ’s teaching in this passage.

  65. gary Says:

    Now I see your first post with the full passage.

    I believe exactly what the passage says: Everyone that God draws to Christ will come to him. Sinners are drawn to salvation, they don’t make a decision for salvation.

    Those that the Father has drawn to Christ, Christ will not reject.

    “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

    So to answer your question: God’s will is that everyone who believes in Christ will have eternal life and that Christ will raise up those believers on the last day.

    If someone once believed, but now does not, and I know plenty, including some relatives who are ex-Baptists, now agnostics/deists, is Christ going to raise these reprobates up on the last day to spend eternity with him in heaven? I don’t think so.

    We Lutherans believe that “belief” is an everyday occurrence, not a one time belief which occurs in a “decision for Christ”. Faith/belief must persevere to the end. Works are not necessary for maintaining your salvation, but faith most certainly is.

    Bottom line: No faith–>no salvation–>no eternal life

    So yes, the group that the Father draws to Christ may not be the exact same group as the group that Christ will raise up on the last day.

  66. Steve M Says:

    gary: “So yes, the group that the Father draws to Christ may not be the exact same group as the group that Christ will raise up on the last day.”

    How is that a plain simple interpretation of the passage?

  67. gary Says:

    Because the following section of that passage states that belief is necessary to receive eternal life.

    “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life”

    It doesn’t say that “everyone who at one time believed…(but don’t anymore)…will have eternal life.”

    I think your main issue is my position in relation to this sentence in the passage:

    “44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    I accept the PSI: God determines who will be drawn to Christ. Christ will raise up those persons whom the Father has drawn to him on the last day.

    You see a contradiction. I see a paradox.

  68. justbybelief Says:

    “So yes, the group that the Father draws to Christ may not be the exact same group as the group that Christ will raise up on the last day.”

    Yes! It’s a plain, simple interpretation of scripture…a plain and simple lie–channeling Satan, as it were.

  69. gary Says:

    JBB,

    Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are experts at picking verses out of the Bible and building new, never heard of before doctrines.

    The concept of “Once saved, Always saved” is no different.

    There is no record in the Early Church of this teaching. As you can see from my previous comment, numerous Church Fathers stated for the record that faith is not a one time “decision”, it is a LIFE of faith. Those who turn their backs on Christ to live a life of willful sin will NOT inherit eternal life.

    The lie of OSAS is a license to sin. It is a dangerous false teaching that developed in western Europe during the Enlightenment. It cannot be found in the Early Christian Church.

    New doctrine is by definition, false doctrine.

  70. justbybelief Says:

    Lutherans have had 500 years to entrench their heresies.

    Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses also believe that one can lose their salvation. So, this is nothing new. They surely didn’t get this teaching from Calvinists since Calvinist don’t teach it (Senkbeil’s accusations).

    This teaching stems from the fact that they do not know the true God or the means of salvation which He has provided. Theirs is a works based ‘salvation’ as is anyone’s who believes in the loss of salvation, whether they admit it or not.

  71. justbybelief Says:

    “…OSAS is a license to sin.”

    This presupposes an unregenerate mind (heart). The exact opposite is true. God’s promise of both the gospel and a promise to sustain us IS our motivation. It may be a license to sin for some but then that would prove defective knowledge in a Christian or no faith at all.

  72. gary Says:

    Please provide evidence that anyone in the first 1,000 years of Christianity held your beliefs on Baptism and OSAS.

  73. justbybelief Says:

    “Please provide evidence that anyone in the first 1,000 years of Christianity held your beliefs on Baptism and OSAS.”

    Jesus and the apostles as revealed in the Word of God by the Holy Spirit, who you’ve misinterpreted.

  74. Steve M Says:

    “44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    gary: “I accept the PSI: God determines who will be drawn to Christ. Christ will raise up those persons whom the Father has drawn to him on the last day.”

    How many of those whom the Father draws are raised up on the last day? Other than those drawn by the Father, how many come to Christ? Do some of those who never come to Christ truly believe?

  75. gary Says:

    Once again, there is zero evidence of the existence of your beliefs within Christianity for at least the first 1,000 years of Christianity. Zero.

    Not one letter from a pastor to another pastor lamenting the “new” beliefs of Baptismal Regeneration and OSAS.
    Not one letter from one Christian layperson to another in which a comment is made of the “Catholic” takeover of the Christian Church.
    Not one letter from a parent to his/her son discussing a non-regenerational position on Baptism and the belief in OSAS.
    Not one document by a Christian author stating that your beliefs exist in a small minority of the Church.
    Not one document written by a non-Christian author recording the take over of the “Catholics” of the Christian Church which originally held beliefs consistent with yours.

    Zero evidence. Zero evidence documented in the entire Roman Empire. Zero evidence in non-Roman controlled lands such as Ethiopia, Persia, and India, never under the control of the Roman Catholic Church during these 1,000 years.

    Your beliefs did not exist. They are an invention of sixteenth century western Europeans.

    Ask a Mormon if he will show you evidence of the Golden Tablets given to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni, or any evidence of Mormon-like believers in the Early Church. He will state this: “I don’t need to give you any evidence. God reveals the truth to us in our bosoms.

    Ask a Jehovah’s Witness for evidence of his beliefs in the Early Church. He will tell you: “I don’t need to give you evidence. God tells us in the Bible that we are right. All you need is the Bible. We don’t need historical records.”

    And Baptists, evangelicals, and some Reformed will give you the same answer when asked for proof of their beliefs in the Early Church: “We don’t need to give you historical proof. The Bible tells us we are right, and more importantly God tells us in our hearts that we are right.”

    Whether it is a feeling in your bosom or listening to voices in your “heart” (head), ignoring the fact that your beliefs did not exist on the face of the earth for at least 1,000 after the death of Christ is a symptom of uneducated ignorance.

    Stop listening to internal voices! Wake up.

  76. gary Says:

    Steve,

    Your last comment is typical of the difference between Reformed and Lutheran theology. Lutherans are ok with a paradox, which to humans looks like a contradiction. To the Reformed, since there can be no contradictions with God (which Lutherans would agree with, God does not contradict himself) an APPARENT contradiction must be picked apart in order to make it make sense to humans. Lutherans say, if God had wanted us to understand it, he would have explained it in detail.

    For instance, how can Christ be the Son of God, but yet co-eternal with his Father? The word “son” denotes a begetting, a beginning.
    This concept defies human logic, reason, and common sense, but yet Reformed, Baptists, and Evangelicals have no problem accepting this apparent contradiction, but for some reason can’t accept the fact that God desires all to be saved, that Christ died for all, and that everyone has the opportunity to be saved…BUT at the same time God has predestined, before the creation of the world, who would be saved.

    Contradictory? To human reason and logic: absolutely!
    A divine paradox; an unexplainable, divine, supernatural mystery: Yes!

  77. gary Says:

    And the same with the APPARENT contradiction that Christ has promised never to leave us or forsake us, to be with us to the end of the world, to never let any man take us out of the Father’s hand…BUT there are many passages that state that ongoing, willful sin can result in the loss of salvation.

    Apparent contradiction? Yes.
    True contradiction? Impossible. God does not contradict himself.

    But “my ways are not your ways”. So the Lutheran response is, “Ok, God, it makes no sense, but if you say so, we will believe it.”

    The Christian Church has ALWAYS taught that ongoing, willful sin can lead to a loss of salvation and eternal damnation. I’ve given you the quotes of multiple early Christians from the first three centuries. If you can find one Christian from the same time period who taught that it is impossible for a true believer to lose his salvation, please share it, you will shock the orthodox Christian world.

  78. justbybelief Says:

    From your last diatribe it is obvious we are not the ones listening to private interpretations and the council of men; It is you. We, on the other hand, according to the formal principal of the Reformation, take Scripture as the final authority in matters of faith and practice, which you’ve just condemned.

    We haven’t reinvented the Bible, invented golden tablets, or sought council in our own hearts; these are sins imputed to us by you. This is not a tactic foreign to Lutheran’s though; you’re simply obeying your fathers and your father. Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor.

  79. Steve M Says:

    gary
    I understand that you can’t answer my questions. They were rather simple questions. Since you have made no attempt to answer, i have made no charge that your answers are contradictory. You seem to be making that charge against yourself and then defending yourself. But if answering with what cannot be distinguished from contradictions is acceptable for you, it must be acceptable for others as well, such as Mormons and Jehovah”s Witnesses. How can you refute anyone else’s position? If anyone appears to contradict themselves or Scripture it is just a paradox. I feel sorry for you Gary. You are obviously not a truth seeker.

  80. LJ Says:

    @ Eric …
    “God’s elect have been around since God preached the gospel in the hearing of Adam, Eve and the serpent.”

    Actually, even sooner, from BEFORE the foundation of the world, i.e., eternally in the mind of God.

    LJ

  81. justbybelief Says:

    LJ,

    “Actually, even sooner, from BEFORE the foundation of the world…”

    Amen!

  82. Gary Says:

    Steve,

    Below is a statement on the issue we are discussing from the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. The passage is John says what it says: The Father predestines those who will be saved, and it is the Father’s will that none of those whom he had drawn will be lost. Christ will raise up all those whom the Father had drawn to him in the last day.

    So if we base our doctrine and faith on this passage alone, YOU are right and I am wrong.

    Here is the statement from the LCMS:

    Q: One of your FAQ answers (on your website) states that it is possible for one to lose his salvation. However, in your Theses on Justification (1983) on this website it says plainly that believers have eternal assurance (paragraph 58). Which is it?

    A: Lutherans believe both are true and Scriptural: It is possible for a believer to fall from faith and lose salvation, and it is possible for a believer to have complete assurance of eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. If this seems paradoxical to human reason, then (Lutherans say) this is only because the teaching of Scripture itself on this issue (as on many other issues) appears paradoxical to human reason.

    For Lutherans, this is essentially a matter of properly distinguishing between Law and Gospel: Warnings against falling from faith are the strongest form of God’s Law, intended to warn against “carnal security” based on “good works” or against the attitude that “since I’m saved, I can do anything I want to do.” Assurances of God’s constant and eternal love in Christ are the sweetest and purest form of Gospel, intended to comfort those who are plagued by their sins and by their failures to keep God’s Law perfectly.

  83. Gary Says:

    JBB:

    You need to study the Reformation a little more. Luther, and I’m pretty sure also Calvin, NEVER said that Scripture is the ONLY authority. What Luther said is that Scripture is the only FINAL authority.

    In other words, at the end of debate, Scripture, not the Pope, not Church Councils, and not Church Fathers, has the final say.

    However, that statement was never meant to say that there are not other authorities from which we can receive instruction on the meaning of Scripture. Luther considered the early Church Councils and the early Church Fathers as perfectly valid authorities to help Christians understand the meaning of first century, Middle Eastern writings in ancient, foreign languages.

    JBB, you sound like a Baptist, not a Presbyterian.

    Baptists reject ALL sources of authority related to understanding Scripture, and instead listen to internal voices telling them what is truth. Problem is, there is no way to know if the voice you are listening to is the Holy Spirit, a demon, Satan himself, or most likely…YOU!

    Lutherans do NOT base on doctrine on non-inspired sources. We base our doctrine on Scripture, SUPPORTED by writings of the Early Church Fathers, the disciples of the Apostles themselves!

    Again, your Baptistic doctrines are an invention of sixteenth century western Europeans, taken out of cultural context.

    Again, I ask you: present us with just ONE document that supports your position of symbolic only Baptism and OSAS. And if your next excuse is going to be: “The Catholics destroyed all the evidence”, please provide evidence of this Great Catholic Conspiracy to destroy all evidence of the Baptistic believers in the Early Church. (I’ll save you the trouble…no such evidence exists)

    You, JBB, are following teachings that did not exist during the first approximately 1,000 years of the Christian Church. They are an invention of uneducated radicals, sitting around a camp fire, working themselves us into an hysterical delusion, imagining unfounded conspiracies against the “Catholics”.

    Again: Where is the evidence???

  84. justbybelief Says:

    “…NEVER said that Scripture is the ONLY authority….They are an invention of uneducated radicals, sitting around a camp fire, working themselves u[p] into an hysterical delusion, imagining unfounded conspiracies against the “Catholics”.”

    Again, as has been said so many times before, Lutherans, just as the popish minions against the Waldenses, impute to us words and sins we’ve never said or done.

  85. justbybelief Says:

    “…NEVER said that Scripture is the ONLY authority…”

    Even though, to date, I’ve never posted this as you’ve falsely accused me; It is a true statement.

    SCRIPTURE IS THE ONLY AUTHORITY IN MATTERS OF FAITH AND PRACTICE. If the practice of men violates scripture, as many of the false doctrines presented here by Lutherans, they are to be rejected.

  86. gary Says:

    I have answered your questions. Now answer mine. You are avoiding it at all costs:

    Why is there ZERO evidence of your Baptistic beliefs anywhere on planet earth? Not in Palestine. Not in Asia Minor. Not in North Africa. Not in Europe. Not in Ethiopia. Not in Persia. Not in India.

    Why? Stop stalling and tell us WHY???

  87. justbybelief Says:

    You, being THEIR representative, if that is what you are, have been handily refuted.

    All that was necessary, on planet earth, was the Bible, which we received (enabled by Him) humbly from our Lord Who is seated at God the Father’s right hand.

  88. justbybelief Says:

    In all truth, you did most, if not all, of the work for us in 1) your erroneous interpretation of John 6 as presented by Steve M and 2) your insistence that we choose the words of men over the Word of God. If your handling, or rather, mishandling, of John 6 is representative of your treatment of the rest of scripture, and from experience with other Lutherans I think it is, it is a grievous testimony about you.

    See my post @ December 13, 2013 at 10:34 am

  89. gary Says:

    WHERE’S THE BEEF???

    Answer the question!

    Your beliefs are an invention of man, just as are the heresies of the Mormons and JW’s. They use the same pathetic excuses to deflect the persistent, nagging hole in their theology: It did NOT exist in the Church of the Apostles! Baptists, evangelicals, Mormons, and JW’s ALL believe that THEY understand the Bible correctly and that everyone else has been deceived by Satan so that they cannot see the truth.

    Paul, Peter, and all the Apostles would have been appalled at your heresy that man has the capability to seek righteousness, to seek God, to seek holiness, by making a “decision for Christ” to be saved.
    That is Works Righteousness. You are a Judeizer. You are only inches away from being a cultist, outside of the Christian Church, as are the Mormons and the JW’s.

    Only the fact that Baptists, thank the Lord, still believe that baptism in the name of the Trinity is necessary, are you still looked upon as members of Christ’s Body. Your evangelical offspring, however, have down played Baptism to the point that I predict that within a generation, they will teach that Baptism is an option, not an ordinance.

    God does NOT speak to Christians in internal voices! Stop listening to what your pastors have brainwashed you with: the Holy Spirit has NOT given a special, internal revelation that Baptists alone understand the true meaning of Scripture. Your interpretation of Scripture is just your opinion. Nothing more.

    So who’s interpretation is right? How can we find out? Should we listen to internal voices?? No. We should look at what the early Christians were taught by the very disciples of the Apostles as the true interpretation. You did not sit down with the Bible, without any preconceived beliefs, and come up with your Baptistic beliefs. You were told what to believe by YOUR Church Fathers: your Baptist pastors, your parents, and your Sunday School teachers. So whose Church Fathers should we listen to? The disciples of the Apostles or the disciples of John Smith, the ex-Church of England turned founder of the Baptist Church?

    You are under a delusion. You have been brainwashed to ignore ALL historical evidence that proves without ANY doubt that your beliefs did NOT exist in the Early Church.

    Maybe your Baptistic ancestors in the seventeenth century could get away with such ignorant, uneducated statements, but today, with the wealth of historical evidence at the touch of your fingertips on the internet, there is no excuse for your uneducated positions.

  90. gary Says:

    It is interesting to note, that Baptistic believers, such as JBB, state that they do not belief in salvation by works…but they do believe in salvation by beliefs. I grew up a fundamentalist Baptist. I was taught that the following persons could NOT be saved, could NOT be Christians, and would surely go to hell:

    1. Anyone who believes that Christ saves us but that we must do good works to complete our justification.

    All Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox will burn in hell.

    2. Anyone who believes that they were saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone in their baptism.

    All Lutherans will go to hell.
    All Church of Christ will go to hell.

    3. Anyone who does not believe in Eternal Security (OSAS) will burn in hell.

    Assemblies of God, Pentecostals will go to hell.

    4. Anyone who believes that he became a member of the Church through his infant baptism and has not had a one time, “decision for Christ”/born again experience, will go to hell.

    Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, and all other Reformed will go to hell.

    5. Anyone who does not believe in the Rapture is very likely not a Christian, and will most likely go to hell.

    6. Anyone who is not a Baptist cannot really be saved…unless they are liberals like the American Baptists, who most likely, will burn in hell with all the other liberals.

    Is there anywhere in Scripture where Christ, Paul, Peter, or any of the Apostles gave a “Beliefs Quiz” prior to baptizing the person?

    “You must pray a version of the Sinner’s Prayer to be saved.”
    “You must believe everything that we believe to be saved.”
    “If you live in ongoing, willful sin, it shows that you did not DO salvation correctly.”
    “Baptism is OUR work of righteousness to please God.”

    This seventeenth century heresy is riddled with unscriptural Works Righteousness! The reason that it is not found in the writings of the Early Church Fathers is because it would have been considered such an outrageous heresy, that no one even conceived of believing it.

  91. Steve M Says:

    gary: “The passage is John says what it says: The Father predestines those who will be saved, and it is the Father’s will that none of those whom he had drawn will be lost. Christ will raise up all those whom the Father had drawn to him in the last day.

    So if we base our doctrine and faith on this passage alone, YOU are right and I am wrong.”

    I only asked questions concerning the passage. I don’t recall making any statements to be right or wrong about. It does seem that we agree on what the passage means. Perhaps the passage is wrong.

  92. Sean Gerety Says:

    I confess, I haven’t really been follow this as I’ve been too busy with other matter and from what I can tell this has devolved into a rant. But, Gary, you write:

    Apparent contradiction? Yes.
    True contradiction? Impossible. God does not contradict himself.

    If the doctrines you hold to are really derived from Scripture and not just your reading of church history, how do you know this? I realize you’re no fan of logic, but if Scripture teachings contradictions, and Scripture is God’s word, wouldn’t it follow that God contradicts Himself?

    I would also challenge you to read Gordon Clark’s monograph, “Predestination.” Probably the best book on the topic since The Institutes.

  93. gary Says:

    Steve,

    Scripture is not wrong.

    But I will admit that I was wrong. I should have said from the beginning: I believe that based on this passage, ALL that God draws, WILL be raised on the last day.

    That is accepting the PSI. I tried to use other passages to explain it which is exactly what I said we shouldn’t do. I apologize.

    Bottom line: If you read the statement from the LCMS above, you will see that Lutherans believe this passage is correct and those that say that believers can fall away and be lost are also true.

    This is another example of a paradox.

  94. gary Says:

    Sean,

    How would you explain this Christian doctrine, accepted by ALL Trinitarian Christians:

    Christ is the Son of God, but…
    Christ has no beginning.
    Christ is eternal as his Father.
    Christ and his Father are one.

    How can a son be one with his father?
    How can a son not have a beginning?
    How can a son not have a “begetting”?
    How can a son be as “old” as his father?

  95. gary Says:

    Sean said, “If the doctrines you hold to are really derived from Scripture and not just your reading of church history, how do you know this? I realize you’re no fan of logic, but if Scripture teachings contradictions, and Scripture is God’s word, wouldn’t it follow that God contradicts Himself? ”

    How do I know that confessional Lutheran doctrine is derived from Scripture and the teachings of the Apostles?

    1. It is consistent with the plain, simple interpretation of Scripture. We believe it even if it doesn’t make sense to us or contradicts human reason, logic, and common sense.

    2. Our doctrine is consistent with the writings/teachings of the Early Church Fathers of the first three centuries of the Church. In the writings of these Fathers you can find:

    a. Sinners are saved by God’s gifting of faith and belief.
    b. Sins are forgiven and sinners are regenerated in Baptism.
    c. Believers can lose their salvation by deliberate rejection of Christ/willful abandonment of the Faith.
    d. Christ is bodily present in the Bread and Wine of the Lord’s Supper.

    No, God has not told us in our hearts that we Lutherans hold the “truth”. Be we believe based on the above, that we are the CLOSEST to the teachings of the Apostles.

    How do you know that your doctrine is an accurate reflection of the Apostles teachings, Sean?

  96. justbybelief Says:

    “How do you know that your doctrine is an accurate reflection of the Apostles teachings.”

    One looks in the Bible.

  97. Sean Gerety Says:

    The Trinity, along with the Incarnation, properly understood, poses no contradiction at all. I’d love to hep you unpack them, but even the WCF presents the doctrine of God in a non-contradictory manner. Not sure about what you Lutherans believe, but I suspect it’s probably more pious sounding confusion.

    1. Hardly. For example, a consistent interpretation of John 10:28 is OSAS. Notice the universal “any” in the passage. Yet, an inconsistent interpretation can give rise to the glaring contradiction in your theology where you have a class of regenerate non-elect.

    2. Ad populum. Besides, the early church fathers were inconsistent about a number of things. Heck, they weren’t particularly clear or consistent on the doctrine which Luther says the church either stands or falls and it ain’t baptism.

    So, while I’m not sure what Lutherans believe, although you’ve shared a considerable amount which would suggest I would not make a good Lutheran, Reformed folks believe that in Scripture there is a consent, a logical harmony, in all that Scriptures teaches (I suppose Vantillians excepted). Apparent contradictions are warning flags calling us to recheck our theological premises and reexamine our exegetical assumptions (Gordon Clark called them charley-horses of the mind that can only be assuaged by vigorous mental massage) . While early and even present day church fathers may be a helpful aid in this regard, Reformed believers hold that; “The infallible rule of interpretation of scripture is the scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture, (which is not manifold, but one,) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” Pay careful attention to that statement that the meaning of Scripture is one . Therefore, any interpretation that ends in an seemingly insoluble paradox, what paradox lovers call “mysteries,” must be the wrong interpretation. While I certainly don’t have all the answers to every difficult puzzle and passage of Scripture, I’m confident that Jesus is correct when he said; “The Scriptures cannot be broken.”

    Of course, it is much easier to cite contradictory and confusing statements made by the “early church fathers” and call it a day.

    Anyway, I don’t plan on getting into a long exchange as I have a lot on my plate right now. Don’t be offended if don’t go toe to toe. Seems the other guys here have done all the heavy lifting already. If you’re happy with an inconsistent and clearly contradictory theology I’m not here to dissuade you. I’m hopeful that when we get right down to it you and I probably have more that we agree on than not. Of course, let me know after your study of the Federal Vision and maybe I will have to revise that. 😉

  98. justbybelief Says:

    “Of course, it is much easier to cite contradictory and confusing statements made by the “early church fathers” and call it a day.”

    LMAO

  99. gary Says:

    You are correct, Sean. Lutherans and Presbyterians have more in common than what divides us. We both believe in baptizing infants. We both believe that Baptism is more than just a symbolic act of obedience, and we both believe that in some way, Christ is really present in the Lord’s Supper.

    However, you did not answer my point about Jesus being the Son of God but just as eternal. This concept defies the Reformed Rule of Reason. Even the Reformed have no answer for this “apparent” contradiction. It is sad that you cannot accept as true God’s other “mysteries”.

    As for JBB, our Baptist brother. He continues to babble on without answering why his theology has such a big hole in it: No one in the early church withheld Baptism but to the belief that it was for adult believers only, solely for the purpose of a public profession. At least the Reformed also denounce this nonsense.

    Most fundamentalist Baptist, which JBB seems to be, believe that infant baptizing Presbyterians are on the road to hell just as assuredly as we Lutherans. Ask him if you don’t believe me.

    JBB will continue to babble on how he knows “in his heart” that he is right…but no Christian in the first 1,000 years of Christianity seemed to have agreed with him.

  100. gary Says:

    I asked a Baptist on another blog conversation how he knew that his interpretation of Scripture is correct. This was his response:

    —-“How do you know that your doctrine is an accurate reflection of the Apostles teachings.”

    One looks in the Bible.—-

    In these days of the internet and the Information Age, how can anyone continue to believe their nonsense, knowing that there is ZERO evidence of the existence of Baptist-like believers in the Early Church.

  101. gary Says:

    I forgot to mention the most important shared belief of Lutherans and Presbyterians: Monergism. God decides salvation, not the sinner.

    Most Baptists don’t even know what that term means.

  102. justbybelief Says:

    “As for JBB, our Baptist brother.”

    Again, another lie from a Lutheran imputing to the Reformed that which is not true while at the same time unwilling to repent of his violations of the command of God.

    “…his theology has such a big hole…”

    I suppose this is true, if you call my continually refering you to the Bible as holely; Simply, because from your perspective, the Bible is holely, that is, full of mysteries and paradoxes.

    From my past dealings with Lutherans it became obvious that engaging them in theological discourse was futile as they force the Bible into the grid of the errors of the past, and in turn, do violence to the plain meaning of scripture. In short, you cannot debate someone who believes the Word of God to be something other than what it is or who believes that tradition trumps scripture.

  103. gary Says:

    Why can’t you answer my question?

    Why isn’t there any evidence of your beliefs in the Early Church?

  104. LJ Says:

    “In short, you cannot debate someone who believes the Word of God to be something other than what it is or who believes that tradition trumps scripture.”

    Exactly. You do not share the one non-negotiable presupposition: the Bible alone is the Word of God.

    This is the result of a degraded and unbiblical epistemology. I think you’re beating a dead horse.

    LJ

  105. gary Says:

    LJ,

    I assume you were speaking to me.

    Why do Baptists believe that using the writings of the Early Church Fathers to HELP understand and interpret Scripture is “denying that the Bible alone is the Word of God”?

    We Lutherans are not RCC or EOC who place tradition on the same level as Scripture. The Bible is the ONLY supreme and final authority.

    But how do you Baptists arrive at your interpretation? You listen to YOUR church fathers:

    Who told you not to believe this: Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness if sins.
    And this: Baptism now saves you.
    And this: He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.

    Don’t tell me that you came up with that interpretation on your own while reading on an isolated island where you grew up in complete isolation. SOMEONE told you that those passages were improperly translated, or that they don’t mean what the seem to mean.

    Baptist follow their own Church Fathers, but the Church Fathers of the Baptist can only be found as far back as John Smith in seventeenth century England. After him, the trail of Baptist Church Fathers goes cold.

  106. Sean Gerety Says:

    I forgot to mention the most important shared belief of Lutherans and Presbyterians: Monergism. God decides salvation, not the sinner.

    Not exactly. Lutherans believe, as you state above repeatedly, God decides who may be initially saved, but it is man who decides if he’s going to remain in that blessed state. Hence, your odd class of regenerate reprobates.

    However, you did not answer my point about Jesus being the Son of God but just as eternal. This concept defies the Reformed Rule of Reason. Even the Reformed have no answer for this “apparent” contradiction. It is sad that you cannot accept as true God’s other “mysteries”.

    Only because it will take too long to unpack. However, your position is one taken by Vantillian RTS prof James Anderson. If you search this blog you’ll find my review of his book, Paradox in Christian Theology. In that two part review you’ll see there are proposed solutions that refute your idea that the heart of the Christian faith is as irrational as you and this RTS prof think.

    The short answer is, and my preferred solution, is, simply, the man Jesus had two minds. Jesus had both a human and a divine mind, with his human mind being contained by His divine mind. Further, there is an “asymmetrical accessing relation between the two minds.” Thomas Morris, who I don’t think is Reformed, put it this way:

    There is first what we can call the eternal mind of God the Son with its distinctively divine consciousness . . . encompassing the full scope of omniscience. And in addition there is a distinctly earthy consciousness that came into existence and grew and developed as the boy Jesus grew and developed. It drew its visual imagery from what the eyes of Jesus saw, and its concepts from the languages he learned. The earthy range of consciousness, and self-consciousness, was thoroughly human, Jewish, and first-century Palestinian in nature.

    We can view the two ranges of consciousness (and, analogously, the two noetic structures encompassing them) as follows: The divine mind of God the Son contained, but was not contained by, his earthly mind, or range of consciousness. That is to say, there was what can be called an asymmetric accessing relation between the two minds. Think, for example, of two computer programs or informational systems, one containing the but contained by the other. The divine mind had full and direct access to the earthly, human experience resulting from the Incarnation, but the earthly consciousness did not have such full and direct access to the content of the overarching omniscience proper to the Logos, but only such access, on occasion, as the divine mind allowed it to have. There thus was a metaphysical and personal depth to the man Jesus lacking in the case of every individual who is merely human. (The Logic of God Incarnate, 102, 103)

    This explains how the man Jesus being ignorant of some things without sacrificing his divinity and omniscience as the eternal Logos of God Prior to Morris, Gordon Clark came up with an almost identical solution to the problem in his book, The Incarnation.

  107. Gary Says:

    Your reply says nothing about the “contradiction” of a son being as old as his father.

    Sinners are FULLY saved/regenerated in Lutheran theology. No work, including Baptism, is mandatory to complete salvation. Sinners are saved by the power of the Word based on the predetermined will of God alone.

    A lack of good works will NOT send a believer to hell, but rejection of Christ will.

  108. Sean Gerety Says:

    What contradiction. The Father, Son and Spirit are one God. Of course, the man Jesus didn’t exist prior to his miraculous birth. I’m not sure where you’re seeing a contradiction?

  109. Gary Says:

    Jesus the man was born in the first century AD. God the Son has existed for all eternity, as has his Father.

    How can a son be as old as his father?
    How can a son be one and the same with is father?

    Ask the man on the street these questions. He will tell you both are impossible, illogical, unreasonable, and defy common sense.

    The only way to believe in the Trinity is by childlike faith. You cannot pick it apart and explain by the scientific method. So the same with the Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, the Real Presence in the Lord’s Supper, and that God uses a physical element—water– with his Word to regenerate sinners.

    All of these concepts defy human reason, logic, and common sense. They can only be believed with the faith of a small child.

  110. Steve M Says:

    gary: “All of these concepts defy human reason, logic, and common sense. They can only be believed with the faith of a small child.”

    You suggest that faith requires putting aside so called “human reason”, You apparently have done this yourself, If you were to be consistent, you would quit posting arguments for your various positions.

    How are we to judge an argument?

    Surely not by employing logic.

    The idea that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have existed eternally as One God appears to you to be somehow contradictory. You have somehow determined that it must appear so to every other human being or at least those who consider logic to be the laws of truth.

    You ask:
    “How can a son be as old as his father?”

    To ask how old an eternal being is, is to recognize no distinction between the eternal and the temporal, If God (the Trinity) were a temporal being He would not be God. If your God is temporal, you are worshiping and idol. It is your question that is irrational (when asked of an eternal being); not the answer.

    “How can a son be one and the same with his father?”

    One and the same what? The Son is not one and the same person with the Father, He, together with the Holy Spirit, are one being with the Father. If someone, as Van Til has done, claims the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one person, there is an actual contradiction. The doctrine of the Trinity is not contradictory. If it were, it should be rejected, because at least part of it would be false.

  111. Steve M Says:

    …worshiping an idol…

  112. gary Says:

    Alas, the Reformed Rule of Reason.

    I think we are beating a dead horse.

    God bless you, brother. I guess we will have to wait until heaven to find out who was correct, the Lutherans or the Reformed.

  113. justbybelief Says:

    Excellent post, Steve. The best they can come up with is ‘rationalist,’ as if, God is not rational. At the very least we’re not irrational liars like they.

  114. LJ Says:

    See above the typical capitulation of all mystics and irrationalists. Once confronted by a “rule of reason” they cannot refute, even though all along using reason since they cannot not use it, they take their toys and go home … thank God!

    Martin Luther, an imminently reasonable man in this life, must now in eternally reasonable heaven, where all syllogisms are valid and no mistakes ever made, be chuckling at some who use his name nowadays for their church.

    LJ

  115. gary Says:

    LJ,

    I’m perfectly willing to “keep my toys” here and continue the discussion. I enjoy debating Scripture and doctrine. Good debate will either change my mind if I am proved wrong or sharpen my position.

    I apologized above, not because I felt the Lutheran position is wrong, but because I broke my own rule of debate. The passage in John clearly teaches that all that God calls to Christ will be resurrected by Christ in the last day. There is no wiggling out of that fact. The PSI says what it says. A Lutheran theologian would have scolded me for not accepting the PSI.

    I’d be happy to continue the discussion here, or you are all welcome to come over to my orthodox Lutheran blog and challenge my positions. I enjoy it!

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

  116. gary Says:

    I just published this post on my blog. The Presbyterians on this Reformed blog may find it interesting:

    How are Lutherans different from Presbyterians?

    Official statement of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod:

    Q: How does the Missouri Synod differ from the Presbyterian Church?

    A: As is the case with most mainline denominations today, there are specific issues such as the ordination of women, abortion, homosexuality, etc., that divide the distinct Presbyterian church bodies (for example, the Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA) and the more conservative Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)). Such differences typically stem from more fundamental differences concerning the authority of Scripture itself. Having said this, the major theological differences between historic Lutheranism and Presbyterianism (and other churches of Calvinistic background and theological orientation) include the following:
    1.The centrality of the Gospel. Presbyterian churches tend to emphasize the “glory” or “sovereignty” of God as the central teaching of Scripture, while Lutherans believe that the central teaching of Scripture–and the key to understanding and interpreting the Bible-is the Gospel: the Good News of Salvation for sinners by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
    2.The nature of Christ’s atonement. Lutherans believe that when Jesus died on the cross He atoned for the sins of all people of all time-even those who have not or will not come to faith in Christ and will spend eternity in hell. Some Presbyterian churches teach a “limited atonement” of Christ, i.e., that Christ’s death on the cross atoned only for the sins of “the elect”–those who have been predestined from eternity to believe in Christ and will spend eternity with Him in heaven.
    3.Predestination. Most Presbyterian churches teach a “double predestination,” i.e., that some people are predestined by God from eternity to be saved and others are predestined by God from eternity to be damned. Lutherans believe that while God, in his grace in Christ Jesus, has indeed chosen from eternity to save those who trust in Jesus Christ, He has not predestined anyone to damnation. Those who are saved are saved by grace alone; those who are damned are damned not by God’s choice but because of their own sin and stubbornness. This is a mystery that is incomprehensible to human reason (as are all true Scriptural articles of faith).
    4.The authority of Scripture. A fourth difference has to do with the proper use of reason and its relationship to the authority of Scripture. Lutherans look to Scripture alone as the source of all Christian doctrine, and hold to the teachings of Scripture even when they are incomprehensible to human reason. Some Presbyterian churches tend to place human reason alongside Scripture as a source of doctrinal authority, and seek to bring seemingly paradoxical Scriptural truths into harmony with human reason in ways that (in our view) undermine the truthfulness and authority of Scripture.
    5.The Sacraments. Most Presbyterian churches (to a greater or lesser degree) view the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper merely as “signs” or “symbols” of God’s grace. Lutherans believe that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (which is the true body and blood of Christ in, with, and under bread and wine) are actual means of God’s grace through which the Holy Spirit works to convey and/or strengthen faith.

  117. justbybelief Says:

    “Presbyterian churches tend to emphasize the “glory” or “sovereignty” of God as the central teaching of Scripture, while Lutherans believe that the central teaching of Scripture–and the key to understanding and interpreting the Bible-is the Gospel:”

    There it is again. Another false accusation. In the Lutheran system God cannot possibly be sovereign, this is why the doctrine cannot be plumbed to its fullest measure by them and we are accused by them as if we’ve done something wrong. There false accusations will fall with them.

    If they new anything of God, they’d understand that when both doctrines (and many of His other glorious attributes) are brought out on display from His Word, which He intended they be, it doesn’t detract from the gospel but makes it more sure in the minds of the hearers. That is, His arm really is STRONG to save, and NO ONE can SNATCH us out of His hand.

    If God is not in control of ALL things then He is not sovereign.

  118. Sean Gerety Says:

    How can a son be as old as his father?
    How can a son be one and the same with is father?

    Ask the man on the street these questions. He will tell you both are impossible, illogical, unreasonable, and defy common sense.

    I think Steve answered this objection spot on. Your questions are nonsensical. Which for someone who rejects the logical coherence of Scripture makes sense. What I find troublesome are comments like this one: “The only way to believe in the Trinity is by childlike faith.” If that were true, why even bother studying the Trinity or any other truth revealed in Scripture? If the truth of God as a Triune being is beyond reason, then to say God is a Trinity of persons is just to speak words that make no sense, i.e., to speak nonsense. That’s not a childlike faith, that’s the faith of an infant who can’t say anything.

    Since you have such an astounding veneration of the early church fathers, it’s interesting that they didn’t shy away from trying to make sense of revelation concerning the being of God. Athanasius said the idea of the Second Person being called the “Son” or even “Offspring” is not to be understood literally or an any “corporeal” or “material” sense, or more simply “after the manner of men”. That’s because names like “Son” and “Offspring” individuate the Son from the Father and thereby avoid any hint of modalism, The Son is coessential and is of the same being (homoousios) as the Father without any equivocation or parsing of the word “God,” but they’re not the same Person. God is three Persons of one essence.

    To put it another way, the idea that the Son is the Father’s “offspring” is not meant to be understood as dividing the essence as you have implied, or, worse, to think of Father and Son in temporal terms by asking, “How can a son be as old as his father?” That’s just silly and it fails to take into account the eternality of the Godhead. Historic Trinitarianism, maybe not Lutheranism, does not say the Son is one and the same with the Father. They are different persons. For example, the Father doesn’t think, “I will take on flesh, live a sinless life, and die on a cross for the sins of the elect.” As Athanasius said, it’s only in terms of essence or attributes that “the same things are said of the Son which are said of the Father except for calling him Father.”

    I recommend you read Joel Parkinson’s article, “The Intellectual Triunity of God.” Perhaps you shouldn’t. Parkinson presents a logically sound defense of the Trinity and I wouldn’t want logic to screw with your infant-like faith. ;-P

  119. justbybelief Says:

    Sorry, Sean, maybe It should read “infantile” faith.

  120. Steve M Says:

    gary: “Alas, the Reformed Rule of Reason.”

    Alas, Lutheran irrationality.

  121. gary Says:

    Ok, my Reformed brothers. You keep listening to Lord Reason. I’ll follow Lord Jesus even if what he says defies human logic, reason, and common sense.

  122. Sean Gerety Says:

    Christianity is a rational faith because the God of the Bible is not insane. As John says in his prologue: “In the beginning was Logic, and Logic was with God, and Logic was God…. In logic was life and the life was the light of men.” – See more at: http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=16#sthash.EEHnUtAH.dpuf

  123. justbybelief Says:

    As not a few of my Reformed Baptist friends would say, “which ‘Jesus’?”

    The ‘Jesus’ of the deluded Lutheran mind.

  124. Steve M Says:

    Gary: “You keep listening to Lord Reason. I’ll follow Lord Jesus even if what he says defies human logic, reason, and common sense.”

    If you are following a “Lord Jesus” who defies logic, then you are not following the same Jesus who said, “I am the way and THE TRUTH and the life”,,, Truth does not defy logic. Truth is non-contradictory. The laws of logic are the laws of truth. If your truth defies logic it is not truth at all. It is falsehood. Christ does not contradict himself. Neither does the Father (the Lord God of truth) nor the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of truth), but you follow a “Christ” who defies logic. Apparently the Jesus you claim to follow contradicts himself. If he does not, I have no idea what you mean by “what he says defies” logic (human). Part of “human” logic is the law of contradiction. You didn’t say the Lord Jesus “appears” to defy the laws of logic. You said you will follow him even if he does defy them.
    Following a false Christ will save no one.

  125. Sean Gerety Says:

    @Steve M – Gary is a good example of why mainline Lutheranism has returned to the mysticism and superstitions of Rome.

  126. LJ Says:

    @ Gary: Ok, my Reformed brothers. You keep listening to Lord Reason. I’ll follow Lord Jesus even if what he says defies human logic, reason, and common sense.”

    Gary, if you REALLY “enjoy” theological debate then you really, really should complete the minimal reading necessary to participate in a discussion on the God’s Hammer blog. Sean es el jefe! Read some of his posts and familiarize yourself with some of the presuppositions, the thinking, that underlies the “pou sto” or fulcrum upon which our reasoning relies. We are all Gordon Clark devotees because we believe he was simply the best 20th century (I think even greater!) Christian philosopher who held strictly to what we call the philosophy of SCRIPTURALISM. We think, with Clark, that the Bible alone is the word of God. I don’t think I’m speaking out of school stating that as a representation for “the group!”

    Anyhow, if you really want to have a genuinely productive dialogue, and not just fuss with us, take a few days or weeks and read some of Clark’s seminal works (there are many). For my part, having followed all your posts, I recommend “The Trinity” since he tackles some of the very difficult problems of that precious doctrine. He evaluates some of your best Lutheran scholars too in that work. Besides that, just for starters, you might read (quickly since its short) “Predestination.” Or, better yet, since you appear to be suspicious of REASON, you might read “The Logos of God” which is a wonderful study of our Lord Christ, the LOGOS of God, revealed in John’s gospel.

    Anyhow, if you really mean well you will study up, so to speak, in order to know where we are coming from as Presbyterian and Reformed men. Then, perchance, we might have a truly constructive dialogue.

    Anticipating your very positive response …

    LJ

  127. Gary Says:

    If this Reformed blog author and his source are correct, then FV is much closer to Roman Catholicism than it is to Lutheranism. Here is a sample of my interaction with this Reformed blogger:

    Jack Miller said…
    When it comes to justification and works FV is much, much closer to Roman Catholicism that Lutheranism. Lutheranism and Reformed are not very far apart.

    Again, Clark:
    According to the FV, it is not really ungodly sinners that Christ justifies but those who are sanctifed, who cooperate with grace. As we have seen, in the FV, the sentence “A justified man is sanctified” becomes, “A man is justified because he is sanctified and cooperated sufficiently with grace to retain what he was given in baptism.”

    and,
    On the doctrine of justification, most advocates of the the FV theology, teach justification (acceptance with God) on the basis of faith (trusting) and obedience or faithfulness. Thus, the FV rejects the Reformation doctrine of justification through faith alone (sola fide). Where Scripture and Reformed theology has good works as evidence and fruit of justification, the FV movement makes our good works a part of the instrument (faith) and thus a part of the ground (basis) of our justification.
    December 18, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Gary said…
    Very definitely NOT Lutheran theology. Thank you for the insight!

    Gary

  128. Gary M Says:

    LJ,

    I will check out the books you mentioned. Thank you for kindly recommending them.

    I usually don’t debate Calvinists. First, because I consider our theologies close enough I don’t see a big need to try and convert you. Secondly, how can we debate when Calvinists believe everything should comply with logic and reason and Lutherans are adamant that many of aspects of God are unfathomable?

    The focus of my orthodox Lutheran blog is Arminian Baptists, evangelicals, and fundamentalists. Someone needs to wake them up to the fact that sinners do NOT have the ability to make a free will decision for Christ. I was raised an Arminian/Three point Calvinist Baptist, so I try to show my experiences in Arminianism and compare them to Lutheran Christianity. Night and day difference! God makes the decision for salvation. My assurance of salvation is based on what God decided, not on whether or not I did “it” right when I prayed the Sinner’s Prayer. Thank the Lord!

    I’ll take a Calvinist over an Arminian any day! 🙂

  129. Sean Gerety Says:

    Secondly, how can we debate when Calvinists believe everything should comply with logic and reason and Lutherans are adamant that many of aspects of God are unfathomable?

    Small point if only to dispel any straw men. Calvinists too believe God is unfathomable, only we believe that what He has revealed in His Word is given to us to believe and understand … and that without contradiction.

  130. Gary M Says:

    I understand your point, Sean.

    I guess a better way to explain our differences is to say this: Lutherans are comfortable with paradoxes, which to Calvinists appear to be illogical and unreasonable contradictions. However, neither Calvinists or Lutherans believe that God can in any way contradict himself.

  131. Gary M Says:

    By the way, if Clark above is correct in his assessment, the FV Reformed sound like Roman Catholics, just without Purgatory. I don’t know how your denominations allowed them to stay. The LCMS is not perfect, but we would have given these guys the boot!

  132. Steve M Says:

    gary: “I guess a better way to explain our differences is to say this: Lutherans are comfortable with paradoxes, which to Calvinists appear to be illogical and unreasonable contradictions. However, neither Calvinists or Lutherans believe that God can in any way contradict himself.”

