Post-denominational

The president of Chicago Theological Seminary, Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, gives us another useful word to name what is happening in American Christianity: Post-denominational

It is clear from this Pew study that the old denominational affiliations no longer apply. The religious landscape in the U.S. is best described these days as “post-denominational.” Post-denominational means that it is far less important whether you are Methodist or Baptist, or even Catholic, than where you fall along the continuum of fundamentalist to evangelical to progressive (liberal) to secular or unaligned. While some faiths or denominations generally are more evangelical or more liberal, each tradition has a wide spectrum within it. If you are a liberal Christian in a conservative Protestant denomination, you may have more in common with a Reformed Jew than with the Christians in your own denomination.

C. S. Lewis said something similar, that, as a conservative Anglican, he has more in common with conservative Catholics and conservative Baptists, than the liberals in his own denomination. But now it appears that fidelity to any denomination is fading away, while the different degrees of conservatism and liberalism are becoming institutionalized.

But think of it: The key to your religious affiliation is really how conservative or liberal you are, not any specific theology or even a specific religion?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    This is interesting, and I think largely true. I am probably the most conservative (orthodox, perhaps?) person in our parish and tend to have more conservative Catholic friends than moderate or liberal Lutheran ones. Does this say that as a culture we value more HOW one believes rather than WHAT one believes?

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    This is interesting, and I think largely true. I am probably the most conservative (orthodox, perhaps?) person in our parish and tend to have more conservative Catholic friends than moderate or liberal Lutheran ones. Does this say that as a culture we value more HOW one believes rather than WHAT one believes?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Well, it’s not exactly a surprise to me that the same churches that can’t figure out the Bible’s positions on, say, human sexuality aren’t going to be able to establish a coherent position on the more complex positions that differentiate churches. In other shocking news, guys that can’t bench-press a tuna salad sandwich (thanks Mike Royko) are going to have limited opportunities playing offensive line in D-1 and the NFL.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Well, it’s not exactly a surprise to me that the same churches that can’t figure out the Bible’s positions on, say, human sexuality aren’t going to be able to establish a coherent position on the more complex positions that differentiate churches. In other shocking news, guys that can’t bench-press a tuna salad sandwich (thanks Mike Royko) are going to have limited opportunities playing offensive line in D-1 and the NFL.

  • http://joeburnham.com Joe Burnham

    Last September at St. Louis’ Theological Symposium, Harvard sociologist Robert Putnum gave a presentation covering some of material in his new book, “American Grace”. In it, he made a comment that, based on his research, if a person’s politics don’t seem to match their religious beliefs, they are more likely to leave their faith than their political party. Just one more bit of evidence that, in the United States, liberal or conservative is the dominant measure of where you fit.

  • http://joeburnham.com Joe Burnham

    Last September at St. Louis’ Theological Symposium, Harvard sociologist Robert Putnum gave a presentation covering some of material in his new book, “American Grace”. In it, he made a comment that, based on his research, if a person’s politics don’t seem to match their religious beliefs, they are more likely to leave their faith than their political party. Just one more bit of evidence that, in the United States, liberal or conservative is the dominant measure of where you fit.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Joe, thanks for giving your synopsis of Putnum. Do you mind if I quote you – you describe this phenomenon, which I have sadly experienced with folks , in very understandable terms.

    It is very sad. To put all ones eggs into the political basket to pursue a “City of God” which will never be grasped is nothing but idolatry with too high a cost.

    Always better to trust in the real Savior.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Joe, thanks for giving your synopsis of Putnum. Do you mind if I quote you – you describe this phenomenon, which I have sadly experienced with folks , in very understandable terms.

    It is very sad. To put all ones eggs into the political basket to pursue a “City of God” which will never be grasped is nothing but idolatry with too high a cost.

    Always better to trust in the real Savior.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    “The key to your religious affiliation is really how conservative or liberal you are, not any specific theology or even a specific religion?”

    It is my opinion, backed by Pew research even (lol), that this is the direction evangelicals (now post-demoninationals) are headed.

    It also sounds a lot like the old line about all that really matters is that we all believe in Jesus, only in reverse.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    “The key to your religious affiliation is really how conservative or liberal you are, not any specific theology or even a specific religion?”

    It is my opinion, backed by Pew research even (lol), that this is the direction evangelicals (now post-demoninationals) are headed.

    It also sounds a lot like the old line about all that really matters is that we all believe in Jesus, only in reverse.

  • kerner

    When I was younger, I envisioned a time when labels became less important; I thought that commitment to the Bible as the inerrant Word of God and as the only proper foundation of church doctrine would increase. I thought alliances among “denominations” would reform allong those lines.

    Today I think this was a little naive. I mean, come right down to it, I believe that if all Bible believing Christians really understood the Bible, they would all be Lutherans. But, my Bible believing Baptist, or Calvinist, or even Catholic, friends all take a similar view about their own doctrine. Sure, I have a lot in common with them, but my frame of reference is different. And when Lutheran clergymen get too chummy with the clergy of other denominations, there is a real negative reaction from our more hard core confessional types (including me, I have to admit).

    On some broad issues (mostly moral and cultural ones), confessional Lutherans have points of commonality with “conservative” Christians of other denominations. But the differences between us on vital points of doctrine remain. I mean come on: The confessional Lutheran position is that the papacy is anti-christ; the pre-vatican II Catholic position is that Lutherans are outside the Church and therefore unsaved. Once we stop talking about abortion, etc., we have some real differences that are not about to disapear.

  • kerner

    When I was younger, I envisioned a time when labels became less important; I thought that commitment to the Bible as the inerrant Word of God and as the only proper foundation of church doctrine would increase. I thought alliances among “denominations” would reform allong those lines.

    Today I think this was a little naive. I mean, come right down to it, I believe that if all Bible believing Christians really understood the Bible, they would all be Lutherans. But, my Bible believing Baptist, or Calvinist, or even Catholic, friends all take a similar view about their own doctrine. Sure, I have a lot in common with them, but my frame of reference is different. And when Lutheran clergymen get too chummy with the clergy of other denominations, there is a real negative reaction from our more hard core confessional types (including me, I have to admit).

    On some broad issues (mostly moral and cultural ones), confessional Lutherans have points of commonality with “conservative” Christians of other denominations. But the differences between us on vital points of doctrine remain. I mean come on: The confessional Lutheran position is that the papacy is anti-christ; the pre-vatican II Catholic position is that Lutherans are outside the Church and therefore unsaved. Once we stop talking about abortion, etc., we have some real differences that are not about to disapear.

  • Bror Erickson

    I don’t think we would be post denominational, if the denominations themselves hadn’t stopped standing for something. The ecumenical movement gutted and deboned the traditional denominations. So no, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore which denomination you belong to, because that denomination doesn’t know why it is a denomination anymore. So people church shop, and the stop where they here a pastor they like. Hopefully that pastor preaches the word of God. But if you were to look up LCMS and research its history, and positions before you went to church, you would be lucky to find a parish that actually aligned itself with the official positions that had attracted you. So it is with many denominations today.
    But then many in the “calvary Chapel” denomination, and the “Church of Christ” denomination have been coached to say they aren’t in a denomination. When in fact they are. You see that logo, you know what is taught before you walk in the door, the pastor will be different, their may not be much of a structure, but the doctrine will be the same, they don’t recite their creeds but they hand them out in pamphlets as your leaving. So given that I’m not to sure how true all this post denominational buisness is.

  • Bror Erickson

    I don’t think we would be post denominational, if the denominations themselves hadn’t stopped standing for something. The ecumenical movement gutted and deboned the traditional denominations. So no, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore which denomination you belong to, because that denomination doesn’t know why it is a denomination anymore. So people church shop, and the stop where they here a pastor they like. Hopefully that pastor preaches the word of God. But if you were to look up LCMS and research its history, and positions before you went to church, you would be lucky to find a parish that actually aligned itself with the official positions that had attracted you. So it is with many denominations today.
    But then many in the “calvary Chapel” denomination, and the “Church of Christ” denomination have been coached to say they aren’t in a denomination. When in fact they are. You see that logo, you know what is taught before you walk in the door, the pastor will be different, their may not be much of a structure, but the doctrine will be the same, they don’t recite their creeds but they hand them out in pamphlets as your leaving. So given that I’m not to sure how true all this post denominational buisness is.

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  • Don S

    This is another case where you have to consider the source to a certain extent. Rev. Thistlethwaite is very liberal, as can be seen from this extract from her post: “What holds us together? We are a progressive institution and known for our commitment to social justice. Our seminary motto is “Ministry for the Real World.” We teach on the corner of church and society, and clearly now also on the corner of synagogue and society and even mosque and society” In the liberal denominations, former doctrinal distinctions have been lost, because if you don’t even believe the Bible to be literally true, and if your primary objective is “social justice”, then why are you worried about little denominational distinctions?

    However, for those who remain true to the literal and infallible Scriptures, these doctrinal distinctions remain vital. Look at those who post on this blog! Most are Lutheran through and through. It is a smaller segment of the population as a whole, because of our post-Christian society and the lack of Biblical training for many of today’s Christians, but the distinctions are there for those who care.

    What I think IS different is this: I grew up in a fundamentalist independent Baptist church with a very clear set of Baptist distinctives. We engaged in very few parachurch activities which involved Christians from other denominations, because of the doctrinal differences between us. Other than the Billy Graham crusades (which were controversial among the conservative members of our church), there just wasn’t much coordination between denominational congregations to reach out to the surrounding community. I think that aspect has changed a great deal, thankfully. Christians today recognize that the Body of Christ includes those having different doctrinal beliefs and emphases, but a common faith in Christ alone for salvation. We can worship separately, enjoying and practicing our individual faith traditions, yet work together in unity to minister to the community at large. I think that is a good thing, compared to the denominational squabbles and infighting I remember as a kid.

    Let me address one point which Bror Erickson makes above. Our family worships in a Calvary Chapel church today. We are not “coached” to say we are not in a denomination. The fact is, we are not in a denomination. Each church congregation is individually governed, and totally independent of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (the parent church). The congregation owns its own property. There is no central governance structure, and no funds pass from the local congregations to the “big church”, or vice-versa. The name, and the dove symbol which has become identified with Calvary Chapel churches are trademarks, essentially, and churches wishing to affiliate with and use these trademarks agree to: 1) ensure that their pastor is in an accountability group; 2) agree with and adopt a basic doctrinal statement (which the local congregation is free to make more specific and flesh out, if they desire, as long as their additions and changes don’t contradict the basic statement of faith); and 3) have their pastor be accountable to the pastoral staff of the “big church”, as well as the local congregation, in the event a behavioral/moral issue arises. The purpose of this accountability, besides its obvious Biblical roots, is to protect the name, so that people looking for a church can have a good idea, when they consider a Calvary Chapel church, of what kind of church they will find. The worst penalty the ‘big church” can impose is to force the local church to disaffiliate from the Calvary Chapel name. The other distinctive of a Calvary Chapel church is that the preaching is generally expository, taking the Bible in context, rather than topical.

    So, I don’t really think that loose level of affiliation qualifies as a denomination.

  • Don S

    This is another case where you have to consider the source to a certain extent. Rev. Thistlethwaite is very liberal, as can be seen from this extract from her post: “What holds us together? We are a progressive institution and known for our commitment to social justice. Our seminary motto is “Ministry for the Real World.” We teach on the corner of church and society, and clearly now also on the corner of synagogue and society and even mosque and society” In the liberal denominations, former doctrinal distinctions have been lost, because if you don’t even believe the Bible to be literally true, and if your primary objective is “social justice”, then why are you worried about little denominational distinctions?

    However, for those who remain true to the literal and infallible Scriptures, these doctrinal distinctions remain vital. Look at those who post on this blog! Most are Lutheran through and through. It is a smaller segment of the population as a whole, because of our post-Christian society and the lack of Biblical training for many of today’s Christians, but the distinctions are there for those who care.

    What I think IS different is this: I grew up in a fundamentalist independent Baptist church with a very clear set of Baptist distinctives. We engaged in very few parachurch activities which involved Christians from other denominations, because of the doctrinal differences between us. Other than the Billy Graham crusades (which were controversial among the conservative members of our church), there just wasn’t much coordination between denominational congregations to reach out to the surrounding community. I think that aspect has changed a great deal, thankfully. Christians today recognize that the Body of Christ includes those having different doctrinal beliefs and emphases, but a common faith in Christ alone for salvation. We can worship separately, enjoying and practicing our individual faith traditions, yet work together in unity to minister to the community at large. I think that is a good thing, compared to the denominational squabbles and infighting I remember as a kid.

    Let me address one point which Bror Erickson makes above. Our family worships in a Calvary Chapel church today. We are not “coached” to say we are not in a denomination. The fact is, we are not in a denomination. Each church congregation is individually governed, and totally independent of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (the parent church). The congregation owns its own property. There is no central governance structure, and no funds pass from the local congregations to the “big church”, or vice-versa. The name, and the dove symbol which has become identified with Calvary Chapel churches are trademarks, essentially, and churches wishing to affiliate with and use these trademarks agree to: 1) ensure that their pastor is in an accountability group; 2) agree with and adopt a basic doctrinal statement (which the local congregation is free to make more specific and flesh out, if they desire, as long as their additions and changes don’t contradict the basic statement of faith); and 3) have their pastor be accountable to the pastoral staff of the “big church”, as well as the local congregation, in the event a behavioral/moral issue arises. The purpose of this accountability, besides its obvious Biblical roots, is to protect the name, so that people looking for a church can have a good idea, when they consider a Calvary Chapel church, of what kind of church they will find. The worst penalty the ‘big church” can impose is to force the local church to disaffiliate from the Calvary Chapel name. The other distinctive of a Calvary Chapel church is that the preaching is generally expository, taking the Bible in context, rather than topical.

    So, I don’t really think that loose level of affiliation qualifies as a denomination.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    Thank you, you make my point. It is in fact a denomination. everything you say above could be said about the way the LCMS operates, we would name things different Pastoral accountability group being a circuit winkel etc. But basically the same. We do send money to the “bigger Church’ but that is voluntary on our part ( we say it is for missions, but that is debatable these days).
    You see I think this comes down to a fundamental misunderstanding of what a denomination is. The old so-called congregationalist of Massachussets operated the same way your Calvary chapel does, and they considered themselves a denomination. From my point of it the flow of money, and the heirarchy have little to do with wether or not a church body is a denomination or not. The question is do you have a doctrinal standard (common Confession of faith), are you some how associated with eachother (sorry common logo counts). The fact of the matter is by my definition you guys are more of a denomination than the LCMS which has a fair amount of doctrinal chaos going on at the moment. But the fact that each congregation owns its own property and is not obligated to send money outside its doors for the common mission, does not make it any less of a denomination.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    Thank you, you make my point. It is in fact a denomination. everything you say above could be said about the way the LCMS operates, we would name things different Pastoral accountability group being a circuit winkel etc. But basically the same. We do send money to the “bigger Church’ but that is voluntary on our part ( we say it is for missions, but that is debatable these days).
    You see I think this comes down to a fundamental misunderstanding of what a denomination is. The old so-called congregationalist of Massachussets operated the same way your Calvary chapel does, and they considered themselves a denomination. From my point of it the flow of money, and the heirarchy have little to do with wether or not a church body is a denomination or not. The question is do you have a doctrinal standard (common Confession of faith), are you some how associated with eachother (sorry common logo counts). The fact of the matter is by my definition you guys are more of a denomination than the LCMS which has a fair amount of doctrinal chaos going on at the moment. But the fact that each congregation owns its own property and is not obligated to send money outside its doors for the common mission, does not make it any less of a denomination.