    Lutherans are “comfortable” with that which cannot be distinguished from a contradiction (a paradox or apparent contradiction). Since these paradoxes cannot be distinguished from contradictions, they necessarily appear to be illogical and unreasonable contradictions not just to Calvinists, but to Lutherans as well. Lutherans do not believe that God can contradict himself, but they can’t distinguish what is in His inspired word from a mass of contradictions, yet they are “comfortable” with that situation. Really?

  133. Sean Gerety Says:

    @Gary M -. Bingo.

  134. LJ Says:

    Another small point of clarification:

    “Secondly, how can we debate when Calvinists believe everything should comply with logic and reason and Lutherans are adamant that many of aspects of God are unfathomable?”

    Calvinists also hold that God is UNFATHOMABLE ; he is the eternal One.

    We just believe that which God has revealed in Scripture is given for our understanding.

    LJ

  135. Gary M Says:

    Again, I cannot argue with you and your well reasoned, logical analysis of God and Scripture. But I will quote Martin Luther on this subject. What Luther says is VERY interesting and may give you, my Reformed brethren, insight into why Lutherans believe in accepting paradoxes. It is very long, so I am only going to print a small portion here. If you would like to read Luther’s full statement on Predestination from his Commentary on Genesis, google this: Luther on Predestination; Luther, Baptists and Evangelicals blog.

    Martin Luther:

    These are devilish and poisoned darts and original sin itself, with which the devil led our first parents astray when he said (Gen. 3:5): “You will be like God.” They were not satisfied with the divinity that had been revealed and in the knowledge of which they were blessed, but they wanted to penetrate to the depth of the divinity. For they inferred that there was some secret reason why God had forbidden them to eat of the fruit of the tree which was in the middle of Paradise, and they wanted to know what this reason was, just as these people of our time say: “What God has determined beforehand must happen. Consequently, every concern about religion and about the salvation of souls is uncertain and useless.”

    Yet it has not been given to you to render a verdict that is inscrutable. Why do you doubt or thrust aside the faith that God has enjoined on you? For what end did it serve to send His Son to suffer and to be crucified for us? Of what use was it to institute the sacraments if they are uncertain or completely useless for our salvation? For otherwise, if someone had been predestined, he would have been saved without the Son and without the sacraments or Holy Scripture. Consequently, God, according to the blasphemy of these people, was horribly foolish when He sent His Son, promulgated the Law and the Gospel, and sent the apostles if the only thing He wanted was that we should be uncertain and in doubt whether we are to be saved or really to be damned.

  136. Steve M Says:

    Gary
    Please explain how the above passage gives me insight into the reason that Lutherans believe in (are comfortable with) accepting paradoxes. I am apparently missing something.

  137. justbybelief Says:

    “For otherwise, if someone had been predestined, he would have been saved without the Son and without the sacraments or Holy Scripture.”

    If Luther is denying predestination he is a false teacher at this point; however, I don’t believe Luther is denying predestination. What Luther seems to be doing is moving someone away from trying to figure out whether they are, or are not predestined apart from any acknowledgment of the means God has provided. Simply, God’s eternal decree makes everything certain. His predestination of individuals to salvation does not exclude second causes, preaching etc…

    No Reformed person I know denies that God uses means unto salvation and that we are to attend to them. The doctrine of predestination is a part of the whole council of God and is to be taught and confessed with the means (preaching etc…) God has provided.

    It is illogical to say that because one believes in predestination that the logical consequence of this is that they deny God’s means.

    You must be speaking to another one of your straw-men.

    CHAPTER III.
    Of God’s Eternal Decree.

    I. God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

  138. Gary M Says:

    Again, my Reformed brothers, you are too clever and learned for me to hope to win in debating. I will let Luther speak for Lutherans. I will post short segments of Luther’s statement on Predestination from his Commentary on Genesis below. I will be very interested to hear your take on his position on this complicated doctrine.

    This is the first paragraph. The one I just posted above is the second, following this one:

    But it pleases me to take from this passage the opportunity to discuss doubt, God, and the will of God; for I hear that here and there among the nobles and persons of importance vicious statements are being spread abroad concerning predestination or God’s foreknowledge. For this is what they say: “If I am predestined, I shall be saved, whether I do good or evil. If I am not predestined, I shall be condemned regardless of my works.” I would be glad to debate in detail against these wicked statements if the uncertain state of my health made it possible for me to do so. For if the statements are true, as they, of course, think, then the incarnation of the Son of God, His suffering and resurrection, and all that He did for the salvation of the world are done away with completely. What will the prophets and all Holy Scripture help? What will the sacraments help? Therefore let us reject all this and tread it underfoot.

  139. Gary M Says:

    But these are delusions of the devil with which he tries to cause us to doubt and disbelieve, although Christ came into this world to make us completely certain. For eventually either despair must follow or contempt for God, for the Holy Bible, for Baptism, and for all the blessings of God through which He wanted us to be strengthened over against uncertainty and doubt. For they will say with the Epicureans:

    “Let us live, eat, and drink; tomorrow we shall die” (cf. 1 Cor. 15:32). After the manner of the Turks they will rush rashly into the sword and fire, since the hour in which you either die or escape has been predetermined.

    But to these thoughts one must oppose the true and firm knowledge of Christ, just as I often remind you that it is profitable and necessary above all that the knowledge of God be completely certain in us and that we cling to it with firm assent of the heart.

    Otherwise our faith is useless. For if God does not stand by His promises, then our salvation is lost, while, on the other hand, this is our comfort, that, although we change, we nevertheless flee for refuge to Him who is unchangeable. For in Mal. 3:6 He makes this assertion about Himself: “I the Lord do not change.” And Rom. 11:29 states: “The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” Accordingly, this is how I have taught in my book On the Bondage of the Will and elsewhere, namely, that a distinction must be made when one deals with the knowledge, or rather with the subject, of the divinity. For one must debate either about the hidden God or about the revealed God. With regard to God, insofar as He has not been revealed, there is no faith, no knowledge, and no understanding. And here one must hold to the statement that what is above us is none of our concern. For thoughts of this kind, which investigate something more sublime above or outside the revelation of God, are altogether devilish. With them nothing more is achieved than that we plunge ourselves into destruction; for they present an object that is inscrutable, namely, the unrevealed God. Why not rather let God keep His decisions and mysteries in secret? We have no reason to exert ourselves so much that these decisions and mysteries be revealed to us.

    Moses, too, asked God to show him His face; but the Lord replies: “You shall see My back, but you will not be able to see My face” (cf. Ex. 33:23). For this inquisitiveness is original sin itself, by which we are impelled to strive for a way to God through natural speculation. But this is a great sin and a useless and futile attempt; for this is what Christ says in John 6:65 (cf. John 14:6): “No one comes to the Father but by Me.”

    Therefore when we approach the unrevealed God, then there is no faith, no Word, and no knowledge; for He is an invisible God, and you will not make Him visible.

    Furthermore, God has most sternly forbidden this investigation of the divinity. Thus when the apostles ask in Acts 1:6, “Has it not been predestined that at this time the kingdom should be restored?” Christ says to them: “It is not for you to know the times” (Acts 1:7). “Let Me be hidden where I have not revealed Myself to you,” says God, “or you will be the cause of your own destruction, just as Adam fell in a horrible manner; for he who investigates My majesty will be overwhelmed by My glory.”

  140. Gary M Says:

    And it is true that God wanted to counteract this curiosity at the very beginning; for this is how He set forth His will and counsel: “I will reveal My foreknowledge and predestination to you in an extraordinary manner, but not by this way of reason and carnal wisdom, as you imagine. This is how I will do so: From an unrevealed God I will become a revealed God. Nevertheless, I will remain the same God. I will be made flesh, or send My Son. He shall die for your sins and shall rise again from the dead. And in this way I will fulfill your desire, in order that you may be able to know whether you are predestined or not. Behold, this is My Son; listen to Him (cf. Matt. 17:5). Look at Him as He lies in the manger and on the lap of His mother, as He hangs on the cross. Observe what He does and what He says. There you will surely take hold of Me.” For “He who sees Me,” says Christ, “also sees the Father Himself” (cf. John 14:9). If you listen to Him, are baptized in His name, and love His Word, then you are surely predestined and are certain of your salvation. But if you revile or despise the Word, then you are damned; for he who does not believe is condemned (Mark 16:16).

    You must kill the other thoughts and the ways of reason or of the flesh, for God detests them. The only thing you have to do is to receive the Son, so that Christ is welcome in your heart in His birth, miracles, and cross. For here is the book of life in which you have been written. And this is the only and the most efficacious remedy for that horrible disease because of which human beings in their investigation of God want to proceed in a speculative manner and eventually rush into despair or contempt. If you want to escape despair, hatred, and blasphemy of God, give up your speculation about the hidden God, and cease to strive in vain to see the face of God.

    Otherwise you will have to remain perpetually in unbelief and damnation, and you will have to perish; for he who doubts does not believe, and he who does not believe is condemned (Mark 16:16).

  141. Gary M Says:

    Therefore we should detest and shun these vicious words which the Epicureans bandy about: “If this is how it must happen, let it happen.” For God did not come down from heaven to make you uncertain about predestination, to teach you to despise the sacraments, absolution, and the rest of the divine ordinances. Indeed, He instituted them to make you completely certain and to remove the disease of doubt from your heart, in order that you might not only believe with the heart but also see with your physical eyes and touch with your hands. Why, then, do you reject these and complain that you do not know whether you have been predestined? You have the Gospel; you have been baptized; you have absolution; you are a Christian. Nevertheless, you doubt and say that you do not know whether you believe or not, whether you regard as true what is preached about Christ in the Word and the sacraments.

    But you will say: “I cannot believe.” Thus many are troubled by this trial, and I recall that at Torgau a little woman came to me and complained with tears in her eyes that she could not believe. Then, when I recited the articles of the Creed in order and asked about each one whether she was convinced that these things were true and had happened in this manner or not, she answered: “I certainly think that they are true, but I cannot believe.” This was a satanic illusion. Consequently, I kept saying: “If you think that all these things are true, there is no reason why you should complain about your unbelief; for if you do not doubt that the Son of God died for you, you surely believe, because to believe is nothing else than to regard these facts as the sure and unquestionable truth.”

    God says to you: “Behold, you have My Son. Listen to Him, and receive Him. If you do this, you are already sure about your faith and salvation.” “But I do not know,” you will say, “whether I am remaining in faith.” At all events, accept the present promise and the predestination, and do not inquire too curiously about the secret counsels of God. If you believe in the revealed God and accept His Word, He will gradually also reveal the hidden God; for “He who sees Me also sees the Father,” as John 14:9 says. He who rejects the Son also loses the unrevealed God along with the revealed God.

    But if you cling to the revealed God with a firm faith, so that your heart is so minded that you will not lose Christ even if you are deprived of everything, then you are most assuredly predestined, and you will understand the hidden God. Indeed, you understand Him even now if you acknowledge the Son and His will, namely, that He wants to reveal Himself to you, that He wants to be your Lord and your Savior. Therefore you are sure that God is also your Lord and Father.

  142. Gary M Says:

    Observe how pleasantly and kindly God delivers you from this horrible trial with which Satan besets people today in strange ways in order to make them doubtful and uncertain, and eventually even to alienate them from the Word. “For why should you hear the Gospel,” they say, “since everything depends on predestination?” In this way he robs us of the predestination guaranteed through the Son of God and the sacraments.

    He makes us uncertain where we are completely certain. And if he attacks timid consciences with this trial, they die in despair, as would almost have happened to me if Staupitz had not delivered me from the same trial when I was troubled. But if they are despisers, they become the worst Epicureans. Therefore we should rather impress these statements on our hearts, such as John 6:44: “No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him.” Through whom? Through Me. “He who sees Me also sees the Father” (cf. John 14:9). And God says to Moses: “You cannot see My face, for man shall not see Me and live” (Ex. 33:20). And we read (Acts 1:7): “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But go, and carry out what I command.” Likewise (Ecclus. 3:22): “Seek not the things that are too high for you, and search not into things above your ability; but the things that God has commanded you, think on them always, and in many of His works be not curious.” Listen to the incarnate Son, and predestination will present itself of its own accord.

    Staupitz used to comfort me with these words: “Why do you torture yourself with these speculations? Look at the wounds of Christ and at the blood that was shed for you. From these predestination will shine. Consequently, one must listen to the Son of God, who was sent into the flesh and appeared to destroy the work of the devil (1 John 3:8) and to make you sure about predestination. And for this reason He says to you: ‘You are My sheep because you hear My voice’ (cf. John 10:27). ‘No one shall snatch you out of My hands’ ” (cf. v. 28).

    Many who did not resist this trial in such a manner were hurled headlong into destruction. Consequently, the hearts of the godly should be kept carefully fortified. Thus a certain hermit in The Lives of the Fathers advises his hearers against speculations of this kind. He says: “If you see that someone has put his foot in heaven, pull him back. For this is how saintly neophytes are wont to think about God apart from Christ. They are the ones who try to ascend into heaven and to place both feet there. But suddenly they are plunged into hell.” Therefore the godly should beware and be intent only on learning to cling to the Child and Son Jesus, who is your God and was made flesh for your sake. Acknowledge and hear Him; take pleasure in Him, and give thanks. If you have Him, then you also have the hidden God together with Him who has been revealed. And that is the only way, the truth, and the life (cf. John 14:6). Apart from it you will find nothing but destruction and death.

  143. Gary M Says:

    But He manifested himself in the flesh to snatch us from death, from the power of the devil. From this knowledge must come great joy and delight that God is unchangeable, that He works in accordance with unchangeable necessity, and that He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13) but keeps His promises. Accordingly, one is not free to have such thoughts or doubts about predestination; but they are ungodly, vicious, and devilish. Therefore when the devil assails you with them, you should only say: “I believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, about whom I have no doubt that He was made flesh, suffered, and died for me. Into His death I have been baptized.” This answer will make the trial disappear, and Satan will turn his back.

    Thus on other occasions I have often mentioned the noteworthy example of a nun who underwent the same trial. For under the papacy there were also many godly persons who experienced these spiritual trials, which are truly hellish and thoughts of the damned. For there is no difference at all between one who doubts and one who is damned. Therefore whenever the nun felt that she was being assailed with the fiery darts of Satan (cf. Eph. 6:16), she would say nothing else than this: “I am a Christian.”

    We must do the same thing. One must refrain from debates and say: “I am a Christian; that is, the Son of God was made flesh and was born; He has redeemed me and is sitting at the right hand of the Father, and He is my Savior.” Thus you must drive Satan away from you with as few words as possible and say: “Begone, Satan! (Matt. 4:10.) Do not put doubt in me. The Son of God came into this world to destroy your work (1 John 3:8) and to destroy doubt.” Then the trial ceases, and the heart returns to peace, quiet, and the love of God.

    Otherwise doubt about some person’s intention is no sin. Thus Isaac doubts that he will live or have a pious host. About a man I can be in doubt. Indeed, I should be in doubt. For he is not my Savior, and it is written (Ps. 146:3): “Put not your trust in princes.”

  144. Gary M Says:

    For man is a liar (Ps. 116:11) and deceitful. But one cannot deal doubtfully with God.

    For He neither wants nor is able to be changeable or a liar. But the highest form of worship He requires is your conviction that He is truthful. For this is why He has given you the strongest proofs of His trustworthiness and truth. He has given His Son into the flesh and into death, and He has instituted the sacraments, in order that you may know that He does not want to be deceitful, but that He wants to be truthful. Nor does He confirm this with spiritual proofs; He confirms it with tangible proofs. For I see the water, I see the bread and the wine, and I see the minister. All this is physical, and in these material forms He reveals Himself. If you must deal with men, you may be in doubt as to the extent to which you may believe a person and as to how others may be disposed toward you; but concerning God you must maintain with assurance and without any doubt that He is well disposed toward you on account of Christ and that you have been redeemed and sanctified through the precious blood of the Son of God.

    And in this way you will be sure of your predestination, since all the prying and dangerous questions about GOD’S secret counsels have been removed—the questions to which Satan tries to drive us, just as he drove our first parents.

    But how great would our first parent’s happiness have been if he had kept the Word of God carefully in sight and had eaten of all the other trees except the one from which he had been forbidden to eat! But he wanted to search out why God had forbidden him to enjoy the fruits from that one tree. In addition, there was Satan, the malicious teacher who increased and abetted this curiosity. Thus he was hurled headlong into sin and death.

  145. Gary M Says:

    Thus God reveals His will to us through Christ and the Gospel. But we loathe it and, in accordance with Adam’s example, take delight in the forbidden tree above all the others. This fault has been implanted in us by nature. When Paradise and heaven have been closed and the angel has been placed on guard there (cf. Gen. 3:24), we try in vain to enter. For Christ has truthfully said: “No one has ever seen God” (John 1:18).
    Nevertheless, God, in His boundless goodness, has revealed Himself to us in order to satisfy our desire. He has shown us a visible image. “Behold, you have My Son; he who hears Him and is baptized is written in the book of life. This I reveal through My Son, whom you can touch with your hands and look at with your eyes.”

    I have wanted to teach and transmit this in such a painstaking and accurate way because after my death many will publish my books and will prove from them errors of every kind and their own delusions. Among other things, however, I have written that everything is absolute and unavoidable; but at the same time I have added that one must look at the revealed God, as we sing in the hymn: Er heist Jesu Christ, der HERR Zebaoth, und ist kein ander Gott, “Jesus Christ is the Lord of hosts, and there is no other God”—and also in very many other places. But they will pass over all these places and take only those that deal with the hidden God. Accordingly, you who are listening to me now should remember that I have taught that one should not inquire into the predestination of the hidden God but should be satisfied with what is revealed through the calling and through the ministry of the Word. For then you can be sure about your faith and salvation and say: “I believe in the Son of God, who said (John 3:36): ‘He who believes in the Son has eternal life.’ ” Hence no condemnation or wrath rests on him, but he enjoys the good pleasure of God the Father. But I have publicly stated these same things elsewhere in my books, and now I am also teaching them by word of mouth. Therefore I am excused.

    (From the American Edition of Luther’s Works 5:43-50; Luther’s Genesis Commentary, commenting on Genesis 29:9).

  146. Gary M Says:

    Martin Luther’s Commentary on Genesis was one of his last writings before his death. This Commentary, therefore, is his final statement on the Doctrine of Predestination.

  147. Steve M Says:

    Gary
    You certainly can cut and paste, but you have yet to explain how all of these pages give any insight into the reason that Lutherans believe in accepting paradoxes. You can cut and paste til the cows come home, but if you make no attempt to relate what you have pasted to the points they are supposed to prove, you are wasting our time.

  148. justbybelief Says:

    Thank God for the Swiss Reformation and the putting away of Lutheran mysticism.

    Again, my Reformed brothers, you are too clever and learned for me to hope to win in debating.

    Knock off your patronizing.

    So, what’s your point; Do you not like God’s absolute predestination? Does the Sovereignty of God bother you? I know! It bothers most, if not every, Lutheran I’ve ever met. You’d better take it up with God.

    Again, exactly what point are you debating? Do men mishandle God’s kindness? If so, does it negate it? We don’t shed the gospel because to some it seems to grant license; do we? People accuse us every day of preaching license because we teach the gospel of demerited favor. Because we’re accused of the same for preaching absolute predestination, do we stop? Should we obey God or men?

    Romans 3
    3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
    4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

    Were these lengthy posts intended to impute some imagined sin to us, something Lutherans are wont to do, conjured up in the mystical Lutheran mind? Lutheran nonsense is ubiquitous.

    Romans 8
    29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

    Romans 9
    10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

    Romans 9
    14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

    I have taught that one should not inquire into the predestination

    Should we not inquire into it even though God’s revelation speaks of it? It’s interesting that the word predestination comes right out of my Bible and Luther tells me not to inquire into it. Is this why Lutherans have ignored certain passages of scripture? Yes! I think.

  149. Gary M Says:

    Steve,

    I’m not trying to convince you of anything, except to show you where we Lutherans get our doctrine of Single Predestination and our condemnation of Once Saved, Always Saved: straight from the mouth of Martin Luther.

    Some of you had said that Lutherans do not follow the teachings of Martin Luther on Predestination. This lengthy statement by Luther himself should silence those allegations.

    As I have said previously, I usually don’t spend much time debating Calvinists. We accept paradoxes, where you demand reason and logic.

    The New Testament was written in the first century, by Middle Eastern Jews, living in a Middle Eastern culture, with a completely different world view, and completely different social customs than sixteenth century, Enlightenment, western European, Swiss, Gentile Calvinists.

    The Calvinist interpretation of Scripture makes perfect sense to twenty-first century logic and reason based Westerners, however, it would be completely foreign and unthinkable to a first century inhabitant of the Middle East and Mediterranean world.

  150. justbybelief Says:

    “The Calvinist interpretation of Scripture makes perfect sense to twenty-first century logic and reason based Westerners, however, it would be completely foreign and unthinkable to a first century inhabitant of the Middle East and Mediterranean world.”

    Interesting statement.

    Consider the following passage:

    2 Timothy 3:16,17
    6 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    As doctrine is necessary to the Christian life and your own tenets teach that error weakens faith, do you mean to tell me that God has a different sanctification in mind for men of different cultures?

    How could the following be true:

    Ephesian 4:13
    Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    I think you may be out of your mind.

  151. Gary M Says:

    Steve,

    I don’t know how you can read Luther’s statement above and ask what it has to do with paradoxes.

    Luther explains how the Christian whose faith and trust is in Christ need never worry about whether or not he is one of the Elect. But the believer who turns his back on Christ will perish in hell.

    Paradox!

    These paradoxes are due to the fact that their is a Revealed God, and a Hidden God. God has not revealed himself to man in his divine fullness. This can be confusing to man and even make God appear to be contradictory. Luther encourages believers to not try and “pull back the curtain” on the Hidden God. To do so is sin.

    Unfortunately, Calvinists just cannot do this. They MUST know what is behind the curtain.

  152. Gary M Says:

    JBB: I would suggest that you use less of your mind (reason) and more blind, child-like faith.

    As long as you continue to force God and his Word to conform to your Western rules of logic and reason, you will never understand the teachings of Luther, the Lutheran Confessions, or the writings of the Early Church Fathers…or the first century New Testament Scriptures themselves

    You are following the false teachings of sixteenth century Swiss and French radicals.

    Luther wanted to reform the Church. He wanted to peel away the bad that had been added over 1,500 years, but keep the core that was good, and had been handed down by the Apostles. The radical Protestants didn’t just want to reform the Church…they wanted to blow it up!

    The radical Protestants ripped out the heart of historic, apostolic Christianity and in its place created a new Church that would be unrecognizable to the Apostles.

  153. justbybelief Says:

    Unfortunately, Calvinists just cannot do this. They MUST know what is behind the curtain.

    I think you’re delusional. To affirm what God has placed in the Bible, that is, what He has revealed is actually what God calls renewing the mind, i.e., sanctification.

    Luther explains how the Christian whose faith and trust is in Christ need never worry about whether or not he is one of the Elect. But the believer who turns his back on Christ will perish in hell.

    You look at everything from man’s perspective. God calls us to have the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is revealed in the Bible. Some of the doctrines in Christ’s mind are predestination, election, and foreknowledge. The Lutherans would have us deny these doctrines while God commands we acknowledge and believe them. In believing there is comfort. God would have us belief all the propositions in the Bible. The Bible is not a buffet where you can choose what you want and leave the rest. Nor is it Burger King where you have it your way. No, we are God’s workmanship and we no longer belong to ourselves. You Lutherans are still clinging to your own understanding of things and it is time you receive what God offers and change your minds.

    Eric

  154. Gary M Says:

    I think Sean has had enough of this discussion.

    Anyone who would like to continue this Calvinist-Lutheran dialogue, even you, grumpy/cranky Eric, come over to my blog. My orthodox Lutheran readers would find your positions annoying…but very interesting. 🙂

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

  155. justbybelief Says:

    I prefer the title of resident ‘curmudgeon.’

    If you think I’m full of invective, what you call grump, cranky, or both, you ought to spend some quality time with your own dogmaticians, they’re quite abusive to those of the Reformed faith. As you may have gathered, I picked this ‘attitude’ up from them, having spent some time in the WELS after leaving the PCA. I determined that I didn’t belong in either place as they both have there doctrinal deficiencies. Now, as then, I didn’t and don’t appreciate having their straw-men imputed to me. At the very least the WELS stuck to their confession, the PCA, not so much.

    Eric

  156. Steve M Says:

    gary: “I’m not trying to convince you of anything, except to show you where we Lutherans get our doctrine of Single Predestination and our condemnation of Once Saved, Always Saved: straight from the mouth of Martin Luther.”

    You wrote that you were posting the passages to show Calvinists why Lutherans believe in accepting paradoxes. I don’t see that the passages do that and you offered no explanation of why you believed they did.

    Now you switch to the topic “once saved, always saved.” I would state the position as “not saved, never saved.” If Luther somewhere states that regenerate persons can lose their salvation, he is unscriptural, but it would help if you would point to the passage in the massive cut and paste job you did where Luther said this.

    You accept paradoxes. How do you tell them apart from contradictions?

  157. Gary Says:

    Steve,

    “These paradoxes are due to the fact that their is a Revealed God, and a Hidden God. God has not revealed himself to man in his divine fullness.”

    I suggest you read my “copy and paste” again.

  158. Gary Says:

    Eric,

    The WELS has some good people, but it also has a lot of angry fundamentalists.

    Check out the LCMS.

  159. justbybelief Says:

    “Check out the LCMS.”

    Sorry, the LCMS is no better. How could anyone attend an institution with whom they fundamentally disagree and sit under teaching that is abhorrent and aberrant?

  160. Gary M Says:

    Ok, Eric,

    Tell you what, come over to my blog and debate me on the purpose of Baptism. I’m curious how the Reformed deny Baptismal Regeneration when so many of the Early Church Fathers specifically mention it.

    I know the Baptist response well: Baptists could care less what “Catholic” Church Fathers said. Do the Reformed feel the same?

  161. Steve M Says:

    Gary: “These paradoxes are due to the fact that their is a Revealed God, and a Hidden God. God has not revealed himself to man in his divine fullness.”

    I asked you how you can distinguish a paradox from a contradiction. If you have no answer, just say so. Please do not simply post something that does not even attempt to answer the question and then go on as though you have answered.

    You seem to be trying to argue that since there are things about God that he has not revealed (and, therefore, we do not know) that, somehow, you know these unrevealed things to contradict or appear to contradict what has been revealed. If they are unrevealed, you cannot know whether they appear to contradict what has been revealed. You can only know what has been revealed.which includes what may by good and necessary consequence deduced from what is explicitly set down in Scripture.

    Once again:
    How can you distinguish between a paradox and a contradiction?

  162. Gary M Says:

    1. Trinity; three persons, but only one God: paradox
    2. Son of God, but same age as his Father: paradox
    3. A virgin conceives: paradox
    4. God his good and merciful but God creates human beings that he knows, due to his omniscience, will suffer and burn in hell for all eternity: paradox
    5. God made man,knowing that in a few generations he would regret having done so and would kill all but eight of them in a Great Flood: paradox
    6. God is good but created a horrific place of punishment for persons he did NOT predestine to be saved: paradox
    7. For God so loved the world…but he hated Esau for no apparent, logical, reasonable reason: paradox
    8. God so loved the world, but withheld salvation from the overwhelming majority of Gentiles for several thousand years, letting them perish to eternal damnation: paradox
    9 All things are created by God, but yet God did not create sin: paradox
    10. God predestines those who will be saved, but predestines no one to hell: paradox
    11. Christ’s body is seated at the right hand of the Father, but is also present on thousands of church altars every Sunday: paradox
    12. God states that Baptism is necessary for salvation, but God also states that Baptism is not absolutely mandatory for entrance to and eternal life in heaven.
    13. Christ promises to never leave us nor forsake us, that no one can take us out of the Father’s hand, but yet bluntly states that those who fall away from the Faith will be cast into the fire.

    Is that enough for you Steve?

  163. Gary M Says:

    paradox: a statement that seems to say two opposite things but that may be true

  164. Gary M Says:

    When it comes to Scripture, when two or more passages seem to say two opposite things, we know that they ARE true…because God is the one speaking. Our choices are: Try to force the two passages to agree or accept them in their plain, simple interpretation as paradoxical; in tension; but never in contradiction.

    There are no contradictions in Holy Scripture, only paradoxes.

  165. Steve M Says:

    Gary
    You gave a long list of things you say are paradoxes. Are you saying these things may be true or are you saying these things are true?

    I repeat my question, which you seem to be unable to answer. You certainly have not tried. How do you distinguish a paradox from a contradiction.

    Your definition says “a statement that seems to say two opposite things but that may be true”. Opposite things are not the same as contradictory things. All dogs have teeth and no dogs have teeth are opposite things, but not contradictory. They may both be false. Contradictory things cannot both be true and they cannot both be false. One must be true and one must be false.

    If you define a paradox as an apparent contradiction, as most people do, how do you distinguish an apparent contradiction from a real one?

    I don’t expect you to answer, but you could at least admit you have no answer.

    I don’t agree that some of the things on your list are true. Others are true, but not paradoxes.

  166. Steve M Says:

    “1. Trinity; three persons, but only one God: paradox”

    Not a paradox. You simply misunderstand Scripture. Not one and three in the same sense. Nothing apparently contradictory.

    “2. Son of God, but same age as his Father: paradox”

    Not a paradox. You do not understand the differance between the eternal and the temporal.

    “3. A virgin conceives: paradox”

    A miracle not a paradox.

    “4. God his good and merciful but God creates human beings that he knows, due to his omniscience, will suffer and burn in hell for all eternity: paradox”

    God has mercy upon whom he will have mercy and whom he will he hardens and he is righteous in doing so. No paradox.

    “5. God made man,knowing that in a few generations he would regret having done so and would kill all but eight of them in a Great Flood: paradox”

    God has made al things for his own pupose, even the wicked for the day of evil. No paradox.

    “6. God is good but created a horrific place of punishment for persons he did NOT predestine to be saved: paradox”

    God’s wrath against those who hate him is just as righteous as his mercy on those whom he has caused to love him. No paradox.

    “7. For God so loved the world…but he hated Esau for no apparent, logical, reasonable reason: paradox”

    You have no concept of what the many different definitions of cosmos (world) in Scripture mean. Take the time to do a word study of cosmos in the NT and you might understand. No paradox.

    “8. God so loved the world, but withheld salvation from the overwhelming majority of Gentiles for several thousand years, letting them perish to eternal damnation: paradox”

    Ditto. God’s wrath is as righteous as his mercy.

    “9 All things are created by God, but yet God did not create sin: paradox”

    God did create evil for his own purpose and yet was perfectly righteous in doing so. No paradox.

    “10. God predestines those who will be saved, but predestines no one to hell: paradox”

    Not true.

    “11. Christ’s body is seated at the right hand of the Father, but is also present on thousands of church altars every Sunday: paradox”

    Not true.

    “12. God states that Baptism is necessary for salvation, but God also states that Baptism is not absolutely mandatory for entrance to and eternal life in heaven.”

    Not true.

    “13. Christ promises to never leave us nor forsake us, that no one can take us out of the Father’s hand, but yet bluntly states that those who fall away from the Faith will be cast into the fire.”

    Christ says to those who say “Lord, Lord didn’t we…”,” I never knew you.” You don’t quote Scripture to supoort your view that the regenerate fall away. Not true.

    “Is that enough for you Steve?”

    No!

    You should try studying the Scriptures without your Lutheran blinders. You may be less confused. Believing contradictions or that which you cannot distinguish from contradictions is a sign of great confusion. God is not a God of confusion.

  167. justbybelief Says:

    “Is that enough for you Steve?”

    It’s enough to know that Lutherans are inane.

  168. Gary M Says:

    Copied from: Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran blog

    Lutherans don’t have a “Lutheran philosophy” per se. Rather we live with the tensions presented in Scriptures in terms of paradoxes. That is, what we sometimes see is not matched by the reality as seen from God’s perspective.

    Here are a few paradoxes in Lutheran theology:

    •Law and Gospel Distinctions
    •Kingdom of the Left (Government/Society) vs. Kingdom of the Right (Church)
    •Theology of glory vs. Theology of the Cross
    •Hidden God vs. Revealed God
    •Now vs. Not Yet

    In each case God speaks and acts in ways that seem paradoxical. In Law and Gospel Distinctions, we find Jesus commanding the rich ruler to “keep all the commandments, especially the first” in order to inherit the kingdom (Mark 10:17-22). Yet in Acts 16:25–33, Paul in response an identical question responds with “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” So in one place it is Law that is needed and spoken, in the other it is the Gospel that is needed and spoken.

    In the Kingdom of the Left, relationships and order are based on the Law (do this, or suffer the consequences). The Law and the power to carry out punishment under the Law belong to the Government (Romans 13:1-7). In the Kingdom of the Right, relationships are established and maintained by the Gospel (what God does for us in and through Jesus Christ). We live in both the Kingdom of the Left and the Kingdom of the Right. But what applies to the one side does not equate to applying the same to the other.

  169. Gary M Says:

    (continued)

    You hear and read much about “electing Christians” into Government positions, as if that is the “only Christian” thing to do. Yet, carrying out responsibilities in the Kingdom of the Left is not determined by “Christian laws.” Rather by being a leader of people, following the laws of the land, carrying out justice. Even an atheist can do that. And we most certainly cannot impose the Kingdom of the Right onto the Kingdom of the Left. That would change the Gospel into another Law, trying to coerce people into “being Christian”—without faith in Christ, but rather “following Christian laws.”

    The theology of Glory vs. the theology of the Cross can be confusing. All Christians believe in the glory of heaven, that is not the issue here. Rather, the problem comes when someone tries to impose that future glory into the present realm. You will hear statements such as, “It is God’s intention that you be rich.” (Note: from my perspective, that seems fitting in light of my first name!) Such a claim shows the theology of glory has imposed itself into this current life. The reality under the cross is that we should expect persecution, suffering, and even death. Living in this world as Christians means life under the cross of Christ.

    [Jesus said:] “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” Matthew 5:10-11

    [Jesus said:] “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

    Notice that these realities have present consequences. And Paul wrote much about the present world in which we live and the suffering and persecution of this life.

    For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me. Philippians 1:29-30

    Perhaps a challenge is for us to re-read the New Testament and take note of how much is focused on the theology of the cross. I suspect that we will discover in the process how much of the theology of glory is more American independence and individualism and not Biblically sound. In my interactions with Christians from other countries, I have found that this theology of glory stuff does not relate to their experiences and life, but the theology of the cross speaks to the heart. That they know and live with every day.

  170. Gary M Says:

    From Dr. Gene Veith:

    Imagine a church that is both evangelical — proclaiming the free forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ — and sacramental, centering its spiritual life in the regenerating waters of baptism and the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Communion. Imagine further a church that is strongly grounded on Scripture, but yet avoids the solipsism of individual interpretation in favor of a comprehensive, intellectually rigorous and imminently orthodox theological system. Imagine a worship service that features both strong preaching and the historic liturgy. Imagine that this is a historical church with a rich spiritual tradition, but without legalism, Imagine, in short, a church that has some of the best parts of Protestantism and the best parts of Catholicism. Finally, imagine that this church body is not some little made — up sect, but one of the largest bodies of Christians in the world.

    Such a church might seem like what many Christians, disaffected by both the vacuity of liberal theology and the shallowness of American evangelicalism — are dreaming of. Such a church exists. It goes by the admittedly inadequate name “Lutheran.”

    Worldwide, there are some 60,000,000 Lutherans on the books, making it the largest Protestant tradition of them all. There are around 9 million Lutherans in the United States, but five million in Africa and another five million in Asia — Brazil has over a million, and it is one of the dominant religions of Papua New Guinea. In the United States, there are about the same number of Missouri Synod Lutherans (2.5 million) than there are Episcopalians.

    And yet, the Lutheran church seems almost unknown in American Christianity. Catholics, Episcopalians, Baptists, Charismatics, and Calvinists are well-represented in theological debates, opinion polls, and articles in Christian publications, but Lutherans — who have their own distinctive approach to everything from salvation to politics — are often theological wallflowers.

    Billy Graham called Lutherans “the sleeping giant.” If Lutheranism is the invisible church, or, to paraphrase what Luther said of God, the church that hides itself, this is partly its own fault and partly the result of its theological tension with American culture. Nevertheless, Lutheranism has much to offer Christendom as a whole. As a church body with a thoroughly-worked-out theology, which it actually follows, Lutheran denominations have retained their orthodoxy more successfully than most. But more than that, Lutheran theology — and spirituality — is animated by a dynamic polarity in which divisive theological controversies are put into balance and thus resolved.

  171. Gary M Says:

    (continued)

    Paradoxy

    The distinctive characteristic of Lutheran theology is its affirmation of paradox. Calvin and Arminius both constructed systematic theologies, explaining away any contrary Biblical data in a rationalistic system of belief. Luther developed his theology in Bible commentaries, following the contours of Scripture wherever they led and developing its most profound polarities: Law and Gospel; Christ as both true God and true Man; the Christian as simultaneously saint and sinner; justification by faith and baptismal regeneration; Holy Communion as the real presence of Christ in material bread and wine.

    Not only have Lutherans always affirmed both “evangelical” and “Catholic” ideas, their way with paradox also resolves issues that have divided Protestants. Calvinists insist on salvation by grace alone to the extent of double predestination; Arminians insist that everyone, potentially, can be saved, and so stress the utter freedom of the will. Lutherans stress grace above all, that God does literally everything for our salvation, dying on the Cross, with His Spirit breaking into our lives through Word and Sacrament, the means of grace. But Jesus died for all, and potentially anyone might be saved. Lutheranism affirms the best of both Calvinism and Arminianism, while avoiding the exclusivity of the one and the potential Pelagianism of the other. Charismatics emphasize the Holy Spirit — so do Lutherans, finding that Spirit not in the vagaries of human emotion but even more tangibly as being genuinely operative in the Word and Sacraments. Lutherans are fundamentalist in their doctrinal rigor, while excluding separatism and legalism. Lutheran cultural theology affirms Two Kingdoms, preventing the secular from swallowing up the sacred, and the sacred from swallowing up the secular. (This explains why Lutherans can seem both inwardly focused and free and easy, why they seem conservative yet apolitical, and why they often have beer at their church dinners.)

    Lutheranism — with its sacramentalism and liturgical worship synthesized with its Biblicism and evangelical proclamation — might serve as a bridge between the various factions of Christianity. Of course, it is not that simple.

    If Lutheranism represent an “evangelical catholicism” (a term favored by many confessional Lutherans), its paradoxes mean that it is likewise subject to attack from every side. Evangelicals consider it “too Catholic” — making fun of what they consider its stiff formality, its old — fashioned music, and ancient liturgy and, more seriously, questioning how Lutherans can say salvation is by faith if they believe in Baptismal regeneration and being appalled at the way Pastor says when he gives the absolution that he forgives people their sins. Catholics (and Orthodox) lump Lutheranism with all other Protestants — in fact, Lutherans are the worst because they started the dissolution of Christendom.

    Within Protestantism, Calvinists attack Lutherans for “not going far enough in the Reformation,” for keeping papistical practices and idolatrous worship. Arminians attack Lutherans for not believing in the freedom of the will and for leaving the door open to anti-nominianism. Charismatics think Lutherans are “cold.” Fundamentalists say Lutherans are strong on doctrine but weak on morals.

    And, just as the Lutheran framework invites attacks from every side, Lutherans find themselves counter-attacking against everyone else. Lutherans condemn Arminians for not believing in predestination and Calvinists for believing in double predestination. Catholics and Charismatics are considered alike in believing that the Holy Spirit reveals Himself in human beings, apart from the Word. Fundamentalists are savaged for their legalism. In fact, many Lutherans do not see themselves as being Protestant at all.

    The fact is, the Lutheran synthesis is a baroque structure that can only be held together by a doctrinal rigor which constantly re-inforces every point. Anglicans attempt a via media between Catholicism and Protestantism, which works through compromise, broad consensus, and a tolerance for differences. The Lutheran way, on the other hand, is one of polarities. Each pole of the paradox must be maintained and heightened. What Chesterton said in Orthodoxy of the paradoxes of Christianity is particularly descriptive of Lutheran theology: “We want not an amalgam or compromise, but both things at the top of their energy; love and wrath both burning.” Christianity does not approach doctrinal issues such as the nature of Christ or the moral status of a human being in terms of the Aristotelian golden mean. Rather, “Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious.”

    Thus, Lutherans are very sacramental and very evangelical. Anglicanism, even in its High Church phase, has always been dismissed by continental Lutherans as merely another variety of Reformed Calvinism, its articles being so wishy-washy in not clearly affirming the Real Presence. Evangelicals are not evangelical enough, falling as they do into the trap of “decision theology” and moralism, not trusting God to accomplish literally everything that is needful.

    As a result, Lutheran theology, though embracing in one sense the whole range of Christian spirituality, is nevertheless an entity unto itself, with its own spiritual disciplines that are quite alien to those of other traditions. Consider, for example, the way Lutheranism opposes the so-called Theology (or rather, spirituality) of Glory — with its pretensions of power, victory, and earthly success — with the Theology of the Cross, in which God reveals Himself in weakness, defeat, and failure. Or the Word of God, not merely as a sourcebook of information, but as a sacramental means of grace. Or the way God hides Himself in what seems to be His opposite, in the material elements of the sacraments, in humiliation and defeat, in what seems most secular and non-religious. Or the exhilaration, under the Gospel, of Christian freedom.

  172. justbybelief Says:

    An analogy from Star Trek episode, ‘The Changeling’

    Dialog after Nomad has wiped Lt. Uhura’s [the Lutheran’s] mind:

    KIRK: What did you do to her [the Lutheran]?
    NOMAD: That unit [the Lutheran] is defective. Its thinking is chaotic. Absorbing it [its thinking] unsettled me.
    SPOCK: That unit is a woman [Lutheran].
    NOMAD: A mass of conflicting impulses.

  173. Gary M Says:

    Enough said.

    Merry Christmas, my Reformed brothers in Christ! Come over and visit me on my blog if you ever need a short break from Sean and dour Calvinism. 🙂

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
    an orthodox, Evangelical Catholic (Lutheran) blog

  174. Steve M Says:

    Gary
    Once again you post a massive cut and paste instead of answering any question. I am through asking.

    Your beliefs are either non-paradoxes which you declare to be paradoxes or contradictions which you declare to be paradoxes. People who love confusion are people who have no love for truth.

  175. Gary M Says:

    Steve,

    Here is a great video by a Lutheran pastor on the topic of paradox:

  176. Steve M Says:

    Gary
    Thanks, but no thanks. You’ve now graduated from avoiding answering any questions by posting many pages of stuff to posting videos to avoid answering. Not interested.

  177. Gary M Says:

    Steve asked, “How do you distinguish a paradox from a contradiction?”

    Answer: When God says two truths in Scripture, that to human reason seem contradictory, that is a paradox, because God cannot contradict himself.

  178. Gary M Says:

    In the way that Rev. Fisk is using it in the video above (which has valid precedent in both the philosophical and theological disciplines) paradox is not describing two or more contradictory things, but things that merely SEEM contradictory to us according to logic or reason.

    There are plenty of things of God and His Word in Christ which can be argued to be paradoxical, or if you prefer, can simply be called logical dilemmas. In other words they just don’t make sense or cannot be perfectly described in terms of reason. The Scriptural teaching of the nature of the Trinity might just be the granddaddy of them all.

    Another issue that can be considered paradoxical, or a dilemma,
    is: “How do you maintain A) God is omnipotent with B) God desires the salvation of all and C) Only some will be saved?” The answer is that WE cannot maintain such. At least not via human logic/reason. Any attempt to do so will result in denying one truth about God in favor of supporting another. This is part of what Rev. Fisk is getting at in his critique of Calvinism. Calvin sought to “solve” all the mysteries of God using human reason. But his emphasis on God as sovereign (all powerful) led him to deny the idea that God actually does not desire the death of the wicked (i.e. Calvin’s teaching of double predestination).

  179. Gary M Says:

    Bottom line:

    When Steve or Gary says two things that appear contradictory…they probably are.

    When God says two things that appear contradictory…they absolutely cannot be…as God is perfect and cannot contradict himself. Therefore the apparent contradictions in Holy Scripture are not contradictions at all, but are paradoxes.

  180. Steve M Says:

    Gary
    Your basis for distinguishing between a paradox and a contradiction is whether the two seemingly (to you) contradictory things appear in Scripture. Because you know that God cannot lie. You know that to contradict himself would be to lie, therefore, God does not contradict himself.

    First, how do you know that what you interpret God to be saying in Scripture is what he is actually saying. Suppose there are two interpretations of what God is communicating in Scripture. One seems contradictory and the other does not. Is there any reason to choose the seemingly contradictory interpretation over the seemingly consistent one? Should we choose seemingly contradictory interpretations based upon our preconceived notions of God. Is this the proper way to exegete Scripture? Should we always choose seemingly contradictory interpretations over consistent ones? Should we set out to ensure that all our understandings of Scripture seem contradictory? Is that the way we should search for the truth of Scripture? If we should not seek to make all of our interpretations to be indistinguishable from contradictions, when should we refrain from doing so?

  181. Gary M Says:

    Excellent point, Steve.

    For example, God says in multiple passages that he desires all to be saved, yet in many other passages he clearly states that he has already decided, before the world existed, who will be saved.

    How do we resolve this seeming contradiction? We can use reason and logic to try and force these seemingly contradictory statements to fit together, or we can just say, God says it, I will believe BOTH, without forcing God to conform to human logic and reason.

    Another way to confirm that accepting this “contradiction” as a “paradox” is to look to the writings of the early Christians. Did they force these two “contradictions” to harmonize or did they accept them as a paradox?

    Some Protestants have interpreted “Sola Scriptura” to mean that no other sources can be used to help us understand what the authors of the Bible meant to say. This is why we have over a thousand different Protestant denominations and sects. Every one reads the Bible and uses HIS reason and logic to interpret Scripture.

    Martin Luther used the plain, simple interpretation of the Scriptures WITH the assistance of the writings of the early Christians to RETURN the Church to the original teachings of the Church. He did NOT invent new doctrine, never heard of in the history of Christianity.

  182. Steve M Says:

    Scripture nowhere says God desires for each and every member of mankind to be saved. If that is how you interpret certain passages, it is your interpretation that fosters the contradiction, not Scripture.

  183. Gary M Says:

    1 Timothy 2:1-7 (ESV)

    First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for ALL people, 2 for kings and ALL who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,

    4 who desires ALL people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for ALL, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

    Last time I checked my English dictionary, all means… everybody, everyone, no one excluded…all!

    I would bet that most people in the English speaking world would say that four “all”s used in this passage mean that God desires that everyone, everybody, not exluding anyone…ALL be saved!

  184. Gary M Says:

    …everyone except Bill Clinton, who doesn’t believe that “is” means “is”…and Calvinists.

  185. Gary M Says:

    II Corinthians 5:11-15

    11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for ALL, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for ALL, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

    All means all. This passage does not say, “one who died just for all… the Elect”.

  186. Gary M Says:

    John 3:16 (ESV)

    “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

    That passage does not say, “For God so loved the Elect…”

    “whoever” means whoever.

    Even a fifth grader can see the plain, simple truth: God loves everyone…and “whoever”/everyone can believe.

  187. Gary M Says:

    I could go on quoting more passages that clearly say that God desires all to be saved and that Christ died/shed his blood for all, but I’m sure you have already seen them before and have a very reasonable, logical, common sense excuse for explaining away the plain, simple interpretations of these passages.

    Just as the Lutheran pastor says very colorfully in the video above, the reason that Calvinists feel it necessary to explain away these passages is for this reason:

    John Calvin was a brilliant theologian and a tremendous man of God, but… when it came to forming his theology, he made a very big mistake: he brought the prevailing philosophy of his era into the Church: the philosophy of the Age of Reason and Enlightenment.

    Instead of respecting the Hidden God and his unrevealed, or partially revealed, mysteries as had the Church for 1,500 years, he told Christians to use reason and logic to explain these mysteries. He introduced the magisterial view of Scripture, replacing the traditional ministerial view as did Luther.

    The result was disastrous for the Christian Church, as the pastor explains.

  188. Gary M Says:

    Correction: “Calvin introduced the magisterial view of Scripture, replacing the historic, traditional ministerial view. Luther and the Lutheran Church continued to teach the ministerial view, which in the Age of Reason and Enlightenment and today, comes across as foolish and non-sensical.

  189. justbybelief Says:

    Lutherans are selective in their translation of ‘ALL.’

    They don’t like the passage in Ephesians that states

    “…according to His purpose who works [ALL] things after the counsel of His will…”

    But, they will mistranslate a passage that is correctly translated ALL men without distinction (as the context dictates) rather than their faulty translation of ALL men without exception.

    If God wanted ALL men without distinction to be saved He would not spoken otherwise of Pharaoh and Esau. And, they accuse us of rationalism.

    Nor do they like the passage in Romans which states that God has mercy on whom he has mercy and hardens whom he wants to harden.

    The bottom line is that Lutheran theology is hostile to the God of the Bible. Theirs is a theology that tailors its message to man’s felt needs. Since man by nature hates the sovereign God, Lutheran theology whittles off the rough edges to suit man’s fallen (and wicked) desires.

    Their selectivity does not end here, though. In order to tailor their message to tickle the ears of depraved men they have to have an invented Christ with a ubiquitous body. They are not consistent at all. When the Bible states that “Christ was that Rock” where ‘was’ is the past tense of ‘is’ they deny ‘real’ presence, while in another case they adamantly and wickedly assert it. They are like the pharisees who put stumbling blocks before men.

    Thank God that by His glorious providence He has left us His Word intact which exposes their lies. Of course it is obvious that they will ALWAYS mistranslate and mishandle the Word of God because of their erroneous presuppositions about it.

  190. Gary M Says:

    Once again, only Bill Clinton and Calvinists would interpret “all” to mean “some”.

    Eric, you are absolutely correct. Lutherans are not consistent. Our beliefs are illogical, defy reason, and make no sense. However, Lutherans do not have problem verses. We accept the plain, simple interpretation of all Scriptures. We do not re-interpret them because they defy OUR human reason and logic.

    We Lutherans do not have to twist ourselves into pretzels to explain away God’s words as do Calvinists and your cousins the Arminians.

    Magisterial vs. Ministerial interpretation of Scripture. Watch the above video.

  191. justbybelief Says:

    “Watch the above video.”

    The Bible teaches us not to sit under false-teachers.

    “Magisterial vs. Ministerial”

    Another false dichotomy from Lutherans, where they deny man is God’s image and the purpose of Revelation.

  192. Gary M Says:

    All Scripture can be divided into two chief doctrines called Law and Gospel. When applied in proclamation they are different ways of speaking to people. The Law must be preached to the unrepentant sinner. The Gospel is for those who have been crushed by the Law. When Jesus speaks the Law, such as in Matthew 6:15, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins,” he is calling us to repent. This message is spoken to those who are secure in their sin. The insecure need to hear the message of John 6:37-39, especially those who are convinced that they have lost their salvation. God gets the credit for salvation. People get the credit for their damnation.

    The Reformed are forced to say, “Yes, I know that you hate God today, but you didn’t hate Him yesterday. Either you were lying yesterday, or you are lying today. If you are lying today, you’re saved! Don’t worry! You just think you hate God. Maybe you will love God tomorrow, and then you will really be sure that you were chosen. Unless… you end up hating Him next week…” This is nothing but a game of “pin the tail on God’s hidden will.” The Law is to be preached in all its severity to the secure. The Gospel is to be preached to the insecure.

  193. Gary M Says:

    The simple matter is that the Reformed supralapsarianism is not content with the actual revealed Divine decrees, but seeks to discern the hidden decrees of God through the use of logic, while also conveniently sweeping under the rug certain other distracting tidbits of Revelation (Ez. 18:23, 33:11; 1 John 2:2[!]; 1 Tim. 2:4;).

    In this sense, yes, the Reformed are the church of logicalism – idolaters of reason – which is precisely why their exclusive historical stance is tied to the historical rise of the Enlightenment and the triumph of the human mind (the Reformed stand square in the history of philosophy, whereas Lutheranism does not.) …because Lutheranism is the Church of Scripture alone.

  194. justbybelief Says:

    “The Law must be preached to the unrepentant sinner.”

    Amen!

    Repent, Gary…

    Romans 9

    18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
    19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
    20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
    21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

  195. Gary M Says:

    Eric,

    You are worshipping two gods: the Creator and Reason.

    You hold Reason as equal or superior to the Creator and his Word. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

  196. justbybelief Says:

    You’ve been warned, Gary.

    *kicking the dust off my feet*

  197. Steve M Says:

    “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for ALL people, 2 for kings and ALL who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way,”

    Gary, am I to understand that it is your position that Paul is exhorting his readers to pray for each and every person individually in the entire world not only living at the time he wrote the epistle but also all those who had ever lived before and all those who would ever live after the time of the apostles. If so, why does he then mention types of persons in the next verse? It seems odd that he would need to mention “kings and ALL who are in authority”, Wouldn’t they be included in ALL people? Doesn’t it make more sense that Paul was referring to all types of people? I realize this does not fit with your Lutheran concept of Painfully Simplistic Interpretation (PSI), but it is more in line with the context. The idea that Paul is suggesting they pull out the local phone and name each person listed seems a bit far fetched, but even that would not have included the ALL that you are trying to read into these verses.

    A word study of the same word translated ALL will show such verses as:
    3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (Mat 2:3 NAU)
    4 Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
    5 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; (Mat 3:4-5 NAU)
    3 Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Mat 4:23 NAU)
    24 The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. (Mat 4:24 NAU)
    9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!”
    10 When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” (Mat 21:9-10 NAU)

    These verses are a small sample the many places in Scripture where the same word translated ALL in the verses you cite very likely does not refer to each and every person.

    If it is your position that ALL in Scripture always means “everyone, no one excluded”, you would do well to study the Scriptures a little more.

  198. Gary M Says:

    “Is” does not always mean “is”—William Jefferson Clinton

  199. Gary M Says:

    Calvinists demand that God and everything in his Holy Scriptures be in harmony; that everything fit neatly together; that God must comply with human reason and logic in his dealings with mankind. Calvinists will support their insistence upon logic and reason by quoting this Scripture: “God is not the author of confusion.”

    Lutherans denounce this teaching as unscriptural and a radical departure from Church teaching. We believe this false teaching is the result of John Calvin allowing the Enlightenment philosophy of his time to infiltrate and subjugate the historic, apostolic method of Scriptural interpretation.

    Lutherans believe that Calvinists are placing “Lord Reason” equal to or even above Lord Jesus. The great divide between Lutheranism and Calvinism is that Lutherans allow God’s mysteries to remain mysteries. We call these mysteries “paradoxes”. Calvinists cannot tolerate paradoxes as they defy “Lord Reason”.

    A Prayer to Lord Reason

    Oh, thou Great and most Almighty god, Lord Reason.

    We thank you and praise you for giving us logic. We thank you and praise you for giving us the laws of science. We thank you and praise you for giving us common sense. Out of your abundant grace, you have blessed the world harmony. You have rid the world of illogical, supernatural mysteries. You have rid the world of unprovable, supernatural miracles. You have conquered ignorance and superstition.

    We praise you, oh most powerful, Lord Reason.

    All peoples, and all gods, even the Creator, are subject to your Laws.

    Amen.

  200. justbybelief Says:

    The Lutheran prayer:

    “We beseech the now thou unknown god…”

  201. justbybelief Says:

    And, for the Lutheran Mass,

    “We beseech the now thou unknown god, who is beside thyself…”

  202. Gary M Says:

    Bottom line: All your very reasonable, very logical, very common sense Calvinist interpretations of Scripture are new. They never existed in the Christian Church of the previous 1,500 years. There is zero evidence of Calvinist teachings in the Early Church of the Apostles.

    New doctrine is false doctrine. You can laugh and poke fun at orthodox Christians, including Lutherans, but the glaring, inescapable fact is that on the doctrines of Once Saved, Always Saved, Baptismal Regeneration, and the Real Presence in the Lord’s Supper, our views were present from the very beginning of Christianity. We have the proof. Evidence of your beliefs on these issues in the Early Church is nonexistent.

    This is the fact that Calvinists and Baptists will do everything they can to avoid answering: Why were there no Calvinists or Baptists in the early Church?

    “The Catholics destroyed all evidence”? No proof of this conspiracy.
    “They lived in caves for 1,500 years”? No evidence whatsoever.

    Calvinists have contrived a clever, reasonable, logical theology, based on the same flawed reasoning of the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses: “Our reason tells us we are right, therefore we must be right.”

  203. justbybelief Says:

    In Lutheran theology ‘is’ doesn’t mean ‘is’ it means ‘in,’ ‘with,’ and ‘under.’ Lutherans should be proud of their spiritual child, Slick Willie.

  204. Steve M Says:

    Gary
    There you go again invoking lord reason. You wrote, “our views were present from the very beginning of Christianity.” and you expect us not to think you also meant, “our views were NOT present from the very beginning of Christianity.” But without reason (i.e. logic), you mean both at the same time. You may throw reason aside if you please, but I will not apologize for applying reason to Scripture in forming my beliefs. At least you admit your views are irrational. I guess there’s some honesty in that.

    I choose rational interpretations over irrational ones.

    You can give your praise to Lord Nonsense if you wish.

  205. Gary M Says:

    Steve,

    We Lutherans admit our positions on many doctrines ARE irrational!

    An Almighty Creator who created the world in six days, did many other supernatural events, including sending his Son to be born of a virgin, to exist in the form of a man, to die and come back from the dead, and redeem us from eternal damnation is irrational! Ask the Jews. Ask the atheist intellectuals. The Christian religion defies common sense!

    But that is why we call our religion, our “faith”. We believe the irrational just because God says so. It is sad that Calvinists believe by faith much of Christianity’s irrationality, but insist on reason for the others.

    Again, we come back to this key issue: There is no evidence in the Early Church of the doctrine of “Once saved, Always saved”, otherwise known as Perseverance of the Saints; no evidence of a baptism that does not forgives sins; no evidence of a Lord’s Supper without the real bodily presence of Christ; and no evidence of the doctrine of Limited Atonement.

    Why??

    I don’t understand why this issue doesn’t make intelligent, educated Calvinists and Baptists stop, scratch their heads, and say to themselves, “Something is wrong if NO ONE in the Early Church held our positions on these key doctrines.”

  206. Steve M Says:

    We Lutherans admit our positions on many doctrines ARE irrational!

    Why stop with just some irrational beliefs? Why not throw rationality out all together. Why not hold to only irrational beliefs. According to you the early church favored irrationality over rationality. Please point me to the early church fathers who admit that their views are nonsensical and advise others to believe them because they are nonsensical.

  207. Steve M Says:

    “Ask the Jews. Ask the atheist intellectuals. The Christian religion defies common sense!”

    Good idea, Gary, I think I should get my theological positions from atheists and Jews. Heaven forbid I should instead apply logic to Scripture to obtain those positions.

  208. Denson Dube Says:

    Gary,
    “ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. Would you agree that the man Jesus is excepted?

  209. justbybelief Says:

    What Gary doesn’t realize is that in this attempt to make Christianity irrational he and his Lutheran cohorts are destroying all of scripture.

  210. Gary M Says:

    Lutheran theology is the theology of the Early Church Fathers. It was a return to the “old”, not something new and never heard of in the 1500 year history of Christianity, as are the teachings of Baptists and Calvinists.

    Here again is the question that all of you have refused to answer: why is there zero record of the following Baptist, Arminian, and Calvinist beliefs in the Early Church?

    1. Regeneration and forgiveness of sins can only occur when an adult makes a “decision for Christ”.
    2. Baptism has no role in regeneration or the forgiveness of sins. Baptism is our act to obey/please God/publically profess our faith. It is not God’s act of saving sinners.
    3. Perseverance of the Saints/Once saved, Always saved.
    4. Limited Atonement
    5. In the Lord’s Supper Christ is NOT bodily present.

    God promised to preserve his Word. God promised to preserve his Church. How then is it possible that Baptist and Calvinist beliefs, if they reflect the true interpretation of Holy Scripture, disappeared with the death of the last Apostle, only to reappear over one thousand years later?

    There is zero evidence of a Great Catholic Conspiracy to destroy all evidence of the existence of Baptist and Calvinist believers in the early Church.

    There is zero evidence of Baptists/Calvinists hiding out in caves for 1,500 years.

    Many of you are very intelligent, educated people. How can you possibly excuse the lack of evidence for your beliefs in the Early Christian Church?

  211. Gary M Says:

    Denson,

    Yes, Jesus was a man. Jesus was a man who did not sin.

    Remember, trying to force a Lutheran to comply with the rules of reason and logic to interpret Scripture is a waste of your time.

    For instance: If one verse of Scripture says that the sky is green, and another verse of Scripture says that the sky is blue, what would a Lutheran believe?

    Answer: God tells us that the sky is blue…and green. Lutherans would believe both to be true.

    A Calvinist would do an intense dissection of those passages to force them to harmonize, with the result being: God didn’t really mean the sky is green. In that passage he was speaking metaphorically, but in the “sky is blue” passage he was speaking literally. The Calvinist uses his reason to overrule the plain, simple words of God.

    Lutherans believe in accepting the plain, simple interpretation of Scripture unless the writer/God makes it VERY clear that he is not speaking literally.

  212. Gary M Says:

    Eric,

    If you can show me how Lutheran theology is a NEW manner of interpreting Scripture, never heard of before in the Christian Church, then I will agree with your assessment. The truth of the matter is, however, Calvinist teachings are completely absent in the Early Christian Church. Your theology may fit well with sixteenth century Enlightenment, western European philosophy, but it is completely absent in the first three centuries AD and completely alien to the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures and thinking of the earliest Christians.

  213. justbybelief Says:

    Denson,

    According to Lutheran Theology you must believe that Jesus did sin and didn’t sin both at the same time. Except, Lutheran Theology is not consistent. I guess they must redefine ‘all.’

    The wind-bag thinks that by his multiple lengthy diatribes we/I are going to be pried from scripture.

    Eric

  214. Gary M Says:

    All have sinned.
    Jesus was a man.
    Jesus was a sinless man.

    That is what God says. Just believe it. Don’t try to figure it out by reason.

    If I said the above you could rightly say that my belief is illogical, unreasonable, and non-sensical. I didn’t say it. God said it. If you want to tell the Lord God, Almighty King of Heaven and Earth, that he is inconsistent and unreasonable, that is your foolish choice.

  215. Gary M Says:

    I am still waiting for one you to answer my question: Why is there zero evidence of the above Calvinist beliefs in the Early Christian Church of the first four centuries?

  216. justbybelief Says:

    So, Lutherans believe:

    All have sinned, including Jesus, because ‘all’ does mean ‘all’

    And

    Jesus was a sinless man

    I suppose in Lutheran theology this is 1) either a paradox, or 2) we don’t know what ‘all’ refers to.

    Of course, Lutherans don’t really believe ‘all’ always means ‘all’ they’re simply rationalists of the 16th century who’ve rejected church tradition.

  217. Gary M Says:

    You continue to evade and avoid my question, which seems to always occur in my discussions with Calvinists and Baptists:

    Why is there zero evidence of the Calvinist/Baptist teachings on Baptism, Once Saved, Always Saved, Limited Atonement and the absence of Christ’s body in the Lord’s Supper in the Early Church, anywhere on planet earth?

  218. Justification by Faith Alone Says:

    Because there is zero evidence of Christ’s human body in the LS — habeas corpus! Scripture doesn’t teach us to check ours heads at the door. And you don’t understand the reformed, because even most (and of course not all, e.g. clarkians) say that faith is suprarational.

  219. Gary M Says:

    Again, why don’t we see the Calvinist position on Baptism in the Early Church: that baptism brings one into a covenant relationship with the church but does not forgive their sins or save them?

    Why don’t we see the Baptist position on Baptism in the Early Church: that the only purpose of Baptism is as our act of obedience/our act of public profession/our act to join the local church?

    Why can’t Calvinists and Baptists answer this simple question????

  220. Pht Says:

    Gary M Says:

    December 24, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    All have sinned.
    Jesus was a man.
    Jesus was a sinless man.

    That is what God says. Just believe it. Don’t try to figure it out by reason.

    Why should we not try and understand what God has said? Just because you say we shouldn’t?

    For that matter, what you are saying is irrational; therefore, why should we try and understand what YOU are saying?

    If I said the above you could rightly say that my belief is illogical, unreasonable, and non-sensical. I didn’t say it. God said it. If you want to tell the Lord God, Almighty King of Heaven and Earth, that he is inconsistent and unreasonable, that is your foolish choice.

    So, God can’t communicate, right?

    He can’t, if he’s irrational, as you have said he is.

    In fact, on what basis could you say that what you call “god” isn’t satan? Or evil?

  221. Gary M Says:

    Pht said, “So, God can’t communicate, right?”

    God may not communicate in the way you think he should but he does communicate with us. He communicates with us through his Almighty, All-powerful Word and through his mysteries (sacraments) of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

    So how can we understand his Word if it seems full of APPARENT contradictions and statements that defy common sense, reason and logic? Should we listen to an internal voice, supposedly the Holy Spirit, telling us what to believe? Does God still give personal revelations to individual Christians? No.

    The only way to understand the meaning of God’s Word is to compare what you believe that Scripture is saying in its plain, simple interpretation with what the earliest Christians believed that the passage means. Are the writings of the early Christians infallible, inerrant, and inspired? Absolutely not. But if the earliest Christians, some of whom were the disciples of the Apostles themselves, were in full agreement on the passage, chances are that they had it right.

    God said that he would preserve his Word and his Church. If you take a look at the doctrines of Baptismal Regeneration and the Real Bodily Presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper partaken of for the forgiveness of sins and enrichment of our salvation (sanctification, not justification), you will see that these beliefs have existed in the Church uninterrupted from the very beginning of the Church.

    The same cannot be said for the Reformed view of a covenant-only baptism that does not save sinners or wash away sins. And the same cannot be said for the Baptist view of a symbolic baptism for the purpose of our act of public profession. Nor for the positions of both denominations on a “spiritual only” presence in the Supper or a symbolic only absence in the Supper for the Baptists.

  222. Gary M Says:

    Imagine if a group of English language experts sit down with the United States Bill of Rights and Constitution and decide to interpret its meaning without any historical or cultural context. When they come across the statement, “all men are created equal”, they declare to the world that the clear interpretation of that statement is that the Founding Fathers believed that African-American, Native American, and Asian males should have full equality in society with white men.

    These experts have interpreted the passage correctly following all the proper rules of English grammar, but they have completely misinterpreted the meaning of that particular statement. Why? They failed to look at contemporary writings that would give a cultural clarification to the statement and clearly demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of white people in that day, including the Founding Fathers, did not believe that non-white males should be considered as equal in society to white males.

    This is the mistake that Calvinists and Baptists have made. They are excellent “English (and Koine Greek) experts” but they fail to look at contemporary writings/evidence that would reveal the true meaning of Scripture.

    Read the Early Church Fathers, dear Calvinists brothers! Reading their writings will help to clarify the intended meaning of authors of Holy Scripture.

  223. justbybelief Says:

    There it is! The Lutherans teach that the Bible is not sufficient in all matters of faith and practice–a partial (Lutheran) reformation indeed or no reformation at all. This is nothing more than a denial of the formal cause of the reformation.

    It’s not surprising that not only do you lie about Christians and what they believe but also about many of the founders.

  224. Gary M Says:

    Eric’s response to my last statement is something I would expect from an uneducated Arminian Baptist, not from educated Presbyterians.

    An uneducated Arminian Baptist refuses to read the Early Church Fathers with the excuse that even reading their opinions is tantamount to placing their opinions above or equal to Scripture. Ridiculous! If a Early Church Father directly contradicted Scripture, then we must accept Scripture. This is what happened with Arius who denied Christ’s divinity, and with Tertullian who believed that all sins committed after baptism were unforgiveable. However, when the overwhelming majority of Early Church Fathers held a common belief and could point to their interpretation as being handed down from the Apostles, we have to take their interpretations seriously. Inerrant? No. Infallible? No. Inspired? No. Strong evidence of the correct, apostolic interpretation? Yes!

    The issue is this: how do you know that YOUR interpretation of Scripture is correct and everyone else is wrong? We Lutherans do NOT say that WE have the correct interpretation of Scripture because we understand the ancient languages better than all other Christians. We Lutherans do NOT say that we have the correct interpretation because a little voice inside of us tells us that we are correct. We Lutherans believe we are correct because our interpretation agrees with the plain, simple interpretation of Scripture AND is in full agreement with the teachings of the Early Church Fathers.

    On what basis do you (Clarkian) Reformed believe that you can sit down with the Bible and interpret it correctly, without any Church Father input, and come up with the correct interpretation when the Baptists, Methodists, Assemblies of God, Pentecostals, and others all say that they can do the same thing??

    You are all trying to interpret an almost 2,000 year old document, written in ancient languages, in a Middle Eastern culture, with strong Jewish influences, and yet you all come up with different interpretations on key Christian doctrine, and all of you believe that you are correct. It is the radical Protestant belief that “sola Scriptura” means throw out all other authorities such as the Church Fathers, and read the Bible for yourself to understand what God is saying, that has splintered the Christian Church to the mess it is today. The Radical Protestants have splintered and divided into hundreds if not thousands of denominations and sects because every single person in those churches believes that God speaks directly to HIM and tells him the true meaning of Scripture.

    Silly and ignorant.

  225. justbybelief Says:

    “However, when the overwhelming majority of Early Church Fathers”

    Hmmm… An appeal to numbers? Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

    “…common belief and could point to their interpretation as being handed down from the Apostles,…”

    Hmmm.. Hearsay?

    “Inspired? No. Strong evidence of the correct, apostolic interpretation? Yes!”

    Hmmm… So, you admit that what is handed down could be hearsay? The Bible is Truth and it was handed down by the Holy Spirit. And, Thank God it was!!!

    “We Lutherans believe we are correct because our interpretation agrees with the plain, simple interpretation of Scripture”

    Hmmm… That is not obvious. Believing two statements that you say mean different things, is not plain and simple. Maybe it is simple for simpletons and morons.

    “…Church Fathers, and read the Bible for yourself to understand what God is saying, that has splintered the Christian Church”

    Hmmm… This is a lie. Lutherans have perfected the sin of bearing false witness against their neighbor and are STILL unrepentant.

    “The Radical Protestants have splintered and divided into hundreds if not thousands of denominations and sects because every single person in those churches believes that God speaks directly to HIM and tells him the true meaning of Scripture.”

    So, when a person reads the Bible God is not speaking directly to him or her? Maybe, you ought to revise what you believe the Bible to be. Do you hear multiple voices when you read scripture. You might want to see someone and have that checked out. In some circles you might be called a schizophrenic.

    I will give you this: At least the Lutherans have confessions and their heresies are manifest for all to see being more easily identified than some of these other groups. I’d rather have splinter groups, though, which episcopal polity fails to solve, than an authoritarian church forcing on the Body of Christ, doctrines hostile to the scripture, and at times, using the death penalty to coerce belief in them.

    One would think you were running out of hot air.

    *shoe banging on table*

  226. Gary M Says:

    Eric is obviously not interested in answering my question. Would any other Calvinist please answer my question:

    Why is there zero evidence of the Calvinist and Baptist positions on the purpose of Baptism and the purpose of the Lord’s Supper in the Early Church or in the first 800-1000 years of Christianity, found anywhere on planet earth?

    There MUST be an answer! God said he would preserve his Church and his Word. What happened?

  227. Pht Says:

    Gary M Says:

    December 25, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    God may not communicate in the way you think he should but he does communicate with us. He communicates with us through his Almighty, All-powerful Word and through his mysteries (sacraments) of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

    Ok. So this is the out.

    Communication is impossible with out:

    A = A,

    A does not equal Non-A,

    Something can only be either A or non-A, and nothing in-between.

    – and all the rules validly deducted from these three.

    It is impossible to even string together a single word without these rules. Thought is impossible without these.

    You have said that God is irrational.

    Irrational = does not follow these rules.

    Don’t follow those rules = Can NOT communicate. Period. Full stop.

    So how can we understand his Word if it seems full of APPARENT contradictions and statements that defy common sense, reason and logic?

    Either God is irrational, or he is rational. There is nothing in-between these two. There is no third way escape-hatch that allows us to pull whatever we want.

    The only way to understand the meaning of God’s Word is to compare what you believe that Scripture is saying in its plain, simple interpretation with what the earliest Christians believed that the passage means.

    No.

    You read it like anything else. By the rules of grammar, define the words by the meanings of those words as used at the time they were written, and choose amongst multiple definitions for a single word by reading the context.

    The early church wasn’t inspired; they therefore are not the final authority; and are therefore secondary to … reading the passages.

    The text contains the meaning in and of itself.

    Btw, the “proper rules of grammar” also includes … using the meaning for the words that they originally meant and using the rules of particular grammar for the language as used at the time.

    The “you can use proper grammar and still read it wrong” argument is a red herring.

    We Lutherans believe we are correct because our interpretation agrees with the plain, simple interpretation of Scripture AND is in full agreement with the teachings of the Early Church Fathers.

    This is nonsensical.

    The early church fathers did not all agree. I suspect on any given topic, you could find an early church father that disagreed with any of your favored positions.

    You have to have a way of determining which early church fathers were right.

    Besides which, how do you determine who IS an early church father and, say, who is an early church heretic … or someone who taught heterodox doctrine?

    The ultimate authority is the biblical texts; i.e. the sense/meaning of those texts.

    You are making whomever you call the “early church fathers” the ultimate authority.

  228. Pht Says:

    Hnh. blockquote formatting messed up … oh well.

  229. Gary M Says:

    Let me use an example from the Arminians. ( I grew up Arminian Baptist).

    “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

    An Arminian reads that passage of Scripture and says to himself: the Bible says that the manner in which to be saved is to believe. (And he is correct. Lutherans and Calvinists agree with him on this.)

    However, when you ask an Arminian HOW a sinner believes, he will look at you with a stunned look on his face, and reply, “What do you mean, ‘How does a sinner believe’?” A sinner believes in Christ in the same way he believes that the earth is round: he makes a decision to believe.

    Reason, common sense, and logic tell the Arminian that belief in Christ occurs in the same manner as every other belief: a decision is made to believe.

    A true Calvinist would denounce this view of belief in Christ. Both Calvinists and Lutherans believe that belief in Christ occurs by a supernatural act of God: God appoints/elects/predestines belief. Sinner do not make a free will decision to believe.

  230. Gary M Says:

    The Arminian false belief in “Decision Theology” is based on reading a first century document with a twenty first century mindset.

    I pray that Calvinists will see that they are making the same “rational” error when interpreting Scripture regarding Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Once saved, Always saved, and Limited Atonement.

  231. Tim Harris Says:

    Gary — quick question. At the Last Supper, was the body and blood of our Lord in, with, and under the bread and wine?

  232. justbybelief Says:

    “Reason, common sense, and logic tell the Arminian that belief in Christ occurs in the same manner as every other belief: a decision is made to believe.”

    Another Lutheran lie! Either ignorance or disbelief of God’s word is the reason for the Arminian failure. It’s called sin. Reason and logic are not sins in and of themselves and ‘tell’ no one anything. This is why Lutheran theology has failed, it is devoid of discernment. The Lutheran failure is similar to the Arminian failure as they both disbelieve the Word of God.

    “The Arminian false belief in “Decision Theology” is based on reading a first century document with a twenty first century mindset.”

    This is more evidence of the Lutheran failure. If I can point out one 21st century person who believes in salvation being God’s decree, not their own ‘unaided’ decision, from a cursory reading of the Bible, and/or one 16th century person who believes otherwise, it blows your theory up. Arminianism is not a 21st century phenomena, as though there were some sin peculiar to 21st century persons foreign to 1st, 2nd, 3rd,…,16th century persons.

    This is why we are OBLIGED to embrace the Bible in all matters of faith and practice.

    As Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” These heresies were around from the beginning as sin from the fall is native to man, and a man of the 1st century is just as likely to disbelieve God’s Word as a man from the 21st century, there error coinciding at the same point.

    You’ve failed to make your case against ‘reason’ and ‘logic.’ You’d better go back to the lab and synthesis more gas.

  233. Gary M Says:

    Tim,

    The statement “in, with, and under” the elements was a guess by Luther as to how Christ is truly present, body and soul, in the elements. We Lutherans have never turned this “guess” into doctrine. We believe in the Real Presence as a mystery. In some supernatural way, Christ is bodily and spiritually present in the bread and wine. Luther’s guess may be correct, but we are not going to accept a guess as absolute truth.

    The Roman Catholic “guess” as to how Christ is present in the elements became doctrine in the first part of the second millennia in the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Lutherans do no accept this “guess” as doctrine either.

  234. Gary M Says:

    Eric,

    How do you know that your interpretation of the Bible is correct?

  235. justbybelief Says:

    “How do you know that your interpretation of the Bible is correct?”

    How do you know that when the Bible states, “Christ died to save sinners,” it doesn’t mean “Gary synthesises theological gas in his Lutheran lab” or, “In the Fall, some geese gather for the flight south?”

  236. Gary M Says:

    Can anyone answer this for me,

    How do you know that your interpretation of the Bible is correct?

  237. justbybelief Says:

    First, It is not OUR interpretation, God’s Word interprets itself. Scripture is the only authoritative interpreter of scripture. God Himself is the one who opens eyes, NO ONE ELSE. Unless and until God opens one’s eyes, they remain in darkness.

  238. Pht Says:

    The crickets, they do chirp.

    Gary.

    You have said that God is irrational.

    Irrational = can’t communicate.

    There is no middle ground between being irrational and being rational.

    Yet you are still posting hypocritically – (due either to ignorance or something else) – as if God can communicate, and yet still saying that God isn’t rational.

    You need to make your distinctions clear if you care about your own position – if you don’t care enough to do so, people will draw their own conclusions, and likely most of them will dismiss you.

    Either you believe God is irrational or you believe he isn’t. You should let everyone know which of the two you believe.

    Can anyone answer this for me,

    How do you know that your interpretation of the Bible is correct?

    I already answered this.

    You know you are right when you have followed these rules:

    Pht says:

    A = A,

    A does not equal Non-A,

    Something can only be either A or non-A, and nothing in-between.

    – and all the rules validly deducted from these three.

    And:

    Pht says:

    By the rules of grammar, define the words by the meanings of those words as used at the time they were written, and choose amongst multiple definitions for a single word by reading the context.

    The early church wasn’t inspired; they therefore are not the final authority; and are therefore secondary to … reading the passages.

    The text contains the meaning in and of itself.

    Btw, the “proper rules of grammar” also includes … using the meaning for the words that they originally meant and using the rules of particular grammar for the language as used at the time.

    I also ask you again:

    WHICH early church fathers should we follow? The early church fathers did not all agree. I suspect on any given topic, you could find an early church father that disagreed with any of your favored positions.

    You have to have a way of determining which early church fathers were right.

    Besides which, how do you determine who IS an early church father and, say, who is an early church heretic … or someone who taught heterodox doctrine?

  239. Tim Harris Says:

    Gary – Granted “in, with and under” is not a dogma, but still I am wondering how Luther or those in the tradition answer the question of the mode at the last supper. That is, if it is a non-spatial “metaphysical body” that is at hand, then I suppose at the last supper it was both the physical and metaphysical body, while in our day it is the metaphysical only. But if at the last supper it was only the physical body, situated as everyone could see at the center of the table, then the weight Luther gave to the words hoc est corpum meum at Marburg vanishes — unless some account can be given of a body other than the apparent body that was present “over there.”

    I’m not being polemical here — this is one of the few topics (along with, e.g. the children’s sermon) that keeps me from becoming a Lutheran.

  240. Gary M Says:

    Eric said, “First, It is not OUR interpretation, God’s Word interprets itself. Scripture is the only authoritative interpreter of scripture. God Himself is the one who opens eyes, NO ONE ELSE. Unless and until God opens one’s eyes, they remain in darkness.”

    So, if Eric is right, that Scripture interprets itself, why are there more than one thousand denominations, sects, and cults that have splintered off of Reformed Christianity, each one of them believing that THEIR interpretation is the correct one? They all believe that they are the true believers whose eyes have been opened by God. They all believe that God speaks to them directly in their heart; that God reveals to them, and them alone, the true meaning of Scripture.

    When I talk to Arminian Baptists I get the exact same response to my question of “How do you know that your interpretation of the Bible is correct?”: “We know we are correct because Scripture interprets Scripture and God reveals the truth to true believers.” (insinuating that since I am a Lutheran I cannot be a true believer and that is why God has not revealed the truth to me).

    So the Arminians are listening to an inner voice that they believe is the Holy Spirit, and Calvinistic Baptists and Calvinists are listening to another voice that they say is the Holy Spirit…except, that voice tells Presbyterian Calvinists to baptize their infants, to bring them into a covenant, but the voice tells the Calvinistic Baptists NOT to baptize their infants, and that their children need to profess their faith and their election before being baptized.

    This same voice tells some Arminian and Calvinistic Baptists to believe in a secret, premillennial Rapture, and some not. He tells some Baptists and Reformed to be Pre-millenialists, Post-millenialists, or even A-millennialists.

    And look at you Calvinists. You have the Federal Visionists, the Clarkians, the supralapsarians, and the other lapsarians…

    What is going on with God? Why is he giving different messages to Arminians, Baptists, and Calvinists that seem to always be consistent with their preconceived beliefs?? How can all of you be listening to the Holy Spirit, and correctly using logic, reason, and common sense (A = A and not anti-A) to correctly interpret Scripture when each group or even each individual is hearing a different voice, telling you diametrically opposing teachings??

  241. Gary M Says:

    Pht:

    God is not irrational. His doctrines are irrational TO YOU because you are trying to confine him to the boundaries of human reason, logic, and common sense.

  242. Gary M Says:

    Pht said,

    “I also ask you again:

    WHICH early church fathers should we follow? The early church fathers did not all agree. I suspect on any given topic, you could find an early church father that disagreed with any of your favored positions.

    You have to have a way of determining which early church fathers were right.

    Besides which, how do you determine who IS an early church father and, say, who is an early church heretic … or someone who taught heterodox doctrine?”

    Gary: Lutherans do not START with the Church Fathers to interpret Scripture. Here is how Lutherans approach Scriptural interpretation:

    1. Read the Bible FIRST.
    2. Accept the plain, simple interpretation of all passages unless it is very clear that the passage is speaking metaphorically, paradoxically, or with hyperbole.
    3. If it is not clear if a passage is speaking literally or using one of the above literary techniques, look for other passages of Scripture that discuss the same topic. Is the plain, simple interpretation of all passages on this topic in harmony?
    4. If they are not in harmony, what should we do? Reinterpret one group of passages to fit with the plain, simple interpretation of the other group to achieve harmony? No. Listen for an internal voice to tell us which passages to believe literally? No.
    5. If two groups of passages seem to not be in harmony, we look to the writings of the early Christians to see what they said on the topic.
    6. Do the overwhelming or complete majority of early Christian writers agree on the meaning of these two groups of passages on this subject? If yes, does that mean we accept the position of the early Christians as Gospel? Absolutely not. However, unanimous or near-unanimous agreement is a strong indication of true apostolic interpretation and teaching.

    So what if half of the early Christian writers held one position and the other half held the opposite? That would be trouble! Fortunately, other than the Arian controversy, there is no such disagreement in the Early Church over the purpose of Baptism or the purpose of the Lord’s Supper. In the Early Church, there is zero controversy over these issues.

    What if one or two early Church Fathers held a position that was contrary to his contemporaries and all previous Church Fathers? The chances that this person had “re-discovered” an apostolic teaching that NO ONE had ever commented on before, is HIGHLY unlikely. That is why the Early Church rightly branded Arius a heretic. And the same reason that Tertullian was branded a heretic for teaching that all sins after baptism could not be forgiven.

    So, to sum it up:

    1. Read the Bible FIRST.
    2. Accept the plain, simple interpretation of the passage unless it is very clear that the writer is not speaking literally.
    3. Compare the passage to other passages of Scripture that discuss the same topic.
    4. Is the plain, simple interpretation of all passages on this topic in harmony? If there is no controversy on this issue (ie. God is eternal.), you need look no further.
    5. If the passages do NOT seem to be in harmony, how do we know what to believe? Answer: read the writings of the early Christians, some of whom were the disciples of the very Apostles themselves.
    6. If you still disagree with the interpretation of the Early Church Fathers, look to see if you can find ANYONE in the first three to four centuries AD who held your view/your interpretation. If there is zero evidence of your belief in the Early Christian Church, anywhere on planet earth, you must re-evaluate your interpretation. God said that he would preserve his Word and his Church. If your interpretation is a new interpretation, never seen in the first centuries of the Church, you are most likely interpreting Scripture incorrectly.

  243. Gary M Says:

    Tim Harris said,

    “Granted “in, with and under” is not a dogma, but still I am wondering how Luther or those in the tradition answer the question of the mode at the last supper.”

    Gary:

    Tim, let’s say that one day you are sharing the Gospel with a non-believer, and after telling him about Christ’s death and resurrection, he says to you: “So you are telling me… that Jesus, who had been crucified, pierced in his side to make sure he was dead, and was then sealed tomb in a tomb, without air, for three days, came back to life???” Could you please explain to me using the laws of physics, anatomy, physiology, and the most up-to-date medical research, how it is possible for a dead man to come back to life?”

    Dear Christian brother Tim: f you have a logical, reasonable, common sense answer to this question please share it with the world!

    My guess is that your answer to this unbeliever would be this: Christ’s resurrection cannot be explained by the laws or reason, logic, common sense and medical science. The resurrection was a supernatural act of God Almighty! You must believe it by faith, for the simple reason that God says it is so!

    And that is the same response that all orthodox Christians, including Lutherans, give when asked how we can believe such a ridiculous concept, that the body and blood of a resurrected man is present inside a small wafer of bread and a cup of wine.

  244. Pht Says:

    Gary M Says:

    December 26, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Pht:

    God is not irrational.

    So, God is not the author of confusion, and he actually can’t lie, right?

    This means he CAN’T – according to the bible (his own word) – communicate irrationality.

    His doctrines are irrational TO YOU because you are trying to confine him to the boundaries of human reason, logic, and common sense.

    Ah, the name-calling for no good reason tactic.

    You have no idea if I say any of God’s doctrines are irrational. You’re just exercising in mindless stereotyping here.

    Gary M Says:

    December 26, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    1. Read the Bible FIRST.
    2. Accept the plain, simple interpretation of all passages unless it is very clear that the passage is speaking metaphorically, paradoxically, or with hyperbole.
    3. If it is not clear if a passage is speaking literally or using one of the above literary techniques, look for other passages of Scripture that discuss the same topic. Is the plain, simple interpretation of all passages on this topic in harmony?
    4. If they are not in harmony, what should we do? Reinterpret one group of passages to fit with the plain, simple interpretation of the other group to achieve harmony? No. Listen for an internal voice to tell us which passages to believe literally? No.

    What do you mean by “plain, simple interpretation”?

    Perhaps … a = a, a does not equal non-a, any thing is either A or non-a, but nothing in-between… as the rules of grammar and definition require and presume everywhere? Wrongly done reading breaks these rules.

    5. If two groups of passages seem to not be in harmony, we look to the writings of the early Christians to see what they said on the topic.
    6. Do the overwhelming or complete majority of early Christian writers agree on the meaning of these two groups of passages on this subject? If yes, does that mean we accept the position of the early Christians as Gospel? Absolutely not. However, unanimous or near-unanimous agreement is a strong indication of true apostolic interpretation and teaching.

    How do you determine if ALL of the early church fathers were wrong on something? Is this even a possibility in your thinking? Speaking of which, your saying “if it is new, it is than necessarily wrong” utterly ignores any possibility that we can and do address new topics as they come up for discussion. You place a moratorium on any learning past any topics addressed by the early church fathers (whomever you diegn to call ECF’s).

    5. If the passages do NOT seem to be in harmony, how do we know what to believe? Answer: read the writings of the early Christians, some of whom were the disciples of the very Apostles themselves.
    6. If you still disagree with the interpretation of the Early Church Fathers, look to see if you can find ANYONE in the first three to four centuries AD who held your view/your interpretation. If there is zero evidence of your belief in the Early Christian Church, anywhere on planet earth, you must re-evaluate your interpretation. God said that he would preserve his Word and his Church. If your interpretation is a new interpretation, never seen in the first centuries of the Church, you are most likely interpreting Scripture incorrectly.

    As I said … you are making the early church fathers your ultimate authority here. You are saying it is impossible to read anything you are (likely arbitrarily) calling unclear in the bible without the early church fathers.

    You still haven’t answered how you determine which early church fathers were correct and which were hetrodox and which were heretics.