  • kerner

    “I don’t really think that loose level of affiliation qualifies as a denomination” – Don. S.

    With respect, Don, I do. The word “denominate” simply means to name something.

    My own church, a member church of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod would be called by most people part of “a denomination”. As such, our church constitution accepts as authoritative the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions. The Lutheran Confessions are almost certainly a lot more detailed than the “basic doctrinal statement” of a Calvary Chapel, but I am pretty sure that your distinctives are well defined enough that the differences between your doctrine and mine are very clear.

    Further, for all our formality, the LCMS recognises the independence of each individual congregation. The congregation is individually governed and owns its property, and, like Calvary Chapels, the worst penalty the synod can impose is to force the local congregation to disaffiliate from the LCMS name (which, in our somewhat longer history, has happened; and some congregations have simply decided to leave voluntarily). Within that framework, however, the individual churches have a whole lot of independence, so much so that some are calling for more voluntary uniformity in worship practices, etc., so that, like Calvary Chapels, people looking for a church will have a good idea of what kind of church they will find if they see LCMS on the sign outside.

    Remember, denominations are often imposed from the outside. Lutherans never called themselves “Lutheran” for the first century or so of their existence. They described their doctrine as based on God’s Word or “evangelical”, but Roman Catholics, Calvinists, and Anabaptists of that era coined the adjective “Lutheran” to describe our doctrine and eventually us. Since “evangelical” is today, as it was then, a term that can mean different things to different people, it was only a matter of time till Calvary Chapel Christians acquired a descriptive name. It could have been Smithites or something else, but as long as there is continuity of doctrine, practice and discipline among you, somebody would have given you a name to distinguish you from other Christians. As it turns out, you have named yourselves, “Calvary Chapel”, and that is your “denomination”.

  • kerner

    “I don’t really think that loose level of affiliation qualifies as a denomination” – Don. S.

    With respect, Don, I do. The word “denominate” simply means to name something.

    My own church, a member church of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod would be called by most people part of “a denomination”. As such, our church constitution accepts as authoritative the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions. The Lutheran Confessions are almost certainly a lot more detailed than the “basic doctrinal statement” of a Calvary Chapel, but I am pretty sure that your distinctives are well defined enough that the differences between your doctrine and mine are very clear.

    Further, for all our formality, the LCMS recognises the independence of each individual congregation. The congregation is individually governed and owns its property, and, like Calvary Chapels, the worst penalty the synod can impose is to force the local congregation to disaffiliate from the LCMS name (which, in our somewhat longer history, has happened; and some congregations have simply decided to leave voluntarily). Within that framework, however, the individual churches have a whole lot of independence, so much so that some are calling for more voluntary uniformity in worship practices, etc., so that, like Calvary Chapels, people looking for a church will have a good idea of what kind of church they will find if they see LCMS on the sign outside.

    Remember, denominations are often imposed from the outside. Lutherans never called themselves “Lutheran” for the first century or so of their existence. They described their doctrine as based on God’s Word or “evangelical”, but Roman Catholics, Calvinists, and Anabaptists of that era coined the adjective “Lutheran” to describe our doctrine and eventually us. Since “evangelical” is today, as it was then, a term that can mean different things to different people, it was only a matter of time till Calvary Chapel Christians acquired a descriptive name. It could have been Smithites or something else, but as long as there is continuity of doctrine, practice and discipline among you, somebody would have given you a name to distinguish you from other Christians. As it turns out, you have named yourselves, “Calvary Chapel”, and that is your “denomination”.

  • Don S

    Bror & Kerner — I guess it’s all semantics, then. You can call it a denomination if you want to, it’s not a negative term. However, there is certainly a substantially greater hierarchical structure in the LCMS church than in the Calvary Chapel church. I just visited the LCMS website (which is not affiliated with any of the LCMS churches in its denomination), and found a 209 page document describing the organization of LCMS. It has a governing board comprised of representatives from each member of the Synod, 10 universities/colleges, 90 high schools/Christian schools, a publishing house, etc. In contrast, the only hierarchical structure for the Calvary Chapels is the actual ministry staff of a single church, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, with which some 1300 other churches have chosen to affiliate. The affiliates have no representation in the “denomination” of Calvary Chapel.

  • Don S

    Bror & Kerner — I guess it’s all semantics, then. You can call it a denomination if you want to, it’s not a negative term. However, there is certainly a substantially greater hierarchical structure in the LCMS church than in the Calvary Chapel church. I just visited the LCMS website (which is not affiliated with any of the LCMS churches in its denomination), and found a 209 page document describing the organization of LCMS. It has a governing board comprised of representatives from each member of the Synod, 10 universities/colleges, 90 high schools/Christian schools, a publishing house, etc. In contrast, the only hierarchical structure for the Calvary Chapels is the actual ministry staff of a single church, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, with which some 1300 other churches have chosen to affiliate. The affiliates have no representation in the “denomination” of Calvary Chapel.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    Just wait, your constitution will reach 209 pages in good time. We were a young synod once too, some look back on those days as the good ones. But history brings baggage, some good, some bad.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    Just wait, your constitution will reach 209 pages in good time. We were a young synod once too, some look back on those days as the good ones. But history brings baggage, some good, some bad.

  • fw

    interesting as to what the possible orientations are. what is the central thing that make people feel affiliated.

    Jesus seems to be missing from all of this as the focus.

    liberal/conservative are political labels that somehow got into the church. I am really curious as to how that came to be so and when. anyone have an idea about this?

  • fw

    interesting as to what the possible orientations are. what is the central thing that make people feel affiliated.

    Jesus seems to be missing from all of this as the focus.

    liberal/conservative are political labels that somehow got into the church. I am really curious as to how that came to be so and when. anyone have an idea about this?

  • fw

    #12 don s

    I sense that being a “denomination” is something that calvary chapel finds undesireable. how would YOU define “denomination” and why would you find it undesirable for calvary chapel to fit that description and why please?

  • fw

    #12 don s

    I sense that being a “denomination” is something that calvary chapel finds undesireable. how would YOU define “denomination” and why would you find it undesirable for calvary chapel to fit that description and why please?

  • Another Kerner

    When are Christians with differant demoninational stances able to join hands with specific political or academic goals to affect a desired result?

    Probably when they are in agreement on an issue. :-)

    When do Christians with different denominational stances drop hands and not join together on any given issue?

    Probably when they are *not* in agreement. :-)

    The White Horse Inn quartet of theologians might be a case in point of Christians agreed on common doctrinal issues which are very important to them at this time in the history of the Church (A Presbyterian, a Reformed, a Reformed Baptist and a Lutheran).

    Dr. Veith himself contributes essay and opinion on things theological in various publications aside from those which are confessional Lutheran in nature.

    This blog itself is an example of spiritual, political and cultural discourse amongst people who appear to have interests and goals in common, but who disagree often enough.

    As a Christian who is a confessional Lutheran, I see through the prism of the Reformation’s Three Solas and the Book of Concord.

    When I give one of my family a book which has merit, it is always “wrapped and ribbon tied” with the admonition to read it with “Lutheran” eyes.
    (They should also should listen with Lutheran ears.)

    Ah……….. but as close as I am to kerner (#6 and #11), linked by DNA, blood, faith, doctrine and political stance, we do not take Holy Communion together.

    We belong to two different Synods who have a slight disagreement on some issues one with the other.

    We all walk together when we are agreed and don’t when we are not……..isn’t it so?

    PS: Bike Bubba at #2.
    I’m not surprised either.

  • Another Kerner

    When are Christians with differant demoninational stances able to join hands with specific political or academic goals to affect a desired result?

    Probably when they are in agreement on an issue. :-)

    When do Christians with different denominational stances drop hands and not join together on any given issue?

    Probably when they are *not* in agreement. :-)

    The White Horse Inn quartet of theologians might be a case in point of Christians agreed on common doctrinal issues which are very important to them at this time in the history of the Church (A Presbyterian, a Reformed, a Reformed Baptist and a Lutheran).

    Dr. Veith himself contributes essay and opinion on things theological in various publications aside from those which are confessional Lutheran in nature.

    This blog itself is an example of spiritual, political and cultural discourse amongst people who appear to have interests and goals in common, but who disagree often enough.

    As a Christian who is a confessional Lutheran, I see through the prism of the Reformation’s Three Solas and the Book of Concord.

    When I give one of my family a book which has merit, it is always “wrapped and ribbon tied” with the admonition to read it with “Lutheran” eyes.
    (They should also should listen with Lutheran ears.)

    Ah……….. but as close as I am to kerner (#6 and #11), linked by DNA, blood, faith, doctrine and political stance, we do not take Holy Communion together.

    We belong to two different Synods who have a slight disagreement on some issues one with the other.

    We all walk together when we are agreed and don’t when we are not……..isn’t it so?

    PS: Bike Bubba at #2.
    I’m not surprised either.

  • Don S

    It seems as if the major point of my post was lost to the aside, related to Calvary Chapel and the definition of a denomination :)

    To Bror @ 13 — The Calvary Chapel denomifiliation is pastor-centric enough that I doubt it will ever really have a constitution (we will save for another day whether that is a good model or not).

    To Frank @ 14 & 15 — While Jesus might have been missing in our particular discussion about organization, that reflects a narrow focus on the part of the “discussers” rather than an unbiblical or non-Christ-focused approach on the part of those instrumental in founding the denominations or affiliations being discussed.

    I don’t think Calvary Chapel shies away from being a denomination, per se, if it is defined in the way Bror and Kerner defined the term in this thread. However, there is no desire on the part of either the home church or the affiliated churches to become a hierarchical organization in the sense that most people think of when they encounter the word “denomination”. I speak for myself, merely as a layman in a particular local church, rather than for any of the leaders of any Calvary Chapel body.

  • Don S

    It seems as if the major point of my post was lost to the aside, related to Calvary Chapel and the definition of a denomination :)

    To Bror @ 13 — The Calvary Chapel denomifiliation is pastor-centric enough that I doubt it will ever really have a constitution (we will save for another day whether that is a good model or not).

    To Frank @ 14 & 15 — While Jesus might have been missing in our particular discussion about organization, that reflects a narrow focus on the part of the “discussers” rather than an unbiblical or non-Christ-focused approach on the part of those instrumental in founding the denominations or affiliations being discussed.

    I don’t think Calvary Chapel shies away from being a denomination, per se, if it is defined in the way Bror and Kerner defined the term in this thread. However, there is no desire on the part of either the home church or the affiliated churches to become a hierarchical organization in the sense that most people think of when they encounter the word “denomination”. I speak for myself, merely as a layman in a particular local church, rather than for any of the leaders of any Calvary Chapel body.

  • Don S

    Further to Frank @ 15 — The reason I originally engaged on this issue is because I thought Bror was being a bit unfair in characterizing Calvary Chapel as somehow coachng its people to claim they are not a denomination when they really are, not because “denomination” is necessarily a negative term.

    However, many laymen, when confronted with the term, think of the classic hierarchical mainline Protestant organization, currently best exemplified by poor local congregations trying to exit the organization because it has become apostate, and being pursued relentlessly by the denominational hierarchy for its property.

  • Don S

    Further to Frank @ 15 — The reason I originally engaged on this issue is because I thought Bror was being a bit unfair in characterizing Calvary Chapel as somehow coachng its people to claim they are not a denomination when they really are, not because “denomination” is necessarily a negative term.

    However, many laymen, when confronted with the term, think of the classic hierarchical mainline Protestant organization, currently best exemplified by poor local congregations trying to exit the organization because it has become apostate, and being pursued relentlessly by the denominational hierarchy for its property.

  • Greg

    I think the LCMS is an exception to the American tendency to merge politics and theology. I myself am both Orthodox in my theology and right wing in my politics, but I was talking to another LCMS pastor sunday night who was a socialist yet just as orthodox as me. The LCMS is not part of the politicised religion of American protestantism.

  • Greg

    I think the LCMS is an exception to the American tendency to merge politics and theology. I myself am both Orthodox in my theology and right wing in my politics, but I was talking to another LCMS pastor sunday night who was a socialist yet just as orthodox as me. The LCMS is not part of the politicised religion of American protestantism.

  • fw

    #17 Don s

    my apologies if i was understood. I was responding to the original post where i did not start with naming another poster or poster number. sorry again Don. I was not meaning to imply that anyone here was give Jesus the jive.

  • fw

    #17 Don s

    my apologies if i was understood. I was responding to the original post where i did not start with naming another poster or poster number. sorry again Don. I was not meaning to imply that anyone here was give Jesus the jive.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    It is precisely by blurring what it means to be a denomination that Calvary Chapel coaches its people to say they do not belong to a denomination.
    It has long been a tendency in Reformed Churches to squabble over polity/ heiarchy as being a defining characteristic of their denominations. So you have Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and the old congregationalists. What defined the Presbyterians over and against the Dutch Reformed, at one time not much more that polity, and language.
    The congregationalists were the first to more or less adapt the polity you have in Calvary Chapel. We won’t go into the pastorcentric thing, and the problems associated there.
    We as Lutherans have never allowed ourselves to be defined by polity. None of us could ever care very much about something that if the Bible isn’t silent on, is not very clear about. With in Lutheranism you find many different polities, from congregational to episcopal, I don’t know if a prebyterian Lutheran church exists but it is possible. So when some one hears LCMS, I surely hope they don’t think about our unique blend of Congregationalism balanced by equal representations of lay, and pastoral delegates at conventions, or our Purple Palace, or any thing of that nature. My hope is that they agreeing or not, think of a confessional Lutheran Church, that holds Christ and Him Crucified for our sins out to the world, believes God is powerful enough to give babies faith in baptism and save them from hell, and to change ordinary bread and wine into His body and blood through the same word he used to create the world.
    When I think Calvary Chapel, I think of a cult of personality revoloving around individual pastors who do espository sermons, have contemporary worship aimed at the tewnty to thirty crowd, or parents with children, Who beleive the bible to be inerrant, but are afraid of Faith alone, and to admit that they are really baptist.
    Sorry, not trying to be offensive here, but from my perspective that is what I see, good and bad. But you should here what I have to say of my own denomination after a few beers.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    It is precisely by blurring what it means to be a denomination that Calvary Chapel coaches its people to say they do not belong to a denomination.
    It has long been a tendency in Reformed Churches to squabble over polity/ heiarchy as being a defining characteristic of their denominations. So you have Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and the old congregationalists. What defined the Presbyterians over and against the Dutch Reformed, at one time not much more that polity, and language.
    The congregationalists were the first to more or less adapt the polity you have in Calvary Chapel. We won’t go into the pastorcentric thing, and the problems associated there.
    We as Lutherans have never allowed ourselves to be defined by polity. None of us could ever care very much about something that if the Bible isn’t silent on, is not very clear about. With in Lutheranism you find many different polities, from congregational to episcopal, I don’t know if a prebyterian Lutheran church exists but it is possible. So when some one hears LCMS, I surely hope they don’t think about our unique blend of Congregationalism balanced by equal representations of lay, and pastoral delegates at conventions, or our Purple Palace, or any thing of that nature. My hope is that they agreeing or not, think of a confessional Lutheran Church, that holds Christ and Him Crucified for our sins out to the world, believes God is powerful enough to give babies faith in baptism and save them from hell, and to change ordinary bread and wine into His body and blood through the same word he used to create the world.
    When I think Calvary Chapel, I think of a cult of personality revoloving around individual pastors who do espository sermons, have contemporary worship aimed at the tewnty to thirty crowd, or parents with children, Who beleive the bible to be inerrant, but are afraid of Faith alone, and to admit that they are really baptist.
    Sorry, not trying to be offensive here, but from my perspective that is what I see, good and bad. But you should here what I have to say of my own denomination after a few beers.

  • Bror Erickson

    I guess what I am trying to say here Don, is that it is doctrine that unites, not cashflow. Actually the buisness end of my synod does more to divide than it does to unite. Denominations should be known for more than a hiearchy. It isn’t about cashflow.
    What brought The Missouri Synod together in the first place, was a common confession of faith, and a common mission in Christ. The Missouri Synod, in large part because of the dynamic personality of Walther, came together not because they wanted to become a bloated giant of a synod, but because individual churches shared the same confession and saw it as beneficial to unite under one name, and one constitution so as to walk and work together to better carry out God’s work in this world. The work included planting new Churches in new communities, educating pastors and missionaries, world missions and so forth. To this end they started a publishing company, they started colleges, and Seminaries. They saw that at the time this could be done a little more effeciently with somewhat of a top down model, but they also like the bottom up model, they were wary of heirarchies that could force congregations to compromise their confession of faith. They tried to work in Checks and balances, so far it has worked as well for the LCMS as it has for our beloved United States. But it does work.
    Maybe you denomination dies with the pastor in Costa Mesa, I think not though. I think that will just be a time of transition for many of your congregations that will see a common logo, and a shared confession of faith are good for furthering the kingdom of God, and shepherding sheep in a mobile society. But you will have to come up with some rules of interplay, when the cult of personality dies.
    We in Missouri had that, twice in the beginning, Martin Stephans cult of personality replaced by Walthers. But though Walther had a cult following so to speak, he was enough of a pastor to see beyond the here and now, and set up for the future care of his sheep, and the future generations of sheep. He was humble, not sure that was true all the time, he didn’t relish the cult following, but he used his personality to point to Christ.

  • Bror Erickson

    I guess what I am trying to say here Don, is that it is doctrine that unites, not cashflow. Actually the buisness end of my synod does more to divide than it does to unite. Denominations should be known for more than a hiearchy. It isn’t about cashflow.
    What brought The Missouri Synod together in the first place, was a common confession of faith, and a common mission in Christ. The Missouri Synod, in large part because of the dynamic personality of Walther, came together not because they wanted to become a bloated giant of a synod, but because individual churches shared the same confession and saw it as beneficial to unite under one name, and one constitution so as to walk and work together to better carry out God’s work in this world. The work included planting new Churches in new communities, educating pastors and missionaries, world missions and so forth. To this end they started a publishing company, they started colleges, and Seminaries. They saw that at the time this could be done a little more effeciently with somewhat of a top down model, but they also like the bottom up model, they were wary of heirarchies that could force congregations to compromise their confession of faith. They tried to work in Checks and balances, so far it has worked as well for the LCMS as it has for our beloved United States. But it does work.
    Maybe you denomination dies with the pastor in Costa Mesa, I think not though. I think that will just be a time of transition for many of your congregations that will see a common logo, and a shared confession of faith are good for furthering the kingdom of God, and shepherding sheep in a mobile society. But you will have to come up with some rules of interplay, when the cult of personality dies.
    We in Missouri had that, twice in the beginning, Martin Stephans cult of personality replaced by Walthers. But though Walther had a cult following so to speak, he was enough of a pastor to see beyond the here and now, and set up for the future care of his sheep, and the future generations of sheep. He was humble, not sure that was true all the time, he didn’t relish the cult following, but he used his personality to point to Christ.

  • Don S

    Bror, for obvious reasons your last two posts are contemptuous and condescending, and undeserving of a response.

  • Don S

    Bror, for obvious reasons your last two posts are contemptuous and condescending, and undeserving of a response.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S (@23), I’m not sure what tone you’re reading into Bror’s last two posts, but I sure wouldn’t describe them as “contemptuous” or “condescending”. As a matter of fact, when I first read your post, Don, I thought you were joking.

    I’ll admit the “cult of personality” was too much, though only in the phrasing — the point Bror was making was fair enough.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S (@23), I’m not sure what tone you’re reading into Bror’s last two posts, but I sure wouldn’t describe them as “contemptuous” or “condescending”. As a matter of fact, when I first read your post, Don, I thought you were joking.

    I’ll admit the “cult of personality” was too much, though only in the phrasing — the point Bror was making was fair enough.

  • Rev. Bob

    And all this time I thought folks followed Walther for his good looks!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Ferdinand_Wilhelm_Walther

  • Rev. Bob

    And all this time I thought folks followed Walther for his good looks!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Ferdinand_Wilhelm_Walther

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    Sorry if you found them to be contentious or condescending. I’m really not trying to be, i’m just trying to point you to a reality that is there, and am trying to be fair. I don’t like everything about my synod either. I do love my Synod (denomination) and its history, but I don’t like everything about it. And though I know as tODD points out that “cult of personality” may be a bit too much because of some bad connotations it carries, I am not trying to use it in a slanderous way. I’m just trying to describe the phenomenon. Sometimes a strong cult of personality has a way of pointing people to Christ, it is a double edged sword though. Sometimes it just puffs the pastor up. I’ve seen it work to the detriment of a congregation, and I’ve seen it work for the good of a congregation. Walther had it (amazingly enough to look at a picture of him) he used it for the good of the church. Martin Stephan had it, and it almost ran Missouri into the ground before it got started. Both men mentioned there are Missouri fathers if you will.
    But back to the main point, You Calvary Chapel, pastor centric or not, is a denomination. I see that logo, I know what that church teaches. I only wish the same could be said for Missouris conjoined boomerangs.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    Sorry if you found them to be contentious or condescending. I’m really not trying to be, i’m just trying to point you to a reality that is there, and am trying to be fair. I don’t like everything about my synod either. I do love my Synod (denomination) and its history, but I don’t like everything about it. And though I know as tODD points out that “cult of personality” may be a bit too much because of some bad connotations it carries, I am not trying to use it in a slanderous way. I’m just trying to describe the phenomenon. Sometimes a strong cult of personality has a way of pointing people to Christ, it is a double edged sword though. Sometimes it just puffs the pastor up. I’ve seen it work to the detriment of a congregation, and I’ve seen it work for the good of a congregation. Walther had it (amazingly enough to look at a picture of him) he used it for the good of the church. Martin Stephan had it, and it almost ran Missouri into the ground before it got started. Both men mentioned there are Missouri fathers if you will.
    But back to the main point, You Calvary Chapel, pastor centric or not, is a denomination. I see that logo, I know what that church teaches. I only wish the same could be said for Missouris conjoined boomerangs.

  • Don S

    tODD, it should be obvious what tone I read into Bror’s posts. There is clearly a dismissive air in his reading of churches which choose to affiliate with Calvary Chapel, and broad and gross generalizations as to the nature of those 1300 + churches. There are a handful of prominent Calvary Chapel pastors, as there are in the evangelical world across the board, but the vast majority of churches are pastored by unsung local pastors. Our church is one such church. Our pastor is 66 years old, has labored quietly as senior pastor for some 20 years, has never been on the radio, pastors a church of modest size, and is best known for his love for missions, supporting pro-life causes and pregnancy centers, and handing out donuts and coffee each Friday morning to students at a continuation high school for kids that have been expelled from regular schools — just to be there, let them know someone cares about them, and to engage those who want to in conversation, whereever it leads. There’s no “cult of personality” at our church, and what drew us there, out of a Baptist church, was our desire to be led by a humble pastoral staff who lead by example, and by doing, not just expounding, the Word of God.

    “Afraid of faith alone” — I don’t know what Bror is talking about on that one, but it doesn’t seem complimentary. We are all about “faith alone in Christ alone”. There is no denying that the doctrine of a typical Calvary Chapel church is baptistic in many respects, but it is clearly not entirely baptistic, and it would be wrong to identify the church as Calvary Chapel Baptist Church.

    We don’t “worship” the “pastor in Costa Mesa”. I have met him on occasion, when my son played baseball for the Calvary Chapel High School team, and he is as humble and godly a man as you would ever want to meet. He has set up a very intricate succession at his own church, lives in very humble circumstances, and does everything in his power to deflect the admiration he receives from others to the Creator. His daughter is an avid homeschooler who began and continues to run a terrific home school ministry — it was through this ministry that our son was able to play ball on Calvary Chapel’s team while being homeschooled. She exemplifies the same humble servant’s heart that her father does, along with his wonderful gifts of leadership and ministry.

    There are many doctrines of LCMS I do not hold, but I would never dream of posting in a dismissive way about them. The LCMS church is a valuable part of the Body. We clearly share the essential doctrines of the faith, salvation solely through faith in Christ’s sacrifice and gift of grace to us, and will have the opportunity in eternity to learn who was right about each of the ancillary doctrines which make each of our traditions so distinct and rich. I would never dream of running down another’s faith in the way Bror did, especially when he is so obviously ignorant about much of which he speaks. I was disappointed to the commentary on this blog sink to such a disrespectful level, particularly since he claims to be a pastor.

  • Don S

    tODD, it should be obvious what tone I read into Bror’s posts. There is clearly a dismissive air in his reading of churches which choose to affiliate with Calvary Chapel, and broad and gross generalizations as to the nature of those 1300 + churches. There are a handful of prominent Calvary Chapel pastors, as there are in the evangelical world across the board, but the vast majority of churches are pastored by unsung local pastors. Our church is one such church. Our pastor is 66 years old, has labored quietly as senior pastor for some 20 years, has never been on the radio, pastors a church of modest size, and is best known for his love for missions, supporting pro-life causes and pregnancy centers, and handing out donuts and coffee each Friday morning to students at a continuation high school for kids that have been expelled from regular schools — just to be there, let them know someone cares about them, and to engage those who want to in conversation, whereever it leads. There’s no “cult of personality” at our church, and what drew us there, out of a Baptist church, was our desire to be led by a humble pastoral staff who lead by example, and by doing, not just expounding, the Word of God.

    “Afraid of faith alone” — I don’t know what Bror is talking about on that one, but it doesn’t seem complimentary. We are all about “faith alone in Christ alone”. There is no denying that the doctrine of a typical Calvary Chapel church is baptistic in many respects, but it is clearly not entirely baptistic, and it would be wrong to identify the church as Calvary Chapel Baptist Church.

    We don’t “worship” the “pastor in Costa Mesa”. I have met him on occasion, when my son played baseball for the Calvary Chapel High School team, and he is as humble and godly a man as you would ever want to meet. He has set up a very intricate succession at his own church, lives in very humble circumstances, and does everything in his power to deflect the admiration he receives from others to the Creator. His daughter is an avid homeschooler who began and continues to run a terrific home school ministry — it was through this ministry that our son was able to play ball on Calvary Chapel’s team while being homeschooled. She exemplifies the same humble servant’s heart that her father does, along with his wonderful gifts of leadership and ministry.

    There are many doctrines of LCMS I do not hold, but I would never dream of posting in a dismissive way about them. The LCMS church is a valuable part of the Body. We clearly share the essential doctrines of the faith, salvation solely through faith in Christ’s sacrifice and gift of grace to us, and will have the opportunity in eternity to learn who was right about each of the ancillary doctrines which make each of our traditions so distinct and rich. I would never dream of running down another’s faith in the way Bror did, especially when he is so obviously ignorant about much of which he speaks. I was disappointed to the commentary on this blog sink to such a disrespectful level, particularly since he claims to be a pastor.

  • Booklover

    Could I interject a life experience in this subject of denominations? I was raised Lutheran but married fundamental Bible and was dismayed at what I found to be focus on man rather than Christ in some of these churches. So I often write about how I miss the Lutheran church and its centrality of Christ in worship. My husband and I are now attending a Baptist church which seems to glorify Christ more, but I have a question:

    My dear father was buried yesterday, and his memorial service was at his Lutheran church. The title of the bulletin was “A Celebration of the Life and Salvation earned by Jesus Christ for John E. Jones.*” I thought this title was wonderful. But then in the pastor’s sermon, he kept preaching that John E. Jones was saved because of his baptism; and that if anyone in the congregation did not follow suit, they would be damned. I felt uncomfortable, I think because so much emphasis was placed on my dad’s baptism throughout the sermon. Should more emphasis have been placed on Christ rather than baptism? My guess is that is why people leave certain denominations–they are in search of churches which place emphasis solely on Christ and less on what man does. Does that make any sense?

    *not his real name

  • Booklover

    Could I interject a life experience in this subject of denominations? I was raised Lutheran but married fundamental Bible and was dismayed at what I found to be focus on man rather than Christ in some of these churches. So I often write about how I miss the Lutheran church and its centrality of Christ in worship. My husband and I are now attending a Baptist church which seems to glorify Christ more, but I have a question:

    My dear father was buried yesterday, and his memorial service was at his Lutheran church. The title of the bulletin was “A Celebration of the Life and Salvation earned by Jesus Christ for John E. Jones.*” I thought this title was wonderful. But then in the pastor’s sermon, he kept preaching that John E. Jones was saved because of his baptism; and that if anyone in the congregation did not follow suit, they would be damned. I felt uncomfortable, I think because so much emphasis was placed on my dad’s baptism throughout the sermon. Should more emphasis have been placed on Christ rather than baptism? My guess is that is why people leave certain denominations–they are in search of churches which place emphasis solely on Christ and less on what man does. Does that make any sense?

    *not his real name

  • Bror Erickson

    “My guess is that is why people leave certain denominations–they are in search of churches which place emphasis solely on Christ and less on what man does. Does that make any sense?”

    Booklover, i wasn’t there to hear the sermon. But one reason we Lutherans place so much emphasis on Baptism, is because we do not believe it is something we do for God, But something Jesus does for us. Which is one reason I get pretty hard on churches that refuse to baptize babies. It makes baptism law, and not Gospel. Unfortunately it sounds as if the pastor at your dad’s Lutheran church, may have made baptism into law also. I don’t know that it is true that he did. But you evidently heard it that way.

  • Bror Erickson

    “My guess is that is why people leave certain denominations–they are in search of churches which place emphasis solely on Christ and less on what man does. Does that make any sense?”