  245. Gary M Says:

    I answered your question. Re-read my statements above.

    You and every other Calvinist on this site still has not answered my question: Why is there zero evidence of the Calvinist or Baptist position on the PURPOSE of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in the Early Church or anywhere on planet earth in the first 800-1,000 years AD?

  246. Gary M Says:

    Pht said:

    “As I said … you are making the early church fathers your ultimate authority here.”

    And you, Pht, are making YOURSELF the ultimate authority. You are your own Supreme Authority, as is the belief of every other Baptist, Arminian, and Calvinist.

  247. justbybelief Says:

    So, if Eric is right, that Scripture interprets itself, why are there more than one thousand denominations, sects, and cults that have splintered off of Reformed Christianity, each one of them believing that THEIR interpretation is the correct one?

    You are out of your mind, Gary, and your response is a stupid one. People can claim anything they want, and will, but that does not negate what is true:

    1) Scripture interprets scripture, and
    2) God opens eyes to RECEIVE (not interpret) what’s written.

    As God’s Word states:

    Romans 3
    3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
    4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

  248. justbybelief Says:

    “You and every other Calvinist on this site still has not answered my question: Why is there zero evidence of the Calvinist or Baptist position on the PURPOSE of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in the Early Church or anywhere on planet earth in the first 800-1,000 years AD?”

    We already have. You haven’t been listening. We have the Holy Spirit’s Words at our finger tips. That is not enough for Lutherans, though as scripture and tradition are their authority.

  249. Gary M Says:

    No, Eric, you have not answered the question.

    You are regurgitating the nonsense that was taught to you by your parents and pastors to cover over the huge hole in your theology: your theology NEVER existed in the first 800-1,000 years of Christianity. There is zero evidence of its existence. Period.

    Face the facts. Stop dodging them. Your interpretation of Scripture is based on YOUR ultimate authority: YOU!

  250. Denson Dube Says:

    Gary,
    First of all, the Church’s theology developed over time. That is why there were debates over the nature of God, Christ etc etc and what was agreed upon as the teaching of scripture was codified at Church synods as “creeds”. Calvinists I think accept most if not all of them. Is this good enough for you as evidence of early church fathers theology amongst Calvinists? Do you consider Augustin an early church father, as I think Calvinism is Augustinianism on steriods?

  251. Denson Dube Says:

    *steroids*

  252. justbybelief Says:

    I suppose that if one repeats a lie long enough it can MYSTICALLY change into truth. I never considered this before. Silly me.

  253. Gary M Says:

    Denson Dube,

    The Church’s theology developed over time??? Do you really believe that?

    The core doctrines of the Christian faith were handed down from the Apostles. There has never been a time that they have not existed. God said he would preserve his Word and his Church.

    1. The purpose of Baptism has always been: God’s act of saving sinners and forgiving sins.
    2. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper has always been: God’s act of giving himself to believers, body and spirit, to enrich our salvation, our faith, and to forgive sins.

    These are the core doctrines that the Calvinists and Baptists have abandoned. These doctrines can be found in every century of the Church. The Calvinist and Baptist positions do not appear until 1,000-1,500 years later.

    Something is very wrong if your position on the most central of Christian doctrines are not present in the writings of the Early Church.

  254. justbybelief Says:

    Something is very wrong if your position on the most central of Christian doctrines are not present in the writings of the Early Church.

    They are in the earliest writings, the Bible. But, you deny the validity of the Bible.

    1. The purpose of Baptism has always been: God’s act of saving sinners and forgiving sins.
    2. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper has always been: God’s act of giving himself to believers, body and spirit, to enrich our salvation, our faith, and to forgive sins.

    Most Calvinists probably would not contest this on the surface, but the Devil is in your details.

  255. Gary M Says:

    Out of curiousity, what do “Clarkian Calvinists” think of John McArthur, the rising star of the current Reformed resurgence? In a recent video he states that those who do not develop their theology by including the writings of the Church Fathers are fools.

    youtube.com/watch?v=bYulTGso804

  256. Gary M Says:

    Eric said,

    (1. The purpose of Baptism has always been: God’s act of saving sinners and forgiving sins.
    2. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper has always been: God’s act of giving himself to believers, body and spirit, to enrich our salvation, our faith, and to forgive sins.)

    Most Calvinists probably would not contest this on the surface, but the Devil is in your details.

    Wow! If that is true, what are we squabbling over?

    Although differences remain (Once saved, Always saved, Limited Atonement), they are small potatoes, compared to reaching agreement on the two Sacraments. Let’s call up the heads of our Churches and announce that Lutherans and Reformed have finally reached agreement on the two Sacraments! If true, we should open up altar fellowship with each other!

    As long as you do not teach that OSAS is a license to sin, and as long as you do not use Limited Atonement to deny the need for evangelism, the practical effects of these teachings is very limited.

    Do all the other Calvinists on this site agree with Eric on this?

  257. justbybelief Says:

    “Out of curiousity, what do “Clarkian Calvinists” think of John McArthur”

    He’s partially blind, IMHO, though I doubt many Reformed folk share my harshness for him…Lordship salvation, and a Dispensationalism etc…

    “Let’s call up the heads of our Churches and announce that Lutherans and Reformed have finally reached agreement on the two Sacraments! If true, we should open up altar fellowship with each other!”

    Hardly, Gary. As I said, The devil is in your details. Though Christ is offered in the Lord’s Supper, the Reformed (Presbyterian), which I consider myself one (with minor exceptions), in no way believe we are chewing human flesh in the supper, nor do we believe we are drinking human blood.

    WCF Chapter 29
    V. The outward elements in this sacrament, duly set apart to the uses ordained by Christ, have such relation to him crucified, as that truly, yet sacramentally only, they are sometimes called by the name of the thigns they represent, to wit, the body and blood of Christ; albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly, and only, bread and wine, as they were before.

    WCF Chapter 28
    V. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

    Perseverance of the saints, what you call OSAS, and Limited Atonement (LA) are no small doctrines. Though I would in no way say that in the absence of understanding of these a person could not be saved The Lord does call us to sanctification, that is, that our minds be renewed. The mind is renewed in exposure to sound understanding of scripture in ALL its doctrines. In deficiency one is ill equipped, or as the Lutherans would say, false doctrine [or absence of doctrine] weakens faith. In the whole council of God we will come to full maturity and in maturity confidence grows.

    Besides OSAS and LA there is the view that scripture contains what you call paradoxes which we reject.

    We’ve hardly come to the point of alter fellowship.

  258. justbybelief Says:

    WCF Chapter 28 concerns baptism

    Which Sean has already posted above

  259. Gary M Says:

    And I was getting ready, Eric, to invite you to my LCMS church to join me in worship! What a shame.

    Reading the words of the WCF, it seems like we are so close…

    Lutherans would never say that we are feasting on actual human flesh and drinking actual human blood. We do not know how it happens, but Christ IS bodily and spiritually present in the elements. It is a supernatural event, with Christ’s supernatural, resurrected body and blood. The same body who appeared and disappeared on the Emaus Road, and the same body that walked through a locked door into the upper room.

    Lutherans do NOT teach that just because one is baptized that he has an automatic ticket into heaven. But all Trinitarian baptisms, from RCC to Baptist, ARE effectual in saving sinners.

  260. justbybelief Says:

    “Lutherans would never say that we are feasting on actual human flesh and drinking actual human blood.”

    Hmmm…Didn’t Luther?

    Lutherans do NOT teach that just because one is baptized that he has an automatic ticket into heaven.

    I never said an automatic ticket into heaven but that baptism doesn’t mean automatic regeneration–just to clarify–it may occur later or not at all as WCF 28 states.

  261. Gary M Says:

    Eric said,

    “Perseverance of the saints, what you call OSAS, and Limited Atonement (LA) are no small doctrines.”

    I didn’t say that they are not important doctrines, but in practical terms, whether you do or don’t hold these views, really makes no difference as long as one is faithful to Christ and obeys Christ’s command to evangelize the world. “Smaller potatoes” may have been a better choice of words, on my part.

  262. Gary M Says:

    Lutherans teach that in the Lord’s Supper we partake of the REAL body and blood of Christ, but how that happens we don’t try to explain.

    The Roman Catholic Church teaches that once the priest consecrates the Bread and Wine, the Bread and Wine cease to exist, and only flesh and blood is present. The bread might look like bread, but after it is consecrated by the Roman Catholic priest, it ceases to be bread; it is only flesh. And the same for the wine. In RCC teaching, once the Words of Institution are spoken by the priest, the Wine ceases to be wine, even though it still looks and tastes like wine; in its place is only blood.

    Lutherans say that after the Words of Institution are spoken by the pastor, the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine, but in some unknown, supernatural way, Christ’s real body and real blood are present and eaten and drunk in the Holy Supper.

    Could the Roman Catholics be right? Maybe. But maybe not. God doesn’t clarify HOW Christ is truly bodily present in the bread and wine…but he says he is…so we Lutherans believe it.

    If the Reformed will agree with us that Christ is present, in some unknown supernatural way, BODY and spirit, in the Elements of the Supper, we will have achieved a major advance toward Lutheran-Reformed reconciliation.

  263. Gary M Says:

    Eric said,

    “I never said an automatic ticket into heaven but that baptism doesn’t mean automatic regeneration–just to clarify–it may occur later or not at all as WCF 28 states.”

    Do you realize, Brother Eric, that we Lutherans and you Reformed really end up with the same result on this issue?

    If I understand you correctly, the Reformed say in the WCF, that regeneration CAN occur in Baptism. This is something that I did not know! I am extremely shocked AND pleased to hear it. So let’s see what we agree on:

    1. Lutherans and Reformed agree that the Elect WILL NOT lose their salvation; the Elect cannot go to hell.

    2. If you are correct, Lutherans and Reformed believe that salvation (can) happen(s) in Baptism.

    3. Lutherans and (true) Calvinist Reformed baptize their infants.

    So if someone is baptized as an infant, but when they grow up they reject Christ, live a life of ongoing sin, and die without repenting…

    The Reformed will say that this person was not regenerated in his Baptism. He was never saved.

    Lutherans will say that all who are baptized in the name of the Trinity, including this particular man, is saved/regenerated by God’s act in Holy Baptism, however, by his free will, he chose to turn back to sin, refused to repent, died, and perished to eternal damnation in hell.

    The Reformed and the Lutherans take different theological paths as to how the end result happens, but we both end up at the same conclusion: hell and eternal damnation.

  264. Gary M Says:

    Here is the official position of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod on the Real Presence:

    Q: In Communion, do we commune with the sacrificed body and blood of Jesus, or the resurrected body and blood of Jesus?

    A: The answer to your question is that we receive in, with, and under the bread and wine the true body and blood of Christ shed on the cross, Jesus Christ Who is now risen and ascended and sits at the right hand of God the Father. He is the same Christ, and when he gave us the Sacrament, as the Lutheran Confessions affirm, “he was speaking of his true, essential body, which he gave into death for us, and of his true, essential blood, which was poured out for us on the tree of the cross for the forgiveness of sins” (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration VII, 49).

    In the Sacrament, our Confessions further teach, the same Jesus who died is present in the Sacrament, although not in exactly the same way that he was corporeally present when he walked bodily on earth. With Luther, the Formula of Concord speaks of “the incomprehensible, spiritual mode of presence according to which he neither occupies nor yields space but passes through everything created as he wills….He employed this mode of presence when he left the closed grave and came through closed doors, in the bread and wine in the Supper….”[FC SD VII, 100; emphasis added].

  265. Gary M Says:

    One more LCMS statement on the Real Presence.

    Q: What verses in Scripture can be cited that teach “that BOTH bread and wine AND Christ’s true body and blood are present in the Lord’s Supper?

    A: All three accounts of the institution of the Lord’s Supper in the Gospels (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-23) explicitly state that Jesus took BREAD, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying, “Take, eat; this [i.e., this BREAD, which I have just blessed and broken and am now giving to you] is my body.” Jesus uses similar language in referring to “the cup” (of wine) as “his blood.” A plain and straightforward reading of these words leads to the conclusion that BOTH bread AND body, BOTH wine AND blood are present in the consecrated elements of the Lord’s Supper.

    Perhaps the most explicit expression of this truth, however, is found in 1 Cor. 10:16-17, where Paul writes: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” Paul clearly says here that we all “partake” of “BREAD” when we receive the Lord’s Supper–even as we also partake of and “participate in” the true body of Christ. And he says that we all “partake” of the wine (the cup), even as we also partake of the true blood of Christ. Similarly, in 1 Cor. 11:26, Paul says: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Paul expressly states here that when we receive the Lord’s Supper we are “eating bread” and “drinking the cup” (wine), but he goes on to say that those who eat this bread and drink this cup are also partaking of the true body and blood of Christ.

    So “real” is this participation in Christ’s body and blood, in fact, that (according to Paul) those who partake of the bread and wine “in an unworthy manner” are actually guilty of “profaning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:27). (Partaking of the Lord’s Supper “in a worthy manner,” of course, is not something that we “do” or “accomplish” on the basis of our “personal holiness” or “good works.” It means receiving God’s free and gracious gifts of life and forgiveness offered in the Lord’s Supper in true repentance produced by the work of the Spirit through God’s Law and in true faith in Christ and his promises produced by God’s Spirit through the Gospel).

  266. justbybelief Says:

    Gary,

    You might want to take a look at Calvin’s Treatise on the Lord’s Supper.

    As far as MacArthur is concerned, you are incorrect in calling him ‘Reformed,’
    here’s why, and here.

    As I’ve stated before Lutherans call many people, Reformed, who are not. They say about us that calling oneself Reformed is really saying nothing at all. This is patently false. Senkbeils book is one example. In it he uses Chuck Swindol as his ‘reformed’ straw man and proceeds to shred us imputing to us things we don’t even believe. For heaven’s sake, Chuck Swindol, at that time at least, did not even in his own profession indicate that he was Reformed or Presbyterian. In fact, he never confessed to being a Calvinist or the legitimacy of infant baptism. In God’s language this is bearing false witness and Senkbeil should have been disciplined by his church for making these erroneous accusations. Further, he credits us with Franklin’s statement “God helps those who help themselves.” Can you not possibly see why this would make us legitimately angry?

    In asking this I do not intend to inflame this already heated debate but I must ask, Is bearing false witness against your neighbor a doctrine embraced in the Lutheran church? It sure seemed to be when I was in the WELS, and from your remark it has not changed.

    Eric

  267. justbybelief Says:

    Gary,

    Here is another bone of contention:

    but in practical terms, whether you do or don’t hold these views, really makes no difference as long as one is faithful to Christ

    I was not speaking in practical terms. But, if I were, I would say that like, the gospel message, the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints (POTS) is important in that it motivates believers to continue striving not because they’ll earn God’s favor but because what God has already done for them He will continue to do. So, in practical terms it does make a difference. POTS is another motivation both practically, and more importantly, revealing the character of the God and His promise upon which this doctrine is based.

    Eric

  268. Gary M Says:

    Eric,

    Lutherans view Christianity as currently divided into four main groups:

    1. Roman Catholic
    2. Eastern Orthodox
    3. Lutheran
    4. Reformed

    We consider anyone who broke off from the Church of Zwingli or Calvin and remain Trinitarian, as Reformed. Therefore, we consider the following Churches as Reformed:

    1. Presbyterians
    2. Dutch Reformed
    3. Anglicans
    4. Baptists
    5. Methodists
    6. Church of Christ
    7. Pentecostals
    8. Generic evangelicals, whether Calvinist or Arminian

    This is the Lutheran definition of “Reformed”. We do not mean it as an insult. It is our “worldview”. Our definition of “Calvinist”, would probably be more in line with your definition of “Reformed”. We do not consider “Calvinistic Baptists” to be true Calvinists. Calvin baptized babies. Baptists, of any stripe, do not.

  269. Tim Harris Says:

    Gary,

    My question was not how to resolve the mystery. Unlike most posters here, I accept mystery and paradox, not being a Clarkan. I am simply asking what is being asserted by Lutheranism regarding the “real presence” in the specific example of the last supper. At 11:08 pm last night, you wrote,

    “It is a supernatural event, with Christ’s supernatural, resurrected body and blood. The same body who appeared and disappeared on the Emaus Road, and the same body that walked through a locked door into the upper room.”

    But this could not have been true at the last supper itself. At that time, did the “hic est corpus meum” refer to the recognizable human body seated at the head of the table, or to something else, or both? If “something else,” is it what I earlier identified as a (timeless, non-spatial) “metaphysical” body, or what?

    Please don’t answer “accept the mystery.” I’m willing to accept a mystery, I’m just trying to figure out WHAT mystery is being claimed in this case.

  270. justbybelief Says:

    Gary,

    We consider anyone who broke off from the Church of Zwingli or Calvin and remain Trinitarian, as Reformed.

    This does not get you off the hook. Are you trying to balm your conscience and that of your brethren? If I believe in infant baptism and my neighbor does not, why would anyone use his view of infant baptism to describe me? To do so is just plain dishonest. There is no mystery here. This is an easy exercise that a child could understand. Please exercise your child like faith on this.

    Should we use Carlstadt as an example of the proper view of Lutheranism? And suppose the Zwickau prophets did break off from the Zwinglians as some say, one need only compare their theologies to find the dissimilarities. And how about the pietist movement within Lutheranism itself, do you blame that on us too.

    “This is the Lutheran definition of “Reformed…”

    And, it is wrong and now you are aware of it. Being aware of it you are now called to repent. Simply because that is your definition doesn’t make it true. In fact, it is a blatant lie to characterize someone as other than what they are.

    Proverbs 19:5
    A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape.

    You Lutherans make much of the Law/Gospel distinction, and well you should, but when applied to you as I have just done, what will you do? Will you confess and forsake your sin? I suspect you will not. Now, how would you deal with an unrepentant sinner. that is, one who had been confronted with his sin and refused to acknowledge it? In a Reformed Church (how we define it, not you, and that is how it should be) one would be put out of the church until such time as they become sorry for their sin. But, how will you deal with it?

    Eric

  271. Tim Harris Says:

    This is too harsh. The proper way to respond is simply to say, “and I define, with good reason, all the following as Lutheran:
    Anglicans
    Baptists
    Methodists
    Church of Christ
    Pentecostals
    Generic evangelicals, whether Calvinist or Arminian
    “Now that we’ve traded definitions, now can we get back to the discussion at hand?”

  272. Gary M Says:

    Eric,

    You need a good stiff drink. Relax. You are getting all worked up over a label.

  273. Gary M Says:

    Tim Harris,

    I will have to study your question and get back to you.

  274. justbybelief Says:

    You need a good stiff drink.

    Thanks, I’m vindicated in my assessment.

    You are getting all worked up over a label.

    No, I’m getting all worked up over a sin.

  275. Tim Harris Says:

    Not all inaccuracies let alone different ways of understanding something are sin. You need more than a stiff drink, Eric.

  276. Gary M Says:

    Tim,

    I am still looking for an “official” Lutheran answer to your question, but in the mean time here is one thought:

    On any given Sunday morning, the body of Christ is present, in every communion wafer placed into the mouth, of every person partaking of the Holy Supper, in every Lutheran church (and others), on the face of the planet.

    In the same way, Christ was present in his visible human form for the disciples to see and touch during the Last Supper, but he was also present in each piece of bread, placed into the mouth and eaten by each disciple, in the first Holy Supper.

    Reason and common sense would say that both concepts are foolish and impossible.

    You are asking for metaphysical versus other presence. My own non-seminary trained opinion is that it was both— his pre-resurrection body and his post-resurrection body. If his pre-resurrection body was capable of walking on water, then surely it was also capable of being in two places at the same time, if he chose as God to do so.

  277. Tim Harris Says:

    I also don’t understand Calvin’s exposition (we are lifted up to heaven to feast with Christ) in terms of the Last Supper. So I am not picking on Luther. It seems like any exposition should (but never does) START with the meaning that obtained at that time and place, and only after that is clarified, move into the situation of the “future” (our present).

    By proposing simultaneous pre- and post-resurrection body, you are saying that his body is (or all bodies are?) non-temporal and non-spatial — for what does it mean to be in time and space but that one is SOMEWHERE, say HERE (not THERE) NOW (not THEN). It seems like an awful lot to swallow just because “hoc corpus meum” does not seem at first blush to some people to be figurative. It’s not a question of being willing to accept mystery.

    One sign of true, biblical mysteries is that they enlighten, even though not fully comprehended. The trinity, creation, etc. But this recourse to metaphysical bodies that are non-spatial, non-temporal, yet somehow still bodies, or at least inseparably connected to entities that are bodies, does not seem to be a mystery of that sort. It seems like more of a contrivance to rescue a particular interpretive move that was made that is now a conclusion to be reached at any cost. At least, at seems like a lot more unpacking will be necessary.

  278. justbybelief Says:

    Not all inaccuracies let alone different ways of understanding something are sin. You need more than a stiff drink, Eric.

    If you will lie about God it’s not surprising that you will lie about His people. When confronted with your sins you’ll excuse yourself and this betrays your hatred of God and His law.

  279. Gary M Says:

    Tim,

    You are asking a very interesting question. I intend to research it.

    But another personal thought is this: When Jesus walked the earth prior to his Resurrection, was he ONLY a man, or was he a God-man?

    My bet is that all or most-all Trinitarian Christians would chose the latter. As God-man he was FULLY man and yet at the same time, FULLY God. As a man, he needed to eat and drink to keep his body alive, he got sick, he got tired, he required adequate sleep to function, and yes, he even needed to use the toilet, just as every other human being has done.

    But just as much as he was man, he was also God. God is not only omniscient, he is also omnipresent, he is also all powerful; as God, the man, Jesus Christ, was capable of all his God-qualities and powers even though he was present in a human body. No mere man could walk on water. No mere men could see one of his future disciples sitting under a fig tree, when Christ was no where near him to see him as any other man would. As a man, Jesus, was still God and therefore as God, he was capable of looking and acting as any other human being, occupying space and time, but as God he could be present EVERYWHERE and in EVERYTHING if he so chose.

    If Jesus, the God-man, had (and has) the power to be present in a burning bush, in a pillar of fire, and in the Ark of the Covenant, he also has the power to fit his entire body into a small wafer of Bread.

    It is a supernatural act, Tim. It cannot be explained by science, reason, logic, or common sense.

  280. Gary M Says:

    Trinity 7 2010 – Hoc Est Corpus Meum

    July 18, 2010 by gracelutherantulsa

    Sermon by Rev. Christian C. Tiews – 07/18/2010

    The date: October 1-4, 1529.

    The place: Marburg, Germany.
    It has now been twelve years since Luther’s posting of the Ninety-five Theses in Wittenberg.
    At that time Martin Luther had publicly pointed out the many abuses and errors which the papacy had injected into the Christian faith in the preceding centuries.
    Since then, two Protestant groups have emerged. Both are meeting here at Marburg.
    Both are seeking to cleanse Western Christianity from Rome’s false teaching.
    The first group would one day be known as Lutherans. They are headed up by none other than Luther himself.
    The second group is what we today call the Reformed. They are led by a Swiss theologian named Huldrych Zwingli.
    The purpose of this so-called Marburg Colloquy is to try and unite the two groups and present a solid front against Rome. The Lutherans and the Reformed convene for three days.
    They agree on a vast majority of theological issues such as the three ecumenical creeds, man’s Original Sin, the grace bestowed on us by Christ, etc. But the two parties come to a screeching halt on the very last point.

    In which form is the Lord’s Body and Blood present in the Lord’s Supper? The Lutherans, of course, maintain that Christ’s Body and Blood are truly present in the host and wine. They base their teaching on Christ’s own words, “This is my Body” in Mt 26, Mk 14, Lk 22, and 1 Cor 11. This so-called “real presence” of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper had been the sole teaching of Christianity for one thousand five hundred years.
    But, strangely enough, on this issue of Holy Communion Zwingli and his associates are not able to take the Lord by His own words. Because for the first time in the history of Christianity, a group is purporting that the Lord’s Body and Blood are only symbolic in the Lord’s Supper. This false teaching had never popped up before. In fact, in light of Zwingli’s claim, it now seems that the papacy no longer has a monopoly on false teaching.

    Imagine if someone walked into this sanctuary and claimed that Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is not really physically present.

    They would say that our sanctuary on the corner of 5th Place and Lewis is only symbolic and that the real Grace Lutheran Tulsa exists only in heaven.
    Should that happen, brothers and sisters in the Lord, watch out because the pews on which you are now sitting would only symbolic too, and we might all find ourselves crashing down to a piece of bare real estate fifteen feet below us.

    Well, Martin Luther is so exasperated by the outrageous claim of Huldrych Zwingli that Christ’s Body and Blood are only symbolic in the Lord’s Supper that Luther asks for a piece of chalk.

    He then actually writes on the table at which he and Zwingli are sitting:

    Hoc est Corpus Meum. That is Latin and it means “This Is My Body.”

    Perhaps pointing forward in time to Lorrie Morgan’s 1993 hit “What Part of No Don’t You Understand?” Luther in essence is telling the Swiss theologian:

    “When Christ talks about His Body, He says so clearly that it is His Body. Christ does not use the words “symbolize” or “represent.” What part of is don’t you understand, my dear Zwingli?”
    Zwingli’s symbolic understanding of the Eucharist is not what Jesus had taught his disciples, nor is it what the Early Church had taught.

    Yet strangely, Zwingli’s incorrect thinking on the Lord’s Supper would be picked up by other theologians.

    It would later spread throughout most of Protestantism, even throughout the United States.


  281. Lutheranism, despite its serious errors, does not make faith into faithfulness. FV does not fit within confessional Lutheranism any more than it fits into confessional Reformed doctrine or confessional Particular Baptist doctrine.

  282. Tim Harris Says:

    Eric — but I won’t lie about God or his people. So why do you say I would? When are you going to stop axing people to death?

    Gary — I’m sensitive to the charge that the Reformed are sometimes too rationalistic in their argumentation, and I think Luther did have a legitimate complaint in this regard against Zwingli at Marburg. However, this does not mean that every question can be cut short with the appeal, “God can do it; just believe it; it’s a mystery.” A more nuanced approach than that is required to thread the needle as to what is mystery and what is nonsense.

    For example, I have often defended the Lutheran view against the Reformed objection that “Christ is in heaven, therefore he cannot also be (at such and such a place).” I point out that heaven is not coordinated spatially with our world, and thus He can sovereignly “line up” spatially with any place, or many places all at once, in our world. This is a mystery, but it is not nonsense.

    However, it does seem like “having a body” means something, not nothing. It seems like your view entails that Christ was eternally incarnate, i.e. even in the eternity of the Godhead, “prior to” creation, he was already incarnated in human form. Of course, “prior to” is a manner of speaking, since there is no “prior to” from the perspective of eternity. Nevertheless, it seems that we need to guard the contingency (divine freedom) of Creation by distinguishing “only God” from “God + Creation.” How can we do this without implying succession and thus temporality in the eternal divinity? “It’s a mystery!” Yet we have to do it in order to preserve His freedom to create or not create.

    So you see, an appeal to “mystery” cuts both ways. I can appeal to this mystery, and ask you to accept it for good and necessary reasons. But this mystery seems to rule out the other one — namely, that the incarnate Savior would be present at all moments of his humanity (both before and after the resurrection, and indeed necessarily at an infinite number of “moments”) at the very moment that he sat with the disciples at the last supper.

    As an historical note, it should also be noted that the Reformed church did not exactly follow Zwingli’s thought as it had developed at Marburg, as I think even you acknowledged in some of the statements you made regarding WCF above. We should also cut some slack for Zwingli as he was a pioneer and his thinking also developed over the course of a rich and too-short life.

  283. Gary M Says:

    I don’t believe that God was incarnate before the Incarnation. There was no God-man prior to his conception of the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    You are not the first Protestant to ask, “How can a human body be in more than one place at the same time.”

    All I can say for now is that it was a supernatural act, but I will continue to research this issue within Lutheran theology and provide more info for you.

  284. Gary M Says:

    Here is one statement from the Lutheran Confessions. I did not copy and paste all of it because it is fairly long, but it lists the Lutheran rebuttals/condemnations of the beliefs and accusations against Lutheran teaching by the “Sacramentarians”.

    NEGATIVA.

    Contrary, Condemned Doctrines of the Sacramentarians.

    21] On the other hand, we unanimously reject and condemn all the following erroneous articles, which are opposed and contrary to the doctrine presented above, the simple faith, and the [pure] confession concerning the Lord’s Supper;

    22] 1. The papistic transubstantiation, when it is taught in the Papacy that in the Holy Supper the bread and wine lose their substance and natural essence, and are thus annihilated; that they are changed into the body of Christ, and the outward form alone remains.

    23] 2. The papistic sacrifice of the Mass for the sins of the living and the dead.

    24] 3. That [the sacrilege whereby] to laymen one form only of the Sacrament is given, and, contrary to the plain words of the testament of Christ, the cup is withheld from them, and they are [thus] deprived of His blood.

    25] 4. When it is taught that the words of the testament of Christ must not be understood or believed simply as they read, but that they are obscure expressions, whose meaning must be sought first in other passages of Scripture.

    26] 5. That in the Holy Supper the body of Christ is not received orally with the bread; but that with the mouth only bread and wine are received, the body of Christ, however, only spiritually by faith.

    27] 6. That the bread and wine in the Holy Supper are nothing more than [symbols or] tokens by which Christians recognize one another.

    28] 7. That the bread and wine are only figures, similitudes, and representations of the far absent body and blood of Christ.

    29] 8. That the bread and wine are no more than a memorial, seal, and pledge, through which we are assured that when faith elevates itself to heaven, it there becomes partaker of the body and blood of Christ as truly as we eat bread and drink wine in the Supper.

    30] 9. That the assurance and confirmation of our faith [concerning salvation] in the Holy Supper occur through the external signs of bread and wine alone, and not through the true, [verily] present body and blood of Christ.

    31] 10. That in the Holy Supper only the power, efficacy, and merit of the absent body and blood of Christ are distributed.

    32] 11. That the body of Christ is so enclosed in heaven that it can in no way be at once and at one time in many or all places upon earth where His Holy Supper is celebrated.

    33] 12. That Christ has not promised, neither could have effected, the essential presence of His body and blood in the Holy Supper, because the nature and property of His assumed human nature cannot suffer nor permit it.

    34] 13. That God, according to [even by] all His omnipotence (which is dreadful to hear), is not able to cause His body to be essentially present in more than one place at one time.

    35] 14. That not the omnipotent words of Christ’s testament, but faith, produces and makes [is the cause of] the presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Holy Supper.

    36] 15. That believers must not seek the body [and blood] of Christ in the bread and wine of the Holy Supper, but raise their eyes from the bread to heaven and there seek the body of Christ.

    37] 16. That unbelieving, impenitent Christians do not receive the true body and blood of Christ in the Holy Supper, but only bread and wine.

    38] 17. That the worthiness of the guests at this heavenly meal consists not alone in true faith in Christ, but also in the external preparation of men.

    39] 18. That even the true believers, who have and retain a true, living, pure faith in Christ, can receive this Sacrament to their judgment, because they are still imperfect in their outward life.

    40] 19. That the external visible elements of the bread and wine should be adored in the Holy Sacrament.

    41] 20. Likewise, we consign also to the just judgment of God all presumptuous, frivolous, blasphemous questions (which decency forbids to mention) and [other] expressions, which most blasphemously and with great offense [to the Church] are proposed by the Sacramentarians in a gross, carnal, Capernaitic way concerning the supernatural, heavenly mysteries of this Sacrament.

    42] 21. Hence we hereby utterly [reject and] condemn the Capernaitic eating of the body of Christ, as though [we taught that] His flesh were rent with the teeth, and digested like other food, which the Sacramentarians, against the testimony of their conscience, after all our frequent protests, wilfully force upon us, and in this way make our doctrine odious to their hearers; and on the other hand, we maintain and believe, according to the simple words of the testament of Christ, the true, yet supernatural eating of the body of Christ, as also the drinking of His blood, which human senses and reason do not comprehend, but as in all other articles of faith our reason is brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and this mystery is not apprehended otherwise than by faith alone, and revealed in the Word alone.

    Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921)

  285. Gary M Says:

    “Notice in the last paragraph this very important statement: we maintain and believe, according to the simple words of the testament of Christ, the true, yet supernatural eating of the body of Christ, as also the drinking of his blood…”

    Lutherans do not believe that we eat actual muscle, tendon, sinew, and fatty tissue of a human body, not that we drink the actual red blood cells and plasma of human blood.

    But…in some unknown, unexplainable, SUPERNATURAL manner, we eat and drink the very REAL body and blood of Christ.

  286. Gary M Says:

    Here is the beginning statement of the document above. For historical reasons, I thought you might find it interesting:

    The Formula of Concord (Epitome)

    VII. OF THE LORD’s SUPPER.

    ———-

    1] Although the Zwinglian teachers are not to be reckoned among the theologians who affiliate with [acknowledge and profess] the Augsburg Confession, as they separated from them at the very time when this Confession was presented, nevertheless, since they are intruding themselves (into their assembly], and are attempting, under the name of this Christian Confession, to spread their error, we intend also to make a needful statement [we have judged that the Church of Christ should be instructed also] concerning this controversy.

    STATUS CONTROVERSIAE.

    Chief Controversy between Our Doctrine and That of the Sacramentarians regarding This Article.

    2] Whether in the Holy Supper the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are truly and essentially present, are distributed with the bread and wine, and received with the mouth by all those who use this Sacrament, whether they be worthy or unworthy, godly or ungodly, believing or unbelieving; by the believing for consolation and life, by the unbelieving for judgment? The Sacramentarians say, No; we say, Yes.

    3] For the explanation of this controversy it is to be noted in the beginning that there are two kinds of Sacramentarians. Some are gross Sacramentarians, who declare in plain (deutschen), clear words as they believe in their hearts, that in the Holy Supper nothing but bread and wine is present, and distributed and received with the mouth. 4] Others, however, are subtle Sacramentarians, and the most injurious of all, who partly speak very speciously in our own words, and pretend that they also believe a true presence of the true, essential, living body and blood of Christ in the Holy Supper, however, that 5] this occurs spiritually through faith. Nevertheless they retain under these specious words precisely the former gross opinion, namely, that in the Holy Supper nothing is present and received with the mouth except bread and wine. For with them the word spiritually means nothing else than the Spirit of Christ or the power of the absent body of Christ and His merit, which is present; but the body of Christ is in no mode or way present, except only above in the highest heaven, to which we should elevate ourselves into heaven by the thoughts of our faith, and there, not at all, however, in the bread and wine of the Holy Supper, should seek this body and blood [of Christ].

  287. justbybelief Says:

    Tim,

    Eric — but I won’t lie about God or his people. So why do you say I would? When are you going to stop axing people to death?

    You defend those who lie about God and His people; therefore, you are a partaker in their sin. You’ve marginalized the law of God, and me, after I’ve identified a clear violation of it. That violation is slander and it is perpetrated by many, if not all, Lutherans. Lutherans are good at handing out their condemnations yet when one uses their own principles against them and they are found wanting they make excuses. Their lack of repentance should make it clear who and what they are–haters of God, His law and His people.

    Having been around Lutherans it has become evident that they lump us all together in order to vilify God’s people with the rest. In this way they can balm and harden their own conscience and the consciences of their disciples.

    In imputing the sins of the fanatics in the myriad of denominations to us they can throw a cover over the rightful declaration of God’s Word (God Himself) in the Reformed Tradition. There sin will not go unpunished.

    Eric

  288. Gary M Says:

    Wow.

    I grew up a fundamentalist Baptist. We branded and condemned almost everyone who wasn’t one of us as evil and doomed to eternal damnation. We weren’t even sure Billy Graham was a true Christian!

    Unfortunately, Baptists are not the only Christian denomination with fundamentalists. We Lutherans in the LCMS and in WELS have our fair share of these self-righteous, hateful, vicious fundamentalists. I try to talk with them, and demonstrate that good Christians can have different views on even important doctrines, and still treat each other with the respect due a brother in Christ. Unfortunately, it almost always only serves to fan the flames of their self-righteous fury. I eventually just ignore their comments, insults, and condemnations.

    It is obvious that Presbyterians are not exempt from these bitter, angry people.

  289. Tim Harris Says:

    Gary– You said

    You are not the first Protestant to ask, “How can a human body be in more than one place at the same time.”

    However, if you read my immediately preceding post again, you will see that I grant, and have argued, that a body in heaven can be in more than one place on earth at the same time. So I’m okay with that part of the argument. This would go far to explaining the Lutheran view AFTER THE ASCENSION, but again, I don’t think it helps explain it at the last supper itself.

    Moreover, to say that a body AT MULTIPLE TIMES can be present AT ONE TIME seems more problematic, even post-ascension. This seems to be incoherent by simultaneously affirming and denying what it means to be temporal. I’m open to being instructed, but in the meantime, I do agree with Zwingli and Dabney that even God cannot require one to believe at once “P is true” and “it is not the case that P is true.” To require belief in a mystery, one must be able at least to point out that it is not tantamount to affirming P and ~P. (If you don’t agree with this, I will show you with a simple syllogism why it must be so.) Luther did this at Marburg by explaining to Zwingli where he was making certain metaphysical assumptions that had already been exploded by the philosophers.

  290. Gary M Says:

    Tim,

    I again have to say that I believe that you are trying to explain a supernatural, miraculous act of God in understandable, reasonable, logical terms. Maybe it can be done, but I doubt it.

    Bottom line: the Real Presence in the Elements has been the teaching of the Church ever since the Apostles. There is zero evidence of the Reformed or Baptist position on this Sacrament found anywhere prior to the 1500’s.

  291. Tim Harris Says:

    Gary — no I am not trying to explain the supernatural, I’m only trying to understand what the claim is, with specific reference to the last supper. I have never come across any teacher of the Church anywhere that said that simultaneously the pre- and post-crucifiction body of Christ was communicated to the disciples at the last supper. Can you give just one reference from church history to that effect? (again: not a vague reference to “real presence,” but specifically, in reference to the last supper, the thought that simultaneously the pre- and post-resurrection body was communicated).

  292. Gary M Says:

    I may have given this statement by the LCMS early. I will look for others.

    Q: In Communion, do we commune with the sacrificed body and blood of Jesus, or the resurrected body and blood of Jesus?

    A: The answer to your question is that we receive in, with, and under the bread and wine the true body and blood of Christ shed on the cross, Jesus Christ Who is now risen and ascended and sits at the right hand of God the Father. He is the same Christ, and when he gave us the Sacrament, as the Lutheran Confessions affirm, “he was speaking of his true, essential body, which he gave into death for us, and of his true, essential blood, which was poured out for us on the tree of the cross for the forgiveness of sins” (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration VII, 49).

    In the Sacrament, our Confessions further teach, the same Jesus who died is present in the Sacrament, although not in exactly the same way that he was corporeally present when he walked bodily on earth. With Luther, the Formula of Concord speaks of “the incomprehensible, spiritual mode of presence according to which he neither occupies nor yields space but passes through everything created as he wills….He employed this mode of presence when he left the closed grave and came through closed doors, in the bread and wine in the Supper….”[FC SD VII, 100; emphasis added].

  293. Gary M Says:

    So far I am coming up with this:

    A paraphrase on Luther’s position on the Real Presence, whether during the Last Supper or in all subsequent Lord’s Supper is this:

    “It is bread and it is Christ’s body…how it occurs, I do not know…but Christ says that it does, so I believe him.”

    I, Gary, went too far in stating that the pre- and post-resurrected body of Christ was present in the Last Supper. That was my guess. I will therefore retract that statement, and simply state with Luther, “I believe in the Real Presence in both the Last Supper and the Lord’s Supper, how it happened, and which “Christ” was present, is sheer speculation, and I’m not going to go there.”

  294. Steve M Says:

    “Acts 17:1 Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
    2 And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
    3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” (Act 17:1-3 NAU)”

    The apostle Paul “worshiping Lord Reason”

  295. Gary M Says:

    Tim,

    Here is the advice from one of my pastors to whom I emailed your question today:

    Gary,
    I do not have the time this week to dive into a fully orbed answer, which would frankly take quite a bit of effort, but I’ll give you a couple thoughts and then direct you to a couple resources:

    Just my opinion, but I believe it is a mistake to get into a metaphysical argument surrounding Christ’s presence. Allow the Calvinists to make these arguments, eventually it will dawn upon them that while they are against Rome’s Aristotelianism in transubstantiation, they have merely traded in philosophy by gravitating toward neo-Platonic spiritualism. It is better to simply use the Bible’s own terminology and scripture to interpret scripture. They can speculate all they want.

    Follow Luther and stick with the text. He said, “This is my body… This is the blood of the New Covenant, etc.” Obviously, it is the pre-Crucified Christ that was in their very presence. But keep in mind, whether it is pre-resurrection or post-resurrection it is the whole person of Christ – fully divine and fully human – and therefore, he is able to transcend what human nature, in and of itself, is capable of doing as God in the flesh. This eventually gets you into arguments of the communicatio idiomatum (communication of the attributes), and we have ample Scriptural evidence to support the communication of divine attributes to the humanity of Christ, especially in the resurrection appearances.
    Chemnitz (below) is quite good in demonstrating this.

    Resources:
    Two books by Martin Chemnitz are considered the gold standard for our tradition:

    Lord’s Supper
    The Two Natures in Christ

    Concordia Theological Seminary’s Media Center. Use the search function and you have access to nearly every article, paper, or talk from the 60’s – present. David Scaer and Regin Prenter are particularly good on the sacraments in response to the Reformed.

    Ultimately, you will have to come to terms with the fact that winning the theological debate with Calvinists is not simply about Scripture for them (even though they will fight tooth and nail for sola Scriptura). Their churches and families are very much held together by the Law, though they often fail to acknowledge as much. Therefore, it is very difficult for them to cross the Genevan fence for Wittenberg pastures, even though they may desire to do so as they will be ostracized by their friends and family (and in same cases, considered a bit of a heretic).

    Maintaining a sensitivity with them is important and building up a long-term friendship is much more important than crossing every theological t and dotting every biblical i.

    The best vehicle, though nearly impossible on the internet, is to invite them to experience the divine service in person, or at least encourage them toward that end. Since the Reformed do not always observe Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or Easter Vigil, these services are good opportunities for them to attend, since their absence from their own church will not be noticed.

  296. Tim Harris Says:

    Seems rather condescending frankly. Like advice on how to deal with some brownie scouts. But try to be nice while you help them, poor dears.

  297. Steve M Says:

    Gary M: “We Lutherans admit our positions on many doctrines ARE irrational!”

    Gary’s Pastor: “Maintaining a sensitivity with them is important and building up a long-term friendship is much more important than crossing every theological t and dotting every biblical i.”

    I’ll just run along and be a good boy now. Gary and his pastor can keep their irrational doctrines, uncrossed theological t(s) and undotted biblical i(s). If only they would keep them to themselves.

  298. Gary M Says:

    Tim,

    You Reformed believe that I and all other Lutherans are wrong. I have Reformed and Baptist Christians come onto my Lutheran blog all the time to “convert” me. The overwhelming majority are polite and engaging, but fervent in their belief that I and my beliefs are of the devil.

    I enjoy my discussion with them. I always welcome their comments as I believe it helps to sharpen my positions on doctrine. I am never offended unless they becoming blatantly insulting. A enjoy a good, vigorous debate. I can handle strong criticism.

    What my pastor was trying to emphasize to me was this: I am not going to win over a Calvinist to Lutheranism by debating Scripture down to the details of dotting i’s and crossing t’s. The best way to convert a Calvinist is to be his friend, love him as my brother, and invite him to attend a Lutheran Divine Service (worship service). It was not his intent for me to share his full statement with you, but I chose to do so.

    I am sharing what I believe to be the true Gospel of Jesus Christ with you in the spirit of brotherly debate. It is not my intention to insult you…it is my intention to CONVERT you!

  299. Gary M Says:

    I just received this email response regarding Tim’s question from the senior pastor of my church (He is a former Presbyterian minister, BTW):

    Hi Gary,

    Pastor Brian makes sensible points. Let them (the Reformed) do the metaphysical battle.

    I’ll add four things quickly :

    1. The theological tradition is that the body and blood of Christ are not locally present, i.e., three dimensionally present. This is the issue if circumlocution. Your Reformed friend may not know that neither Catholics nor Lutherans nor the Orthodox espouse a local presence, which would make the real presence a matter of physics and not theology. So here or there, post-resurrection or pre-resurrection, are not strictly physical states let alone locations or fixed points of time.

    2. During the fall, as we preached through the Psalms, it was emphasized that the sacraments bring God’s time (eternal), space (heaven) and matter (Spirit) to bear on and transform our time, space and matter. The Reformed flatten this topography and miss what sacraments are and do in this regard. Our normal way of thinking goes out the window on these matters. This is how Jews understood the potency of historical memory through “remembrance”. When a Jew participates in the Seder Meal they ARE in Egypt experiencing the Passover. Normal time, space and matter are profoundly altered by the Word and work of God.

    3. Perfect case in point: The Lord’s Supper. It is fundamentally a reconstituting of the Passover Meal. Thus a fulfillment of what it was and meant and did… is to be found in Holy Communion. The Lord’s Supper BEGINS in the Upper Room but it is not completed until Jesus drinks wine the fourth time which happens on the cross. Thus the cup of blessing is in His blood of the covenant shed at Golgotha. Even in the establishment of the sacrament… time, space and matter give way to something more, and more divine.

    4. Luther has the best biblical response: “Christ is our Master, we must leave it to Him. We must interpret the signs as He wants them to be.” It becomes, for Luther, a matter faith not in the sacrament per se, but in Christ and His Word.

    Hope this is helpful.

    Pr. John

  300. Tim Harris Says:

    The fact that he thinks God blesses the blaspheming deicides when they mumble their “Sedar” tells me everything I need to know about “Pr. John.” I’ll take Luther any day.

  301. Pht Says:

    Gary M Says:

    December 26, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    And you, Pht, are making YOURSELF the ultimate authority. You are your own Supreme Authority, as is the belief of every other Baptist, Arminian, and Calvinist.

    No answers to very serious questions I asked, being covered by more spin and deflection.

    Is it that you can’t answer the questions I’ve asked you? Or that you won’t? Or something else?

    You expect us to accept your theory that the early church fathers should be the ultimate authority on any “unclear passages” of the bible … when you won’t tell us who you think the church fathers are, how you determine if they are heretics or orthodox, and what you consider to be “unclear passages.”

    You complain that others are their own “ultimate authority” and you offer nothing more to validate your own claims than your own authority.

    This attack on the use of logic and thinking for one’s self is very ironic, because in order for you to uphold that position, you have to believe it is true, and you can only have come to that belief as the result of thinking about it yourself. You have to use the very thing you are attacking to attack.

  302. Gary M Says:

    Were in Pr. John’s statement does he say that God blesses Jews in the seder POST-RESURRECTION? God blessed them before the resurrection, but after the resurrection, if they rejected Christ, they were not blessed in partaking of the Passover seder any more than a Buddhist is blessed by God in any of his false rituals.

  303. Gary M Says:

    I posted some of our comments here on my Lutheran blog. Here is a comment by one of my readers regarding our conversation:

    I doubt your Calvinist friend would agree with what I’m about to say, but I’ll say it anyway:

    This is Liberalism, pure and simple. The idea that we, being more enlightened and informed that those primitive barbarians we call our ancestors, are clearly superior when it comes to Biblical interpretation. I mean sure, they learned from students of the Apostles (and some possibly from the very Apostles themselves), but they just weren’t as smart as we are in the [insert whatever number is applicable] century, so we need to clear their errors up for them.

    Liberalism? Sounds like it to me. I doubt very many of the Calvinist/Zwinglian Reformation really know just how much they paved the way for the Emergent and other liberal churches.

    Also, “…Calvinism is Augustinianism on steroids?” Um… no. Just no.

  304. Gary M Says:

    Pht:

    Classic Lutheran Bible interpretation principles.

    1. Scripture interprets Scripture — the movement is from the clear words of
    Scripture to the “not so clear” words of Scripture. Scripture interprets itself.

    2. Lutheran Bible interpretation abides by the “simple, proper, and natural meaning of the words”. (Martin Chemnitz, The Lord’s Supper, 21)

    3. A text taken out of context is a pretext. A semi-clever person can take a passage of Scripture out of context and make it seem to say anything a person wants it to say. The term for that is eisogesis – reading into the text. It’s an easy thing to do. And the history of the manuscripts shows how well-meaning transcribers of the Scriptures down through the ages glossed the text with their viewpoint to make the “real” message more accessible to the reader. A classic case in point is the ascetic gloss that has been given to the Peshitto Syriac New Testament.

    4. The harder thing to do is exegesis – wrestling with a text in its immediate context and in the broader context of the whole of Scripture, a much more formidable
    task. To summarize, there’s a simple rule of thumb: A text can never mean what it
    never meant to its author and its initial readers.

    5. There are at least four contexts for every Biblical text: the theological, the historical, the literary, and the cultural contexts, respectively. Examining a Scripture in each of these contexts gives rise to higher critical methods of interpretation, which are the tools we use to mine the text for its original meaning. And yet we put a hedge around our use of these tools. These tools are like any other tools. We can use tools to our benefit and we can also overuse them to our detriment. We do not use the higher critical tools to undermine faith – either ours, or the faith of our hearers. The tool is not in control unless the user is inept. The person using the tool needs to be in control of it. Finally, we hope and believe that in the interpretational task the Holy Spirit is ultimately in control, working in and through the Word and the interpreter.

    6. The essence of the hermeneutical task, I suggest, can be summarized in these words from Paul to the Romans: “For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is being revealed, through faith, for faith (i.e. through means of faith, in order to produce faith) as the Scripture has it, the righteous shall live by faith.” (1:17)

    The interpreting of Scripture is done for the primary purpose of preaching the Word in its truth and purity, and this is done in faith in order that the Holy Spirit, through the Word, will produce faith in the hearers.

    7. Matthaeus Flacius, Key to the Scriptures (1567): “Every understanding and exposition of Scripture is to be in agreement with the faith. Such [agreement] is, so to speak, the norm or limit of a sound faith, that we may not be thrust over the fence into the abyss by anything, either by a storm from without or by an attack from within. For everything that is said concerning Scripture, or on the basis of Scripture, must be in agreement with all that the catechism declares or that is taught by the articles of faith.”

  305. Gary M Says:

    And again for Pht:

    One the wonderful facts about the Early Church is that there was remarkable consistency and agreement among the Church Fathers, from approximately 100 AD to 500 AD, on the core doctrines of the Faith. Following the interpretation principles just mentioned above, unaminous or near unaminous agreement of the Church Fathers must be considered significant support for the apostolic origin of a particular position on a core doctrine.

    I copied this from the Lutheran blog, Cyberbrethren:

    An aspect of Lutheranism that is somewhat unknown, unfortunately, to many Lutherans, is the fact that we never renounced, rejected or otherwise denigrated a study of, and love for, the church fathers.

    In fact, it was a Lutheran who coined the word “patrology” to refer to the study of the writings of the church fathers. The “church fathers” are those theologians of both East and West, who lived and produced theological works from roughly 100-500 a.d. There is remarkable consistency across their writings, and Lutherans delighted particularly in showing their opponents in the Roman Catholic Church that the Lutheran confession of the ancient faith was thoroughly consistent with the teachings of the church fathers.

    While never elevating extra-biblical opinions of the church fathers above Scripture, as Rome did, Lutheranism has never rejected, but rather has embraced, the early church fathers as our own. It is a false and misleading claim that the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Church are the ones who are faithful to the early church fathers, in fact, it is Lutheranism that is the most authentic and faithful confession of the faith of the church fathers.

    Carl Beckwith put matters well in an article published in an issue of Concordia Theological Quarterly, Vol. 68:3/4, July/October 2004, when he wrote:

    “Lutherans have always recognized the value of studying the early church fathers. Whether Martin Luther or Johann Gerhard, C.F.W. Walther or Hermann Sasse, one finds a considerable familiarity with and appreciation of the church fathers. In his important study on post-Reformation Lutheranism, Robert Preus explains, “The Lutherans were convinced that the church fathers were worthy of being read directly, although critically, ‘dividing the straw from the gold.” ” The Lutherans appealed to the fathers, according to Jacob Preus, because they “were part of the ‘heavenly witnesses,’ men standing before the judgment seat of God and bearing witness to their faith.” By using the testimony of these heavenly witnesses, the Lutherans demonstrated the continuity of their teaching with the church catholic.”

    How then can a person go about learning more about the church fathers and reading them, not uncritically, but with understanding and appreciation? For this task, I recommend a person read the works of Johann Gerhard and Martin Chemnitz, both of whom were very familiar with the early church fathers and made much use of them in their theological writings. Rather start to tackle, right away, entire works of the Church Fathers, an anthology of their writings, organized around topics, can be very helpful. The very best resource like this is rather new, it is the five volume series Ancient Christian Doctrine, offering quotes of the early church fathers around the Nicene Creed and its various points. It is very well done.

  306. Steve M Says:

    Gary M: “One the wonderful facts about the Early Church is that there was remarkable consistency and agreement among the Church Fathers, from approximately 100 AD to 500 AD, on the core doctrines of the Faith.”

    Are you saying that the writings of the early church fathers are not full of paradoxes like Scripture is? Why is consistency so “wonderful” among the early church fathers and so completely unimportant in Scripture?

  307. Gary M Says:

    Steve, Steve, Steve,

    If all of God’s Word is accepted in its plain, simple interpretation there may seem, at times, to be contradictions, to our feeble minds, but since God cannot contradict himself, we must accept two seemingly contradictory verses or groups of verses, as a paradox, not a contradiction.

    When men are contradictory…they are contradictory, not paradoxical. The Church Fathers were not contradictory on the purpose of Baptism and the purpose of the Lord’s Supper. They were in full agreement.

  308. Gary M Says:

    Pht:

    Here is a list of the Early Church Fathers and their statements regarding the core, apostolic, Christian doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration. There is NO disagreement among the Church Fathers on this doctrine. So I accept their unanimous support for this doctrine as highly indicative that Baptismal Regeneration is of Apostolic origin.

    “There is no other repentance than that which takes place, when we descended into the water and received the remission of our former sins.” Hermas (circa 150)

    “Before a man bears the name of the Son of God, he is dead. But when he receives the seal, he lays aside his deadness and obtains life. The seal, then, is water. They descend into water dead, and they arise alive.” Hermas (circa 150)

    “This washing of repentance and knowledge of God has been ordained on account of the transgression of God’s people, as Isaiah cries. Accordingly, we have believed and testify that the very baptism which he announced is alone able to purify those who have repented. And this is the water of life. For what is the use of that baptism which cleanses only the flesh and body? Baptize the soul from wrath and from covetousness, from envy, and from hatred.” St Justin Martyr (circa 160)

    “We who have approached God through His Son have received, not carnal, but spiritual circumcision, which Enoch and those like him observed. And we have received it through baptism by God’s mercy, since we were sinners.” Justin Martyr (circa 160)

    “But there is no other way than this: to become acquainted with this Christ; to be washed in the fountain spoken of by Isaiah for the remission of sins.” St Justin Martyr (circa 160)

    “Christ has redeemed us by being crucified on the tree and by purifying us with water.” St Justin Martyr (circa 160)

    “The things proceeding from the waters were blessed by God, that this also could be a sign of men being destined to receive repentance and remission of sins, through the water and bath of regeneration- as many as come to the truth and are born again.” Theophilus (circa 180)

    “When we come to refute them [the Gnostics], we will show in its proper place that this class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God. Thus, they have renounced the whole faith. For the baptism instituted by the visible Jesus was for the remission of sins.” St Irenaeus (circa 180)

    “But there are some of them [Gnostics] who assert that it is unnecessary to bring persons to the water. Rather, they mix oil and water together, and they place its mixture on the heads of those who are to be initiated . . . This they maintain to be the redemption. Other heretics, however, reject all these practices, and maintain that the mystery of the unspeakable and invisible power should not be performed by visible and corruptible creatures . . . These claim that the knowledge of the unspeakable Greatness is itself prefect redemption.” St Irenaeus (circa 180)

    “Man, with respect to that formation which was after Adam, having fallen into transgression, needed the bath of regeneration. Therefore, the Lord said of [the blind man] after He had smeared his eyes with the clay, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ By this means, He restored to him both confirmation and regeneration that takes place by means of the bath.” St Irenaeus (circa 180)

    “Scripture says, ‘And he dipped himself seven times in the Jordan.’ It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was a symbol for us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean from our old transgressions by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord. We are spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, just as the Lord has declared: ‘Unless a man is born again through water and the Spirit, he will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’” Irenaeus (circa 180)

    “Being baptized, we are illuminated. Illuminated, we become sons. This work is variously called grace, illumination, perfection, and washing. Washing, by which we cleanse away our sins. Grace, by which the penalties accruing to the transgressions are remitted. Illumination, by which that holy light of salvation is beheld, that is, by which we see God clearly.” Clement of Alexandria (circa 195)

  309. Gary M Says:

    And more Church Father support for Baptismal Regeneration:

    “And he who has just been regenerated- as the name necessarily indicates- and has been enlightened, is immediately delivered from darkness, and instantly receives the light… Thus, also, we who are baptized, having wiped off the sins that obscure the light of the Divine Spirit, have the eyes of the spirit free, unimpeded, and full of light, by which alone we contemplate the Divine, the Holy Spirit flowing down to us from above.” Clement of Alexandria (circa 195)

    “John prophesied up until the baptism of salvation.” Clement of Alexandria (circa 195)

    “Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life . . . We, like little fishes, after the example of our Ichthus, Jesus Christ, are born in water.” Tertullian (circa 198)

    “Oh, miserable unbelief that denies to God His own properties, simplicity, and power! What then? Is it too wonderful that death should be washed away by washing?” Tertullian (circa 198)

    St Irenaeus (d. 202) remarks, “For He came to save all through means of Himself all, I say, who through Him are born again to God, infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men” (Against Heresies, Book 1, Ch. 22.4).

    In his commentary on Romans, Origin (d. 254) writes, “The Church has received from the apostles the custom of administering baptism even to infants. For those who have been entrusted with the secrets of divine mysteries, knew very well that all are tainted with the stain of original sin, which must be washed off by water and spirit” (Romans Commentary, 5.9).

    St Cyprian (d. 258) writes, “In respect of the case of infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day, we all thought very differently in our council. For in this course which you thought was to be taken, no one agreed; but we all rather judge that the mercy and grace of God is not to be refused to any one born of man . . . Spiritual circumcision ought not to be hindered by carnal circumcision . . . we ought to shrink from hindering an infant, who, being lately born, has not sinned, except in that, being born after the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death at its earliest birth, who approaches the more easily on this very account to the reception of the forgiveness of sins – that to him are remitted, not his own sins, but the sins of another” (Letter 58 to Fidus).

    And in his Enchiridion, St Augustine (d. 430) declares, “For from the infant newly born to the old man bent with age, as there is none shut out from baptism, so there is none who in baptism does not die to sin” (Enchiridion, ch. 43).

  310. Steve M Says:

    Gary, Gary, Gary,
    If we cannot distinguish the “paradoxes” in God’s word from contradictions, how can we distinguish the seemingly contradictory statements of the early church fathers from paradoxes? If there were no seemingly contradictory statements in the writings of the early church fathers, why is that a good thing? If the absence of seemingly contradictory statements is” wonderful” in the writings of the early church fathers, why wouldn’t it be just as “wonderful” if Scripture lacked seemingly contradictory statements? Your position lacks the very consistency you claim is so “wonderful” in the writings of the early church fathers

  311. Tim Harris Says:

    Gary, one of the things that is annoying about your band of confidants is how they pigeon-hole people and make assumptions. For example, I don’t believe I have ever identified myself as Reformed, nor have I put forth an alternate thesis. I came asking a question, very simply.

    Pr John says, “Let them (the Reformed) do the metaphysical battle,” prior to making all kinds of the most intricate metaphysical assertions imaginable! In other words, he is a metaphysician, he just doesn’t want to argue for it. He just wants people to accept it on his word.

    I would be surprised if you could produce a list of early “fathers” that assert his metaphysic. Since you are good at cutting and pasting, I’ll wait to see your list. Specifically, I want to see quotes claiming:

    1. the body and blood of Christ are not locally present, i.e., three dimensionally present.
    2. here or there, post-resurrection or pre-resurrection, are not strictly physical states let alone locations or fixed points of time.
    3. the sacraments bring God’s time (eternal), space (heaven) and matter (Spirit) to bear on and transform our time, space and matter….
    4. Normal time, space and matter are profoundly altered by the Word and work of God.

    Also, another quick question: on what basis do Lutherans reject trans-substantiation?

  312. Gary M Says:

    Lutherans reject Transubstantiation because it is a guess that was declared a dogma. It may be correct, but because God did not explain how he is present in the Bread and Wine, we do not formally turn our guess (“in, with, and under”) into dogma.

  313. Gary M Says:

    Tim Harris:

    I personally am content to accept the scriptural, apostolic teaching that Christ, in some supernatural manner, is truly present Body and Spirit, in the Bread and Wine of the Lord’s Supper. I don’t need any other explanation.

    Pr. John is a Doctor of Theology and a former Presbyterian minister. If you are interested, I can see if he would be interested in dialoging with you on this issue. However, I am not interested in digging any deeper than what the plain, simple statements of our Lord say on this doctrine.

  314. Gary M Says:

    Dear Tim:

    When one walks like a duck and talks like a duck, one assumes you are a duck.

    Remember, Lutherans view all non-Lutheran, Protestant, Trinitarian Christians as Reformed.

  315. Gary M Says:

    Steve,

    Let me make this clearer (hopefully): Lutherans state that we should believe God in his Word literally unless it is very, very clear that his is not speaking literally, even if God, to our feeble minds, appears contradictory.

    We Lutherans read the Church Fathers not as inspired words of God, but as valuable ASSISTANCE in understanding the thinking and culture of the writers of the NT. Just because a Church Father said something, does not mean Lutherans will automatically believe him. We test his position by the process mentioned above.

  316. Steve M Says:

    Gary M: “The Church Fathers were not contradictory on the purpose of Baptism and the purpose of the Lord’s Supper. They were in full agreement.”

    What was Arius’ position on the purpose of the Lord’s Supper and the purpose of Baptism?

  317. Gary M Says:

    Arius was not a Church Father. Arius was a heretic.

    My statement above is that the “Church Fathers” were in unanimous agreement on the purpose of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, not that every person who claimed to be a Christian agreed. However, even stating that, there is zero evidence of ANY ONE in the early centuries AD, who claimed to be a Christian who held the Reformed or Baptist positions on the purpose of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Not one single person.

  318. Gary M Says:

    Lutheran pastor:

    Who are the Church Fathers? Are they important, and if so, in what way? What can we learn from them? Why should we study what they wrote? These are some of the questions that have been asked and which we will look at in this study.

    Let’s begin with the “Who…”. The Church Fathers were important leaders of the Christian church from the time of the apostles down to John of Damascus (died 754), who was the last of the Greek Church Fathers. Generally the Church Fathers are broken down into three main groups – The Apostolic Fathers, the Ante-Nicene Fathers, and the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. We will break up our study by these three groups and focus on the most important of the Church Fathers from each era.

    Next, we might also wonder about the importance of the lives and writings of the Church Fathers. We realize that their writings are not inspired by the Holy Spirit as were the writings of Paul, Peter, James and others which have been preserved in our New Testament, and so they are not to be placed on the same level with them. But the writings of the Church Fathers are valuable for several reasons. We have to understand that what we find in the writings of the Church Fathers are historical accounts of the events of the early New Testament church. From these writing we can learn a great deal about the history of the early Christian church, their struggles and persecutions, as well as their witness and growth. We learn about early church organization, church doctrine, and the dangers of (and struggles with) heresy. Finally, we see a high regard for the inspired writings of both the Old and New Testament and the person and work of Jesus as the foundation for their faith and life.

  319. justbybelief Says:

    “Gary, one of the things that is annoying about your band of confidants is how they pigeon-hole people and make assumptions.”

    Wow, Tim! I think the lights are finally coming on…maybe.

    Gary, and his stable of false teachers, are a bunch of unrepentant slanderous liars. They’ve been exposed as such and should be rejected forthright. There is no debating a liar.

  320. Steve M Says:

    Gary M: “Arius was not a Church Father. Arius was a heretic”

    How is it that you are able to judge his views heretical? Can you do so using Scripture which is filled with what you are unable to distinguish from contradictions? Of course you know they are not contradictions, because God only pretends to constantly contradict himself, he does really do it.

    But if you claim that, in your view, Arius contradicts Scripture and, therefore, is a heretic, how can you know this. If God presents one passage of Scripture that contradicts (in your feeble human mind only) another.passage and you see nothing wrong with that, how can that same feeble mind be so sure that what Arius wrote is, in fact, contradictory? Couldn’t it be that he has some secret reason by which his apparently contradictory position could be reconciled with Scripture?

    Perhaps his doctrine is just irrational and not heretical. According to you holding some irrational doctrines is the right way to go.

  321. Gary M Says:

    Ok Steve, I’m going to try this one more time:

    1. All Christians should accept the plain, simple interpretation (PSI) of all Scripture. Read all passages as literal unless there is clear evidence in the surrounding context that the writer is speaking metaphorically, using hyperbole, etc.

    2. If the PSI of a passage is unclear, compare it to other passages of Scripture regarding the same doctrine, in which the PSI is clearer in these passages, and who’s interpretation has acceptance among a significant segment of Trinitarian Christians.

    3. If the interpretation of the passage remains unclear or is disputed among major groups of Christians, go to the writings of the Church Fathers to see what they had to say on the subject. Are the Church Fathers in unanimous or near unanimous agreement on the subject or is there division?

    So, if a particular denomination’s position on Doctrine X, for illustration, passes criterion one and two, but there is a 50/50 split among the Church Fathers on that position, the Church Fathers opinions aren’t much help.

    If a particular denomination’s position on Doctrine X passes criterion one and two, but not one single Church Father or even “heretic” held this same position, this does not prove the denomination’s position as wrong, it just creates significant doubt as to the apostolic origin of this position.

    However, if a denomination’s position on Doctrine X passes criterion one and two and their position is in agreement with all or almost all TRINITARIAN Christians in the first five or six centuries of Christianity, this is very strong evidence of the apostolic origin of this denomination’s position. Does this agreement with the Church Fathers definitely prove apostolic origin? Absolutely not! It is just strong evidence.

    So, Steve, that is how I and other Lutherans interpret Scripture. How do you?

  322. Denson Dube Says:

    Gary,
    Yes, the Reformers borrowed heavily from Augustine, including and especially Calvin. Predestination and original sin, as an example, are vintage Augustine. Of course Calvin did not gratuitously swallow everything from the past, hook line and sinker as you suggest we do. Many of the so called church fathers'(a blasphemous misnomer, if you ask me, there is only one father of the church, God himself who bought the church by his own blood) writings are jejune and with language reminiscent of Nostradamus’ and Mohammed’s juvenile nonsense. Some of them held to the “atonement of the devil” doctrine as an example. And yes, even the apostle Peter struggled to understand the Pauline epistles, and it was Augustine who really started to unpack them. They also seemed to confuse sanctification and justification. I could go on.

  323. Gary M Says:

    Denson,

    How do you arrive at your interpretation of the Bible?

  324. Tim Harris Says:

    Gary, you put a lot of weight on the idea that the “fathers” support your (and Fr. John’s) view of the Lord’s supper, but then when I challenge you to back it up, you bail out. “I am not interested in digging any deeper than what the plain, simple statements of our Lord say on this doctrine.” Can’t have it both ways, bud.

  325. Gary M Says:

    Tim,

    On the Real Presence, I give the same answer as Luther: “Christ said it, so I believe it.”

    You asked me for a metaphysical explanation. I told you I don’t have one but would ask my pastors. I gave you their responses. If you want to talk to my pastor you are welcome, but I am not interested in trying to comprehend how a supernatural act of God can be explained in metaphysical terms.

    I would give you the same answer regarding Creation, the Incarnation, walking on water, raising the dead, and the Resurrection.

    Pr. John was educated as a Reformed. Sometimes I think he has not fully rooted out all traces of Lord Reason from his theology. I think he should have stuck with his first answer: Let the Reformed figure out the metaphysical, we will just accept what Christ said as fact.

  326. Gary M Says:

    Tim,

    I’ve asked others, so I’ll ask you: How do you arrive at YOUR interpretation of Scripture and specifically your position on the presence or lack of presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper?

  327. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    Evangelicalism believes in the real absence. Reformed folk appreciate the divine presence but not at the expense of sound Christology with reference to the Lord’s localized body. We lift our hearts up to the Lord by the work of the Holy Spirit, but Christ’s body isn’t omnipresent any more than it visits the foot of anyone’s bed. The Lord sits at the right hand of the Father.

  328. Gary M Says:

    Ron,

    So when you say that you have Jesus in your heart, do you really mean to say that you have half of Jesus in your heart?

  329. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    Rather than play with metaphors, why not reconcile your Christology with the words of institution? Unwittingly you undermine the gospel by making Jesus’ body not human. Evangelicalism errs in the opposite direction. Only the Reformed position does justice to “this is my body” and Christ’s humanity. But to your question, we “munch” on Christ by faith, with thanksgiving.

  330. Steve M Says:

    Gary
    Where in the three steps listed above is the part where you settle for irrational doctrines?

    I believe “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.”

    If the Scriptures were as incomplete or as unclear as you apparently believe they are, it might be necessary to look outside of them for interpretations. I don’t share your view of Scripture.as insuffient.

  331. Steve M Says:

    …insufficient

  332. Gary M Says:

    Ron,

    Ah…the 500 year old Lutheran-Reformed war over the Two Natures of Christ. Read this Lutheran analysis of the Reformed position on this issue:

    Here is some good material from the great Lutheran dogmatician, Francis Pieper, who puts his finger on the core problem with Calvinism: Christological error. It is interesting to note that when Francis Pieper wrote his magisterial three-volume work of dogmatics, the first volume issued was the volume devoted largely to the doctrine of Christ. Here is a quote from that volume:

    Calvin’s theology, as far as it differs from that of Luther, is dominated largely by rationalistic and philosophical principles, and his sometimes fanatical controversy against the Lutheran doctrine is manifestly inspired by his rationalistic and philosophical principles. Calvin’s doctrine of divine grace, in particular his determination of the extent of divine grace, is so entirely motivated by human speculation that he judges this not by the clear Scripture statements, but by experience (experientia), or the practical result (effectus).

    Because of his rationalistic viewpoint Calvin perverts all Scripture statements which in unmistakable terms declare God’s universal will of grace, and he designates as fools all theologians who teach universal grace. So also Calvin’s Christology is dominated, just as is that of Zwingli and other Reformed theologians, by the human figment of the incapacity of the human nature for divinity. He calls it folly to say that the humanity of Christ is everywhere united with the Godhead. Above all, he urges the rationalistic axiom that Christ’s human nature can possess only a visible and local presence. He writes: “They [the Lutherans] babble of an invisible presence. It is essential to a real body to have its special form and dimensions and to be contained within some certain space.”464 On the basis of this rationalistic premise he interprets the closed doors (John 20:19) to mean “open doors,” and the miracle of Christ’s vanishing (Luke 24:31) he explains away as if merely the eyes of the disciples had been at fault.

    On the basis of this rationalistic axiom he also accuses the Lutherans of Eutychianism, indeed of being theologians who are worse than the papists. He writes: “I speak not of the Romanists, whose doctrine is more tolerable, or at least more modest; but some [the Lutherans] are so carried away with the heat of the contention as to affirm that, on account of the union of the two natures of Christ, wherever His deity is, His flesh, which cannot be separated from it, is there also.”465 Calvin’s theology, therefore, is not basically Biblical, but rationalistically motivated.

    It is a pity that such eminent Reformed dogmaticians as Hodge, Shedd, and Boehl, who frequently oppose modern liberalism in an effective manner, reproduce in their Christology the ancient Reformed error with its self-contradiction and its denial of the Scripture truth.

  333. justbybelief Says:

    Does this agreement with the Church Fathers definitely prove apostolic origin? Absolutely not! It is just strong evidence.

    So, the slanderers (Lutherans), use the ‘fathers’ (even though as Denson pointed out, only God is our father) against us even though they can’t affirm that what they say is true. STRONG EVIDENCE IS NOT TRUTH!!!

    We are condemned on what may very well be a lie. They simply can’t be sure.

    In sum:
    1) The slanderers (Lutherans) don’t know that what the ‘fathers’ said was true. Even if a majority (99.99%) of ‘fathers’ said the same thing it still may not be true.
    2) The slanderers (Lutherans) base their condemnation of us on the basis of something they admittedly cannot affirm as true.

    That is rich!

    So, we are back to the Bible alone, which the Lutherans, as they’ve shown, reject on it’s face.

    My point is proven once again.

  334. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    What you provided is neither an argument for the Lutheran position nor an internal critique of the Reformed position. That might be because you don’t have an argument, or maybe, just maybe, you don’t know what an argument actually looks like. I don’t say that to shame you (well, maybe just a little) but to encourage you to think a little harder about arguing what you would like to defeat and defend. The “shame” part is intended to help you, not hurt you unnecessarily. To shame you apart from you thinking harder would be just as sorry shame.

  335. justbybelief Says:

    So when you say that you have Jesus in your heart, do you really mean to say that you have half of Jesus in your heart?

    but we have the mind of Christ.

  336. Gary M Says:

    The Reformed doctrines are based on human reason and logic, making the final authority for the interpretation of Scripture: the individual.

    And this is why you Reformed have splintered hundreds if not thousands of times into so many denominations, sects, and cults. Each individual believes that God has revealed the truth to him and everyone else in Christendom, since the days of the Apostles, is wrong.

    You are so puffed up with pride and arrogance that you cannot see your folly.

    Again, I ask the question: Why is it that there is ZERO evidence of ANY Christian…Church Father, pastor, or layman… in the first 800-1,000 years of Christianity who held the Reformed or Baptist positions on the purpose of Baptism and the purpose of the Lord’s Supper?

  337. justbybelief Says:

    “Again, I ask the question: Why is it that there is ZERO evidence of ANY Christian…Church Father, pastor, or layman… in the first 800-1,000 years of Christianity who held the Reformed or Baptist positions on the purpose of Baptism and the purpose of the Lord’s Supper?”

    You answer your own question…

    Does this agreement with the Church Fathers definitely prove apostolic origin? Absolutely not! It is just strong evidence.

    Strong evidence is not truth! The slanderers (Lutherans) base their condemnation of us on the basis of something they admittedly cannot affirm as true. And, they call us arrogant.

    So, we are back to the Bible alone, which the Lutherans, as they’ve shown, reject on it’s face.

  338. Ron Says:

    Again Gary, you haven’t argued anything. You’ve simply gone off on another diatribe.

    Do you think this is an argument?

    The Reformed doctrines are based on human reason and logic, making the final authority for the interpretation of Scripture: the individual.

    First off, what is “human logic?” Does it differ from God’s logic? Is the law of contradiction a societal convention, or is it universal and invariant, reflecting the very nature of God? Aside from the obvious, are you suggesting that logic is not used by Lutherans to distinguish mutually exclusive theological propositions from compatible ones? Think about it. No thinking Lutheran would claim you. How can you make sense of any verse, let alone compare verses, apart from applying logic to those verses? Try it sometime. What is it to be theological after all? Bottom line is, it is logical but not “rationalistic” to ensure that one’s understanding of Christ’s humanity is reconciled to his understanding of the words of institution. Rather than reconcile these concepts, Lutheranism doesn’t abandon logic – as you suggest(!), but rather Lutheranism simply makes the body of our Lord omnipresent. In other words, they can’t have a localized body and an omnipresent one, for that would be illogical. So to remain logically consistent she asserts that a human body can be omnipresent, which is to undermine a necessary condition for humanity and subsequently the theology of Kinsman Redeemer, not that she cares. Note well though, even Lutheranism wants to be logical with its theology. To which say, why not go all the way and make the bread a physical body too, like the papists? Bottom line is, don’t pit the very logic your communion uses against Reformed logic. The difference is in our theological premises and what is not negotiable for us.

  339. justbybelief Says:

    Lutherans (slanderers) don’t adhere to the definition of ‘is’ that they force on us.

  340. Ron Says:

    Slanderers? Let’s not chalk up to malice that which can be attributed to ignorance. 🙂

  341. justbybelief Says:

    Let’s not chalk up to malice that which can be attributed to ignorance.

    LOL.

    Could they tell the difference…you know…human reason and all?

  342. Gary M Says:

    Why is there no evidence in the Early Church, found anywhere on earth, of a letter such as this:

    Dear Pastor X:

    I write to you with disturbing news for our Christian Faith. Many Christian churches in my area are teaching a new, false doctrine. They are teaching that God forgives sins and saves sinners in Baptism. They have stopped teaching the correct doctrine handed down from the Apostles that the purpose of Baptism is to initiate a covenant relationship, but it is NOT regenerational.

    We must pray that the majority of Christians will speak out against this heresy.

    God be with you,

    Pastor Y

  343. Gary M Says:

    Or a letter like this:

    Dear Pastor Z,

    Have you heard the news? A group of Christian churches are now teaching that the Body of Christ is NOT seated at the right hand of the Father alone, but Christ’s body is also present in the Bread of the Lord’s Supper and that his blood is present in the wine.

    How did this heresy start? We must speak out to stamp out this heresy.

    Yours truly,

    Pastor W

  344. Ron Says:

    Where’s the letter against the papacy?

  345. Gary M Says:

    Your Reformed beliefs on the doctrines of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper did not exist in the Christian Church, anywhere on planet earth, until Zwingli in the 1500’s. The Early Christians would be shocked and horrified by your arrogance in your new, invented, false doctrines and your belief that YOU can interpret Scripture better than all the “ignorant morons” in the preceding 14 centuries of Christianity.

    You are wrong. Period.

  346. justbybelief Says:

    We can’t tell the difference between Y and Z; That would involve human reason.

  347. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    We’re still waiting for a formal argument. You know, a series of premises where the conclusion follows necessarily.

  348. Gary M Says:

    The Council of Nice resolved that the bishop of Alexandria should administer the churches in the East, and the Roman bishop the suburban, i.e., those which were in the Roman provinces in the West. From this start by a human law, i.e. the resolution of the Council, the authority of the Roman bishop first arose. If the Roman bishop already had the superiority by divine law, it would not have been lawful for the Council to take any right from him and transfer it to the bishop of Alexandria; nay, all the bishops of the East ought perpetually to have sought ordination and confirmation from the bishop of Rome.

  349. Gary M Says:

    Again the Council of Nice determined that bishops should be elected by their own churches, in the presence of some neighboring bishop or of several. 14] The same was observed [for a long time, not only in the East, but] also in the West and in the Latin churches, as Cyprian and Augustine testify. For Cyprian says in his fourth letter to Cornelius: Accordingly, as regards the divine observance and apostolic practice, you must diligently keep and practice what is also observed among us and in almost all the provinces, that for celebrating ordination properly, whatsoever bishops of the same province live nearest should come together with the people for whom a pastor is being appointed, and the bishop should be chosen in the presence of the people, who most fully know the life of each one, which we also have seen done among us at the ordination of our colleague Sabinus, that by the suffrage of the entire brotherhood, and by the judgment of the bishops who had assembled in their presence, the episcopate was conferred and hands laid on him.

    15] Cyprian calls this custom a divine tradition and an apostolic observance, and affirms that it is observed in almost all the provinces.

    Since, therefore, neither ordination nor confirmation was sought from a bishop of Rome in the greater part of the world in the Latin and Greek churches, it is sufficiently apparent that the churches did not then accord superiority and domination to the bishop of Rome.

  350. Gary M Says:

    ] VIII. Many ancient synods have been proclaimed and held in which the bishop of Rome did not preside; as that of Nice and most others. This, too, testifies that the Church did not then acknowledge the primacy or superiority of the bishop of Rome.

    18] IX. Jerome says: If the question is concerning authority, the world is greater than the city. Wherever there has been a bishop, whether at Rome, or Eugubium, or Constantinople, or Rhegium, or Alexandria, he is of the same dignity and priesthood.

  351. Gary M Says:

    X. Gregory, writing to the patriarch at Alexandria, forbids that he be called universal bishop. And in the Records he says that in the Council of Chalcedon the primacy was offered to the bishop of Rome, but was not accepted.

  352. Gary M Says:

    20] XI. Lastly, how can the Pope be over the entire Church by divine right when the Church has the election, and the custom gradually prevailed that bishops of Rome were confirmed by the emperors? 21] Also, when for a long time there had been contests concerning the primacy between the bishops of Rome and Constantinople, the Emperor Phocas finally determined that the primacy should be assigned to the bishop of Rome. But if the ancient Church had acknowledged the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, this contention could not have occurred, neither would there have been need of the decree of the emperor.

  353. Gary M Says:

    Ok, my Reformed brethren,

    I gave you the evidence you demanded, now stop beating your chests and blowing hot air…answer my question…if you can!

  354. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    Six posts in a row? What, is your pastor texting you your script piecemeal? I’m not looking for a summary from the Smalcald Articles. I’m looking for an early church decrying of the papacy, the same criteria you require regarding the alleged departure of the apostles and fathers of the church regarding sacraments. Furthermore, I want to see an argument, not assertions upon assertions.

  355. Ron Says:

    While you’re at it, where’s the letter from the second century decrying the departure from Luther’s sola fide? Or is it just possible that superstitions crept in gradually? You see, Gary, and I hope you do see, your approach accuses you in the end because the solas of the Reformation, which you yourself would call biblical, were violated over time and did not formally get reclaimed in full, in their totality, until the Reformation. Accordingly, the very criteria you measure by accuses your own communion. You’re using a Romanist polemic, which doesn’t corroborate Lutheranism.

  356. Gary M Says:

    I have tried my best to share the truths of the apostolic teachings regarding the purpose of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper with you my brothers. The “harvest” is now in God’s hands.

    I pray that God will bless and keep each and every one of you, dear brothers in Christ.

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
    an orthodox Lutheran blog

  357. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    May God be with you and us all as we earnestly seek Him.

    Blessings,

    Ron

  358. justbybelief Says:

    Sorry, I can’t wish anyone godspeed as they indoctrinate in error.

  359. Denson Dube Says:

    Gary,
    You asked, “How do you arrive at your interpretation of the Bible?”
    With the Reformers I follow the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:6 …ἀναλογίαν τῆς πίστεως …(the analogy of faith) or analogia fidei(in Latin), the rule of faith, or the standard of belief, and that is the Bible. My beliefs are not correct if they do not comport with what the Bible says. Which means the Bible must interpret the Bible, and not tradition or church leaders or hunches or intuition or science or institutions or experience. The Bible is its own interpreter.

    Example:
    Jesus promised the thief on the cross that he would be with him in paradise, yet the thief never got water baptized. Conclusion: Therefore, one(some) can be(are) saved without water baptism. Conclusions require the use of logic. Since you claim you do not need logic to understand the Bible(a false claim), in your false piety, I suppose you cannot make that conclusion.

  360. Ron Says:

    Justbybelief,

    I agree with that sentiment and I think I was wrong in extending “blessings”. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

    Ron

  361. Tim Harris Says:

    Gary you claim that the “fathers” taught the same view on the Lord’s Supper that the modern Lutheran church holds, but when I called your bluff, you said never mind them, you will stick with the words of Jesus (which are of course part of Scripture). So you need to fish or cut bait on the appeal to the fathers. This is in addition to Ron’s apt point about creeping traditions, but I’m just sayin’.

    By the way, it was kinda cute when you first broached the idea of “Reformed = none of the above,” but now that you have been corrected, you need to stop doing it. “Reformed” is an historical/confessional settlement, no less than Lutheranism, and if anything more so than Orthodox. If after being corrected you keep referring to baptists, pentecostalists, independents, and every wacko under the sun as “Reformed,” then I will have to join Eric in saying that you are a liar. Sorry, but you don’t get to define a church out of existence.

  362. justbybelief Says:

    “Reformed” is an historical/confessional settlement.

    Amen!!!

  363. Tim Harris Says:

    Gary, my point about metaphysics is NOT, “you need to do it, just like we do,” but rather, “if we are doing it, then so are you.” For you, the Lord’s supper is literal… but not LITERALLY literal and so forth. You accept this distinction, reject that one, hold the other in limbo. All of this is to “do metaphysics” whether you admit it or not. It seems like Lutherans do a LOT of metaphysics, until someone stands up to debate, at which time they quickly beat a retreat to “just believe what the Bible says.” Same with the appeal to the fathers. “We stand with the fathers.” Then when it is pointed out that, not exactly, again the retreat to “just believe what the Bible says.” So debating you guys is tiresome.

    I say this as someone who is very Lutheran in many ways, and within an inch of going over. Just sayin’.

  364. Gary M Says:

    If you believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are present in some supernatural way in the Elements; that you eat and drink the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper…in some supernatural way; if you believe that your salvation is enriched and that your sins are forgiven in the Lord’s Supper…then you believe in the Real Presence.

    If you say all of the above, but then qualify your statement by saying that Christ’s Body is really ONLY seated at the right hand of the Father…then you do NOT believe in the Real Presence.

    There is no need to get into metaphysics. It was my Presbyterian-turned-Lutheran pastor who ventured into those waters.

  365. justbybelief Says:

    “If you say all of the above, but then qualify your statement by saying that Christ’s Body is really ONLY seated at the right hand of the Father…then you do NOT believe in the Real Presence.”

    More idiocy from the Lutherans. As though, when God’s word is preached, that God is not present.

    “It was my Presbyterian-turned-Lutheran pastor who ventured into those waters.”

    And should repent.

  366. Gary M Says:

    Orthodox Christians have believed and taught for almost 2,000 years that Christ is truly present, Body and Spirit, in the Bread and Wine of the Holy Supper.

    The idea that Christ’s Body is not present in the Elements, but is located only in heaven, sitting at the right hand of the Father, is an invention of Zwingli in the 1500’s. For the first one thousand, five hundred years of Christianity, there is no evidence that ANYONE believed in this interpretation of Holy Scripture.

    So someone is wrong.

    Either orthodox Christians (today presented by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, and Anglicans) have falsely interpreted Scriptures, as they state they received it from the Apostles themselves, for 2,000 years…

    …OR the Reformed and their Protestant offspring are following a teaching never present in the history of Christianity for 1,500 years.

    Is it really possible that such a crucial teaching of the Church completely disappeared with the death of the last Apostle only to be rediscovered by Zwingli in Switzerland 1,500 years later?? If so, so much for God preserving his Word and his Church.

  367. Tim Harris Says:

    Ok, time for some bluff-calling again. Here is Article XXVIII of the Anglican churches: Of the Lord’s Supper

    (3rd paragraph. Feel free to quote the others if you feel it helps your case)

    The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.

  368. justbybelief Says:

    “Orthodox Christians…Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox”

    As if, those who deny justification by belief are Christians. This is more Lutheran lunacy–exalting their view of the ‘sacraments’ to a status above the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

  369. Gary M Says:

    Tim,

    Trying to tie down Anglicans to what exactly is correct Anglican teaching is almost impossible. Some “classic” Anglicans believe in the Real Presence, Anglo-Catholic Anglicans go so far as to believe in Transubstantiation, and on the other end of the spectrum, some Anglicans are Zwinglians, who believe the supper is symbolic only. Here is an Anglican’s quote you may find interesting:

    In his classic work, A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, E. J. Bicknell, D.D., writes, “The Real Presence. On this view we hold that we receive through the bread and wine the Body and Blood of Christ, because in answer to the prayers of His Church and in fulfillment of His own promise, He has brought the elements into a mysterious union with Himself. He has, at it were, taken them up into the fullness of His ascended life and made them the vehicle of imparting that life to His members. Thus He is in a real sense present not only in the devout communicant but in the consecrated elements. Of the manner of this union we affirm nothing. The Presence is spiritual, not material.

    “This in some form, is the teaching of the Roman and Eastern Churches, of Luther, of the Fathers and early liturgies… It would appear to be the most consistent with Scripture and the tradition of the Church, and also to be a safeguard of certain great Christian principles” (p. 492, first published 1919, quoted from the 1936 edition). Bicknell continues, “Again, if we turn to the Church as the interpreter of Scripture, the main stream of Christian teaching is quite clear. We find a singular absence of theological controversy about the Eucharist, but the general line of thought may be exemplified by these words of Irenaeus, ʻThe bread which is of the earth receiving the invocation of God is no longer common bread but Eucharist, made up of two things, an earthly and a heavenlyʼ” (Bicknell, ibid, p. 493).