    Booklover, i wasn’t there to hear the sermon. But one reason we Lutherans place so much emphasis on Baptism, is because we do not believe it is something we do for God, But something Jesus does for us. Which is one reason I get pretty hard on churches that refuse to baptize babies. It makes baptism law, and not Gospel. Unfortunately it sounds as if the pastor at your dad’s Lutheran church, may have made baptism into law also. I don’t know that it is true that he did. But you evidently heard it that way.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    It sounds as if you have a very fine pastor. I was not singling your pastor out, or even a pastor. I was merely letting you in on the general impression I have of the Calvary Chapel denomination/ movment, and pointing out that they do have some rather distinct doctrinal positions.
    As for my limited knowledge of them. Well I have never been a worshiping member of one of their churches. Over the years I have had the pleasure of talking to many of their members, and watching some of them on T.V. to get a feel for where they are etc. I have also had friends who have come out of that particular body.
    Whey do i say you are afraid of faith alone? Because Every calvary Chapelite I have ever talked to has questioned my faith on the simple fact that I never made a “decision” for Christ. They have questioned my baptism because I was too young to make a decision for Christ. Every time I bring up Ephesians 2 they are quick to bring up James 2, as if Paul and James are using pistos in the same way, or are talking about the same thing. Or as if it would even be proper not to pit the two against each other.
    I’m not sure how baptist you have to be to be baptist. We have that question amongst “Lutherans” too.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    It sounds as if you have a very fine pastor. I was not singling your pastor out, or even a pastor. I was merely letting you in on the general impression I have of the Calvary Chapel denomination/ movment, and pointing out that they do have some rather distinct doctrinal positions.
    As for my limited knowledge of them. Well I have never been a worshiping member of one of their churches. Over the years I have had the pleasure of talking to many of their members, and watching some of them on T.V. to get a feel for where they are etc. I have also had friends who have come out of that particular body.
    Whey do i say you are afraid of faith alone? Because Every calvary Chapelite I have ever talked to has questioned my faith on the simple fact that I never made a “decision” for Christ. They have questioned my baptism because I was too young to make a decision for Christ. Every time I bring up Ephesians 2 they are quick to bring up James 2, as if Paul and James are using pistos in the same way, or are talking about the same thing. Or as if it would even be proper not to pit the two against each other.
    I’m not sure how baptist you have to be to be baptist. We have that question amongst “Lutherans” too.

  • Don S

    Bror, put me down as a “Calvary Chapelite” who would never question your faith because you never made a “decision” for Christ. First of all, obviously, you have made a decision for Christ, because you are clearly a conscientious follower of Him. I think you can thank Billy Graham, whom I believe was Presbyterian, for the widespread conception in many evangelical circles (certainly not singling out Calvary Chapel for this one) that the moment in time where one makes a conscious decision to accept Christ as his/her Savior is a necessary antecedent to salvation. Clearly this is a milestone for many, and there is nothing wrong with it. But just as clearly it is not a requirement for salvation.

    Calvary Chapel’s roots were in ministering to adult unchurched — surfers and hippies in So. CA in the early 70′s. These folks needed that moment where they made a decision for Christ — the Holy Spirit drew them to Himself and caused them to see that they were sinners in need of repentance. For such folks, a “decision for Christ”, to turn from pursuit of a sinful lifestyle, and to place one’s trust in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, is no doubt a necessary moment for salvation.

  • Don S

    Bror, put me down as a “Calvary Chapelite” who would never question your faith because you never made a “decision” for Christ. First of all, obviously, you have made a decision for Christ, because you are clearly a conscientious follower of Him. I think you can thank Billy Graham, whom I believe was Presbyterian, for the widespread conception in many evangelical circles (certainly not singling out Calvary Chapel for this one) that the moment in time where one makes a conscious decision to accept Christ as his/her Savior is a necessary antecedent to salvation. Clearly this is a milestone for many, and there is nothing wrong with it. But just as clearly it is not a requirement for salvation.

    Calvary Chapel’s roots were in ministering to adult unchurched — surfers and hippies in So. CA in the early 70′s. These folks needed that moment where they made a decision for Christ — the Holy Spirit drew them to Himself and caused them to see that they were sinners in need of repentance. For such folks, a “decision for Christ”, to turn from pursuit of a sinful lifestyle, and to place one’s trust in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, is no doubt a necessary moment for salvation.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Well, Booklover, the Lutherans need to explain better what they believe. It is Christ who saved your father, and his faith that received what Christ did for him, and it was in his baptism that Christ first came to him.

    Lutherans do not believe in the Roman Catholic view that baptism saves by virtue of its own operation (a rough translation of the Latin terms), but, rather, as a means of grace that bears the Gospel. This is clearly taught in the catechism.

    Contemplating our Baptism helps us to be assured of our salvation–since it was a definite, objective act, rather than just our interior feelings that can be so unstable–and so it is fitting to stress that in a funeral. But to oppose Christ & baptism as two separate things is to misconstrue what Baptism is.

    (And may God bless you in your loss, Booklover.)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Well, Booklover, the Lutherans need to explain better what they believe. It is Christ who saved your father, and his faith that received what Christ did for him, and it was in his baptism that Christ first came to him.

    Lutherans do not believe in the Roman Catholic view that baptism saves by virtue of its own operation (a rough translation of the Latin terms), but, rather, as a means of grace that bears the Gospel. This is clearly taught in the catechism.

    Contemplating our Baptism helps us to be assured of our salvation–since it was a definite, objective act, rather than just our interior feelings that can be so unstable–and so it is fitting to stress that in a funeral. But to oppose Christ & baptism as two separate things is to misconstrue what Baptism is.

    (And may God bless you in your loss, Booklover.)

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    No, I never did make a decision for Christ, and it is not a necessary thing to do ever. It is an impossible thing to do. That is what Lutherans believe, “I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ My lord or come to Him….” What saves me, and what saves you, and the surfers and hippies, is not our decision for Christ, but Christ’s decision for us, the decision that led him to the cross. Faith is a gift it comes from the Holy Spirit. So if you are ever in the position where you could make a decision for Christ, then the fact of the matter is the decision has already been made, and you didn’t make it.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    No, I never did make a decision for Christ, and it is not a necessary thing to do ever. It is an impossible thing to do. That is what Lutherans believe, “I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ My lord or come to Him….” What saves me, and what saves you, and the surfers and hippies, is not our decision for Christ, but Christ’s decision for us, the decision that led him to the cross. Faith is a gift it comes from the Holy Spirit. So if you are ever in the position where you could make a decision for Christ, then the fact of the matter is the decision has already been made, and you didn’t make it.

  • Don S

    Bror,

    I absolutely agree that the decision is never made in our own strength or by our own reason — re-read my post — “the Holy Spirit drew them to Himself and caused them to see that they were sinners in need of repentance”. It is the operation of the Holy Spirit who brings us to Him and to His gift of eternal Salvation, which we then receive by faith (our decision–God does not force upon us the act of receiving the gift). I said that you made a decision for Christ because you are a conscientious follower of Him. Is that not true?

  • Don S

    Bror,

    I absolutely agree that the decision is never made in our own strength or by our own reason — re-read my post — “the Holy Spirit drew them to Himself and caused them to see that they were sinners in need of repentance”. It is the operation of the Holy Spirit who brings us to Him and to His gift of eternal Salvation, which we then receive by faith (our decision–God does not force upon us the act of receiving the gift). I said that you made a decision for Christ because you are a conscientious follower of Him. Is that not true?

  • Greg

    Booklover-Your Dad’s Baptism was God’s promise to your dad to forgive his sins, give him eternal life and to raise your dad to glory on the last day. God made this promise to your dad because of what Christ accomplished for your father in His holy life, death and resurrection. All promise’s call for faith and are intended to awaken faith. Because God promised to save your dad for Christ sake the Holy Spirit created and sustained faith in your dad’s heart. To deny God’s promise in baptism by unbelief is to be damned. Baptism does not save us apart from faith. Baptism saves us through faith. Baptism is Christ death applied to us by the Holy Spirit recieved by faith.

  • Greg

    Booklover-Your Dad’s Baptism was God’s promise to your dad to forgive his sins, give him eternal life and to raise your dad to glory on the last day. God made this promise to your dad because of what Christ accomplished for your father in His holy life, death and resurrection. All promise’s call for faith and are intended to awaken faith. Because God promised to save your dad for Christ sake the Holy Spirit created and sustained faith in your dad’s heart. To deny God’s promise in baptism by unbelief is to be damned. Baptism does not save us apart from faith. Baptism saves us through faith. Baptism is Christ death applied to us by the Holy Spirit recieved by faith.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    You are right in saying that any such “decision” is preceeded by the work of the Holy Spirit. You are wrong when you assert that since I am a consceintious follower of him I must have made that decision at some point. You are also wrong when you assert that that decision is necessary. I don’t care if we are talking about hippies, Surfers, me or you, or moon martians our decision is never necessary. This would make our salvation contingent on something WE do. The truth is the decision is made for us by the work of the Holy Spirit. My faith is no more my decision, than my breathing is my choice. I’m conscious of the fact that I’m breathing, most of the time I’m happy that is true, but it is nothing I ever made the conscious decision to do. It’s possible that I could try to kill myself and stop breathing, but that doesn’t mean I make a conscious decision or otherwise to breath. It is the same with faith. I was born of water and the Spirit, faith was given to me. I never chose to be born the first time around, so why should I get the choice the second time around. Faith was given to me, I suppose I could have kicked it to the curb, but it doesn’t negate the fact that it was given to me.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    You are right in saying that any such “decision” is preceeded by the work of the Holy Spirit. You are wrong when you assert that since I am a consceintious follower of him I must have made that decision at some point. You are also wrong when you assert that that decision is necessary. I don’t care if we are talking about hippies, Surfers, me or you, or moon martians our decision is never necessary. This would make our salvation contingent on something WE do. The truth is the decision is made for us by the work of the Holy Spirit. My faith is no more my decision, than my breathing is my choice. I’m conscious of the fact that I’m breathing, most of the time I’m happy that is true, but it is nothing I ever made the conscious decision to do. It’s possible that I could try to kill myself and stop breathing, but that doesn’t mean I make a conscious decision or otherwise to breath. It is the same with faith. I was born of water and the Spirit, faith was given to me. I never chose to be born the first time around, so why should I get the choice the second time around. Faith was given to me, I suppose I could have kicked it to the curb, but it doesn’t negate the fact that it was given to me.

  • Don S

    OK Bror, we will have to agree to disagree on that one, and about who is wrong, as well as about whether moon martians are included in God’s plan of salvation. By no means am I saying that we do anything in our own strength, but every day I have to consciously choose to do right, against the pull of my sinful nature, as did Paul. I have to consciously choose to flee temptation. It does not come naturally or automatically — it is not done for me. Though, clearly, the Holy Spirit does it in me and through me. Faith was given to me as well, but I have to choose to exercise it.

    Since you say you could have kicked faith to the curb, though, does that not mean that you have made a choice not to make the choice to do that? Is that not a decision? I know you don’t want to admit that you made a decision, but I think you have, and I think that is Biblical.

  • Don S

    OK Bror, we will have to agree to disagree on that one, and about who is wrong, as well as about whether moon martians are included in God’s plan of salvation. By no means am I saying that we do anything in our own strength, but every day I have to consciously choose to do right, against the pull of my sinful nature, as did Paul. I have to consciously choose to flee temptation. It does not come naturally or automatically — it is not done for me. Though, clearly, the Holy Spirit does it in me and through me. Faith was given to me as well, but I have to choose to exercise it.

    Since you say you could have kicked faith to the curb, though, does that not mean that you have made a choice not to make the choice to do that? Is that not a decision? I know you don’t want to admit that you made a decision, but I think you have, and I think that is Biblical.

  • kerner

    Bror and Don S.

    You guys need to take a deep breath. Bror, you know I agree with you, because I am a Lutheran, but cool off.

    Don S., we Lutherans live in a time when the more “modern” among us sometimes suggest that we water down our doctrine to become more successful, like Calvary Chapel seems to be, but guys like Bror will never do that (Praise God), because we can’t compromise on God’s Word. But that’s why some of our clergymen are sensative about what may seem like semantics to you. Please don’t take it personally.

    I took some time to read the “What we believe” links on several Calvary Chapels around the country. There were consistent similarities, but there were also differences. Some were pretty general, others a lot more specific. Some emphacized one or another point more than other CC’s seemed to. So I think CC is not that much different than our dear old LCMS after all. CC has its sterner doctrinal preachers and its more feelings oriented types (this is not to say that either approach can’t be God honoring; the problems inherant in each approach can be the subject of a different discussion).

    For whatever it’s worth, I tried to find the CC position on the doctrine of election, and I was interested to find that it adopts neither strict Calvinism nor pure Arminianism. Rather, the CC “distinctive” is that both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of Man are taught in the Bible, and therefore both must be true. You can read about it here:

    http://www3.calvarychapel.com/library/smith-chuck/books/ccd.htm#11

    This has some similarity with our own confessional Lutheran doctrine of election (certainly not perfect agreement of course, but SOME similarity), which you can read about here:

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/fc-sd/election.html

    The mechanism by which the Holy Spirit calls us and keeps us faithful is, I think, largely beyond us. I, of course, believe that He works through the means of the preaching of God’s Word and the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. Don S., you may not believe that Baptism or Holy Communion have that much to do with it (I don’t mean to put words in your mouth, so feel free to correct me), but you do acknowledge God’s Word as the means through which the Holy Spirit accomplishes His work in us. Actually, I’d be intersted to know more of the details of what CC teaches about that.

  • kerner

    Bror and Don S.

    You guys need to take a deep breath. Bror, you know I agree with you, because I am a Lutheran, but cool off.

    Don S., we Lutherans live in a time when the more “modern” among us sometimes suggest that we water down our doctrine to become more successful, like Calvary Chapel seems to be, but guys like Bror will never do that (Praise God), because we can’t compromise on God’s Word. But that’s why some of our clergymen are sensative about what may seem like semantics to you. Please don’t take it personally.

    I took some time to read the “What we believe” links on several Calvary Chapels around the country. There were consistent similarities, but there were also differences. Some were pretty general, others a lot more specific. Some emphacized one or another point more than other CC’s seemed to. So I think CC is not that much different than our dear old LCMS after all. CC has its sterner doctrinal preachers and its more feelings oriented types (this is not to say that either approach can’t be God honoring; the problems inherant in each approach can be the subject of a different discussion).

    For whatever it’s worth, I tried to find the CC position on the doctrine of election, and I was interested to find that it adopts neither strict Calvinism nor pure Arminianism. Rather, the CC “distinctive” is that both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of Man are taught in the Bible, and therefore both must be true. You can read about it here:

    http://www3.calvarychapel.com/library/smith-chuck/books/ccd.htm#11

    This has some similarity with our own confessional Lutheran doctrine of election (certainly not perfect agreement of course, but SOME similarity), which you can read about here:

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/fc-sd/election.html

    The mechanism by which the Holy Spirit calls us and keeps us faithful is, I think, largely beyond us. I, of course, believe that He works through the means of the preaching of God’s Word and the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. Don S., you may not believe that Baptism or Holy Communion have that much to do with it (I don’t mean to put words in your mouth, so feel free to correct me), but you do acknowledge God’s Word as the means through which the Holy Spirit accomplishes His work in us. Actually, I’d be intersted to know more of the details of what CC teaches about that.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S.
    “I have to consciously choose to flee temptation. It does not come naturally or automatically — it is not done for me. Though, clearly, the Holy Spirit does it in me and through me. Faith was given to me as well, but I have to choose to exercise it.”

    And here is exactly where we disagree. You make faith into a work that you do. But what about when you sin? or don’t you do that? Did you not have faith when you sinned? Did you lose it? Outside of Christ, nothing I do is good at all.
    See you are making salvation a faith and good works thing. salvation is a faith thing alone. Good works are the result of that. But they are not something I have to do in the sense that I make a conscious choice of them. If you are doing the works to prove to yourself or to God that you have faith, then it doesn’t matter how noble they are in and of themselves they are not Good works, but your feeble attempt to take away the glory of what God did for you on the cross. This is that whole don’t let your left hand know what the right is doing thing. Which is pretty difficult.
    I’m not sying you can’t grow in your faith and love. but I am saying that gorwth contributes nothing to your salvation, sanctification, or justification. and it doesn’t grow if all your doing is trying to earn extra jewels for your heavenly crown. Only after you realize that all has been given to you already, and you don’t HAVE to do anything inorder to get it or maintain it or grow it, can you really and properly do good works, and those you won’t be thinking about. The sheep will be amazed at what God considers to be good works on the last day. Maybe that diaper you changed. The ones you thought were really good though, (handing out donuts at the homeless shelter) God might not be so inclined about those as you think. Not to say you shouldn’t do them, but you shouldn’t tout them as your good works, or let them stroke your sanctified ego.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S.
    “I have to consciously choose to flee temptation. It does not come naturally or automatically — it is not done for me. Though, clearly, the Holy Spirit does it in me and through me. Faith was given to me as well, but I have to choose to exercise it.”

    And here is exactly where we disagree. You make faith into a work that you do. But what about when you sin? or don’t you do that? Did you not have faith when you sinned? Did you lose it? Outside of Christ, nothing I do is good at all.
    See you are making salvation a faith and good works thing. salvation is a faith thing alone. Good works are the result of that. But they are not something I have to do in the sense that I make a conscious choice of them. If you are doing the works to prove to yourself or to God that you have faith, then it doesn’t matter how noble they are in and of themselves they are not Good works, but your feeble attempt to take away the glory of what God did for you on the cross. This is that whole don’t let your left hand know what the right is doing thing. Which is pretty difficult.
    I’m not sying you can’t grow in your faith and love. but I am saying that gorwth contributes nothing to your salvation, sanctification, or justification. and it doesn’t grow if all your doing is trying to earn extra jewels for your heavenly crown. Only after you realize that all has been given to you already, and you don’t HAVE to do anything inorder to get it or maintain it or grow it, can you really and properly do good works, and those you won’t be thinking about. The sheep will be amazed at what God considers to be good works on the last day. Maybe that diaper you changed. The ones you thought were really good though, (handing out donuts at the homeless shelter) God might not be so inclined about those as you think. Not to say you shouldn’t do them, but you shouldn’t tout them as your good works, or let them stroke your sanctified ego.

  • Don S

    Bror, I can’t help but feel that we are talking past each other about what is, essentially, the same faith. I am already saved, by faith alone in Christ alone. I do not do any good works to attain, achieve, retain, or validate my salvation. Any good works I do, in Christ’s strength, not my own, are done in pursuit of the objective of being more Christ-like, of being an imitator of Christ, and of fulfilling the Great Commission, which is, in my view, the purpose for our being on this earth. I utterly agree with you that growth in faith and love contributes nothing to our salvation, justification, or sanctification. Our personal righteousness is as “filthy rags”, and has no cleansing effect whatsoever. I know nothing about how we will attain “jewels for our heavenly crown”, and agree with you that if we are doing things on this earth in hopes of attaining these “jewels”, we will be bitterly disappointed.

    Unfortunately, I sin all the time, as did Paul. My sin nature still dwells within in me, under the power of the Prince of Darkness, and the power of the flesh is sometimes overwhelming. When that happens, my salvation is not threatened, but my fellowship with God is damaged. The Holy Spirit in me prods me as to the sin in which I am living, and of my need to confess that sin, at which time fellowship with God is fully restored and I pick up and carry on, again, always in the strength of God, not my own.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “sanctified ego”. I have been given an ego by God, and have been sanctified by Christ, so I will assume that is what you meant. I have changed many diapers, having had five children, and have never handed out donuts at the homeless shelter.

  • Don S

    Bror, I can’t help but feel that we are talking past each other about what is, essentially, the same faith. I am already saved, by faith alone in Christ alone. I do not do any good works to attain, achieve, retain, or validate my salvation. Any good works I do, in Christ’s strength, not my own, are done in pursuit of the objective of being more Christ-like, of being an imitator of Christ, and of fulfilling the Great Commission, which is, in my view, the purpose for our being on this earth. I utterly agree with you that growth in faith and love contributes nothing to our salvation, justification, or sanctification. Our personal righteousness is as “filthy rags”, and has no cleansing effect whatsoever. I know nothing about how we will attain “jewels for our heavenly crown”, and agree with you that if we are doing things on this earth in hopes of attaining these “jewels”, we will be bitterly disappointed.

    Unfortunately, I sin all the time, as did Paul. My sin nature still dwells within in me, under the power of the Prince of Darkness, and the power of the flesh is sometimes overwhelming. When that happens, my salvation is not threatened, but my fellowship with God is damaged. The Holy Spirit in me prods me as to the sin in which I am living, and of my need to confess that sin, at which time fellowship with God is fully restored and I pick up and carry on, again, always in the strength of God, not my own.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “sanctified ego”. I have been given an ego by God, and have been sanctified by Christ, so I will assume that is what you meant. I have changed many diapers, having had five children, and have never handed out donuts at the homeless shelter.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    From the Calvary Chapel Website;
    True Christianity is not about attending a particular church, or how your parents raised you, or what country you were born in. Being a Christian means that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, that He is your Savior. It’s not good enough that your priest, pastor, mother, or aunt knows Jesus, you must know Him for yourself. They cannot believe in Him for you, you must believe for yourself. They cannot repent for you, you must repent for yourself.

    “Jesus is everywhere all the time. He can hear you now if you ask Him for forgiveness. Please turn your life over to Him now. Time slips by so quickly, don’t miss this opportunity. If you want to pray and ask Jesus to be your Savior, you can say a prayer something like this:

    “Jesus, I know that I have sinned against you. I know the truth is that I have sinned by my own choice, and I am the one responsible for it. I know that I have earned punishment from You, and that the fair punishment would be death. Jesus, I believe that You died in my place. Forgive me for my sin. I cannot cover or take my sin away, I am relying totally and only on You. You are the only one who can save me. I reject my sin, I turn away from it, I repent. Come into my life, take away my sin, and show me how to live my life in a way that is right and pleasing to You.”

    If you have prayed this, you are saved! You are now completely forgiven, a new creation, innocent in the eyes of God. Welcome to the family of God!”

    Some of this is indeed true. But notice how it puts all the emphasis on what you need to do to be saved. I’ll have you know I have never prayed that prayer in my life. I enjoy praying. But I was saved long before I ever prayed. In fact prayer is only possible for one who is saved. This is why Lutherans never pray for our own salvation. We do pray for the salvation of others. The fact that we are praying to the one true God is evidence of the fact that we have been saved. It’s like asking me to come in when I’m sitting in your living room.

    Faith is passive, it is a gift. It isn’t something we do, it is something done for us. So indeed we might be talking past eachother, but then you belong to a denomination that teaches contrary to what you believe.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    From the Calvary Chapel Website;
    True Christianity is not about attending a particular church, or how your parents raised you, or what country you were born in. Being a Christian means that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, that He is your Savior. It’s not good enough that your priest, pastor, mother, or aunt knows Jesus, you must know Him for yourself. They cannot believe in Him for you, you must believe for yourself. They cannot repent for you, you must repent for yourself.

    “Jesus is everywhere all the time. He can hear you now if you ask Him for forgiveness. Please turn your life over to Him now. Time slips by so quickly, don’t miss this opportunity. If you want to pray and ask Jesus to be your Savior, you can say a prayer something like this:

    “Jesus, I know that I have sinned against you. I know the truth is that I have sinned by my own choice, and I am the one responsible for it. I know that I have earned punishment from You, and that the fair punishment would be death. Jesus, I believe that You died in my place. Forgive me for my sin. I cannot cover or take my sin away, I am relying totally and only on You. You are the only one who can save me. I reject my sin, I turn away from it, I repent. Come into my life, take away my sin, and show me how to live my life in a way that is right and pleasing to You.”

    If you have prayed this, you are saved! You are now completely forgiven, a new creation, innocent in the eyes of God. Welcome to the family of God!”

    Some of this is indeed true. But notice how it puts all the emphasis on what you need to do to be saved. I’ll have you know I have never prayed that prayer in my life. I enjoy praying. But I was saved long before I ever prayed. In fact prayer is only possible for one who is saved. This is why Lutherans never pray for our own salvation. We do pray for the salvation of others. The fact that we are praying to the one true God is evidence of the fact that we have been saved. It’s like asking me to come in when I’m sitting in your living room.

    Faith is passive, it is a gift. It isn’t something we do, it is something done for us. So indeed we might be talking past eachother, but then you belong to a denomination that teaches contrary to what you believe.

  • WebMonk

    Booklover, you’re not alone in your confusion. The more astute Lutherans do properly differentiate between the act of baptism saving the person, and Jesus Christ saving a person through baptism. (I realize I’m leaving a great deal out of that; I’m just trying for a broad-stroke, quick descriptor; don’t jump on me peoples.)

    I have yet to meet any of those Lutherans outside of this and a couple other blogs, though. All the Lutherans who I’ve talked with in real life (and one Lutheran minister on a blog) have very definitely been of the understanding that the act of baptism saves a person. Each one said ‘yes’ to a hypothetical question I put to them – “If you went to a non-Christian homeless man asleep on the street, and performed a baptism on him without him waking, and he froze to death in his sleep later that night without ever waking, would he then go to heaven?”

    Even though that’s what some may espouse, it’s not a proper understanding of the Lutheran faith.

    (I hadn’t thought of that question until the minister told me that is something he regularly did, so it’s not quite purely hypothetical.)

  • WebMonk

    Booklover, you’re not alone in your confusion. The more astute Lutherans do properly differentiate between the act of baptism saving the person, and Jesus Christ saving a person through baptism. (I realize I’m leaving a great deal out of that; I’m just trying for a broad-stroke, quick descriptor; don’t jump on me peoples.)

    I have yet to meet any of those Lutherans outside of this and a couple other blogs, though. All the Lutherans who I’ve talked with in real life (and one Lutheran minister on a blog) have very definitely been of the understanding that the act of baptism saves a person. Each one said ‘yes’ to a hypothetical question I put to them – “If you went to a non-Christian homeless man asleep on the street, and performed a baptism on him without him waking, and he froze to death in his sleep later that night without ever waking, would he then go to heaven?”

    Even though that’s what some may espouse, it’s not a proper understanding of the Lutheran faith.

    (I hadn’t thought of that question until the minister told me that is something he regularly did, so it’s not quite purely hypothetical.)

  • Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    It is anecdotal, and I would never myself just walk around aimlessly baptizing adults without their knowledge. But Augustine in his “Confessions” tells a similar story of one of his friends baptized by Christians while in a coma, and evidently when the person woke up later he was an ernest believer, though he had gone to sleep a thorough pagan.

  • Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    It is anecdotal, and I would never myself just walk around aimlessly baptizing adults without their knowledge. But Augustine in his “Confessions” tells a similar story of one of his friends baptized by Christians while in a coma, and evidently when the person woke up later he was an ernest believer, though he had gone to sleep a thorough pagan.

  • WebMonk

    Bror, you’re being an ass. It’s impossible to QUICKLY describe coming to salvation without some sort of “doing”. This is a WEBPAGE to a very theologically limited audience of non-believers, not a theological treatise describing all the nuances of what is meant by each word and phrase. There’s nothing intended in that message that in the least disagrees with DonS’s #39 post.

    Of course you can assume they mean all sorts of horrible things, and read in false teachings, but you are doing so in error. They are not intending to intimate that faith is anything but a gift or that people have to DO something for their faith.

    What on earth ever happened to following your own teaching on the 8th commandment?

    “We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.”

    You’re making up things that are never intended by the church or website authors, and that is called slandering. Where is your “put the best construction on everything”???

  • WebMonk

    Bror, you’re being an ass. It’s impossible to QUICKLY describe coming to salvation without some sort of “doing”. This is a WEBPAGE to a very theologically limited audience of non-believers, not a theological treatise describing all the nuances of what is meant by each word and phrase. There’s nothing intended in that message that in the least disagrees with DonS’s #39 post.

    Of course you can assume they mean all sorts of horrible things, and read in false teachings, but you are doing so in error. They are not intending to intimate that faith is anything but a gift or that people have to DO something for their faith.

    What on earth ever happened to following your own teaching on the 8th commandment?

    “We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.”

    You’re making up things that are never intended by the church or website authors, and that is called slandering. Where is your “put the best construction on everything”???

  • WebMonk

    Bror – I totally realize that it was anecdotal, and I wasn’t trying to claim the Lutheran church (or LCMS) as a whole promoted it, but rather that it seems to be a not uncommon confusion inside and outside the church. Only five or six of the people I talked with were specifically LCMS, the others were ECLA or I never asked.

  • WebMonk

    Bror – I totally realize that it was anecdotal, and I wasn’t trying to claim the Lutheran church (or LCMS) as a whole promoted it, but rather that it seems to be a not uncommon confusion inside and outside the church. Only five or six of the people I talked with were specifically LCMS, the others were ECLA or I never asked.

  • Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    I don’t think it is impossible at all. Since you are so familiar with the Lutheran Small Catechism, go read the explanation to the third article.
    If they don’t believe the unbeliever can make a decision, they shouldn’t ask the unbeliever to make a decision. Nor should they make the believer feel that his salvation is dependant upon him praying for salvation. Much better to bring him to the font where God’s sure promise of salvation is attached to water, than some prayer a man made up.

  • Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    I don’t think it is impossible at all. Since you are so familiar with the Lutheran Small Catechism, go read the explanation to the third article.
    If they don’t believe the unbeliever can make a decision, they shouldn’t ask the unbeliever to make a decision. Nor should they make the believer feel that his salvation is dependant upon him praying for salvation. Much better to bring him to the font where God’s sure promise of salvation is attached to water, than some prayer a man made up.

  • Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    When I said it was anecdotal, I meant Augustines story. Not your story.

  • Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    When I said it was anecdotal, I meant Augustines story. Not your story.

  • Don S

    Bror, I have to agree with WebMonk that you are being contentious. First of all, I never said that every tenet of my doctrine lines up entirely squarely with every tenet that every Calvary Chapel church holds in their individual doctrinal statements. Secondly, the website that you accessed is that of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, not that of a “Calvary Chapel” denomination. The site services the affiliated churches by listing them, but most churches have their own websites, and they do not all hold to precisely the same doctrinal views as Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Thirdly, and most importantly, as WebMonk so eloquently stated, the statement you lifted is intended to quickly explain the plan of salvation to someone not familiar with the faith. Nothing in that statement indicates that the “sinner’s prayer” is required for salvation.

    Interestingly, you did not comment on the fact that this simple prayer belies your earlier assertion that Calvary Chapel somehow espouses a faith/works salvation plan. Note the statement: “I am relying totally and only on You. You are the only one who can save me”, and the statement that “If you have prayed this, you are saved” No works required!