    The Protestant Reformation of which classical Anglicanism is an heir, was a movement to reform the Church and to return it to its primitive Catholic faith and practice. Dr. Martin Luther described the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament “in, with and under” the consecrated Bread and Wine as a “Sacramental union” (Latin: unio sacramentalis). John Calvin, who did not believe in the “real absence” of Christ like Zwingli or in receptionism like Bullinger, said the Body and Blood of Christ was “conjoined” with the Bread and Wine in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

  370. Gary M Says:

    Continued from same Anglican document:

    Today, the Reformed and Presbyterian Churches do not hold Calvinist views regarding the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Like the Baptists, Methodists and other modern evangelicals, they have become completely Zwinglian in their approach, and believe that the Lordʼs Supper is a mere memorial of Christʼs sacrificial death. As Anglicans we must be careful not to describe these Zwinglian views as “Calvinism,” which thy are not. Professor Van Dyk writes, “There is little doubt that the approach to the Lordʼs Supper expressed by Ulrich Zwingli was taken up in large part by the subsequent Reformed tradition. Many generations of Reformed believers have assumed that the Lordʼs Supper is a memorial act, a way to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, an encouragement to gratitude and service” (ibid, The Lordʼs Supper, Five Views, p. 72).

  371. Ron Says:

    Gary,
    You are historically, confessionally and biblically incorrect. Regarding the first two, what you attribute to Zwingly is not the Reformed view as you want to suggest. Memorialism, or what I referred to above as the “Real Absence,” is an aberrant view in light of the Westminster standards. Adherents to the Westminster Confession believe in a real spiritual presence, as opposed to a real physical presence. This is what Calvin taught and what the Westminster standards have adopted. This is not to deny that a memorial aspect is also confessed by the Reformed. After all, the Lord did say to observe the Supper in memory of Him.

  372. Ron Says:

    It seems that there is some altering in the progression of thought from Gary on Zwingli – from real absence only to spiritual presence.

  373. Gary M Says:

    I’m just quoting the Anglicans, Ron. Don’t shoot the (Lutheran) messenger, brother.

    Here is more from the same Anglican post:

    In his mature doctrinal view, John Calvin also believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Because few contemporary Anglicans are really familiar with John Calvin or have studied his works, most Anglicans are completely unaware that much of what is called “Calvinist” sacramental theology by them is, in fact, Zwingliʼs sacramental theology rather than Calvinʼs. Indeed, much of what is called “Reformed” or “Calvinist” theology today really comes from Calvinʼs successor in Geneva, Theodore Beza, and from the Synod of Dort and the Westminister Assembly later still. The truth is that the mature John Calvin did not teach the “real absence” of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion like Zwingli, or receptionism like Bullinger.

    Leanne Van Dyk, Academic Dean and Professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, writes, “He [Calvin] engaged in vigorous conversation with both Lutheran and Reformed leaders over the Lordʼs Supper, and in these polemical exchanges he developed his mature doctrine. There is discernible development in Calvinʼs understanding of the Lordʼs Supper from early to late in his ministry. One Calvin scholar [Thomas J. Davis] summarizes, ʻWe will see Calvin move from denying the Eucharist as an instrument of grace to affirming it as such. We will see Calvin develop a notion of substantial partaking of the true body and blood of Christ over his career; an emphasis that is practically absent, even denied, in his earliest teachingʼ” (The Lordʼs Supper, Five Views, edited by Gordon T. Smith, c. 2008, Intervarsity Press, pp. 74-75).

    In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin writes [T]he Lordʼs Table should have been spread at least once a week for the Assembly of Christians,… All, like hungry men, should flock to such a bounteous repast.”

    And what is that “bounteous repast”? In his 1540, Short Treatise on the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ, Calvin writes, “It is a spiritual mystery which can neither be seen by the eye nor comprehended by the human understanding. It is therefore figured to us by visible signs, according as our weakness requires, in such manner, nevertheless, that it is not a bare figure but is combined with the reality and substance. It is with good reason then that the bread is called the body, since it not only represents it but also presents it to us. Hence we indeed infer that the name of the body of Jesus Christ is transferred to the bread, inasmuch as it is the sacrament and figure of it. But we likewise add, that the sacraments of the Lord should not and cannot be at all separated from their reality and substance. To distinguish, in order to guard against confounding them, is not only good and reasonable, but altogether necessary; but to divide them, so as to make them exist without the other, is absurd” (italics added).

    In the same treatise Calvin continues, “We must confess, then, that if the representation which God gave us in the Supper is true, the internal substance of the sacrament is conjoined with the visible signs; and as the bread is distributed to us by the hand, so the body of Christ is communicated to us in order that we may be partakers of it. Though there should be nothing more, we have good cause to be satisfied, when we understand that Jesus Christ gives us in the supper the proper substance of his body and blood, in order that we may possess it fully, and possessing it have part in all blessings” (italics added).

    Calvin signed the Augsburg Confession in 1539, and “Luther himself appreciated his theology even on his jealously guarded theory of the Sacrament of the Holy Supper” (A History of the Reformation, by Thomas M. Lindsay, D.D., LL.D.; Charles Scribnerʼs Sons; 1914; p. 112).

    There was, of course, disagreements among the great Reformers regarding the Eucharist, but the disagreements were primarily over how the bread and the wine became the Body and Blood of Christ. Luther emphasized ubiquity; Calvin, basing his views on the sanctus in the liturgy and the so-called “ascending epiclesis” at the end of the canon in the Roman Rite, believed that we were caught up into heaven with Christ in the Eucharistic Liturgy. Others believed that the consecration was effected by the power of the Holy Ghost descending on the elements; or by the authority and power of Christʼs Words and command in the Words of Institution. All of these theories are helpful but not fully provable by Scripture, and should not divide Christians. Regarding the Anglican view, Bicknell has written, “Of the manner of this union we [Anglicans] affirm nothing.” Had the leaders of the Reformation from across Europe been able to freely meet in synod to discuss these issues, as Archbishop Thomas Cranmer had hoped, unity and a unified teaching may have resulted, but because of the political turmoil and Roman Catholic persecution of the time, no such synod could be held. Unfortunately, as Anglican bishop Michael Marshall has said, while Luther won the battle against Zwingli at Marburg, Zwingliism went on to win the war. The Rev. John R. Stephenson, Professor of Historical Theology at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Catherines, Ontario, laments, “As painful though it is to concede this point, beginning in the seventeenth century, Luther increasingly lost the war for the real presence even in the Communion named after him” (ibid, The Lordʼs Supper, Five Views, p. 46).

  374. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    You missed the point.

  375. Gary M Says:

    ““It is a spiritual mystery which can neither be seen by the eye nor comprehended by the human understanding.”

    The mature Calvin sounds awfully Lutheran to me.

  376. James Says:

    All
    Gordon Clark is very good on this – look at his book Sanctification on this subject. As for Zwingli, Clark notes:

    “Dorner, A System of Christian Doctrine, (translated by Cave and Banks, 1882;Vol4, p317),says,’in his last years Zwingli returned to his former standpoint, according to which the Holy Supper is not merely a sign of a past thing and commemoration thereof, but a means of grace and present gift.'”
    Sanctification, p84.

    btw Clark is a tad rough on Calvin here (righfully so imo) –
    “However, the difficulty is to determine what Calvin meant by something more.. why cannot the value of the sacrament be located in the apprehension of the mind? Paul says we are to examine ourselves so as to discern the Lord’s body…When Calvin says, not the apprehension of the mind, but a real enjoyment of it as food, he drops from literal statement to figurative. What is meant by food? Are we not nourished or edified by understanding the significance of the sacrament?”…etc…

    My own view is best summed up by a question:
    why go beyond normal thinking (as per the Lutheran pastor above)
    when we don’t have to? Why abandon soberminded-ness when we don’t have to and when it’s not a good thing to do anyway?
    Normal thinking is sufficient.

    Jesus spoke figuratively when he said “This is my body” – just like when he said “I am the bread” or “I am the Gate” or “I am the vine”. Normal thinking understands that, in the sacrament, the bread represents Jesus’ body. And, we are to discern that symbolism on pains of sinning against that which the symbol symbolizes.

    To go beyond that into trans or cons substantiation or whatever metaphysical variants thereof seems to me to be abandoning sophroneo – ironically, all because these so called masters of analogy don’t know a simple metaphor when it’s staring them in the face.

    Thanks,

  377. Gary M Says:

    An apple is lying on a table.

    A Lutheran picks up the apple and says, “This IS an apple.”

    A Zwinglian Reformed takes the apple from the Lutheran and says, “No, this red, round object only SYMBOLIZES an apple. The real apple is in the fruit section of the grocery store.

    I am THE Way…is metaphorical.
    I am THE Good Shepherd…is metaphorical.
    I am THE Vine…is metaphorical.

    THIS is my body…THIS is my blood…is NOT metaphorical.

  378. Steve M Says:

    A loaf of bread is lying on the table.

    A Lutheran picks up the bread and says, “This IS a piece of meat”

    The way Greg continues to “beat a dead horse”, it must be horse meat.

  379. justbybelief Says:

    “A Zwinglian Reformed takes the apple from the Lutheran and says, “No, this red, round object only SYMBOLIZES an apple. The real apple is in the fruit section of the grocery store.”

    More slander from the Lutheran.

    At the very least the attributes of the apple are there–skin, meat, seeds and stem.

    Now, a better analogy would be if you handed me a piece of bread and said it was an apple, I’d tell you it was in the grocery store, all the while thinking you mad, which by the way, I do.

    The bread is bread; It is not a human body. There are no fingers, toes, hair, teeth, bones, skin, eyes, ears, etc… These things must be there to fulfill the definition of ‘is’ that you claim to believe yet deny practically. Therefore, the words of institution are to be taken symbolically. The elements are signs and seals. Signs in that they point beyond themselves and seals in that what they point to is God’s means of forgiveness.

    Jesus never used the word ‘mystery’ when referring to the supper. Instead He used the words ‘proclaim’ and ‘remember’ among others. The Lutherans downgrade the word ‘remember’ as if drawing peoples’ minds to Christ’s broken body and shed blood which the elements are supposed to do is a bad thing. In ‘proclaiming’ we ‘remember’ and in ‘remembering’ God’s once for all time gift is reiterated to our minds. The Lutherans act as though a memorial–remembering–is some dead ineffectual thing when in fact it is in remembering Christ that we are nourished by Him by faith.

    It’s amazing that the Son of God came, took on human flesh, and revealed the Father to us and now Lutherans want Him to hide Him in a mystery. This defeats the whole purpose of revelation just as making the Bible a paradox undermines the whole purpose of revelation.

  380. justbybelief Says:

    I might add that by turning the Lord’s Supper into a mystery and the Word of God into paradox the Lutherans have stripped them both of their real power.

  381. Gary M Says:

    Moving on to another “horse”.

    We Lutherans base our assurance of salvation in our Baptism. Upon what do Clarkian Reformed base their assurance of salvation?

  382. Ron Says:

    We Lutherans base our assurance of salvation in our Baptism.

    You base it on a photograph of your baptism? Poor procedure. True assurance comes from the Holy Spirit bearing witness with the believer’s spirit that he’s a son.

  383. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    I hate to be logical with you but how can water baptism give you assurance of heaven when it’s not a sufficient condition for heaven? In other words, not all who are baptized go to heaven, which means that water baptism cannot assure you of heaven. However, all who truly have the Spirit have life.

  384. justbybelief Says:

    “Upon what do Clarkian Reformed base their assurance of salvation?”

    The death of Christ which God ordained as the means of cleansing from sin.

    By the way, both baptism and the Lord’s supper point to this.

  385. Gary M Says:

    Ron said, “True assurance comes from the Holy Spirit bearing witness with the believer’s spirit that he’s a son.”

    How do you know that the Spirit is bearing witness inyou?

  386. Gary M Says:

    Ron said, “all who truly have the Spirit have life.”

    How do you know that you “truly” have the Spirit?

  387. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    Are you serious? Let’s start here. Does Romans 8:16 teach that one can know he is saved by the internal witness of the Spirit? I’ll assume that you will answer in the affirmative (after possibly reading that verse for the first time). Accordingly, regarding the proposition “Ron knows he has savingly believed in Jesus,” you are bound to admit that the proposition exists in the mind of God, just like 1 John 5:13 does. (I couldn’t otherwise know that the proposition existed if it did not first exist in God’s mind. If I have to explain that, then things are worse than I thought.) Now of course God knows whether the personal proposition about me is true, just like he knows whether 1 John 5:13 is true. The only question is whether God ever bears witness to such propositions as they pertain to one’s salvation. He must – because His word says people can know they’re adopted. The question you might have is whether I can prove to you I am saved, which I can’t. But that doesn’t concern me.

    Now then, you’ve claimed that baptism is your assurance of salvation. How can water assure you of salvation when water is not sufficient for salvation; after all, many who are baptized are eternally lost. God is the only one who can assure someone of salvation, Gary. Now of course God doesn’t do that apart from propositions but you’ve said that baptism (alone) assures you. So far, the only thing I can discern is that that you were baptized, but I’m not sure how you can be 100% certain of even that if you received the sacrament in infancy.

    At this juncture I call upon Sean as the owner of this Blog to insist you answer the question or else ban you from posting. How does baptism assure you of salvation if not all who are baptized are saved?</b? You see, Gary, the internal witness only accompanies salvation, which is not the case with baptism.

  388. Gary M Says:

    Ron, I still don’t understand HOW you can know that the Holy Spirit dwells in you.

    Is there an internal voice that tells you this?
    Is it a warm feeling that you have inside that tells you this?
    Are your cognitive abilities that enable you to reason and use logic telling you that you have the Holy Spirit within you?

    Unless the Holy Spirit actually appears to you or speaks to you in an audible voice, aren’t you really saying that your assurance of salvation is based on YOU and your perception that the Spirit is present?

  389. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    Exegete the verse I offered you.

    It’s really pathetic that you’re so much into a tradition you have zero understanding of Scripture and the gospel. Candles, bells and smells are going to do you very little on judgment day.

  390. Ron Says:

    Sean,

    This person is no different from the FV heretics we debate. I’ll be back when Gary is gone.

    Best wishes,

    Ron

  391. Gary M Says:

    How do I as a Lutheran assure myself that I am a child of God, I am saved, I am going to heaven?:

    1. I was baptized.

    There are witnesses to my Baptism. There are church records recording my Baptism. Baptism is NOT my act of obeying God or publically professing my faith. Baptism is GOD’S act of saving spiritually dead, completely helpless sinners and washing away their sins.

    My Baptism is OBJECTIVE proof that I am a child of God. It is not based on my “decision”, my feelings, or my intellectual/cognitive abilities.

    2. I have not sinned against the Holy Spirit by rejecting Christ, either deliberately or in deed.

    I have not denounced/rejected Christ to become a Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, atheist or agnostic.

    I have not denounced/rejected Christ by following a life of ongoing,
    willful sin.

    Rejection of Christ is OBJECTIVE. It is a deliberate act, it is not a subjective feeling.

    The Lutheran’s assurance of salvation, therefore, is based on objective evidence, not subjective feelings or intellectual abilities.

  392. justbybelief Says:

    “How do you know that the Spirit is bearing witness in you?”

    The testimony of the Spirit is the Word of God. Do YOU believe what He (God’s Spirit) says about Christ? In other words, are you in agreement with the Spirit’s words.

    “John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

    My Baptism is OBJECTIVE proof that I am a child of God.

    I suppose if you really believed this that there would be no confirmation permitting access to the Lord’s table.

  393. Gary M Says:

    Satan and his demons believe what God’s Spirit says about Christ. So does their belief save them?

  394. Gary M Says:

    Lutherans commune their children at an early age (7-8 years old). We believe that Confirmation is a good practice in that we catechize (educate) our children (usually in the early-mid teens) in the Faith, but Confirmation is not a sacrament, does not confer grace, does not forgive sins, and therefore has no relationship whatsoever to the Holy Supper.

  395. Ron Says:

    Sorry but I can’t resist… Seems like the target just moved – once again, into a new host of contradictions. It’s no longer objective baptism that assures Gary of salvation; it’s the record keeping of the church and the testimony of older friends and family members. “Intellectual / cognitive abilities” play no part in Gary’s assurance, yet it’s precisely those cognitive abilities that enable him to draw the rational inference that scrap books and church records are indeed reliable sources by which to draw rational inference. It’s not a matter of “subjective” feeling that plays a part in Gary’s assurance yet it’s indeed Gary’s subjective feelings upon which believes he has “not sinned against the Holy Spirit by rejecting Christ, either deliberately or in deed.” It’s not Gary’s personal opinion that plays apart in his assurance yet it is his personal opinion that he is not engaged in “a life of ongoing, willful sin.” Sounds like what Gary his basing his assurance on is the testimony of friends and family, church records and his opinion that he has not sinned badly enough that he can no longer consider himself a Christian. There’s nothing spiritual about the matter. Gary is reading from the Lutheran playbook.

  396. justbybelief Says:

    “Satan and his demons”

    Satan and his demons are not men. God’s Son took a human body to save men not demons.

    “Confirmation is not a sacrament, does not confer grace, does not forgive sins, and therefore has no relationship whatsoever to the Holy Supper.”

    If you teach God’s word in confirmation it is a means of grace. Do you deny that God’s word is a means of grace? Furthermore, what you’re looking for in confirmation is agreement with God’s word from those being confirmed. If you don’t get agreement with the word of God it would be obvious that the ‘confirmed’ is not a Christian.

  397. justbybelief Says:

    …that enable him to draw the rational inference that scrap books and church records are indeed reliable sources by which to draw rational inference…

    LMAO.

    Thanks, Ron. This provided the comic relief I needed today.

  398. Ron Says:

    Justbybelief,

    Didn’t you get the memo? Confessing Christ before men according to a biblical doctrine of salvation is no longer a fruit of salvation. All one has to do to vindicate his salvation to himself is not to deny Christ in any subjective, discernable way.

  399. justbybelief Says:

    “Lutherans commune their children at an early age (7-8 years old).”

    Hmmm…no instruction prior to communion? No determination of whether they can confess the faith? I find that very difficult to believe. Why not earlier if they’re Christians, already?

    Could this be one of the reasons the WELS disfellowshipped the LCMS? No need to answer, just a rhetorical question.

  400. justbybelief Says:

    “Didn’t you get the memo?…”

    No, Ron, not that one. There was one that came right down the shoot that states: “A lie repeated often enough mysteriously becomes true.”

    Like this one:

    I’m baptized, therefore I’m saved, regardless of understanding or any cogent profession.
    I’m baptized, therefore I’m saved, regardless of understanding or any cogent profession.
    I’m baptized, therefore I’m saved, regardless of understanding or any cogent profession.
    I’m baptized, therefore I’m saved, regardless of understanding or any cogent profession.

  401. Gary M Says:

    Ron,

    Baptism is a visible, historical event: it is an objective fact.
    A decision to reject Christ is an objective fact. You either did or you didn’t.

    Basing your faith on your ability to believe is not only subjective but it is work’s righteousness. Even a good Calvinist would agree with Lutherans that believers believe because God has willed us to believe, not because WE have willed to believe.

    Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. It is the Word that creates faith, not your decision, or your intellectual/cognitive abilities to KNOW that you believe. Faith is a gift, not dependent on you whatsoever.

    This is why Lutherans and all other orthodox Christians not only baptize infants but also the severely mentally disabled without asking or needing their ability to express belief. Salvation is not dependent on OUR ability to believe. Salvation is based on GOD’S ability to freely gift eternal life and the forgiveness of sins to spiritually dead, helpless-like-an-infant sinners, whether chronologically true infants or adults, by the power of his Word alone.

    The “how” of salvation is NOT your ability to believe. The “how” of salvation is not my decision to be baptized. The how of salvation is ALWAYS by the power of the Word/God’s declaration of righteousness, and according to Scripture, the principal time that God uses his Word to save sinners and forgive their sins is in the waters of Baptism.

  402. Gary M Says:

    Catechesis is always given prior to First Communion. The children must memorize the Ten Commandments and other sections of Luther’s Small Catechism. Some Lutheran churches combine First Communion and Confirmation, while others, such as mine, perform First Communion first.

    Q: I understand many congregations are changing their Communion practice to include young children, and the Missouri Synod is also in favor of communing children, so we have been informed by our pastor. Is this true?

    A: In the 1960s the Synod participated in a pan-Lutheran study of confirmation and first Communion. The recommendation of this study was that it would be appropriate to communion children at the end of the fifth grade, prior to Confirmation. In response to this study, both the Commission on Theology and Church Relations and the Board for Parish Education submitted recommendations to the 1973 convention of the Synod. These recommendations conflicted with one another, the CTCR recommending that the Synod retain its traditional practice of communing children after they are confirmed, and the BPS recommending the adoption of the inter-Lutheran study proposal. The Synod itself adopted a resolution in 1973 that basically left up to individual congregations the decision as to what practice they may want to follow.

  403. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    I’m persuaded that either you don’t have the cognizant ability or intellectual integrity to discuss this matter. For me to argue the point further would be to deny the Scriptures that teach that only God can grant understanding and truthfulness.

  404. justbybelief Says:

    “Basing your faith on your ability to believe is not only subjective but it is work’s righteousness.”

    Faith is belief. Belief is an act of the human mind. One will only believe when enabled by God. Do you deny this, or is God believing for you?

    But, the question remains, do you believe or not? If you do not believe, you are NOT a Christian no matter how much water someone doused you with.

    This is where the doctrine of the loss of salvation comes from, I suspect. Every time water is poured on someone that person is saved; If they ever publicly reject Christ, they’ve just lost their baptismal salvation.

    Instead, the Christian, as opposed to the Lutheran, would teach that that person was never saved and that ‘grace’ is not always conferred in baptism.

  405. Gary M Says:

    I’m not sure where Clarkian Reformed stand on the issue of faith but I will compare my Baptist upbringing and my current Lutheran belief on this issue.

    Arminian Baptist: Faith is my mature, informed decision to trust in God’s promise of salvation and eternal life if I will believe, repent, and turn from my sinful ways. Eternal life and forgiveness of sins are the gift God refers to in Ephesians 2:8-9.

    Orthodox Lutheran: Faith is not something I decide to have. Faith is not something I produce by my own intelligence, maturity, and decision-making capabilities. ALL of salvation is a gift…the WHOLE package: faith, belief, repentance, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life. God provides ALL the work of salvation. The sinner simply receives it. God places it into his “lap” without the sinner’s assistance, cooperation or even desire to want the gift.

    Yes, sinners MUST believe, sinners MUST have faith to be saved, but faith and belief are given by God, to those whom he has foreordained before the creation of the world to be his children, not to those who make a free-will, informed, mature decision to “have faith”.

  406. justbybelief Says:

    I’m not sure where Clarkian Reformed

    Clarkian Reformed = Presbyterian (Westminster Confession of Faith)

  407. Gary M Says:

    “Faith is belief. Belief is an act of the human mind. One will only believe when enabled by God.”

    Belief in Christ is not “enabled”. It is GIFTED.

    The verb “enable” implies cooperation, which is Synergism, which is a good work, which is unscriptural.

    God saves monergistically, not synergistically. If salvation is synergistic, whereby God enables you to “do your part” to complete the “salvation transaction”, then the severely mentally disabled should never be baptized. They will never be “enabled” to believe.

  408. justbybelief Says:

    No doubt faith is a gift. It is a gift in which YOU are enabled to believe. It did not originate with you. In fact you were hostile to all things pertaining to God. Yet God in His kindness changed your disposition monergistically. Did God not change your disposition to a certain end? Are you saying that YOU do not believe? If this is the case then you are not a Christian. Is someone believing for you? Does God command belief? Are you so afraid of being called a synergist that you’d deny that YOU believe in Christ.

  409. Gary M Says:

    We may be arguing over semantics. Let’s see:

    I am saying that God gifts sinners faith and belief. This gifting does not require any assistance or prerequisites of the sinner. For instance, God can gift faith and belief to an infant or to a severely mentally disabled person without either of those two persons having the mental capacity to use that belief to make any decisions or take any actions based on his belief.

    When God gives an adult the gift of faith/belief, by the preaching/reading of his Word, we are able to discern that true belief exists by a profession of faith and the performance of good works. We can assume a lack of faith by that persons verbal rejection of Christ or his life of ongoing sin.

    When God gifts faith and belief to an infant or mentally disabled person, they believe by the supernatural power of God, even though the child cannot currently make a verbal profession of faith, and even though the severely mentally disabled person will NEVER be able to make a public profession of faith.

    True faith is not dependent on the verifiability of its existence by others. It is dependent on the grace and promises of God alone.

  410. justbybelief Says:

    “I am saying that God gifts sinners faith and belief”

    Faith and belief are synonyms. Faith is belief. ‘Belief’ is assent to an understood proposition. One is only able to ‘do’ this when God changes the mind monergistically.

    “When God gifts faith and belief to an infant or mentally disabled person, they believe by the supernatural power of God”

    It (regeneration) is supernatural no matter WHO the recipient is. And, yet, that recipient is the one who believes. God doesn’t believe for us.

    “True faith is not dependent on the verifiability of its existence by others.”

    Amen. We are justified by faith alone. And, yet this does not relieve us of the responsibility of identifying faith in ourselves and others by testing what we/they believe from the scriptures. This cannot be done to infants or most of the mentally infirm, but it can be done with those of a sound mind. Those of a sound mind should be glad to speak as Paul says of David and himself: “We believed therefore we spoke.” In fact in my mind, it would be odd if someone did not want to speak.

    I’d say that this ‘testing’ should be going on when ‘interviewing’ potential communicants to determine if faith has been bestowed. I don’t think in the absence of faith a person should be allowed to the table.

  411. Gary M Says:

    I think we are in agreement.

    Yes, man MUST believe (and continue to believe); he is not a robot. God does NOT believe for him, but God does give the gift of faith/belief without any strings attached; without requiring that the sinner make a decision that he desires the gift.

    I just want to make sure we are both eliminating any traces of Arminianism and their previent grace in our discussion. They believe that salvation can only occur if God enables you to believe by the power of the Word, but actually believing requires the sinner to make a free will decision to believe. That is synergism/works righteousness.

    You may be under the impression that Lutherans believe in “Once Baptized, Always Saved” therefore ongoing belief/faith is not required. Absolutely not! No faith—>no salvation.

  412. justbybelief Says:

    “You may be under the impression that Lutherans believe in “Once Baptized, Always Saved”

    No. I’m under the impression that Lutherans believe that the moment a person is baptized, at that very moment, that person is saved. Subsequently, that person can reject Christ after having been saved in baptism.

    This, as opposed to the Presbyterian (English) and Reformed (Continentals)* who believe that not everyone who is baptized will at that moment be saved, if ever; however, if a person is saved at the time of baptism that person will be saved forever, they will persevere until the end only by God’s grace.

    * Those who embrace the Belgic Confession, Canons of Dordt, and Heidelberg Catechism. This is the true definition of Reformed.

  413. Gary M Says:

    I had never heard before that some persons ARE saved at the moment of Baptism in Reformed theology.

    Could you explain this?

    Why would God save some infants in their Baptism and not save other infants in their baptism? And, how would one baptized as an infant in a Reformed church know if he was saved in his Baptism or at some later, unspecified time?

  414. justbybelief Says:

    Could you explain this?

    I think I was pretty clear. If God chooses to regenerate an infant at the time of Baptism, that infant will remain a believer for the rest of his life.

    Why would God save some infants in their Baptism and not save other infants in their baptism?

    The real question is this: Why would God save anyone at all? He is certainly not obligated to save anyone. Does an infant’s youth commend him to God? If God saved only one person throughout all time, nobody could bring a legitimate charge of injustice against Him. Yet, because God is merciful, He chooses whom He will save and when He will save them and it is not ours to question why.

    If not every person who received circumcision was saved at that moment, even of believing parents, how are we to suppose that every baptized infant will be saved at that moment?

  415. Denson Dube Says:

    Gary,
    I’m not sure why you interact selectively with questions posed to you? No wonder Ron is exasperated with you and thinks you are dishonest or not serious. To you this is a game?

    (1) I pointed out to you that Jesus promised the thief on the cross, right on the throes of death, that he would be with him in Paradise, “today”. He never had the opportunity to be baptized or take the Lord’s supper.

    (2) The reformer’s (Calvin) take on baptism was that it is the New Testament equivalent of old testament circumcision. The Apostle Paul is at pains to point out that Abraham was justified or made righteous, by faith, before he was circumcised. His circumcision was a seal/sign of the righteousness of faith that he already had, so says the apostle. To make it absolutely clear that outward signs are not the reality, Paul says circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit.

    Baptism and the Lord’s supper are related in the same way to justification as circumcision. They are signs or seals of a spiritual reality that the believer already possesses by faith. Where there is no faith, there is no justification even if one goes through the motions of being baptized or taking the Lord’s supper.
    Judas Iscariot was baptized(by John??) and he was at the Lord’s supper administered by Jesus in person. Jesus had predicted that one of the disciples would betray him and the bible says because he knew “those that did not belief”.
    The bible emphasizes belief. Judas’s participation in the supper did not help him with his unbelief.

    (3)Martin Luther as a little monk was baptized, yet did not think he was saved by his baptism but justified by faith alone.
    So, it seems your Lutheranism is not Martin Luther’s and you have your cart and horses the wrong way around.

  416. justbybelief Says:

    “Judas Iscariot”

    Denson, the Lutherans in the WI synod believed that Judas was saved at one point and lost his salvation when he betrayed Jesus.
    It is the oddest teaching I’ve ever encountered. They also believe that Peter lost his salvation when he denied Jesus and regained it when he repented. Same thing in my mind–very odd.

    Eric

  417. Gary M Says:

    So if I understand you both, Presbyterians do not know an exact “when” of their salvation. Unlike Lutherans and Arminians, they do not have a specific day of conversion that they can refer to.

    Their assurance of salvation is based on their PRESENT sense of possessing faith.

    Is that correct?

  418. Gary M Says:

    And a side note…

    I don’t understand why some of you are getting so worked up over this discussion. This is an old thread. Sean has plenty of other threads for you to read. If you are reading this ongoing discussion it is because you find it interesting. Participate in the discussion or go somewhere else.

    Some of you seem to think that I must comply with your rules of debate. I believe in freedom of speech. I am not trying to force you to answer my questions, so why do you threaten me for not answering your questions as you would like.

    Relax! Debate is good for you. It will either sharpen your position or show you that you are wrong. Maybe that is what you are afraid of.

    If Sean wants to cut me off/ban me, that is certainly his prerogative. This is his blog, although I hope that like most Christian blog owners, he will allow a free and unfettered discussion as long as no one is verbally abusive or vulgar.

  419. Ron Says:

    Some points of clarification…

    1. Faith may properly be distinguished from belief (or the acts of faith). Through the exercise of the gift of faith one believes (many things). After all, doesn’t a regenerate adult have justifying faith while asleep or even if in a coma? Yet while sleeping or unconscious believing the gospel might not be present; yet justifying faith would be. Therefore, we may safely say that faith is that propensity to believe all that the Bible teaches, in particular believing Christ as he’s offered in the gospel. The seed of faith is indeed faith, yet in seed form. As one grows in grace he believes more truth by that same, one time, gift of faith. So, we need not say (as some) that regenerate infants somehow mysteriously believe the gospel, but we may say that they can have the seed of faith and, if so, will one day “exercise” that faith in believing the gospel (along with believing other gospel truth).

    This is happily consistent with the Westminster standards where it teaches that “By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the word…” (14.2.). The Confession does not teach that by this faith a Christian is enabled to have faith, for that would be unintelligible. Rather, the Confession teaches that by this faith – saving faith – God enables his elect to believe. In other words, by distinguishing faith and belief this way, the Confession teaches that God effects the grace of faith by the Spirit of Christ in the hearts of His elect, whereby those with true faith, when confronted with the propositions of Scripture whereby they are understood, exercise this faith unto “obedience to the commands…” and many other “acts” of faith such as “accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life…” (The Confession also distinguishes the evangelical grace of repentance with the acts of repentance.)

    2. God may regenerate infants at the font or even in the womb. This has always been part-and-parcel with Reformed soteriology. Moreover, God need not regenerate all or any at such time. Whenever God regenerates it is according to His divine prerogative of electing grace, which is why not all must be regenerate at the font, should some indeed be. The seed of faith that is granted in regeneration will grow and bring forth belief of biblical propositions.

    3. The gift of faith and belief in Christ are not choices; though choices can precede those gifts. We might choose to pick up our Bible to read it, but when we believe that which is written we are no sooner “choosing” to believe than when we believe that someone is standing before us. It’s a mere caricature (based at best on a gross misunderstanding) to suggest that the Reformed doctrine of faith is synergistic. It’s passive. Notwithstanding, there might be many choices that precede the gift of saving faith and the grace to believe the specific offer of the gospel of salvation, but one no sooner “chooses” Christ than Lazarus chose to come forth from the grave.

  420. Gary M Says:

    Ron,

    I definitely agree with your last paragraph. Belief is not a choice. It is a gift.

    However, I am not sure I can agree with your concept that faith is not the same as belief. Even Eric seems to disagree with you on that, if I understood him correctly.

    Hebrews 11:1

    Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

    That definition sure sounds like belief to me.

    Is there anywhere in Scripture that says that anyone is given just a seed of faith, but not enough faith to outright save them? I believe that Scripture teaches that one either has faith or they don’t. And if one has faith, they have it because God gifted it to them, not because they were given a seed and nurtured it to the point of meriting salvation, or they made a free will choice to have faith as say the Arminians.

  421. Gary M Says:

    Ron said,

    “Therefore, we may safely say that faith is that propensity to believe all that the Bible teaches, in particular believing Christ as he’s offered in the gospel.”

    Your choice of the word “propensity” troubles me.

    pro·pen·si·ty
    noun \prə-ˈpen(t)-sə-tē\

    : a strong natural tendency to do something

    Is this statement Scriptural: We may safely say that faith is a strong natural tendency to believe all that the Bible teaches.”??

    Does God gift to us a “tendency to believe” or does God gift to us belief? I believe it is the later. The first statement suggests synergism.

  422. Ron Says:

    Regeneration unites one to Christ. Accordingly, if one who is incapable of understanding the gospel can be regenerate then either (a) he can be united and risen with Christ apart from being pardoned (justified) through the instrumentality of faith (a monstrosity indeed), or else (b) he can have justifying faith prior to understanding and believing gospel propositions. Your solution is (c) that an infant can mysteriously understand and believe gospel propositions. My position is (b). Neither affirms (a). (Now please, do us all a favor and try to understand everything written before responding. Please begin with internalizing what you just read above before reading what’s below.)

    Now walk with me…

    We all allow for pardon (justification, or “saved” as you put it) of infants and those “incapable of being called,” i.e. elect, mentally handicapped persons. The only question is whether such as those who are pardoned have justifying faith. To affirm justifying faith in such as these, which we both do, leads to two possibilities: Either (i) belief in propositions can be rightly distinguished from the gift of faith, or else (ii) infants and the severely mentally handicapped can comprehend the gospel, hence believe. I don’t think we need to presuppose anything as silly as that for such a theology and tagging of words undermines the very meaning of “incapable of being called” and what it means to be an infant. It’s called equivocation. That should give you reason to pause, but fear not, we do believe that infants can be justified through the gift of faith.

    The simple “solution” is that justifying faith can be distinguished from belief and be present in those incapable of gospel comprehension. Again, a man in a coma or in a deep sleep might not believe anything during that season of providence, but he wouldn’t lose the implanted gift of justifying faith. In the like manner, an infant can be justified (saved as you put it) without our having to say that infants can grasp the gospel. Indeed, the infant would be “saved by faith” and would grow to believe according to that faith given to him, but understand the gospel?!

    Now to your single lament:

    Because we most often find faith and belief happening simultaneously it shouldn’t surprise us that they are interchangeably employed (especially when Scripture is dealing with adults in possession of their faculties (!) e.g. Hebrews 11, but let’s not pretend we don’t need systematic theology to parse out these things. For instance, after all, we do distinguish regeneration from the implantation of faith even though those two works of God are never granted without the other. So, in the like manner, we do well to distinguish justifying faith and the exercise of that faith in believing certain things, especially in a theological discussion having to do with the pardon of infants and the doctrine of sola fide! There is a place for systematic theology after all lest we are consigned to embrace all sorts of silly things, like those with a zero IQ comprehending the gospel. I’m not so afraid of fine distinctions that I have to go to that extreme of equivocation.

    Lastly, I have no problem with a Reformed person saying that infants who are justified are pardoned through union with Christ apart from faith – if they wish to equate faith with belief. However, I do have a problem with those who would say that one can be regenerate in infancy yet not justified (because there is no belief in the infant), which I realize is not your position. That position divides the gifts of effectual calling in a way in which I’m not comfortable.

    PLEASE, rather than fire off another response, why not take time to internalize all this first and first appreciate the points of agreement. Most of your responses have indicated less than a fragile understanding of the Reformed faith so please, take your time and do try to be precise. 🙂

  423. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    I just read your most recent post, which only announces Denson’s observation “To you this is a game…”

  424. Gary M Says:

    If you consider discussing Scripture and doctrine a game, so be it. I am involved in this discussion with you for several reasons:

    1. Having my Lutheran positions challenged by non-Lutheran Christians will either refine my position or prove me wrong. Either way…it is to my benefit.

    2. I think it is important for Trinitarian Christians to be familiar with the beliefs of other Trinitarian denominations so as to avoid mischaracterizations and misunderstandings.

    3. If Lutheranism is correct, which at this point I still believe it is, I hope to convert you.

  425. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    Let me put some cookies on the table for you so you don’t have to deal with too much Reformed theology. When you were baptized and allegedly justified by your supposed belief that accompanied your baptism, which doctrines did you believe? If you don’t remember, that’s fine. Just tell me what doctrines you think you believed. Secondly, which doctrines have you since time believed? Finally, when you were granted belief in those new doctrines, were you also granted a new faith?

  426. Gary M Says:

    Ron,

    I just went onto your blog to see your profile to see if you are clergy or a layman. I could not find your profile but as you refer to yourself as an “apologist” I assume that you have some formal theological training.

    I have zero theological training. I am a layman sharing the Gospel with anyone who will listen. Last time I checked Matthew chapter 28 Christ does not require that I have formal training to share the Word. If you consider me ignorant and stupid, that is certainly your prerogative. I will consider your suggested “instructions” on how to converse with you, but I’m not going to promise that I will obey you to the “T”.

    By the way, I notice your blog is on Blogger. I and a lot of other bloggers are having difficulty accessing our Dashboards. (Maybe it is just happening to the Lutheran bloggers as an act of God 🙂 ) Are you having the same problem?

  427. Ron Says:

    No prob with my dashboard. My only problem in that general area is writing comments on WordPress through I-Explorer. Firefox is working better for me of late. When using Explorer, WordPress inserts my signature in the reply-box making it impossible to read what typing.

  428. Ron Says:

    If you consider me ignorant and stupid, that is certainly your prerogative.

    Gary,

    Obviously I can’t know whether you are those things in the literal sense. What I may assuredly say is that you have repeatedly not addressed arguments. You have misrepresented the position of others. You have argued by way of false dichotomy and committed other informal fallacies. So, if you think yourself to be both honest and careful in your dealings here, then I must conclude that the problem lies with ability. Having said that, my suspicion lies elsewhere; I suspect that there are a couple things in play. I don’t think you are taking the time to understand the opposing positions, let alone terribly concerned with arguing with the utmost integrity. I do suspect you are by nature more capable than you’ve demonstrated but that something is keeping you from discussing these matters with integrity.

  429. Gary M Says:

    Thank you for the information on the issues with Blogger. I cannot access my Dashboard at all (many other bloggers are complaining to Google over the same issue, beginning yesterday). God must have blessed the Presbyterians on this one! 🙂

    As for my sincerity. I will admit that at times I am so eager to present my views that I fail to LISTEN. This is true online and in person. I pledge to try and do better. However, you are far more advanced in discussing and debating theology than I (even though your are wrong 🙂 ). For instance you asked me to debate using “premises”. I know that is how formal debating works but I am ignorant of it and frankly not interested in discussing the Gospel in such a manner.

    I will pledge to try and listen to what my Reformed brothers are saying on this blog. I sincerely do want to understand your views…but I am still eager to convert you. My theological debating skills are most likely far inferior to yours, Ron, so you may want to consider ignoring me instead of wasting your time and creating frustration for yourself.

    If you would like to continue to try and convert me/convince me that you are right and I am wrong (which I am always open to…I seek the truth…I am not married to Lutheranism), I would suggest a more lenient approach to a conversation with your inferior.

  430. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    Although I appreciate your posture in that last post, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you toward James 3:1. “Brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

    If you are not able to defend and refute, which presupposes understanding beyond that which you’ve demonstrated, then you might want to rethink preaching as you do, let alone refrain from your expressed desire to proselytize. As someone else pointed out earlier in the thread, you are trying to “indoctrinate” others. The apostle Paul under inspiration held the Judaizers to a different standard than those who were being bewitched. Take sober heed, Gary, regarding that stricter judgment. Fair enough?

  431. Gary M Says:

    Sorry, Ron, I’m willing to admit that you are more skilled in debate and theological principles, but I still believe that you are following Lord Reason and not Lord Jesus Christ alone, therefore it is my duty as a Christian, however unskilled in my techniques of debate, to point out your error.

    You Reformed may believe that I am attempting to “indoctrinate” you, Lutherans would consider that I am sharing with you the true Gospel of Jesus Christ in order for you to recognize your error (and sin), and to repent of your arrogance in depending on your intelligence and debating skills to interpret Holy Scripture rather than childlike faith in the simple words of God.

    I will take the simple words of Christ uttered by a child over that of a puffed-up, highly intelligent, highly educated, reason and logic driven Calvinist…any day of the week!

  432. Ron Says:

    So, which doctrines as an infant do you think you understood and believed when justified through the waters of baptism?

  433. Gary M Says:

    Ron,

    Your definition of belief in Christ is based on reason and logic. It is the same type of belief as when one chooses to believe that 12 divided by four is three.

    Lutherans believe that belief in God ONLY occurs by a supernatural act of God, whether in an infant or an adult, because both are spiritually dead, according to the second chapters of Ephesians and Colossians. God doesn’t grant infants the ability to solve mathematical problems when he gifts them faith and belief in the waters of Baptism, he grants them belief in Christ.

    Impossible you say?

    Why then did John the Baptist leap inside his mother’s womb? Did he fully comprehend that the mother of the Messiah had just entered the room as would a mature older child or adult, or was his belief/acknowledgement/comprehension that the Mother of Christ was in his and his mother’s presence a supernatural act of God?

  434. Tim Harris Says:

    Let me interject an observation here for Gary to correct if wrong. Whatever the answer to Ron’s question at 5:03 is (and I’m eager to read it), it seems to me we can say that even when Lutherans speak of being “saved by baptism,” salvation is not something apart from faith. It is a causal, not instrumental relation, i.e.
    baptism –> faith –> justification
    whereas the Reformed say
    regeneration (with or apart from baptism) –> faith –> justification

    So both camps link faith and justification inseparably.

    If this is so, it seems like it is a mistake to identify the FV with Lutheranism (which after all is the subject of the OP and of Gary’s initial interest in this string). For, the FV links baptism to union with Christ EVEN WITHOUT the presence of faith. So that could only be identified as Lutheran if Lutheranism believes you can have union with Christ without faith/justification — which again, their view of baptism does not entail — unless I am wrong, Gary?

  435. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    Once you become brave enough to try to answer the question you might realize that in infancy one can’t believe the gospel, yet can have the seed of faith. As for John leaping in his mother’s womb, why must such a spiritual response denote cognizant belief? Was the raising of Lazarus predicated upon his belief, or will the resurrection of the dead at the end of history be a matter of belief? Strange things happen when people are called or enter into the presence of God. Why couldn’t John have leaped without comprehending and believing?

  436. Gary M Says:

    Tim,

    Very good observation. I am now of the opinion that the FV are more similar to Roman Catholics on the doctrine of Baptism than they are to Lutherans.

    Lutherans believe and teach that we are saved by grace alone, received through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, by the power of the Word alone, through the means of grace alone. (The means of grace are preaching/reading of the Word and Baptism). However many Protestants misunderstand Luther’s and Lutherans’ use of the term “faith”. “Faith” is NOT a product of our intellectual creation or decision making abilities. Faith is a GIFT. Faith is not our action toward God, it is simple receptivity, and even this receptivity is given by God.