    Your statement “in fact prayer is only possible for one who is saved” is obviously overly broad. Clearly, many pray who are not saved, so I know you didn’t mean that. Perhaps you meant that God does not hear the prayers of the unsaved. This is difficult for me to believe as well, as He is clearly aware of all that we, those justified, and those unjustified, do in this world. Perhaps you meant that He does not answer the prayers of the unsaved. I think this is generally true, but it is hard for me to imagine that He would not hear the prayers of one genuinely anguished about his sinful state and desiring forgiveness from a holy God. Perhaps you meant that the Holy Spirit, through the act of drawing the sinner to Himself, has already saved him at that juncture. If this is what you meant, I can accept that as an acceptable view of scripture, as it is more of a semantic difference as to when the act of salvation actually occurs. The sinner’s prayer, then, would serve as a confirmation to the sinner that he is now saved by grace, rather than acting as the moment of salvation itself.

    In Acts 9, when Saul was confronted on the Damascas Road, he was clearly in an unrepentant unsaved state. He had been murdering and imprisoning Christians. After a brief conversation (prayer?) with the Lord, he was taken to Damascas as a blinded man, and prayed for three days (v. 11). Ananias came to him there, explaining to Paul that he had been sent so that Paul could receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. He was then baptized.

    Obviously, the Lord heard Paul’s prayers during that three day period in Damascus, prior to his baptism. When, during this process, was he actually saved? I’m not sure. However, it didn’t really matter, because God knew the outcome, knew He had a great plan for Paul, and knew what was to come. We reside in the dimension of time, God does not. Most of this discussion, and the arcane differences we have been discussing at length in this thread arise because we cannot fully comprehend an existence unconstrained by time, and occupied by an all-knowing and timeless God. Theology is, to a large extent, a construct to help us, as incredibly limited creatures, understand a limitless plan of salvation developed by a limitless God. The sinner’s prayer is, in my opinion, such a construct. The Lutheran doctrine concerning baptism is as well.

  • Don S

    Bror, I have to agree with WebMonk that you are being contentious. First of all, I never said that every tenet of my doctrine lines up entirely squarely with every tenet that every Calvary Chapel church holds in their individual doctrinal statements. Secondly, the website that you accessed is that of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, not that of a “Calvary Chapel” denomination. The site services the affiliated churches by listing them, but most churches have their own websites, and they do not all hold to precisely the same doctrinal views as Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Thirdly, and most importantly, as WebMonk so eloquently stated, the statement you lifted is intended to quickly explain the plan of salvation to someone not familiar with the faith. Nothing in that statement indicates that the “sinner’s prayer” is required for salvation.

    Interestingly, you did not comment on the fact that this simple prayer belies your earlier assertion that Calvary Chapel somehow espouses a faith/works salvation plan. Note the statement: “I am relying totally and only on You. You are the only one who can save me”, and the statement that “If you have prayed this, you are saved” No works required!

    Your statement “in fact prayer is only possible for one who is saved” is obviously overly broad. Clearly, many pray who are not saved, so I know you didn’t mean that. Perhaps you meant that God does not hear the prayers of the unsaved. This is difficult for me to believe as well, as He is clearly aware of all that we, those justified, and those unjustified, do in this world. Perhaps you meant that He does not answer the prayers of the unsaved. I think this is generally true, but it is hard for me to imagine that He would not hear the prayers of one genuinely anguished about his sinful state and desiring forgiveness from a holy God. Perhaps you meant that the Holy Spirit, through the act of drawing the sinner to Himself, has already saved him at that juncture. If this is what you meant, I can accept that as an acceptable view of scripture, as it is more of a semantic difference as to when the act of salvation actually occurs. The sinner’s prayer, then, would serve as a confirmation to the sinner that he is now saved by grace, rather than acting as the moment of salvation itself.

    In Acts 9, when Saul was confronted on the Damascas Road, he was clearly in an unrepentant unsaved state. He had been murdering and imprisoning Christians. After a brief conversation (prayer?) with the Lord, he was taken to Damascas as a blinded man, and prayed for three days (v. 11). Ananias came to him there, explaining to Paul that he had been sent so that Paul could receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. He was then baptized.

    Obviously, the Lord heard Paul’s prayers during that three day period in Damascus, prior to his baptism. When, during this process, was he actually saved? I’m not sure. However, it didn’t really matter, because God knew the outcome, knew He had a great plan for Paul, and knew what was to come. We reside in the dimension of time, God does not. Most of this discussion, and the arcane differences we have been discussing at length in this thread arise because we cannot fully comprehend an existence unconstrained by time, and occupied by an all-knowing and timeless God. Theology is, to a large extent, a construct to help us, as incredibly limited creatures, understand a limitless plan of salvation developed by a limitless God. The sinner’s prayer is, in my opinion, such a construct. The Lutheran doctrine concerning baptism is as well.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    How do you pray to a God that you do not believe in?
    Am I being contentious? I don’t think so I am trying to have a conversation here, over points of doctrine I do not agree with. Faith justifies not prayer. Prayer is a work of faith.
    As for Paul It is the story of one mans conversion, and not a normative story of salvation. I think we would both agree that Paul is an exception, unless you think Jesus shows up to people all the time in the same way.
    Faith is what saves, but faith does not refuse baptism. So when one comes to believe by the work of the Holy Spirit they are saved even before they are baptized. But that saved person will not reject baptism either. The baptism is not there work it is always the work of Jesus, he is the one who baptizes, we are the passive recipients of baptism.
    I believe the normative account of how people are saved is not to be found in Acts, but in Romans 10, “faith comes through hearing” that is hearing the Gospel.
    Prayer does not have the same promises attached to it that baptism has.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    How do you pray to a God that you do not believe in?
    Am I being contentious? I don’t think so I am trying to have a conversation here, over points of doctrine I do not agree with. Faith justifies not prayer. Prayer is a work of faith.
    As for Paul It is the story of one mans conversion, and not a normative story of salvation. I think we would both agree that Paul is an exception, unless you think Jesus shows up to people all the time in the same way.
    Faith is what saves, but faith does not refuse baptism. So when one comes to believe by the work of the Holy Spirit they are saved even before they are baptized. But that saved person will not reject baptism either. The baptism is not there work it is always the work of Jesus, he is the one who baptizes, we are the passive recipients of baptism.
    I believe the normative account of how people are saved is not to be found in Acts, but in Romans 10, “faith comes through hearing” that is hearing the Gospel.
    Prayer does not have the same promises attached to it that baptism has.

  • Don S

    Bror, that was fairly non-responsive. “How do you pray to a God you do not believe in”? Well, I think people do it all the time. How about the classic atheist in a foxhole: “God if you get me out of this I will clean up my life and get right with you”. Does this person really believe in God, or is he scared to death and willing to play the odds in case there is a God? Also, how about the Archbiship of Canterbury, every week when he prays from the pulpit? I don’t think he is a believer. How about the Pharisees offering up their pious prayers in the synagogue? Christ heard these prayers.

    Otherwise, except for some of the specifics which Lutherans accord to baptism, I agree with pretty much everything you espouse in this post. The prayer is not the saving mechanism, but rather what sames is the saving faith which undergirds the prayer. Definitely, the story of Paul’s salvation is not normative, though I don’t discount that God could possibly work in such a way again. However, the purpose in citing that story was a reminder that the unbeliever can pray.

    I guess what surprises me most is your contentions style in trying to have a conversation over points of doctrine. Throughout this thread I have never once stated that you were wrong about your interpretation of your own doctrine, nor have I contended that any doctrinal particulars of Lutheranism are wrong. On the other hand, you have repeatedly interpreted my doctrine for me, tried to tell me how I am mis-interpreting my own doctrine, and essentially accused me and every other Christian who happens to attend a Calvary Chapel church of being a heretic for adding a works requirement to God’s plan of salvation. Taking that more broadly, you have in effect accused Billy Graham of being a heretic. You have refused to accept my explanation as to how your understanding of MY doctrine is wrong, even though you admit that you have never attended or closely studied the doctrine of any Calvary Chapel church. This is not the way to have a constructive “conversation”. You certainly are entitled to have a confidence in the faith of your fathers — the Lutheran faith is some 500 years old and has been tested and found unshakeable through the years. Although I am not an adherent of all of the Lutheran doctrinal tenets, I love the Lutheran faith, its liturgy, its power, and its steadfastness. That is one reason I frequent this blog, another being my love for Dr. Veith and the work at Patrick Henry College.

    Even so, I am fairly confident that we will all find, once we are in the presence of God, that there were elements of our various theological positions which were not correct. As Paul stated in I Cor. 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” IT WON’T MATTER! We will laugh about it, and utterly enjoy the presence of God and our unity as the Bride of Christ. What will matter is that we fulfilled our purpose on this earth, each of us within our role in the Body of Christ, and that we, in the power of the Holy Spirit, persevered to the end of our lives in fulfilling the Great Commission, preaching the Gospel to all the world. Finishing well, that is the key, not for salvation, but to hear from our Savior, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”.

  • Don S

    Bror, that was fairly non-responsive. “How do you pray to a God you do not believe in”? Well, I think people do it all the time. How about the classic atheist in a foxhole: “God if you get me out of this I will clean up my life and get right with you”. Does this person really believe in God, or is he scared to death and willing to play the odds in case there is a God? Also, how about the Archbiship of Canterbury, every week when he prays from the pulpit? I don’t think he is a believer. How about the Pharisees offering up their pious prayers in the synagogue? Christ heard these prayers.

    Otherwise, except for some of the specifics which Lutherans accord to baptism, I agree with pretty much everything you espouse in this post. The prayer is not the saving mechanism, but rather what sames is the saving faith which undergirds the prayer. Definitely, the story of Paul’s salvation is not normative, though I don’t discount that God could possibly work in such a way again. However, the purpose in citing that story was a reminder that the unbeliever can pray.

    I guess what surprises me most is your contentions style in trying to have a conversation over points of doctrine. Throughout this thread I have never once stated that you were wrong about your interpretation of your own doctrine, nor have I contended that any doctrinal particulars of Lutheranism are wrong. On the other hand, you have repeatedly interpreted my doctrine for me, tried to tell me how I am mis-interpreting my own doctrine, and essentially accused me and every other Christian who happens to attend a Calvary Chapel church of being a heretic for adding a works requirement to God’s plan of salvation. Taking that more broadly, you have in effect accused Billy Graham of being a heretic. You have refused to accept my explanation as to how your understanding of MY doctrine is wrong, even though you admit that you have never attended or closely studied the doctrine of any Calvary Chapel church. This is not the way to have a constructive “conversation”. You certainly are entitled to have a confidence in the faith of your fathers — the Lutheran faith is some 500 years old and has been tested and found unshakeable through the years. Although I am not an adherent of all of the Lutheran doctrinal tenets, I love the Lutheran faith, its liturgy, its power, and its steadfastness. That is one reason I frequent this blog, another being my love for Dr. Veith and the work at Patrick Henry College.

    Even so, I am fairly confident that we will all find, once we are in the presence of God, that there were elements of our various theological positions which were not correct. As Paul stated in I Cor. 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” IT WON’T MATTER! We will laugh about it, and utterly enjoy the presence of God and our unity as the Bride of Christ. What will matter is that we fulfilled our purpose on this earth, each of us within our role in the Body of Christ, and that we, in the power of the Holy Spirit, persevered to the end of our lives in fulfilling the Great Commission, preaching the Gospel to all the world. Finishing well, that is the key, not for salvation, but to hear from our Savior, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    The athiest that prays is no longer an Athiest, that is the point of that hyperbole. The archbishop of Canterbury, I don’t agree with him doctrinally, I don’t know if he is a believer or not though. If he isn’t a believer than he isn’t really praying anymore than an actor playing a priest is really sacrificing the mass. The Pharisees I don’t think Christ ever accused them of unbelief, more of wrong belief.
    People who do not believe in the true God do not pray to that God. Unless you believe in Universalism. People of other faiths pray to gods all the time in doing so they break the first commandment. Prayer to the one True and Triune God is always preceded by faith in that one God, and that faith is a gift that comes through hearing the Gospel.
    But more than that prayer is something we do, as a result of our faith yes, but it is something we do, a work. It is a good work, and one I enjoy, but a work nonetheless. Being a pastor is a job, one I enjoy immensely, but nonetheless a job. To make salvation dependant on prayer then is infact to make salvation dependant upon a work. Experience from friends have told me that that is just where it begins. I’m glad your experience has been different.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    The athiest that prays is no longer an Athiest, that is the point of that hyperbole. The archbishop of Canterbury, I don’t agree with him doctrinally, I don’t know if he is a believer or not though. If he isn’t a believer than he isn’t really praying anymore than an actor playing a priest is really sacrificing the mass. The Pharisees I don’t think Christ ever accused them of unbelief, more of wrong belief.
    People who do not believe in the true God do not pray to that God. Unless you believe in Universalism. People of other faiths pray to gods all the time in doing so they break the first commandment. Prayer to the one True and Triune God is always preceded by faith in that one God, and that faith is a gift that comes through hearing the Gospel.
    But more than that prayer is something we do, as a result of our faith yes, but it is something we do, a work. It is a good work, and one I enjoy, but a work nonetheless. Being a pastor is a job, one I enjoy immensely, but nonetheless a job. To make salvation dependant on prayer then is infact to make salvation dependant upon a work. Experience from friends have told me that that is just where it begins. I’m glad your experience has been different.

  • Don S

    Bror:

    I DO NOT BELIEVE SALVATION IS DEPENDENT ON PRAYER!!!!!!!!! I think I’ve made that point about 500 times in this thread. Salvation is through faith alone in Christ.

    We are going in circles here, I don’t believe you are listening. You originally stated, in post #48 — How do you pray to a God you don’t believe in?, meaning at that time, I presumed, that you don’t have a saving faith in. Your point, I thought, was that a person on the verge of salvation, but not yet saved, could not pray because they did not have a saving faith in God. Now, you are saying that if an atheist prays, they must not be an atheist. OK, I’ll accept that. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEY ARE SAVED!!! And, according to your prior premise, those who are not saved cannot pray!!!!! Where am I going wrong here — I must be missing something.

  • Don S

    Bror:

    I DO NOT BELIEVE SALVATION IS DEPENDENT ON PRAYER!!!!!!!!! I think I’ve made that point about 500 times in this thread. Salvation is through faith alone in Christ.

    We are going in circles here, I don’t believe you are listening. You originally stated, in post #48 — How do you pray to a God you don’t believe in?, meaning at that time, I presumed, that you don’t have a saving faith in. Your point, I thought, was that a person on the verge of salvation, but not yet saved, could not pray because they did not have a saving faith in God. Now, you are saying that if an atheist prays, they must not be an atheist. OK, I’ll accept that. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEY ARE SAVED!!! And, according to your prior premise, those who are not saved cannot pray!!!!! Where am I going wrong here — I must be missing something.

  • Booklover

    Thank you to all (Bror, Dr. Veith, Greg, and WebMonk) for further expounding on baptism. I especially like it being described as when Christ first comes to us, an objective act that we can look on for assurance of salvation, the Gospel, and so on. Maybe the Pastor at my dad’s funeral meant all of those things but I just didn’t hear it that way. In either case, the songs expressed the theology wonderfully–”Beautiful Saviour” and all eight verses of “I Know that My Redeemer Lives!”

  • Booklover

    Thank you to all (Bror, Dr. Veith, Greg, and WebMonk) for further expounding on baptism. I especially like it being described as when Christ first comes to us, an objective act that we can look on for assurance of salvation, the Gospel, and so on. Maybe the Pastor at my dad’s funeral meant all of those things but I just didn’t hear it that way. In either case, the songs expressed the theology wonderfully–”Beautiful Saviour” and all eight verses of “I Know that My Redeemer Lives!”

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    I am not attacking what you personally believe, but a doctrine of decision theology that is associated with your denomination. You on the one hand are saying that you don’t believe it, that your congregation doesn’t believe it, but that you are willingly associated with the mother church that does believe it. And then you are attempting to defend it which betrays the fact that you do believe it. While in the same breath denying that you believe that which you are so willing to defend.
    now my contention is not that an unbeliever cannot pray, but those prayers are not heard by God. The man who prays the “sinners prayer” then must needs be already a Christian if they are going to be led by the Holy Spirit to pray to the one true triune God. But I find it curiouse that the New Testament never turns the convert to prayer for assurance of their salvation, but always to baptism. Why because baptism is sure, it comes with promises. Prayer is not sure, not even for the Christian, God answeres how he wants when he wants. Otherwise I would have been made a billionair a long time ago. The prayer of Jabez though never worked for me the way it did for Jabez :)
    You yourself now are backtracking hard. I want you to read your last post. First you say that salvation is not dependant on prayer. But then you say that the man who doesn’t pray does not have saving faith. Listen when I talk about faith I mean faith that saves. And this by necessity preceedes prayer. So the man praying if he is praying to the one, true, triune God, by necessity already has the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is saving faith. He should be led to baptism, for assurance, for the sealing of that faith, and the promises of God. Not to prayer which is a work of man, unlike baptism, which is God’s work on us.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    I am not attacking what you personally believe, but a doctrine of decision theology that is associated with your denomination. You on the one hand are saying that you don’t believe it, that your congregation doesn’t believe it, but that you are willingly associated with the mother church that does believe it. And then you are attempting to defend it which betrays the fact that you do believe it. While in the same breath denying that you believe that which you are so willing to defend.
    now my contention is not that an unbeliever cannot pray, but those prayers are not heard by God. The man who prays the “sinners prayer” then must needs be already a Christian if they are going to be led by the Holy Spirit to pray to the one true triune God. But I find it curiouse that the New Testament never turns the convert to prayer for assurance of their salvation, but always to baptism. Why because baptism is sure, it comes with promises. Prayer is not sure, not even for the Christian, God answeres how he wants when he wants. Otherwise I would have been made a billionair a long time ago. The prayer of Jabez though never worked for me the way it did for Jabez :)
    You yourself now are backtracking hard. I want you to read your last post. First you say that salvation is not dependant on prayer. But then you say that the man who doesn’t pray does not have saving faith. Listen when I talk about faith I mean faith that saves. And this by necessity preceedes prayer. So the man praying if he is praying to the one, true, triune God, by necessity already has the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is saving faith. He should be led to baptism, for assurance, for the sealing of that faith, and the promises of God. Not to prayer which is a work of man, unlike baptism, which is God’s work on us.

  • WebMonk

    Bror – you’ve managed to wrap everything up into a very tangled ball of yarn.

    “now my contention is not that an unbeliever cannot pray, but those prayers are not heard by God. The man who prays the “sinners prayer” then must needs be already a Christian if they are going to be led by the Holy Spirit to pray to the one true triune God.”

    As far as I can tell, DonS agrees with you, and the website doesn’t disagree with you. From what I know of Calvary Chapel, they agree with you. The website is not an exhaustive discourse, so there is room for you to read into it all sorts of things that it doesn’t intend. That’s what you’re doing – reading into it.

    “First you say that salvation is not dependant on prayer. But then you say that the man who doesn’t pray does not have saving faith.”

    WTF? There’s nothing in his posts that even come close to describing what you’re claiming he says. Read carefully: “according to your prior premise, those who are not saved cannot pray” He’s describing what he understands YOU to be saying.

    His last post is almost entirely expressing his confusion with what you’re saying. I can echo his sentiments!

  • WebMonk

    Bror – you’ve managed to wrap everything up into a very tangled ball of yarn.

    “now my contention is not that an unbeliever cannot pray, but those prayers are not heard by God. The man who prays the “sinners prayer” then must needs be already a Christian if they are going to be led by the Holy Spirit to pray to the one true triune God.”

    As far as I can tell, DonS agrees with you, and the website doesn’t disagree with you. From what I know of Calvary Chapel, they agree with you. The website is not an exhaustive discourse, so there is room for you to read into it all sorts of things that it doesn’t intend. That’s what you’re doing – reading into it.

    “First you say that salvation is not dependant on prayer. But then you say that the man who doesn’t pray does not have saving faith.”

    WTF? There’s nothing in his posts that even come close to describing what you’re claiming he says. Read carefully: “according to your prior premise, those who are not saved cannot pray” He’s describing what he understands YOU to be saying.

    His last post is almost entirely expressing his confusion with what you’re saying. I can echo his sentiments!

  • Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    It is simply this. I will try to be as clear as I can. Prayer is a work. Prayer to the only God that can save, that is Jesus Christ who saved us all with his death on the cross, necessitates that the person who is praying believes in Jesus Christ already, already has saving faith. I know of no other faith, but saving faith. (And don’t quote the bastardized translations of James to me.)
    So to ask someone to pray the “sinners prayer” is 1 useless. Useless because the one who would pray that prayer is already saved. 2 it is dangerous. Dangerous because it puts the man’s faith not in the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross, but on his praying the prayer, his work. So even though the prayer talks about “toltally relying on you” it also puts it on the person to turn his life over to Jesus. It is infact a forked tongue prayer. The man isn’t toltally relying on Jesus, He is relying on his ability to pray, and his ability to turn his life over to God. It is impossible for one to turn their life over to God. It isn’t a matter of ones personal will. It is God who takes over ones life, when one hears the gospel, He does this against our will.
    So the man on “the verge of salvation, on the verge of saving faith” is still not able to pray to the one triune God, the moment he is able to pray is the moment he now has saving faith in Jesus. This is faith that in Paul preceded his baptism, Faith that was given to Paul on the road to Damascus, Faith that came when Paul heard and witnessed the gospel first hand from Jesus.
    What the sinners prayer does is rob the man, almost instantaneously, of the gospel he just heard a minute before. It takes the free gift of God and makes it dependant up his work, his prayer, his ability to turn his life over to God. And I would not be reading into that half of what a new convert would be reading into that.
    I would like to ask you. What do you think it means to turn your life over to God?

  • Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    It is simply this. I will try to be as clear as I can. Prayer is a work. Prayer to the only God that can save, that is Jesus Christ who saved us all with his death on the cross, necessitates that the person who is praying believes in Jesus Christ already, already has saving faith. I know of no other faith, but saving faith. (And don’t quote the bastardized translations of James to me.)
    So to ask someone to pray the “sinners prayer” is 1 useless. Useless because the one who would pray that prayer is already saved. 2 it is dangerous. Dangerous because it puts the man’s faith not in the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross, but on his praying the prayer, his work. So even though the prayer talks about “toltally relying on you” it also puts it on the person to turn his life over to Jesus. It is infact a forked tongue prayer. The man isn’t toltally relying on Jesus, He is relying on his ability to pray, and his ability to turn his life over to God. It is impossible for one to turn their life over to God. It isn’t a matter of ones personal will. It is God who takes over ones life, when one hears the gospel, He does this against our will.
    So the man on “the verge of salvation, on the verge of saving faith” is still not able to pray to the one triune God, the moment he is able to pray is the moment he now has saving faith in Jesus. This is faith that in Paul preceded his baptism, Faith that was given to Paul on the road to Damascus, Faith that came when Paul heard and witnessed the gospel first hand from Jesus.
    What the sinners prayer does is rob the man, almost instantaneously, of the gospel he just heard a minute before. It takes the free gift of God and makes it dependant up his work, his prayer, his ability to turn his life over to God. And I would not be reading into that half of what a new convert would be reading into that.
    I would like to ask you. What do you think it means to turn your life over to God?

  • Don S

    Thank you Webmonk. You hit it on the head.

    Bror, we are going in circles, so I think we are done here. Kerner, I believe, sums up our differences very well in post no. 38. Somehow, I missed his very thoughtful post yesterday.

    There is no question I am not Lutheran and you are most definitely Lutheran. We have theological differences. But, they are not so great as you have made them out to be. I do believe that to be saved one must make a decision to accept the free gift of salvation, through grace, offered by Christ. It is not bestowed indiscriminately on everyone. I am more Arminian than Calvinist, and thus believe in man’s free will to reject or accept the gift of salvation. My thoughts on election actually are summarized fairly well in my post no. 48 — it is a doctrine made much more complicated by our present status as humans limited by the concept of time. God knows who the elect are, obviously, since He is outside of time and sees the whole continuum of history. But we, living in time, and not knowing who the elect are, must live as if man has free will, whether or not we actually do.

    I believe you, Bror, HAVE made a decision to accept the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ, and are, as a result, conscientiously following Him. You may not (and, from what I gather, do not) agree that you have made such a decision. The difference in our beliefs makes for great website comment threads, but will ultimately be sorted out in heaven, as I mentioned in post no. 50. I do not believe a prayer is required for salvation, and I do not believe deciding to accept Christ’s free gift of salvation is a “work”. Similarly, being Baptistic in my theology, I consider baptism to be confirmatory and a public declaration of my identity in Christ, rather than a mechanism of salvation, as Lutherans believe. I Cor. 13:12 clearly applies in areas such as these, however.

    God bless.

  • Don S

    Thank you Webmonk. You hit it on the head.

    Bror, we are going in circles, so I think we are done here. Kerner, I believe, sums up our differences very well in post no. 38. Somehow, I missed his very thoughtful post yesterday.

    There is no question I am not Lutheran and you are most definitely Lutheran. We have theological differences. But, they are not so great as you have made them out to be. I do believe that to be saved one must make a decision to accept the free gift of salvation, through grace, offered by Christ. It is not bestowed indiscriminately on everyone. I am more Arminian than Calvinist, and thus believe in man’s free will to reject or accept the gift of salvation. My thoughts on election actually are summarized fairly well in my post no. 48 — it is a doctrine made much more complicated by our present status as humans limited by the concept of time. God knows who the elect are, obviously, since He is outside of time and sees the whole continuum of history. But we, living in time, and not knowing who the elect are, must live as if man has free will, whether or not we actually do.

    I believe you, Bror, HAVE made a decision to accept the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ, and are, as a result, conscientiously following Him. You may not (and, from what I gather, do not) agree that you have made such a decision. The difference in our beliefs makes for great website comment threads, but will ultimately be sorted out in heaven, as I mentioned in post no. 50. I do not believe a prayer is required for salvation, and I do not believe deciding to accept Christ’s free gift of salvation is a “work”. Similarly, being Baptistic in my theology, I consider baptism to be confirmatory and a public declaration of my identity in Christ, rather than a mechanism of salvation, as Lutherans believe. I Cor. 13:12 clearly applies in areas such as these, however.

    God bless.

  • Don S

    As I re-read my comment no. 57 above, I believe one big clarification is necessary. God knows who the elect are, obviously, since He is outside of time and sees the whole continuum of history AND BECAUSE HE IS THE OMNISCIENT GOD OF THE UNIVERSE.

  • Don S

    As I re-read my comment no. 57 above, I believe one big clarification is necessary. God knows who the elect are, obviously, since He is outside of time and sees the whole continuum of history AND BECAUSE HE IS THE OMNISCIENT GOD OF THE UNIVERSE.

  • WebMonk

    Then I don’t see any serious areas of disagreement. That entire last post doesn’t have any substantive areas of disagreement with what I understand Calvary Chapel to hold, and with what DonS was saying. Maybe you’re getting hung up on the nomenclature of calling something the “Sinner’s Prayer”.

    You’re right. It would probably be more accurate to call it something like the

    “Prayer Admitting the Sinfulness of Myself, Grateful Acceptance of and Plea for God’s Continuing Forgiveness, and Declaration to Forevermore Follow Christ As Lord, Remembering That I Am Already a Child of Christ As I Pray This and It Is Not the Work of This Prayer That Saves Me”

    Even that actually falls short of a fully-accurate and nuanced description, so I think I’ll stick with the much more understandable to a non-Christian, “Sinner’s Prayer” terminology.

    ESPECIALLY on a WEBPAGE for NON-CHRISTIANS!!!

  • WebMonk

    Then I don’t see any serious areas of disagreement. That entire last post doesn’t have any substantive areas of disagreement with what I understand Calvary Chapel to hold, and with what DonS was saying. Maybe you’re getting hung up on the nomenclature of calling something the “Sinner’s Prayer”.

    You’re right. It would probably be more accurate to call it something like the

    “Prayer Admitting the Sinfulness of Myself, Grateful Acceptance of and Plea for God’s Continuing Forgiveness, and Declaration to Forevermore Follow Christ As Lord, Remembering That I Am Already a Child of Christ As I Pray This and It Is Not the Work of This Prayer That Saves Me”

    Even that actually falls short of a fully-accurate and nuanced description, so I think I’ll stick with the much more understandable to a non-Christian, “Sinner’s Prayer” terminology.

    ESPECIALLY on a WEBPAGE for NON-CHRISTIANS!!!

  • Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    Now that you and Don have admitted to the Arminian theology, and the need for a decision on behalf of the believer to believe in order to have salvation. I’ll let it rest. You may not believe that a decision is a work, we will disagree on that. If I decide than I have done something. It is different than having something done to me. It places the responsibility of salvation back on me. In my opinion that is doubly shameful:
    ESPECIALLY on a WEBPAGE for NON-CHRISTIANS!!!

    You may think I am just nit picking, and Kerner is probably right to tell me to cool off. But to me, and to a couple of my friends who left Calvary Chapel screaming, it is a very big deal. It robbed them for many years of their assurance of salvation. Everytime they failed to keep a promise they made to God, every time they realized they hadn’t completely turned their life over to God, they were led to question their faith, their salvation. To me it is a little less personal, I never had to experience that sort of doubt first hand, though my fingers were singed by the flame of it once. I’ve seen the pain and guilt it causes in many people. I’ve seen the hypocritical pride it induces in others. I happen to care about those people, Christ died for them, they are my brothers and sisters. I want them to know the joy that comes from the gospel the deep assurance that their sins, all of them, before and after the sinners prayer, and their baptism have been forgiven. That it doesn’t rest on them to achieve their own salvation at all, they don’t have to question whether or not they are the elect.
    On top of that I believe teaching false doctrine to be a sin, just as weighty as any other sin. Some have accused me of being antinomian. Usually people who have no idea what that is. One thing I am not thogh is a doctrinal antinomian. I beleive there will be much more revealed to me on the other side of glory. But I also believe that not everything is seen in a mirror, dimly lit. Some things have been revealed to us quite clearly, in the ever bright light of Christ. And on those things I will speak, loudly, and confidently knowing it is not my word that speaks but God’s. One should not teach what one is not sure of, not in God’s name, His name should not be used so vainly.

  • Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    Now that you and Don have admitted to the Arminian theology, and the need for a decision on behalf of the believer to believe in order to have salvation. I’ll let it rest. You may not believe that a decision is a work, we will disagree on that. If I decide than I have done something. It is different than having something done to me. It places the responsibility of salvation back on me. In my opinion that is doubly shameful:
    ESPECIALLY on a WEBPAGE for NON-CHRISTIANS!!!