    Here is the Lutheran definition of faith:

    Faith is a gift of God, that is, it is worked in a sinner by God alone through the means of grace, without any cooperation, effort, work, inclination, will, decision, movement, activity, or merit of man. (John 6:44, 65; 1 Cor. 12:3; Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 2:25)

    When we say that faith justifies, we say this not in the sense that a sinner’s faith is a meritorious or efficient cause or condition of his justification, or in the sense that God justifies the sinner because of his faith, but metonymically (figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated, as in the use of Washington for the United States government or of the sword for military power) in the sense that faith clings to Christ’s benefits, in the sense that God justifies us freely for Christ’s sake through faith. Faith justifies by virtue of its object. (John 3:16; Rom. 4:5)

    The faith through which we are justified is trust in Christ and is knowing His benefits and appropriating them (Phil. 3:8-10)

    When used in connection with the article of justification faith must always be regarded as receptivity… like an empty hand which does nothing but solely receives a free gift. (John 1:12, 14; Rom 4:16)

  437. Ron Says:

    Tim,

    Too many premises in your post, so it won’t be addressed. Gary wears as a badge of righteousness a claymation Davey and Goliath theology. He does this out of convenience, not because he’s innately incapable of thinking through these things. That’s why I don’t mind saying it.

  438. Gary M Says:

    Here is an LCMS statement on how an infant can have faith.

    Ron, I know you won’t like this answer because it does not explain this supernatural act of God in logical, reason-based terms, but it is what we (ignorant, silly) Lutherans believe nonetheless.

    Q: How does faith play a role in infant Baptism? Is faith later taken care of when the child is confirmed?

    A: Lutherans believe that the Bible teaches that a person is saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ. Baptism, we believe, is one of the miraculous means of grace (together with God’s written and spoken Word) through which God creates the gift of faith in a person’s heart. Although we do not claim to understand how this happens or how it is possible, we believe (because of what the Bible says about Baptism) that when an infant is baptized God creates faith in the heart of that infant. This faith cannot yet, of course, be expressed or articulated, yet it is real and present all the same (see, e.g., 1 Pet 3:21; Acts 2:38-39; Titus 3:5-6; Matt. 18:6; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim.3:15; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12:13).

    Parents and sponsors of a baptized child bear the responsibility of teaching this child God’s Word so that the child’s faith may remain alive and grow (Matt. 28:18-20). Confirmation is a time-honored church tradition (not required by God’s Word, but-we believe-useful nonetheless) in which the child baptized as an infant is given the opportunity to confess for himself or herself the faith that he or she was unable to confess as an infant. Faith is not “created” at confirmation, but rather confessed for all to hear, so that the church can join and rejoice in this public confession, which has its roots in the faith which God Himself created in Baptism.

  439. Ron Says:

    The Word is reduced to a RC priest baptizing a crowd with a fire hose. The former creates union magically and the latter creates belief in propositions without compression, just as magically. Oh, excuse me – “mysteriously.” That makes it Christian.

  440. Gary M Says:

    Ron said,

    ‘Once you become brave enough to try to answer the question you might realize that in infancy one can’t believe the gospel, yet can have the seed of faith.”

    Can an infant believe/comprehend the doctrine of Justification, Sanctification, Original Sin, Baptismal Regeneration, etc….NO.

    Can an infant believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? ABSOLUTELY!

  441. Ron Says:

    The Word is reduced to a RC priest baptizing a crowd with a fire hose. The *latter* creates union magically and the *former* creates belief in propositions without compression, just as magically. Oh, excuse me – “mysteriously.” That makes it Christian.

  442. justbybelief Says:

    As for John leaping in his mother’s womb, why must such a spiritual response denote cognizant belief?

    Consider:

    For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

    For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

    Babies leap in the womb all the time how did Elizabeth know that it was joy over, basically, the incarnation?

    And why shouldn’t the response denote cognizance?
    The babe leaped for joy? The babe experienced joy? Joy in what? This lad surely wasn’t an automaton, was he? Is the soul of a man merely the developing brain, or is it distinct? Maybe the soul of man can comprehend more than we think.

  443. Ron Says:

    Does the infant need to be reminded of this belief he has? In other words, if the infant was kidnapped and placed in a pagan land would he still believe in Jesus when older? Could he tell others of this revelation of Jesus?

  444. justbybelief Says:

    In the Old Testament God’s Spirit comes upon men giving them abilities greater than what they would normally have both physically and mentally. In these encounters these men retain there humanity and are not mere automatons. If God’s Spirit can give a man ability beyond that of ‘normal’ men, is it beyond the Spirit’s ability to give a baby understanding beyond his years? If God can create the world out of nothing by speaking it into existence is a baby’s believing really that far fetched?

  445. Gary M Says:

    Ron is correct, in that faith must be nourished or it can die. This is why parents are told to “train up a child in the way he should go…”.

    For your hypothetical example, let me answer by saying this:

    Yes, this baptized infant, instilled with the gift of faith and belief in God in his Baptism, my be adopted into a non-Christian family, raised without Christian teaching, and grow up a nonbeliever, die and perish in hell.

    OR…the faith that we on the outside see as dead, may still be present, and at some time later in his life, he hears or reads the Word of God, and that tiny faith mushrooms into an unshakable faith in his Savior.

    All this is in God’s hands. It is not our responsibility to figure out who does and who does not possess faith, it is our job to preach the Gospel…the harvest is the Lord’s.

  446. Ron Says:

    Eric,

    Babies can experience all sorts of things. Experiencing joy is one thing but believing that Jesus is my only hope is quite another. I think that conclusion exceeds the scope of the single premise. Lastly, seems to me you’re arguing from silence without taking on the burden of proof. If what you say is true, then baptized babies who are regenerate should be able to preach Christ’s gospel in later years without further instruction.

  447. Gary M Says:

    Be careful, Eric. You are starting to sound Lutheran, brother. 🙂

  448. justbybelief Says:

    Does the infant need to be reminded of this belief he has? In other words, if the infant was kidnapped and placed in a pagan land would he still believe in Jesus when older? Could he tell others of this revelation of Jesus?

    I suppose if an ass can objected to being beaten, with the voice of a man, anything is possible. 🙂

  449. justbybelief Says:

    Sorry, Ron, I didn’t mean to dismiss your question. My wife tells me I shouldn’t say the first thing that comes to my mind. I’ll think over your question and get back to you on that.

  450. Ron Says:

    Eric,

    As I said to Gary earlier, I don’t have to get into such contortions. The seed of faith is exercised later by believing.

  451. Ron Says:

    Need to board a plane now. Maybe I’ll be able to make more sense of this at higher altitudes (with a Scotch).

  452. Ron Says:

    No hurry, brother. Your wife is wise. I’d do well to heed her advice. 🙂 Email me if you like: rondig1… comcast… net

  453. theoldadam Says:

    This is very good on how infants CAN have faith:

    [audio src="http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/faith.mp3" /]

    It’s not all that long…the middle part on deals with Baptism and specifically, infant Baptism.

  454. Ron Says:

    If God’s Spirit can give a man ability beyond that of ‘normal’ men, is it beyond the Spirit’s ability to give a baby understanding beyond his years?

    Delay in flight… SO, Eric,

    Whether God can do x is not an argument for whether God ever does do x, let alone whether he has revealed that we should believe he ever does x.

  455. Ron Says:

    Oldadam, without reading your link, the question is whether the seed of faith must entail understanding and believing gospel propositions. No one has challenged that infants can have faith.

  456. theoldadam Says:

    “…the question is whether the seed of faith must entail understanding and believing gospel propositions.”

    Of course not.

    What does an infant know? Nothing!

    God gives the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins in Baptism (Acts 2:38).

    It’s not dependent on us and what we know…it’s a gift. Age is no barrier to the will of God. John the Baptist was doing backflips in the womb at the mere closeness of Jesus (also in the womb)…for cry in’ out loud! 😀

    Thanks.

  457. Ron Says:

    Of course not.

    We agree.

    Maybe you might converse with Gary, seeing that you both agree on <ex opere operato but disagree on belief in infants.

  458. theoldadam Says:

    Gary doesn’t believe that infants can have faith? Really? He’s a Lutheran, as am I. We believe that infants can have faith…but we don’t believe it is magic. We believe it is a gift of God and God will give it (save) whom He will save. I think it says something like that in the Bible.

  459. Gary M Says:

    “Maybe you might converse with Gary, seeing that you both agree on <ex opere operato but disagree on belief in infants."

    Ron, you are not making sense.

    I very clearly said that infants can have faith and can believe…in Christ…even though they cannot comprehend detailed theological concepts.

    Belief in Christ and faith in Christ are the very same thing!

    Are you saying that we must believe all the correct doctrine in order to be saved? Are you saying that an infant who has been given a seed of faith is not saved, is not regenerated, until he grows up and passes catechism class??

    I hope you do not believe that because that is merit, that is work's righteousness, that is Synergism.

  460. theoldadam Says:

    Even the devil ‘believes’.

    Faith is something altogether different than intellectual assent.

    “Faith is a gift of God”

    “Who were born not of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

    Which part is difficult to understand?

  461. Ron Says:

    Neither of you are reading and comprehending. Oldman, Gary thinks babies understand and believe gospel propositions. Gary, Oldman seems to believe that babies can have faith prior to understanding.

  462. Ron Says:

    “…the question is whether the seed of faith must entail understanding and believing gospel propositions.”

    Of course not.

    What does an infant know? Nothing!

    That is from Oldman. Gary disagrees. Gary thinks an infant believes gospel propositions. You Lutherans fight it out.

  463. Gary M Says:

    Yes!!!!! Oldman and I believe that babies CAN have faith and believe prior to understanding!

    No!!!!! I never said that babies understand and believe Gospel propositions…I said that they believe…IN CHRIST!

    Is that really so complicated for you to understand, Ron, or are you being unreasonable as you have accused me?

  464. theoldadam Says:

    Ron,

    “Oldman, Gary thinks babies understand and believe gospel propositions.”

    Wrong…neither of us said that. We said just the opposite.

    “Gary, Oldman seems to believe that babies can have faith prior to understanding.”

    Yes…we both believe that.

    There is nothing for us Lutherans to fight about. We understand the free gift of the gospel for the ungodly. For those who are dead in their sins and trespasses…including babies.

    Goodnight.

  465. Gary M Says:

    Copied:

    Those who reject infant baptism do so with the understanding that one must have faith before being baptized. They argue that infants cannot have faith therefore they should not be baptized. However infants are not baptized because they believe; infants are baptized because of Christ’s clear Word! Infants are included in “all nations.” They are baptized because of God’s grace not because of their faith. As Luther writes in the Large Catechism, “…my faith does not make baptism, but receives it.”

    Some will remark, “Pastor, are you saying the cute little bundle is a sinner needing forgiveness?” Yes. David writes, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psa. 51:5). St. Paul writes, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Infants are in need of salvation like everyone else. Out of God’s grace and love in Christ, He provides it for them in Holy Baptism.

    But can an infant receive the benefits of Holy Baptism through faith? Yes! Faith is not intellectual assent. One does not “figure it out.” Faith is a gift of God wrought by the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul writes, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Can an infant have faith? Yes! If the Holy Spirit can bring a stubborn adult to faith then why would we limit the Holy Spirit’s work in an infant’s heart? It is as much a work of God that an adult has faith as an infant.

    The picture we see in infant baptism is a wonderful picture of God’s grace. We see a helpless child unable to feed, change, or do anything for himself. This helpless child is brought to the font with nothing to offer to God and God reaches out to the sinful child through the blessed waters of Holy Baptism, applying the merits of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and claiming the child as His own. We do not come before God in Holy Baptism because we have something to offer Him; we come before God because He has everything to offer us—forgiveness, life, and salvation for the sake of Christ. Through faith we receive these wonderful gifts from God in Holy Baptism—no matter our age!

  466. Ron Says:

    What?! Describe to me a non-propositional belief. Believe what, Gary? What is belief without understanding? What is understood so it can be believed? Is the gospel “Christ” without any meaning of Christ, let alone his work? Whatever you think is sufficient to believe, wouldn’t it have to be propositional?

  467. Gary M Says:

    Ron,

    You obviously do not believe in Monergism.

    You believe that belief (assent) must occur PRIOR to salvation. This is blatantly false, unscriptural, and I am shocked that a Calvinist would make such an Arminian assertion.

    Salvation occurs first, by God’s unmerited favor, gifting faith and belief to spiritually dead sinners, regardless of their age, IQ, or theological understandings…they then believe.

    You are preaching works righteous: “A sinner earns merit with God if he is capable of understanding all the correct positions on Christian doctrine, and based on his proper beliefs, God then saves him.”

    That is not scriptural, that is not even Calvinist.

  468. justbybelief Says:

    Ron,

    Did you get past the TSA ‘untouched?’ And, was the scotch good? It is a shame that one cannot have a good stogie on a plane anymore.

    Anyway…

    You Lutherans fight it out.

    LMAO…again.

    The seed of faith is exercised later by believing.

    Is the ‘seed of faith’ you speak of equivalent to regeneration?

    Babies can experience all sorts of things. Experiencing joy is one thing…

    Aren’t emotions responses to intellectual stimuli–propositions? In John’s response–joy–we are told that it corresponded to the announcement of Mary, who at the time was carrying Jesus. Though, I’m not sure if we have the full content of this salutation.

    Whether God can do x is not an argument for whether God ever does do x, let alone whether he has revealed that we should believe he ever does x.

    Again, aren’t emotions, in this case joy, responses to understood intellectual stimuli. We are told in the Word that his joy was because of something heard; it wasn’t simply an experience.

    So, if John understood the salutation, as a baby, it would speak to not only God’s doing x but also God’s revealing that He does x.

    As for the hypothetical example above I would not say with Gary that the elect, and we consider anyone who has been regenerated elect, could ever loose the salvation God has graciously given, but that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it…”

    In other words, your example is only hypothetical. If God has saved a person in infancy, and I think we both believe that He does, though not as the Lutherans believe, in every case upon baptism, then doesn’t God in His sovereignty through second causes bring about the circumstance in which this ‘faith’ bestowed will not ‘fail?’ Has He not promised this?

    Could he tell others of this revelation of Jesus?

    I’ll have to think on this one a little more. That said, and I know this is not revelation, but I remember a friend reading of some experiences the puritans had with very young children who were able, to the astonishment of their parents, articulate certain necessary aspects of the faith. Maybe, and I’m reaching into the cobwebs here, it was in one of Dr. Don Kistler’s publications on the puritans.

    I’m not trying to create doctrine out of whole cloth in this, simply trying to have consistent thinking. Please point out the holes.

    Eric

  469. theoldadam Says:

    This one is related and should not be missed. I’ve heard a thousand sermons (probably in that range)…and this may be the best I have ever heard:

    [audio src="http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/i-believe-that-i-cannot-believe.mp3" /]

    Good stuff and worth at least 6 minutes or more.

  470. Ron Says:

    Gary states:

    You obviously do not believe in Monergism.

    You believe that belief (assent) must occur PRIOR to salvation.

    No, Gary. I’ve repeatedly said that infants aren’t able to assent to gospel propositions yet they can be justified by faith. That means that salvation can and does occur prior to belief with infants. Regarding adult conversion there is no temporal sequence, only logical sequence. When an adult is granted faith, he believes but as I also said, belief is not a choice any more than Lazarus coming forth from the grave was his choosing. In any case, you’ve shown once again that you’ve misread the posts. You don’t seem to tire of such unbecoming behavior. But that’s not surprising given that you “admit that at times [you are] so eager to present [your] views that [you] fail to LISTEN. This is true online and in person.”
    So, again… “Describe to me a non-propositional belief… And explain how to “believe in Jesus” even minimally does not entail propositional belief in a gospel tenet.

  471. Ron Says:

    Try this instead:

    Gary states:

    You obviously do not believe in Monergism.

    You believe that belief (assent) must occur PRIOR to salvation.

    No, Gary. I’ve repeatedly said that infants aren’t able to assent to gospel propositions yet they can be justified by faith. That means that salvation can and does occur prior to belief with infants. Regarding adult conversion there is no temporal sequence, only logical sequence. When an adult is granted faith, he believes but as I also said, belief is not a choice any more than Lazarus coming forth from the grave was his choosing. In any case, you’ve shown once again that you’ve misread the posts. You don’t seem to tire of such unbecoming behavior. But that’s not surprising given that you “admit that at times [you are] so eager to present [your] views that [you] fail to LISTEN. This is true online and in person.”
    So, again… “Describe to me a non-propositional belief… And explain how to “believe in Jesus” even minimally does not entail propositional belief in a gospel tenet.

  472. Ron Says:

    Eric,

    TSA is no sweat because I’m preapproved. The scotch was good, but the plain was icy cold. They had a problem with the heat. I like a cigar now and again; was given some for Christmas. 🙂

    To your questions, regeneration is not the seed of faith. Regeneration is God taking up residence in man, which effects the recreation in man along with the gift of faith. That faith, as I wrote elsewhere, doesn’t result in the immediate belief in all there is to believe. When one is first converted he doesn’t believe all he will ever believe; yet the justifying faith is never any greater than it was on day one. Again, when one sleeps he does not actively believe in Christ but that justifying faith remains with him. When one grows in his beliefs (and knowledge) of the Lord he doesn’t get more justifying faith. Faith and belief must be distinguished, as the Confession notes. By this faith, one believes…

    Indeed, John in the womb believed things. What might surprise some who are leaping to unfounded conclusions is I do affirm that babies believe things, even know things, but what is believed is revealed to an infant in nature, like God exists and that something else exists other than the infant. Reaching and sucking presupposes belief for Peter’s sake. That’s basic to Romans 1. The reason I call this espousing of Lutheranism “magical” is because what is being asserted regarding what babies believe is not what is revealed to all people in conscience, through creation and providence, but rather that which is revealed only in Scripture, special revelation. Get this. What makes this “Lutheran” doctrine “magical” and superstitious is that the infant somehow is able to apprehend what is communicated through special revelation without the means to apprehend such revelation in any intelligible way, unlike what can be received in conscience, even faintly, through general revelation. The gospel is not revealed in nature and the gospel must be understood in order to be believed. What is magical is that babies are alleged to believe at least some gospel proposition that must be revealed through human agency i.e. the spoken or written word. Sorry for them, but God ordained the foolishness of preaching and remember, how can they hear without a preacher? So, either they are saying that infants understand the preaching or else they must be saying that the preaching magically gets through to the infant while being unintelligible. The infant at the font can hear the gospel in any language I suppose, or must it hear believe it in the language of his parents, which he doesn’t understand any better than Swahili. What’s interesting is that the infant will not remember what it is alleged to have believed in infancy. Why is that? Why should we believe if the infant believes in infancy something about Jesus but won’t have that same belief later without being told about Jesus? This is so far from Romans 10 it’s hard to believe that any Trinitarian would say such things. To add insult to injury, they think that one can believe x about Jesus without believing the proposition x.

    Indeed, if God regenerates an infant the faith will not fail. What I’m saying is if God regenerates an infant, the infant will eventually exercise that faith he received in infancy unto believing in Christ for the first time upon understanding something of the gospel. What Gary has said is that the baby believes in Christ in infancy, which is not true for reasons cited. The gospel includes propositions that must be understood and believed, which is not like the primal believe that God exists, which is revealed to all men in nature. The gospel is hidden in special revelation and not revealed in conscience etc. Again, how can they hear without a preacher? Does the infant hear and understand the preacher? What’s worse, Gary would have us believe that what the baby believes about Jesus defies proposition!

    Couple of amusing thing in summary of the Lutheran confusion…

    1. When “theoldman” says “babies don’t know anything” what he is communicating is that whatever babies believe is either wrong, unjustified or both wrong and unjustified. The reason being, knowledge requires both true belief and justification; so if babies don’t know anything, as he says, then at least one of those components is not present in their belief in Jesus. They either are wrong about Jesus or else their belief is unjustified. Go figure.

    2. When Gary communicates that babies “believe in Christ” he is presupposing at least some minimal proposition so that belief might obtain, simply because belief presupposes a proposition (or set of propositions) to be believed. Believe what, after all?

    Let’s take this off line if you want to continue.

  473. Gary M Says:

    Dear readers of this Reformed blog:

    Ron’s mind numbing, convoluted diatribe is a CLASSIC example of how the Reformed feel it necessary to pick apart every mystery of God with their arrogant human reason and logic to force God to be comprehensible to their feeble minds.

    In Reformed theology, there is no need for child-like faith…all one needs is a little study of the Westminster Confessions and a course in Logic.

    How many times does the Bible state that sinful men see the simplicity of the Gospel as foolishness, yet the Reformed want to force it to all make sense.

    “Thinking themselves wise, they became fools…”

  474. Gary M Says:

    “No, Gary. I’ve repeatedly said that infants aren’t able to assent to gospel propositions yet they can be justified by faith. That means that salvation can and does occur prior to belief with infants.”

    Now Ron is trying to tell us that non-believers can be justified; that God regenerates non-believers.

    Please provide one passage of Holy Scripture that support this heresy.

  475. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    To your credit you acknowledged that you fail to listen and that you have this problem in your personal life. For that I am truly sorry, but I don’t fault you for it. You said that you are ignorant about what a theological premise is, yet you’ve launched premises throughout this thread. That’s either a display of hypocrisy or lunacy. You called the use of premises “formal debating” which is simply false. You said you don’t want to argue for the gospel by using premises, which of course is impossible – even in informal exchanges. You even went so far to attribute your disadvantage to my debating skills as opposed to just acknowledging that you are not familiar with the subject matter and refuse to listen, let alone move forward with rational interchange. You prefer to blurt out a few things yet when asked for a defense of your position you then hide behind the self-righteous claim of a child-like faith as you denounce as sinful and foolish any attempt to reconcile what you have espoused. In a word, you want to assert whatever you like, but you’re not the least bit interested in defending it. It was said of you that you behave as if this is all a game. I think that person was correct.

    I’ll leave you with your words…

    I will admit that at times I am so eager to present my views that I fail to LISTEN. This is true online and in person. I pledge to try and do better…For instance you asked me to debate using “premises”. I know that is how formal debating works but I am ignorant of it and frankly not interested in discussing the Gospel in such a manner. However, you are far more advanced in discussing and debating theology than I….My theological debating skills are most likely far inferior to yours, Ron, so you may want to consider ignoring me instead of wasting your time and creating frustration for yourself.

  476. Gary M Says:

    “Thinking themselves wise, they became fools…”

  477. justbybelief Says:

    How many times does the Bible state that sinful men see the simplicity of the Gospel as foolishness, yet the Reformed want to force it to all make sense.

    Yes, the gospel is foolish to the natural mind; however, that does not make it unintelligable. The natural man calls the gospel foolish not because he doesn’t understand it but BECAUSE HE DOES. And, in understanding he rejects it, or doesn’t believe it, if you prefer.

    Just because something is simple does not mean that it is senseless. Is this what you are asserting, Gary?

  478. Gary M Says:

    IV – Infants Can Believe

    The most frequent objection to infant baptism is that babies cannot believe. They do not, says the objection, have the intellect necessary to repent and believe in Jesus.

    If this is your opinion, Jesus disagrees with you. Luke 18 tells us that certain parents were bringing infants (Greek – brephe) to Jesus, that He might bless them. The disciples rebuked those who brought the babies. Jesus’ response is well known: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Luke 18:15-17). Some have objected that it is “little children” and not infants that Jesus speaks of here. Yet the very little children that the disciples were forbidding were infants. The infants are the focus of the passage. Clearly on this occasion Jesus had babies in mind when He said what He did!

    Does this passage speak of infant baptism? No, not directly. It does show that Jesus did not raise the objection that so many do today about babies not being able to believe. According to Jesus, these babies had what it took to be members of the kingdom of God, feeble intellect and all! “Do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”

    Now Jesus does not contradict Himself. The central message of His ministry (the Gospel) was that there was only way to enter God’s kingdom. There was only one way to be saved. “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). Repeatedly Christ taught that faith in Him was the one way to become a member of God’s kingdom (cf. John 3:16-18). Therefore, when He says about babies, “for of such is the kingdom of God,” He is telling us that babies can believe (for how else could they enter the kingdom?!).

    So if Jesus maintained that babies can believe (though their faith is very simple), who are we to deny it? And who are we to deny baptism to those who can believe? For those still stumbling over infant faith, remember: it is purely by God’s grace that any person, adult or child, can believe. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit as much for the adult as for the child (see John 6:44; 1 Cor. 12:3; Eph. 2:1-4). When the adult believes in Christ it is only because the Holy Spirit, working through the Gospel, has worked the miracle of faith in his heart. So with the infant. If faith, then, is always a miracle, why can we not believe that God would work such miraculous faith in a baby?

    Someone might ask, “If babies can believe then why do they need baptism?” Answer: it is through baptism that faith is created in the infant’s heart. Baptism, far from being the empty symbolism that many imagine it to be, is the visible Gospel, a powerful means of grace. According to Scripture, baptism “washes away sin” (Acts 22:16), “saves” (1 Peter 3:21; Mark 16:16), causes one to “die to sin, to be buried, and raised up with Christ” (Romans 6:3-4) causes one to be “clothed with Christ” (Galatians 3:27), and to be a member of the body of Christ: “for by one Spirit, were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). It bears repeating: baptism is a special means of God’s grace by which He gives faith, forgiveness, and salvation to the infant.

  479. Gary M Says:

    As I mentioned above, my current Lutheran pastor was formerly a Presbyterian minister, trained in Reformed theology, in which he received a doctor of theology degree.

    One day a Lutheran friend pointed out to him that in the Westminster Confessions, the Reformed teach that infants who are the Elect are born saved; they are born regenerated.

    This heresy, the result of logic and reason dissecting to the inth degree God’s divine mystery of Election, led him out of the false teachings of the Reformed and to the Apostolic teachings of the Lutheran Church.

    I pray that more readers of this blog will see the glaring fallacy of Reformed theology just from reading the conversation between myself and the reason-blinded Reformed on this site: If you try to explain the unexplainable, based on human reason and logic, the end result will usually be blatant heresy: “God regenerates/plants the seed of faith in persons who do not then believe.” “The Elect are born regenerated.”

    Turn from this sixteenth century heresy, dear Reformed brothers and sisters, and return to the teachings of the Apostolic Church!

  480. justbybelief Says:

    Presbyterian minister, trained in Reformed theology, in which he received a doctor of theology degree.

    From where?

    And, you didn’t answer my question. Is the gospel senseless? That is, is it a bunch of incoherent gibberish?

    If I make the following assertion to an unbeliever:

    1) God took a human body, or God became flesh.

    Are you saying that this is senseless? I would admit that it is a very simple proposition, but I could not assert that it didn’t make sense or that it was senseless.

  481. Ron Says:

    Eric,

    You are going to have a hard time debating Gary. By his own admission, Gary doesn’t want to debate using premise, which he can’t avoid. Gary feels quite at home saying things like:

    I believe that babies CAN have faith and believe prior to understanding!
    No!!!!! I never said that babies understand and believe Gospel propositions…I said that they believe…IN CHRIST!

    He says babies believe “in” Christ but that such belief in Christ defies any sort of gospel proposition. Does it even defy the truth claim that Jesus exists? Or does the baby believe in a Jesus who is not believed to exist? So much for his rejecting any necessary proposition for the gospel with respect to the baby’s alleged belief.
    No, we all know full well that when someone says he “believes in Christ,” the person is usually expressing something in shorthand, like “I believe Christ died for my sins,” but those words carry with it a proposition. So, again, you are trying to debate someone who says that infants can believe in Christ but that which is believed has no discernible meaning. It’s just rhetoric. Gary would be much better off if he just gave up the ghost and agreed that God implants the seed of faith – the faith that justifies, so that when the baby comes in contact with special revelation God will grant belief in the mind regarding those things spoken or read.

    Moreover, as Gary’s sidekick said, babies don’t know anything. That would mean that the alleged beliefs babies have are either false, unwarranted or both. Yet this supposed belief is to come from God, is it not? How can a belief from God be false or unwarranted?! These contradictions are all over this thread and when pointed out, we’re called foolish as well as lumped together with sinful men who stumble at the gospel. That’s code for, don’t scrutinize my beliefs and see if they are internally consistent.

    This gospel of which they speak is Rome’s – water regenerates and saves by the working of the works.That they stick faith in the middle of water and justification is not germane – water saves automatically, which is another gospel. It’s no wonder they call good evil and evil good.

  482. justbybelief Says:

    “One day a Lutheran friend pointed out to him that in the Westminster Confessions, the Reformed teach that infants who are the Elect are born saved; they are born regenerated.”

    This is not what the Reformed teach at all. It is another Lutheran misrepresentation of Presbyterians and the Reformed.

    Can you tell me at what point John the Baptist was saved?

  483. Gary M Says:

    All who are regenerated are unbelieving sinners, but when God regenerates them, they immediately become believers.

    Calvinists, such as Ron, deny this biblical truth for infants. In Reformed theology, salvation for infants is a process. God plants the seed of faith in the infant (who is of the Elect) but regeneration happens later when he can understand the Gospel, at which time he believes.)

    Please provide one passage of Holy Scripture that supports this heresy.

  484. Gary M Says:

    John the Baptist was saved the moment God gave him the Holy Spirit, which is the same time that all sinners are saved.

    And God, by the power of his Word, gave John the Baptist the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb.

    Let me beat you to the punch, Eric. No, John was not saved by infant baptism. Lutherans have never asserted that Baptism is the only time that God saves. God always saves by his Word/by his declaration of righteousness. He can do that just through his pronouncement as he did with Zachariah, he can do it with the preaching of the Word such as on Pentecost, but he has said that the primary means that he delivers his grace, mercy, and the forgiveness of sins is in the waters of Holy Baptism.

  485. Gary M Says:

    Dear Readers:

    Do you really believe that our loving Savior made the Plan of Salvation as complicated as the Reformed make it out to be?

    Come to the waters of Baptism. Let Jesus save you! Bring your children and infants with you. Jesus wants to save them too. Do we ever see Jesus, his disciples, or Paul giving a Beliefs test prior to Baptism. No. The Word is preached and people come to the water and are baptized.

    It isn’t the water that saves and forgives sins. It isn’t the power of the pastor that saves and forgives sins. It is the Almighty power of God that creates faith, belief, repentance and washes away all sins. It is so simple but so hard to believe for prideful sinners.

    “That’s too easy!” they say, just as Naaman of Syria said of old.

    But if they obey God’s command and enter the water, God fulfills his promise and heals them/saves them IMMEDIATELY. Naaman was not healed/saved in a Calvinistic drawn out “process” of salvation. Naaman did not have to wait until he understood everything about the Jewish God and Faith before God healed/saved him.

    Salvation is that simple, dear readers. Don’t listen to the puffed-up, know-it-all hot air of the Reformed. Salvation is so simple that it baffles and blinds the arrogant.

    Come to the waters and Jesus will save you!

  486. justbybelief Says:

    Let me beat you to the punch, Eric. No, John was not saved by infant baptism.

    I wasn’t even going there. Old Covenant you know? John was circumcised.

    John the Baptist was saved the moment God gave him the Holy Spirit, which is the same time that all sinners are saved.

    I think this is what Ron means spoke of regeneration–the moment God takes up residence within you. Which he stated above.

    And, we would agree that it is a monergistic act based in the death of Christ, would we not? For, how could a Holy God take up residence in sinful man unless he had in some way, and we know what that ‘way’ is, resolved the impurity of that man, that is atoned for his sins.

    So, the recipient of salvation is saved when God takes up residence in, or gives the Holy Spirit. The only basis for this taking up residence is the death of Christ. Would we agree?

    Upon taking up residence in a person God would not leave that person ignorant as to the why, but would conform the recipients thoughts to His own, correct?

    Are we good so far?

  487. justbybelief Says:

    Do we ever see Jesus, his disciples, or Paul giving a Beliefs test prior to Baptism. No.

    Acts 8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

  488. justbybelief Says:

    Do we ever see Jesus, his disciples, or Paul giving a Beliefs test prior to Baptism. No.

    Matthew 3:6-8

    21st Century King James Version (KJ21)
    6 And they were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
    7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said unto them, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
    8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance,

    I’ve given you two examples of ‘tests of faith’ prior to a baptism. Do you recant? In this second case John is making it plain that they don’t believe the right things.

  489. Gary M Says:

    “Upon taking up residence in a person God would not leave that person ignorant as to the why, but would conform the recipients thoughts to His own, correct?”

    You are trying to explain a mystery, Eric. Just accept that God, by an unexplainable, supernatural act, creates faith and belief in the infant, solely by the power of his Word, in the EXACT same manner that he does so in a spiritually dead, and therefore helpless and ignorant, adult.

    You don’t need to dig any deeper than that, my brother.

  490. Gary M Says:

    “Acts 8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

    I purposely left out Philip in my above statement. Why?

    1. The statement of Philip that you have quoted is not in the oldest manuscripts.

    2. Even so, I accept it as inspired text.

    3. Jesus, his disciples, and the apostle Paul are never recorded giving a beliefs test (you must believe these doctrines or we won’t baptize and save you) prior to Baptism. They simply preach the Gospel and baptize all who come into or are brought into the waters.

  491. justbybelief Says:

    You are trying to explain a mystery,

    Is being sanctified even as we are already sanctified a mystery? Or, do you deny sanctification and any definition of it?

    2. Even so, I accept it as inspired text.

    Are you saying that Phillip, Paul and Jesus taught different things?

    you must believe these doctrines or we won’t baptize and save you

    Not at all, do you just go around throwing water indiscriminately on people while reciting the words of institution? This is what you are proposing.

  492. Gary M Says:

    Gary: Let me beat you to the punch, Eric. No, John was not saved by infant baptism.

    Eric: I wasn’t even going there. Old Covenant you know? John was circumcised.

    Gary: Circumcision has nothing to do with salvation. There are similarities, yes, but circumcision saved no one. The promises and the power of the Word of God saved sinners in the OT as well as those of us under the New Covenant. There has always been only ONE means of salvation: the Word.

    John the Baptist was saved/received the Holy Spirit PRIOR to circumcision, consistent with how God always has saved sinners: by the power of his Word/his declaration.

    GOD SAYS IT…AND IT IS SO.

    Yes…salvation is that simple.

  493. Gary M Says:

    “Matthew 3:6-8

    21st Century King James Version (KJ21)
    6 And they were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
    7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said unto them, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
    8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance,

    I’ve given you two examples of ‘tests of faith’ prior to a baptism. Do you recant? In this second case John is making it plain that they don’t believe the right things.

    Gary: Are you saying, Eric, that John’s baptism is the equivalent of Christ’s baptism?

    And besides, confessing your sins is NOT the same thing as being given a Beliefs Test. the Pharisees were not willing to admit and repent of their arrogance, pride and belief that they were righteous by keeping the Law.

    When I was a fundamentalist Baptist, we had our own Beliefs Test. If you didn’t believe the following doctrines it was impossible for you to be saved:

    1. You must believe in a one time “decision for Christ” as the basis of your salvation.
    2. You must not believe in infant baptism.
    3. You must not believe that God saves anyone in Baptism.
    4. You must not believe in infant baptism for any reason.
    5. You must believe in the Rapture.
    6 You must believe in immersion only baptism.

    You don’t believe all of these doctrines? You aren’t saved and are on your way to hell.

    The Reformed Beliefs Test is not as ridiculous as the fundamentalist Baptists, but it is still a violation of God’s monergistic act of salvation, nonetheless.

  494. Gary M Says:

    “Not at all, do you just go around throwing water indiscriminately on people while reciting the words of institution? This is what you are proposing.”

    We do just what Jesus did: We preach the Gospel and then urge sinners to be baptized. Yes, we do offer catechism classes before the baptism of an adult, but if the adult insists on baptism immediately after hearing the Gospel we would baptize him as he requests. We would not refuse Baptism just because we believe that he doesn’t believe everything that we think he should.

    Would I turn a firehose on all my neighbors passing down the street if I thought that doing so would get them into heaven/ Absolutely! the reason this analogy doesn’t work for a Calvinist or Baptist is that you believe in Once Saved, Always Saved. Therefore anyone who receives even a drop of this water from my firehouse, while I am reciting the Words of Institution, will have a free ticket into heaven.

    Not so fast, my Reformed brother. You forget that Lutherans do NOT believe that all persons who are baptized and regenerated will necessarily enter heaven and eternal life.

    Lutherans teach that ALL baptisms are effectual. All persons who enter the water while the Word is preached ARE saved; are given the free gift of faith, belief, and repentance. However, if that faith is not nurtured thereafter by the Word and Sacrament of the Altar, that faith will wither and die…and the baptized neighbor will perish in hell…just as the Parable of the Sower describes.

  495. Gary M Says:

    “Are you saying that Phillip, Paul and Jesus taught different things?”

    You notice in the text that it is the EUNUCH who asks Philip what hinders him from being baptized. Philip did not state: Hey, Mr. Eunuch. Here is water. I will baptize you but only if you believe…that TULIP is the correct doctrine of the Christian faith.

    The Scripture doesn’t say, but I believe that if the eunuch had not asked the question, Philip would have baptized him based on his desire to be baptized, which itself is an act of belief.

  496. Gary M Says:

    And Eric, if anyone needs to repent, it is the Reformed: for holding up as the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a logic and reason-riddled sixteenth century false teaching that NEVER existed in the Christian Church before these Swiss and French radicals invented them and formed a completely new Church.

  497. justbybelief Says:

    The bottom line is this: Are you saying that you would baptize an unrepentant person, Gary?

    There is no question between us as far as baptizing infants (aside from all it’s implications); however, the apostles did not just baptize infants; they baptized adults also. Let’s put infants aside for a moment and address your statement that ‘no test of faith’ should be performed. Admittedly one cannot put this ‘test of faith’ to someone who cannot speak; however, one should ask the parents of infants what they believe and not simply and indiscriminately baptize their children and infants without explaining the faith and all its implications and responsibilities. This would seem odd given that you believe these young ones can loose their salvation if not nurtured in the faith.

    As far as adults are concerned do you baptize them without instruction? Further, do you not look for a legitimate profession of faith before you baptize them? If someone was unwilling to give a profession of faith in Christ would you baptize that person?

    Would you really baptize a person before asking them, like Phillip asked the eunich, do believe in Christ?

    It seems odd that you would bring up your old experiences and throw out legitimate questions, with the illegitimate question, that should be asked of an adult recipient of baptism indicating that no questions be asked at all.

    And, if I affirm that a recipient be asked whether they believe in Christ, this is somehow equated with some long drawn out Reformed process. I admit that this happens in ALL churches. However in my mind a person should be baptized as soon as possible after it is determined that they believe in Christ.

    Again, should an adult be baptized before any outward profession of faith exists?

    If yes, why not get a fire hose and spray a crowd while preaching with a bull-horn.

  498. justbybelief Says:

    “You notice in the text that it is the EUNUCH who asks Philip what hinders him from being baptized. Philip did not state: Hey, Mr. Eunuch. Here is water. I will baptize you but only if you believe…that TULIP is the correct doctrine of the Christian faith.

    The Scripture doesn’t say, but I believe that if the eunuch had not asked the question, Philip would have baptized him based on his desire to be baptized, which itself is an act of belief.”

    You’ve missed the whole point.

    Did Phillip baptize the eunuch without confirming that He believed the message he had just preached?

    And, should ministers today, baptize indiscriminately anyone who desires baptism without any profession of faith?

    I answer, no. Before an adult is baptized there should be some evidence (profession) that they believe the message just delivered. This is not some Reformed notion, it is Biblical.

  499. Tim Harris Says:

    Another quick question Gary. In order to receive the “real presence” of Christ in the Supper, is it necessary to believe in the specific doctrine of the Real Presence (as opposed to, say, the Reformed exposition)? If so, then is not “faith” the instrument of the sacrament after all? But if not, why is belief in it required in order to become a member of a Lutheran church?

  500. Gary M Says:

    ” Admittedly one cannot put this ‘test of faith’ to someone who cannot speak; however, one should ask the parents of infants what they believe and not simply and indiscriminately baptize their children and infants without explaining the faith and all its implications and responsibilities.”

    Q: Would it not be better to baptize a baby of parents who didn’t attend church–even though the parents do not attend? Is it right to keep a child from God if we have the opportunity to welcome the child? Perhaps this would open the doors of Heaven to the parents as well? Should we exclude them and not show them forgiveness beforehand?

    A: It has been the historic practice of the Lutheran church to welcome all children to Baptism, including those children whose parents may not be attending worship services–provided the parents give their consent and are at least open to bringing up this child in faithfulness to his or her baptismal covenant. Many times the Baptism of a child provides a wonderful occasion for bringing the Good News of Jesus and His salvation to a family.

    The Lutheran practice has been not to baptize a child contrary to the will and/or cooperation of the parents. Of necessity, pastoral judgment will have to be made in the individual case, since circumstances vary. For this reason, too, lay members of our congregations are urged to speak with their own pastor about individual cases where they may have a particular concern or desire.

  501. justbybelief Says:

    Should we exclude them and not show them forgiveness beforehand?

    The question was not whether anyone should exclude them. The question is should you instruct the parents? You just shifted again.

    Here are the questions:

    1) Are you going to instruct the parents and determine their profession before you baptize their children. If not, this is shear negligence and unbiblical.

    2) Are you going to look for a profession of faith from an adult before baptizing them? If not this is shear negligence and unbiblical.

  502. Gary M Says:

    “Are you saying that you would baptize an unrepentant person, Gary?”

    If I came upon an accident, and found a man lying on the ground bleeding so profusely that I knew he would soon die, I would preach the Gospel to him and then ask if he would like to be baptized to become a Christian.

    If he says or indicates, “Yes”, I would baptize him without further delay.

    If I am sitting across from an unbeliever in a café, and he states he wants to be baptized, I would discuss with him why he wants to be baptized while at the same time, sharing the Gospel of the free gift of salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

    If after our discussion, he commented, “Well, I don’t believe that Jesus is God, I have no intention of turning from my life of sin, I just want to do it to cover my bases.” I would explain to him that eternal life requires faith and repentance and that he will suffer eternal torment in hell even if I were to baptize him. I would refuse to baptize this person.

    However…if this same man were to go to the local Lutheran church (because he is attracted to some the hot Lutheran young women in the church and knows that none of them will date him unless he is a Christian), and then fakes belief and requests baptism and is baptized….is his baptism effectual?? YES! The application of water with the Words of Institution are ALWAYS effectual. However, if God has not chosen this man as one of his Elect, the faith and belief gifted to him in Baptism will quickly wither and die, and when he dies, he will perish to eternal damnation in hell.

    On the other hand…even though this man “faked” his conversion to Christianity… his Baptism was effectual…and God CAN, if he so chooses, bring this man to recognize his faith and to live in faith, serving God.

    Lutherans would not rebaptize him even if he told us he had “faked it” months or years earlier.

  503. Gary M Says:

    “Again, should an adult be baptized before any outward profession of faith exists?”

    I believe that I have answered this question, but just to be sure:

    If there is no life-threating emergency, I and the Lutheran Church believe that it is a good idea to teach (catechize) an adult wishing to be a Christian/to be baptized (Lutherans believe that the adult seeking Baptism is already saved, by the power of the Word, which converted his spiritually dead heart.)

    Again, yes, we would ask if you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord. If this person said, “no”, I am just doing it for kicks, we would not baptize him.

    What I am trying to get across is this: Ron seemed to suggest that an infant cannot believe until he has the intellectual capabilities to comprehend what he believes. Lutherans view this as forcing God to comply with reason instead of accepting a supernatural mystery. Lutherans teach that knowledge or assent is not a prerequisite for salvation, because requiring informed assent is merit, and we are not justified by any merit of our own.

    Again, we preach the Gospel and baptize whomever comes or is brought to the font. Only if they announce that they do not believe, would we turn them away, as did John, the Pharisees. We see the desire to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ as a sign of belief.

  504. justbybelief Says:

    and then fakes belief and requests baptism and is baptized…

    How would you know he faked belief unless he told you? And, if he told you would you still baptize him?

    If you would, this is shear negligence and unbiblical. If you suspect that’s a different story.

    So, you at least try, to determine if someone believes before you baptize them. This is a clear contradiction from before.

    Beliefs test prior to Baptism.

  505. justbybelief Says:

    because requiring informed assent is merit

    Works (merit) is defined by the ten commandments, not by faith. God defines works, not you. Faith is exercised according to grace not works as you suggest.

  506. Gary M Says:

    Eric,

    Please try to read what I say instead of rushing to anethemize me.

    “How would you know he faked belief unless he told you? And, if he told you would you still baptize him?”

    Lutherans wouldn’t know this guy is faking anymore than you Presbyterians would know that he is faking. If someone really wants to be baptized, whether in a Lutheran church or a Presbyterian church, he can study, learn all the right answers, and pass any questions we or you may ask him prior to Baptism.