    You may think I am just nit picking, and Kerner is probably right to tell me to cool off. But to me, and to a couple of my friends who left Calvary Chapel screaming, it is a very big deal. It robbed them for many years of their assurance of salvation. Everytime they failed to keep a promise they made to God, every time they realized they hadn’t completely turned their life over to God, they were led to question their faith, their salvation. To me it is a little less personal, I never had to experience that sort of doubt first hand, though my fingers were singed by the flame of it once. I’ve seen the pain and guilt it causes in many people. I’ve seen the hypocritical pride it induces in others. I happen to care about those people, Christ died for them, they are my brothers and sisters. I want them to know the joy that comes from the gospel the deep assurance that their sins, all of them, before and after the sinners prayer, and their baptism have been forgiven. That it doesn’t rest on them to achieve their own salvation at all, they don’t have to question whether or not they are the elect.
    On top of that I believe teaching false doctrine to be a sin, just as weighty as any other sin. Some have accused me of being antinomian. Usually people who have no idea what that is. One thing I am not thogh is a doctrinal antinomian. I beleive there will be much more revealed to me on the other side of glory. But I also believe that not everything is seen in a mirror, dimly lit. Some things have been revealed to us quite clearly, in the ever bright light of Christ. And on those things I will speak, loudly, and confidently knowing it is not my word that speaks but God’s. One should not teach what one is not sure of, not in God’s name, His name should not be used so vainly.

  • Don S

    Bror:

    A) I always admitted to my “more Arminian than Calvinist” theology — my posts have been consistent throughout on this score. It doesn’t seem as if you read most of them however.

    B) Sad to say, your friends did not understand why they had no reason to doubt their assurance of salvation. We cannot lose the gift of salvation so mercifully given to us by the Christ. Doubt is a tool of Satan, in an attempt to render a Christian ineffectual, not a fault of the doctrine.

    C) It doesn’t and can’t rest on us to achieve our own salvation. I don’t understand where you are getting this from. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ so that we can be saved, as the Apostle Paul uttered to the jailor in the book of Acts, is not achieving your own salvation.

    D) By accusing us of the sin of teaching false doctrine, you are slandering us, because you don’t seem to even understand the doctrine we are teaching (or you are deliberately choosing to misrepresent it, which is far worse). Slander is also a sin.

    E) I am as sure as I can possibly be of what I teach — that salvation is achieved entirely by faith in Christ alone — we can in no way do anything to merit salvation, it is the gift of God. We must simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and we shall be saved. That is what I teach, and is what I have clearly explained repeatedly as being what I teach. Anything other than this are words that you are putting in my mouth, and then accusing me of the vain use of the Lord’s name.

    F) Bror, I know you are young, and believe with all your heart that you have a handle on all things doctrinal. However, I believe that as you grow in your faith and in maturity during your ministry you will grow to understand the need to speak clearly, but with grace, mercy, tact, and comity. Allow the Holy Spirit to do the convicting. Needless offending is not an effective tool for fulfilling the Great Commission and bringing souls to Christ.

  • Don S

    Bror:

    A) I always admitted to my “more Arminian than Calvinist” theology — my posts have been consistent throughout on this score. It doesn’t seem as if you read most of them however.

    B) Sad to say, your friends did not understand why they had no reason to doubt their assurance of salvation. We cannot lose the gift of salvation so mercifully given to us by the Christ. Doubt is a tool of Satan, in an attempt to render a Christian ineffectual, not a fault of the doctrine.

    C) It doesn’t and can’t rest on us to achieve our own salvation. I don’t understand where you are getting this from. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ so that we can be saved, as the Apostle Paul uttered to the jailor in the book of Acts, is not achieving your own salvation.

    D) By accusing us of the sin of teaching false doctrine, you are slandering us, because you don’t seem to even understand the doctrine we are teaching (or you are deliberately choosing to misrepresent it, which is far worse). Slander is also a sin.

    E) I am as sure as I can possibly be of what I teach — that salvation is achieved entirely by faith in Christ alone — we can in no way do anything to merit salvation, it is the gift of God. We must simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and we shall be saved. That is what I teach, and is what I have clearly explained repeatedly as being what I teach. Anything other than this are words that you are putting in my mouth, and then accusing me of the vain use of the Lord’s name.

    F) Bror, I know you are young, and believe with all your heart that you have a handle on all things doctrinal. However, I believe that as you grow in your faith and in maturity during your ministry you will grow to understand the need to speak clearly, but with grace, mercy, tact, and comity. Allow the Holy Spirit to do the convicting. Needless offending is not an effective tool for fulfilling the Great Commission and bringing souls to Christ.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S
    Your killing me. LOL,
    that will be my response. Thats it. Except to say, your making me think my friends in college were being a bit sarcastic, when they called me mr. Tact.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S
    Your killing me. LOL,
    that will be my response. Thats it. Except to say, your making me think my friends in college were being a bit sarcastic, when they called me mr. Tact.

  • Don S

    So, Mr. Tact, I’m killing YOU? You call me a heretic and a teacher of false doctrine, and I’m killing YOU? LOL!

    It’s been a pleasure. :)

  • Don S

    So, Mr. Tact, I’m killing YOU? You call me a heretic and a teacher of false doctrine, and I’m killing YOU? LOL!

    It’s been a pleasure. :)

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    you take offense way to easily. First off, I don’t think I ever called you a Heretic. But of course I think you teach false doctrine. Only one of our two opposing views on this can be true. so I take it for granted that you and others in your circles think the same of what I teach. No hard feelings. The thing is If you don’t believe my doctrine is false why aren’t you Lutheran. If Doctrien doesn’t matter at all, why aren’t you Catholic.
    So take a breath. We were arguing doctrine that is all, It wasn’t personal. Though your last post 61 got a bit that way. I had to laugh, you don’t know me. and it was quite contradictory. I mean if you really believed I had a handle on things doctrinal, you wouldn’t argue with me.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    you take offense way to easily. First off, I don’t think I ever called you a Heretic. But of course I think you teach false doctrine. Only one of our two opposing views on this can be true. so I take it for granted that you and others in your circles think the same of what I teach. No hard feelings. The thing is If you don’t believe my doctrine is false why aren’t you Lutheran. If Doctrien doesn’t matter at all, why aren’t you Catholic.
    So take a breath. We were arguing doctrine that is all, It wasn’t personal. Though your last post 61 got a bit that way. I had to laugh, you don’t know me. and it was quite contradictory. I mean if you really believed I had a handle on things doctrinal, you wouldn’t argue with me.

  • WebMonk

    Bror, I admit I’m mystified. I stated I agree with how you described your understand of the place and relationship of prayer, faith and salvation.

    Then you respond with “Now that you and Don have admitted to the Arminian theology, and the need for a decision on behalf of the believer to believe in order to have salvation.”

    What are you on?!

    There are a number of places DonS and I both denied holding to a salvation-from-human-decision theology. If you want, I can compile a “God…hates…Jesus” sort of list from our comments and save you the trouble of cherry-picking out particular phrases out of our comments and spinning them out of context.

  • WebMonk

    Bror, I admit I’m mystified. I stated I agree with how you described your understand of the place and relationship of prayer, faith and salvation.

    Then you respond with “Now that you and Don have admitted to the Arminian theology, and the need for a decision on behalf of the believer to believe in order to have salvation.”

    What are you on?!

    There are a number of places DonS and I both denied holding to a salvation-from-human-decision theology. If you want, I can compile a “God…hates…Jesus” sort of list from our comments and save you the trouble of cherry-picking out particular phrases out of our comments and spinning them out of context.

  • WebMonk

    Everybody watch this, I’ll pretend to be Bror -

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

    Ahhhhh! Luke was an Arminian, decision-theology, false teacher!!! Ahhhhh!

  • WebMonk

    Everybody watch this, I’ll pretend to be Bror -

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

    Ahhhhh! Luke was an Arminian, decision-theology, false teacher!!! Ahhhhh!

  • Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    I guess I am having too much fun with this conversation as are you. To let it go would just be a shame at this point. Maybe I was wrong to lump you and Don S together. So for starters I’ll quote Don S. For you where he admits to being arminian, and acopts a works righteousness, though he denies the work to be a work.
    “I do believe that to be saved one must make a decision to accept the free gift of salvation, through grace, offered by Christ.”
    “I am more Arminian than Calvinist, and thus believe in man’s free will to reject or accept the gift of salvation.”
    “I believe you, Bror, HAVE made a decision to accept the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ, and are, as a result, conscientiously following Him.”
    “I do not believe a prayer is required for salvation, and I do not believe deciding to accept Christ’s free gift of salvation is a “work”.”
    I suppose we will disagree on this. But from my standpoint a decision is a work. It is something I do. Making salvation dependant on anything I do, prayer, decision, etc. is works righteousness.
    Now to show why I lumped you together with Don S I will quote you. “Then I don’t see any serious areas of disagreement. That entire last post doesn’t have any substantive areas of disagreement with what I understand Calvary Chapel to hold, and with what DonS was saying.” You go on to defend the sinners prayer by saying not that it should be changed in anyway, but by saying it should be renamed.
    No it should be burned. Simple. No one should ever be taught to believe that they are a Christian because of a prayer THEY prayed.
    No Luke was not an Arminian, but Arminians do a good job of distorting what he says to make him Arminian. Faith is not our work, it is the work of the Holy Spirit, Lukes mentor Paul was very explicit about that. There is no synergism in Luke. There may be some in your interpretation of him.

  • Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    I guess I am having too much fun with this conversation as are you. To let it go would just be a shame at this point. Maybe I was wrong to lump you and Don S together. So for starters I’ll quote Don S. For you where he admits to being arminian, and acopts a works righteousness, though he denies the work to be a work.
    “I do believe that to be saved one must make a decision to accept the free gift of salvation, through grace, offered by Christ.”
    “I am more Arminian than Calvinist, and thus believe in man’s free will to reject or accept the gift of salvation.”
    “I believe you, Bror, HAVE made a decision to accept the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ, and are, as a result, conscientiously following Him.”
    “I do not believe a prayer is required for salvation, and I do not believe deciding to accept Christ’s free gift of salvation is a “work”.”
    I suppose we will disagree on this. But from my standpoint a decision is a work. It is something I do. Making salvation dependant on anything I do, prayer, decision, etc. is works righteousness.
    Now to show why I lumped you together with Don S I will quote you. “Then I don’t see any serious areas of disagreement. That entire last post doesn’t have any substantive areas of disagreement with what I understand Calvary Chapel to hold, and with what DonS was saying.” You go on to defend the sinners prayer by saying not that it should be changed in anyway, but by saying it should be renamed.
    No it should be burned. Simple. No one should ever be taught to believe that they are a Christian because of a prayer THEY prayed.
    No Luke was not an Arminian, but Arminians do a good job of distorting what he says to make him Arminian. Faith is not our work, it is the work of the Holy Spirit, Lukes mentor Paul was very explicit about that. There is no synergism in Luke. There may be some in your interpretation of him.

  • B.Wink

    Bror –

    “But I find it curious that the New Testament never turns the convert to prayer for assurance of their salvation, but always to baptism.”

    I find this statement by you in post 54 to be very comforting. I appreciate your postings on the topic of our baptism being an objective assurance of our salvation. I have found myself in the position of questioning my salvation after having prayed “the sinners prayer”. And turning to my baptism for assurance has brought me much solace.

  • B.Wink

    Bror -

    “But I find it curious that the New Testament never turns the convert to prayer for assurance of their salvation, but always to baptism.”

    I find this statement by you in post 54 to be very comforting. I appreciate your postings on the topic of our baptism being an objective assurance of our salvation. I have found myself in the position of questioning my salvation after having prayed “the sinners prayer”. And turning to my baptism for assurance has brought me much solace.

  • Bror Erickson

    B Wink,
    It is always a joy to hear that God’s word has comforted a person. Thanks for your encouragement. I’m glad that good has come out of this conversation.

  • Bror Erickson

    B Wink,
    It is always a joy to hear that God’s word has comforted a person. Thanks for your encouragement. I’m glad that good has come out of this conversation.

  • Bror Erickson

    B wink,
    Are you by chance going to the LWML Event tommorrow? You should, a somewhat arrogant, less than tactful pastor is leading the Bible Study. And the women there are wonderful.

  • Bror Erickson

    B wink,
    Are you by chance going to the LWML Event tommorrow? You should, a somewhat arrogant, less than tactful pastor is leading the Bible Study. And the women there are wonderful.

  • WebMonk

    Oh, it looks like I won’t have to compile a list of phrases you can twist and take out of context – you’ve already done it. Enjoy it.

  • WebMonk

    Oh, it looks like I won’t have to compile a list of phrases you can twist and take out of context – you’ve already done it. Enjoy it.

  • B.Wink

    Bror –
    I haven’t had the chance to get involved with LWML as yet, so I hadn’t heard of the event tomorrow. Where and when is it in case I can make it? Thanks for the info. It would be fun to meet you.

  • B.Wink

    Bror -
    I haven’t had the chance to get involved with LWML as yet, so I hadn’t heard of the event tomorrow. Where and when is it in case I can make it? Thanks for the info. It would be fun to meet you.

  • Bror Erickson

    9:30 -2 Trinity Layton

  • Bror Erickson

    9:30 -2 Trinity Layton

  • B.Wink

    Thanks

  • B.Wink

    Thanks

  • Booklover

    I found decision theology to be man-centered rather than Christ-centered. As I’ve said before, I went to a “decision” or revivalist church which was entirely made up of former Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc. We were feeling guilty for some sin(s) then made to feel like true Christians after the decision. This led to some pompousness because we felt like we’d arrived and all those other denominations hadn’t. Our god was “that moment in time when I got saved,” not Jesus Christ the Saviour, it seemed to me. Trouble was, when we sinned after making “the decision,” there wasn’t an easy answer or comfort for us. In fact, we actually made light of our sin and called them mistakes, or blamed them on others, or blamed the preacher or elders. Our huge church, made up of former “other-church” members, eventually dissolved. We were not preached Christ crucified for us after “the decision.” As Rod Rosenbladt says in *Christ Alone,* THE GOSPEL IS FOR CHRISTIANS.

  • Booklover

    I found decision theology to be man-centered rather than Christ-centered. As I’ve said before, I went to a “decision” or revivalist church which was entirely made up of former Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc. We were feeling guilty for some sin(s) then made to feel like true Christians after the decision. This led to some pompousness because we felt like we’d arrived and all those other denominations hadn’t. Our god was “that moment in time when I got saved,” not Jesus Christ the Saviour, it seemed to me. Trouble was, when we sinned after making “the decision,” there wasn’t an easy answer or comfort for us. In fact, we actually made light of our sin and called them mistakes, or blamed them on others, or blamed the preacher or elders. Our huge church, made up of former “other-church” members, eventually dissolved. We were not preached Christ crucified for us after “the decision.” As Rod Rosenbladt says in *Christ Alone,* THE GOSPEL IS FOR CHRISTIANS.

  • Don S

    That church sounds horrible, Booklover. I am glad it dissolved.

  • Don S

    That church sounds horrible, Booklover. I am glad it dissolved.


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