    However, if he told us he was faking, would we still baptize him? No.

    If he was baptized years ago, but admits now that he was faking, but he currently is a believer, would we re-baptize him? No.

  507. Gary M Says:

    Tim said, “Another quick question Gary. In order to receive the “real presence” of Christ in the Supper, is it necessary to believe in the specific doctrine of the Real Presence (as opposed to, say, the Reformed exposition)? If so, then is not “faith” the instrument of the sacrament after all? But if not, why is belief in it required in order to become a member of a Lutheran church?”

    In Lutheran theology, ALL persons who partake of the Bread and Wine in the Lord’s Supper are partaking, in unexplainable, supernatural way, the real Body and Blood of Christ…even if the person partaking is a Muslim, Jew, or atheist!

    However, these nonbelievers are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily and to their damnation.

    Only believers who partake of the Elements worthily, following true repentance for their sins, receive ANY benefit from the Holy Supper.

    Do Christians who partake of the Lord’s Supper but do not believe in the Real Presence received the benefits of the Real Body and Blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins? I don’t know, I don’t think the Lutheran Church has an answer for this.

    It is for this reason that orthodox Lutherans practice closed Communion. We will only commune those who are in doctrinal agreement with us, as was practiced in the Early Church (ie Polycarp and the controversy over the date of Easter).

  508. Gary M Says:

    “Works (merit) is defined by the ten commandments, not by faith. God defines works, not you. Faith is exercised according to grace not works as you suggest.”

    What’s your point, Eric?

    Are you trying to tell me that requiring a person to have the correct positions on certain doctrines in order to be saved is not Works Righteousness??

    If so, Eric, you are no different from the Roman Catholic who has his list of requirements that must be accomplished to provide “his part” of the act of justification.

    We are justified by faith ALONE, apart from any work of man, and even faith is not our own, it is a gift from God, lest any Roman Catholic or Reformed should boast.

  509. justbybelief Says:

    Works are defined by the ten commandments. It is by obeying (or disobeying) these that God defines merit or wages.

    When God speaks of faith, He is speaking of something that we exercise. Even though we exercise it God tells us that we exercise it only because of grace. Faith is not a work as defined by the ten commandments and yet it is something we ‘do.’

    You are asserting that because we insist on the necessity of faith that somehow we are maintaining that this is a work.

    You have maintained that YOU believe the gospel. Do you believe that you’ve earned anything by believing the gospel? Nor do we!

    However, YOU must believe and you are commanded to believe. If YOU do not believe YOU are not a Christian.

    Do YOU believe?

    When the Bible states that “Abraham believed God.” What does this mean?

  510. Gary M Says:

    How are we saved by Faith?

    Roman Catholic: we are saved by God’s gift of faith, but we must do good works to complete our salvation. Faith alone is not enough.

    Arminian Baptist: we are saved by placing OUR faith in God in a born again decision for Christ.

    Reformed: we are saved by God’s gift of faith, after we have developed the intellectual ability to understand and profess what we believe.

    Lutheran: we are saved by God’s gift of faith alone. ….Period.

  511. Gary M Says:

    “Do YOU believe?”

    1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:

    2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:

    3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:

    4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:

    5. The third day he rose again from the dead:

    6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:

    7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:

    8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:

    9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:

    10. The forgiveness of sins:

    1l. The resurrection of the body:

    12. And the life everlasting. Amen.

    Is that enough for you to finally address me as your Christian brother, Eric?

  512. Gary M Says:

    Belief is either a gift of God, or it is the product of your making, which would then make it a human effort, which is a work, which is merit, which is works righteousness, which is Roman Catholic false teaching.

    Let go of Mother Rome’s apron strings, Eric.

  513. justbybelief Says:

    Reformed: we are saved by God’s gift of faith, after we have developed the intellectual ability to understand and profess what we believe.

    We are already made in the image of God, therefore we understand propositions, that which you call intellectual ability. It is not the understanding of intellectual propositions from God’s Word alone that save; It is also the belief of them.

    Outside of God’s operation we cannot and will not believe. We may understand what He’s saying, this is how your character above is able to parrot faith in order to date the hot Lutheran woman, but we cannot believe except by God’s grace.

    What differentiates faith from works is how God defines each. Works are defined by obedience to God’s law (the ten commandments). Belief is defined by understanding and assent to what God reveals. Though we may understand what God says we cannot assent to it unless by grace we are changed. This change is called regeneration, which God accomplishes monergistically.

    So, do you have a definition of faith? If you tell someone to believe the gospel, what is it that you are telling them? Suppose you told me to believe the gospel and I said to you, “What do mean by belief?” What is it that you would say? Or don’t Lutherans have a definition for ‘belief.’ They did in the WELS, obviously the LCMS is much different.

    Would you say, “It’s mystical, don’t bother with that.”

  514. Gary M Says:

    Lutheran definition of the Gospel (copied):

    The Gospel is the Good News of Jesus Christ. What is this good news about? Fortunately, the Bible itself tells us. In two key passages, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 1:16-17 Paul reveals much about the Gospel.

    Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

    I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith (Romans 1:16-17).

    From these passages we learn that at the heart of the Gospel is the message that Jesus, the Christ, died on the cross for our sins and that he rose from the dead. “Christ died for our sins” means that He took our sins upon Himself and served the sentence of punishment that we deserved. Every last drop of eternal judgment and punishment that we deserved was poured out on Jesus instead of us. He was the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for sins. Because of His blood shed in death for us, no judgment, guilt, or punishment remains. We are fully forgiven, innocent, not guilty. What makes this such sweet good news is that God offers all this by grace (in other words, as a gift). That is why Paul calls it the Gospel “about the grace of God” (Acts 20:24; cf. Gal. 1:6). Every time the Gospel is proclaimed God freely offers the completed forgiveness and salvation that Jesus won for us by His substitutionary death. Everyone who believes this Gospel and applies it to himself, has forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.

    We also learn that the Gospel is far more than a message that provides information. The Gospel actually is God’s power: it has the power to give salvation and save those who hear it And it has the power to work faith in the hearts of those who hear it. It is for this reason that the Church has long called the Gospel a “means of grace.” For through it God graciously works faith in those who hear.

    When we search elsewhere in the New Testament, we find this short definition confirmed. The Gospel is variously described as:
    •The good news that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 5:42);
    •The good news about Jesus (Acts 8:35);
    •The good news of peace through Jesus, who is Lord of all (Acts 10:36)
    •The good news about the Lord Jesus (Acts 11:20);
    •The good news that God has fulfilled His promise by raising Jesus from the dead (Acts 13:32);
    •The good news about Jesus and the resurrection (Acts 17:18);
    •The good news concerning God’s Son, who also was man, raised from the dead (Romans 1:1-4; 2 Tim. 2:8);
    •The good news of Christ (Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 9:14);
    •The good news, which has to do with the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:17);
    •The good news of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4);
    •The good news of your salvation, the word of truth (Ephesians 1:13);
    •The good news of the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8);
    •The good news about the hope that is reserved for you in heaven (Colossians 1:5);

    The Bible is full of Gospel and not only in passages that explicitly mention salvation through Jesus. Every passage and section of Scripture that emphasizes what God gives freely to us is Gospel. What a feast awaits the one who sits down at this banquet table with a hearty appetite!

    The Gospel is Only Good News to Those Who Have Believed the Bad News

    This Gospel should be good news to everyone. But it is really only good news to those who have believed the bad news (but the truth) about themselves. The bad news is the Law of God, and how each and everyone of us has broken God’s law, and we are therefore deserving of punishment for our crime: eternal damnation.

  515. Gary M Says:

    Eric,

    I would say that Lutherans believe that faith and belief in Christ are the same thing:

    Justification by grace through faith establishes a new relationship between God and man and produces new attitudes, desires, objectives, and ideals (Gl 2:20; Ph 4:8; Tts 2:12–13). True faith is a living, energizing, motivating power that propels and urges to action (Mt 17:20; 1 Jn 5:4–5). ELW

    Faith/belief is trust in the promises of God, and not just in a one time “decision” for Christ, but an ongoing, life-long trust. But our faith/our belief is not a product of our intelligence or decision making abilities, it is a gift of God (grace).

    Sorry, that is the best I can give you. You seem to want a more detailed definition of belief. I again say this is your Reformed intuition telling you that you that you need to know more than what God has chosen to reveal.

  516. Gary M Says:

    “So, do you have a definition of faith? If you tell someone to believe the gospel, what is it that you are telling them? Suppose you told me to believe the gospel and I said to you, “What do mean by belief?” What is it that you would say?”

    My response would be:

    “Let me tell you about a man named Jesus. He lived almost 2,000 years ago. The amazing news is that he wasn’t just a man, he was also God, and not just any god, he was and is the only, true God of all the universe. He came to earth to die and pay the penalty for all the evil things, sins, we humans have done. He didn’t have to do this. No one made him die to save us. He did it because he loved each and every one of us so much that he was willing to suffer horrific torture and a prolonged, gruesome death. He died for my sins and he died for your sins, my friend. He loves you. He promises to give you eternal life after death. He promises you a life of joy and happiness in a place called heaven where you will never again experience pain, loneliness, or sadness.

    What do you have to do to receive this eternal life? Do you have to become a really good person first to earn God’s favor? No. Do you have to become really religious and go to church all the time to earn God’s favor and eternal life? No. Unlike every other religion on earth, God doesn’t require you to try and earn his favor. He gives you eternal life as a gift. It is free.

    So how do you receive this free gift?

    The Bible, God’s very Word says, “Believe on Jesus Christ as your Lord, your God. Confess Jesus Christ as your Lord, your God, with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead and you will be saved. Repent of your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Will you do that my friend?

  517. Gary M Says:

    I would then give this person the information on the closest (preferably orthodox Lutheran) Christian church and give him my contact information if he had any more questions.

  518. justbybelief Says:

    OK, Gary

    You said:

    I would say that Lutherans believe that faith and belief in Christ are the same thing

    I would absolutely agree.

    Faith/belief is trust in the promises of God

    I would absolutely agree with one caveat. Please bear with me.

    Faith (belief) is a combination of two ingredients:

    1) Understanding or Knowledge (which does not save)
    2) Assent (which does save if the right doctrines are believed)

    Assent is simply affirming the truthfulness of a proposition from the Word of God.

    So, if we have the proposition from God’s word which states:

    “Jesus is the Son of God”

    Most anyone in their right mind understands that statement; however, not everyone would go the step further and say “That is true!” In fact, many would say, “That is not true.” The ONLY reason that one (a human) would agree with God in the truthfulness of that statement is if God had wrought a work in the soul.

    On Sean’s site, godshammer, he sets forth the distinctive, brought to light by Gordon Clark, that trust is also assent.

  519. Gary M Says:

    The trouble I have with your definition is that I believe such a definition of faith would necessarily exclude infants. How can an infant give assent?

    So if an infant cannot give assent, which would preclude him from possessing true faith, we have no business baptizing infants. We are forced to leave infants in their unbelieving, faithless state of original sin and under threat, if they should die, of God’s righteous judgment for that sin: eternal damnation. We should wait until the infant is old enough to profess that he assents to the core doctrines of the Faith, as expressed for instance, in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, before we baptize him.

    In other words…we should all become Baptists!

  520. Gary M Says:

    “Jesus is the Son of God”

    Simply believing that Jesus is God is not enough. You must believe ON his name; you must CONFESS him as your Lord with your mouth.

    But is the performance of these acts the prerequisites for God granting you the gift of salvation? No. These acts of faith/belief occur as a RESULT of God’s gifting you faith and belief. You believe because you have been predestined to believe. You confess because you have been predestined to confess.

    This capability to believe and confess Christ as your Lord is given to adults and infants alike by one and the same means: the power of the Word, either through the preaching/reading of the Word or in Baptism.

    How this happens in adults is a mystery. How this happens in infants is even a greater mystery. It cannot be explained by human reason and logic.

  521. Ron Says:

    Gary has said all along that infants believe in Jesus. Yet he just said that “The trouble I have with your definition [of faith] is that I believe such a definition of faith would necessarily exclude infants. How can an infant give assent?”

    So, Gary thinks an infant cannot assent to that in which an infant can supposedly “believe in.” What’s even worse is that he goes on to say that “…if an infant cannot give assent, which would preclude him from possessing true faith, we have no business baptizing infants.” It’s absolutely amazing how one can refute his own position as much as Gary. He has just implied that we only have business baptizing babies if they have faith, which is baptistic! What Gary has unwittingly said is that baptism is to follow faith(!), and that if faith requires assent then we should not baptize infants , which is his attempt at a reductio! What he is communicating is that we should baptize infants because they have faith, but if assent is necessary for faith then baptism is not allowed because a baby cannot assent! He makes it up as he goes along and no true Lutheran would claim him.

  522. justbybelief Says:

    The trouble I have with your definition is that I believe such a definition of faith would necessarily exclude infants. How can an infant give assent?

    I’m not sure that I believe that statement as I tried to give an explanation above (January 7, 2014 at 11:23 pm) of how it is possible that infants believe. Basically I asserted that all things are possible with God.

    Infants aside for one moment. You have acknowledged that Lutherans believe that Faith, or belief, is trust in the Promises of God.

    Trust is simply acknowledging (assenting to the fact) that Jesus will do what He says He’ll do, in other words, He’s trustworthy, faithful and keeps His word. Correct?

    You have acknowledged (above January 7, 2014 at 8:01 pm) that infants believe (trust) in Christ.

    Can you explain how from a Lutheran perspective that infant faith and adult faith are the same given your representation of Lutheranism in the statements above?

    You might possibly not know and simply say that you don’t understand how, and affirm the truthfulness of each statement, which is fine with me.

  523. Ron Says:

    Eric,

    You missed a lob. Gary is arguing that there is an unacceptable definition of faith on that table that would preclude infant baptism because the infant, under such strictures, could not satisfy what such faith would entail. What is being presupposed in Gary’s “logic” is that infant baptism is to follow faith and that since no infant would qualify for baptism given such a definition of faith then, consequently, the definition of faith must be wrong. The logic if fine, but the premises refute Gary’s position! After all, do Lutherans believe that they are to baptize infants because they meet the requirements of faith?!

  524. Gary M Says:

    Eric,

    Ron is trying to twist my words instead of trying to understand what I am saying:

    If the only manner in which an infant can be saved is for the infant to possess sufficient intelligence to assent to the appropriate doctrines of the Faith, there is no purpose to baptize infants, because the Word of God is not capable of saving them in this teaching. They lack the necessary prerequisites to be regenerated. This is what I object to: trying to tease out and define a mystery that God has not clarified himself. How do infants have faith and believe? Do they give assent? Do infants understand all the doctrines of the Faith? Lutheran answer: we have no idea! It is a mystery. We do not know and believe that we CANNOT know.

    The idea that the only reason to baptize infants is to create a “covenant relationship” between the infant and the Church is more baffling to Lutherans than the symbolic, adult-only symbolic baptism of the Baptists! What good is a “relationship” with the Church if you are not regenerated? If you are not regenerated, you are not saved, infant or adult, and if you die, you will suffer eternal torment in the fires of hell! Unless Presbyterians also believe in the false, invented doctrine of the Age of Accountability and the absence of the guilt of Original Sin in infants.

    So if infants cannot be regenerated by the power of the Word in Baptism, there is no purpose in baptizing them until they possess the adequate intelligence to profess the correct positions on the doctrines of the Faith as you Clarkian Reformed are teaching. So if we are not baptizing them until they can profess faith first, baptism no longer serves the purpose of regeneration, it solely serves the purpose of forgiving sins as a means of grace, no different than partaking of the Lord’s Supper. The individual who professes faith is already saved/regenerated PRIOR to baptism. This IS the teaching of the Lutheran Church.

    Therefore, except for believing that Baptism will serve as a means of grace/forgiveness of sins (as part of Sanctification, not Justification) we have ALMOST turned ourselves into Baptists, who view Baptism as ONLY belonging to the realm of Sanctification and not Justification.

    In Lutheran theology, ONLY the Word saves. Baptism saves by the power of the Word pronounced, but so does the preaching of the Word. So does the reading of the Word. If a sinner is not saved as an infant in Baptism, it is possible for him to be saved when he is older simply by hearing or reading the Word, but either way it is based on his Election, not on his capability to assent and PROVE his assent to others.

  525. Sean Gerety Says:

    So, Gary thinks an infant cannot assent to that in which an infant can supposedly “believe in.” What’s even worse is that he goes on to say that “…if an infant cannot give assent, which would preclude him from possessing true faith, we have no business baptizing infants.” It’s absolutely amazing how one can refute his own position as much as Gary.

    During my short interaction with Gary, I realized that he revels in the glaring contradictions in his theology. Like some WSC profs I know, it’s almost as if it were an act or a mark of piety.

    I haven’t been really following this thread lately, but has anyone asked him how he defines “faith” so that one can have faith and not believe?

  526. justbybelief Says:

    but has anyone asked him how he defines “faith” so that one can have faith and not believe?

    Sean, just scroll up a little; it shouldn’t be to far.

  527. Denson Dube Says:

    Sean,
    “I haven’t been really following this thread lately,….”
    You haven’t missed much actually, that you have not met already in your interactions with so-called professors in theology.
    However, here is a gem you might treasure 🙂
    ‘Dear readers of this Reformed blog:

    Ron’s mind numbing, convoluted diatribe is a CLASSIC example of how the Reformed feel it necessary to pick apart every mystery of God with their arrogant human reason and logic to force God to be comprehensible to their feeble minds.

    In Reformed theology, there is no need for child-like faith…all one needs is a little study of the Westminster Confessions and a course in Logic.

    How many times does the Bible state that sinful men see the simplicity of the Gospel as foolishness, yet the Reformed want to force it to all make sense.

    “Thinking themselves wise, they became fools…” ‘

    Dear, oh dear, oh dear!

  528. Ron Says:

    Ron is trying to twist my words instead of trying to understand what I am saying

    No Gary, I’m just dealing truthfully with your writings. You clearly communicated that baptism is to follow faith. When I point this out you say I’m twisting your words, but then you say the exact thing again. You accuse the Reformed view of lacking what you call the necessary prerequisite for regeneration through baptism.

    <blockquote, because the Word of God is not capable of saving them in this teaching. They lack the necessary prerequisites to be regenerated

    Maybe you don’t realize this, but you are saying that the prerequisite for regeneration is faith, without which there’s no use in being baptized. That makes the order: faith, then baptism, then regeneration.

    Aside from your misunderstanding of your own espoused position, the Reformed position is that regeneration always precedes faith. Regarding covenant infants, faith is not a prerequisite for baptism. Again, the Reformed view is regeneration precedes faith, which is as monergistic as it can be.

    Here are two permissible Reformed views, both of which include the axiom that regeneration precedes faith and that infants can believe certain things revealed in generation revelation.

    1. The seed of faith can reside in infancy through regeneration
    and given time that seed of faith will necessarily grow to believe gospel propositions.

    2. Infants can be regenerate yet they may not be said to have faith in seed form because faith is exactly the same thing as belief and infants cannot believe special revelation, which is only contained in the intelligible Word.

    I know of no Reformed view that includes infants believing gospel propositions. This is not because infants don’t believe certain things – for sucking and reaching presupposes belief, but because gospel propositions are not included in what can be seen or tasted etc., nor can they be received through general revelation but rather only through the intelligibility of preaching the sound pattern of words. This does not mean that infants cannot be regenerate and united to Christ through the monergistic work of the Holy Spirit.

  529. Ron Says:

    I haven’t been really following this thread lately, but has anyone asked him how he defines “faith” so that one can have faith and not believe?

    Sean,

    He doesn’t define faith that way. He says infants believe without understanding / assenting to gospel propositions, but he never distinguished faith from belief.

    In my previous post I lay out two Reformed views on this.

  530. Gary M Says:

    ” in this teaching”

    You missed this phrase, Ron.

    I have clearly stated that Lutherans teach that God gives faith and belief in Baptism by the power of his Word. Faith does not need to exist prior to Baptism…although it can in an adult. Baptism is not the only means or time that God gives faith and belief.

    What ever quantity or quality of faith and belief that God gives to adults he gives to infants. However, we are able to question the adult about his beliefs and faith to affirm his assent to such core beliefs as “Jesus is God”, “Jesus is risen”, whereas we cannot do that with an infant.

    So does an infant have assent to Gospel propositions? I have no idea, but if God gives assent to adults then, yes, infants have assent.

  531. Gary M Says:

    “This does not mean that infants cannot be regenerate and united to Christ through the monergistic work of the Holy Spirit.”

    Why didn’t you just say that in the beginning?

    As long as you believe that infants are regenerated/saved in Baptism, your squabbling over “belief” and “assent” is superfluous. Another example of the Reformed going off into the weeds instead of just accepting the simple Gospel.

    So we are agreed: God gives faith to infants and regenerates/saves/gifts them eternal life in their Baptism?

  532. Gary M Says:

    1. The seed of faith can reside in infancy through regeneration
    and given time that seed of faith will necessarily grow to believe gospel propositions.

    2. Infants can be regenerate yet they may not be said to have faith in seed form because faith is exactly the same thing as belief and infants cannot believe special revelation, which is only contained in the intelligible Word.

    I agree 100% with the first statement.

    As to the second statement: Regeneration without faith?? Pure, unadulterated heresy!

  533. Gary M Says:

    “I know of no Reformed view that includes infants believing gospel propositions. This is not because infants don’t believe certain things – for sucking and reaching presupposes belief, but because gospel propositions are not included in what can be seen or tasted etc., nor can they be received through general revelation but rather only through the intelligibility of preaching the sound pattern of words. This does not mean that infants cannot be regenerate and united to Christ through the monergistic work of the Holy Spirit.”

    Who ever came up with this thinking obviously had too much time on his hands.

    For goodness sake, why don’t we start arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin! All that matters is that infants can have faith, gifted to them by God, just as happens with adults. All this parsing of the word “belief” is pure pettiness.

  534. Gary M Says:

    Out of curiosity: Do any of you Reformed believe that the Elect are born regenerated/saved?

  535. justbybelief Says:

    Another example of the Reformed going off into the weeds instead of just accepting the simple Gospel.

    This is simply amazing, Gary. Because you don’t understand what we/some are saying you tell us we’re going off into the weeds? I’ve been trying to determine what your talking about in most of this thread.

    You act as though, when given a proposition like ‘Jesus is the Son of God’ or ‘those who believe will be saved’ that to define terms is some unspiritual exercise. when the exact opposite is true.

    Admittedly, I think many of the Lutheran doctrines are out in left field. I also think that Lutherans slander the Reformed. That aside, I gave you the benefit of the doubt and tried to dialog with you and now you continue with your slanderous accusations? This is amazing.

    All this parsing of the word “belief” is pure pettiness.

    Not at all, Gary. Again, you are out in left field. Are you going to tell me that you don’t care about a word that God put in the Bible? Moreover, are you going to refuse to understand its Biblical meaning?

    It is AMAZING, then, that you, as Lutheran, would make so much of the doctrine of justification by belief alone and not care what the word ‘belief’ means.

    I must say it, some of the statements you make aren’t thought out at all.

    OK. So, If you don’t know what ‘belief’ is how do you know that you have it? I’m not speaking of infants, your pastor, your Lutheran friends, I’m asking you, Gary, If you don’t know what ‘belief’ is how do you know you have it?

  536. Gary M Says:

    Belief is the same as faith: abiding trust in and clinging to the promises of God.

    Period.

    Now, Eric, answer my question: Do you believe that the Elect are born regenerated?

  537. justbybelief Says:

    I might add that the words in the Bible are the Spirit of God’s words, not mine. When you despise understanding a word, like ‘belief,’ that the Spirit uses you are not despising me, but resisting the Spirit of God.

    1 Cor. 2:13
    Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

  538. justbybelief Says:

    Belief is the same as faith: abiding trust in and clinging to the promises of God.

    OK, what do ‘faith,’ ‘trust,’ and ‘clinging’ mean.

    Now, Eric, answer my question: Do you believe that the Elect are born regenerated?

    Scroll up and look for the answer. This is proof that you’ve been talking past most of us and haven’t been listening to what we’ve been saying.

  539. Gary M Says:

    Ok, we have Eric’s answer. Eric does NOT believe that the Elect are born regenerated/saved. (Praise God!)

    How about the rest of you: Ron? Sean? Tim? Denson?

  540. Gary M Says:

    Eric,

    How it is possible for you to grow up in the Lutheran Church hearing Sunday after Sunday the doctrine of Sola Fide and are then capable of being brain-washed by the Reformed to believe that regeneration can occur apart from faith, is mind-blowing. Satan has deceived you, my brother. Return to the true Apostolic teachings of the Church!

  541. Sean Gerety Says:

    Denson:

    Dear, oh dear, oh dear!

    LOL. No kidding. What a bunch of self-righteous irrational drivel.

  542. justbybelief Says:

    Ok, we have Eric’s answer. Eric does NOT believe that the Elect are born regenerated/saved. (Praise God!)

    This is why I asked you the question, “When was John the Baptist regenerated” at which point you went off on some tangent about what I was, or was not, going to say about Lutheran baptism or the baptism of infants.

    Though I answered your question you can find the Reformed response to this question by reading through the thread, if you are willing.

    So, is it possible that God does regenerate ONE of His elect at the time of conception? I don’t think that is impossible at all. It may have happened with John the Baptist or one of the prophets, I don’t know.

    As you peruse the thread look for excerpts from the Westminster Confession of Faith and I think you’ll find the Presbyterian response to your question.

    Please dispense with all the accusations, it proves 2 things:
    1) Lutherans by nature slander Reformed and Presbyterians because of their pre-indoctrinated notions and
    2) They do so because they’re not honest or industrious enough to read what we say. In other words, they’re lazy.

  543. Gary M Says:

    Eric, how about dispensing with beating around the bush?

    The Bible says that John the Baptist was regenerated at birth. You cannot have the Holy Spirit without being regenerated. So is it possible for God to regenerate infants at birth? Of course it is possible. He is God. He can do whatever he desires.

    Now, in clear, plain, simple English: Do you believe that the Elect, meaning, not just John the Baptist, but ALL of the Elect, are born regenerated?

  544. Sean Gerety Says:

    He doesn’t define faith that way. He says infants believe without understanding / assenting to gospel propositions, but he never distinguished faith from belief.

    OK. Well that doesn’t make any sense at all. No wonder he seems to be just talking nonsense. If he won’t define what he means than I guess we have no way of knowing what he means.

    1. The seed of faith can reside in infancy through regeneration and given time that seed of faith will necessarily grow to believe gospel propositions.

    2. Infants can be regenerate yet they may not be said to have faith in seed form because faith is exactly the same thing as belief and infants cannot believe special revelation, which is only contained in the intelligible Word.

    I know of no Reformed view that includes infants believing gospel propositions.

    Not to throw a monkey wrench in the the mix, but I’m not quite sure why a third option of God granting saving faith to biblical propositions even in the womb is impossible? John leapt in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice. Clearly he was cognizant that his Lord was near and we know that Elizabeth too was filled with the Holy Spirit when she spoke to Mary calling her the mother of our Lord. Further, we do know that man’s mind even at birth isn’t a blank slate and that man is born with certain propositions written on his heart by virtue of being God’s image (see Romans 2:15 for starters). I certainly don’t know the extent of man’s apriori endowment, but who really is to say what God can reveal to even the minds of infants?

    There also is the biblical argument that even language isn’t something that is necessarily learned over time in every case. Adam communicated with God from the time he was created and Babel gives evidence that language can be changed in an instant. For more I would recommend Clark’s Language and Theology (http://www.trinitylectures.org/product_info.php?products_id=97).

    Now I will go back to lurking.

  545. Gary M Says:

    Sean,

    Since Ron, Eric, Tim, and Denson seem to look to you as their leader. Do you believe that ALL of the Elect are born regenerated?

  546. Sean Gerety Says:

    I can assure you, I’m not their leader.

    But, no, I don’t believe that all the elect are born regenerated. I must have missed it where Ron, Eric, Tim and Denson said they are. Care to quote them or are you having a conversation with yourself?

  547. justbybelief Says:

    Not to throw a monkey wrench in the the mix, but I’m not quite sure why a third option of God granting saving faith to biblical propositions even in the womb is impossible?

    Thanks, Sean!!!

    I feel somewhat vindicated by your response in that I haven’t gone off on a tangent unthunk before.

    I brought this up earlier @ January 7, 2014 at 6:24 pm and January 7, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    By the way, I don’t think it far fetched that an infant believe in the womb or that an infant hear words, maybe even the gospel, from the womb.

  548. justbybelief Says:

    Care to quote them or are you having a conversation with yourself?

    *picking myself off the floor*

  549. justbybelief Says:

    *Robotic voice*

    I am one of Sean’s mindless minions.

    What shall I say, my master?

  550. Gary M Says:

    Eric said, “By the way, I don’t think it far fetched that an infant believe in the womb or that an infant hear words, maybe even the gospel, from the womb.”

    Ron doesn’t believe that infants can “believe” in the womb or outside the womb. Don’t you guys have a consistent theological position on this issue?

  551. justbybelief Says:

    I’m not Ron’s mother, nor do I want to be. Nor am I his keeper, and I am sure he doesn’t want me to be–especially when I talk in my sergeants voice.

    Ron has done an excellent job squashing your objections and slander and at times has been much more patient with your blustering than I.

    Of course we don’t agree on everything, nor do your people.

    I once had a Lutheran pastor tell me that he couldn’t wait to get into heaven because there he would be able to hunt elk all that he wanted. My first thought was “how absurd.” When I questioned him about it, I understood that he was completely serious. Mind you, this was not some Germanic primate from the ELCA it was a pastor in the WELS.

    Do all Lutheran pastors believe that there will be guns and hunting and death in heaven?

  552. justbybelief Says:

    How it is possible for you to grow up in the Lutheran Church hearing Sunday

    Sorry, Gary where did I say that I grew up in a Lutheran Church?

    Do you make this Sh*****t up out of whole cloth. I can see why Sean told you that you must be having a conversation with yourself.

  553. Gary M Says:

    Hunting in heaven has nothing to do with Justification. If Pastor Scwarzkopf in the WELS wants to believe that he will be hunting elk in heaven…who cares?? This is nonsense and ridiculous for you to interject this into the conversation. I’m sure one can easily find some nutty thinking on peripheral issues among Presbyterian pastors as well

    But to believe that God regenerates without faith is heresy. Period.

    “For by grace are you saved, through faith….”

    That beautiful passage does not say that we are regenerated “sometimes through faith and sometimes without”.

    Faith can precede Baptism, as is the case with all adult conversions. But, faith cannot precede regeneration, nor can faith come after regeneration.

    Faith, belief, and repentance are gifted to the sinner at the MOMENT of regeneration, by God’s monergistic act of grace. And this moment of regeneration can occur in Baptism, by the power of the Word pronounced, or by the hearing/reading of the Word.

  554. justbybelief Says:

    I’m sure one can easily find some nutty thinking on peripheral

    So. Heaven is a place where death can occur? What’s the point in believing anything, then?

    Maybe you should go back and read 1 Cor. 15 and work out the implications of that. If there is death in heaven the resurrection is rendered meaningless. If the resurrection is meaningless then your preaching is vain.

  555. Gary M Says:

    Good grief, Eric, get off your high horse (or maybe high elk would be more apropos). This line of discussion of pure nonsense.

    Do you believe that all or even some Elect are CONCEIVED/BORN regenerated?

    I have a strong hunch that Ron and other Reformed believe that all the Elect are conceived/born regenerated, without the need for believing faith, and that faith and belief will suddenly burst forth when they reach a Clarkian Reformed Age of Accountability at which time they can comprehend intelligently Biblical propositions.

  556. justbybelief Says:

    I have a strong hunch that Ron and other Reformed believe that all the Elect are conceived/born regenerated,

    Asked and answered.

    Gary, I’m done. I think my brethren are wiser than me and have chosen the better part.

    *lurking*

  557. Gary M Says:

    Here is the quote you asked for, Sean:

    Ron said: Infants can be regenerate yet they may not be said to have faith in seed form because faith is exactly the same thing as belief and infants cannot believe special revelation, which is only contained in the intelligible Word.

  558. Ron Says:

    Gary,

    I know no Reformed person who thinks that all the elect are born regenerate. We simply believe that God will regenerate them at some juncture, at which time they’ll possess the gift of faith. It’s hard to believe that you had “a strong hunch that Ron and other Reformed believe that all the Elect are conceived/born regenerated…”

  559. Ron Says:

    Where we might disagree within the camp is whether faith is ipso fact present when God regenerates an infant, but it would seem that Sean, Eric and I agree that it is. How that faith is expressed is a matter open for discussion. Bottom line is, your “hunch” missed wide the mark. We don’t believe in the necessity of infant regeneration in elect infants.

  560. Gary M Says:

    From the Westminster Directory for the Public Worship of God: “Of the Administration of the Sacraments: And First, Of Baptism.”

    “That children . . . are Christians, and federally holy before baptism, and therefore are they baptized.”

    What this says is that infants are holy and Christians before baptism. So the status and meaning of being a Christian (and therefore the full import of what it means to be made a Christian by God) precedes and is not connected to Baptism.

    Heresy!

  561. Gary M Says:

    If any of you believe that infants are born holy and Christian…you have created new, heretical doctrine, never seen in the history of the Christian Church before the 1500’s, you have created a new Church, totally destroying the Apostolic Church founded on the core doctrines of Baptismal Regeneration and the Real Presence.

    You are no different than the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. You have allowed Reason and Logic to overrule God’s simple Gospel and have created a new religion.

    I hope readers of this blog will now see the fallacy of Reformed theology, and the dangers of following new teachings, never seen or heard of in the history of the Church, the Church of Jesus Christ, which God promised to preserve forever.

  562. Sean Gerety Says:

    Here is the quote you asked for, Sean:

    Ron said: Infants can be regenerate yet they may not be said to have faith in seed form because faith is exactly the same thing as belief and infants cannot believe special revelation, which is only contained in the intelligible Word.

    Not sure how or why you would think what Ron wrote is even remotely equivalent to saying “ALL of the Elect are born regenerated.”

    Now there’s a mystery.

    Of course, regeneration logically precedes belief for only those who are regenerated will believe and not visa versa (we’re not Arminians after all). Not sure about the temporal implication of Ron’s comment, but he didn’t say what you accused him of saying.

    I think you owe him an apology.

  563. justbybelief Says:

    I think you ought to revisit The Westminster Directory of Worship. It doesn’t say what you’ve accused the authors of saying either.

  564. Sean Gerety Says:

    I hope readers of this blog will now see the fallacy of Reformed theology, and the dangers of following new teachings, never seen or heard of in the history of the Church, the Church of Jesus Christ, which God promised to preserve forever.

    Who knows? But I am confident that readers will see that you like to fight ideas that you’ve manufactured in your own mind and then wrongly impute them to others.

    Ever hear of false witness? Last I checked it’s one of the Big Ten and not a nice thing to violate especially when dealing with other Christians. Oh, that’s right, you can get away with it because we reject baptismal regeneration and consubstantiation as Romanish bilge. No wonder the vast majority of Lutherans are now in communion with Rome even while poor Martin spins in his grave. You guys deserve each other.

  565. Ron Says:

    Gary,m

    What such Reformed statements mean is that the children of professing believers are set apart – not like the world. They have an “interest” in the covenant. Just like the unbelieving spouse is “sanctified” by the believing spouse, the children are regarded “holy,” not unclean. It’s a reference to 1 Corinthians 7. You might not like the exegesis, but please don’t inform us what our Confession is teaching.

  566. Gary M Says:

    “That children . . . are Christians, and federally holy before baptism, and therefore are they baptized.”

    That is a quote, not an interpretation. Children are “CHRISTIANS” before their Baptisms.

    I leave you to your false, non-apostolic but very reasonable and logical teachings, in sad company with the reasonable and logical teachings of the Baptists, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    I pray that one day the Word will convince of your error.

    Good bye.

  567. Ron Says:

    You’ve overlooked the Reformed distinction of the visible and invisible church. Children of professing believers are “Christians” in the visible church, which is why they are to be baptized with the sign and seal of the covenant. It’s rather presumptuous of you to instruct us on our Confessions.

  568. Tim Harris Says:

    Gary — First, the problem with Mormons and JW’s is additional revelation, not just a problem of exegesis. In other words, the problem is not “reason” but the source of revelation.

    Second, your bluff has been called more than once vis a vis the CLAIM that you “stand in the company of 1500 years of church history prior to the Reformation.” (1) On that basis, justification by faith alone goes by the wayside. Oops. (2) The teachers of the church have not been unanimous on Real Presence, as Sasse himself discusses. (3) Many of the “fathers” that you might be able to quote could be interpreted consistently under more than one view of the Lord’s Supper, including the Reformed. Context, context. So you have to assume the thing you think is evidence in order to make the claim. This is similar to episcopalians’ use of the “fathers.” I pointed out in my church history class that an early-father quote that had just been read as evidence that the early church was soon episcopal, could equally well be interpreted consistently with 3-office Presbyterianism. The professor had to admit that was right and has since modified how he teaches the class.

    Third, you shouldn’t object to us putting particularly strong weight on those “fathers” known as the apostles. And, as Bannerman and Cunningham and others have pointed out, the level of clarity and authority is a steep dropoff going from the inscripturated apostles to Ignatius, the Shepherd, Clement etc. It is not like a gradual incline, but more like dropping off a cliff. Plus, your use of the “first 300 years” would be like some future historian using the current Supreme Court as an authority on the meaning of the Constitution “because only separated by 200 years.” But the original intent of the Constitution is ENTIRELY gone from the minds of this Court. I’m not saying the fathers were this bad, but it point out the dangers of your method, which at the end of the day is arbitrary if nothing else.

  569. Ron Says:

    Bravo, Tim.

    Plus, your use of the “first 300 years” would be like some future historian using the current Supreme Court as an authority on the meaning of the Constitution “because only separated by 200 years.”

    Nice!

  570. Sean Gerety Says:

    Children are “CHRISTIANS” before their Baptisms.

    Do Lutherans really deny that a person can be a Christian before they’re baptized? Or is that just Gary trying to speak for Lutherans again?

  571. Ron Says:

    I think he’s saying that our confessional documents teach that al covenant children are regenerate before they’re baptized and that is why we think they should be baptized, because they’re already regenerate-Christians. I know, it’s very confusing these musings of his. We got you covered, Sean, our hearo! 🙂

  572. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thanks Ron. My head is already dizzy. Although I blame you for making me look at this thread. ;(

  573. Ron Says:

    Sorry about that, Chief.

    Max, 86

  574. Denson Dube Says:

    @Tim
    And, as Bannerman and Cunningham and others have pointed out, the level of clarity and authority is a steep dropoff going from the inscripturated apostles to Ignatius, the Shepherd, Clement etc. It is not like a gradual incline, but more like dropping off a cliff.
    Thanks Tim for bearing me out! As I had already pointed out how jejune the so-called church fathers’ doctrinal output was. But I did say the Reformed Confessions incoperate and are consistent with the judgements of these early church leaders on heresies and the positive statements on those issues. So, reformed doctrine is not as novel as Gary’s ignorance and misology leads him to conclude.

  575. Denson Dube Says:

    @Ron
    Sorry about that, Chief. Max, 86
    LOL! Getting smart and giving away your age too!

  576. Ron Says:

    Hey, I watched it prime time!

    And loving it.

  577. Pht Says:

    Gary M Says:

    January 1, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    And again for Pht:

    While never elevating extra-biblical opinions of the church fathers above Scripture, as Rome did, Lutheranism has never rejected, but rather has embraced, the early church fathers as our own.

    You have quite clearly posted that the unclear bible passages mean what “the majority of the early church fathers” said they mean. This necessitates placing the ECF’s above scripture.

    Cf also your own words quoted below as more support for this conclusion about your authorities:

    Gary M Says:

    January 2, 2014 at 1:56 am

    Pht:

    Here is a list of the Early Church Fathers and their statements regarding the core, apostolic, Christian doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration. There is NO disagreement among the Church Fathers on this doctrine. So I accept their unanimous support for this doctrine as highly indicative that Baptismal Regeneration is of Apostolic origin.

    Here you have said you are accepting it *on the authority of* the ECF’s. Not on the basis of what scripture says. If scripture were your final authority, which no other authority could not trump, and you could not determine what a passage of scripture meant, you would simply accept that you did not know, instead of resorting to “it is what the ECFs say it is.”

    You have no way to know if the ECFs have the right interpretation of passages you don’t understand.

    Gary M Says:

    January 2, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Lutheran pastor:

    Who are the Church Fathers?

    Let’s begin with the “Who…”. The Church Fathers were important leaders of the Christian church from the time of the apostles down to John of Damascus (died 754), who was the last of the Greek Church Fathers. Generally the Church Fathers are broken down into three main groups – The Apostolic Fathers, the Ante-Nicene Fathers, and the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. We will break up our study by these three groups and focus on the most important of the Church Fathers from each era.

    For the sake of moving things forwards, I’ll make the presumption that this defines (at least somewhat) who you think the ECF’s were.

    Gary M Says:

    January 2, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Ok Steve, I’m going to try this one more time:

    1. All Christians should accept the plain, simple interpretation (PSI) of all Scripture. Read all passages as literal unless there is clear evidence in the surrounding context that the writer is speaking metaphorically, using hyperbole, etc.

    You seem quite big on asking us how we interpret the bible, so I’ll ask you: How do you define “PSI?” I presume the .etc refers to your earlier post about what you call “Classic Lutheran Bible interpretation principles” …?

    I would also ask you… how many meanings does any passage have? One? Or more than one? If more than one, may these meanings be mutually contradictory? If not actually contradictory but only paradoxical (not contradictory but just hard to read properly), is it right to use these passages if we cannot understand their meaning?

    2. If the PSI of a passage is unclear, compare it to other passages of Scripture regarding the same doctrine, in which the PSI is clearer in these passages, and who’s interpretation has acceptance among a significant segment of Trinitarian Christians.

    Why, on the basis of your own authority structure, trinitarians only? Are you saying that trinitarianism is clear for everyone who reads scripture? Or at least everyone who claims the name of christ who reads scripture?

    3. If the interpretation of the passage remains unclear or is disputed among major groups of Christians, go to the writings of the Church Fathers to see what they had to say on the subject. Are the Church Fathers in unanimous or near unanimous agreement on the subject or is there division?

    So, if a particular denomination’s position on Doctrine X, for illustration, passes criterion one and two, but there is a 50/50 split among the Church Fathers on that position, the Church Fathers opinions aren’t much help.

    So, we finally have at least somewhat of an answer from you on how you define what an unclear passage is.

    You appear to be saying that if the PSI of any passage appears clear, than the passage is clear?

    If so, than I at least await your clear definition of what exactly is summed up in the above “.etc” in your definition of how to read scripture.

    If you are determining who is an ECF, who is an EC heretic, and who is heterodox in the EC on the basis of what you define as “clear passages,” than how do you know if they do not give heretical interpretations of the “unclear passages?”

    You are simply saying that the “unclear passages” mean what the “majority of the ECFs” say they mean – you are having them as your final authority; that nothing can trump them on “unclear passages.”

    You may say back that the ECF’s interpretation of the “unclear passages” should be consistent with the “clear passages,” but you have already defined an “unclear passage” as being one that the other “clear passages” shed no light on. So you have no way of knowing if those you call ECFs have the right interpretation of what you call “unclear passages.”

    You are simply pre-supposing that the ECFs are correct and bowing to their authority over scripture… the scriptures are not functioning for you as an authority on who is and who is not an ECF.

    You *do not know* what the “unclear passages” would or would not define as heresy.

    For example, let us presume that the bible nowhere in what you are calling a “clear passage” defines what saving faith is, and that *all other doctrines* were “clear” in the bible.

    Let us also presume that all of those you call ECFs had a heretical definition of saving faith.

    But you go with what the ECFs say saving faith is and preach that those who believe must exercise what the ECFs call “saving faith.”

    Need I point out the consequences?

    This is, of course, ignoring the giant elephant that is wearing a pink-tutu and balancing on an eggshell in the corner of the room – the problem that what is unclear to one person is clear to another, thus, how does one determine what is ultimately an “unclear passage,” and if on the basis of someone’s personal authority, which person and why that person?

    Gary M Says:

    January 2, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Denson,

    How do you arrive at your interpretation of the Bible?

    I have already given an unambiguous answer on this topic – and you have NOT interacted in any way with the answer I gave you.

    Why?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: