Where are the Lutherans, revisited

Reformed baptist Kevin DeYoung raise a question on his blog asking where are the  Lutherans in the contemporary evangelical scene.  It provoked quite a conversation, both on his blog and here.  As a follow-up, Kevin interviewed Paul McCain of Concordia Publishing House.  Paul did a superb job of communication.  You’ve got to read his the entire interview:   Those Dern Lutherans: An Interview with Paul T. McCain – Kevin DeYoung.  I especially liked his concluding remarks:

9. Anything else you think the world needs to know about Lutherans?

I would say this: I think Evangelicals often find themselves searching for something they feel might be a bit “missing” in their Christian walk, and think that Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy may fit the bill, while all the while Lutheranism is there, right around the corner. Often when they find a traditional Lutheran Church they are surprised to find a robust, rich worship life, rooted in the Scripture (which is what the liturgy is, in its entirety). They find a rich focus on Christ and the Gospel–Lutherans are adamant that Christ is the heart and center of everything, and they also find a tangible experience with God, not based simply on feelings or emotions, but on a concrete and objective experience with God’s grace through the sacraments. And all this is wrapped up in such a vibrant passionate love for Jesus. We Lutherans combine the best of what is Evangelical, with the best of what is truly catholic about the Church, with the rich heritage of the Lutheran Reformation. I think it is a winning combination, but of course, I’m kind of biased.

Which raises another issue:   Many evangelicals yearn for sacraments and liturgy and historic Christianity.  They seem to first become Anglicans and then migrate to Roman Catholicism or Orthodoxy.   To be sure, some find Lutheranism, where sacramentalism and liturgical worship go hand in hand with a theologically rigorous commitment to the Bible and to the Gospel.  And yet many ex-evangelicals do not even consider Lutheranism but go right to other traditions even at the expense of giving up  the Gospel of justification by Christ alone (in favor of Rome’s  justification by faith plus works, or Constantinople’s theosis).  I mean, I can understand someone ceasing to believe in the evangelical view of justification–and many “evangelicals” are now disbelieving in it, which is a major reason to leave their churches–but I don’t see the Lutheran alternative even being considered by many of these folks.

Why is that?  Is it that they don’t know about it, or that if they go to a Lutheran church they find one trying to be like the one they want to leave?  In which case, this is the fault of Lutherans, and our lack of contact with other Christians, which is what DeYoung first complained about, has to be a factor.  Or are these ex-evangelicals running towards elements of Catholicism or Orthodoxy that are already inherent in their own theologies, namely, a preference for moralism (as opposed to the Lutheran freedom in the Gospel) and absolute authority (the pope or tradition as a more certain authority than how they formerly used the Bible, as opposed to the Lutheran view that sees the Bible as an authority that gives us mysteries, not rationalistic clarity, and that functions primarily as a means of grace in which God’s Word addresses us personally)?

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.

  • Purple koolaid

    Bc they don’t know the difference between Elca and the LCMs. Many evangelicals are committed to prolife causes and are opposed to gay marriage. While the Elca takes such a strong stance in favor of these things, it is hard for people to know there is a real Lutheran out there.

  • Purple koolaid

    Bc they don’t know the difference between Elca and the LCMs. Many evangelicals are committed to prolife causes and are opposed to gay marriage. While the Elca takes such a strong stance in favor of these things, it is hard for people to know there is a real Lutheran out there.

  • http://jesus-is-not-irrelevant.blogspot.com/ Mary Johnson

    I found the Lutheran Church via Chris Rosebrough and his Fighting for the Faith podcast. It wasn’t until I was instructed in the difference between the true gospel and what was out there did I realize what was what. I had a previous knowledge of Catholicism and was coming from a Reformed church. I was more interested in finding a confessional church that didn’t rely on flash and style rather than substance.

    It was the grace of God I found the church I did. Would advertising or evangalism had made a difference? If it was promoted as the LCMS truly is in practice I might have taken notice. I knew historically about Martin Luther but had never given thought to the Lutheran faith. It was one of those traditions that seemed “quiet” and in the corner.

    I feel I have found my home and wish I had saved myself many years of struggle with works righteousness and frustration, but I think I was being prepared to accept what I have. A lot of Lutheran’s don’t seem to have a clue how precious their message truly is.

  • http://jesus-is-not-irrelevant.blogspot.com/ Mary Johnson

    I found the Lutheran Church via Chris Rosebrough and his Fighting for the Faith podcast. It wasn’t until I was instructed in the difference between the true gospel and what was out there did I realize what was what. I had a previous knowledge of Catholicism and was coming from a Reformed church. I was more interested in finding a confessional church that didn’t rely on flash and style rather than substance.

    It was the grace of God I found the church I did. Would advertising or evangalism had made a difference? If it was promoted as the LCMS truly is in practice I might have taken notice. I knew historically about Martin Luther but had never given thought to the Lutheran faith. It was one of those traditions that seemed “quiet” and in the corner.

    I feel I have found my home and wish I had saved myself many years of struggle with works righteousness and frustration, but I think I was being prepared to accept what I have. A lot of Lutheran’s don’t seem to have a clue how precious their message truly is.

  • helen

    My Orthodox Presbyterian friends, back in the 60′s, knew more of what was going on in the upper levels of LCMS and the seminary than I did. (I was new to LCMS.) They asked me why we couldn’t learn from the descent into liberalism which split the Presbyterian church, leaving the majority mired in it.

    If “all I know is what I read in the papers” what would attract me to the Lutherans? Elca gets most of the press; people on the outside can’t be blamed for thinking, “That is Lutheranism?” But publicity for lcms too often revolves around the churches so far out that they aren’t really Lutheran either, e.g., the congregation that greeted people with a Star Wars character and gave a “sex series” of talks masquerading as Lenten services. If a confessional congregation is in the news, it’s likely to be because they are fighting their district officers to stay alive, like ULC on the U of Minn. campus. Selling KFUO-FM probably impressed more non-Lutherans unfavorably than there were Lutherans who even knew about it or cared. The petition to keep Issues Etc. carried hundreds of non Lutheran signatures! (And was ignored) As you say, they look at the Lutherans and find them poor copies of what they are trying to leave!
    There are a dozen “lcms” churches in my town. When someone asked for a confessional church “like Rev. Dr. Scott Murray serves in Houston” there were only two offered, and one is too small to support the teaching programs Memorial, Houston, has.
    If we don’t value our own heritage, why would anyone else? And yet we have dedicated and vocal Lutherans, who, when you look into it, often turn out to be converts!

  • helen

    My Orthodox Presbyterian friends, back in the 60′s, knew more of what was going on in the upper levels of LCMS and the seminary than I did. (I was new to LCMS.) They asked me why we couldn’t learn from the descent into liberalism which split the Presbyterian church, leaving the majority mired in it.

    If “all I know is what I read in the papers” what would attract me to the Lutherans? Elca gets most of the press; people on the outside can’t be blamed for thinking, “That is Lutheranism?” But publicity for lcms too often revolves around the churches so far out that they aren’t really Lutheran either, e.g., the congregation that greeted people with a Star Wars character and gave a “sex series” of talks masquerading as Lenten services. If a confessional congregation is in the news, it’s likely to be because they are fighting their district officers to stay alive, like ULC on the U of Minn. campus. Selling KFUO-FM probably impressed more non-Lutherans unfavorably than there were Lutherans who even knew about it or cared. The petition to keep Issues Etc. carried hundreds of non Lutheran signatures! (And was ignored) As you say, they look at the Lutherans and find them poor copies of what they are trying to leave!
    There are a dozen “lcms” churches in my town. When someone asked for a confessional church “like Rev. Dr. Scott Murray serves in Houston” there were only two offered, and one is too small to support the teaching programs Memorial, Houston, has.
    If we don’t value our own heritage, why would anyone else? And yet we have dedicated and vocal Lutherans, who, when you look into it, often turn out to be converts!

  • SKPeterson

    Maybe, just maybe, if more LCMS pastors and synod officials who were ordained actually bothered to wear the collar, they might distinguish themselves from their Reformed, Baptist, Pentecostal, and non-denom counterparts. I think that far too many of our pastor’s have so wanted to be seen as non-Catholic that they have become quasi-evangelical in dress, worship style, and public persona.

    Our new associate pastor indicated he wanted to get out in the community and pass on the message of Jesus Christ. I told him that if he wanted to people to know he was a pastor and to be approached by people he should consider actually wearing a collar. He mentioned a horror story where a colleague wore his collar and was publicly accosted and denounced by people who naturally assumed he was a Roman Catholic, so he was loathe to wear one. I simply replied that the people who express anger and hatred at the collar because of their assumptions about the man wearing it are also desperately in need of a Good Word and comfort. What about all the people who have been hurt or abused by a pastor wearing a suit and tie or jeans and a polo? Why dress like them if your concern is for people’s feelings about the church?

    Moreover, the collar is a beacon for those others who are burdened that they can find comfort and grace. Pastors should dare to dress like the men God called them to be, put on the uniform and get out in their communities. If you want to differentiate Lutherans in the evangelical landscape, have pastors and district presidents start acting and dressing like Lutherans in public and not just for an hour or two on Sunday morning.

  • SKPeterson

    Maybe, just maybe, if more LCMS pastors and synod officials who were ordained actually bothered to wear the collar, they might distinguish themselves from their Reformed, Baptist, Pentecostal, and non-denom counterparts. I think that far too many of our pastor’s have so wanted to be seen as non-Catholic that they have become quasi-evangelical in dress, worship style, and public persona.

    Our new associate pastor indicated he wanted to get out in the community and pass on the message of Jesus Christ. I told him that if he wanted to people to know he was a pastor and to be approached by people he should consider actually wearing a collar. He mentioned a horror story where a colleague wore his collar and was publicly accosted and denounced by people who naturally assumed he was a Roman Catholic, so he was loathe to wear one. I simply replied that the people who express anger and hatred at the collar because of their assumptions about the man wearing it are also desperately in need of a Good Word and comfort. What about all the people who have been hurt or abused by a pastor wearing a suit and tie or jeans and a polo? Why dress like them if your concern is for people’s feelings about the church?

    Moreover, the collar is a beacon for those others who are burdened that they can find comfort and grace. Pastors should dare to dress like the men God called them to be, put on the uniform and get out in their communities. If you want to differentiate Lutherans in the evangelical landscape, have pastors and district presidents start acting and dressing like Lutherans in public and not just for an hour or two on Sunday morning.

  • helen

    A lot of Lutheran’s don’t seem to have a clue how precious their message truly is.

    Amen!

    If the time and money of the last decade in the lcms had been spent teaching Lutheran doctrine to those in the church, the touted “mission to the lost” might have been a natural overflow of faith, bringing people in, instead of a contrived “marketing” attempt to drive Lutherans away from Lutheranism, (the better to “save” who?)

  • helen

    A lot of Lutheran’s don’t seem to have a clue how precious their message truly is.

    Amen!

    If the time and money of the last decade in the lcms had been spent teaching Lutheran doctrine to those in the church, the touted “mission to the lost” might have been a natural overflow of faith, bringing people in, instead of a contrived “marketing” attempt to drive Lutherans away from Lutheranism, (the better to “save” who?)

  • Christopher Greenwood

    I live in a district where there is a handful of faithful Lutheran congregations surrounded by heterodox congregations that are members of the Willow Creek Association and use Transforming Churches Network growth formulas to transform them selves in evangelical mega churches, I’m still waiting patiently for President Harrison to get around to disciplining my District President for refusing exercise his ecclesiastical duties, if we don’t start going after heterodox pastors and District president the argument will be irrelevant and President Harrison’s election will have been for nothing

  • Christopher Greenwood

    I live in a district where there is a handful of faithful Lutheran congregations surrounded by heterodox congregations that are members of the Willow Creek Association and use Transforming Churches Network growth formulas to transform them selves in evangelical mega churches, I’m still waiting patiently for President Harrison to get around to disciplining my District President for refusing exercise his ecclesiastical duties, if we don’t start going after heterodox pastors and District president the argument will be irrelevant and President Harrison’s election will have been for nothing

  • ELB

    Google “Lutheran.” It goes to ELCA.org first. “Read Kwame’s story of her call to the ordained ministry, along with other daily content and conversation about what it means to “live Lutheran.” …”

    Your first Google page may be different, but LCMS is 11th on mine. WELS isn’t on the first page. ELS (small confessional body in fellowship with WELS) isn’t on the first page at all. Thrivent has a doorway page for ELCA, LCMS and WELS only.

    The Wikipedia page seems good on first glance, but I didn’t see any easy way for a searching evangelical to find Lutherans who confess the Lutheran faith today.

    Add the fact that ELCA releases always purport to speak for “The Lutheran Church,” and you can see why searching evangelicals would go elsewhere.

  • ELB

    Google “Lutheran.” It goes to ELCA.org first. “Read Kwame’s story of her call to the ordained ministry, along with other daily content and conversation about what it means to “live Lutheran.” …”

    Your first Google page may be different, but LCMS is 11th on mine. WELS isn’t on the first page. ELS (small confessional body in fellowship with WELS) isn’t on the first page at all. Thrivent has a doorway page for ELCA, LCMS and WELS only.

    The Wikipedia page seems good on first glance, but I didn’t see any easy way for a searching evangelical to find Lutherans who confess the Lutheran faith today.

    Add the fact that ELCA releases always purport to speak for “The Lutheran Church,” and you can see why searching evangelicals would go elsewhere.

  • Bart

    I can’t help thinking that DeYoung is looking for “starpower” among the Lutheran tradition. After all, that’s what the Together4theGospel coalition is all about: celebrity. These include Reformed Baptists, Sovereign Grace, Presbyterians, and Low Church Anglicans (which can often ignore vestments or heavily emphasize preaching). Observe the great hubbub over John Piper and C. J. Mahaney going on furlough. So many pat them on the back. It’s like when a late night show host retires from his program without hard feelings, when everyone says, “What a guy–he left with such grace and style!” In some ways, I think these Protestant traditions have no safeguard against such, for lack of a better phrase, worship of personality. T4G (especially sovereign grace churches) are excellent in branding; they are masters of the image-based culture. In an older age, this may have been labeled “idolatry.”

    Contrast with a liturgical/sacramental approach. Since the focus is on the sacraments, the priest’s role is not purely a speaker, but also a “waiter” at God’s Table. Also, vestments cover up marks of wealth or poverty for a clergyman. He is the same, whether rich or poor. The trendiness of his cloths or the awkwardness is a non-issue. He’s the pastor, fulfilling his vocation and that’s about it. Stardom is eschewed in such an environment. The pastor will quietly serve for his term, then be replaced by another who carries on the worship of the Most High.

  • Bart

    I can’t help thinking that DeYoung is looking for “starpower” among the Lutheran tradition. After all, that’s what the Together4theGospel coalition is all about: celebrity. These include Reformed Baptists, Sovereign Grace, Presbyterians, and Low Church Anglicans (which can often ignore vestments or heavily emphasize preaching). Observe the great hubbub over John Piper and C. J. Mahaney going on furlough. So many pat them on the back. It’s like when a late night show host retires from his program without hard feelings, when everyone says, “What a guy–he left with such grace and style!” In some ways, I think these Protestant traditions have no safeguard against such, for lack of a better phrase, worship of personality. T4G (especially sovereign grace churches) are excellent in branding; they are masters of the image-based culture. In an older age, this may have been labeled “idolatry.”

    Contrast with a liturgical/sacramental approach. Since the focus is on the sacraments, the priest’s role is not purely a speaker, but also a “waiter” at God’s Table. Also, vestments cover up marks of wealth or poverty for a clergyman. He is the same, whether rich or poor. The trendiness of his cloths or the awkwardness is a non-issue. He’s the pastor, fulfilling his vocation and that’s about it. Stardom is eschewed in such an environment. The pastor will quietly serve for his term, then be replaced by another who carries on the worship of the Most High.

  • helen

    I must say that Paul T McCain is much more entertaining when he is being polite to the Reformed than he is when he is lambasting Lutherans on their own blogs!

  • helen

    I must say that Paul T McCain is much more entertaining when he is being polite to the Reformed than he is when he is lambasting Lutherans on their own blogs!

  • Booklover

    To echo what has been said, the only Lutheran branch that many evangelicals are aware of, is the ELCA. They hear the word “Lutheran,” and they equate it with “liberal.” That type of Lutheran is the only one getting the press.

    There are some, also, who are leary of checking out a denomination which is named after a man.

  • Booklover

    To echo what has been said, the only Lutheran branch that many evangelicals are aware of, is the ELCA. They hear the word “Lutheran,” and they equate it with “liberal.” That type of Lutheran is the only one getting the press.

    There are some, also, who are leary of checking out a denomination which is named after a man.

  • Arfies

    Publicity of the right kind would of course be good, but in my years of ministry I found that people who came into the Lutheran Church from other denominations were attracted by their knowledge and/or observation of Lutheran lay people, and they were then cemented into our fellowship by the warm welcome they received, by clear education in what Lutherans believe, and by Gospel-centered, relevant preaching. It seems to me that our problem is mostly with that first step: our Lutheran people have to display their faith in their manner of living, and they have to let it be known why they live that way.

  • Arfies

    Publicity of the right kind would of course be good, but in my years of ministry I found that people who came into the Lutheran Church from other denominations were attracted by their knowledge and/or observation of Lutheran lay people, and they were then cemented into our fellowship by the warm welcome they received, by clear education in what Lutherans believe, and by Gospel-centered, relevant preaching. It seems to me that our problem is mostly with that first step: our Lutheran people have to display their faith in their manner of living, and they have to let it be known why they live that way.

  • Steve in Toronto

    I am a restless Anglican (for all the usual reasons) and a couple of weeks ago, inspired largely by conversations on this blog I drove an hour to the nearest confessional Lutheran church for Sunday worship and bible study. The young Minster preached an excellent sermon. I loved the fact that they had an adult Sunday school (It was almost like being in a PCA church) and the liturgy and music were exactly to my taste (formal but not fussy). However there are significant barriers to my joining them for regular worship. I did not expect to be able to commune but it was still very painful to be denied (although my youngest son and I were granted a “baptismal blessing”. The small congregation (about 50 people on the Sunday I was there) did not have a children’s program (if I tried to take my two older children their I think I might have a mutiny on my hands (2 hours of driving plus 3 hours of very adult oriented worship and bible study is a lot to ask of 8 and 10 year olds) not to mention my very Anglican wife who flatly refused to worship at a church that would not commune her. Lastly although the two clergy (one active, one retired) were both very friendly and welcoming the rest of the congregation was very aloof, I hung around the coffee hour for around 20 minutes and no one said a word to me. I had hope to meet with the priest for lunch to talk but after two weeks of e-mailing him I have giving up on hearing back from him (maybe he thinks I am a lost cause and for all I know he may be right). Let me contrast this experience with the very real envy I feel for our friends who worship at our local Roman Catholic Church. I live in a very “orange” small Ontario town that did not even have a catholic church until the mid 60’s (the church looks like a flying saucer made of brick and copper) however our this relatively small (about 30 family) RC parish has vibrant children’s ministries (on both Saturday and Sunday mornings) and the priest although not great is actually a pretty good preacher (he’s very small “e” evangelical with lots of emphasis on grace) the services are too “contemporary” for my taste (lots of praise music and guitar lead “folk masses”) but tasteful and well done and they actually will commune my wife (who was baptized R.C.) but not me and the kids. The coffee hour is wonderful (since it a five minuet walk from my house I know half the people there so perhaps it’s not a fare comparison). I have too many doctrinal conflicts with them to ever consider becoming a member but I understand the appeal It’s a very warm and exciting place. I know I sound funny talking so much about the coffee hour but I think is important. My local RC church made me as a visitor feel very welcome but at the confessional Lutheran church I felt like an interloper. If I get a chance I will visit the Lutherans again but I for now at least still (reluctantly) an Anglican.

  • Steve in Toronto

    I am a restless Anglican (for all the usual reasons) and a couple of weeks ago, inspired largely by conversations on this blog I drove an hour to the nearest confessional Lutheran church for Sunday worship and bible study. The young Minster preached an excellent sermon. I loved the fact that they had an adult Sunday school (It was almost like being in a PCA church) and the liturgy and music were exactly to my taste (formal but not fussy). However there are significant barriers to my joining them for regular worship. I did not expect to be able to commune but it was still very painful to be denied (although my youngest son and I were granted a “baptismal blessing”. The small congregation (about 50 people on the Sunday I was there) did not have a children’s program (if I tried to take my two older children their I think I might have a mutiny on my hands (2 hours of driving plus 3 hours of very adult oriented worship and bible study is a lot to ask of 8 and 10 year olds) not to mention my very Anglican wife who flatly refused to worship at a church that would not commune her. Lastly although the two clergy (one active, one retired) were both very friendly and welcoming the rest of the congregation was very aloof, I hung around the coffee hour for around 20 minutes and no one said a word to me. I had hope to meet with the priest for lunch to talk but after two weeks of e-mailing him I have giving up on hearing back from him (maybe he thinks I am a lost cause and for all I know he may be right). Let me contrast this experience with the very real envy I feel for our friends who worship at our local Roman Catholic Church. I live in a very “orange” small Ontario town that did not even have a catholic church until the mid 60’s (the church looks like a flying saucer made of brick and copper) however our this relatively small (about 30 family) RC parish has vibrant children’s ministries (on both Saturday and Sunday mornings) and the priest although not great is actually a pretty good preacher (he’s very small “e” evangelical with lots of emphasis on grace) the services are too “contemporary” for my taste (lots of praise music and guitar lead “folk masses”) but tasteful and well done and they actually will commune my wife (who was baptized R.C.) but not me and the kids. The coffee hour is wonderful (since it a five minuet walk from my house I know half the people there so perhaps it’s not a fare comparison). I have too many doctrinal conflicts with them to ever consider becoming a member but I understand the appeal It’s a very warm and exciting place. I know I sound funny talking so much about the coffee hour but I think is important. My local RC church made me as a visitor feel very welcome but at the confessional Lutheran church I felt like an interloper. If I get a chance I will visit the Lutherans again but I for now at least still (reluctantly) an Anglican.

  • Jack K

    I believe that Lutheran congregations are driving away ‘seekers’ by abandoning the Means of Grace, the very thing being sought, in order to be attractive. Such congregations just don’t get that they are abandoning that which the seekers are looking for, the Good News that they have eternal life because of Christ, and Him crucified!!

  • Jack K

    I believe that Lutheran congregations are driving away ‘seekers’ by abandoning the Means of Grace, the very thing being sought, in order to be attractive. Such congregations just don’t get that they are abandoning that which the seekers are looking for, the Good News that they have eternal life because of Christ, and Him crucified!!

  • trotk

    I am a non-reluctant Anglican. In fact, Steve in Toronto, I don’t know the usual reasons, but I imagine that yours have to do with being in Toronto and my non-reluctance has to do with being a part of Rwanda.

    That said, I find the connotation of this whole post funny. My reasons for not being Lutheran have nothing to do with the ELCA. I think many Christians are aware of the fact that it departed from the scriptures. Just as many Christians know that the Episcopal church departed from the scriptures.

    The connotation that I find intriguing is that I ought to switch. I know, and am not bothered by the fact, that most thinking Christians believe that their denomination is correct, or best. But why should I switch? Have the Lutherans who tell me that the Anglican church is heterodox studied the 39 Articles or the Book of Common Prayer? Can you prove to me from scripture that I am in the wrong place? Until then, you are asking an interesting question, perhaps (Why aren’t you Lutheran? – To which, the answer is that I found the Anglican church first.), but you are implying something that you aren’t proving (that I ought to switch, because Lutherans are orthodox, and Anglicans aren’t).

  • trotk

    I am a non-reluctant Anglican. In fact, Steve in Toronto, I don’t know the usual reasons, but I imagine that yours have to do with being in Toronto and my non-reluctance has to do with being a part of Rwanda.

    That said, I find the connotation of this whole post funny. My reasons for not being Lutheran have nothing to do with the ELCA. I think many Christians are aware of the fact that it departed from the scriptures. Just as many Christians know that the Episcopal church departed from the scriptures.

    The connotation that I find intriguing is that I ought to switch. I know, and am not bothered by the fact, that most thinking Christians believe that their denomination is correct, or best. But why should I switch? Have the Lutherans who tell me that the Anglican church is heterodox studied the 39 Articles or the Book of Common Prayer? Can you prove to me from scripture that I am in the wrong place? Until then, you are asking an interesting question, perhaps (Why aren’t you Lutheran? – To which, the answer is that I found the Anglican church first.), but you are implying something that you aren’t proving (that I ought to switch, because Lutherans are orthodox, and Anglicans aren’t).

  • Kristofer Carlson

    There is no such thing as Lutheran, just as there is no such thing as a Baptist. Neither has a common definition that is widely true. Every man does what is right in his own eyes.

    I spend 20 years as a Lutheran, even working on the campus of CTSFW, and I found it increasingly difficult to say what a Lutheran was. Lutherans can’t even define it for themselves; the LCMS and WELS/ELS argue amongst themselves, and splinter groups keep breaking off from them. Meanwhile, refugees from ELCA can’t agree with the LCMS or the WELS/ELS version of Lutheranism. American Lutheranism differs from its European version, which differs from its African version. Case in point; European and African Lutherans often have Bishops, and while American Lutherans claiming to be united in doctrine with them, argue against having Bishops.

    I find Lutheran pastors and professors who argue for a quia subscription, then argue against the confessions when it suites them. Either the confessions are the true and faithful exposition of the scriptures, or they aren’t. If you claim a quia subscription except where the confessions gore your sacred cow, then you have a quatenus subscription. Period.

    I also notice that Lutheranism today is different than in the time of the Lutheran scholastics, which was different than in the time of Luther, Melancthon, and Chemnitz. I’ve heard it said that if Luther were alive today, he wouldn’t be Lutheran, and from what I’ve read of his sermons, I believe it.

    Luther, especially in the introduction to the Smalcald Articles, used the delimiting principle as the basis for the Lutheran Symbols. The delimiting principle means that the Lutheran Confessions are delimited over against error. This means that where a difference in belief existed, such as prayer to the saints, the Lutheran Confessions contain explicit writings on the subject. Where no difference of belief existed (such as the majority of Mariological doctrine extant at that time), the Confessions are largely silent. This is also an outgrowth of the catholic principle, whereby the Evangelical Lutheran Church considers itself to be part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, forced out of the Roman Catholic church through the refusal of the papacy to correct their abuses and doctrinal errors. The catholic principle is, in fact, the entire justification for the Reformation. But the delimiting principle and the catholic principle are no longer effective in modern American Lutheranism; even the so-called confessional Lutherans have more affinity with Samuel Schmucker’s approach than that of Walther and Pieper.

    This is why evangelicals are more likely to cross the Tiber or the Bosporus than become Lutheran. I was the exception; I got hung up on Mary, and became Lutheran instead. But eventually the contradictions inherent in Lutheranism caught up with me. (BTW, the contradiction are self-evident; for example, notice where Karl Marquart (of blessed memory), the most lucid of writers, ties himself up in knots in volume IX of the Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics series.) Mary wasn’t a problem for Luther, for Melancthon, for Calvin, or even for Zwingli; yet if you bring up the subject of honoring (venerating) Mary to modern Lutherans, you get an automatic and knee-jerk reaction, such that Luther would call them Schwärmerei.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    There is no such thing as Lutheran, just as there is no such thing as a Baptist. Neither has a common definition that is widely true. Every man does what is right in his own eyes.

    I spend 20 years as a Lutheran, even working on the campus of CTSFW, and I found it increasingly difficult to say what a Lutheran was. Lutherans can’t even define it for themselves; the LCMS and WELS/ELS argue amongst themselves, and splinter groups keep breaking off from them. Meanwhile, refugees from ELCA can’t agree with the LCMS or the WELS/ELS version of Lutheranism. American Lutheranism differs from its European version, which differs from its African version. Case in point; European and African Lutherans often have Bishops, and while American Lutherans claiming to be united in doctrine with them, argue against having Bishops.

    I find Lutheran pastors and professors who argue for a quia subscription, then argue against the confessions when it suites them. Either the confessions are the true and faithful exposition of the scriptures, or they aren’t. If you claim a quia subscription except where the confessions gore your sacred cow, then you have a quatenus subscription. Period.

    I also notice that Lutheranism today is different than in the time of the Lutheran scholastics, which was different than in the time of Luther, Melancthon, and Chemnitz. I’ve heard it said that if Luther were alive today, he wouldn’t be Lutheran, and from what I’ve read of his sermons, I believe it.

    Luther, especially in the introduction to the Smalcald Articles, used the delimiting principle as the basis for the Lutheran Symbols. The delimiting principle means that the Lutheran Confessions are delimited over against error. This means that where a difference in belief existed, such as prayer to the saints, the Lutheran Confessions contain explicit writings on the subject. Where no difference of belief existed (such as the majority of Mariological doctrine extant at that time), the Confessions are largely silent. This is also an outgrowth of the catholic principle, whereby the Evangelical Lutheran Church considers itself to be part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, forced out of the Roman Catholic church through the refusal of the papacy to correct their abuses and doctrinal errors. The catholic principle is, in fact, the entire justification for the Reformation. But the delimiting principle and the catholic principle are no longer effective in modern American Lutheranism; even the so-called confessional Lutherans have more affinity with Samuel Schmucker’s approach than that of Walther and Pieper.

    This is why evangelicals are more likely to cross the Tiber or the Bosporus than become Lutheran. I was the exception; I got hung up on Mary, and became Lutheran instead. But eventually the contradictions inherent in Lutheranism caught up with me. (BTW, the contradiction are self-evident; for example, notice where Karl Marquart (of blessed memory), the most lucid of writers, ties himself up in knots in volume IX of the Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics series.) Mary wasn’t a problem for Luther, for Melancthon, for Calvin, or even for Zwingli; yet if you bring up the subject of honoring (venerating) Mary to modern Lutherans, you get an automatic and knee-jerk reaction, such that Luther would call them Schwärmerei.

  • SKPeterson

    trotk @ 14 – While we have some problems with Anglicanism, we also have great affinity for it. Recently, the LCMS has begun discussions with ACNA http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=13811.
    Now I don’t know what these discussions have entailed in detail, but when it comes to brass tacks, the Lutherans have more in common with the Anglicans and the Romans than any other two confessional traditions.

  • SKPeterson

    trotk @ 14 – While we have some problems with Anglicanism, we also have great affinity for it. Recently, the LCMS has begun discussions with ACNA http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=13811.
    Now I don’t know what these discussions have entailed in detail, but when it comes to brass tacks, the Lutherans have more in common with the Anglicans and the Romans than any other two confessional traditions.

  • trotk

    SK -

    You are right, and that is why I love Lutheranism. In studying the 39 Articles, you will find an enormous overlap with the Lutheran confessions.

    If anyone is interested, the best starting text is W. H. Griffith Thomas’ The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles.

  • trotk

    SK -

    You are right, and that is why I love Lutheranism. In studying the 39 Articles, you will find an enormous overlap with the Lutheran confessions.

    If anyone is interested, the best starting text is W. H. Griffith Thomas’ The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Trotk
    I have no trouble with the 39 Articles or the Book of Common Prayer or the Book of Common Prayer (in fact I love them both) and if there was an AMiA church near me I would certainly give it a try (the nearest is 45 minuets away and it is a Chinese language congregation). My problem with the Anglicans is that the most vibrant and evangelical congregations are losing touch with their historic liturgy and that the more liturgical are either theology liberal or hanging to it due to stubborn conservatism rather than any real theological conviction (the conservative high churchmen are a separate category that I won’t get into right now). I am also afraid that although my own parish is still orthodox the rot is spreading very rapidly and I am not sure how much longer it can be resisted. Confessional Lutheranism in theory should be just the thing but so far is seem only a theoretical not practical solution to my predicament.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Trotk
    I have no trouble with the 39 Articles or the Book of Common Prayer or the Book of Common Prayer (in fact I love them both) and if there was an AMiA church near me I would certainly give it a try (the nearest is 45 minuets away and it is a Chinese language congregation). My problem with the Anglicans is that the most vibrant and evangelical congregations are losing touch with their historic liturgy and that the more liturgical are either theology liberal or hanging to it due to stubborn conservatism rather than any real theological conviction (the conservative high churchmen are a separate category that I won’t get into right now). I am also afraid that although my own parish is still orthodox the rot is spreading very rapidly and I am not sure how much longer it can be resisted. Confessional Lutheranism in theory should be just the thing but so far is seem only a theoretical not practical solution to my predicament.

  • Joe

    SKPeterson – according to the link you provide, it appears that the point of these discussions is to find a new partner (perhaps to replace the ELCA) in mercy works:

    “This dialogue is not intended to result in full communion, altar and pulpit fellowship,” said Lehenbauer. “Rather, it is hoped that our churches will be able to affirm one another in significant ways as fellow Christians, stand together against certain societal and ecclesial trends, and cooperate together in works of mercy.”

  • Joe

    SKPeterson – according to the link you provide, it appears that the point of these discussions is to find a new partner (perhaps to replace the ELCA) in mercy works:

    “This dialogue is not intended to result in full communion, altar and pulpit fellowship,” said Lehenbauer. “Rather, it is hoped that our churches will be able to affirm one another in significant ways as fellow Christians, stand together against certain societal and ecclesial trends, and cooperate together in works of mercy.”

  • Bart

    @Steve: you actually hit the nail on the head. You MUST be an extrovert to be desirable in DeYoung’s crowd. Introverts are not welcome in most contemporary evangelical circles. In other words, why do you even want to be recognized by these people?

  • Bart

    @Steve: you actually hit the nail on the head. You MUST be an extrovert to be desirable in DeYoung’s crowd. Introverts are not welcome in most contemporary evangelical circles. In other words, why do you even want to be recognized by these people?

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Bart
    I am an introvert as well (If I wasn’t I would probably have gone up and introduced my to a few people) and I don’t like the way main stream “big box” evangelicals “love bomb” visitors either but there must be some middle ground. In the congregation I visited I realy felt as if I was invisible. This experience paired with the ache I was already feeling watching other people commune when I was denied it realy soured me to the whole “confessional Lutheran” experience.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Bart
    I am an introvert as well (If I wasn’t I would probably have gone up and introduced my to a few people) and I don’t like the way main stream “big box” evangelicals “love bomb” visitors either but there must be some middle ground. In the congregation I visited I realy felt as if I was invisible. This experience paired with the ache I was already feeling watching other people commune when I was denied it realy soured me to the whole “confessional Lutheran” experience.

  • helen

    Steve in Toronto @ 21
    I wait to be greeted, too (another “introvert”); it has sometimes not happened in Lutheran churches, and I am a Lutheran. ;

    About communion, confessional Lutherans teach that it requires a oneness in doctrine, and that, if you take the Body and Blood of Christ w/o recognizing them as such, it will harm you spiritually.
    Closed communion is meant to be loving concern for your soul; I’m sorry it doesn’t feel that way.
    [I'm also sorry the Pastor doesn't follow up on your messages!]

    Kristofer:
    I am going to look up the Marquart volume and see if I can figure out what you are talking about. I valued KEM.

  • helen

    Steve in Toronto @ 21
    I wait to be greeted, too (another “introvert”); it has sometimes not happened in Lutheran churches, and I am a Lutheran. ;

    About communion, confessional Lutherans teach that it requires a oneness in doctrine, and that, if you take the Body and Blood of Christ w/o recognizing them as such, it will harm you spiritually.
    Closed communion is meant to be loving concern for your soul; I’m sorry it doesn’t feel that way.
    [I'm also sorry the Pastor doesn't follow up on your messages!]

    Kristofer:
    I am going to look up the Marquart volume and see if I can figure out what you are talking about. I valued KEM.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Helen
    I don’t think that indifference to visitors is a problem unique to confessional Lutherans (my home Anglican Church is rotten at this as well) I think it’s because small churches (like the one I visited and to a lesser extent the one a regularly worship at) feel like extended families in both good and bad ways. The family is realy all about the insiders you don’t go out an invite strangers to your thanksgiving dinner and your sisters date is expected to conform to the rest of the family not the other way around. In my home church you are realy not treated like you belong unless you have been there at least 10 years (and maybe not even then!). Breaking up this dynamic is the best argument for church planting that I can think of. I don’t think it’s productive to dive into the whole closed/close communion issue again (I have yet to hear a convincing argument for it that was based on scripture as opposed to the Book of Concord) but it especially frustrating for an Anglican like me who does not disagree with confessional Lutherans on any doctrinal point (although I will admit to lacking strong conviction on some of them) except my firm conviction on this very important issue To deny Christ Body and Blood to a baptized Christian expected the most extraordinary circumstances is a denial of the “Catholic” nature of Christ’s church.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Helen
    I don’t think that indifference to visitors is a problem unique to confessional Lutherans (my home Anglican Church is rotten at this as well) I think it’s because small churches (like the one I visited and to a lesser extent the one a regularly worship at) feel like extended families in both good and bad ways. The family is realy all about the insiders you don’t go out an invite strangers to your thanksgiving dinner and your sisters date is expected to conform to the rest of the family not the other way around. In my home church you are realy not treated like you belong unless you have been there at least 10 years (and maybe not even then!). Breaking up this dynamic is the best argument for church planting that I can think of. I don’t think it’s productive to dive into the whole closed/close communion issue again (I have yet to hear a convincing argument for it that was based on scripture as opposed to the Book of Concord) but it especially frustrating for an Anglican like me who does not disagree with confessional Lutherans on any doctrinal point (although I will admit to lacking strong conviction on some of them) except my firm conviction on this very important issue To deny Christ Body and Blood to a baptized Christian expected the most extraordinary circumstances is a denial of the “Catholic” nature of Christ’s church.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Helen:
    The issue is with the doctrine of the Ministry, beginning with chapter 9. Kurt Marquart (of blessed memory) is forced to argue the LCMS party line, which is at odds with many of the church bodies the LCMS is in fellowship with. He fits the square peg into the round hole by tortured and convoluted logic, which is quite apparent when you compare it with the rest of the book. Frankly, there are other ways of reconciling the traditional three-tiered hierachy with the Lutheran concept of “one God-given New Testament office”. For example, one office with three orders or commissions, which is a concept used in Europe. The Lutheran churches in Scandinavia even have Bishops who claim apostolic succession (although since apostolic succession is about the unbroken succession of apostolic doctrine as it is the laying on of hands, both Catholics and Orthodox would deny their apostolicity.) The LCMS has deaconesses, but not deacons (at least not in all the districts), and has formal theological training and calls for deaconesses, but not for deacons. The LCMS has its ordained ministers, and it has its commissioned ministers, which is a convoluted, tortured, and nonsensical way of having your cake and eating it too.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Helen:
    The issue is with the doctrine of the Ministry, beginning with chapter 9. Kurt Marquart (of blessed memory) is forced to argue the LCMS party line, which is at odds with many of the church bodies the LCMS is in fellowship with. He fits the square peg into the round hole by tortured and convoluted logic, which is quite apparent when you compare it with the rest of the book. Frankly, there are other ways of reconciling the traditional three-tiered hierachy with the Lutheran concept of “one God-given New Testament office”. For example, one office with three orders or commissions, which is a concept used in Europe. The Lutheran churches in Scandinavia even have Bishops who claim apostolic succession (although since apostolic succession is about the unbroken succession of apostolic doctrine as it is the laying on of hands, both Catholics and Orthodox would deny their apostolicity.) The LCMS has deaconesses, but not deacons (at least not in all the districts), and has formal theological training and calls for deaconesses, but not for deacons. The LCMS has its ordained ministers, and it has its commissioned ministers, which is a convoluted, tortured, and nonsensical way of having your cake and eating it too.

  • Aaron Root

    note: Kevin DeYoung is Reformed Church in America. He is not a Reformed Baptist.

  • Aaron Root

    note: Kevin DeYoung is Reformed Church in America. He is not a Reformed Baptist.

  • DonS

    “…but I don’t see the Lutheran alternative even being considered by many of these folks. Why is that? ”

    Hmm. A good starting point to answering that question would be to read through the comments on this blog. Just look at any two week period over the last five or so years that I have been here. It would be hard to find a more arrogant and haughty group when theology is the topic. Even if the discussion has nothing to do with the sacraments, it always turns to that, and if you are known to be non-sacramental your views on any issue of theology are automatically discredited. It’s not a problem that you think you’re right. It’s just when you’re so dogmatic about the parts of your doctrine which are beyond the definitive purview of Scripture itself, and are informed by the teachings of Luther or early church traditions. Luther is not God and his writings are not Scripture. Early church traditions are not Scripture, and many of them were devised to compensate for an illiterate population. Additionally, though the teaching is that sacraments are the means of God’s grace, and of receiving the Gospel, the communion table is closed to visitors — even if you’re simply visiting from a different Lutheran synod. That’s not very welcoming — it sends the message that the Gospel is for us, not for you.

    Here’s an example of Lutheran insularity: “I mean, I can understand someone ceasing to believe in the evangelical view of justification–and many “evangelicals” are now disbelieving in it, which is a major reason to leave their churches–but I don’t see the Lutheran alternative even being considered by many of these folks.”

    What do you mean by “evangelical”? Lutherans seem to have a Christian world view which comprises Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans, and all of the non-sacramentalists lumped together as “evangelicals”. Well, they’re not “lumpable”. You have Baptists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Methodists, Church of Christ, Arminians, Calvinists, and everything in between. Nondenominational churches each have their own distinctive doctrines. So, there is more than one “evangelical view of justification”. But, I believe the predominant view is the same as the Lutheran view — salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone. If someone desires to walk away from that view, then they are probably moving to a works-oriented view, which means Catholicism.

    If you are an exclusivistic denomination, setting yourselves apart not only from the world, but also from the rest of the Body of Christ, which you also denigrate and put down, then you can hardly complain when other Christians are not attracted to your denomination.

  • DonS

    “…but I don’t see the Lutheran alternative even being considered by many of these folks. Why is that? ”

    Hmm. A good starting point to answering that question would be to read through the comments on this blog. Just look at any two week period over the last five or so years that I have been here. It would be hard to find a more arrogant and haughty group when theology is the topic. Even if the discussion has nothing to do with the sacraments, it always turns to that, and if you are known to be non-sacramental your views on any issue of theology are automatically discredited. It’s not a problem that you think you’re right. It’s just when you’re so dogmatic about the parts of your doctrine which are beyond the definitive purview of Scripture itself, and are informed by the teachings of Luther or early church traditions. Luther is not God and his writings are not Scripture. Early church traditions are not Scripture, and many of them were devised to compensate for an illiterate population. Additionally, though the teaching is that sacraments are the means of God’s grace, and of receiving the Gospel, the communion table is closed to visitors — even if you’re simply visiting from a different Lutheran synod. That’s not very welcoming — it sends the message that the Gospel is for us, not for you.

    Here’s an example of Lutheran insularity: “I mean, I can understand someone ceasing to believe in the evangelical view of justification–and many “evangelicals” are now disbelieving in it, which is a major reason to leave their churches–but I don’t see the Lutheran alternative even being considered by many of these folks.”

    What do you mean by “evangelical”? Lutherans seem to have a Christian world view which comprises Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans, and all of the non-sacramentalists lumped together as “evangelicals”. Well, they’re not “lumpable”. You have Baptists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Methodists, Church of Christ, Arminians, Calvinists, and everything in between. Nondenominational churches each have their own distinctive doctrines. So, there is more than one “evangelical view of justification”. But, I believe the predominant view is the same as the Lutheran view — salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone. If someone desires to walk away from that view, then they are probably moving to a works-oriented view, which means Catholicism.

    If you are an exclusivistic denomination, setting yourselves apart not only from the world, but also from the rest of the Body of Christ, which you also denigrate and put down, then you can hardly complain when other Christians are not attracted to your denomination.

  • JH

    @DonS. ouch.
    But the truth hurts.

    I came from the PCA. I’m glad I’m here (LCMS). But the fence around the table still rubs me the wrong way. Hopefully the movement of some conservative presby’s toward sacramentalism will be embraced somehow by LCMS. It’s happening.

  • JH

    @DonS. ouch.
    But the truth hurts.

    I came from the PCA. I’m glad I’m here (LCMS). But the fence around the table still rubs me the wrong way. Hopefully the movement of some conservative presby’s toward sacramentalism will be embraced somehow by LCMS. It’s happening.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    DonS:
    When I was in High School, my family belonged to the Plymouth Brethren, a schismatic offshoot of the Anglican church. We were the so-called “open brethren”, but we still practiced closed communion. In my home town an offshoot of my home church is so insular that if you are not one of them, they won’t even tell you where their church is located. Exclusivity and insularity is not solely a Lutheran prerogative.

    Coming from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, we view Lutherans, Anglicans, and other Protestant denominations as basically Catholic in orientation. You all tend to approach the scriptures the same way, using a rationalist approach derived from scholasticism, informed by the Enlightenment and sweetened by the Romantic movement. You all basically ask the same questions, but provide different answers. From an Orthodox perspective, the Protestant reformation was and remains an internicene squabble within the Catholic church.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    DonS:
    When I was in High School, my family belonged to the Plymouth Brethren, a schismatic offshoot of the Anglican church. We were the so-called “open brethren”, but we still practiced closed communion. In my home town an offshoot of my home church is so insular that if you are not one of them, they won’t even tell you where their church is located. Exclusivity and insularity is not solely a Lutheran prerogative.

    Coming from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, we view Lutherans, Anglicans, and other Protestant denominations as basically Catholic in orientation. You all tend to approach the scriptures the same way, using a rationalist approach derived from scholasticism, informed by the Enlightenment and sweetened by the Romantic movement. You all basically ask the same questions, but provide different answers. From an Orthodox perspective, the Protestant reformation was and remains an internicene squabble within the Catholic church.

  • helen

    Kristopher @ 28
    When I was in High School, my family belonged to the Plymouth Brethren, a schismatic offshoot of the Anglican church.

    Is that the one Garrison Keillor claimed for his family?

  • helen

    Kristopher @ 28
    When I was in High School, my family belonged to the Plymouth Brethren, a schismatic offshoot of the Anglican church.

    Is that the one Garrison Keillor claimed for his family?

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    While I try to be as compassionate as possible in saying “no,” ignoring 1 Corinthians 11 isn’t worth trying look more hospitable. I am not going to apologize, I as a pastor cannot in good conscience do something that would be knowingly putting a person in danger. So, yes, calls to open up the communion rail are going to fall on deaf ears on my part. By the way, our official teaching is that communion is not for everybody, only for those who are baptized and can discern the Body and Blood properly in accordance with the warning in 1 Corinthians.

    Speaking from experience, the average person with no church background is generally relieved to know they aren’t expected to go up. The only people offended are those with church background, even with church background I have only experienced a few who are offended, a fair number respect a church that practices what it preaches. While I do not rejoice in giving offense, neither will I go against conscience.

    What do we mean by “evangelical”? Depends on who you talk to. When I say Evangelical, I largely mean “Lutheran.” I do differentiate between Evangelical and American Evangelicalism. By American Evangelicalism, I mean it as an umbrella term that encompasses much of conservative Christianity that is largely Armenian in theology. I usually use Reformed when speaking of those with a Calvinist bent.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    While I try to be as compassionate as possible in saying “no,” ignoring 1 Corinthians 11 isn’t worth trying look more hospitable. I am not going to apologize, I as a pastor cannot in good conscience do something that would be knowingly putting a person in danger. So, yes, calls to open up the communion rail are going to fall on deaf ears on my part. By the way, our official teaching is that communion is not for everybody, only for those who are baptized and can discern the Body and Blood properly in accordance with the warning in 1 Corinthians.

    Speaking from experience, the average person with no church background is generally relieved to know they aren’t expected to go up. The only people offended are those with church background, even with church background I have only experienced a few who are offended, a fair number respect a church that practices what it preaches. While I do not rejoice in giving offense, neither will I go against conscience.

    What do we mean by “evangelical”? Depends on who you talk to. When I say Evangelical, I largely mean “Lutheran.” I do differentiate between Evangelical and American Evangelicalism. By American Evangelicalism, I mean it as an umbrella term that encompasses much of conservative Christianity that is largely Armenian in theology. I usually use Reformed when speaking of those with a Calvinist bent.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    They were the “Exclusive Brethren”, but yes. They excluded others to keep themselves and their doctrine pure; they constantly divided over doctrinal minutia, much like Lutherans today who can point to a book containing their doctrine, but can’t agree on what it means.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    They were the “Exclusive Brethren”, but yes. They excluded others to keep themselves and their doctrine pure; they constantly divided over doctrinal minutia, much like Lutherans today who can point to a book containing their doctrine, but can’t agree on what it means.

  • Booklover

    To address DonS’s post: Yes the Lutherans believe they are right. So does your denomination. One difference I have found with the Lutherans is, they still call the other denominations “brethren.” A congregant from your denomination, Don, very often will not offer this courtesy, and will take it for granted that a Lutheran is “unsaved” and in need of repentance.

    Rev. Fisk answers the original blog post with this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMCayHARWSM&feature=share
    He seems to say that it really does boil down to the sacraments. A Lutheran really does believe that salvation is all of God. A believer needs something OBJECTIVE to cling to, such as the body and blood given for me.

    As a Lutheran married Baptist who then unfortunately attended a revivalistic church for years, let me tell you that it is more biblical and more faith-assuring to cling to my baptism than it is to continually observe “that moment in time in which I got saved,” or something equally subjective.

  • Booklover

    To address DonS’s post: Yes the Lutherans believe they are right. So does your denomination. One difference I have found with the Lutherans is, they still call the other denominations “brethren.” A congregant from your denomination, Don, very often will not offer this courtesy, and will take it for granted that a Lutheran is “unsaved” and in need of repentance.

    Rev. Fisk answers the original blog post with this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMCayHARWSM&feature=share
    He seems to say that it really does boil down to the sacraments. A Lutheran really does believe that salvation is all of God. A believer needs something OBJECTIVE to cling to, such as the body and blood given for me.

    As a Lutheran married Baptist who then unfortunately attended a revivalistic church for years, let me tell you that it is more biblical and more faith-assuring to cling to my baptism than it is to continually observe “that moment in time in which I got saved,” or something equally subjective.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Booklover:
    The “moment in time in which I got saved” is a shifting target. People are always recommitting their lives to Christ, responding to Altar Calls, re-asking Christ into their hearts because they aren’t sure the first (or subsequent) time(s) took. There is a lot of talk about the assurance of salvation, but precious little assurance. And for the Calvinists especially, their is a constant need to prove to themselves and to everyone around them that they are one of the elect.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Booklover:
    The “moment in time in which I got saved” is a shifting target. People are always recommitting their lives to Christ, responding to Altar Calls, re-asking Christ into their hearts because they aren’t sure the first (or subsequent) time(s) took. There is a lot of talk about the assurance of salvation, but precious little assurance. And for the Calvinists especially, their is a constant need to prove to themselves and to everyone around them that they are one of the elect.

  • Steven Andrews

    I have to admit, as a former evangelical (Southern Baptist), Lutheranism was a mystery to me. I struggled with infant baptism for years and read all kind of Presbyterian and Anglican doctrinal books to understand the paedobaptist position but never gave Luther a second thought. It wasn’t until I decided to study Luther’s Works and the BOC for a year that I finally understood Lutheranism and how throughly Christ-Centered they were. Additionally, I was a staunch anti-baptismalregenerational from reading the the former books. But, Luther’s explanation was so direct , scriptual, and convincing that I finally realized I was looking at the wrong flower, the TULIP instead of the ROSE!

  • Steven Andrews

    I have to admit, as a former evangelical (Southern Baptist), Lutheranism was a mystery to me. I struggled with infant baptism for years and read all kind of Presbyterian and Anglican doctrinal books to understand the paedobaptist position but never gave Luther a second thought. It wasn’t until I decided to study Luther’s Works and the BOC for a year that I finally understood Lutheranism and how throughly Christ-Centered they were. Additionally, I was a staunch anti-baptismalregenerational from reading the the former books. But, Luther’s explanation was so direct , scriptual, and convincing that I finally realized I was looking at the wrong flower, the TULIP instead of the ROSE!

  • Steven Andrews

    But the lack of participation and fellowship with fellow christians does sadden me about the LCMS. I think the White Horse Inn is the best broadcast because of the diversity, how can you not love Daddy Rod!, that demonstrates Lutherans can stick with their principles and celebrate unity with other denominations. I understand Lutherans were burnt by “theology of glory pietism” before and are guarded and sensative to that trash. But people come on, don’t be scared, get out of your foxhole and know what and why you believe and share it with others freely and without fear of becoming corrupted! For the sake of people like me, Lutherans in waiting!

  • Steven Andrews

    But the lack of participation and fellowship with fellow christians does sadden me about the LCMS. I think the White Horse Inn is the best broadcast because of the diversity, how can you not love Daddy Rod!, that demonstrates Lutherans can stick with their principles and celebrate unity with other denominations. I understand Lutherans were burnt by “theology of glory pietism” before and are guarded and sensative to that trash. But people come on, don’t be scared, get out of your foxhole and know what and why you believe and share it with others freely and without fear of becoming corrupted! For the sake of people like me, Lutherans in waiting!

  • DonS

    Booklover @ 32 (and others) — I wasn’t trying to start a theological debate, nor was I arguing, specifically, who’s right and who’s wrong, theologically. I was merely answering Dr. Veith’s question as to why more Christians don’t migrate to Lutheranism. When the whole nature of your theology requires stand-offishness, then that’s the way it is. Revel in it, congratulate yourselves for having all of the right answers (;-)), and trust God to bring the people to you that He intends to be enlightened in the one true way.

  • DonS

    Booklover @ 32 (and others) — I wasn’t trying to start a theological debate, nor was I arguing, specifically, who’s right and who’s wrong, theologically. I was merely answering Dr. Veith’s question as to why more Christians don’t migrate to Lutheranism. When the whole nature of your theology requires stand-offishness, then that’s the way it is. Revel in it, congratulate yourselves for having all of the right answers (;-)), and trust God to bring the people to you that He intends to be enlightened in the one true way.

  • helen

    Aren’t RC and EO equally certain that they are the only way?

  • helen

    Aren’t RC and EO equally certain that they are the only way?

  • SKPeterson

    helen @ 37 Yes and no. Both hold that adherence to the Athanasian Creed defines the catholic faith, whether it be Western or Eastern. The problem has too often been the intransigence of Rome. In some respects, the Lutherans and the Eastern Orthodox are victims of a penchant of the See of Rome to arrogate powers to itself that it doesn’t properly have. In cases where these obscure the clear proclamation of the Gospel the papacy gets labeled as Anti-Christ (and both Easterns and Lutherans have labeled the papacy so). The problems are the results of the commingling of theological perspective with political or episcopal concerns. Thus, the Pope can “excommunicate” or break off fellowship with Alexandria, Constantinople, and Jerusalem because those churches refuse to bow the knee to Rome. The Lutherans get kicked out for the same reason.

    However, behind this we do have some real theological differences and, as KC notes, the squabbles between Lutherans and the Romans are largely confined to issues within the Western canon (more out of the Augustinian/Ambrosian tradition than the Scholastic) which unfortunately became increasingly Latin-speaking while the Eastern grew more Greek. Eventually, they could hardly talk to each other and the vast ferment that existed between Rome, Alexandria, Antioch and others in the first 6 centuries ceased, aided and abetted by the collapse of the Western Empire which made travel in the Mediterranean world more difficult.

    Suffice it to say that differences between Lutherans and Rome have been long-standing at almost 500 years. Differences between East and West have been around literally since the end of the Council at Byzantium that ratified Nicaea, which was about the last time East and West got together on anything close to equal terms. Since then lots of bridges have been burnt and will likely take centuries or the Eschaton to overcome.

  • SKPeterson

    helen @ 37 Yes and no. Both hold that adherence to the Athanasian Creed defines the catholic faith, whether it be Western or Eastern. The problem has too often been the intransigence of Rome. In some respects, the Lutherans and the Eastern Orthodox are victims of a penchant of the See of Rome to arrogate powers to itself that it doesn’t properly have. In cases where these obscure the clear proclamation of the Gospel the papacy gets labeled as Anti-Christ (and both Easterns and Lutherans have labeled the papacy so). The problems are the results of the commingling of theological perspective with political or episcopal concerns. Thus, the Pope can “excommunicate” or break off fellowship with Alexandria, Constantinople, and Jerusalem because those churches refuse to bow the knee to Rome. The Lutherans get kicked out for the same reason.

    However, behind this we do have some real theological differences and, as KC notes, the squabbles between Lutherans and the Romans are largely confined to issues within the Western canon (more out of the Augustinian/Ambrosian tradition than the Scholastic) which unfortunately became increasingly Latin-speaking while the Eastern grew more Greek. Eventually, they could hardly talk to each other and the vast ferment that existed between Rome, Alexandria, Antioch and others in the first 6 centuries ceased, aided and abetted by the collapse of the Western Empire which made travel in the Mediterranean world more difficult.

    Suffice it to say that differences between Lutherans and Rome have been long-standing at almost 500 years. Differences between East and West have been around literally since the end of the Council at Byzantium that ratified Nicaea, which was about the last time East and West got together on anything close to equal terms. Since then lots of bridges have been burnt and will likely take centuries or the Eschaton to overcome.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    The RC used to say that everyone who did not put themselves under the Pope could not be saved. They are not nearly as dogmatic as that anymore.

    The EO simply say they have found the true faith, and the fullness of the church. But they also say they know where the church is, but not where the church is not. We know where the center is, but where the outer boundaries are is in the hands of God. There are some schismatic Orthodox groups who anathemize Luther, but that has never been defined by a council, and therefore it is not for us to say.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    The RC used to say that everyone who did not put themselves under the Pope could not be saved. They are not nearly as dogmatic as that anymore.

    The EO simply say they have found the true faith, and the fullness of the church. But they also say they know where the church is, but not where the church is not. We know where the center is, but where the outer boundaries are is in the hands of God. There are some schismatic Orthodox groups who anathemize Luther, but that has never been defined by a council, and therefore it is not for us to say.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    SKPeterson:
    You said: “Both [RC & EO] hold that adherence to the Athanasian Creed defines the catholic faith, whether it be Western or Eastern.” Actually, that is not true. The only true Ecumenical Creed is the unaltered Nicene Creed. The Apostles Creed and the Athanasian Creed are both Western Creeds, as is the altered Nicene Creed. The Apostle’s Creed is ancient in its derivation, but it was never agreed upon by any of the ecumenical councils. The Athanasian Creed is, in terms of church history, relatively recent, and is exclusively used by the western church. Furthermore, the damnatory clauses at the beginning and end go further than a Creedal statement should go. A creed is delimited over against error; a creed states this is what we believe. A creed need not say that anyone who believes differently is damned; that is in the hands of God.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    SKPeterson:
    You said: “Both [RC & EO] hold that adherence to the Athanasian Creed defines the catholic faith, whether it be Western or Eastern.” Actually, that is not true. The only true Ecumenical Creed is the unaltered Nicene Creed. The Apostles Creed and the Athanasian Creed are both Western Creeds, as is the altered Nicene Creed. The Apostle’s Creed is ancient in its derivation, but it was never agreed upon by any of the ecumenical councils. The Athanasian Creed is, in terms of church history, relatively recent, and is exclusively used by the western church. Furthermore, the damnatory clauses at the beginning and end go further than a Creedal statement should go. A creed is delimited over against error; a creed states this is what we believe. A creed need not say that anyone who believes differently is damned; that is in the hands of God.

  • Jonathan

    @36
    DonS, I love how you come here, cr@p all over the sacraments, then say “I wasn’t trying to start a theological debate, nor was I arguing, specifically, who’s right and who’s wrong, theologically.”

    What you’re saying is, the sacraments are rubbish, but you don’t care to discuss them, and you wish Lutherans would stop talking about them as if Christ was actually in them.

  • Jonathan

    @36
    DonS, I love how you come here, cr@p all over the sacraments, then say “I wasn’t trying to start a theological debate, nor was I arguing, specifically, who’s right and who’s wrong, theologically.”

    What you’re saying is, the sacraments are rubbish, but you don’t care to discuss them, and you wish Lutherans would stop talking about them as if Christ was actually in them.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    “Differences between East and West have been around literally since the end of the Council at Byzantium that ratified Nicaea, which was about the last time East and West got together on anything close to equal terms.”

    Not precisely true. Constantinople was the new Rome; it was the Eastern capital of the Roman Empire. When Rome fell, the Roman empire continued to exist, and the Byzantine emperor was presumed to be the protector of the faith for all Christians (a caesaro-papist assumption that led to the split with the so-called non-Chalcedonian Orthodox churches). At that time, the west had no decent theological education; if you wanted a seminary education, you had to go to the east.

    The council that ratified the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed was the third ecumenical council, also known as the First Council of Ephesus (431). But there were four ecumenical counciles held after that, to which both the East and the West subscribed.

    The last ecumenical council generally accepted by the Protestant churches is the fourth, known as the Council of Chalcedon (451). The fifth and sixth ecumenical councils condemned certain attempts to redefine the faith such that the non-Chalcedonians could accept it. The seventh and final ecumenical council prior to the Great Schism of 1054 rejected iconoclasm and accepted the veneration of icons (basically because of the Son assumed a body, that body can be represented; this preserves and protects the incarnation.)

    Even in this list, there is a problem for the Orthodox, because a council is not fully authoritative until it has been ratified by a succeeding council; thus, since there never was an eighth ecumenical council, the seventh is accepted by general consensus only.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    “Differences between East and West have been around literally since the end of the Council at Byzantium that ratified Nicaea, which was about the last time East and West got together on anything close to equal terms.”

    Not precisely true. Constantinople was the new Rome; it was the Eastern capital of the Roman Empire. When Rome fell, the Roman empire continued to exist, and the Byzantine emperor was presumed to be the protector of the faith for all Christians (a caesaro-papist assumption that led to the split with the so-called non-Chalcedonian Orthodox churches). At that time, the west had no decent theological education; if you wanted a seminary education, you had to go to the east.

    The council that ratified the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed was the third ecumenical council, also known as the First Council of Ephesus (431). But there were four ecumenical counciles held after that, to which both the East and the West subscribed.

    The last ecumenical council generally accepted by the Protestant churches is the fourth, known as the Council of Chalcedon (451). The fifth and sixth ecumenical councils condemned certain attempts to redefine the faith such that the non-Chalcedonians could accept it. The seventh and final ecumenical council prior to the Great Schism of 1054 rejected iconoclasm and accepted the veneration of icons (basically because of the Son assumed a body, that body can be represented; this preserves and protects the incarnation.)

    Even in this list, there is a problem for the Orthodox, because a council is not fully authoritative until it has been ratified by a succeeding council; thus, since there never was an eighth ecumenical council, the seventh is accepted by general consensus only.

  • JonSLC

    Steve in Toronto, forgive me if this is out of line, but I know of a confessional Lutheran church in the Toronto area. (I confess total ignorance of geography when it comes to your area, so this church may be no closer than the one you mentioned.) But if you wish, take a look at Cross of Life Lutheran Church in Mississauga. http://www.crossoflife.net.

    Blessings to you and your family.

  • JonSLC

    Steve in Toronto, forgive me if this is out of line, but I know of a confessional Lutheran church in the Toronto area. (I confess total ignorance of geography when it comes to your area, so this church may be no closer than the one you mentioned.) But if you wish, take a look at Cross of Life Lutheran Church in Mississauga. http://www.crossoflife.net.

    Blessings to you and your family.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 41: I said absolutely nothing, for or against the sacraments. I definitely wasn’t saying Lutherans shouldn’t talk about them.

    What I was saying is that if you have a sincere desire to attract more adherents, and particularly to attract non-sacramental Christians to the Lutheran faith, as Dr. Veith expressed in his post, then your comment, and others of its ilk that are common on this blog, are most definitely not the way to do it. Arrogance and crudity are not attractive, and not loving.

    You can exemplify Christ’s love without compromising your faith or beliefs. You can be nice, accommodating, and welcoming while gently pointing out what you perceive as doctrinal error, as Paul exhorts in II Timothy 2:24-26 (And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

    All I’m saying is that I don’t see a lot of that attitude on this blog or among Lutherans in general. Sow the truth, in humility and love, and let God do the work of granting repentance. Yelling louder, or getting snarly, isn’t going to accomplish what only God can accomplish.

    Above all, at least acknowledge that these brethren are fellow members of the Body of Christ, even if you regard them in error. That goes a long way to creating a welcoming environment.

    Or, keep doing what you’re doing, and then wonder why no one wants to be a Lutheran. I offer advice, that’s all.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 41: I said absolutely nothing, for or against the sacraments. I definitely wasn’t saying Lutherans shouldn’t talk about them.

    What I was saying is that if you have a sincere desire to attract more adherents, and particularly to attract non-sacramental Christians to the Lutheran faith, as Dr. Veith expressed in his post, then your comment, and others of its ilk that are common on this blog, are most definitely not the way to do it. Arrogance and crudity are not attractive, and not loving.

    You can exemplify Christ’s love without compromising your faith or beliefs. You can be nice, accommodating, and welcoming while gently pointing out what you perceive as doctrinal error, as Paul exhorts in II Timothy 2:24-26 (And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

    All I’m saying is that I don’t see a lot of that attitude on this blog or among Lutherans in general. Sow the truth, in humility and love, and let God do the work of granting repentance. Yelling louder, or getting snarly, isn’t going to accomplish what only God can accomplish.

    Above all, at least acknowledge that these brethren are fellow members of the Body of Christ, even if you regard them in error. That goes a long way to creating a welcoming environment.

    Or, keep doing what you’re doing, and then wonder why no one wants to be a Lutheran. I offer advice, that’s all.

  • Jonathan

    DonS @44, I’m not trying to attract you to “the Lutheran faith.” But I do weary of your constant theme of hurt feelings.

    You don’t like the sacraments; fair enough. But don’t say you’re really only indifferent to them. Who can be indifferent to Christ’s presence? One may accept His presence or deny it, but who can pretend to be neutral?

  • Jonathan

    DonS @44, I’m not trying to attract you to “the Lutheran faith.” But I do weary of your constant theme of hurt feelings.

    You don’t like the sacraments; fair enough. But don’t say you’re really only indifferent to them. Who can be indifferent to Christ’s presence? One may accept His presence or deny it, but who can pretend to be neutral?

  • Abby
  • Abby
  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 45: Please read the post. It’s not about me, nor is it about you, nor is it about “hurt feelings”. Dr. Veith asked a specific question, and I answered it in good faith. And, by the way, faith in Christ’s love and grace, and His salvation for us has absolutely nothing to do with what we “like”. I never said I was “indifferent” to anything concerning Christianity, just that my view of the sacraments is irrelevant to the point of this thread or my comments above.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 45: Please read the post. It’s not about me, nor is it about you, nor is it about “hurt feelings”. Dr. Veith asked a specific question, and I answered it in good faith. And, by the way, faith in Christ’s love and grace, and His salvation for us has absolutely nothing to do with what we “like”. I never said I was “indifferent” to anything concerning Christianity, just that my view of the sacraments is irrelevant to the point of this thread or my comments above.

  • moallen

    I am a Lutheran convert. Issues, Etc. played a huge role in my seeking out a Lutheran Church. The emphasis on Jesus and His crucifixion for my sins is what persuaded me. Then as I began to understand the Sacraments and how truly Biblical the Lutheran view is I was completely won over. I have to agree with Mary Johnson, a lot of Lutherans do not realize how precious their message is. And that gospel message needs to get out.
    I also have to admit, I did feel kind of like a interloper when I first visited Lutheran Churches. And the closed communion did not bother me as much as it seems to bother others – the thing I did not like about it was the first few times I visited it seemed almost like the official greeting – “Hello, welcome, you can’t take communion.” I think they were so wanting to get that over with it was just easier to say it as soon as possible.
    I go to a Lutheran Church with a lot of converts – you can almost tell from the last name who comes from a Lutheran heritage, the rest are former Baptists and Catholics mostly it seems.

  • moallen

    I am a Lutheran convert. Issues, Etc. played a huge role in my seeking out a Lutheran Church. The emphasis on Jesus and His crucifixion for my sins is what persuaded me. Then as I began to understand the Sacraments and how truly Biblical the Lutheran view is I was completely won over. I have to agree with Mary Johnson, a lot of Lutherans do not realize how precious their message is. And that gospel message needs to get out.
    I also have to admit, I did feel kind of like a interloper when I first visited Lutheran Churches. And the closed communion did not bother me as much as it seems to bother others – the thing I did not like about it was the first few times I visited it seemed almost like the official greeting – “Hello, welcome, you can’t take communion.” I think they were so wanting to get that over with it was just easier to say it as soon as possible.
    I go to a Lutheran Church with a lot of converts – you can almost tell from the last name who comes from a Lutheran heritage, the rest are former Baptists and Catholics mostly it seems.

  • Jonathan

    @47 Again, how can any Christian say his or her view of the sacraments is “irrelevant”?

  • Jonathan

    @47 Again, how can any Christian say his or her view of the sacraments is “irrelevant”?

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 49: My personal views of the sacraments are irrelevant to the point I was making on this thread. Not irrelevant for all things in all times. I trust that you can see that distinction. Read the post and understand what this thread is about, and I think it will help you process my comments better.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 49: My personal views of the sacraments are irrelevant to the point I was making on this thread. Not irrelevant for all things in all times. I trust that you can see that distinction. Read the post and understand what this thread is about, and I think it will help you process my comments better.

  • Jonathan

    @50 The points you were making were, Lutherans are stand-offish, arrogant, insular, believe the gospel is only for them, denigrate and put down Christians who are not Lutheran, and hurt your feelings.

    Your usual litany.

  • Jonathan

    @50 The points you were making were, Lutherans are stand-offish, arrogant, insular, believe the gospel is only for them, denigrate and put down Christians who are not Lutheran, and hurt your feelings.

    Your usual litany.

  • Grace

    Dr. Veith wrote: “…but I don’t see the Lutheran alternative even being considered by many of these folks. Why is that?

    If you look back upon DonS post 26, you will see that he used the above quote from Dr. Veith to begin his post, and then went on to state:

    DonS @ 26

    “A good starting point to answering that question would be to read through the comments on this blog. Just look at any two week period over the last five or so years that I have been here. It would be hard to find a more arrogant and haughty group when theology is the topic. Even if the discussion has nothing to do with the sacraments, it always turns to that, and if you are known to be non-sacramental your views on any issue of theology are automatically discredited. It’s not a problem that you think you’re right. It’s just when you’re so dogmatic about the parts of your doctrine which are beyond the definitive purview of Scripture itself, and are informed by the teachings of Luther or early church traditions. Luther is not God and his writings are not Scripture. Early church traditions are not Scripture, and many of them were devised to compensate for an illiterate population. Additionally, though the teaching is that sacraments are the means of God’s grace, and of receiving the Gospel, the communion table is closed to visitors — even if you’re simply visiting from a different Lutheran synod. That’s not very welcoming — it sends the message that the Gospel is for us, not for you.”

    The part of Don’s comment which I’ve bolded, is most revealing. It is this attitude that permeates and divides those who profess to be Believers. Dr. Veith asked a question, – Don answered very well (even though, Don finds some of my posts disagreeable)

    Please note that at no time did DonS make a comment using “hurt feelings” – that was used by someone else, namely Jonathan @ 45 and 51 – It isn’t about “hurt feelings” as Jonathan would like to inject within the discussion, for ME, it is exactly what Don wrote, and I bolded.

  • Grace

    Dr. Veith wrote: “…but I don’t see the Lutheran alternative even being considered by many of these folks. Why is that?

    If you look back upon DonS post 26, you will see that he used the above quote from Dr. Veith to begin his post, and then went on to state:

    DonS @ 26

    “A good starting point to answering that question would be to read through the comments on this blog. Just look at any two week period over the last five or so years that I have been here. It would be hard to find a more arrogant and haughty group when theology is the topic. Even if the discussion has nothing to do with the sacraments, it always turns to that, and if you are known to be non-sacramental your views on any issue of theology are automatically discredited. It’s not a problem that you think you’re right. It’s just when you’re so dogmatic about the parts of your doctrine which are beyond the definitive purview of Scripture itself, and are informed by the teachings of Luther or early church traditions. Luther is not God and his writings are not Scripture. Early church traditions are not Scripture, and many of them were devised to compensate for an illiterate population. Additionally, though the teaching is that sacraments are the means of God’s grace, and of receiving the Gospel, the communion table is closed to visitors — even if you’re simply visiting from a different Lutheran synod. That’s not very welcoming — it sends the message that the Gospel is for us, not for you.”

    The part of Don’s comment which I’ve bolded, is most revealing. It is this attitude that permeates and divides those who profess to be Believers. Dr. Veith asked a question, – Don answered very well (even though, Don finds some of my posts disagreeable)

    Please note that at no time did DonS make a comment using “hurt feelings” – that was used by someone else, namely Jonathan @ 45 and 51 – It isn’t about “hurt feelings” as Jonathan would like to inject within the discussion, for ME, it is exactly what Don wrote, and I bolded.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Friends, this is some useful soul-searching here. I apologize to the non-Lutherans about this ecclesiastical navel-gazing, and I appreciate your contributions. I would just add that Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox ALSO practice closed communion. (If an occasional Roman Catholic priest doesn’t, the same is true of some Lutheran pastors. Actually, a lot of them don’t. I don’t know about Orthodox priests, but I suspect that none of them practice open communion. Someone correct me if I’m wrong. And plenty of Catholic and Orthodox congregations aren’t particularly friendly or inclusive, especially those with a strong ethnic identity. So those things alone can be the whole story.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Friends, this is some useful soul-searching here. I apologize to the non-Lutherans about this ecclesiastical navel-gazing, and I appreciate your contributions. I would just add that Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox ALSO practice closed communion. (If an occasional Roman Catholic priest doesn’t, the same is true of some Lutheran pastors. Actually, a lot of them don’t. I don’t know about Orthodox priests, but I suspect that none of them practice open communion. Someone correct me if I’m wrong. And plenty of Catholic and Orthodox congregations aren’t particularly friendly or inclusive, especially those with a strong ethnic identity. So those things alone can be the whole story.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 51: Well, that’s closer. I didn’t say anything about hurting my feelings, so I have no idea where you got that. Maybe you can point out where I said that. My feelings are irrelevant to this issue. Whether or not this is, in your view, my “usual litany” is also irrelevant. But the other factors do affect the ability of Lutherans to persuade other Christians of the correctness of their doctrine. The biblical approach to persuasion is found in the Scripture I cited @ 44, which you have not addressed. As Paul says, humility, gentleness, and patience are the biblical qualities one should exemplify when sharing the Gospel or correcting error.

    As I said above, Jonathan, I am just offering my viewpoint, as a non-Lutheran. Feel free to take it to heart, or not.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 51: Well, that’s closer. I didn’t say anything about hurting my feelings, so I have no idea where you got that. Maybe you can point out where I said that. My feelings are irrelevant to this issue. Whether or not this is, in your view, my “usual litany” is also irrelevant. But the other factors do affect the ability of Lutherans to persuade other Christians of the correctness of their doctrine. The biblical approach to persuasion is found in the Scripture I cited @ 44, which you have not addressed. As Paul says, humility, gentleness, and patience are the biblical qualities one should exemplify when sharing the Gospel or correcting error.

    As I said above, Jonathan, I am just offering my viewpoint, as a non-Lutheran. Feel free to take it to heart, or not.

  • helen

    The Sacraments are a means of grace.
    But so is the Word read in the lessons and preached in the sermon. So is absolution to the repentant believer. So, in any traditional worship service, is the liturgy which is taken from Scripture. You are welcome to share all of that, as a visitor.

    Someone was hurt because he couldn’t take communion with the Lutherans as an Anglican. But at his friendly Roman Catholic church down the road, only his wife could commune and that because she was baptized Roman Catholic.
    [I'm not going back, but I don't remember the same level of "hurt" expressed about being denied there.]

    Lutherans are actually more ecumenical than RC on the matter of baptism. If you have been baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, your baptism will be accepted as valid in the Lutheran church whether you come from “Rome” or the Reformed. It doesn’t even matter if you consider the Sacraments empty symbols; we figure God knows what He’s doing, whether or not you do. :)
    [And that, BTW, is the short form explanation for closed communion!]

  • helen

    The Sacraments are a means of grace.
    But so is the Word read in the lessons and preached in the sermon. So is absolution to the repentant believer. So, in any traditional worship service, is the liturgy which is taken from Scripture. You are welcome to share all of that, as a visitor.

    Someone was hurt because he couldn’t take communion with the Lutherans as an Anglican. But at his friendly Roman Catholic church down the road, only his wife could commune and that because she was baptized Roman Catholic.
    [I'm not going back, but I don't remember the same level of "hurt" expressed about being denied there.]

    Lutherans are actually more ecumenical than RC on the matter of baptism. If you have been baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, your baptism will be accepted as valid in the Lutheran church whether you come from “Rome” or the Reformed. It doesn’t even matter if you consider the Sacraments empty symbols; we figure God knows what He’s doing, whether or not you do. :)
    [And that, BTW, is the short form explanation for closed communion!]

  • Grace

    21st Century @ 30

    “While I try to be as compassionate as possible in saying “no,” ignoring 1 Corinthians 11 isn’t worth trying look more hospitable. I am not going to apologize, I as a pastor cannot in good conscience do something that would be knowingly putting a person in danger. So, yes, calls to open up the communion rail are going to fall on deaf ears on my part. By the way, our official teaching is that communion is not for everybody, only for those who are baptized and can discern the Body and Blood properly in accordance with the warning in 1 Corinthians.

    I lean upon the passage of Scripture which says:

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
    1 John 1:9

    The passage below is explicit going to my Heavenly Father, through Christ my Savior for forgiveness of sin, HE is the “mediator”

    For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
    1 Timothy 2:5

    Every time my father stood before the congregants before the LORD’s Supper was served, he was careful and direct in warning, using this passage of Scripture.

    Everyone must examine themselves and ask forgiveness for sin before taking the LORD’s Supper, or anytime when one has sinned.

    23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

    24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

    25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

    26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

    27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

    28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

    29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

    30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

    31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

    32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 1 Corinthians 11

    I take the words of the LORD very serious in John 6:51-57 as well.

  • Grace

    21st Century @ 30

    “While I try to be as compassionate as possible in saying “no,” ignoring 1 Corinthians 11 isn’t worth trying look more hospitable. I am not going to apologize, I as a pastor cannot in good conscience do something that would be knowingly putting a person in danger. So, yes, calls to open up the communion rail are going to fall on deaf ears on my part. By the way, our official teaching is that communion is not for everybody, only for those who are baptized and can discern the Body and Blood properly in accordance with the warning in 1 Corinthians.

    I lean upon the passage of Scripture which says:

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
    1 John 1:9

    The passage below is explicit going to my Heavenly Father, through Christ my Savior for forgiveness of sin, HE is the “mediator”

    For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
    1 Timothy 2:5

    Every time my father stood before the congregants before the LORD’s Supper was served, he was careful and direct in warning, using this passage of Scripture.

    Everyone must examine themselves and ask forgiveness for sin before taking the LORD’s Supper, or anytime when one has sinned.

    23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

    24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

    25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

    26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

    27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

    28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

    29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

    30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

    31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

    32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 1 Corinthians 11

    I take the words of the LORD very serious in John 6:51-57 as well.

  • http://dormitionnorfolk.org Fr. John Cox

    In answer to Mr. Veith #53: The Orthodox Church does not practice open communion and no priest possesses the authority to do so. It could not even be done on a diocesan level. The only way such a thing would be possible is either for a national church to declare intercommunion licit, something that I don’t think has ever been successfully done, or for a great council of Orthodox Churches to declare that X church is in communion with the Orthodox Church. Does that answer?

  • http://dormitionnorfolk.org Fr. John Cox

    In answer to Mr. Veith #53: The Orthodox Church does not practice open communion and no priest possesses the authority to do so. It could not even be done on a diocesan level. The only way such a thing would be possible is either for a national church to declare intercommunion licit, something that I don’t think has ever been successfully done, or for a great council of Orthodox Churches to declare that X church is in communion with the Orthodox Church. Does that answer?

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: I hate the way that you and some other people on this board keep throwing around the words “hurt feeling” in reference to closed communion. It trivializes a very serious theological dispute. If you (as I to) believe communion is a means of grace denying it to baptized Christians is a very serious matter. As I have said before I have never heard a convincing argument for the closed communion that was based solely on scripture. For me and my family this is a deal beaker we will not worship regularity in a church that will not commune us or one that forbids us to commune with our brothers and sisters in other denomination. What I find so shocking about this is how incredible weak the exegetical (and even historical) arguments I have heard from Lutherans in defense of this doctrine actually are.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: I hate the way that you and some other people on this board keep throwing around the words “hurt feeling” in reference to closed communion. It trivializes a very serious theological dispute. If you (as I to) believe communion is a means of grace denying it to baptized Christians is a very serious matter. As I have said before I have never heard a convincing argument for the closed communion that was based solely on scripture. For me and my family this is a deal beaker we will not worship regularity in a church that will not commune us or one that forbids us to commune with our brothers and sisters in other denomination. What I find so shocking about this is how incredible weak the exegetical (and even historical) arguments I have heard from Lutherans in defense of this doctrine actually are.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “What I find so shocking about this is how incredible weak the exegetical (and even historical) arguments I have heard from Lutherans in defense of this doctrine actually are.”

    Really?

    It seems that so many denominations do not see communion as means of grace but just as something that they are told to do, uh, so they do it. I mean, that is literally what I heard at the Baptist church. They think it is a symbol which is really totally different from LCMS, and Catholic, Orthodox, etc. As I understand, those who aren’t members can still take communion, they just have to speak to the pastor first.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “What I find so shocking about this is how incredible weak the exegetical (and even historical) arguments I have heard from Lutherans in defense of this doctrine actually are.”

    Really?

    It seems that so many denominations do not see communion as means of grace but just as something that they are told to do, uh, so they do it. I mean, that is literally what I heard at the Baptist church. They think it is a symbol which is really totally different from LCMS, and Catholic, Orthodox, etc. As I understand, those who aren’t members can still take communion, they just have to speak to the pastor first.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#56 I am not even sure what to say, because I can’t figure out your point. You wrote in response to my post, but it doesn’t have much of anything to with what I posted or at least so it seems. You may have made a point, but it definitely wasn’t clear.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#56 I am not even sure what to say, because I can’t figure out your point. You wrote in response to my post, but it doesn’t have much of anything to with what I posted or at least so it seems. You may have made a point, but it definitely wasn’t clear.

  • wrigley peterborough

    A friend, who is now Lutheran, but was not when he was a student at Wheaton College — a place that is familiar with the phenomenon you cite, low church to Anglican to Roman Catholic, says that one reason the Lutheran church isn’t ever considered is a matter of lack of outreach. There is a fantastic LCMS parish practically on the campus of Wheaton College, but he can scarce recall knowing anyone who went to that parish or anyone from that parish bothering to set foot on campus to tell anyone about Lutheranism. The Anglican parish nearby (Church of the Resurrection) however was packed with students from Wheaton. But the Anglican church could retain evangelicals because, aside from the ritualized worship, it didn’t do anything theologically to grate against evangelical sensibilities. (Similarly, there is an Anglican start up in Arlington VA that doesn’t even require the members of its vestry to assent to Anglican distinctives like infant baptism. This place is wildly popular with evangelicals.) Perhaps the few (but conspicuous number of) evangelicals who become Anglican and then leave for Rome do so out of disgust for the casual way Canterbury treats doctrine.

  • wrigley peterborough

    A friend, who is now Lutheran, but was not when he was a student at Wheaton College — a place that is familiar with the phenomenon you cite, low church to Anglican to Roman Catholic, says that one reason the Lutheran church isn’t ever considered is a matter of lack of outreach. There is a fantastic LCMS parish practically on the campus of Wheaton College, but he can scarce recall knowing anyone who went to that parish or anyone from that parish bothering to set foot on campus to tell anyone about Lutheranism. The Anglican parish nearby (Church of the Resurrection) however was packed with students from Wheaton. But the Anglican church could retain evangelicals because, aside from the ritualized worship, it didn’t do anything theologically to grate against evangelical sensibilities. (Similarly, there is an Anglican start up in Arlington VA that doesn’t even require the members of its vestry to assent to Anglican distinctives like infant baptism. This place is wildly popular with evangelicals.) Perhaps the few (but conspicuous number of) evangelicals who become Anglican and then leave for Rome do so out of disgust for the casual way Canterbury treats doctrine.

  • Grace

    21st Century @60

    What point were you trying to make in post #30 regarding 1 Corinthians?

  • Grace

    21st Century @60

    What point were you trying to make in post #30 regarding 1 Corinthians?

  • Robin

    I had no idea about Lutheranism until one year ago when by accident I ran into a message by Dr. Rosenbladt. It was life changing to say the least and I begin searching for authors/Lutheran teachers. I found Issues etc. and Pirate Christian Radio and those two are the BEST Christian radio I have ever heard. I actually heard the gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins a year ago through these Lutheran shows and pastors.
    I went to an LCMS church for the first time a few weeks ago and no one really talked to me except one sweet elderly lady welcoming me. I didn’t really mind because in the American Evangelical world you get attacked! My husband and I stopped visiting a Baptist church in town because the preacher would ask visitors to stand up and then would begin asking questions about who they were and what brought them to church in front of the congregation and not to mention the radio audience. For an introvert like my husband that was the WORST. We never went back because he knew someone would identify him as a non member and he would be called to the front. So, all that to say… I was glad to quietly sit in the back without getting the 3rd degree… kind of refreshing.

    As to not getting the message out… well, I think you all are trying! There is Dr. Rosenbladt from the WHI, Issues Etc., Pirate Christian Radio, and the folks at mockingbird who are Lutheran leaning Anglicans. I think that DeYoung and others must not have looked too hard! However, I wish that local Lutherans would be more of a presence in town but, when you are the smallest church in town it is kind of hard when you are in a southern city with 100 Baptist churches in the county… just saying.

  • Robin

    I had no idea about Lutheranism until one year ago when by accident I ran into a message by Dr. Rosenbladt. It was life changing to say the least and I begin searching for authors/Lutheran teachers. I found Issues etc. and Pirate Christian Radio and those two are the BEST Christian radio I have ever heard. I actually heard the gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins a year ago through these Lutheran shows and pastors.
    I went to an LCMS church for the first time a few weeks ago and no one really talked to me except one sweet elderly lady welcoming me. I didn’t really mind because in the American Evangelical world you get attacked! My husband and I stopped visiting a Baptist church in town because the preacher would ask visitors to stand up and then would begin asking questions about who they were and what brought them to church in front of the congregation and not to mention the radio audience. For an introvert like my husband that was the WORST. We never went back because he knew someone would identify him as a non member and he would be called to the front. So, all that to say… I was glad to quietly sit in the back without getting the 3rd degree… kind of refreshing.

    As to not getting the message out… well, I think you all are trying! There is Dr. Rosenbladt from the WHI, Issues Etc., Pirate Christian Radio, and the folks at mockingbird who are Lutheran leaning Anglicans. I think that DeYoung and others must not have looked too hard! However, I wish that local Lutherans would be more of a presence in town but, when you are the smallest church in town it is kind of hard when you are in a southern city with 100 Baptist churches in the county… just saying.

  • Grace

    wrigley peterborough @ 61

    The impossible divide is “infant baptism” – that is because it is not spoken of in Scripture. It speaks clearly of adults, and those of ones “household” but it mentions nothing of infants. Then one ‘must look upon the Eunuch who was visited by Philip. Here we see a man who searches for truth, – Philip brings it to the Eunuch.

    Philip wanted to know IF the eunuch believed.

    34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

    35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

    36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

    37 And Philip said,<b. If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

    38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

    39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8

    In the passage above, the eunuch requests to be baptized, but Philip asks the eunuch – If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.Only then did Philip baptism the eunuch.

    Believing FIRST and then baptism. This is the problem wrigley peterborough, it isn’t baptism first, it’s BELIEF first – the Word of God doesn’t teach differently. What man has manufactured using the Scriptures to his advantage, both in the Roman Church and that of Lutheran and a few others, is simply ‘tradition. DonS made his point, which I brought forth again in post #52.

  • Grace

    wrigley peterborough @ 61

    The impossible divide is “infant baptism” – that is because it is not spoken of in Scripture. It speaks clearly of adults, and those of ones “household” but it mentions nothing of infants. Then one ‘must look upon the Eunuch who was visited by Philip. Here we see a man who searches for truth, – Philip brings it to the Eunuch.

    Philip wanted to know IF the eunuch believed.

    34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

    35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

    36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

    37 And Philip said,<b. If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

    38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

    39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8

    In the passage above, the eunuch requests to be baptized, but Philip asks the eunuch – If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.Only then did Philip baptism the eunuch.

    Believing FIRST and then baptism. This is the problem wrigley peterborough, it isn’t baptism first, it’s BELIEF first – the Word of God doesn’t teach differently. What man has manufactured using the Scriptures to his advantage, both in the Roman Church and that of Lutheran and a few others, is simply ‘tradition. DonS made his point, which I brought forth again in post #52.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#62
    This was your chance to clarify. If you didn’t understand my post why did you write a response to it? Please let me know if you are just going to do more your typical pontificating so I can move on to more productive things.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#62
    This was your chance to clarify. If you didn’t understand my post why did you write a response to it? Please let me know if you are just going to do more your typical pontificating so I can move on to more productive things.

  • Grace

    21st Century

    YOU WROTE: “This was your chance to clarify. If you didn’t understand my post why did you write a response to it? Please let me know if you are just going to do more your typical pontificating so I can move on to more productive things.”

    Responding was a ‘simple task, one that appears to have annoyed you, without giving an answer. I asked you a question, which would have clarified your comment in post 30. There is no “pontificating” but a clear answer to my question regarding 1 Corinthians 11.

    AGAIN: 21st Century @60

    What point were you trying to make in post #30 regarding
    1 Corinthians?
    Is that so difficult for you to answer? – or is accusing me of “pontificating” an out for a considerate answer on your part?

  • Grace

    21st Century

    YOU WROTE: “This was your chance to clarify. If you didn’t understand my post why did you write a response to it? Please let me know if you are just going to do more your typical pontificating so I can move on to more productive things.”

    Responding was a ‘simple task, one that appears to have annoyed you, without giving an answer. I asked you a question, which would have clarified your comment in post 30. There is no “pontificating” but a clear answer to my question regarding 1 Corinthians 11.

    AGAIN: 21st Century @60

    What point were you trying to make in post #30 regarding
    1 Corinthians?
    Is that so difficult for you to answer? – or is accusing me of “pontificating” an out for a considerate answer on your part?

  • JonSLC

    Steve @58:

    I appreciate your candor, Steve. Your perspective is a valuable one. I would respond that the main exegetical basis for closed communion is 1 Corinthians 11. There Paul states that it is possible to receive the Supper to one’s judgment rather than one’s benefit. Closed communion is an attempt to prevent such an occurrence. Our pastors would like to have time to get to know a person and his/her beliefs, to instruct them further if necessary. Repentance is paramount in preparation for the Supper, too, of course. This is also something a pastor can help a communicant with, provided there is time to know a person before communing him/her. The practice of closed communion is a way of applying these admonitions in 1 Cor. 11. If we have time to know a person and his/her beliefs, and to instruct them further from Scripture, it can help prevent them from, as Paul says, receiving the Supper in an unworthy way.

    The other reason for closed communion is what the Bible says about those who are teaching things that contravene Scripture. If we have identified such teachers or groups, the Scriptural injunction is to “keep away from them” (Romans 16:17). An application of this principle would be closed communion; we would not commune with those who promote or support error. I realize this is dangerous ground, since we sinful human beings are prone to dividing and judging one another, not on Scriptural grounds but merely for reasons of pettiness, jealousy, etc. However, there is a time not to join with others in communion, if we believe, based on Scripture, that they are promoting error. Again, we ask for time to discuss these doctrinal differences before communing together.

    I’d identify those two main reasons for closed communion. (My explanations are lacking in detail, I realize; that’s simply because this post is going to be really long already!) But in short, the practice is an attempt to encourage informed, beneficial reception of the Supper and further/deeper unity in faith.

    Let me also clearly state that closed communion is not without its drawbacks. Could we, even though we mean well, end up denying a worthy communicant his/her Lord’s body and blood? Yes, it could happen. Could we, even though we take precautions to prevent it, allow an unrepentant Christian to receive the Lord’s body and blood, because we’re giving them the benefit of the doubt since they are “card-carrying” members of our denomination? Yes, that could happen as well. Would you acknowledge, though, that there are risks in an open communion practice also? Namely, that some could be invited to commune without knowledge of what the Supper is, or without pastoral admonition to repentance? Or perhaps could it happen that a salutary discussion about divergent beliefs could be short-circuited – we want to continue communing together, so we won’t delve into our doctrinal differences?

    I do thank you for your perspective, Steve, and I don’t mean that at all ironically. It’s valuable for me as a Lutheran to hear your views. I think I can also understand that closed communion is a dealbreaker for you. Open communion would be a dealbreaker for me. :)

  • JonSLC

    Steve @58:

    I appreciate your candor, Steve. Your perspective is a valuable one. I would respond that the main exegetical basis for closed communion is 1 Corinthians 11. There Paul states that it is possible to receive the Supper to one’s judgment rather than one’s benefit. Closed communion is an attempt to prevent such an occurrence. Our pastors would like to have time to get to know a person and his/her beliefs, to instruct them further if necessary. Repentance is paramount in preparation for the Supper, too, of course. This is also something a pastor can help a communicant with, provided there is time to know a person before communing him/her. The practice of closed communion is a way of applying these admonitions in 1 Cor. 11. If we have time to know a person and his/her beliefs, and to instruct them further from Scripture, it can help prevent them from, as Paul says, receiving the Supper in an unworthy way.

    The other reason for closed communion is what the Bible says about those who are teaching things that contravene Scripture. If we have identified such teachers or groups, the Scriptural injunction is to “keep away from them” (Romans 16:17). An application of this principle would be closed communion; we would not commune with those who promote or support error. I realize this is dangerous ground, since we sinful human beings are prone to dividing and judging one another, not on Scriptural grounds but merely for reasons of pettiness, jealousy, etc. However, there is a time not to join with others in communion, if we believe, based on Scripture, that they are promoting error. Again, we ask for time to discuss these doctrinal differences before communing together.

    I’d identify those two main reasons for closed communion. (My explanations are lacking in detail, I realize; that’s simply because this post is going to be really long already!) But in short, the practice is an attempt to encourage informed, beneficial reception of the Supper and further/deeper unity in faith.

    Let me also clearly state that closed communion is not without its drawbacks. Could we, even though we mean well, end up denying a worthy communicant his/her Lord’s body and blood? Yes, it could happen. Could we, even though we take precautions to prevent it, allow an unrepentant Christian to receive the Lord’s body and blood, because we’re giving them the benefit of the doubt since they are “card-carrying” members of our denomination? Yes, that could happen as well. Would you acknowledge, though, that there are risks in an open communion practice also? Namely, that some could be invited to commune without knowledge of what the Supper is, or without pastoral admonition to repentance? Or perhaps could it happen that a salutary discussion about divergent beliefs could be short-circuited – we want to continue communing together, so we won’t delve into our doctrinal differences?

    I do thank you for your perspective, Steve, and I don’t mean that at all ironically. It’s valuable for me as a Lutheran to hear your views. I think I can also understand that closed communion is a dealbreaker for you. Open communion would be a dealbreaker for me. :)

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @66 Sigh…. Thank you for clarifying whether or not I needed to spend more time responding. Goodnight.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @66 Sigh…. Thank you for clarifying whether or not I needed to spend more time responding. Goodnight.

  • Grace

    21st Century @68

    “Sigh…. Thank you for clarifying whether or not I needed to spend more time responding. Goodnight.”

    “Sigh” …….. you would if you could respond, but “sigh” that is an immature attempt to circumvent an answer. So be it. After all my attempts to elicit an answer, you continue to prance about without answering. That I might say, ….. gives reason to the questions and reason people do not find answers within what is called Lutheran doctrine.

  • Grace

    21st Century @68

    “Sigh…. Thank you for clarifying whether or not I needed to spend more time responding. Goodnight.”

    “Sigh” …….. you would if you could respond, but “sigh” that is an immature attempt to circumvent an answer. So be it. After all my attempts to elicit an answer, you continue to prance about without answering. That I might say, ….. gives reason to the questions and reason people do not find answers within what is called Lutheran doctrine.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The impossible divide is “infant baptism” – that is because it is not spoken of in Scripture. It speaks clearly of adults, and those of ones “household” but it mentions nothing of infants.”

    It also doesn’t ever say that the apostles went to the restroom. We can safely assume they did.

    One thing on the side of infant baptism is that it was practiced from the very earliest times in the church as I understand it. It wasn’t opposed for 1500 years. Likewise, the practice of the Lord’s Supper is also an ancient. So, why wasn’t it challenged for 1500 years? It seems Luther challenged innovations and inventions of the popes, not the ancient practices. So why did his calling on the pope to abandon those in turn lead other people to challenge the ancient practices that Luther wanted reasserted?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The impossible divide is “infant baptism” – that is because it is not spoken of in Scripture. It speaks clearly of adults, and those of ones “household” but it mentions nothing of infants.”

    It also doesn’t ever say that the apostles went to the restroom. We can safely assume they did.

    One thing on the side of infant baptism is that it was practiced from the very earliest times in the church as I understand it. It wasn’t opposed for 1500 years. Likewise, the practice of the Lord’s Supper is also an ancient. So, why wasn’t it challenged for 1500 years? It seems Luther challenged innovations and inventions of the popes, not the ancient practices. So why did his calling on the pope to abandon those in turn lead other people to challenge the ancient practices that Luther wanted reasserted?

  • helen

    Steve in Toronto @ 58
    Re: I hate the way that you and some other people on this board keep throwing around the words “hurt feeling” in reference to closed communion. It trivializes a very serious theological dispute.

    It’s a serious theological difference, yes. I agree. But you seem to be saying that you’ll join my church if it will change a position (that really goes back to the beginnings of Christianity) “because you disagree with it.” IMO, that “trivializes” my theological position.
    As JonSLC pointed out, the change you want made to join would force him to leave. (Me, too.)

    Would more people join the Lutheran church if we would just give up our practice of baptizing infants?
    I don’t know. I don’t want to find out.
    Since there are ‘lutheran’ churches which allow “open communion” possibly the person who doesn’t want infants baptized will find one who will cater to that, too. [They might think it would attract members in "Baptist country." They'd probably be wrong!] But insofar as it adopts non Lutheran practice, it won’t be a Lutheran church, sign out front or no.

    When you visit as a houseguest, you observe the practices of the home; you don’t tell the hostess when you want a meal served or make a lot of noise when the family has gone to bed.
    It amazes me that people would visit churches outside their denomination and think they should be able to “make the rules”! I don’t commune in another denomination. That includes some strict Lutheran synods other than my own and all the liberal churches, in or out of “my” synod.

  • helen

    Steve in Toronto @ 58
    Re: I hate the way that you and some other people on this board keep throwing around the words “hurt feeling” in reference to closed communion. It trivializes a very serious theological dispute.

    It’s a serious theological difference, yes. I agree. But you seem to be saying that you’ll join my church if it will change a position (that really goes back to the beginnings of Christianity) “because you disagree with it.” IMO, that “trivializes” my theological position.
    As JonSLC pointed out, the change you want made to join would force him to leave. (Me, too.)

    Would more people join the Lutheran church if we would just give up our practice of baptizing infants?
    I don’t know. I don’t want to find out.
    Since there are ‘lutheran’ churches which allow “open communion” possibly the person who doesn’t want infants baptized will find one who will cater to that, too. [They might think it would attract members in "Baptist country." They'd probably be wrong!] But insofar as it adopts non Lutheran practice, it won’t be a Lutheran church, sign out front or no.

    When you visit as a houseguest, you observe the practices of the home; you don’t tell the hostess when you want a meal served or make a lot of noise when the family has gone to bed.
    It amazes me that people would visit churches outside their denomination and think they should be able to “make the rules”! I don’t commune in another denomination. That includes some strict Lutheran synods other than my own and all the liberal churches, in or out of “my” synod.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: JonSLC
    Thanks for your gracious and thoughtful response.
    The first thing we need to realize is that the situation that protestant Christians face today with regard to issues surrounding church fellowship and communion are very different that those faced by first century Christians. Paul was concerned about relations between Christians within single unified church not adjudicating disputes between rival ecclesiastical communities. The nearest analogy to our present divisions that I can find in Paul is his condemnation of the division of the church in Corinth in to factions based on who baptized whom (first Corinthians 3:4) in this case (and in the texts you references) Paul emphasizes the importance of maintaining unity within the body of Christ.
    In first Corinthians 11 Paul is condemning a church that allows some christens to gorge them self’s on food and wine when other member of the same congregation are hungry. The primary judgment he seem to be passing is on those that are denying the people of God the bread and wine. It is true that he is also concerned that individual Christian examining there own hearts before taking lord’s supper but he is placing the responsibility of insuring that we are communing in a worthy manner on the individual not on the church.
    Romans 17:6 is like wise concerned about people who seek to divide the church by spreading false teaching. In this passage as in the two I have referenced earlier the emphases is on maintaining unity.
    You may find it ironic that after reflecting on the two texts that you feel best support your position that I now even more convinced that in this particular area confessional Lutherans are in error.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: JonSLC
    Thanks for your gracious and thoughtful response.
    The first thing we need to realize is that the situation that protestant Christians face today with regard to issues surrounding church fellowship and communion are very different that those faced by first century Christians. Paul was concerned about relations between Christians within single unified church not adjudicating disputes between rival ecclesiastical communities. The nearest analogy to our present divisions that I can find in Paul is his condemnation of the division of the church in Corinth in to factions based on who baptized whom (first Corinthians 3:4) in this case (and in the texts you references) Paul emphasizes the importance of maintaining unity within the body of Christ.
    In first Corinthians 11 Paul is condemning a church that allows some christens to gorge them self’s on food and wine when other member of the same congregation are hungry. The primary judgment he seem to be passing is on those that are denying the people of God the bread and wine. It is true that he is also concerned that individual Christian examining there own hearts before taking lord’s supper but he is placing the responsibility of insuring that we are communing in a worthy manner on the individual not on the church.
    Romans 17:6 is like wise concerned about people who seek to divide the church by spreading false teaching. In this passage as in the two I have referenced earlier the emphases is on maintaining unity.
    You may find it ironic that after reflecting on the two texts that you feel best support your position that I now even more convinced that in this particular area confessional Lutherans are in error.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    The post is not asking why other people don’t become Lutherans. Obviously, there are lots of theological differences about baptism and the Lord’s Supper and all kinds of things. The post asks why many evangelicals looking for a more sacramental faith go to Rome and Constantinople without considering how Lutheranism could give them both the sacraments and liturgy they are seeking while also letting them retain the Word and the Gospel of their Protestantism. Both Catholics and Orthodox practice closed communion and infant baptism, as Lutherans do. So it can’t be that these evangelicals go to the Catholic Church because they are welcomed at the Communion rail, spurning the Lutherans for not welcoming them.

    I’m curious too: Do those of you who resent not getting to commune at a Lutheran congregation have the same resentment when you go to a Catholic church?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    The post is not asking why other people don’t become Lutherans. Obviously, there are lots of theological differences about baptism and the Lord’s Supper and all kinds of things. The post asks why many evangelicals looking for a more sacramental faith go to Rome and Constantinople without considering how Lutheranism could give them both the sacraments and liturgy they are seeking while also letting them retain the Word and the Gospel of their Protestantism. Both Catholics and Orthodox practice closed communion and infant baptism, as Lutherans do. So it can’t be that these evangelicals go to the Catholic Church because they are welcomed at the Communion rail, spurning the Lutherans for not welcoming them.

    I’m curious too: Do those of you who resent not getting to commune at a Lutheran congregation have the same resentment when you go to a Catholic church?

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Helen
    I have never understood the Confessional Lutheran position that closed communion:”goes back to the beginning of Christianity” The early church communed all baptized believers. With the exception of the Donatists (who were condemned as Heretics) all the divisions in the early church (i.e. Aryanism and Nestorianism) were about very fundamental disputes about the identity of Christ. It was not until the first millennium that we find a schism that begins to resemble our current denomination structure (the split between Rome and Constantinople). There was a vast amount of theological diversity among the church Fathers but they all ways were able to conduct there disputes within the context of a single unified church. At its root my criticism of your position on closed communion is not that it alienates you from fellow Christens or that it is an impediment to spread of the Lutheran faith but that it is that it is unbiblical. I would also suggest that it is anti confessional as well since it denies that portion of the Nician Creed that states “I believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Helen
    I have never understood the Confessional Lutheran position that closed communion:”goes back to the beginning of Christianity” The early church communed all baptized believers. With the exception of the Donatists (who were condemned as Heretics) all the divisions in the early church (i.e. Aryanism and Nestorianism) were about very fundamental disputes about the identity of Christ. It was not until the first millennium that we find a schism that begins to resemble our current denomination structure (the split between Rome and Constantinople). There was a vast amount of theological diversity among the church Fathers but they all ways were able to conduct there disputes within the context of a single unified church. At its root my criticism of your position on closed communion is not that it alienates you from fellow Christens or that it is an impediment to spread of the Lutheran faith but that it is that it is unbiblical. I would also suggest that it is anti confessional as well since it denies that portion of the Nician Creed that states “I believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Glen
    I think the primary reason that evangelicals become orthodox or Roman Catholic as apposed to Lutherans is not that they long for”a more sacramental faith “(although it is a contributing factor) but that they are hung up on finding the “True Church” both Lutheranism and Anglicanism are too closely bound to particular times (the period directly following the reformation and the subsequent enlightenment) and cultures (very Northern European) to make convincing make claims that they are in fact the true universal church (Anglicans have wisely never calmed this title but sometime Lutherans seem to). Both Rome and Constantinople can make more convincing claims to antiquity and in the case of Rome some kind of universal jurisdiction. I think this is a mugs game but the idea of finding the “True Church” is extremely seductive.

    Why doesn’t it trouble me that the RC’s won’t commune me? It does a bit, but since I have so many fundamental doctrinal conflicts with Rome I can easily live with it. I can’t imagine ever wanting to worship with them regularly. The only time I am ever in RC churches is for weddings, baptisms and funerals and given the historic RC position (since revised by Vatican II) that there is no salvation apart from the (RC) church their position makes a kind of twisted sense. When I was traveling through Turkey a few years ago it realy bugged me that Orthodox would not commune me since they were frequently the only option for worship within 500 miles on a Sunday morning.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Glen
    I think the primary reason that evangelicals become orthodox or Roman Catholic as apposed to Lutherans is not that they long for”a more sacramental faith “(although it is a contributing factor) but that they are hung up on finding the “True Church” both Lutheranism and Anglicanism are too closely bound to particular times (the period directly following the reformation and the subsequent enlightenment) and cultures (very Northern European) to make convincing make claims that they are in fact the true universal church (Anglicans have wisely never calmed this title but sometime Lutherans seem to). Both Rome and Constantinople can make more convincing claims to antiquity and in the case of Rome some kind of universal jurisdiction. I think this is a mugs game but the idea of finding the “True Church” is extremely seductive.

    Why doesn’t it trouble me that the RC’s won’t commune me? It does a bit, but since I have so many fundamental doctrinal conflicts with Rome I can easily live with it. I can’t imagine ever wanting to worship with them regularly. The only time I am ever in RC churches is for weddings, baptisms and funerals and given the historic RC position (since revised by Vatican II) that there is no salvation apart from the (RC) church their position makes a kind of twisted sense. When I was traveling through Turkey a few years ago it realy bugged me that Orthodox would not commune me since they were frequently the only option for worship within 500 miles on a Sunday morning.

  • wrigley peterborough

    Dr. Veith, I’ve chatted a little more on the topic with my Wheaton friend, and he thinks it is a matter of branding. When a thoughtful but dissatisfied evangelical seeks an obvious solution Rome is probably the most convenient option–its parishes are ubiquitous. Perhaps there is a mindset that the divide (and it is a false dichotomy) is between evangelical and Roman Catholic, and that Lutherans fall to the evangelical side of things. If an evangelical is going to make a real break, then the Lutheran church, which is in the evangelical category, isn’t going to be an option.

  • wrigley peterborough

    Dr. Veith, I’ve chatted a little more on the topic with my Wheaton friend, and he thinks it is a matter of branding. When a thoughtful but dissatisfied evangelical seeks an obvious solution Rome is probably the most convenient option–its parishes are ubiquitous. Perhaps there is a mindset that the divide (and it is a false dichotomy) is between evangelical and Roman Catholic, and that Lutherans fall to the evangelical side of things. If an evangelical is going to make a real break, then the Lutheran church, which is in the evangelical category, isn’t going to be an option.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Glen
    Did you ever get the chance to discuss this issue with Richard John Neuhaus or Jaroslav Pelikan? I used to hear quite a bit from Father Neuhaus on Issues Ect. But Todd never spoke to him about his defection from the LCMS to Rome. I once heard an interview with Dr. Pelikan on NPR that suggested that he felt that there was far more continuity between the Orthodox and confessional Lutheranism then he had been taught in his youth. It seems a funny position to take but I can’t think of anyone who would be in a better position to have an educated opinion.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Glen
    Did you ever get the chance to discuss this issue with Richard John Neuhaus or Jaroslav Pelikan? I used to hear quite a bit from Father Neuhaus on Issues Ect. But Todd never spoke to him about his defection from the LCMS to Rome. I once heard an interview with Dr. Pelikan on NPR that suggested that he felt that there was far more continuity between the Orthodox and confessional Lutheranism then he had been taught in his youth. It seems a funny position to take but I can’t think of anyone who would be in a better position to have an educated opinion.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Dr. Veith: “The post asks why many evangelicals looking for a more sacramental faith go to Rome and Constantinople without considering how Lutheranism could give them both the sacraments and liturgy they are seeking while also letting them retain the Word and the Gospel of their Protestantism.”

    Does Rome and Constantinople do what WELS Lutheranism did in these 2 instances:

    o “In my former home of Pardeeville, Wisconsin, the WELS congregation was the dominant religious presence in town. When they called a new pastor, Mary Lee and I decided to invite him with his wife and children over for dinner. After a cordial introduction, we sat down at the table and I turned to him and said, “I’ve heard lots of things through the years, but let me ask you directly: do you pray, do I pray, or do we not pray at all?”

    He answered, “You go ahead and pray and we’ll sit by,” and immediately his good wife turned to their children and said, “We’re going to pray; fold your hands and close your eyes.” God bless her.

    We had a pleasant evening. During the conversation the WELS pastor told us his grandmothers was a godly Baptist and that he didn’t pray with her, either…

    He explained that WELS souls were concerned to avoid a “mixed confession.”

    After that evening together in our home, we never saw him again. In a town of 1,500 where I helped lead a youth group shared by eleven different churches, the black hole of WELS confessionalism swallowed him whole. And in my almost-nine years of work in that town I never saw any act nor heard any prayer nor read anything that demonstrated WELS men or the souls under their care have any evangelical commitment. By all appearances the church produced cceremonial religion–which is to say, sacramentalists.”

    o “One episode stands out. I was working in my office one day and heard a knock on the office door–we kept the church unlocked. Opening the door, I found two junior high school boys standing there. After greeting them I invited them in for a visit. They said they were on a mission from school to find some working stiff and ask him about his job, and they’d chosen me. They had a few questions about what I did with my time and then we turned to religion. I asked them if they went to church and they both said they did now because they were in confirmation class and you had to go to church while you were in confirmation class. Their church was the local WELS congregation.

    Then one boy turned to the other and announced with some high anticipation, “My dad says as soon as confirmation is over, I can stop going.”

    That did an excellent job of summing up the WELS version of Christian faith I observed there in Wisconsin. It appeard to be a ghetto of pure sacramentalism with no observable impact for Christ anywhere or any time.”

    From: HERE

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Dr. Veith: “The post asks why many evangelicals looking for a more sacramental faith go to Rome and Constantinople without considering how Lutheranism could give them both the sacraments and liturgy they are seeking while also letting them retain the Word and the Gospel of their Protestantism.”

    Does Rome and Constantinople do what WELS Lutheranism did in these 2 instances:

    o “In my former home of Pardeeville, Wisconsin, the WELS congregation was the dominant religious presence in town. When they called a new pastor, Mary Lee and I decided to invite him with his wife and children over for dinner. After a cordial introduction, we sat down at the table and I turned to him and said, “I’ve heard lots of things through the years, but let me ask you directly: do you pray, do I pray, or do we not pray at all?”

    He answered, “You go ahead and pray and we’ll sit by,” and immediately his good wife turned to their children and said, “We’re going to pray; fold your hands and close your eyes.” God bless her.

    We had a pleasant evening. During the conversation the WELS pastor told us his grandmothers was a godly Baptist and that he didn’t pray with her, either…

    He explained that WELS souls were concerned to avoid a “mixed confession.”

    After that evening together in our home, we never saw him again. In a town of 1,500 where I helped lead a youth group shared by eleven different churches, the black hole of WELS confessionalism swallowed him whole. And in my almost-nine years of work in that town I never saw any act nor heard any prayer nor read anything that demonstrated WELS men or the souls under their care have any evangelical commitment. By all appearances the church produced cceremonial religion–which is to say, sacramentalists.”

    o “One episode stands out. I was working in my office one day and heard a knock on the office door–we kept the church unlocked. Opening the door, I found two junior high school boys standing there. After greeting them I invited them in for a visit. They said they were on a mission from school to find some working stiff and ask him about his job, and they’d chosen me. They had a few questions about what I did with my time and then we turned to religion. I asked them if they went to church and they both said they did now because they were in confirmation class and you had to go to church while you were in confirmation class. Their church was the local WELS congregation.

    Then one boy turned to the other and announced with some high anticipation, “My dad says as soon as confirmation is over, I can stop going.”

    That did an excellent job of summing up the WELS version of Christian faith I observed there in Wisconsin. It appeard to be a ghetto of pure sacramentalism with no observable impact for Christ anywhere or any time.”

    From: HERE

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Truth
    It’s bad enough making broad assertions based on your own limited experience with churches that you have rairly visited (yes I know I do it as well) it is quite another thing to cherry pick third party testimony off the internet. Would you like to hear a few of my Reformed Baptist stories? I could share some real doozies with you. All I can say is that at least the kids in the story were getting some proper catechism instruction that’s more then most children in “big box” nondenominational churches get these days.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Truth
    It’s bad enough making broad assertions based on your own limited experience with churches that you have rairly visited (yes I know I do it as well) it is quite another thing to cherry pick third party testimony off the internet. Would you like to hear a few of my Reformed Baptist stories? I could share some real doozies with you. All I can say is that at least the kids in the story were getting some proper catechism instruction that’s more then most children in “big box” nondenominational churches get these days.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Grace wrote: “The impossible divide is “infant baptism” – that is because it is not spoken of in Scripture. It speaks clearly of adults, and those of ones “household” but it mentions nothing of infants. Then one ‘must look upon the Eunuch who was visited by Philip. ”

    It should be understood that ancient societies were patriarchal and hierarchal. This is true of the Roman world. In the book ‘A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875′, we find an article on ‘Patria Potestas ‘, the power of the father. The following quote is illustrative: “‘The child is incapable, in his private rights, of any power or dominion; in every other respect he is capable of legal rights.’ (Savigny, System, &c. II.52).” The point is that in ancient society, the idea that a child had the right to decide for themselves was not even a consideration. What the father was, the rest of the family was. Period. The argument that the Sacred Scriptures don’t mention infant baptism is based upon certain rationalistic, a priori assumptions. But the evidence for infant baptism is there, if you will have eyes to see. The Rev. Thomas V. Aadland, former Presiding Pastor of The AALC, writes the following in his paper entitled “A Straw in God’s Hand.”

    “The archangel Gabriel’ foretold of John the Baptist: “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). And so he was. He leaped in his mother’s womb before he was born. In Elizabeth’s third trimester, he had heard the greeting of Mary through his mother’s abdominal wall; just as she had. Mary herself was carrying within the holy child Jesus. As Elizabeth herself stated, he had leaped for joy (Luke 1:44). John was warming to his God-appointed task to be the Savior’s forerunner; and ecstatic joy, the fruit of faith, had been worked in his little heart by the Holy Spirit.

    “In the pericope on Jesus blessing the little children (Mark 10:13-16//), the observant physician and evangelist St. Luke takes particular care to emphasize “they were even bringing infants [tic 13pfzini] to Him” (Liike 18:15). NOw if Jesus wants to meet the spiritual needs of unweaned, suckling babes — who are we to stand in the way? They also’ are included in the “all nations” for whom the Great Commission was given (Ap IX.2).”

    “The apostles baptized whole households, which included not only the nuclear family but all the Servants and their families as well, almost certainly some of which would have included newborns (Acts 10:47-48;. 11:13-17; 16:15;33; 18:8; I Corinthians 1:14-16). If this were not the case, we should expect Luke to make explicit the excepting of those members, in the household who were not yet adults. But nowhere does the New Testament do this And if someone should object that infants are never specifically mentioned’among those baptized in the book of Acts, let them quickly be told that neither does the word “adult” occur in the entire Bible!”

    http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Patria_Potestas.html

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Grace wrote: “The impossible divide is “infant baptism” – that is because it is not spoken of in Scripture. It speaks clearly of adults, and those of ones “household” but it mentions nothing of infants. Then one ‘must look upon the Eunuch who was visited by Philip. ”

    It should be understood that ancient societies were patriarchal and hierarchal. This is true of the Roman world. In the book ‘A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875′, we find an article on ‘Patria Potestas ‘, the power of the father. The following quote is illustrative: “‘The child is incapable, in his private rights, of any power or dominion; in every other respect he is capable of legal rights.’ (Savigny, System, &c. II.52).” The point is that in ancient society, the idea that a child had the right to decide for themselves was not even a consideration. What the father was, the rest of the family was. Period. The argument that the Sacred Scriptures don’t mention infant baptism is based upon certain rationalistic, a priori assumptions. But the evidence for infant baptism is there, if you will have eyes to see. The Rev. Thomas V. Aadland, former Presiding Pastor of The AALC, writes the following in his paper entitled “A Straw in God’s Hand.”

    “The archangel Gabriel’ foretold of John the Baptist: “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). And so he was. He leaped in his mother’s womb before he was born. In Elizabeth’s third trimester, he had heard the greeting of Mary through his mother’s abdominal wall; just as she had. Mary herself was carrying within the holy child Jesus. As Elizabeth herself stated, he had leaped for joy (Luke 1:44). John was warming to his God-appointed task to be the Savior’s forerunner; and ecstatic joy, the fruit of faith, had been worked in his little heart by the Holy Spirit.

    “In the pericope on Jesus blessing the little children (Mark 10:13-16//), the observant physician and evangelist St. Luke takes particular care to emphasize “they were even bringing infants [tic 13pfzini] to Him” (Liike 18:15). NOw if Jesus wants to meet the spiritual needs of unweaned, suckling babes — who are we to stand in the way? They also’ are included in the “all nations” for whom the Great Commission was given (Ap IX.2).”

    “The apostles baptized whole households, which included not only the nuclear family but all the Servants and their families as well, almost certainly some of which would have included newborns (Acts 10:47-48;. 11:13-17; 16:15;33; 18:8; I Corinthians 1:14-16). If this were not the case, we should expect Luke to make explicit the excepting of those members, in the household who were not yet adults. But nowhere does the New Testament do this And if someone should object that infants are never specifically mentioned’among those baptized in the book of Acts, let them quickly be told that neither does the word “adult” occur in the entire Bible!”

    http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Patria_Potestas.html

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Rev. Aadland also discusses the evidence from church history.

    “There is evidence the early church regularly practiced infant baptism immediately after the time of the apostles. Investigations into the text of the New Testament, the doctrine and practice of the early church, as well as archaeological and other literary sources conclude there is much’ indirect evidence. for the practice of infant baptism from the earliest period. Baptismal signs on gravestones for young children powerfully witness to Christ.

    “The church fathers from the second century cite the practice of baptizing infants. Not until Tertullian (fl. c. A.D. 200) is it questioned, which of itself admits its existence (De Baptism, 18). Justin Martyr (Apology 1.15) refers to Christians then some 60 oc70 years old who had “from childhood been made disciples.” Irenaeiis (Adv. Haer.2.22) speaks of Christ as “giving salvation to those of every age” who are “regenerated” (renascuntur) through Him, and expressly includes “infants and little children” among them. More explicitly, in its instructions for Baptism, the Apostolic Tradition (21). of Hippolytus states that little children are to be baptized first [then taught], and that if they cannot answer for themselves, their parents or some other member of the family is to answer on their behalf. In the r century, Origen (Hom. in Lev. 8.3, and Comm. in Rom 5.9) refers to the Baptism of infants as an established practice which the Church had received from the Apostles; he finds the practice justified by the need of infants, no less than of adults, for liberation from original sin. And Cyprian (Ep. 64) takes a similar view.

    “Threatened with being burned alive in the arena, Polycarp, disciple of John, and beloved Bishop of Smyrna;. was told to revile Christ. An aged man, he answered, “For 86 years have I served Him, and never did He do me wrong; and how can I blaspheme my King who has saved me?” 32 The length of his discipleship speaks for itself.”

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Rev. Aadland also discusses the evidence from church history.

    “There is evidence the early church regularly practiced infant baptism immediately after the time of the apostles. Investigations into the text of the New Testament, the doctrine and practice of the early church, as well as archaeological and other literary sources conclude there is much’ indirect evidence. for the practice of infant baptism from the earliest period. Baptismal signs on gravestones for young children powerfully witness to Christ.

    “The church fathers from the second century cite the practice of baptizing infants. Not until Tertullian (fl. c. A.D. 200) is it questioned, which of itself admits its existence (De Baptism, 18). Justin Martyr (Apology 1.15) refers to Christians then some 60 oc70 years old who had “from childhood been made disciples.” Irenaeiis (Adv. Haer.2.22) speaks of Christ as “giving salvation to those of every age” who are “regenerated” (renascuntur) through Him, and expressly includes “infants and little children” among them. More explicitly, in its instructions for Baptism, the Apostolic Tradition (21). of Hippolytus states that little children are to be baptized first [then taught], and that if they cannot answer for themselves, their parents or some other member of the family is to answer on their behalf. In the r century, Origen (Hom. in Lev. 8.3, and Comm. in Rom 5.9) refers to the Baptism of infants as an established practice which the Church had received from the Apostles; he finds the practice justified by the need of infants, no less than of adults, for liberation from original sin. And Cyprian (Ep. 64) takes a similar view.

    “Threatened with being burned alive in the arena, Polycarp, disciple of John, and beloved Bishop of Smyrna;. was told to revile Christ. An aged man, he answered, “For 86 years have I served Him, and never did He do me wrong; and how can I blaspheme my King who has saved me?” 32 The length of his discipleship speaks for itself.”

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#69 I don’t mind answering people, but you, Grace are not interested in answers. You are fool only interested in seeing your words in type. I have better things to do than to waste precious time on a fool.

    Seriously, how foolish is it that when I ask you to clarify your response is to ask me to clarify mine, instead of you know clarifying what your point was?

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#69 I don’t mind answering people, but you, Grace are not interested in answers. You are fool only interested in seeing your words in type. I have better things to do than to waste precious time on a fool.

    Seriously, how foolish is it that when I ask you to clarify your response is to ask me to clarify mine, instead of you know clarifying what your point was?

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Kristofer Carlson
    It’s important to keep in mind that Baptismal practices in the early church varied greatly in time and place Saint Augustine was not baptized until middle age in spite of the fact that his mother was a devout Christian. In fact the large number of catechumens (un-baptized none communing converts receiving instruction in the faith) that were martyred under Nero’s persecution forced the early church to develop the doctrine that they had been “baptized by blood” to reassure their grieving friends and family that they would be reunited with their departed brethren in heaven. The patristic evidence regarding baptism is not nearly as clear as either advocates or opponents of paedobaptism often present it.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Kristofer Carlson
    It’s important to keep in mind that Baptismal practices in the early church varied greatly in time and place Saint Augustine was not baptized until middle age in spite of the fact that his mother was a devout Christian. In fact the large number of catechumens (un-baptized none communing converts receiving instruction in the faith) that were martyred under Nero’s persecution forced the early church to develop the doctrine that they had been “baptized by blood” to reassure their grieving friends and family that they would be reunited with their departed brethren in heaven. The patristic evidence regarding baptism is not nearly as clear as either advocates or opponents of paedobaptism often present it.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Truth
    I just googled the WELS church in Pardeeville, Wisconsin it looks like a pretty hoping place with an extensive youth ministry. How sure are you about how representative that story of yours is? http://www.stjohnspardeeville.org/site/ms.asp?sec_id=180000347

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Truth
    I just googled the WELS church in Pardeeville, Wisconsin it looks like a pretty hoping place with an extensive youth ministry. How sure are you about how representative that story of yours is? http://www.stjohnspardeeville.org/site/ms.asp?sec_id=180000347

  • http://www.baylyblog.com/ Tim Bayly

    “TUAD” excerpted my account of what I experienced among the most conservative Lutheran organization in these United States in a little town of Wisconsin twenty years ago. The testimony is true, but admittedly as weak as any one man’s experience. Nevertheless, sacramentalism is what my life experiences have led me to expect from conservative Lutherans, today. So I’ve come to believe Calvin was right in not joining with the Lutherans of his time. Sacramentology was the center of the contention.

    This is the reason Evangelicals usually don’t give Lutheranism a try, but move directly to Rome. If you’re going to trust circumcised foreskins rather than circumcised hearts, moving across the Tiber will carry a whole host of ancillary benefits not to be gotten from conservative Lutheranism. (Ridiculous) claims of unified authority. Unimaginable wealth. Cultural analysis and an intellectual tradition to kill for. Faithful witness against birth control and abortion and infanticide and euthanasia and nuclear weapons and Zionism and…

    Which is to say, good moral theology rather than the pathetic excuse of “avoiding moralism and pietism.”

    In other words, the ELCA is not to blame, I don’t think.

    The brother who points out he could tell horror stories about his own denominational past is right to say so in response to my testimony concerning conservative Lutheran institutions. We all need to give ourselves to the sort of Biblicial faith I’ve always been grateful to see so constantly demonstrated by our gracious host, Gene Veith. Maybe I’m too hard on Lutherans but I cite Luther more often than any other church father. And this is one of my favorites:

    “In regard to doctrine we observe especially this defect that, (m)any now talk only about the forgiveness of sins and say little or nothing about repentance. There neither is forgiveness of sins without repentance nor can forgiveness of sins be understood without repentance. It follows that if we preach the forgiveness of sins without repentance that the people imagine that they have already obtained the forgiveness of sins, becoming thereby secure and without compunction of conscience. This would be a greater error and sin than all the errors hitherto prevailing. Surely we need to be concerned lest, as Christ says in Matthew 12 [: 45] the last state becomes worse than the first.

    Therefore we have instructed and admonished pastors that it is their duty to preach the whole gospel and not one portion without the other” (Works; Volume 40; “Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors”).

    It’s my observation that the conservative Protestant church in America today is shot through with the absence of compunction of conscience Luther says is worse than the error of Roman Catholicism. Ex-Roman Catholics entering my church will be under conviction of sin and ready for the proclamation of the Gospel which of God’s free grace in Christ Jesus, whereas Protestants usually demonstrate that they’ve been innoculated against any conviction of sin.

    If we returned to the preaching Luther calls for, whether Presbyterian or Lutheran or Reformed Baptist, we’d see the church explode and Roman Catholicism would cease to hold the slightest attraction to the souls departing the amorphous globule of nothingness commonly known as “Evangelicalism.”

    With love in Christ,

  • http://www.baylyblog.com/ Tim Bayly

    “TUAD” excerpted my account of what I experienced among the most conservative Lutheran organization in these United States in a little town of Wisconsin twenty years ago. The testimony is true, but admittedly as weak as any one man’s experience. Nevertheless, sacramentalism is what my life experiences have led me to expect from conservative Lutherans, today. So I’ve come to believe Calvin was right in not joining with the Lutherans of his time. Sacramentology was the center of the contention.

    This is the reason Evangelicals usually don’t give Lutheranism a try, but move directly to Rome. If you’re going to trust circumcised foreskins rather than circumcised hearts, moving across the Tiber will carry a whole host of ancillary benefits not to be gotten from conservative Lutheranism. (Ridiculous) claims of unified authority. Unimaginable wealth. Cultural analysis and an intellectual tradition to kill for. Faithful witness against birth control and abortion and infanticide and euthanasia and nuclear weapons and Zionism and…

    Which is to say, good moral theology rather than the pathetic excuse of “avoiding moralism and pietism.”

    In other words, the ELCA is not to blame, I don’t think.

    The brother who points out he could tell horror stories about his own denominational past is right to say so in response to my testimony concerning conservative Lutheran institutions. We all need to give ourselves to the sort of Biblicial faith I’ve always been grateful to see so constantly demonstrated by our gracious host, Gene Veith. Maybe I’m too hard on Lutherans but I cite Luther more often than any other church father. And this is one of my favorites:

    “In regard to doctrine we observe especially this defect that, (m)any now talk only about the forgiveness of sins and say little or nothing about repentance. There neither is forgiveness of sins without repentance nor can forgiveness of sins be understood without repentance. It follows that if we preach the forgiveness of sins without repentance that the people imagine that they have already obtained the forgiveness of sins, becoming thereby secure and without compunction of conscience. This would be a greater error and sin than all the errors hitherto prevailing. Surely we need to be concerned lest, as Christ says in Matthew 12 [: 45] the last state becomes worse than the first.

    Therefore we have instructed and admonished pastors that it is their duty to preach the whole gospel and not one portion without the other” (Works; Volume 40; “Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors”).

    It’s my observation that the conservative Protestant church in America today is shot through with the absence of compunction of conscience Luther says is worse than the error of Roman Catholicism. Ex-Roman Catholics entering my church will be under conviction of sin and ready for the proclamation of the Gospel which of God’s free grace in Christ Jesus, whereas Protestants usually demonstrate that they’ve been innoculated against any conviction of sin.

    If we returned to the preaching Luther calls for, whether Presbyterian or Lutheran or Reformed Baptist, we’d see the church explode and Roman Catholicism would cease to hold the slightest attraction to the souls departing the amorphous globule of nothingness commonly known as “Evangelicalism.”

    With love in Christ,

  • Craig

    Dr V 57
    As one who was Reformed and converted to Lutheranism I think that I can shed some light to your question. The RC and EO are very good at keeping their liturgy, vestments, architecture, etc. at a high level. Many Lutheran congregations hoar themselves out after evangelical music, drama and other “relevant” things. When an Ev has had it with all the low church non-sense and they see the LCMS down the street behaving like a 1970′s Baptist congregation they are turned off and head for the transcendent EO and RC parishes.
    As to the comments about closed communion: What is it with you people who care about how a church regulates their table practices? I know that Reformed, Lutheran, RC and EO all practice closed communion. And I am grateful for that. I was at a funeral and the RC priest said that this communion is for RC only. He was polite and I was glad that I did not have to excuse myself from their table. It was in their church and their rules. I felt protected for I did not want to commune at an RC table. I visited a Reformed church in the late 1990’s and an elder pulled me into a side room and asked me if I believed that the communion was at the right hand of the Father per Calvin’s instructions. I said that I did not understand and he politely asked me not to commune. That was just fine. I find it much more offensive that Baptists and non-denoms have no warning or guard of their table. Often they say nothing to the visitor nor do they even bother to ask if you are even a believer in Jesus! This is truly offensive. So please stop this crybaby hurt feelings whining over Lutherans and closed communion. Just don’t go and you won’t be offended.
    Now to the questions about where are the Lutherans. Hopefully they are faithfully engaging in their vocations and communing on Sundays. Bart #8 was spot on about the Rock Stars that are in the Reformed and Ev movements. Lutherans do not produce Rock Stars, Kyrie Eleison! Those T4G’s are an embarrassment for outright idolatry. These guys can’t seem to make enough videos of themselves.
    Tim #85 You stated that “If we returned to the preaching Luther calls for, whether Presbyterian or Lutheran or Reformed Baptist, we’d see the church explode…” A couple of things to note: a Presbyterian and a Reformed Baptist cannot preach the way Luther calls for. He called for sacramental Christ crucified preaching and the proclamation of the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world. Calvinistic sovereign grace limited atonement rhetoric is not the preaching Luther calls for. Also there is no magic to making the church explode. A faithful Lutheran pastor who preaches Christ and feeds the Body and Blood of Jesus to his perish of 17 old folks is not going to see the church explode. In fact it may wither and die out. So be it. Christ is exalted in weakness. Success in our eyes IS NOT the same as in His eyes.

  • Craig

    Dr V 57
    As one who was Reformed and converted to Lutheranism I think that I can shed some light to your question. The RC and EO are very good at keeping their liturgy, vestments, architecture, etc. at a high level. Many Lutheran congregations hoar themselves out after evangelical music, drama and other “relevant” things. When an Ev has had it with all the low church non-sense and they see the LCMS down the street behaving like a 1970′s Baptist congregation they are turned off and head for the transcendent EO and RC parishes.
    As to the comments about closed communion: What is it with you people who care about how a church regulates their table practices? I know that Reformed, Lutheran, RC and EO all practice closed communion. And I am grateful for that. I was at a funeral and the RC priest said that this communion is for RC only. He was polite and I was glad that I did not have to excuse myself from their table. It was in their church and their rules. I felt protected for I did not want to commune at an RC table. I visited a Reformed church in the late 1990’s and an elder pulled me into a side room and asked me if I believed that the communion was at the right hand of the Father per Calvin’s instructions. I said that I did not understand and he politely asked me not to commune. That was just fine. I find it much more offensive that Baptists and non-denoms have no warning or guard of their table. Often they say nothing to the visitor nor do they even bother to ask if you are even a believer in Jesus! This is truly offensive. So please stop this crybaby hurt feelings whining over Lutherans and closed communion. Just don’t go and you won’t be offended.
    Now to the questions about where are the Lutherans. Hopefully they are faithfully engaging in their vocations and communing on Sundays. Bart #8 was spot on about the Rock Stars that are in the Reformed and Ev movements. Lutherans do not produce Rock Stars, Kyrie Eleison! Those T4G’s are an embarrassment for outright idolatry. These guys can’t seem to make enough videos of themselves.
    Tim #85 You stated that “If we returned to the preaching Luther calls for, whether Presbyterian or Lutheran or Reformed Baptist, we’d see the church explode…” A couple of things to note: a Presbyterian and a Reformed Baptist cannot preach the way Luther calls for. He called for sacramental Christ crucified preaching and the proclamation of the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world. Calvinistic sovereign grace limited atonement rhetoric is not the preaching Luther calls for. Also there is no magic to making the church explode. A faithful Lutheran pastor who preaches Christ and feeds the Body and Blood of Jesus to his perish of 17 old folks is not going to see the church explode. In fact it may wither and die out. So be it. Christ is exalted in weakness. Success in our eyes IS NOT the same as in His eyes.

  • http://www.baylyblog.com/ Tim Bayly

    >>Luther …called for sacramental Christ crucified preaching and the proclamation of the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world.

    Er, actually, Luther called for the preaching of repentance. Sorry you missed that but you might want to actually read the quote I provided.

    >>there is no magic to making the church explode

    You right, sir; no magic at all. Rather the power of the Holy Spirit filling the Church with those who hear the call to repent and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    And concerning the “perish” of old folks, I quite understand having served a church fresh out of seminary where I did close to forty funerals in my first three years of ministry–and in a tiny rural community serving two very small churches of a yoked perish.

    Love,

  • http://www.baylyblog.com/ Tim Bayly

    >>Luther …called for sacramental Christ crucified preaching and the proclamation of the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world.

    Er, actually, Luther called for the preaching of repentance. Sorry you missed that but you might want to actually read the quote I provided.

    >>there is no magic to making the church explode

    You right, sir; no magic at all. Rather the power of the Holy Spirit filling the Church with those who hear the call to repent and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    And concerning the “perish” of old folks, I quite understand having served a church fresh out of seminary where I did close to forty funerals in my first three years of ministry–and in a tiny rural community serving two very small churches of a yoked perish.

    Love,

  • Richard

    Thanks, Rev. Bayly for your comments and your service to our Lord.

  • Richard

    Thanks, Rev. Bayly for your comments and your service to our Lord.

  • helen

    Babies are baptized first and taught later. Those who are older are instructed first. As you say, that has been done since the days of the early persecutions. There were, proportionally, more adult converts then, I think.

    However, we have one joining us now. She was instructed in the basics, for her baptism, and will attend the next regular instruction class for confirmation of her faith and communion thereafter.

    I’ve never been quite sure of Monica… was she a Christian when her son was born? Did his father perhaps have the deciding vote (as someone has indicated) and was he an unbeliever?
    [I've wondered how many prayers and tears she produced for her grandson, too.] :(

  • helen

    Babies are baptized first and taught later. Those who are older are instructed first. As you say, that has been done since the days of the early persecutions. There were, proportionally, more adult converts then, I think.

    However, we have one joining us now. She was instructed in the basics, for her baptism, and will attend the next regular instruction class for confirmation of her faith and communion thereafter.

    I’ve never been quite sure of Monica… was she a Christian when her son was born? Did his father perhaps have the deciding vote (as someone has indicated) and was he an unbeliever?
    [I've wondered how many prayers and tears she produced for her grandson, too.] :(

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Helen: “Those who are older are instructed first. As you say, that has been done since the days of the early persecutions. There were, proportionally, more adult converts then, I think.

    However, we have one joining us now. She was instructed in the basics, for her baptism, and will attend the next regular instruction class for confirmation of her faith and communion thereafter.”

    Question: Suppose this woman suffers a fatal car accident before she’s baptized in the Lutheran church. Does she have salvation and an eternal relationship with the Triune God in Heaven even though she hasn’t been baptized before dying?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Helen: “Those who are older are instructed first. As you say, that has been done since the days of the early persecutions. There were, proportionally, more adult converts then, I think.

    However, we have one joining us now. She was instructed in the basics, for her baptism, and will attend the next regular instruction class for confirmation of her faith and communion thereafter.”

    Question: Suppose this woman suffers a fatal car accident before she’s baptized in the Lutheran church. Does she have salvation and an eternal relationship with the Triune God in Heaven even though she hasn’t been baptized before dying?

  • Grace

    Truth @ 90

    YOU WROTE: “Suppose this woman suffers a fatal car accident before she’s baptized in the Lutheran church. Does she have salvation and an eternal relationship with the Triune God in Heaven even though she hasn’t been baptized before dying?”

    Yes, if she believed in Christ. Scripture is clear:

    15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
    16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved John 3

  • Grace

    Truth @ 90

    YOU WROTE: “Suppose this woman suffers a fatal car accident before she’s baptized in the Lutheran church. Does she have salvation and an eternal relationship with the Triune God in Heaven even though she hasn’t been baptized before dying?”

    Yes, if she believed in Christ. Scripture is clear:

    15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
    16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved John 3

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Helen: “Those who are older are instructed first. As you say, that has been done since the days of the early persecutions. There were, proportionally, more adult converts then, I think.

    However, we have one joining us now. She was instructed in the basics, for her baptism, and will attend the next regular instruction class for confirmation of her faith and communion thereafter.”

    Question: Suppose this woman suffers a fatal car accident before she’s baptized in the Lutheran church. Does she have salvation and an eternal relationship with the Triune God in Heaven even though she hasn’t been baptized before dying?

    Grace: “Yes, if she believed in Christ.”

    Hi Grace, thank you for your response. However, you’re a non-Lutheran. I was hoping for a Confessional Lutheran’s answer to the question, perhaps Dr. Gene Veith, who can answer broadly and representatively for an answer to the question from the doctrines of a Confessional Lutheran’s perspective.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Helen: “Those who are older are instructed first. As you say, that has been done since the days of the early persecutions. There were, proportionally, more adult converts then, I think.

    However, we have one joining us now. She was instructed in the basics, for her baptism, and will attend the next regular instruction class for confirmation of her faith and communion thereafter.”

    Question: Suppose this woman suffers a fatal car accident before she’s baptized in the Lutheran church. Does she have salvation and an eternal relationship with the Triune God in Heaven even though she hasn’t been baptized before dying?

    Grace: “Yes, if she believed in Christ.”

    Hi Grace, thank you for your response. However, you’re a non-Lutheran. I was hoping for a Confessional Lutheran’s answer to the question, perhaps Dr. Gene Veith, who can answer broadly and representatively for an answer to the question from the doctrines of a Confessional Lutheran’s perspective.

  • Steve in Toronto

    The Achilles heel of the credobaptist system is that there that they can’t explain how the infant children of christens get into heaven and that it’s a pastoral nightmare to tell the grieving parents of a dead child you don’t know what the fate of their baby is.
    Pedobaptists on the other hand can be sure of the fate of our deceased children but in our heart of hearts most of us (I hope its most of us anyway) also expect to see un-baptized Baptist kids their too. The question of apostasy would be a parallel problem for pedobaptists. I have not found any systematic theology that has realy resolved the problems of either of these systems to my satisfaction. It my inability to resolve these issues that makes me unwilling to divide the church over these issues.

  • Steve in Toronto

    The Achilles heel of the credobaptist system is that there that they can’t explain how the infant children of christens get into heaven and that it’s a pastoral nightmare to tell the grieving parents of a dead child you don’t know what the fate of their baby is.
    Pedobaptists on the other hand can be sure of the fate of our deceased children but in our heart of hearts most of us (I hope its most of us anyway) also expect to see un-baptized Baptist kids their too. The question of apostasy would be a parallel problem for pedobaptists. I have not found any systematic theology that has realy resolved the problems of either of these systems to my satisfaction. It my inability to resolve these issues that makes me unwilling to divide the church over these issues.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Boy I have a lot of issues (apologies to Todd Wilkin)

  • Steve in Toronto

    Boy I have a lot of issues (apologies to Todd Wilkin)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@93) said:

    It [is?] my inability to resolve these issues that makes me unwilling to divide the church over these issues.

    But doesn’t that make your personal ability the arbiter for universal truth? Conversely, can you condemn someone who can resolve these issues, and therefore feels the need to separate from those who promote error?

    You did have me thinking about the Communion issue, and why Lutherans seemingly require more than what 1 Cor. 11 asks. But I’m not so sure. Here’s the text we’re presumably both considering:

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

    So I asked myself: if one denies Christ’s divinity, and yet still maintained, somehow, that his body was in the Lord’s Supper, would that be a proper self-examination, according to that text? I don’t think it would. After all, you wouldn’t really know whose body and blood you were recognizing — that of the second person of the Trinity. Likewise, what if you rejected the notion of the Trinity? Could you still claim to have properly examined yourself and properly discerned what you receive in Communion? Again, I would argue not. And again, is it possible to properly examine yourself before the Lord’s Supper without a right understanding of your sin and God’s justification? I don’t see that it is.

    So, I would argue, there is quite a lot packed into the command to examine and discern. Because our theology is not a set of independent statements, but an interwoven whole. This isn’t to say that everything the Bible teaches enters into the picture. I can’t really see an argument being made for needing to properly understand biblical eschatology, for instance, or the nature of the Antichrist. But nor am I certain that Lutheran churches necessarily require agreement on all these things before allowing one to commune.

    What do you think of that?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@93) said:

    It [is?] my inability to resolve these issues that makes me unwilling to divide the church over these issues.

    But doesn’t that make your personal ability the arbiter for universal truth? Conversely, can you condemn someone who can resolve these issues, and therefore feels the need to separate from those who promote error?

    You did have me thinking about the Communion issue, and why Lutherans seemingly require more than what 1 Cor. 11 asks. But I’m not so sure. Here’s the text we’re presumably both considering:

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

    So I asked myself: if one denies Christ’s divinity, and yet still maintained, somehow, that his body was in the Lord’s Supper, would that be a proper self-examination, according to that text? I don’t think it would. After all, you wouldn’t really know whose body and blood you were recognizing — that of the second person of the Trinity. Likewise, what if you rejected the notion of the Trinity? Could you still claim to have properly examined yourself and properly discerned what you receive in Communion? Again, I would argue not. And again, is it possible to properly examine yourself before the Lord’s Supper without a right understanding of your sin and God’s justification? I don’t see that it is.

    So, I would argue, there is quite a lot packed into the command to examine and discern. Because our theology is not a set of independent statements, but an interwoven whole. This isn’t to say that everything the Bible teaches enters into the picture. I can’t really see an argument being made for needing to properly understand biblical eschatology, for instance, or the nature of the Antichrist. But nor am I certain that Lutheran churches necessarily require agreement on all these things before allowing one to commune.

    What do you think of that?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    OK, Truth. (I can’t always monitor these discussions closely as they happen, so I miss quite a few of them.) What saves is faith in Jesus Christ alone. That is Lutheran dogma. A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism (the thief on the Cross, the woman in this example). The distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism is that it too is a means by which the Holy Spirit creates faith in the heart. The Roman Catholic position is that Baptism works “opere operato,” by virtue of its own working (if I have my Latin right), a magic kind of zapping into faith. The Lutheran position is that Baptism works because it communicates faith. Lutherans believe that baptized infants have faith and are saved by their faith! (Faith is dependence on Christ; babies know their dependence on their parents and thus have faith in them; they can also know their dependence on their Heavenly Father and have faith in Him.) Any attempt to separate faith and baptism is a violation of Lutheran theology.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    OK, Truth. (I can’t always monitor these discussions closely as they happen, so I miss quite a few of them.) What saves is faith in Jesus Christ alone. That is Lutheran dogma. A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism (the thief on the Cross, the woman in this example). The distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism is that it too is a means by which the Holy Spirit creates faith in the heart. The Roman Catholic position is that Baptism works “opere operato,” by virtue of its own working (if I have my Latin right), a magic kind of zapping into faith. The Lutheran position is that Baptism works because it communicates faith. Lutherans believe that baptized infants have faith and are saved by their faith! (Faith is dependence on Christ; babies know their dependence on their parents and thus have faith in them; they can also know their dependence on their Heavenly Father and have faith in Him.) Any attempt to separate faith and baptism is a violation of Lutheran theology.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re:Todd
    I don’t condemn people who disagree with me on doctrine that I am less then certain on. I have no trouble with the fact that neither of my sisters has baptized their kids. I came to my pedobaptists position not primary by detailed bible study (to many good exegetes on both sides of this issue) but because it is consistent with my personal experience of growing up in a pious Christian home and constant with the teaching of the communities of believers that I have chosen to worship with.

    I have a similar position on “real presence” when I commune I have a profound sense of the presence Christ in the Eucharist and I would go to the mat to ague with my Baptist friends that the lords supper is not “merely memorial” but as I have said before on this board I would not dream of trying to adjudicate the dispute between Luther and Calvin on this one. I find Luther’s position more spiritually satisfying but Calvin’s more intellectually constant. One of the things I like about Anglicanism is that it does not require me to come down hard on either side of this debate.

    I am however convinced that the Confessional Lutheran position on Open communion is wrong. I believe it is contrary to both the plain reading of the relevant biblical texts and to the entire spirit of the Bible’s teaching of the importance of unity in the body of Christ. I believe it is inconstant with the spirit of the early ecumenical creeds. I can find no precedent for it in the first 1000 years of church history and lastly it feels profoundly wrong for me not to share Christ’s body and blood with my fellow Christians. It ironic that the branch of Protestantism that has the highest regard to the God ability to work out his salvific plan through his ordained sacraments is the one that is most anxious to deny it to their brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re:Todd
    I don’t condemn people who disagree with me on doctrine that I am less then certain on. I have no trouble with the fact that neither of my sisters has baptized their kids. I came to my pedobaptists position not primary by detailed bible study (to many good exegetes on both sides of this issue) but because it is consistent with my personal experience of growing up in a pious Christian home and constant with the teaching of the communities of believers that I have chosen to worship with.

    I have a similar position on “real presence” when I commune I have a profound sense of the presence Christ in the Eucharist and I would go to the mat to ague with my Baptist friends that the lords supper is not “merely memorial” but as I have said before on this board I would not dream of trying to adjudicate the dispute between Luther and Calvin on this one. I find Luther’s position more spiritually satisfying but Calvin’s more intellectually constant. One of the things I like about Anglicanism is that it does not require me to come down hard on either side of this debate.

    I am however convinced that the Confessional Lutheran position on Open communion is wrong. I believe it is contrary to both the plain reading of the relevant biblical texts and to the entire spirit of the Bible’s teaching of the importance of unity in the body of Christ. I believe it is inconstant with the spirit of the early ecumenical creeds. I can find no precedent for it in the first 1000 years of church history and lastly it feels profoundly wrong for me not to share Christ’s body and blood with my fellow Christians. It ironic that the branch of Protestantism that has the highest regard to the God ability to work out his salvific plan through his ordained sacraments is the one that is most anxious to deny it to their brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Regarding the ancient practice of closed communion, consider well the following.

    The Didache (1st or 2nd century): “But let no one eat or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said: Give not that which is holy to the dogs.”

    The Divine Liturgy of St. James (most of the material is from the 2nd century): “The Deacon.  
    XVI. Let none remain of the catechumens, none of the unbaptized, none of those who are unable to join with us in prayer. Look at one another. The door.” [This is when the deacons escort the catechumens and unbaptized out prior to the eucharist.]

    Apostolic Constitutions (around 345 AD): “After this, let all rise up with one consent, and looking towards the east, after the catechumens and penitents are gone out, pray to God eastward, who ascended up to the heaven of heavens to the east; remembering also the ancient situation of paradise in the east, from whence the first man, when he had yielded to the persuasion of the serpent, and disobeyed the command of God, was expelled. …After this let the sacrifice follow, the people standing, and praying silently; and when the oblation has been made, let every rank by itself partake of the Lord’s body and precious blood in order, and approach with reverence and holy fear, as to the body of their king. Let the women approach with their heads covered, as is becoming the order of women; but let the door be watched, lest any unbeliever, or one not yet initiated, come in.”

    The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (likely a 5th century revision of an earlier church order): “Catechumens will hear the word for three years. Yet if someone is earnest and perseveres well in the matter, it is not the time that is judged, but the conduct. …When they are chosen who are to receive baptism, let their lives be examined, whether they have lived honorably while catechumens, whether they honored the widows, whether they visited the sick, and whether they have done every good work. If those who bring them forward bear witness for them that they have done so, then let them hear the Gospel. …The catechumen may not take part in the Lord’s Supper.”

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Regarding the ancient practice of closed communion, consider well the following.

    The Didache (1st or 2nd century): “But let no one eat or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said: Give not that which is holy to the dogs.”

    The Divine Liturgy of St. James (most of the material is from the 2nd century): “The Deacon.  
    XVI. Let none remain of the catechumens, none of the unbaptized, none of those who are unable to join with us in prayer. Look at one another. The door.” [This is when the deacons escort the catechumens and unbaptized out prior to the eucharist.]

    Apostolic Constitutions (around 345 AD): “After this, let all rise up with one consent, and looking towards the east, after the catechumens and penitents are gone out, pray to God eastward, who ascended up to the heaven of heavens to the east; remembering also the ancient situation of paradise in the east, from whence the first man, when he had yielded to the persuasion of the serpent, and disobeyed the command of God, was expelled. …After this let the sacrifice follow, the people standing, and praying silently; and when the oblation has been made, let every rank by itself partake of the Lord’s body and precious blood in order, and approach with reverence and holy fear, as to the body of their king. Let the women approach with their heads covered, as is becoming the order of women; but let the door be watched, lest any unbeliever, or one not yet initiated, come in.”

    The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (likely a 5th century revision of an earlier church order): “Catechumens will hear the word for three years. Yet if someone is earnest and perseveres well in the matter, it is not the time that is judged, but the conduct. …When they are chosen who are to receive baptism, let their lives be examined, whether they have lived honorably while catechumens, whether they honored the widows, whether they visited the sick, and whether they have done every good work. If those who bring them forward bear witness for them that they have done so, then let them hear the Gospel. …The catechumen may not take part in the Lord’s Supper.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@97) said:

    I don’t condemn people who disagree with me on doctrine that I am less then certain on.

    And yet you condemn Lutherans for disagreeing with you on the Lord’s Supper. I’m confused.

    Anyhow, I can’t help but think that you completely failed to address my earlier comment (@95). Have you read that yet?

    Assuming you have not, I’ll move on to this part of what you said:

    I am however convinced that the Confessional Lutheran position on Open communion is wrong. I believe it is contrary to both the plain reading of the relevant biblical texts and to the entire spirit of the Bible’s teaching of the importance of unity in the body of Christ.

    Again, see my earlier comment (@95) as to “the plain reading of the relevant biblical texts”.

    As to “the importance of unity in the body of Christ”, surely you agree that true unity is not found in ignoring differences, but in overcoming them. Jesus prayed that his followers would be one as the Father and the Son are one. I assume it goes without saying that the Father and the Son do not disagree or hold differing ideas on what is true. As such, true unity is found in agreeing on “all that [Jesus] commanded [us]“, but not being divided on whatever else there may be.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@97) said:

    I don’t condemn people who disagree with me on doctrine that I am less then certain on.

    And yet you condemn Lutherans for disagreeing with you on the Lord’s Supper. I’m confused.

    Anyhow, I can’t help but think that you completely failed to address my earlier comment (@95). Have you read that yet?

    Assuming you have not, I’ll move on to this part of what you said:

    I am however convinced that the Confessional Lutheran position on Open communion is wrong. I believe it is contrary to both the plain reading of the relevant biblical texts and to the entire spirit of the Bible’s teaching of the importance of unity in the body of Christ.

    Again, see my earlier comment (@95) as to “the plain reading of the relevant biblical texts”.

    As to “the importance of unity in the body of Christ”, surely you agree that true unity is not found in ignoring differences, but in overcoming them. Jesus prayed that his followers would be one as the Father and the Son are one. I assume it goes without saying that the Father and the Son do not disagree or hold differing ideas on what is true. As such, true unity is found in agreeing on “all that [Jesus] commanded [us]“, but not being divided on whatever else there may be.

  • Grace

    Kristofer Carlson @98

    You cite

    The Didache (1st or 2nd century):

    The Divine Liturgy of St. James (most of the material is from the 2nd century):

    Apostolic Constitutions (around 345 AD):

    The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (likely a 5th century revision of an earlier church order):

    None of which, are from the HOLY Word of God, the Bible. Jesus nor HIS Apostles made such demands or claims. This is nothing but man made ideas, and ‘tradition of men, it does not come from HOLY Scripture.

    God gave us what HE wanted us to have, nothing is left out. Man thinks he needs to re-write God’s HOLY Word, as if God Almighty needed help, not getting it right through HIS inspired Word of HIS HOLY Spirit.

  • Grace

    Kristofer Carlson @98

    You cite

    The Didache (1st or 2nd century):

    The Divine Liturgy of St. James (most of the material is from the 2nd century):

    Apostolic Constitutions (around 345 AD):

    The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (likely a 5th century revision of an earlier church order):

    None of which, are from the HOLY Word of God, the Bible. Jesus nor HIS Apostles made such demands or claims. This is nothing but man made ideas, and ‘tradition of men, it does not come from HOLY Scripture.

    God gave us what HE wanted us to have, nothing is left out. Man thinks he needs to re-write God’s HOLY Word, as if God Almighty needed help, not getting it right through HIS inspired Word of HIS HOLY Spirit.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@100), nobody is claiming those sources are, as such, “from the HOLY Word of God, the Bible”. I believe Kristofer’s citations (@98) were addressed to Steve’s statement (@97) that “I can find no precedent for [the Confessional Lutheran position on Open communion] in the first 1000 years of church history”.

    Still, you err in claiming that any historical document written by Christians “is nothing but man made ideas, and ‘tradition of men, it does not come from HOLY Scripture.”

    Any statement, any document, by man is the Word of God to the degree it agrees with what God has revealed to us. So it is that your own utterances from faith — on this blog or elsewhere — are not necessarily “man-made ideas”. Nor the writings of Matthew Henry, with whom you apparently have no issues, though he too is a man. Nor the speech of our respective pastors. All of these are the words of man, yet God speaks through them. Or else we would be lost.

    If you regard man-made ideas as to be dismissed out of hand, then why do you go to church to hear men speak? Why do you read the commentaries of men?

    No, I think you understand that traditions of men are only to be dismissed to the degree that they disagree with Scripture.

    Now, some of us, aware of the history of the Church, like to consider what our Christian brothers said and did back in the day, as a check on our own thoughts, which are prone to being tainted by the culture of our day. After all, Christianity did not spring out of nowhere in the past decade/century or two. The Church has been there, throughout history, as Christ himself promised.

    And when we find ourselves at odds with what our Christian brothers did and taught, we treat it as an opportunity for deeper reflection. We ask ourselves, did they better understand Scripture than we do now? Of course, the answer isn’t always yes or no. Only Scripture itself is our guide. But where we feel we might not understand Scripture perfectly, we ask those who went before us what they understood, just as a child asks his parents who have instructed him in the faith.

    Of course, you can choose to ignore all that, but where’s the wisdom in that? When has ignoring history ever been the best option?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@100), nobody is claiming those sources are, as such, “from the HOLY Word of God, the Bible”. I believe Kristofer’s citations (@98) were addressed to Steve’s statement (@97) that “I can find no precedent for [the Confessional Lutheran position on Open communion] in the first 1000 years of church history”.

    Still, you err in claiming that any historical document written by Christians “is nothing but man made ideas, and ‘tradition of men, it does not come from HOLY Scripture.”

    Any statement, any document, by man is the Word of God to the degree it agrees with what God has revealed to us. So it is that your own utterances from faith — on this blog or elsewhere — are not necessarily “man-made ideas”. Nor the writings of Matthew Henry, with whom you apparently have no issues, though he too is a man. Nor the speech of our respective pastors. All of these are the words of man, yet God speaks through them. Or else we would be lost.

    If you regard man-made ideas as to be dismissed out of hand, then why do you go to church to hear men speak? Why do you read the commentaries of men?

    No, I think you understand that traditions of men are only to be dismissed to the degree that they disagree with Scripture.

    Now, some of us, aware of the history of the Church, like to consider what our Christian brothers said and did back in the day, as a check on our own thoughts, which are prone to being tainted by the culture of our day. After all, Christianity did not spring out of nowhere in the past decade/century or two. The Church has been there, throughout history, as Christ himself promised.

    And when we find ourselves at odds with what our Christian brothers did and taught, we treat it as an opportunity for deeper reflection. We ask ourselves, did they better understand Scripture than we do now? Of course, the answer isn’t always yes or no. Only Scripture itself is our guide. But where we feel we might not understand Scripture perfectly, we ask those who went before us what they understood, just as a child asks his parents who have instructed him in the faith.

    Of course, you can choose to ignore all that, but where’s the wisdom in that? When has ignoring history ever been the best option?

  • Grace

    tODD

    You wrote: “Still, you err in claiming that any historical document written by Christians “is nothing but man made ideas, and ‘tradition of men, it does not come from HOLY Scripture.””

    That is simply untrue – “any” ? –

    tODD, I have no interest in having another discussion with you, as you accuse me of that which is untrue.

    I have quoted Matthew Henry on occasion, but I do not agree with everything he wrote. I don’t call myself a Henryan, nor do I use any other way in which to identify myself by a mere man.. I call myself a Christian Believer or a Born Again Christian.

    My source is the Word of God, it always has been. Quoting Matthew Henry, perhaps a dozen or so times in two years, on this blog does not compare with the endless quoting of a mere man, or others, rather than Christ Jesus, as is often the case on this blog.

    Many traditions, either by the Roman Church, Lutheran, Episcopal, and a few others are paramount to their doctrine, but fail to line up with Scripture.

  • Grace

    tODD

    You wrote: “Still, you err in claiming that any historical document written by Christians “is nothing but man made ideas, and ‘tradition of men, it does not come from HOLY Scripture.””

    That is simply untrue – “any” ? –

    tODD, I have no interest in having another discussion with you, as you accuse me of that which is untrue.

    I have quoted Matthew Henry on occasion, but I do not agree with everything he wrote. I don’t call myself a Henryan, nor do I use any other way in which to identify myself by a mere man.. I call myself a Christian Believer or a Born Again Christian.

    My source is the Word of God, it always has been. Quoting Matthew Henry, perhaps a dozen or so times in two years, on this blog does not compare with the endless quoting of a mere man, or others, rather than Christ Jesus, as is often the case on this blog.

    Many traditions, either by the Roman Church, Lutheran, Episcopal, and a few others are paramount to their doctrine, but fail to line up with Scripture.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re:Todd
    Sorry lots of stuff to deal with at the same time I am putting dinner on the table for the kids. “But doesn’t that make your personal ability the arbiter for universal truth?”. A certain amount of subjectivity is inevitable. We simply can’t escape our own point of view. I try to check this by making sure my reading of the Bible is informed by not only by the community of believers I study it with but also the Great Creeds, The Church Fathers and the works of the great reformers like Luther and Calvin (as well as more modern theologians). I will be honest and say that I have found the Confessions (I am talking about the Westminster Confessions and catechisms, here I am not as familiar with the Book of Concord as I should be) less helpful I think they are overly determinative, I would be terrified if I discovered a new biblical incite I am sure it would be heresy! A certain amount theological modesty/agnosticism doesn’t bother me, in fact I think it’s Biblical “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. “ 1 Corinthians 13:12.
    I would never argue that we should ignore our differences (If I thought that I would hardly be spending so much time trying to persuade you your wrong) I just don’t think that our doctrinal differences should prevent us from worshiping our Lord together and sharing his body and blood.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re:Todd
    Sorry lots of stuff to deal with at the same time I am putting dinner on the table for the kids. “But doesn’t that make your personal ability the arbiter for universal truth?”. A certain amount of subjectivity is inevitable. We simply can’t escape our own point of view. I try to check this by making sure my reading of the Bible is informed by not only by the community of believers I study it with but also the Great Creeds, The Church Fathers and the works of the great reformers like Luther and Calvin (as well as more modern theologians). I will be honest and say that I have found the Confessions (I am talking about the Westminster Confessions and catechisms, here I am not as familiar with the Book of Concord as I should be) less helpful I think they are overly determinative, I would be terrified if I discovered a new biblical incite I am sure it would be heresy! A certain amount theological modesty/agnosticism doesn’t bother me, in fact I think it’s Biblical “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. “ 1 Corinthians 13:12.
    I would never argue that we should ignore our differences (If I thought that I would hardly be spending so much time trying to persuade you your wrong) I just don’t think that our doctrinal differences should prevent us from worshiping our Lord together and sharing his body and blood.

  • Grace

    When all the church is with the Lamb of GOD, as HIS bride, sitting at the marriage feast ‘together’ there will not be a word spoken that says, “but you aren’t a Lutheran” or “you weren’t baptized” or “your church had grape juice and ours had wine” …… NO, there will be nothing of the sort, we will all be so happy and grateful to be with the LORD. The fruit of the vine, either fermented or not, will not be an issue. Those who have left others out of the LORD’S supper will probably not ponder these thoughts, …. however, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to think about it right now.

    GOD help us, as we look upon a fallen world, the lost all about us, help the church to love one another, as you love us.

  • Grace

    When all the church is with the Lamb of GOD, as HIS bride, sitting at the marriage feast ‘together’ there will not be a word spoken that says, “but you aren’t a Lutheran” or “you weren’t baptized” or “your church had grape juice and ours had wine” …… NO, there will be nothing of the sort, we will all be so happy and grateful to be with the LORD. The fruit of the vine, either fermented or not, will not be an issue. Those who have left others out of the LORD’S supper will probably not ponder these thoughts, …. however, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to think about it right now.

    GOD help us, as we look upon a fallen world, the lost all about us, help the church to love one another, as you love us.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re:Kristofer Carlson
    All of the examples you sited describe the exclusion of UNBAPTIZED catechumens from Holy Communion. None of the Fathers you site endorse the exclusion of BAPTIZED Christians. Even the most superficial survey of the early Fathers tells us that there was never doctrinal uniformity in the church during the first millennium. If doctrinal uniformity beyond adherence to the ecumenical creeds was required by at any time before the great schism I have never seen a reference to it. If Lutherans want exclude unbaptized Christians from the Lords table I would not object, if they want to insist on Children being confirmed before they could commune I would not like it but I could at least understand the reasoning behind. However you have still not provided me with a single example that has caused my conviction to waver in the slightest. As an aside what is the LCMS position on Padocomunion at what age to Lutheran kids typical have there “First Communion” are they required to be confirmed first?

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re:Kristofer Carlson
    All of the examples you sited describe the exclusion of UNBAPTIZED catechumens from Holy Communion. None of the Fathers you site endorse the exclusion of BAPTIZED Christians. Even the most superficial survey of the early Fathers tells us that there was never doctrinal uniformity in the church during the first millennium. If doctrinal uniformity beyond adherence to the ecumenical creeds was required by at any time before the great schism I have never seen a reference to it. If Lutherans want exclude unbaptized Christians from the Lords table I would not object, if they want to insist on Children being confirmed before they could commune I would not like it but I could at least understand the reasoning behind. However you have still not provided me with a single example that has caused my conviction to waver in the slightest. As an aside what is the LCMS position on Padocomunion at what age to Lutheran kids typical have there “First Communion” are they required to be confirmed first?

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Grace,

    Elder Cleopa writes: “From the time of Adam until that of abraham, according the old chronologies, 3,678 years passed, and if we add 430 years when the Israelites remained in Egypt, we have 4,108 years. …During this period of many thousands of years the faithful and chosen people were guided to the path of salvation only by Holy Tradition. Only for about 1400 years—from the time of Moses until the advent of Christ—were they guided by the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament.”

    Elder Cleopa goes on to note that the Christians of the primitive church were guided the same way. It was at least 11 years before the Gospel of Matthew was written, but many years went by until all the New Testament books were written. Even then, these writings were considered as useful, but not necessarily as scripture. It was not until the heretic Marcion began to rewrite scripture and compose his own canon that the church began to consider the canonical problem, and it wasn’t until the 5th century that a general consensus on the New Testament canon was reached.

    What guided Adam and Abel, Enoch and Noah, Job, Abraham, and Melchizedek? There was no scripture; the only thing available was Holy Tradition. And what guided the apostles, when they had no New Testament scriptures? What guided St Stephen, the first Martyr, and Sts Paul, Barnabas, and Silas, when there were no Gospels written in those early years? What guided the Ethiopian eunich, who founded the Ethiopian Coptic church at a time when there were no written Gospels, no Epistles, no New Testament?

    I cannot understand, as a former Protestant, how I could accept the witness of Holy Tradition as effective in passing on the truth about God to the Old Testament saints, but as ineffective in doing the same for New Testament saints. I don’t understand how I could not have even asked the question about how the early church functioned, and what was their source of authority, prior to the writing of the Scriptures and their collection into today’s canon.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Grace,

    Elder Cleopa writes: “From the time of Adam until that of abraham, according the old chronologies, 3,678 years passed, and if we add 430 years when the Israelites remained in Egypt, we have 4,108 years. …During this period of many thousands of years the faithful and chosen people were guided to the path of salvation only by Holy Tradition. Only for about 1400 years—from the time of Moses until the advent of Christ—were they guided by the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament.”

    Elder Cleopa goes on to note that the Christians of the primitive church were guided the same way. It was at least 11 years before the Gospel of Matthew was written, but many years went by until all the New Testament books were written. Even then, these writings were considered as useful, but not necessarily as scripture. It was not until the heretic Marcion began to rewrite scripture and compose his own canon that the church began to consider the canonical problem, and it wasn’t until the 5th century that a general consensus on the New Testament canon was reached.

    What guided Adam and Abel, Enoch and Noah, Job, Abraham, and Melchizedek? There was no scripture; the only thing available was Holy Tradition. And what guided the apostles, when they had no New Testament scriptures? What guided St Stephen, the first Martyr, and Sts Paul, Barnabas, and Silas, when there were no Gospels written in those early years? What guided the Ethiopian eunich, who founded the Ethiopian Coptic church at a time when there were no written Gospels, no Epistles, no New Testament?

    I cannot understand, as a former Protestant, how I could accept the witness of Holy Tradition as effective in passing on the truth about God to the Old Testament saints, but as ineffective in doing the same for New Testament saints. I don’t understand how I could not have even asked the question about how the early church functioned, and what was their source of authority, prior to the writing of the Scriptures and their collection into today’s canon.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Steve in Toronto: Catechized (initiated into the mysteries) and Baptized; for adults, catechism preceded baptism. Both were required for entrance into the eucharistic service. So today, if you come from another Christian communion, it is expected that you will need instruction before partaking of the eucharist. This is both for your protection, and for the protection of the pastor or priest who is responsible for the souls of those who partake.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Steve in Toronto: Catechized (initiated into the mysteries) and Baptized; for adults, catechism preceded baptism. Both were required for entrance into the eucharistic service. So today, if you come from another Christian communion, it is expected that you will need instruction before partaking of the eucharist. This is both for your protection, and for the protection of the pastor or priest who is responsible for the souls of those who partake.

  • Grace

    Kristofer Carlson @106

    Did God speak to Adam directly, or to any of the others you mention? – - Since the LORD spoke directly to Adam, do you believe that Adam forgot what God said, or that he didn’t tell his children, and they in turn didn’t tell their children? The beginning of Adam and Eve are profound, not something anyone would forget to explain to ones children. It wasn’t born of ‘tradition’ it was factual, it came from God!

  • Grace

    Kristofer Carlson @106

    Did God speak to Adam directly, or to any of the others you mention? – - Since the LORD spoke directly to Adam, do you believe that Adam forgot what God said, or that he didn’t tell his children, and they in turn didn’t tell their children? The beginning of Adam and Eve are profound, not something anyone would forget to explain to ones children. It wasn’t born of ‘tradition’ it was factual, it came from God!

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Question: “Suppose this woman (adult convert, instructed in the basics, for her baptism, and who will attend the next regular instruction class for confirmation of her faith and communion) suffers a fatal car accident before she’s baptized in the Lutheran church. Does she have salvation and an eternal relationship with the Triune God in Heaven even though she hasn’t been baptized before dying?”

    Grace: “Yes, if she believed in Christ.”

    Dr. Gene Veith: “What saves is faith in Jesus Christ alone. That is Lutheran dogma. A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism (the thief on the Cross, the woman in this example).”

    Dr. Veith, I observe that you’re in agreement with Grace.

    If you could provide further kindness, I should like to receive your understanding of this excerpt from the Large Catechism by Martin Luther on Baptism:

    “For as truly as I can say, No man has spun the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer out of his head, but they are revealed and given by God Himself, so also I can boast that Baptism is no human trifle, but instituted by God Himself, moreover, that it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved, lest any one regard it as a trifling matter, like putting on a new red coat.”

    Dr. Luther’s clarity on this issue reads: “it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved

    compared and contrasted with

    Dr. Veith’s clarity on this issue reads: “A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism”

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Question: “Suppose this woman (adult convert, instructed in the basics, for her baptism, and who will attend the next regular instruction class for confirmation of her faith and communion) suffers a fatal car accident before she’s baptized in the Lutheran church. Does she have salvation and an eternal relationship with the Triune God in Heaven even though she hasn’t been baptized before dying?”

    Grace: “Yes, if she believed in Christ.”

    Dr. Gene Veith: “What saves is faith in Jesus Christ alone. That is Lutheran dogma. A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism (the thief on the Cross, the woman in this example).”

    Dr. Veith, I observe that you’re in agreement with Grace.

    If you could provide further kindness, I should like to receive your understanding of this excerpt from the Large Catechism by Martin Luther on Baptism:

    “For as truly as I can say, No man has spun the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer out of his head, but they are revealed and given by God Himself, so also I can boast that Baptism is no human trifle, but instituted by God Himself, moreover, that it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved, lest any one regard it as a trifling matter, like putting on a new red coat.”

    Dr. Luther’s clarity on this issue reads: “it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved

    compared and contrasted with

    Dr. Veith’s clarity on this issue reads: “A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@102), come on. Kristofer (@98) cited several ancient Christian sources to make his point, and you completely failed to actually engage any of them by, say, comparing their teachings to Scripture. No, instead, you dismissed the whole lot of them out of hand as “man made ideas”. Don’t go getting upset now by claiming I’ve falsely accused you!

    The fact is, you present no standard by which you judge men’s words to be acceptable (as in the case of Matthew Henry) or completely not worth your consideration (as is apparently the case with the Didache, the Divine Liturgy of St. James, etc.). It would be one thing if you disagreed with these ancient sources by comparing them with Scripture. But you did not. You simply dismissed them, without considering what they said.

    I don’t call myself a Henryan, nor do I use any other way in which to identify myself by a mere man

    Well, that’s not true. You once said:

    I am Evangelical, affilated with a Calvary Chapel Church.

    Pretty certain Calvary Chapel is composed of mere men.

    And remember, it’s not a numbers game (“Quoting Matthew Henry, perhaps a dozen or so times in two years, on this blog does not compare with the endless quoting of …”), as if there was some God-given limit as to the appropriate number of times for quoting men. It’s simply a question of whether it’s okay to quote other men in explaining God’s Word. By your own actions, you clearly show that it is. At least, that is, when you do it. But when Lutherans do it, of course, it upsets you to no end.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@102), come on. Kristofer (@98) cited several ancient Christian sources to make his point, and you completely failed to actually engage any of them by, say, comparing their teachings to Scripture. No, instead, you dismissed the whole lot of them out of hand as “man made ideas”. Don’t go getting upset now by claiming I’ve falsely accused you!

    The fact is, you present no standard by which you judge men’s words to be acceptable (as in the case of Matthew Henry) or completely not worth your consideration (as is apparently the case with the Didache, the Divine Liturgy of St. James, etc.). It would be one thing if you disagreed with these ancient sources by comparing them with Scripture. But you did not. You simply dismissed them, without considering what they said.

    I don’t call myself a Henryan, nor do I use any other way in which to identify myself by a mere man

    Well, that’s not true. You once said:

    I am Evangelical, affilated with a Calvary Chapel Church.

    Pretty certain Calvary Chapel is composed of mere men.

    And remember, it’s not a numbers game (“Quoting Matthew Henry, perhaps a dozen or so times in two years, on this blog does not compare with the endless quoting of …”), as if there was some God-given limit as to the appropriate number of times for quoting men. It’s simply a question of whether it’s okay to quote other men in explaining God’s Word. By your own actions, you clearly show that it is. At least, that is, when you do it. But when Lutherans do it, of course, it upsets you to no end.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@103), I appreciate that you’re a busy family man (and you and I both know that taking care of your family is more important than replying on this blog, which is why I’m writing you back at 11:40pm my time, long after my son’s in bed and the yardwork has been done). But I still really don’t see you replying to my earlier comment (@95), so I’m forced to restate my earlier ideas here.

    What doctrinal differences should prevent your church from allowing someone to commune with them? Would you serve the Lord’s Supper to someone who denied Christ’s divinity? To someone who denied the Trinity? To someone who denied that they were sinful? To someone who denied vicarious atonement? To someone who denied Christ’s body was physically present? To someone who believed in synergistic justification? To someone not baptized? To someone who refused to be baptized? To someone who believed Christians shouldn’t celebrate the Lord’s Supper? … And so on. If you said “yes” to any of these, you could certainly be accused (along with us Lutherans) of creating unnecessary divisions between believers. I want to know where you draw the line, and why.

    I would never argue that we should ignore our differences … I just don’t think that our doctrinal differences should prevent us from worshiping our Lord together and sharing his body and blood.

    But you are asking us Lutherans to ignore our differences when you complain about not being served Communion in Lutheran churches! You’re telling us that what we believe doesn’t matter, and we should ignore it in favor of what you believe, even in our churches.

    Moving on to your next comment (@105):

    If [Lutherans] want to insist on Children being confirmed before they could commune I would not like it but I could at least understand the reasoning behind.

    How is this different from insisting on adults going through adult confirmation before being communed … which is, in fact, the Lutheran position? If you can “understand the reasoning” behind this action for children, why not for adults? I don’t get it.

    What is the LCMS position on Padocomunion at what age to Lutheran kids typical have there “First Communion”

    I’m not in the LCMS anymore, nor could I speak to their official position, if they have one. But I’ve read at least one LCMS pastor on this blog discussing a wish for an earlier “first communion” than the typical 8th grade. I believe I’ve read from several Lutheran pastors that it’s more about spiritual understanding than any age limit.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@103), I appreciate that you’re a busy family man (and you and I both know that taking care of your family is more important than replying on this blog, which is why I’m writing you back at 11:40pm my time, long after my son’s in bed and the yardwork has been done). But I still really don’t see you replying to my earlier comment (@95), so I’m forced to restate my earlier ideas here.

    What doctrinal differences should prevent your church from allowing someone to commune with them? Would you serve the Lord’s Supper to someone who denied Christ’s divinity? To someone who denied the Trinity? To someone who denied that they were sinful? To someone who denied vicarious atonement? To someone who denied Christ’s body was physically present? To someone who believed in synergistic justification? To someone not baptized? To someone who refused to be baptized? To someone who believed Christians shouldn’t celebrate the Lord’s Supper? … And so on. If you said “yes” to any of these, you could certainly be accused (along with us Lutherans) of creating unnecessary divisions between believers. I want to know where you draw the line, and why.

    I would never argue that we should ignore our differences … I just don’t think that our doctrinal differences should prevent us from worshiping our Lord together and sharing his body and blood.

    But you are asking us Lutherans to ignore our differences when you complain about not being served Communion in Lutheran churches! You’re telling us that what we believe doesn’t matter, and we should ignore it in favor of what you believe, even in our churches.

    Moving on to your next comment (@105):

    If [Lutherans] want to insist on Children being confirmed before they could commune I would not like it but I could at least understand the reasoning behind.

    How is this different from insisting on adults going through adult confirmation before being communed … which is, in fact, the Lutheran position? If you can “understand the reasoning” behind this action for children, why not for adults? I don’t get it.

    What is the LCMS position on Padocomunion at what age to Lutheran kids typical have there “First Communion”

    I’m not in the LCMS anymore, nor could I speak to their official position, if they have one. But I’ve read at least one LCMS pastor on this blog discussing a wish for an earlier “first communion” than the typical 8th grade. I believe I’ve read from several Lutheran pastors that it’s more about spiritual understanding than any age limit.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    TUaD (@109), given your tendency to construct your comments from other people’s thoughts, I don’t know whether you’ve actually read the baptism section from Luther’s Large Catechism yourself, or not. Regardless, I would hope that you would read it in full, in order to gain the context necessary to understand any quote you may find.

    That said, I think I have a more readable translation of the Large Catechism quote you cite:

    So also I can boast that Baptism is no human plaything, but it is instituted by God Himself. Furthermore, Baptism is most solemnly and strictly commanded so that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved. I note this lest anyone regard Baptism as a silly matter, like putting on a new red coat.

    In other words, Luther is speaking to those who are able to reject baptism for themselves, and do so. He is not speaking (as Dr. Veith likely was) of those who did not have the opportunity to be baptized before they died. As Luther says several paragraphs after your quote:

    It makes sense that whoever rejects Baptism rejects God’s Word, faith, and Christ, who directs us to Baptism and binds us to Baptism.

    Now, perhaps you would agree that someone who “rejects God’s Word, faith, and Christ” cannot be saved?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    TUaD (@109), given your tendency to construct your comments from other people’s thoughts, I don’t know whether you’ve actually read the baptism section from Luther’s Large Catechism yourself, or not. Regardless, I would hope that you would read it in full, in order to gain the context necessary to understand any quote you may find.

    That said, I think I have a more readable translation of the Large Catechism quote you cite:

    So also I can boast that Baptism is no human plaything, but it is instituted by God Himself. Furthermore, Baptism is most solemnly and strictly commanded so that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved. I note this lest anyone regard Baptism as a silly matter, like putting on a new red coat.

    In other words, Luther is speaking to those who are able to reject baptism for themselves, and do so. He is not speaking (as Dr. Veith likely was) of those who did not have the opportunity to be baptized before they died. As Luther says several paragraphs after your quote:

    It makes sense that whoever rejects Baptism rejects God’s Word, faith, and Christ, who directs us to Baptism and binds us to Baptism.

    Now, perhaps you would agree that someone who “rejects God’s Word, faith, and Christ” cannot be saved?

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Todd
    Sorry I thought I had made my self clear. I believe the ancient ecumenical creeds (specific the Nicene Creed) mark the boundary’s of Orthodoxy that is the reason we are required to say the creed before we can commune. I will also add that in the Anglican Church we are also required to have: “truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God”. If the congregant follows these instructions he/she (or the priest/pastor that communes him/her) should have no fear of Paul’s warnings in first Corinthians 11

    Re: Kristofer Carlson
    So your argument is that since the early Christian church felt the need to treat pagan converts to Christianity like well pagan converts to Christianity you feels it is necessary to treat your brothers and sisters in Christ as pagans as well? I am sorry you argument makes no sense. If you were a pre Vatican two RC who believed that there was no salvation out side your Chuch I could understand you logic but to simultaneously call me your bother in Christ and deny me a place at the rail because we differ on some point of doctrine seems illogical to me (by the way I have never found anyone I was in complete doctrinal agreement with). You say that “if you come from another Christian communion, it is expected that you will need instruction before partaking of the Eucharist.” However this statement is internally incoherent there can never be “another Christian communion” There is only “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” to miss this is to miss a central pillar of Paul and Christ’s teaching about the nature of the church: its essential unity.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Todd
    Sorry I thought I had made my self clear. I believe the ancient ecumenical creeds (specific the Nicene Creed) mark the boundary’s of Orthodoxy that is the reason we are required to say the creed before we can commune. I will also add that in the Anglican Church we are also required to have: “truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God”. If the congregant follows these instructions he/she (or the priest/pastor that communes him/her) should have no fear of Paul’s warnings in first Corinthians 11

    Re: Kristofer Carlson
    So your argument is that since the early Christian church felt the need to treat pagan converts to Christianity like well pagan converts to Christianity you feels it is necessary to treat your brothers and sisters in Christ as pagans as well? I am sorry you argument makes no sense. If you were a pre Vatican two RC who believed that there was no salvation out side your Chuch I could understand you logic but to simultaneously call me your bother in Christ and deny me a place at the rail because we differ on some point of doctrine seems illogical to me (by the way I have never found anyone I was in complete doctrinal agreement with). You say that “if you come from another Christian communion, it is expected that you will need instruction before partaking of the Eucharist.” However this statement is internally incoherent there can never be “another Christian communion” There is only “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” to miss this is to miss a central pillar of Paul and Christ’s teaching about the nature of the church: its essential unity.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Truth, here is what our Catechism says:

    How can water do such great things?–Answer.

    It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.

    Would you say the Word of God is necessary for salvation?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Truth, here is what our Catechism says:

    How can water do such great things?–Answer.

    It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.

    Would you say the Word of God is necessary for salvation?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Dr. Gene Veith: “Would you say the Word of God is necessary for salvation?”

    Yes, the Living Word of God is necessary for salvation.

    Furthermore, I’m in agreement with you (and Grace) when you answered: “A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism

    in contrast to Dr. Martin Luther’s statement that

    “it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved”.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Dr. Gene Veith: “Would you say the Word of God is necessary for salvation?”

    Yes, the Living Word of God is necessary for salvation.

    Furthermore, I’m in agreement with you (and Grace) when you answered: “A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism

    in contrast to Dr. Martin Luther’s statement that

    “it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved”.

  • SKPeterson

    Let’s let Dr. Martin have his full say:

    In the first place, we must above all be familiar with the words upon which baptism is founded and to which everything is related that is to be said on the subject, namely, where the Lord Christ says in the last chapter of Matthew [28:19*]:
    “Go into all the world, teach all the heathen, and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

    Likewise, in the last chapter of Mark [16:16*]:
    “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”

    Observe, first, that these words contain God’s commandment and institution, so that no one may doubt that baptism is of divine origin, not something devised or invented by human beings. As truly as I can say that the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer were not spun out of anyone’s imagination but are revealed and given by God himself, so I can boast that baptism is no human plaything but is instituted by God himself. Moreover, it is solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we shall not be saved, so that we are not to regard it as an indifferent matter, like putting on a new red coat. It is of the greatest importance that we regard baptism as excellent, glorious, and exalted. It is the chief cause of our contentions and battles because the world is now full of sects who scream that baptism is an external thing and that external things are of no use. But no matter how external it may be, here stand God’s Word and command that have instituted, established, and confirmed baptism. What God institutes and commands cannot be useless.

    Now, TUAD, you may disagree with how Luther (and the Roman Church and the Orthodox and Calvin, btw) reads the verses in Mark and Matthew, but how would you read them? What do you disagree with in Luther’s explication and exegesis of these passages?

    Do you hold to infant baptism or not? In other words, do you believe in Original Sin, or not? If not, what then do you believe about sin? Where does it come from? If it is not original and universal applicable to all men, then why does John say “For God so loved the world” and not “For God so loved some“.

    Further,

    What is baptism? Namely, that it is not simply plain water, but water placed in the setting of God’s Word and commandment and made holy by them. It is nothing else than God’s water, not that the water itself is nobler than other water but that God’s Word and commandment are added to it.
    Therefore it is sheer wickedness and devilish blasphemy that now, in order to blaspheme baptism, our new spirits set aside God’s Word and ordinance, consider nothing but the water drawn from the well, and then babble, “How can a handful of water help the soul?” Yes, my friend! Who does not know that water is water, if it is considered separately? But how dare you tamper thus with God’s ordinance and rip out his most precious jewel, in which God has fastened and enclosed his ordinance and from which he does not wish it to be separated? For the real significance of the water lies in God’s Word or commandment and God’s name, and this treasure is greater and nobler than heaven and earth.

    You may disagree with this, but you have yet to say why and upon what basis. I have read criticisms of this – most are very weak and come to their conclusions by denying basic tenets of the faith.

  • SKPeterson

    Let’s let Dr. Martin have his full say:

    In the first place, we must above all be familiar with the words upon which baptism is founded and to which everything is related that is to be said on the subject, namely, where the Lord Christ says in the last chapter of Matthew [28:19*]:
    “Go into all the world, teach all the heathen, and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

    Likewise, in the last chapter of Mark [16:16*]:
    “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”

    Observe, first, that these words contain God’s commandment and institution, so that no one may doubt that baptism is of divine origin, not something devised or invented by human beings. As truly as I can say that the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer were not spun out of anyone’s imagination but are revealed and given by God himself, so I can boast that baptism is no human plaything but is instituted by God himself. Moreover, it is solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we shall not be saved, so that we are not to regard it as an indifferent matter, like putting on a new red coat. It is of the greatest importance that we regard baptism as excellent, glorious, and exalted. It is the chief cause of our contentions and battles because the world is now full of sects who scream that baptism is an external thing and that external things are of no use. But no matter how external it may be, here stand God’s Word and command that have instituted, established, and confirmed baptism. What God institutes and commands cannot be useless.

    Now, TUAD, you may disagree with how Luther (and the Roman Church and the Orthodox and Calvin, btw) reads the verses in Mark and Matthew, but how would you read them? What do you disagree with in Luther’s explication and exegesis of these passages?

    Do you hold to infant baptism or not? In other words, do you believe in Original Sin, or not? If not, what then do you believe about sin? Where does it come from? If it is not original and universal applicable to all men, then why does John say “For God so loved the world” and not “For God so loved some“.

    Further,

    What is baptism? Namely, that it is not simply plain water, but water placed in the setting of God’s Word and commandment and made holy by them. It is nothing else than God’s water, not that the water itself is nobler than other water but that God’s Word and commandment are added to it.
    Therefore it is sheer wickedness and devilish blasphemy that now, in order to blaspheme baptism, our new spirits set aside God’s Word and ordinance, consider nothing but the water drawn from the well, and then babble, “How can a handful of water help the soul?” Yes, my friend! Who does not know that water is water, if it is considered separately? But how dare you tamper thus with God’s ordinance and rip out his most precious jewel, in which God has fastened and enclosed his ordinance and from which he does not wish it to be separated? For the real significance of the water lies in God’s Word or commandment and God’s name, and this treasure is greater and nobler than heaven and earth.

    You may disagree with this, but you have yet to say why and upon what basis. I have read criticisms of this – most are very weak and come to their conclusions by denying basic tenets of the faith.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Perhaps this document would be helpful at this point.

    http://www.ourredeemerlcms.org/crypto%20calvinism.pdf

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Perhaps this document would be helpful at this point.

    http://www.ourredeemerlcms.org/crypto%20calvinism.pdf

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Is it safe to say that all Lutherans commenting on this blog/post agree with and affirm Dr. Gene Veith’s statement:

    “What saves is faith in Jesus Christ alone. That is Lutheran dogma.>A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism (the thief on the Cross, the woman in this example).”

    If so, then it is clear and obvious that water baptism is neither necessary nor essential to eternal salvation (at least with respect to some cases or circumstances).

    However, if there’s a Confessional Lutheran who disagrees with Dr. Gene Veith’s statement “What saves is faith in Jesus Christ alone. That is Lutheran dogma. A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism (the thief on the Cross, the woman in this example).” then please explain why.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Is it safe to say that all Lutherans commenting on this blog/post agree with and affirm Dr. Gene Veith’s statement:

    “What saves is faith in Jesus Christ alone. That is Lutheran dogma.>A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism (the thief on the Cross, the woman in this example).”

    If so, then it is clear and obvious that water baptism is neither necessary nor essential to eternal salvation (at least with respect to some cases or circumstances).

    However, if there’s a Confessional Lutheran who disagrees with Dr. Gene Veith’s statement “What saves is faith in Jesus Christ alone. That is Lutheran dogma. A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism (the thief on the Cross, the woman in this example).” then please explain why.

  • kerner

    DonS:

    I haven’t read all the comments on this thread, s0 maybe you’ve already had a satisfactory response to your remarks early on. But I, for one, regret some of the tone at least of the comments of some of us Lutherans. In our defense, I think the reason for it is that Lutheran of some40 years past found themselves confronted with the changing religious culture in the USA, and found themselves very much outside of it. In what appeared to be a battle between mainline “theological liberals” and evangelical revivalists, Lutherans did not know how to proceed.

    Many decided that the “evangelicals” were at least committed to the Word of God as a foundation for doctrine, and further observed that many committed Lutherans were attracted to new chruch bodies (such as your own) that seemed to focus on God’s Word in practice. As a result, many “conservative” Lutheran pastors opted to emulate “evangelical” churches (e.g., non liturgical worship, “praise and worship” services, etc.) seeing them as apparent allies against the unsaved world. But this has only caused controversy among us, because our immitation of “evangelicals” has not generated the effect of growing numbers among us. It seems that we cannot “out-evangelical” the evangelicals. Nor do we seem to have gotten much respect form the “evangelical” community as a result. Further, while perhaps not inevitable, the modification in worship practices (as well as closer association with non-Lutheran protestants) has generated some modification in doctrine, or at least greater confusion and less respect for doctrines Lutherans take very seriously, such as what we believe are the very Biblical doctrines on baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

    So now, after 40 years of this, many Lutherans feel that defending what God’s Word has to say about the sacraments is of vital importance. Accordingly, they will tolerate no attack, however oblique, on these vital doctrines. Even statements to the effect that tend to diminish the importance of the debate (which may not be intended as attacks at all) tie many Lutherans in knots. I mean, think about it. If the sacraments do communicate faith, as we believe the Bible teaches, how else would you expect those called to communicate faith to react? If someone told you that preaching Christ Crucified wasn’t really all that important, wouldn’t that trigger a pretty violent reaction from some of the clergy in your circles?

    So, even though I understand your feeling that non-sacramental Christians are being treated harshly by some commenters here, I hope you can extend some understanding to them, as I hope that they can extend a little more understanding to you.

  • kerner

    DonS:

    I haven’t read all the comments on this thread, s0 maybe you’ve already had a satisfactory response to your remarks early on. But I, for one, regret some of the tone at least of the comments of some of us Lutherans. In our defense, I think the reason for it is that Lutheran of some40 years past found themselves confronted with the changing religious culture in the USA, and found themselves very much outside of it. In what appeared to be a battle between mainline “theological liberals” and evangelical revivalists, Lutherans did not know how to proceed.

    Many decided that the “evangelicals” were at least committed to the Word of God as a foundation for doctrine, and further observed that many committed Lutherans were attracted to new chruch bodies (such as your own) that seemed to focus on God’s Word in practice. As a result, many “conservative” Lutheran pastors opted to emulate “evangelical” churches (e.g., non liturgical worship, “praise and worship” services, etc.) seeing them as apparent allies against the unsaved world. But this has only caused controversy among us, because our immitation of “evangelicals” has not generated the effect of growing numbers among us. It seems that we cannot “out-evangelical” the evangelicals. Nor do we seem to have gotten much respect form the “evangelical” community as a result. Further, while perhaps not inevitable, the modification in worship practices (as well as closer association with non-Lutheran protestants) has generated some modification in doctrine, or at least greater confusion and less respect for doctrines Lutherans take very seriously, such as what we believe are the very Biblical doctrines on baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

    So now, after 40 years of this, many Lutherans feel that defending what God’s Word has to say about the sacraments is of vital importance. Accordingly, they will tolerate no attack, however oblique, on these vital doctrines. Even statements to the effect that tend to diminish the importance of the debate (which may not be intended as attacks at all) tie many Lutherans in knots. I mean, think about it. If the sacraments do communicate faith, as we believe the Bible teaches, how else would you expect those called to communicate faith to react? If someone told you that preaching Christ Crucified wasn’t really all that important, wouldn’t that trigger a pretty violent reaction from some of the clergy in your circles?

    So, even though I understand your feeling that non-sacramental Christians are being treated harshly by some commenters here, I hope you can extend some understanding to them, as I hope that they can extend a little more understanding to you.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Truth, go ahead and read the rest of what Luther’s Large Catechism says about Baptism, especially here where he emphasizes that the salvation received in Baptism is that of faith alone:

    22]Therefore I exhort again that these two, the water and the Word, by no means be separated from one another and parted. For if the Word is separated from it, the water is the same as that with which the servant cooks, and may indeed be called a bath-keeper’s baptism. But when it is added, as God has ordained, it is a Sacrament, and is called Christ-baptism. Let this be the first part, regarding the essence and dignity of the holy Sacrament. . . .

    28] But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer: It is true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall hear still further. 29] But these blind guides are unwilling to see this, namely, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests. Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it. Now, if I believe this, what else is it than believing in God as in Him who has given and planted His Word into this ordinance, and proposes to us this external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?

    30] Now, they are so mad as to separate faith, and that to which faith clings and is bound, though it be something external. Yea, it shall and must be something external, that it may be apprehended by the senses, and understood and thereby be brought into the heart, as indeed the entire Gospel is an external, verbal preaching. In short, what God does and works in us He proposes to work through such external ordinances. Wherever, therefore, He speaks, yea, in whichever direction or by whatever means He speaks, thither faith must look, and to that it must hold. 31] Now here we have the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. To what else do they refer than to Baptism, that is, to the water comprehended in God’s ordinance? Hence it follows that whoever rejects Baptism rejects the Word of God, faith, and Christ, who directs us thither and binds us to Baptism.

    32] In the third place, since we have learned the great benefit and power of Baptism, let us see further who is the person that receives what Baptism gives and profits. 33] This is again most beautifully and clearly expressed in the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. That is, faith alone makes the person worthy to receive profitably the saving, divine water. For, since these blessings are here presented and promised in the words in and with the water, they cannot be received in any other way than by believing them with the heart. 34] Without faith it profits nothing, notwithstanding it is in itself a divine superabundant treasure. Therefore this single word (He that believeth) effects this much that it excludes and repels all works which we can do, in the opinion that we obtain and merit salvation by them. For it is determined that whatever is not faith avails nothing nor receives anything.

    35] But if they say, as they are accustomed: Still Baptism is itself a work, and you say works are of no avail for salvation; what, then, becomes of faith? Answer: Yes, our works, indeed, avail nothing for salvation; Baptism, however, is not our work, but God’s (for, as was stated, you must put Christ-baptism far away from a bath-keeper’s baptism). God’s works, however, are saving and necessary for salvation, and do not exclude, but demand, faith; for without faith they could not be apprehended. 36] For by suffering the water to be poured upon you, you have not yet received Baptism in such a manner that it benefits you anything; but it becomes beneficial to you if you have yourself baptized with the thought that this is according to God’s command and ordinance, and besides in God’s name, in order that you may receive in the water the promised salvation. Now, this the fist cannot do, nor the body; but the heart must believe it.

    37] Thus you see plainly that there is here no work done by us, but a treasure which He gives us, and which faith apprehends; just as the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross is not a work, but a treasure comprehended in the Word, and offered to us and received by faith. Therefore they do us violence by exclaiming against us as though we preach against faith; while we alone insist upon it as being of such necessity that without it nothing can be received nor enjoyed.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Truth, go ahead and read the rest of what Luther’s Large Catechism says about Baptism, especially here where he emphasizes that the salvation received in Baptism is that of faith alone:

    22]Therefore I exhort again that these two, the water and the Word, by no means be separated from one another and parted. For if the Word is separated from it, the water is the same as that with which the servant cooks, and may indeed be called a bath-keeper’s baptism. But when it is added, as God has ordained, it is a Sacrament, and is called Christ-baptism. Let this be the first part, regarding the essence and dignity of the holy Sacrament. . . .

    28] But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer: It is true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall hear still further. 29] But these blind guides are unwilling to see this, namely, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests. Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it. Now, if I believe this, what else is it than believing in God as in Him who has given and planted His Word into this ordinance, and proposes to us this external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?

    30] Now, they are so mad as to separate faith, and that to which faith clings and is bound, though it be something external. Yea, it shall and must be something external, that it may be apprehended by the senses, and understood and thereby be brought into the heart, as indeed the entire Gospel is an external, verbal preaching. In short, what God does and works in us He proposes to work through such external ordinances. Wherever, therefore, He speaks, yea, in whichever direction or by whatever means He speaks, thither faith must look, and to that it must hold. 31] Now here we have the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. To what else do they refer than to Baptism, that is, to the water comprehended in God’s ordinance? Hence it follows that whoever rejects Baptism rejects the Word of God, faith, and Christ, who directs us thither and binds us to Baptism.

    32] In the third place, since we have learned the great benefit and power of Baptism, let us see further who is the person that receives what Baptism gives and profits. 33] This is again most beautifully and clearly expressed in the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. That is, faith alone makes the person worthy to receive profitably the saving, divine water. For, since these blessings are here presented and promised in the words in and with the water, they cannot be received in any other way than by believing them with the heart. 34] Without faith it profits nothing, notwithstanding it is in itself a divine superabundant treasure. Therefore this single word (He that believeth) effects this much that it excludes and repels all works which we can do, in the opinion that we obtain and merit salvation by them. For it is determined that whatever is not faith avails nothing nor receives anything.

    35] But if they say, as they are accustomed: Still Baptism is itself a work, and you say works are of no avail for salvation; what, then, becomes of faith? Answer: Yes, our works, indeed, avail nothing for salvation; Baptism, however, is not our work, but God’s (for, as was stated, you must put Christ-baptism far away from a bath-keeper’s baptism). God’s works, however, are saving and necessary for salvation, and do not exclude, but demand, faith; for without faith they could not be apprehended. 36] For by suffering the water to be poured upon you, you have not yet received Baptism in such a manner that it benefits you anything; but it becomes beneficial to you if you have yourself baptized with the thought that this is according to God’s command and ordinance, and besides in God’s name, in order that you may receive in the water the promised salvation. Now, this the fist cannot do, nor the body; but the heart must believe it.

    37] Thus you see plainly that there is here no work done by us, but a treasure which He gives us, and which faith apprehends; just as the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross is not a work, but a treasure comprehended in the Word, and offered to us and received by faith. Therefore they do us violence by exclaiming against us as though we preach against faith; while we alone insist upon it as being of such necessity that without it nothing can be received nor enjoyed.

  • kerner

    TU&D @118:

    I agree with Dr. Veith’s statement, in the context of everything else he said, and in the way I believe he meant it.

    So, what’s your point?

  • kerner

    TU&D @118:

    I agree with Dr. Veith’s statement, in the context of everything else he said, and in the way I believe he meant it.

    So, what’s your point?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner,

    I’m glad you agree with Dr. Veith’s statement of:

    “What saves is faith in Jesus Christ alone. That is Lutheran dogma. A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism (the thief on the Cross, the woman in this example).”

    For that is the origination of the observation that it is clear and obvious that water baptism is neither necessary nor essential to eternal salvation (at least with respect to some cases or circumstances).

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner,

    I’m glad you agree with Dr. Veith’s statement of:

    “What saves is faith in Jesus Christ alone. That is Lutheran dogma. A person who has come to faith through the means of the Word of God (which functions sacramentally too as the means of grace) is saved even without Baptism (the thief on the Cross, the woman in this example).”

    For that is the origination of the observation that it is clear and obvious that water baptism is neither necessary nor essential to eternal salvation (at least with respect to some cases or circumstances).

  • kerner

    TU&D @122

    I’m happy you’re happy. But, so what?

  • kerner

    TU&D @122

    I’m happy you’re happy. But, so what?

  • DonS

    Kerner @ 119: Thank you for your very thoughtful and articulate comments. They are appreciated.

    I understand your point. There are clearly gaps, evident in these types of discussions, even on this blog, in the understanding of Lutherans regarding the various theologies of those churches regarded as “evangelical” and the understanding of evangelicals regarding Lutheran theology. Most evangelicals tend to regard conservative Lutherans as evangelical, whereas Lutherans don’t see themselves that way at all, because of the sacraments.

    My thoughts above were stated in response to Dr. Veith’s question, as to why disaffected evangelicals aren’t typically drawn to the Lutheran church. My point was merely that I’ve observed Lutherans as being very defensive about their faith, which often comes across as arrogant, unfriendly, and not subject to respectful inquiry. This tends to drive people away. Jonathan misinterpreted my comments as being expressions of hurt feelings. My feelings aren’t hurt — I wouldn’t continue to hang out here if they were. However, at times, I get frustrated when I cannot participate in a conversation having nothing to do with sacramental theology without being attacked on that issue. It has caused me to drop out of a number of threads.

    So, really, my only point was that, no matter how strongly you (I’m speaking collectively here — not to you as an individual) believe in the importance of the sacraments, and how offended you are by what you see as evangelical trivializing of doctrine that is important to you, that is no call to arrogance, personal attack, or dismissiveness. Paul calls us to gentleness and humility — to make our points and defend our doctrine with clarity and respect, and then let the Holy Spirit till the soil. This will go a long way to having more people consider your doctrinal views seriously.

    You and Dr. Veith do this very well. Others, not so much.

  • DonS

    Kerner @ 119: Thank you for your very thoughtful and articulate comments. They are appreciated.

    I understand your point. There are clearly gaps, evident in these types of discussions, even on this blog, in the understanding of Lutherans regarding the various theologies of those churches regarded as “evangelical” and the understanding of evangelicals regarding Lutheran theology. Most evangelicals tend to regard conservative Lutherans as evangelical, whereas Lutherans don’t see themselves that way at all, because of the sacraments.

    My thoughts above were stated in response to Dr. Veith’s question, as to why disaffected evangelicals aren’t typically drawn to the Lutheran church. My point was merely that I’ve observed Lutherans as being very defensive about their faith, which often comes across as arrogant, unfriendly, and not subject to respectful inquiry. This tends to drive people away. Jonathan misinterpreted my comments as being expressions of hurt feelings. My feelings aren’t hurt — I wouldn’t continue to hang out here if they were. However, at times, I get frustrated when I cannot participate in a conversation having nothing to do with sacramental theology without being attacked on that issue. It has caused me to drop out of a number of threads.

    So, really, my only point was that, no matter how strongly you (I’m speaking collectively here — not to you as an individual) believe in the importance of the sacraments, and how offended you are by what you see as evangelical trivializing of doctrine that is important to you, that is no call to arrogance, personal attack, or dismissiveness. Paul calls us to gentleness and humility — to make our points and defend our doctrine with clarity and respect, and then let the Holy Spirit till the soil. This will go a long way to having more people consider your doctrinal views seriously.

    You and Dr. Veith do this very well. Others, not so much.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    DonS,
    You wrote: “I’ve observed Lutherans as being very defensive about their faith, which often comes across as arrogant, unfriendly, and not subject to respectful inquiry. This tends to drive people away.” This is most certainly true, but it is not universally true. I used to go to Dr. Veith’s church, and he is a very open and genuine individual. But it you think Lutherans are defensive, arrogant and disrepectful to outsiders, you should see how Lutheran pastors bite and devour one another. It’s tragic, and it leads to people talking at each other instead of to each other. And because the Lutheran educational system used to be superior (not so much anymore, for reasons that deserve seperate discussion), the LC-MS pastors used to be so much better educated than their peers that they were in a league of their own. There cultural behaviors have been passed on, even though the educational rigor no longer applies. Still a good system, just no longer what it once was.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    DonS,
    You wrote: “I’ve observed Lutherans as being very defensive about their faith, which often comes across as arrogant, unfriendly, and not subject to respectful inquiry. This tends to drive people away.” This is most certainly true, but it is not universally true. I used to go to Dr. Veith’s church, and he is a very open and genuine individual. But it you think Lutherans are defensive, arrogant and disrepectful to outsiders, you should see how Lutheran pastors bite and devour one another. It’s tragic, and it leads to people talking at each other instead of to each other. And because the Lutheran educational system used to be superior (not so much anymore, for reasons that deserve seperate discussion), the LC-MS pastors used to be so much better educated than their peers that they were in a league of their own. There cultural behaviors have been passed on, even though the educational rigor no longer applies. Still a good system, just no longer what it once was.

  • Calvinism Sucks

    Mr. Truth #122
    You fail to see that baptism is a gift from God. Pitting faith against baptism is an old Calvinistic error. Where there is the forgiveness of sins there is eternal life and baptism is linked to the forgiveness of sins all over the Scriptures.

  • Calvinism Sucks

    Mr. Truth #122
    You fail to see that baptism is a gift from God. Pitting faith against baptism is an old Calvinistic error. Where there is the forgiveness of sins there is eternal life and baptism is linked to the forgiveness of sins all over the Scriptures.

  • kerner

    TU&D @122:

    Seriously, if your point is that you agree that Lutheran doctrine on baptism, as so articulately stated by Dr. Veith, is biblical and correct, I’m not only happy you’re happy, I rejoice with you. You can join a Lutheran congregation. See you in church.

  • kerner

    TU&D @122:

    Seriously, if your point is that you agree that Lutheran doctrine on baptism, as so articulately stated by Dr. Veith, is biblical and correct, I’m not only happy you’re happy, I rejoice with you. You can join a Lutheran congregation. See you in church.

  • kerner

    Don S:

    I guess I’ll have to admit one more time to the occasional excesses of my Lutheran colleagues. I know they aren’t the subject of this thread, but I’m sure you’ve noted the occasional strident comment from non-Lutheran commenters as well. Like you, my feelings haven’t been hurt. Maybe that’s because, like you, I’m an attorney, which is not a vocation for the thin skinned.

  • kerner

    Don S:

    I guess I’ll have to admit one more time to the occasional excesses of my Lutheran colleagues. I know they aren’t the subject of this thread, but I’m sure you’ve noted the occasional strident comment from non-Lutheran commenters as well. Like you, my feelings haven’t been hurt. Maybe that’s because, like you, I’m an attorney, which is not a vocation for the thin skinned.

  • DonS

    Good point, Kerner :-)

    Have a good weekend.

  • DonS

    Good point, Kerner :-)

    Have a good weekend.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Kristofer Carlson
    Thanks for the article. It started off on the wrong foot by referencing a ridiculous argument for open communion based on Judases presence at the last supper but it also did a good job of crystallizing the nature of the dispute between the reformed and Lutheran on what “real presence” means. I am not a theologian or historian so my opinion on this is of limited value but if I had to pick just one reading of 1 Cor. 11 I would pick the reformed one taken in context the reading of the word Body as the church is the most natural one but I think the Lutheran view that Paul is talking about Christ literal body is a legitimate one and I don’t see why I have to choose between them the positions seem complementary not exclusive. I went into this issue in more detail back in comment no.72 but I would never argue that this is a slam dunk. One of the most interesting aspects of the article for me is how much dispute about this issue there has been with in the bounds of confessional Lutheranism since the very beginning (I understand that at the end of his life Philip Melanchthon subscribed to the reformed view). From a practical point of view it seems to me that what is realy at stake is an ecclesiastical issues not a doctoral one. There have always been Lutheran pastors and layman who subscribed to the reformed view of the lords supper and they have always been (and continue to be) welcome at the rail. If you call your self a Lutheran and worship as one you will be welcome at the rail but if you are out side the fellowship even if you are an Anglican who has a view of the lords supper that is indistinguishable from the classical Lutheran one you are unwelcome. Although I understand the practical and political reasons for this it does not reflect well on your church. As I have said before the more I reflect on this issue more I am convince that you guys are wrong on this one. Open your table to all baptised Christians.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Kristofer Carlson
    Thanks for the article. It started off on the wrong foot by referencing a ridiculous argument for open communion based on Judases presence at the last supper but it also did a good job of crystallizing the nature of the dispute between the reformed and Lutheran on what “real presence” means. I am not a theologian or historian so my opinion on this is of limited value but if I had to pick just one reading of 1 Cor. 11 I would pick the reformed one taken in context the reading of the word Body as the church is the most natural one but I think the Lutheran view that Paul is talking about Christ literal body is a legitimate one and I don’t see why I have to choose between them the positions seem complementary not exclusive. I went into this issue in more detail back in comment no.72 but I would never argue that this is a slam dunk. One of the most interesting aspects of the article for me is how much dispute about this issue there has been with in the bounds of confessional Lutheranism since the very beginning (I understand that at the end of his life Philip Melanchthon subscribed to the reformed view). From a practical point of view it seems to me that what is realy at stake is an ecclesiastical issues not a doctoral one. There have always been Lutheran pastors and layman who subscribed to the reformed view of the lords supper and they have always been (and continue to be) welcome at the rail. If you call your self a Lutheran and worship as one you will be welcome at the rail but if you are out side the fellowship even if you are an Anglican who has a view of the lords supper that is indistinguishable from the classical Lutheran one you are unwelcome. Although I understand the practical and political reasons for this it does not reflect well on your church. As I have said before the more I reflect on this issue more I am convince that you guys are wrong on this one. Open your table to all baptised Christians.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Steve in Toronto,
    It would be better if arguments for close communion, and the nature of the eucharist in general, came from I Cor chapter 10, not 11.
    I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
    The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
    For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
    Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?
    What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
    But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
    Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.
    Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
    All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

    First, there is a horizontal element; communion around the body of Christ. Second, there is a vertical element; communion of the body of Christ with Christ himself, the head of the body. Both of these are stated quite clearly, and present a strong case for the Christ’s body and blood being really and truly present, which is the eucharistic mystery. Third, Paul makes it very clear that in the eucharist, we who are many are made one; he then asks whether the we who are the church should be one with idols. Paul later uses this same argument against those who belong to Christ uniting with similar pagan mysteries. “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”

    While the metaphore of open and closed communion has a certain symmetry, it is incorrect. The term that is consistent with 1 Cor 10 is “close” communion, as in the close fellowship of those within the body of Christ, with the body and blood of Christ.

    I’m not sure I explained that clearly; open vs. closed communion is simply not an issue for the Orthodox, and I haven’t considered it for some years now. But I do recall that 1 Cor 10 made the difference for me.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Steve in Toronto,
    It would be better if arguments for close communion, and the nature of the eucharist in general, came from I Cor chapter 10, not 11.
    I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
    The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
    For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
    Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?
    What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
    But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
    Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.
    Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
    All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

    First, there is a horizontal element; communion around the body of Christ. Second, there is a vertical element; communion of the body of Christ with Christ himself, the head of the body. Both of these are stated quite clearly, and present a strong case for the Christ’s body and blood being really and truly present, which is the eucharistic mystery. Third, Paul makes it very clear that in the eucharist, we who are many are made one; he then asks whether the we who are the church should be one with idols. Paul later uses this same argument against those who belong to Christ uniting with similar pagan mysteries. “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”

    While the metaphore of open and closed communion has a certain symmetry, it is incorrect. The term that is consistent with 1 Cor 10 is “close” communion, as in the close fellowship of those within the body of Christ, with the body and blood of Christ.

    I’m not sure I explained that clearly; open vs. closed communion is simply not an issue for the Orthodox, and I haven’t considered it for some years now. But I do recall that 1 Cor 10 made the difference for me.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Steve in Toronto,
    As I reread my last post, I am reminded that Orthodox ecclesiology is much different. In Orthodoxy, each church that meets in a locality is the fullness of the church, just as Christ is fully present wherever two or three are gathered together in His name. The priest acts as the good shepherd, protecting the flock.

    If a new sheep joins the flock, the shepherd needs to make sure it doesn’t belong to anyone else. he has to make sure it has been de-wormed and is not carrying any diseases; he may even isolate it for a time just to be sure before adding it to his flock.

    If you have a fish tank, you don’t just add any old fish. You get them from a reputable place & you isolate them for a time to make sure thay aren’t carrying any diseases. Only then to you add them to your main tank.

    If you adopt a child, often you’ll foster that child for a time. He or she will stay in your home. Will he (or she) get along with you and your other children? Will he adjust to you, and you to him (or her)? Only then do you finalize the adoption.

    The priest protects the eucharist in the same way.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Steve in Toronto,
    As I reread my last post, I am reminded that Orthodox ecclesiology is much different. In Orthodoxy, each church that meets in a locality is the fullness of the church, just as Christ is fully present wherever two or three are gathered together in His name. The priest acts as the good shepherd, protecting the flock.

    If a new sheep joins the flock, the shepherd needs to make sure it doesn’t belong to anyone else. he has to make sure it has been de-wormed and is not carrying any diseases; he may even isolate it for a time just to be sure before adding it to his flock.

    If you have a fish tank, you don’t just add any old fish. You get them from a reputable place & you isolate them for a time to make sure thay aren’t carrying any diseases. Only then to you add them to your main tank.

    If you adopt a child, often you’ll foster that child for a time. He or she will stay in your home. Will he (or she) get along with you and your other children? Will he adjust to you, and you to him (or her)? Only then do you finalize the adoption.

    The priest protects the eucharist in the same way.

  • James V

    Please help me better understand why people care so much about the communion practices of church bodies that they do not belong to? If you don’t go to that church what does it matter to you? If you visit a closed communion church every once in a while my guess is that you to do not have a “means of grace” understanding of the supper so table fellowship is not an important part of your spiritual life anyway. This is all the more reason that I am confused by hostility over this practice. Another question is why do some of these blog commenters think that the differences between churches on their views of communion are minimal? Some act as if they have figured it all and they are smarter than all the Lutheran and Reformed theologians who have confessed major differences for the last 500 years. To one group “real presences” means that Jesus is physically in the bread and cup and to another it means you ascend to Heaven to be with Jesus in a spiritual communion. That can never be reconciled.

  • James V

    Please help me better understand why people care so much about the communion practices of church bodies that they do not belong to? If you don’t go to that church what does it matter to you? If you visit a closed communion church every once in a while my guess is that you to do not have a “means of grace” understanding of the supper so table fellowship is not an important part of your spiritual life anyway. This is all the more reason that I am confused by hostility over this practice. Another question is why do some of these blog commenters think that the differences between churches on their views of communion are minimal? Some act as if they have figured it all and they are smarter than all the Lutheran and Reformed theologians who have confessed major differences for the last 500 years. To one group “real presences” means that Jesus is physically in the bread and cup and to another it means you ascend to Heaven to be with Jesus in a spiritual communion. That can never be reconciled.

  • kerner

    Steve and Kristopher:

    Forgive the intrusion, but I as a Lutheran see Steve’s point, which is that in the ancient Church admission to the communion table was (horizontally) a means of distingishing the Church from the world, not a means of distinguishing various factions of the Church from one another. My own study of the history of admission to the Lord’s supper, or excommunication from it, has pretty much comfirmed Steve’s position that prior to the schism that divided eastern Christianity from western, any baptized Christian was welcome at communion in any congregation throughout the world. The kinds of heresies that triggered excommunication were of the anti-trinitarian sort that struck at the essense of Christianity itself (hence, the statement that confession of the eccumenical creeds should be sufficient for admission to communion).

    Frankly, this issue wouldn’t matter so much to me if I did not beleve so strongly in the vertical purpose of communion, i.e. that it communicates forgiveness of sins. The only way we in our close communion congregations can maintain our positions on the horizontal nature of communion is, ironically, by minimizing its vertical, or sacramental, nature. Whenever I ask why we would withhold forgiveness of sins from a penitent baptized Christian, solely on the ground that he confesses some doctrinal error, the responses I get always run along the lines of “well…it’s not really all that important for this Christian to receive forgiveness of sins in this way, because he can get his forgiveness some other way some other time…”. I simply have great difficulty with the proposition that it is vital that I participate in this means of grace “often”, but that withholding this means of grace from some other penitent Christian is no big deal.

  • kerner

    Steve and Kristopher:

    Forgive the intrusion, but I as a Lutheran see Steve’s point, which is that in the ancient Church admission to the communion table was (horizontally) a means of distingishing the Church from the world, not a means of distinguishing various factions of the Church from one another. My own study of the history of admission to the Lord’s supper, or excommunication from it, has pretty much comfirmed Steve’s position that prior to the schism that divided eastern Christianity from western, any baptized Christian was welcome at communion in any congregation throughout the world. The kinds of heresies that triggered excommunication were of the anti-trinitarian sort that struck at the essense of Christianity itself (hence, the statement that confession of the eccumenical creeds should be sufficient for admission to communion).

    Frankly, this issue wouldn’t matter so much to me if I did not beleve so strongly in the vertical purpose of communion, i.e. that it communicates forgiveness of sins. The only way we in our close communion congregations can maintain our positions on the horizontal nature of communion is, ironically, by minimizing its vertical, or sacramental, nature. Whenever I ask why we would withhold forgiveness of sins from a penitent baptized Christian, solely on the ground that he confesses some doctrinal error, the responses I get always run along the lines of “well…it’s not really all that important for this Christian to receive forgiveness of sins in this way, because he can get his forgiveness some other way some other time…”. I simply have great difficulty with the proposition that it is vital that I participate in this means of grace “often”, but that withholding this means of grace from some other penitent Christian is no big deal.

  • kerner

    On the other hand, I guess that it also trivializes the sacramental nature of communion if we start giving it to anyone as though we were just inviting a non-Lutheran visitor to have a doughnut at coffee hour. I must concede the Biblical admonition that taking communion “not discerning the Lord’s body” has negative consequenses. So Steve, at some point would we not be compromising our doctrine on communion by giving it to someone, even a Christian, who has an entirely different notion of what communion is?

  • kerner

    On the other hand, I guess that it also trivializes the sacramental nature of communion if we start giving it to anyone as though we were just inviting a non-Lutheran visitor to have a doughnut at coffee hour. I must concede the Biblical admonition that taking communion “not discerning the Lord’s body” has negative consequenses. So Steve, at some point would we not be compromising our doctrine on communion by giving it to someone, even a Christian, who has an entirely different notion of what communion is?

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: kerner
    Its an interesting suggestion. In my experience the more sympathetic a Protestant Christan is to sacramental Christianity the most likely to be offended by the Confessional Lutheran position on “closed/close” communion . My Baptist relatives just don’t care very much about communion (now baptism that another story) so in the unlikely event they actually darken the door of a sacramental church they are just as likely to exclude them selfs because the whole service seems “to Catholic” . This issue on the other hand really bugs an Anglican like me because I have a very high very of the Sacraments and it grieves me to be denied Christ’s body and blood. The reformed of course also have a high view of the sacraments as well but understand the way that they operate differently. From a practical point of view I don’t worry about the reformed very much because there are tons of great reformed churches but the sad reality is that orthodox sacramental Protestant churches are pretty thin on the ground and I would love to be able to worship with the Lutherans as well as Anglicans and even on the odd occasion the Reformed. However I still think that these practical comprises fall short of the Biblical ideal. There is only one church and we should all act accordingly and I am convinced that the means that lords supper should be offered to all baptized Christians (except in the most extraordinarily circumstances).
    Re: Kristofer
    I am not surprised that you are now “large O” Orthodox. Your arguments make a lot more sense in that context. I would love to hear you elaborate about how your Church relates to other “ecclesiastical community” as well as your own spiritual journey.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: kerner
    Its an interesting suggestion. In my experience the more sympathetic a Protestant Christan is to sacramental Christianity the most likely to be offended by the Confessional Lutheran position on “closed/close” communion . My Baptist relatives just don’t care very much about communion (now baptism that another story) so in the unlikely event they actually darken the door of a sacramental church they are just as likely to exclude them selfs because the whole service seems “to Catholic” . This issue on the other hand really bugs an Anglican like me because I have a very high very of the Sacraments and it grieves me to be denied Christ’s body and blood. The reformed of course also have a high view of the sacraments as well but understand the way that they operate differently. From a practical point of view I don’t worry about the reformed very much because there are tons of great reformed churches but the sad reality is that orthodox sacramental Protestant churches are pretty thin on the ground and I would love to be able to worship with the Lutherans as well as Anglicans and even on the odd occasion the Reformed. However I still think that these practical comprises fall short of the Biblical ideal. There is only one church and we should all act accordingly and I am convinced that the means that lords supper should be offered to all baptized Christians (except in the most extraordinarily circumstances).
    Re: Kristofer
    I am not surprised that you are now “large O” Orthodox. Your arguments make a lot more sense in that context. I would love to hear you elaborate about how your Church relates to other “ecclesiastical community” as well as your own spiritual journey.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Kerner,
    You wrote: “Prior to the schism that divided eastern Christianity from western, any baptized Christian was welcome at communion in any congregation throughout the world. The kinds of heresies that triggered excommunication were of the anti-trinitarian sort that struck at the essense of Christianity itself (hence, the statement that confession of the eccumenical creeds should be sufficient for admission to communion).” Your point is well taken, but it is a position not widely held.

    The Anglican author Thomas O’Laughlin, in his book “The Didache”, makes the point that baptism was the liminal event, marking the transition from being outside the group to being inside the group. This is supported by the Didache itself: “No one is to eat or drink of your eucharist except those who have been baptized into the name of the Lord.” But his argument seems to be an outgrowth of his Anglicanism, where the outward ritual is the important thing, and the understanding of it 1) comes later, and 2) is secondary. It is also based on an incomplete understanding the liminal character of baptism. Baptism was not the culmination of catechesis, but simply marked the entry into another stage. The catechesis into the mysteries did not begin until after baptism.

    Professor Everett Ferguson, in his book “Baptism in the Early Church”, summarizes the teaching of Justin Martyr as follows: “Baptism was for those who were persuaded about Christian teaching and placed their trust in it and who promised to live the Christian life, those who chose to be renenerated and repented of their sins. …Justin provides the first use of “illumination” (or “enlightenment”) as a technical term for baptism, but it appears as already a traditional name. …Enlightenment for Justin involved instruction, and his adoption of the word agrees with the intellectual and moral content he gives to the instruction associated with baptism and with the proper understanding of divinity (the nature of the divine persons) connected with the baptismal rite itself.”

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Kerner,
    You wrote: “Prior to the schism that divided eastern Christianity from western, any baptized Christian was welcome at communion in any congregation throughout the world. The kinds of heresies that triggered excommunication were of the anti-trinitarian sort that struck at the essense of Christianity itself (hence, the statement that confession of the eccumenical creeds should be sufficient for admission to communion).” Your point is well taken, but it is a position not widely held.

    The Anglican author Thomas O’Laughlin, in his book “The Didache”, makes the point that baptism was the liminal event, marking the transition from being outside the group to being inside the group. This is supported by the Didache itself: “No one is to eat or drink of your eucharist except those who have been baptized into the name of the Lord.” But his argument seems to be an outgrowth of his Anglicanism, where the outward ritual is the important thing, and the understanding of it 1) comes later, and 2) is secondary. It is also based on an incomplete understanding the liminal character of baptism. Baptism was not the culmination of catechesis, but simply marked the entry into another stage. The catechesis into the mysteries did not begin until after baptism.

    Professor Everett Ferguson, in his book “Baptism in the Early Church”, summarizes the teaching of Justin Martyr as follows: “Baptism was for those who were persuaded about Christian teaching and placed their trust in it and who promised to live the Christian life, those who chose to be renenerated and repented of their sins. …Justin provides the first use of “illumination” (or “enlightenment”) as a technical term for baptism, but it appears as already a traditional name. …Enlightenment for Justin involved instruction, and his adoption of the word agrees with the intellectual and moral content he gives to the instruction associated with baptism and with the proper understanding of divinity (the nature of the divine persons) connected with the baptismal rite itself.”

  • Kristofer Carlson

    It is true that there is only one church, and I believe that to be Orthodoxy. “We have seen the True Light. We have received the heavenly Spirit. We have found the True Faith; worshipping the Undivided Trinity, Who has saved us.” (Pentecost Hymn sung after Holy Communion) However, while we know where the church is, we do not know where the church is not. The Anglicans subscribe to the branch theory, defined by The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church as: “…the theory that, though the Church may have fallen into schism within itself and its several provinces or groups of provinces be out of communion with each other, each may yet be a branch of the one Church of Christ, provided that it continues to hold the faith of the original undivided Church and to maintain the Apostolic Succession of its bishops. Such, it is contended by many Anglican theologians, is the condition of the Church at the present time, there being now three main branches…”

    Regarding Branch Theory, The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) states: “We continue to pray for unity while, at the same time, rejecting any notion that Orthodox Christianity is just one of many ‘branches’ or ‘expressions’ of Christianity. To believe this would be to reject our understanding of Orthodoxy as the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”

    Moreover, regarding the importance of doctrine, the OCA states: “[I]t must be stated that not all expressions of belief in Jesus Christ constitute the truth. There are some Christians to this day who deny His divinity. There are others who deny His humanity. And there are others who have distorted His teachings on everything from fasting to the centrality of the Eucharist to the role of His Mother in the life of the Church. To say that all of these are different “expressions” of the same “truth” is a lie at worst, a distortion at best. If Christ is both God and man, for example, one who would affirm that He is only God or only human would not be proclaiming the same truth as one who would affirm that Christ is both divine and human. Are we to affirm that those who believe that Jesus is the manifestation or incarnation of the Archangel Michael hold the same truth as those of us who believe that He is the only-begotten Son of God Who took on the human nature without relinquishing His divinity? Are we to see those who deny the presence of Christ in the Eucharist as holding the same truth as those of us who believe that the Eucharist is the very Body and Blood of Christ? Are we to claim that those who deny the ever-virginity of Mary hold the same truth as those of us who believe that she was a virgin before, during, and after the incarnation of Our Lord? These are hardly different ” expressions” or “nuances” of the same truth. And, as such, they are not seen by Orthodox Christianity as being a part of the same trunk, founded upon the rock of Peter’s faith [and not on Peter himself, as Orthodox Christianity understands the “upon this rock” passage], since the teachings of some traditions are diametrically opposed to the fullness of truth as discerned and defined by the ecumenical councils of the undivided Church, to which Orthodox Christianity looks as definitive for all time, and not just for “part” of the time.”

    There are some in Orthodoxy who define some Protestant views as crypto-Nestorian. Given the history of the church and its centuries of fight against the Nestorian understanding of the incarnation, it is therefore understandable that we are careful in this regard.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    It is true that there is only one church, and I believe that to be Orthodoxy. “We have seen the True Light. We have received the heavenly Spirit. We have found the True Faith; worshipping the Undivided Trinity, Who has saved us.” (Pentecost Hymn sung after Holy Communion) However, while we know where the church is, we do not know where the church is not. The Anglicans subscribe to the branch theory, defined by The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church as: “…the theory that, though the Church may have fallen into schism within itself and its several provinces or groups of provinces be out of communion with each other, each may yet be a branch of the one Church of Christ, provided that it continues to hold the faith of the original undivided Church and to maintain the Apostolic Succession of its bishops. Such, it is contended by many Anglican theologians, is the condition of the Church at the present time, there being now three main branches…”

    Regarding Branch Theory, The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) states: “We continue to pray for unity while, at the same time, rejecting any notion that Orthodox Christianity is just one of many ‘branches’ or ‘expressions’ of Christianity. To believe this would be to reject our understanding of Orthodoxy as the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”

    Moreover, regarding the importance of doctrine, the OCA states: “[I]t must be stated that not all expressions of belief in Jesus Christ constitute the truth. There are some Christians to this day who deny His divinity. There are others who deny His humanity. And there are others who have distorted His teachings on everything from fasting to the centrality of the Eucharist to the role of His Mother in the life of the Church. To say that all of these are different “expressions” of the same “truth” is a lie at worst, a distortion at best. If Christ is both God and man, for example, one who would affirm that He is only God or only human would not be proclaiming the same truth as one who would affirm that Christ is both divine and human. Are we to affirm that those who believe that Jesus is the manifestation or incarnation of the Archangel Michael hold the same truth as those of us who believe that He is the only-begotten Son of God Who took on the human nature without relinquishing His divinity? Are we to see those who deny the presence of Christ in the Eucharist as holding the same truth as those of us who believe that the Eucharist is the very Body and Blood of Christ? Are we to claim that those who deny the ever-virginity of Mary hold the same truth as those of us who believe that she was a virgin before, during, and after the incarnation of Our Lord? These are hardly different ” expressions” or “nuances” of the same truth. And, as such, they are not seen by Orthodox Christianity as being a part of the same trunk, founded upon the rock of Peter’s faith [and not on Peter himself, as Orthodox Christianity understands the “upon this rock” passage], since the teachings of some traditions are diametrically opposed to the fullness of truth as discerned and defined by the ecumenical councils of the undivided Church, to which Orthodox Christianity looks as definitive for all time, and not just for “part” of the time.”

    There are some in Orthodoxy who define some Protestant views as crypto-Nestorian. Given the history of the church and its centuries of fight against the Nestorian understanding of the incarnation, it is therefore understandable that we are careful in this regard.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Kristofer Carlson
    I am sorry I feel very poorly equipped to engage in a critique or Eastern Orthodoxy so please forgive what may in fact be painful ill informed questions. Am I correct in thinking that you are not sure if it is possible for the non-orthodox to be Christians? The reason I ask is is your statement “we know where the church is, we do not know where the church is not” I know this is a very Protestant point of view but it seems to me you are privileging membership in a ecclesiastical community over adherence to certain doctrines. If I am wrong could you sumeise what those doctans would be? One of the most convincing argument I can think agents the Orthodox being the “True Church” is there extremely parochial nature. In Toronto at least 90% of the Orthodox chruches do not even uses English in there worship. The RC’s on the other hand are and have been “misional” for hundreds of year. Would Christ’s true church so indifrent to evangelism? Lastly the role that Tradion plays releive to both revolaton seem completely out of schew. am I mistaken? I know we are now off on a entry different track but I am curious how you ended up where you are.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Re: Kristofer Carlson
    I am sorry I feel very poorly equipped to engage in a critique or Eastern Orthodoxy so please forgive what may in fact be painful ill informed questions. Am I correct in thinking that you are not sure if it is possible for the non-orthodox to be Christians? The reason I ask is is your statement “we know where the church is, we do not know where the church is not” I know this is a very Protestant point of view but it seems to me you are privileging membership in a ecclesiastical community over adherence to certain doctrines. If I am wrong could you sumeise what those doctans would be? One of the most convincing argument I can think agents the Orthodox being the “True Church” is there extremely parochial nature. In Toronto at least 90% of the Orthodox chruches do not even uses English in there worship. The RC’s on the other hand are and have been “misional” for hundreds of year. Would Christ’s true church so indifrent to evangelism? Lastly the role that Tradion plays releive to both revolaton seem completely out of schew. am I mistaken? I know we are now off on a entry different track but I am curious how you ended up where you are.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    The Eastern Orthodox church has never formally anathemized Protestants. There are some schismatic groups who have done so, but it has never been done by the Orthodox Church, meeting in council. The official line would be that we don’t know if Protestants are or not Christians—that matter is left in God’s hands. But I would also say that when I became Eastern Orthodox, I was not asked to become re-baptized, as I had been baptized as a Plymouth Brethren using the trinitarian formula. This would indicate that the Orthodox are leaning toward most Protestants (if not all, like the “Christ alone” movement) being Christians, although lacking the fullness of the faith. But I am not an expert on these matters, having become Orthodox for a little over a year.

    The early Christian church was less a collection of doctrinal formulae than a new community, a new way of life. Look at the Didache, and you will not see anything which I as a Protestant would have recognized as doctrine. Much the same could be said of other documents which prescribe the nature of the church as a community and the way of life to be followed. See the Apostolic Traditions of Hippolytus, the Didascalia, the Apostolic Church Order, and the Apostolic Constitutions. Apart from the content of the prayers or certain creedal formulas, they are devoid of doctrine, instead telling the church how to live as a community of faith.

    The Eastern Orthodox Church has very few dogmas, and tends not to create what in the west are described as dogmatics or systematic theologies. These endeavors are products of medieval scholastisism, and informed by the rationalism and the romantic movement. These are alien to the Eastern church. We do not divide, categorize, and define everything to the nth degree. We are far more comfortable with allowing God to be mysterious and ineffable. And yet we are also quite concious that the transcendent God became immanent in the person of Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, yet at the same time the very Son and representation of the Living God. “He who has seen me, has seen the Father”, and “I and my Father are one.”

    As to the content of the doctrine, it is Christologically based. For example, the Mariological title “Mother of God” was applied to the Virgin Mary in the context of Christology, to protect Christ’s humanity over against the Nestorians. The Protestant antipathy towards that term therefore leads some to accuse Protestants of being crypto-Nestorian. (The Protestant reformers had no such problems; Luther, Calvin and Zwingli’s writings are replete with Mariological doctrines that are rejected by their followers today.)

    You are correct in your assessment of the Orthodox Church in North America. There is a historical reason for the confused situation, but the division into what I used to term “ethnic ghettoes” is very real. Our own Metropolitan Jonah, when he was looking for an Orthodox Church, was once told: “If you no Russian, we no want you.” But until WWII, many Lutheran churches in America were still worshipping in their native tongues. To prove they were patriots and not Nazi sympathizers, many churches switched to English, and went to far as to place American flags in the chancel. (They are still there today, and heaven help the pastor who tries to remove them.) The situation is causing no end of problems for the worldwide Orthodox church, and the Bishops in the Old Country are united in expressing their hope that it will be resolved soon. But soon is a relative term for the Orthodox; we have been separated from the Oriental Orthodox for over 1,500 years, and althought the key doctrinal problems havebeen resolved (such that if a non-Chalcedonian Orthodox shows up in church, the priest will give them communion), it is not certain that union will occur in our lifetimes.

    The role of tradition is very important to the Orthodox, and poses a very real problem for Protestants. Yet it should also be noted that the Orthodox treat tradition very differently from the Roman Catholics. The RC describe the church as being supported by a three-legged stool, with scripture, tradition, and the teaching magesterium being the three legs. The Catholics speak of Scripture and Tradition; the Orthodox do not. Fr. John Breck wrote a book entitled “Scripture in Tradition”, a formula that more closely aligns to the Orthodox view. But it is complicated, and more than can be explicated in this post. Besides, we are way, way off the topic here. I’ll post a note on Facebook for you that discusses the matter of tradition in more detail.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    The Eastern Orthodox church has never formally anathemized Protestants. There are some schismatic groups who have done so, but it has never been done by the Orthodox Church, meeting in council. The official line would be that we don’t know if Protestants are or not Christians—that matter is left in God’s hands. But I would also say that when I became Eastern Orthodox, I was not asked to become re-baptized, as I had been baptized as a Plymouth Brethren using the trinitarian formula. This would indicate that the Orthodox are leaning toward most Protestants (if not all, like the “Christ alone” movement) being Christians, although lacking the fullness of the faith. But I am not an expert on these matters, having become Orthodox for a little over a year.

    The early Christian church was less a collection of doctrinal formulae than a new community, a new way of life. Look at the Didache, and you will not see anything which I as a Protestant would have recognized as doctrine. Much the same could be said of other documents which prescribe the nature of the church as a community and the way of life to be followed. See the Apostolic Traditions of Hippolytus, the Didascalia, the Apostolic Church Order, and the Apostolic Constitutions. Apart from the content of the prayers or certain creedal formulas, they are devoid of doctrine, instead telling the church how to live as a community of faith.

    The Eastern Orthodox Church has very few dogmas, and tends not to create what in the west are described as dogmatics or systematic theologies. These endeavors are products of medieval scholastisism, and informed by the rationalism and the romantic movement. These are alien to the Eastern church. We do not divide, categorize, and define everything to the nth degree. We are far more comfortable with allowing God to be mysterious and ineffable. And yet we are also quite concious that the transcendent God became immanent in the person of Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, yet at the same time the very Son and representation of the Living God. “He who has seen me, has seen the Father”, and “I and my Father are one.”

    As to the content of the doctrine, it is Christologically based. For example, the Mariological title “Mother of God” was applied to the Virgin Mary in the context of Christology, to protect Christ’s humanity over against the Nestorians. The Protestant antipathy towards that term therefore leads some to accuse Protestants of being crypto-Nestorian. (The Protestant reformers had no such problems; Luther, Calvin and Zwingli’s writings are replete with Mariological doctrines that are rejected by their followers today.)

    You are correct in your assessment of the Orthodox Church in North America. There is a historical reason for the confused situation, but the division into what I used to term “ethnic ghettoes” is very real. Our own Metropolitan Jonah, when he was looking for an Orthodox Church, was once told: “If you no Russian, we no want you.” But until WWII, many Lutheran churches in America were still worshipping in their native tongues. To prove they were patriots and not Nazi sympathizers, many churches switched to English, and went to far as to place American flags in the chancel. (They are still there today, and heaven help the pastor who tries to remove them.) The situation is causing no end of problems for the worldwide Orthodox church, and the Bishops in the Old Country are united in expressing their hope that it will be resolved soon. But soon is a relative term for the Orthodox; we have been separated from the Oriental Orthodox for over 1,500 years, and althought the key doctrinal problems havebeen resolved (such that if a non-Chalcedonian Orthodox shows up in church, the priest will give them communion), it is not certain that union will occur in our lifetimes.

    The role of tradition is very important to the Orthodox, and poses a very real problem for Protestants. Yet it should also be noted that the Orthodox treat tradition very differently from the Roman Catholics. The RC describe the church as being supported by a three-legged stool, with scripture, tradition, and the teaching magesterium being the three legs. The Catholics speak of Scripture and Tradition; the Orthodox do not. Fr. John Breck wrote a book entitled “Scripture in Tradition”, a formula that more closely aligns to the Orthodox view. But it is complicated, and more than can be explicated in this post. Besides, we are way, way off the topic here. I’ll post a note on Facebook for you that discusses the matter of tradition in more detail.

  • Jim

    As someone who has attended many evangelical churches, it took me awhile to discover Lutheranism because I would read about the ELCA’s liberal positions. I wrongly assumed all Lutherans believed like the ELCA and thought they were the worst of the mainline. I tried the PCUSA for awhile, but they were moving in the same direction as the ELCA. I finally got off my lazy fanny and did a lot of research on the internet about different Lutheran denominations and realized not all Lutherans have turned their back on Jesus like the ELCA.

  • Jim

    As someone who has attended many evangelical churches, it took me awhile to discover Lutheranism because I would read about the ELCA’s liberal positions. I wrongly assumed all Lutherans believed like the ELCA and thought they were the worst of the mainline. I tried the PCUSA for awhile, but they were moving in the same direction as the ELCA. I finally got off my lazy fanny and did a lot of research on the internet about different Lutheran denominations and realized not all Lutherans have turned their back on Jesus like the ELCA.

  • kerner

    Kris’ analysis of Eastern Orthodox attitudes toward the non-Eastern Orthodox is consistent with my own experience.

    Since Eastern Orthodoxy is the one true Church, all those in it, or in fellowship with it, are Christians. As for the rest of us, they can’t say for sure. So, Steve, you (or I) can’t take communion at an Eastern Orthodox congregation, because they can’t be sure that you are a Christian.

    Also, they are, in fact, less dogmatic. To a western thinker like me, this sometimes seems frustrating in the face of the apparent difficulty in getting straight answers. But this is probably the fault of my western scholastic, rationalst and romantic approach.

    One thing that still confuses me, however, is why Mariology does make its way into Orthodox dogma. While I completely understand why she has to be the “Mother of God” (first, because she is in fact the mother of the second person of the Trinity, and second because to say otherwise would compromise the dual nature of Christ), what I don’t understand is why it is essential to Eastern Othodox theology that she has to be “ever virgin”. What difference would it make to the essentials of the faith (say, as articulated in the eccumenical creeds) if she had sex, and even children, after Christ was born?

  • kerner

    Kris’ analysis of Eastern Orthodox attitudes toward the non-Eastern Orthodox is consistent with my own experience.

    Since Eastern Orthodoxy is the one true Church, all those in it, or in fellowship with it, are Christians. As for the rest of us, they can’t say for sure. So, Steve, you (or I) can’t take communion at an Eastern Orthodox congregation, because they can’t be sure that you are a Christian.

    Also, they are, in fact, less dogmatic. To a western thinker like me, this sometimes seems frustrating in the face of the apparent difficulty in getting straight answers. But this is probably the fault of my western scholastic, rationalst and romantic approach.

    One thing that still confuses me, however, is why Mariology does make its way into Orthodox dogma. While I completely understand why she has to be the “Mother of God” (first, because she is in fact the mother of the second person of the Trinity, and second because to say otherwise would compromise the dual nature of Christ), what I don’t understand is why it is essential to Eastern Othodox theology that she has to be “ever virgin”. What difference would it make to the essentials of the faith (say, as articulated in the eccumenical creeds) if she had sex, and even children, after Christ was born?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Dr. Gene Veith, #96: The distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism is that it too is a means by which the Holy Spirit creates faith in the heart. The Roman Catholic position is that Baptism works “opere operato,” by virtue of its own working (if I have my Latin right), a magic kind of zapping into faith. The Lutheran position is that Baptism works because it communicates faith. Lutherans believe that baptized infants have faith and are saved by their faith! (Faith is dependence on Christ; babies know their dependence on their parents and thus have faith in them; they can also know their dependence on their Heavenly Father and have faith in Him.) Any attempt to separate faith and baptism is a violation of Lutheran theology.”

    “The distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism is that it too is a means by which the Holy Spirit creates faith in the heart.”

    Dr. Veith, does this distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism mean that the Holy Spirit *always* creates faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran or that the Holy Spirit *can create* faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran?

    It’s a question spurred by a very recent article written by Dr. Martin E. Marty, a Lutheran:

    “Think of Breivik, who was one of the 90,757,570 reported Lutherans in the world (as of 2005) and who must have been one of the 3,991,545 members of the State Church in Norway, which is Lutheran, as 79.2 percent of Norwegians are. It is hard not to be baptized and a registered member of that Church.

    Earlier, Dr. Martin E. Marty asked this question:

    Q: “What do the following have in common? Anders Behring Breivik, killer of scores of innocents in Norway; assassins Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK) and Sirhan Sirhan (RFK); serial killers: Dennis Rader (Kansas, murdered 10); Charles Starkweather (Nebraska, 11); Jeffrey Dahmer (Wisconsin, 17); and Dylan Kiebold (Columbine, CO, 13).”

    A: “They were all Lutheran Christians.”

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Dr. Gene Veith, #96: The distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism is that it too is a means by which the Holy Spirit creates faith in the heart. The Roman Catholic position is that Baptism works “opere operato,” by virtue of its own working (if I have my Latin right), a magic kind of zapping into faith. The Lutheran position is that Baptism works because it communicates faith. Lutherans believe that baptized infants have faith and are saved by their faith! (Faith is dependence on Christ; babies know their dependence on their parents and thus have faith in them; they can also know their dependence on their Heavenly Father and have faith in Him.) Any attempt to separate faith and baptism is a violation of Lutheran theology.”

    “The distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism is that it too is a means by which the Holy Spirit creates faith in the heart.”

    Dr. Veith, does this distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism mean that the Holy Spirit *always* creates faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran or that the Holy Spirit *can create* faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran?

    It’s a question spurred by a very recent article written by Dr. Martin E. Marty, a Lutheran:

    “Think of Breivik, who was one of the 90,757,570 reported Lutherans in the world (as of 2005) and who must have been one of the 3,991,545 members of the State Church in Norway, which is Lutheran, as 79.2 percent of Norwegians are. It is hard not to be baptized and a registered member of that Church.

    Earlier, Dr. Martin E. Marty asked this question:

    Q: “What do the following have in common? Anders Behring Breivik, killer of scores of innocents in Norway; assassins Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK) and Sirhan Sirhan (RFK); serial killers: Dennis Rader (Kansas, murdered 10); Charles Starkweather (Nebraska, 11); Jeffrey Dahmer (Wisconsin, 17); and Dylan Kiebold (Columbine, CO, 13).”

    A: “They were all Lutheran Christians.”

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    The Link to Dr. Martin E. Marty’s article:

    Breivik’s Christianity.

    This article spurs the question:

    Dr. Veith, does this distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism mean that the Holy Spirit *always* creates faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran or that the Holy Spirit *can create* faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    The Link to Dr. Martin E. Marty’s article:

    Breivik’s Christianity.

    This article spurs the question:

    Dr. Veith, does this distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism mean that the Holy Spirit *always* creates faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran or that the Holy Spirit *can create* faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran?

  • Kristofer Carlson

    That the Mother of God was and is ever-virgin (semper virgo), has been expressed from ancient times.Why this is necessary is difficult to fathom, and it takes time, study, and much prayer to grok the fullness. But here are a few thoughts.

    One of the ways in which the struggle against sin played out among the early church was reflected in the status of the Virgin Mary. To understand this, we must return again to a discussion of the Incarnation of our Lord. Maximus the Confessor, in his “Commentary on the Our Father”, writes:

    “He purified nature from the law of sin in not having permitted pleasure to precede his incarnation on our behalf. Indeed his conception wondrously came about without seed, and his birth took place supernaturally without corruption: with God being begotten of a mother and tightening much more than nature can the bonds of virginity by his birth. He frees the whole of nature from the tyranny of the law which dominated it in those who desire it and who by mortification of the sensuality of the earthly members imitate his freely chosen death. For the mystery of salvation belongs to those who desire it, not to those who are forced to submit to it.” (Maximus the Confessor 1985, 104)

    This language may be difficult for modern people to hear, as it demonstrates a preference for virginity as a sign and symbol of a life wholly given over to the service of God. But in this way we see how the Virgin Mary could be honored as the prototypical virgin, the one whose entire life was an example of service to God, and therefore the one in whom is best manifest our Lord. Furthermore, as a result of the Holy Virgin’s example, she elevated her entire gender—so much so that women veil themselves when they pray on account of Mary’s glory which emanates from them (1 Cor 11:10).

    Origen notes that in saying to the Virgin “Behold your son”, He was not just providing for his mother, but making a theological statement that Mary was to look upon John as though he were the son she bore, just as John were to look upon her as his mother. (Origen. Commentary on the Gospel According to John Books 1-10. 1989, 38) Theologically, John stands for the church, making us all sons of Mary.

    It is important to point out that if Mary had other children after Jesus, it would be difficult to also imagine us as being in any sense a son of the Mother of God. It should also be noted that the attempt to rationalize a mystery is one of the Islamic arguments against the Virgin Birth, for if Mary had children after the flesh, then Jesus was born of flesh as well. (Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The Sonship of Jesus Christ. n.d.)

    George Gabriel writes: “Incomparably greater than the virginity of all other virgins, her virginity is the only total virginity, for she was perfectly and completely virgin and ever-virgin in a triple manner, “being every-virgin in mind, and in soul, and in body.” [John of Damascus, Homily on the Birth of the Theotokos, ch. 5] Her ever-virginity, therefore, was a living affirmation of the “life of the age to come.” It was not the bloody battle for virginity waged by those who struggle inside the bounds of nature not yet overcome. Her ever-virginity was the perfect image, even in this life, of the future age and the fulfillment of the Lord’s words: “In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage.” [Mt. 22:30] For the bounds of nature as we presently know them shall be forever overcome at the general resurrection. (Gabriel. Mary: The Untrodden Portal of God. 2000, 41)”

    Despite the embrace of monasticism by the early church, and its acceptance of virginity as a norm for the Christian life, Protestants have rejected the antinomy of marriage and virginity — have decided for the one and declared open hostility against the other. The reaction of Protestantism against virginity is bound up in their a reaction against the Latins, a communion which seems to place too high a value on virginity — making it an integral part of ordination, as well as a singular distinction between religious and secular orders, between the sacred and the profane. But Protestants also appear to have embraced Aristotelean philosophy in this area by declaring that Christianity cannot encourage both marriage and virginity. It is as though the Protestants, in arguing for the validity of the color white, deny the existence and validity of the color red. (Chesterton. Orthodoxy. 1995)

    Something to chew on, anyway.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    That the Mother of God was and is ever-virgin (semper virgo), has been expressed from ancient times.Why this is necessary is difficult to fathom, and it takes time, study, and much prayer to grok the fullness. But here are a few thoughts.

    One of the ways in which the struggle against sin played out among the early church was reflected in the status of the Virgin Mary. To understand this, we must return again to a discussion of the Incarnation of our Lord. Maximus the Confessor, in his “Commentary on the Our Father”, writes:

    “He purified nature from the law of sin in not having permitted pleasure to precede his incarnation on our behalf. Indeed his conception wondrously came about without seed, and his birth took place supernaturally without corruption: with God being begotten of a mother and tightening much more than nature can the bonds of virginity by his birth. He frees the whole of nature from the tyranny of the law which dominated it in those who desire it and who by mortification of the sensuality of the earthly members imitate his freely chosen death. For the mystery of salvation belongs to those who desire it, not to those who are forced to submit to it.” (Maximus the Confessor 1985, 104)

    This language may be difficult for modern people to hear, as it demonstrates a preference for virginity as a sign and symbol of a life wholly given over to the service of God. But in this way we see how the Virgin Mary could be honored as the prototypical virgin, the one whose entire life was an example of service to God, and therefore the one in whom is best manifest our Lord. Furthermore, as a result of the Holy Virgin’s example, she elevated her entire gender—so much so that women veil themselves when they pray on account of Mary’s glory which emanates from them (1 Cor 11:10).

    Origen notes that in saying to the Virgin “Behold your son”, He was not just providing for his mother, but making a theological statement that Mary was to look upon John as though he were the son she bore, just as John were to look upon her as his mother. (Origen. Commentary on the Gospel According to John Books 1-10. 1989, 38) Theologically, John stands for the church, making us all sons of Mary.

    It is important to point out that if Mary had other children after Jesus, it would be difficult to also imagine us as being in any sense a son of the Mother of God. It should also be noted that the attempt to rationalize a mystery is one of the Islamic arguments against the Virgin Birth, for if Mary had children after the flesh, then Jesus was born of flesh as well. (Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The Sonship of Jesus Christ. n.d.)

    George Gabriel writes: “Incomparably greater than the virginity of all other virgins, her virginity is the only total virginity, for she was perfectly and completely virgin and ever-virgin in a triple manner, “being every-virgin in mind, and in soul, and in body.” [John of Damascus, Homily on the Birth of the Theotokos, ch. 5] Her ever-virginity, therefore, was a living affirmation of the “life of the age to come.” It was not the bloody battle for virginity waged by those who struggle inside the bounds of nature not yet overcome. Her ever-virginity was the perfect image, even in this life, of the future age and the fulfillment of the Lord’s words: “In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage.” [Mt. 22:30] For the bounds of nature as we presently know them shall be forever overcome at the general resurrection. (Gabriel. Mary: The Untrodden Portal of God. 2000, 41)”

    Despite the embrace of monasticism by the early church, and its acceptance of virginity as a norm for the Christian life, Protestants have rejected the antinomy of marriage and virginity — have decided for the one and declared open hostility against the other. The reaction of Protestantism against virginity is bound up in their a reaction against the Latins, a communion which seems to place too high a value on virginity — making it an integral part of ordination, as well as a singular distinction between religious and secular orders, between the sacred and the profane. But Protestants also appear to have embraced Aristotelean philosophy in this area by declaring that Christianity cannot encourage both marriage and virginity. It is as though the Protestants, in arguing for the validity of the color white, deny the existence and validity of the color red. (Chesterton. Orthodoxy. 1995)

    Something to chew on, anyway.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Sorry, but I had to add the following.

    Origen writes:
    “We might dare say, then, that the Gospels are the firstfruits of all Scriptures, but that the firstfruits of the Gospels is that according to John, whose meaning no one can understand who has not leaned on Jesus’ breast nor received Mary from Jesus to be his mother also. But he who would be another John must also become such as John, to be shown to be Jesus, so to speak. For if Mary had no son except Jesus, in accordance with those who hold a sound opinion of her, and Jesus says to his mother, “Behold your son,” and not, “Behold, this man also is your son,” he has said equally, “Behold, this is Jesus whom you bore.” For indeed everyone who has been perfected “no longer lives, but Christ lives in him,” [Gal 2:20] and since “Christ lives” in him, it is said of him to Mary, “Behold your son,” the Christ. (Origen 1989, 38)”

    Jaroslav Pelikan discusses the meaning behind these two short statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John.

    “Among these seven words [of Christ from the cross], John provided the one most directly relevant here: “Woman, behold thy son! Behold thy mother!” Homiletically if not theologically, “Behold thy mother” could easily become the charter for entrusting to the maternal care of Mary not only “the disciple who Jesus love, “ identified by the tradition though not by present-day scholarship as John the evangelist, but all the disciples who Jesus loved in all periods of history, therefore the entire church past and present. (J. Pelikan 1996, 19)”

    And now we see (in part), the importance of the perpetual virginity of Mary. If she had other sons after the flesh, then as Origen makes clear, the statement of Jesus to his mother was merely temporal, not spiritual. But why then would that statement not be in the Gospel of Luke, which is the most historical Gospel, rather than in the Gospel of John, the theological Gospel? If Mary is not ever-virgin, is not semper virgo, then according to Origin, Pelikan would be incorrect in his assessment—neither homiletically nor theologically can Mary be considered the Mother of the Christian Race.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Sorry, but I had to add the following.

    Origen writes:
    “We might dare say, then, that the Gospels are the firstfruits of all Scriptures, but that the firstfruits of the Gospels is that according to John, whose meaning no one can understand who has not leaned on Jesus’ breast nor received Mary from Jesus to be his mother also. But he who would be another John must also become such as John, to be shown to be Jesus, so to speak. For if Mary had no son except Jesus, in accordance with those who hold a sound opinion of her, and Jesus says to his mother, “Behold your son,” and not, “Behold, this man also is your son,” he has said equally, “Behold, this is Jesus whom you bore.” For indeed everyone who has been perfected “no longer lives, but Christ lives in him,” [Gal 2:20] and since “Christ lives” in him, it is said of him to Mary, “Behold your son,” the Christ. (Origen 1989, 38)”

    Jaroslav Pelikan discusses the meaning behind these two short statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John.

    “Among these seven words [of Christ from the cross], John provided the one most directly relevant here: “Woman, behold thy son! Behold thy mother!” Homiletically if not theologically, “Behold thy mother” could easily become the charter for entrusting to the maternal care of Mary not only “the disciple who Jesus love, “ identified by the tradition though not by present-day scholarship as John the evangelist, but all the disciples who Jesus loved in all periods of history, therefore the entire church past and present. (J. Pelikan 1996, 19)”

    And now we see (in part), the importance of the perpetual virginity of Mary. If she had other sons after the flesh, then as Origen makes clear, the statement of Jesus to his mother was merely temporal, not spiritual. But why then would that statement not be in the Gospel of Luke, which is the most historical Gospel, rather than in the Gospel of John, the theological Gospel? If Mary is not ever-virgin, is not semper virgo, then according to Origin, Pelikan would be incorrect in his assessment—neither homiletically nor theologically can Mary be considered the Mother of the Christian Race.

  • Craig

    Truth #143
    I don’t know a lot about those guys save Jeffrey Dahmer. It appears that he repented in prison and is now with Jesus enjoying the forgiveness of his sins. It looks like his baptism held.

    Are your sins less than Mr. Dahmer’s? Do you not need as much forgiveness as he did? I think that you fail to understand the depth or your condition since you need to site all of these other “sinners.” Do you think that they need more grace than you? Let’s put all of you secret sins out there and see how well you hold up before a holy God!

    Why do you think that Christ only has mercy on you and not them? A Lutheran will lean on the grace of God and not human judgment like you so often do.

    Baptism is one of Gods ways of creating faith. Man has several ways of destroying it.

    None of this will make any sense to you as long as you hold to the TULIP.

  • Craig

    Truth #143
    I don’t know a lot about those guys save Jeffrey Dahmer. It appears that he repented in prison and is now with Jesus enjoying the forgiveness of his sins. It looks like his baptism held.

    Are your sins less than Mr. Dahmer’s? Do you not need as much forgiveness as he did? I think that you fail to understand the depth or your condition since you need to site all of these other “sinners.” Do you think that they need more grace than you? Let’s put all of you secret sins out there and see how well you hold up before a holy God!

    Why do you think that Christ only has mercy on you and not them? A Lutheran will lean on the grace of God and not human judgment like you so often do.

    Baptism is one of Gods ways of creating faith. Man has several ways of destroying it.

    None of this will make any sense to you as long as you hold to the TULIP.

  • kerner

    TU&D:

    The only answer I can give to your question is that to undrstand Lutheran theology of the sacraments, you should think of baptism and the Lord’s supper exactly the same as the Word of God. As for baptism and your question:

    “Dr. Veith, does this distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism mean that the Holy Spirit *always* creates faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran or that the Holy Spirit *can create* faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran?”

    The first thing we need to clear up is that baptism is the same for everyone whether or not they understand it, not just for Luherans.

    Next, the answer is that baptism “creates faith” exactly the same as the Word of God does. For this, I refer you to the parable of the sower, Mark 4:1-20. Sometimes Satan comes and steals what was sown; sometimes it takes root, but worldly troubles or worldly interests cause it to fail to bear fruit; and sometimes it takes root in good ground and bears fruit abundantly.

    I agree with Craig when he says that TULIP (which I believe is an unscriptural error) may be skewing your viewpoint, but I don’t think it needs to. You have agreed with me in a different thread that preaching God’s Word is something the Church does which is a means through which the Holy Spirit works to save the unregenerate. Baptism works in exactly the same way. Since not all people who hear the preaching of God’s Word are saved as if by magic, I dare say that not all those who are baptized remain steadfast in the faith either.

    But now we get to the crux of our disagreement, I think. If (1) God’s Word (and baptism) are the means God uses to save the fallen, and (2) some people who hear God’s Word (or who are baptized) are not saved, then why is that? Is it because:

    1. God has predestined those who remain unsaved to damnation, or

    2. Because those who rejected God’s Word (or their baptisms) have rejected the Holy Spirit, and are therefore responsible for their own damnation.

    Lutherans go with option 2.

  • kerner

    TU&D:

    The only answer I can give to your question is that to undrstand Lutheran theology of the sacraments, you should think of baptism and the Lord’s supper exactly the same as the Word of God. As for baptism and your question:

    “Dr. Veith, does this distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism mean that the Holy Spirit *always* creates faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran or that the Holy Spirit *can create* faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran?”

    The first thing we need to clear up is that baptism is the same for everyone whether or not they understand it, not just for Luherans.

    Next, the answer is that baptism “creates faith” exactly the same as the Word of God does. For this, I refer you to the parable of the sower, Mark 4:1-20. Sometimes Satan comes and steals what was sown; sometimes it takes root, but worldly troubles or worldly interests cause it to fail to bear fruit; and sometimes it takes root in good ground and bears fruit abundantly.

    I agree with Craig when he says that TULIP (which I believe is an unscriptural error) may be skewing your viewpoint, but I don’t think it needs to. You have agreed with me in a different thread that preaching God’s Word is something the Church does which is a means through which the Holy Spirit works to save the unregenerate. Baptism works in exactly the same way. Since not all people who hear the preaching of God’s Word are saved as if by magic, I dare say that not all those who are baptized remain steadfast in the faith either.

    But now we get to the crux of our disagreement, I think. If (1) God’s Word (and baptism) are the means God uses to save the fallen, and (2) some people who hear God’s Word (or who are baptized) are not saved, then why is that? Is it because:

    1. God has predestined those who remain unsaved to damnation, or

    2. Because those who rejected God’s Word (or their baptisms) have rejected the Holy Spirit, and are therefore responsible for their own damnation.

    Lutherans go with option 2.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Dr. Veith: “The distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism is that it too is a means by which the Holy Spirit creates faith in the heart.”

    Dr. Veith (and/or Kerner and any other staunchly Confessional Lutheran), does this distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism mean that

    (A) the Holy Spirit *always* creates faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran? Or

    (B) that the Holy Spirit *can create* faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Dr. Veith: “The distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism is that it too is a means by which the Holy Spirit creates faith in the heart.”

    Dr. Veith (and/or Kerner and any other staunchly Confessional Lutheran), does this distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism mean that

    (A) the Holy Spirit *always* creates faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran? Or

    (B) that the Holy Spirit *can create* faith in the heart of the baptized Lutheran?

  • kerner

    Kris:

    I have read your comments, and I can see why it takes a lot work to fully “grok” it (would Heinlein approve of all this?).

    What I guess I don’t yet understand is why we need a “Holy Mother of the Christian race”. Scripture is full of references to Christ as the Second Adam, and explanation as to why a Second Adam was necessary. I see no similar place or need in Christian theology for a second Eve. The whole idea seems vaguely pagan to me, not just mysterious.

    I also don’t quite see how the concept of an ever virgin “Holy Mother” is reconcilable with the vocation of a wife, to which St. Mary was also called. I mean, why even bother involving St. Joseph in all this if an ever virgin holy mother is the design?

    I realize that I am a creature of my own time, in which virginity is not as associated with moral purity as it was in ancient times. Yet, it is also possible that the preoccupation of the ancients with St. Mary’s sex life, or lack thereof, may be a function of their desire to create a pantheon of patron saints as a substitute for the pantheons of pagan deities that were so common in that age, with St. Mary replacing Gaia, or some other mother goddess.

    I’m just talking of the top of my head here, but I do see this as a real concern.

  • kerner

    Kris:

    I have read your comments, and I can see why it takes a lot work to fully “grok” it (would Heinlein approve of all this?).

    What I guess I don’t yet understand is why we need a “Holy Mother of the Christian race”. Scripture is full of references to Christ as the Second Adam, and explanation as to why a Second Adam was necessary. I see no similar place or need in Christian theology for a second Eve. The whole idea seems vaguely pagan to me, not just mysterious.

    I also don’t quite see how the concept of an ever virgin “Holy Mother” is reconcilable with the vocation of a wife, to which St. Mary was also called. I mean, why even bother involving St. Joseph in all this if an ever virgin holy mother is the design?

    I realize that I am a creature of my own time, in which virginity is not as associated with moral purity as it was in ancient times. Yet, it is also possible that the preoccupation of the ancients with St. Mary’s sex life, or lack thereof, may be a function of their desire to create a pantheon of patron saints as a substitute for the pantheons of pagan deities that were so common in that age, with St. Mary replacing Gaia, or some other mother goddess.

    I’m just talking of the top of my head here, but I do see this as a real concern.

  • kerner

    TU&D @149:

    Well, I may be “staunch”, but I’m also not a trained theologian. But I think you deserve my best answer. Keep in mind that it is the best answer of a layman.

    I think that baptism of an infant always creates faith, but that (see the parable of the sower) that infant is capable of rejecting that faith later on, and this sometimes happens. But people who appear to have rejected their faith may not be true apostates; they may simply be prodigals who ultimately return to their faith.

    In an adult baptism, I think it is possible in theory for a hypocrite to reject the Holy Spirit at the very point of baptism. There were times during the middle ages when adults were baptized by force or coersion. I can’t really say whether such people steadfastly rejected the Holy Spirit their whole lives, but it is possible.

    I’m still not sure what you are getting at. Would you care to let me in on it?

  • kerner

    TU&D @149:

    Well, I may be “staunch”, but I’m also not a trained theologian. But I think you deserve my best answer. Keep in mind that it is the best answer of a layman.

    I think that baptism of an infant always creates faith, but that (see the parable of the sower) that infant is capable of rejecting that faith later on, and this sometimes happens. But people who appear to have rejected their faith may not be true apostates; they may simply be prodigals who ultimately return to their faith.

    In an adult baptism, I think it is possible in theory for a hypocrite to reject the Holy Spirit at the very point of baptism. There were times during the middle ages when adults were baptized by force or coersion. I can’t really say whether such people steadfastly rejected the Holy Spirit their whole lives, but it is possible.

    I’m still not sure what you are getting at. Would you care to let me in on it?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner, #148: “The only answer I can give to your question is that to undrstand Lutheran theology of the sacraments, you should think of baptism and the Lord’s supper exactly the same as the Word of God. … Next, the answer is that baptism “creates faith” exactly the same as the Word of God does. For this, I refer you to the parable of the sower, Mark 4:1-20. … You have agreed with me in a different thread that preaching God’s Word is something the Church does which is a means through which the Holy Spirit works to save the unregenerate. Baptism works in exactly the same way. Since not all people who hear the preaching of God’s Word are saved as if by magic, I dare say that not all those who are baptized remain steadfast in the faith either.

    Kerner, I’d like to clarify this “agreement” that you say we have. I’m saying that preaching the Word of God can be “a means through which the Holy Spirit works to save the unregenerate.” In other words, I’m saying that hearing the preaching of the Word of God does not always create faith in the hearer.

    You seem to be saying something very different. (Or you actually are saying something very different.) You seem to be saying that hearing the preaching of the Word of God always creates faith in the hearer.

    Is that what you’re saying and arguing for? If so, there’s a very big difference there. And it cannot be construed as an agreement.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner, #148: “The only answer I can give to your question is that to undrstand Lutheran theology of the sacraments, you should think of baptism and the Lord’s supper exactly the same as the Word of God. … Next, the answer is that baptism “creates faith” exactly the same as the Word of God does. For this, I refer you to the parable of the sower, Mark 4:1-20. … You have agreed with me in a different thread that preaching God’s Word is something the Church does which is a means through which the Holy Spirit works to save the unregenerate. Baptism works in exactly the same way. Since not all people who hear the preaching of God’s Word are saved as if by magic, I dare say that not all those who are baptized remain steadfast in the faith either.

    Kerner, I’d like to clarify this “agreement” that you say we have. I’m saying that preaching the Word of God can be “a means through which the Holy Spirit works to save the unregenerate.” In other words, I’m saying that hearing the preaching of the Word of God does not always create faith in the hearer.

    You seem to be saying something very different. (Or you actually are saying something very different.) You seem to be saying that hearing the preaching of the Word of God always creates faith in the hearer.

    Is that what you’re saying and arguing for? If so, there’s a very big difference there. And it cannot be construed as an agreement.

  • kerner

    TU&D:

    I don’t think I’m saying anthing that different. Parable of the sower, remembe? Sometimes the Word falls on the road and is eaten by the birds (devils) and produces no fruit (faith). But this doen not mean there is a flaw in the seed (Word). It only means that the hearer rejected it through the fault of the hearer.

    You should reallt read the entire Article in Luther’s Large Catachism on Baptism. Dr. Veith has printed one long exerpt. Here is another:

    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7

    The Large Catechism
    <>

    To link here use http://bocl.org?LC+IV. You can go to a specific paragraph using http://bocl.org?LC+IV+12

    Holy Baptism
    52] Further, we say that we are not so much concerned to know whether the person baptized believes or not; for on that account Baptism does not become invalid; but everything depends upon the Word and command of God. 53] This now is perhaps somewhat acute, but it rests entirely upon what I have said, that Baptism is nothing else than water and the Word of God in and with each other, that is, when the Word is added to the water, Baptism is valid, even though faith be wanting. For my faith does not make Baptism, but receives it. Now, Baptism does not become invalid even though it be wrongly received or employed; since it is not bound (as stated) to our faith, but to the Word.

    54] For even though a Jew should to-day come dishonestly and with evil purpose, and we should baptize him in all good faith, we must say that his baptism is nevertheless genuine. For here is the water together with the Word of God, even though he does not receive it as he should, just as those who unworthily go to the Sacrament receive the true Sacrament, even though they do not believe.

    55] Thus you see that the objection of the sectarians is vain. For (as we have said) even though infants did not believe, which, however, is not the case, yet their baptism as now shown would be valid, and no one should rebaptize them; just as nothing is detracted from the Sacrament though some one approach it with evil purpose, and he could not be allowed on account of his abuse to take it a second time the selfsame hour, as though he had not received the true Sacrament at first; for that would mean to blaspheme and profane the Sacrament in the worst manner. How dare we think that God’s Word and ordinance should be wrong and invalid because we make a wrong use of it?

    56] Therefore I say, if you did not believe then believe now and say thus: The baptism indeed was right, but I, alas! did not receive it aright. For I myself also, and all who are baptized, must speak thus before God: I come hither in my faith and in that of others, yet I cannot rest in this, that I believe, and that many people pray for me; but in this I rest, that it is Thy Word and command. Just as I go to the Sacrament trusting not in my faith, but in the Word of Christ; whether I am strong or weak, that I commit to God. But this I know, that He bids me go, eat and drink, etc., and gives me His body and blood; that will not deceive me or prove false to me.

    57] Thus we do also in infant baptism. We bring the child in the conviction and hope that it believes, and we pray that God may grant it faith; but we do not baptize it upon that, but solely upon the command of God. Why so? Because we know that God does not lie. I and my neighbor and, in short, all men, may err and deceive, but the Word of God cannot err.

    58] Therefore they are presumptuous, clumsy minds that draw such inferences and conclusions as these: Where there is not the true faith, there also can be no true Baptism. Just as if I would infer: If I do not believe, then Christ is nothing; or thus: If I am not obedient, then father, mother, and government are nothing. Is that a correct conclusion, that whenever any one does not do what he ought, the thing in itself shall be nothing and of no value? 59] My dear, just invert the argument and rather draw this inference: For this very reason Baptism is something and is right, because it has been wrongly received. For if it were not right and true in itself, it could not be misused nor sinned against. The saying is: Abusus non tollit, sed confirmat substantiam, Abuse does not destroy the essence, but confirms it. For gold is not the less gold though a harlot wear it in sin and shame.

    60] Therefore let it be decided that Baptism always remains true, retains its full essence, even though a single person should be baptized, and he, in addition, should not believe truly. For God’s ordinance and Word cannot be made variable or be altered by men.”

  • kerner

    TU&D:

    I don’t think I’m saying anthing that different. Parable of the sower, remembe? Sometimes the Word falls on the road and is eaten by the birds (devils) and produces no fruit (faith). But this doen not mean there is a flaw in the seed (Word). It only means that the hearer rejected it through the fault of the hearer.

    You should reallt read the entire Article in Luther’s Large Catachism on Baptism. Dr. Veith has printed one long exerpt. Here is another:

    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7

    The Large Catechism
    <>

    To link here use http://bocl.org?LC+IV. You can go to a specific paragraph using http://bocl.org?LC+IV+12

    Holy Baptism
    52] Further, we say that we are not so much concerned to know whether the person baptized believes or not; for on that account Baptism does not become invalid; but everything depends upon the Word and command of God. 53] This now is perhaps somewhat acute, but it rests entirely upon what I have said, that Baptism is nothing else than water and the Word of God in and with each other, that is, when the Word is added to the water, Baptism is valid, even though faith be wanting. For my faith does not make Baptism, but receives it. Now, Baptism does not become invalid even though it be wrongly received or employed; since it is not bound (as stated) to our faith, but to the Word.

    54] For even though a Jew should to-day come dishonestly and with evil purpose, and we should baptize him in all good faith, we must say that his baptism is nevertheless genuine. For here is the water together with the Word of God, even though he does not receive it as he should, just as those who unworthily go to the Sacrament receive the true Sacrament, even though they do not believe.

    55] Thus you see that the objection of the sectarians is vain. For (as we have said) even though infants did not believe, which, however, is not the case, yet their baptism as now shown would be valid, and no one should rebaptize them; just as nothing is detracted from the Sacrament though some one approach it with evil purpose, and he could not be allowed on account of his abuse to take it a second time the selfsame hour, as though he had not received the true Sacrament at first; for that would mean to blaspheme and profane the Sacrament in the worst manner. How dare we think that God’s Word and ordinance should be wrong and invalid because we make a wrong use of it?

    56] Therefore I say, if you did not believe then believe now and say thus: The baptism indeed was right, but I, alas! did not receive it aright. For I myself also, and all who are baptized, must speak thus before God: I come hither in my faith and in that of others, yet I cannot rest in this, that I believe, and that many people pray for me; but in this I rest, that it is Thy Word and command. Just as I go to the Sacrament trusting not in my faith, but in the Word of Christ; whether I am strong or weak, that I commit to God. But this I know, that He bids me go, eat and drink, etc., and gives me His body and blood; that will not deceive me or prove false to me.

    57] Thus we do also in infant baptism. We bring the child in the conviction and hope that it believes, and we pray that God may grant it faith; but we do not baptize it upon that, but solely upon the command of God. Why so? Because we know that God does not lie. I and my neighbor and, in short, all men, may err and deceive, but the Word of God cannot err.

    58] Therefore they are presumptuous, clumsy minds that draw such inferences and conclusions as these: Where there is not the true faith, there also can be no true Baptism. Just as if I would infer: If I do not believe, then Christ is nothing; or thus: If I am not obedient, then father, mother, and government are nothing. Is that a correct conclusion, that whenever any one does not do what he ought, the thing in itself shall be nothing and of no value? 59] My dear, just invert the argument and rather draw this inference: For this very reason Baptism is something and is right, because it has been wrongly received. For if it were not right and true in itself, it could not be misused nor sinned against. The saying is: Abusus non tollit, sed confirmat substantiam, Abuse does not destroy the essence, but confirms it. For gold is not the less gold though a harlot wear it in sin and shame.

    60] Therefore let it be decided that Baptism always remains true, retains its full essence, even though a single person should be baptized, and he, in addition, should not believe truly. For God’s ordinance and Word cannot be made variable or be altered by men.”

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner, does Luther’s Large Catechism article on Baptism speak to what Dr. Martin E. Marty observes here:

    “Think of Breivik, who was one of the 90,757,570 reported Lutherans in the world (as of 2005) and who must have been one of the 3,991,545 members of the State Church in Norway, which is Lutheran, as 79.2 percent of Norwegians are. It is hard not to be baptized and a registered member of that Church. Then think further; it is hard to picture that Breivik was anything but one of the 97 percent of the members who never shows up. That he caught many ideas from this religious [Lutheran] background is clear from citations in his monstrous manifesto and elsewhere. But he probably could not even recite Luther’s Catechism and may not have been seen at the communion table since who knows when—if ever.”

    For discussion purposes, let’s say that all 3,991,545 members in the Church of Norway are baptized Lutherans. Furthermore, let’s also stipulate to Dr. Marty’s figures that 97 percent of these baptized Lutherans never show up to church in their Lutheran parish. Let’s round that figure down to 3.8 million baptized Lutheran who never show up to church in their Lutheran parish.

    Does Luther’s Large Catechism article on Baptism speak to this observable phenomenon in the Lutheran State Church in Norway?

    You’ve mentioned the Parable of the Soils several times. Here’s something that might be a bit jarring for you to consider:

    Might the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism”, both in Doctrine and Practice, be a means in no small measure by which the birds (devils) snatch away the seed (the Word of God)?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner, does Luther’s Large Catechism article on Baptism speak to what Dr. Martin E. Marty observes here:

    “Think of Breivik, who was one of the 90,757,570 reported Lutherans in the world (as of 2005) and who must have been one of the 3,991,545 members of the State Church in Norway, which is Lutheran, as 79.2 percent of Norwegians are. It is hard not to be baptized and a registered member of that Church. Then think further; it is hard to picture that Breivik was anything but one of the 97 percent of the members who never shows up. That he caught many ideas from this religious [Lutheran] background is clear from citations in his monstrous manifesto and elsewhere. But he probably could not even recite Luther’s Catechism and may not have been seen at the communion table since who knows when—if ever.”

    For discussion purposes, let’s say that all 3,991,545 members in the Church of Norway are baptized Lutherans. Furthermore, let’s also stipulate to Dr. Marty’s figures that 97 percent of these baptized Lutherans never show up to church in their Lutheran parish. Let’s round that figure down to 3.8 million baptized Lutheran who never show up to church in their Lutheran parish.

    Does Luther’s Large Catechism article on Baptism speak to this observable phenomenon in the Lutheran State Church in Norway?

    You’ve mentioned the Parable of the Soils several times. Here’s something that might be a bit jarring for you to consider:

    Might the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism”, both in Doctrine and Practice, be a means in no small measure by which the birds (devils) snatch away the seed (the Word of God)?

  • Kristofer Carlson

    TU…&D #154: you can read what Luther says about baptism here.

    http://bookofconcord.org/lc-6-baptism.php

  • Kristofer Carlson

    TU…&D #154: you can read what Luther says about baptism here.

    http://bookofconcord.org/lc-6-baptism.php

  • kerner

    TU&D:

    How do you figure that?

  • kerner

    TU&D:

    How do you figure that?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner,

    Dr. Martin E. Marty writes: “Think of Breivik, who was one of the 90,757,570 reported Lutherans in the world (as of 2005) and who must have been one of the 3,991,545 members of the State Church in Norway, which is Lutheran, as 79.2 percent of Norwegians are. It is hard not to be baptized and a registered member of that Church. Then think further; it is hard to picture that Breivik was anything but one of the 97 percent of the members who never shows up. That he caught many ideas from this religious [Lutheran] background is clear from citations in his monstrous manifesto and elsewhere. But he probably could not even recite Luther’s Catechism and may not have been seen at the communion table since who knows when—if ever.”

    For discussion purposes, let’s say that all 3,991,545 members in the Church of Norway are baptized Lutherans. Furthermore, let’s also stipulate to Dr. Marty’s figures that 97 percent of these baptized Lutherans never show up to church in their Lutheran parish. Let’s round that figure down to 3.8 million baptized Lutheran who never show up to church in their Lutheran parish.

    Kerner, does Luther’s Large Catechism article on Baptism speak to this observable phenomenon in the Lutheran State Church in Norway?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner,

    Dr. Martin E. Marty writes: “Think of Breivik, who was one of the 90,757,570 reported Lutherans in the world (as of 2005) and who must have been one of the 3,991,545 members of the State Church in Norway, which is Lutheran, as 79.2 percent of Norwegians are. It is hard not to be baptized and a registered member of that Church. Then think further; it is hard to picture that Breivik was anything but one of the 97 percent of the members who never shows up. That he caught many ideas from this religious [Lutheran] background is clear from citations in his monstrous manifesto and elsewhere. But he probably could not even recite Luther’s Catechism and may not have been seen at the communion table since who knows when—if ever.”

    For discussion purposes, let’s say that all 3,991,545 members in the Church of Norway are baptized Lutherans. Furthermore, let’s also stipulate to Dr. Marty’s figures that 97 percent of these baptized Lutherans never show up to church in their Lutheran parish. Let’s round that figure down to 3.8 million baptized Lutheran who never show up to church in their Lutheran parish.

    Kerner, does Luther’s Large Catechism article on Baptism speak to this observable phenomenon in the Lutheran State Church in Norway?

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Kerner,

    You are trapped by your western, rationalist, and Zwinglian mindset. Their are five solas: Scripture Alone, Faith Alone, Grace Alone, Christ Alone, and Glory to God Alone. Baptism is a means of grace, and faith comes through the means of grace; they are the conduit through which God works to create faith in the human heart. At least that is the Lutheran position, as I remember it. But Lutherans would never say that Baptism saves, apart from faith; and Lutherans also believe it is possible to lose your faith, and thus your salvation. That is a reasonable explanation for your statistical argument.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Kerner,

    You are trapped by your western, rationalist, and Zwinglian mindset. Their are five solas: Scripture Alone, Faith Alone, Grace Alone, Christ Alone, and Glory to God Alone. Baptism is a means of grace, and faith comes through the means of grace; they are the conduit through which God works to create faith in the human heart. At least that is the Lutheran position, as I remember it. But Lutherans would never say that Baptism saves, apart from faith; and Lutherans also believe it is possible to lose your faith, and thus your salvation. That is a reasonable explanation for your statistical argument.

  • kerner

    TU&D @57: You ask:

    “Kerner, does Luther’s Large Catechism article on Baptism speak to this observable phenomenon in the Lutheran State Church in Norway?”

    The short answers are:
    1. read it and find out, and
    2. It is unlikely that Luther’s Large Catachism spoke directly to a phenomenon that would not exist, hence would not be “observable” for some 400 years after the Large Catachism was written.

    Give me a moment to respond in a little more depth.

  • kerner

    TU&D @57: You ask:

    “Kerner, does Luther’s Large Catechism article on Baptism speak to this observable phenomenon in the Lutheran State Church in Norway?”

    The short answers are:
    1. read it and find out, and
    2. It is unlikely that Luther’s Large Catachism spoke directly to a phenomenon that would not exist, hence would not be “observable” for some 400 years after the Large Catachism was written.

    Give me a moment to respond in a little more depth.

  • kerner

    OK, I wish I had a little more time to devote to this, but vocation calls. Anyway, I believe the phenomenon you are describing is not a function of Lutheran doctrne nor practice, but rather a function of the institution of government sponsored churches in a secular humanist culture. Notice that the phenomenon you describe is not unique to the nominally Lutheran state churches of Scandinavia, but exists all over Europe where the State Churches are Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, or even Calvinist. Where the culture of a nation is secular humanist, the state “church” will promote some form of secular humanism, whatever doctinal label may be on the front door.

    Secondly, while the catachism could not have commented on this phenomeon per se, it does in the introduction, speak to a culture in which the study of God’s Word is neglected: It says:

    “Besides, it is an exceedingly effectual help against the devil, the world, and the flesh and all evil thoughts to be occupied with the Word of God, and to speak of it, and meditate upon it, so that the First Psalm declares those blessed who meditate upon the Law of God day and night. Undoubtedly, you will not start a stronger incense or other fumigation against the devil than by being engaged upon God’s commandments and words, and speaking, singing, or thinking of them. For this is indeed the true holy water and holy sign from which he flees, and by which he may be driven away.

    11] Now, for this reason alone you ought gladly to read, speak, think and treat of these things, if you had no other profit and fruit from them than that by doing so you can drive away the devil and evil thoughts. For he cannot hear or endure God’s Word; and God’s Word is not like some other silly prattle, as that about Dietrich of Berne, etc., but as St. Paul says, Rom. 1:16, the power of God. Yea, indeed, the power of God which gives the devil burning pain, and strengthens, comforts, and helps us beyond measure.”

    And of those who neglect the study and preaching o God’s Word, it says:

    “Yea, even among the nobility there may be found some louts and scrimps, who declare that there is no longer any need either of pastors or preachers; that we have everything in books, and every one can easily learn it by himself; and so they are content to let the parishes decay and become desolate, and pastors and preachers to suffer distress and hunger a plenty, just as it becomes crazy Germans to do. For we Germans have such disgraceful people, and must endure them.”

    and also:

    “Oh, what mad, senseless fools are we that, while we must ever live and dwell among such mighty enemies as the devils are, we nevertheless despise our weapons and defense, and are too lazy to look at or think of them!

    16] And what else are such supercilious, presumptuous saints, who are unwilling to read and study the Catechism daily, doing than esteeming themselves much more learned than God Himself with all His saints, angels, [patriarchs], prophets, apostles, and all Christians? For inasmuch as God Himself is not ashamed to teach these things daily, as knowing nothing better to teach, and always keeps teaching the same thing, and does not take up anything new or different, and all the saints know nothing better or different to learn, and cannot finish learning this, are we not the finest of all fellows to imagine, if we have once read or heard it, that we know it all, and have no further need to read and learn, but can finish learning in one hour what God Himself cannot finish teaching, although He is engaged in teaching it from the beginning to the end of the world, and all prophets, together with all saints, have been occupied with learning it, and have ever remained pupils, and must continue to be such.”

    Anyone who never goes to church or neglects the sacraments can never be sai to be following Lutheran doctrine or practice.

    You can read the whole Large catachism here:

    http://bookofconcord.org/lc-1-intro.php#para10

  • kerner

    OK, I wish I had a little more time to devote to this, but vocation calls. Anyway, I believe the phenomenon you are describing is not a function of Lutheran doctrne nor practice, but rather a function of the institution of government sponsored churches in a secular humanist culture. Notice that the phenomenon you describe is not unique to the nominally Lutheran state churches of Scandinavia, but exists all over Europe where the State Churches are Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, or even Calvinist. Where the culture of a nation is secular humanist, the state “church” will promote some form of secular humanism, whatever doctinal label may be on the front door.

    Secondly, while the catachism could not have commented on this phenomeon per se, it does in the introduction, speak to a culture in which the study of God’s Word is neglected: It says:

    “Besides, it is an exceedingly effectual help against the devil, the world, and the flesh and all evil thoughts to be occupied with the Word of God, and to speak of it, and meditate upon it, so that the First Psalm declares those blessed who meditate upon the Law of God day and night. Undoubtedly, you will not start a stronger incense or other fumigation against the devil than by being engaged upon God’s commandments and words, and speaking, singing, or thinking of them. For this is indeed the true holy water and holy sign from which he flees, and by which he may be driven away.

    11] Now, for this reason alone you ought gladly to read, speak, think and treat of these things, if you had no other profit and fruit from them than that by doing so you can drive away the devil and evil thoughts. For he cannot hear or endure God’s Word; and God’s Word is not like some other silly prattle, as that about Dietrich of Berne, etc., but as St. Paul says, Rom. 1:16, the power of God. Yea, indeed, the power of God which gives the devil burning pain, and strengthens, comforts, and helps us beyond measure.”

    And of those who neglect the study and preaching o God’s Word, it says:

    “Yea, even among the nobility there may be found some louts and scrimps, who declare that there is no longer any need either of pastors or preachers; that we have everything in books, and every one can easily learn it by himself; and so they are content to let the parishes decay and become desolate, and pastors and preachers to suffer distress and hunger a plenty, just as it becomes crazy Germans to do. For we Germans have such disgraceful people, and must endure them.”

    and also:

    “Oh, what mad, senseless fools are we that, while we must ever live and dwell among such mighty enemies as the devils are, we nevertheless despise our weapons and defense, and are too lazy to look at or think of them!

    16] And what else are such supercilious, presumptuous saints, who are unwilling to read and study the Catechism daily, doing than esteeming themselves much more learned than God Himself with all His saints, angels, [patriarchs], prophets, apostles, and all Christians? For inasmuch as God Himself is not ashamed to teach these things daily, as knowing nothing better to teach, and always keeps teaching the same thing, and does not take up anything new or different, and all the saints know nothing better or different to learn, and cannot finish learning this, are we not the finest of all fellows to imagine, if we have once read or heard it, that we know it all, and have no further need to read and learn, but can finish learning in one hour what God Himself cannot finish teaching, although He is engaged in teaching it from the beginning to the end of the world, and all prophets, together with all saints, have been occupied with learning it, and have ever remained pupils, and must continue to be such.”

    Anyone who never goes to church or neglects the sacraments can never be sai to be following Lutheran doctrine or practice.

    You can read the whole Large catachism here:

    http://bookofconcord.org/lc-1-intro.php#para10

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner,

    You mention God’s Word several times in your response. It’s safe to assume that you are well aware that God’s Word speaks negatively about false idols.

    Do you think it possible that the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism”, both in Doctrine and Practice, might be a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans?

    (A) Yes, it’s possible. Or…

    (B) No, it’s not possible.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner,

    You mention God’s Word several times in your response. It’s safe to assume that you are well aware that God’s Word speaks negatively about false idols.

    Do you think it possible that the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism”, both in Doctrine and Practice, might be a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans?

    (A) Yes, it’s possible. Or…

    (B) No, it’s not possible.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    TUD #161:

    Of course the answer to your question is (A), but what does that matter? People make false idols out of all sorts of things. For the biblicist, even the Bible becomes a false idol, an amulet, a talisman, an Aladdin’s Lamp which conjures up true dogma, a book that (like the Quran) was and remains inerrant and infallible. (Interestingly, the standard evangelical and fundamentalist definition of inspiration is found nowhere in the Bible.)

  • Kristofer Carlson

    TUD #161:

    Of course the answer to your question is (A), but what does that matter? People make false idols out of all sorts of things. For the biblicist, even the Bible becomes a false idol, an amulet, a talisman, an Aladdin’s Lamp which conjures up true dogma, a book that (like the Quran) was and remains inerrant and infallible. (Interestingly, the standard evangelical and fundamentalist definition of inspiration is found nowhere in the Bible.)

  • kerner

    Since I believe that the “distinctive Luheran take on baptism” comes straight out of the Bible, I’m going to have to go with “(B) No, it’s not possible”.

    God’s Word cannot be a “false idol”. If you think it can, or if you think that the “distinctive Lutheran take on baptism” is not from Scripture, you’ll have to show me how and why.

  • kerner

    Since I believe that the “distinctive Luheran take on baptism” comes straight out of the Bible, I’m going to have to go with “(B) No, it’s not possible”.

    God’s Word cannot be a “false idol”. If you think it can, or if you think that the “distinctive Lutheran take on baptism” is not from Scripture, you’ll have to show me how and why.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Introductions are in order.

    Kristofer Carlson: “Of course the answer to your question is (A)”

    Meet

    Kerner: “I’m going to have to go with “(B) No, it’s not possible”.”

    Kerner: “God’s Word cannot be a “false idol”. ”

    Meet

    Kristofer Carlson: “For the biblicist, even the Bible becomes a false idol”

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Introductions are in order.

    Kristofer Carlson: “Of course the answer to your question is (A)”

    Meet

    Kerner: “I’m going to have to go with “(B) No, it’s not possible”.”

    Kerner: “God’s Word cannot be a “false idol”. ”

    Meet

    Kristofer Carlson: “For the biblicist, even the Bible becomes a false idol”

  • kerner

    Hmm. I guess truth really does unite and divide.

    But, happy as I am to meet Kris, I believe I’m the “staunch Lutheran” still in the room. Kris is Eastern Orthodox. But what about you TU&D. A or B? You’ve heard our answers, will you give us yours?

  • kerner

    Hmm. I guess truth really does unite and divide.

    But, happy as I am to meet Kris, I believe I’m the “staunch Lutheran” still in the room. Kris is Eastern Orthodox. But what about you TU&D. A or B? You’ve heard our answers, will you give us yours?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    (A) Yes, I think it is possible that the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism”, both in Doctrine and Practice, might be a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    (A) Yes, I think it is possible that the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism”, both in Doctrine and Practice, might be a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans.

  • kerner

    TU&D:

    So, how do you figure that?

  • kerner

    TU&D:

    So, how do you figure that?

  • kerner

    TU&D:

    Most importantly, what’s wrong with Lutheran doctrine? So far you have expressed happiness that Lutheran doctrine is what it is @122. And I think the “prectice” of some nominal “Lutherans” such as the Scandinavian state churches isn’t really Lutheran according to the Lutheran confessions.

  • kerner

    TU&D:

    Most importantly, what’s wrong with Lutheran doctrine? So far you have expressed happiness that Lutheran doctrine is what it is @122. And I think the “prectice” of some nominal “Lutherans” such as the Scandinavian state churches isn’t really Lutheran according to the Lutheran confessions.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Sorry Gentlemen I have been out of the loop for a few days. I have few questions for the Confessional Lutherans out there: The primary reasons Lutherans give for “fencing the table” is to prevent Christians who do not understand the meaning of “real presence” in a way constant with the Book of Concord from risking “eating and drinking judgment” for “not discerning the Lord’s body”. Would you suggest that these Christian not commune in their home churches as well or are they only at risk of judgment if the Eucharist they are receiving is served by a Lutheran Minster? Why is it that the LCMS will not commune the WELS (and visa versa) presumably they both have the same view of the lords supper?

  • Steve in Toronto

    Sorry Gentlemen I have been out of the loop for a few days. I have few questions for the Confessional Lutherans out there: The primary reasons Lutherans give for “fencing the table” is to prevent Christians who do not understand the meaning of “real presence” in a way constant with the Book of Concord from risking “eating and drinking judgment” for “not discerning the Lord’s body”. Would you suggest that these Christian not commune in their home churches as well or are they only at risk of judgment if the Eucharist they are receiving is served by a Lutheran Minster? Why is it that the LCMS will not commune the WELS (and visa versa) presumably they both have the same view of the lords supper?

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Having been Fundamentalist, Lutheran, and now (and finally) Eastern Orthodox, I’d have to say that it is possible to make nearly anything a false idol. The Biblicist can worship the Bible as a book (in addition to or instead of the God revealed in that book); the Lutheran can worship their “pure doctrine”, their confessional books, their hymnody, or the common service; the EO can worship their ritual and traditions. Never underestimate the human capacity to create false idols for themselves. I’ve done it myself. Fortunately for me, God is merciful.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Having been Fundamentalist, Lutheran, and now (and finally) Eastern Orthodox, I’d have to say that it is possible to make nearly anything a false idol. The Biblicist can worship the Bible as a book (in addition to or instead of the God revealed in that book); the Lutheran can worship their “pure doctrine”, their confessional books, their hymnody, or the common service; the EO can worship their ritual and traditions. Never underestimate the human capacity to create false idols for themselves. I’ve done it myself. Fortunately for me, God is merciful.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kristofer Carlson,

    As a former Confessional Lutheran, can you specifically speak a little bit about how the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism” might or did become a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kristofer Carlson,

    As a former Confessional Lutheran, can you specifically speak a little bit about how the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism” might or did become a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans?

  • kerner

    Steve:

    I myself am critical of a rigid closed communion policy, so I have some difficulty defending the practice. For what it may be worth, I don’t think the LCMS is as rigid as the WELS. Before I was LCMS, an LCMS pastor communed me after briefly questioning me about my understanding of what the Lord’s supper is. Finding that understanding to be basically Lutheran (and upon my statement that I had been confirmed a Lutheran some years earlier), he communed me. I live in Milwaukee, where there are plenty of Lutheran congregations, so I dare say that if I were an Anglican interested in Lutheranism, it might be possible for me to find a Lutheran Pastor who would commune me if he knew me well enough to believe that I was indeed a penitent Christian who understood the concept of real presence and who sought forgiveness of my sins in the Lord’s Supper. But this would be an individual pastor’s decision and it would not be made lightly. I realize that your situation is much different, and you have said the congregation available to you is not very welcoming. I don’t know them, so I don’t really have a defense for their behavior. But I don’t think confessional Lutherans will, in the foreseeable future, ever be likely to give communion to just anyone purely as a way of welcoming visitors.

    Kristofer:

    I need to mull over the concept of making a “false” idol out of something that is itself “true”, such as God’s Word. Especially when God’s Word is so closely associated with God himself that at one point He identifies entirely with His Word (John 1:1). Can you expand on that a little?

    TU&D:

    Im not sure that you agree with Kristofer about it being possible for God’s Word to be a false idol, because you may have reached conclusion A by an entirely different route. But if you could explain how you got to conclusion A, I would appreciate it.

  • kerner

    Steve:

    I myself am critical of a rigid closed communion policy, so I have some difficulty defending the practice. For what it may be worth, I don’t think the LCMS is as rigid as the WELS. Before I was LCMS, an LCMS pastor communed me after briefly questioning me about my understanding of what the Lord’s supper is. Finding that understanding to be basically Lutheran (and upon my statement that I had been confirmed a Lutheran some years earlier), he communed me. I live in Milwaukee, where there are plenty of Lutheran congregations, so I dare say that if I were an Anglican interested in Lutheranism, it might be possible for me to find a Lutheran Pastor who would commune me if he knew me well enough to believe that I was indeed a penitent Christian who understood the concept of real presence and who sought forgiveness of my sins in the Lord’s Supper. But this would be an individual pastor’s decision and it would not be made lightly. I realize that your situation is much different, and you have said the congregation available to you is not very welcoming. I don’t know them, so I don’t really have a defense for their behavior. But I don’t think confessional Lutherans will, in the foreseeable future, ever be likely to give communion to just anyone purely as a way of welcoming visitors.

    Kristofer:

    I need to mull over the concept of making a “false” idol out of something that is itself “true”, such as God’s Word. Especially when God’s Word is so closely associated with God himself that at one point He identifies entirely with His Word (John 1:1). Can you expand on that a little?

    TU&D:

    Im not sure that you agree with Kristofer about it being possible for God’s Word to be a false idol, because you may have reached conclusion A by an entirely different route. But if you could explain how you got to conclusion A, I would appreciate it.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner,

    Let’s let Kristofer Carlson speak first about how the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism” might or did become a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans.

    Thanks.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner,

    Let’s let Kristofer Carlson speak first about how the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism” might or did become a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans.

    Thanks.

  • kerner

    TU&D:

    I have a better idea. Let’s let you, who have posed the question, provide some rationale for your position. I don’t see the point of participating in a discussion with someone, whose questions I have answered, decides to hold back his own opinions waiing for the “gotcha” moment.

  • kerner

    TU&D:

    I have a better idea. Let’s let you, who have posed the question, provide some rationale for your position. I don’t see the point of participating in a discussion with someone, whose questions I have answered, decides to hold back his own opinions waiing for the “gotcha” moment.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner,

    Since you don’t think it’s possible that the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism” might become a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans, it would be a waste of time.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kerner,

    Since you don’t think it’s possible that the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism” might become a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans, it would be a waste of time.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Speaking of “wastes of time” (@175), that’s a pretty good description of engaging in “discussions” with a person who relies on extensive quotations from other blogs to make his point (whatever it may be), and then spends most of his time repeatedly insisting that you submit to his forced, artificially constrained dichotomies, but refuses to defend his own ideas (again, whatever they might be).

    The only thing I’ve learned from you, TUaD, is that you don’t like Lutherans. And that you’re not terribly interested in actually engaging them in discussion, either. Couldn’t you just spit on your monitor, without having to draw other commenters into these pointless antics?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Speaking of “wastes of time” (@175), that’s a pretty good description of engaging in “discussions” with a person who relies on extensive quotations from other blogs to make his point (whatever it may be), and then spends most of his time repeatedly insisting that you submit to his forced, artificially constrained dichotomies, but refuses to defend his own ideas (again, whatever they might be).

    The only thing I’ve learned from you, TUaD, is that you don’t like Lutherans. And that you’re not terribly interested in actually engaging them in discussion, either. Couldn’t you just spit on your monitor, without having to draw other commenters into these pointless antics?

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Folks, at some point you are going to have to start doing your own homework; you’ll have to step outside your walled garden. But here goes, one more time.

    The biblicist has an inherently irrational and illogical view of inspiration, one more in common with the view of Islam towards the Koran than the view of historic Christianity towards Sacred Scripture. This view is expressed by the following definition, which I heard many times growing up: “We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible, which is therefore inerrant and infallible in the original autographs.” There are numerous problems with this definition, some of which may be found here: http://www.krisandsusanna.com/Documents/The%20Problem%20of%20Inerrancy.pdf

    It might be interesting to define the characteristic views of Sacred Scripture as understood by the biblicist. Christian Smith, in his book entitled “The Bible Made Impossible, The: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture”, provides the following points (which are not the formal understanding, but a set of commonplace understandings, arrived at by osmosis and accepted uncritically).

    Divine Writing: The Bible, down to the detail of its words, consists of and is identical with God’s very own words written inerrantly in human language.

    Total Representation: The Bible represents the totality of God’s communication to and will for humans, both in containing all that God has to say to humans and in being the exclusive mode of God’s true communication.

    Complete Coverage: The divine will about all of the issues relevant to Christian belief and life are contained in the Bible.

    Democratic Perspicuity: Any reasonably intelligent person can read the Bible in his or her own language and correctly understand the plain meaning of the text.

    Commonsense Hermeneutics: The best way to understand biblical texts is by reading them in their explicit, plain, most obvious, literal sense, as the author intended them at face value, which may or may not involve taking into account their literary, cultural, and historical contexts.

    Solo Scriptura: The significance of any given biblical text can be understood without reliance on creeds, confessions, historical church traditions, or other forms of larger theological hermeneutical frameworks, such that theological formulations can be built up directly out of the Bible from scratch.

    Internal Harmony: All related passages of the Bible on any given subject fit together almost like puzzle pieces into single, unified, internally consistent bodies of instruction about right and wrong beliefs and behaviors.

    Universal Applicability: What the biblical authors taught God’s people at any point in history remains universally valid for all Christians at every other time, unless explicitly revoked by subsequent scriptural teaching.

    Inductive Method: All matters of Christian belief and practice can be learned by sitting down with the Bible and piecing together through careful study the clear “biblical” truths that it teaches.

    Handbook Model: The Bible teaches doctrine and morals with every affirmation that it makes, so that together those affirmations comprise something like a handbook or textbook for Christian belief and living, a compendium of divine and therefore inerrant teachings on a full array of subjects—including science, economics, health, politics, and romance. (This model is not really a separate characteristic, but rather the outlook generated by the first nine points.)

    This is why the biblicist has to be a literalist on the seven-day creation, why they have to find dinosaurs in the bible where none exist, why they have to believe in a young earth, and why they have to believe that a 35,000 yr old carved bone flute has to be scientific error, a fraud, or simply something God put there to test our faith.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    Folks, at some point you are going to have to start doing your own homework; you’ll have to step outside your walled garden. But here goes, one more time.

    The biblicist has an inherently irrational and illogical view of inspiration, one more in common with the view of Islam towards the Koran than the view of historic Christianity towards Sacred Scripture. This view is expressed by the following definition, which I heard many times growing up: “We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible, which is therefore inerrant and infallible in the original autographs.” There are numerous problems with this definition, some of which may be found here: http://www.krisandsusanna.com/Documents/The%20Problem%20of%20Inerrancy.pdf

    It might be interesting to define the characteristic views of Sacred Scripture as understood by the biblicist. Christian Smith, in his book entitled “The Bible Made Impossible, The: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture”, provides the following points (which are not the formal understanding, but a set of commonplace understandings, arrived at by osmosis and accepted uncritically).

    Divine Writing: The Bible, down to the detail of its words, consists of and is identical with God’s very own words written inerrantly in human language.

    Total Representation: The Bible represents the totality of God’s communication to and will for humans, both in containing all that God has to say to humans and in being the exclusive mode of God’s true communication.

    Complete Coverage: The divine will about all of the issues relevant to Christian belief and life are contained in the Bible.

    Democratic Perspicuity: Any reasonably intelligent person can read the Bible in his or her own language and correctly understand the plain meaning of the text.

    Commonsense Hermeneutics: The best way to understand biblical texts is by reading them in their explicit, plain, most obvious, literal sense, as the author intended them at face value, which may or may not involve taking into account their literary, cultural, and historical contexts.

    Solo Scriptura: The significance of any given biblical text can be understood without reliance on creeds, confessions, historical church traditions, or other forms of larger theological hermeneutical frameworks, such that theological formulations can be built up directly out of the Bible from scratch.

    Internal Harmony: All related passages of the Bible on any given subject fit together almost like puzzle pieces into single, unified, internally consistent bodies of instruction about right and wrong beliefs and behaviors.

    Universal Applicability: What the biblical authors taught God’s people at any point in history remains universally valid for all Christians at every other time, unless explicitly revoked by subsequent scriptural teaching.

    Inductive Method: All matters of Christian belief and practice can be learned by sitting down with the Bible and piecing together through careful study the clear “biblical” truths that it teaches.

    Handbook Model: The Bible teaches doctrine and morals with every affirmation that it makes, so that together those affirmations comprise something like a handbook or textbook for Christian belief and living, a compendium of divine and therefore inerrant teachings on a full array of subjects—including science, economics, health, politics, and romance. (This model is not really a separate characteristic, but rather the outlook generated by the first nine points.)

    This is why the biblicist has to be a literalist on the seven-day creation, why they have to find dinosaurs in the bible where none exist, why they have to believe in a young earth, and why they have to believe that a 35,000 yr old carved bone flute has to be scientific error, a fraud, or simply something God put there to test our faith.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kristofer Carlson,

    Since you cite Christian Smith’s book, “The Bible Made Impossible, The: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture”, here’s a worthy review for you by Rev. Kevin DeYoung regarding his book titled

    Christian Smith Makes the Bible Impossible.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Kristofer Carlson,

    Since you cite Christian Smith’s book, “The Bible Made Impossible, The: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture”, here’s a worthy review for you by Rev. Kevin DeYoung regarding his book titled

    Christian Smith Makes the Bible Impossible.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    P.S. Only a biblicist would say in all seriousness, “I believe in the Bible”, whereas most Christians throughout history have confessed a belief in the God of the bible, vs. the bible itself.

    We believe in one God the Father Almighty…
    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God…
    And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life…

    But nowhere in the unaltered Nicene Creed (in the East), or the altered Nicene Creed, Apostle’s Creed, or Athanasian Creed (in the West) does the church confess a belief in the bible itself.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    P.S. Only a biblicist would say in all seriousness, “I believe in the Bible”, whereas most Christians throughout history have confessed a belief in the God of the bible, vs. the bible itself.

    We believe in one God the Father Almighty…
    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God…
    And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life…

    But nowhere in the unaltered Nicene Creed (in the East), or the altered Nicene Creed, Apostle’s Creed, or Athanasian Creed (in the West) does the church confess a belief in the bible itself.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    TUD #178, I must admit I haven’t read Christian Smith’s book, nor am I likely to do so; I used his points as a way of framing the discussion. I was raised in the biblicist camp and studied the issue for some time. I’ve moved on, and it’s a debate I’m no longer interested in. In fact, I find discussing these issues with evangelicals quite distressing; I know where they are, I know the struggles I went through to get to where I am now, and I know that online forums such as this weren’t all that helpful to me. In all likeliehood, these forums aren’t that helpful to you either. The information is out there if you will but look for it. Do with it what you will.

  • Kristofer Carlson

    TUD #178, I must admit I haven’t read Christian Smith’s book, nor am I likely to do so; I used his points as a way of framing the discussion. I was raised in the biblicist camp and studied the issue for some time. I’ve moved on, and it’s a debate I’m no longer interested in. In fact, I find discussing these issues with evangelicals quite distressing; I know where they are, I know the struggles I went through to get to where I am now, and I know that online forums such as this weren’t all that helpful to me. In all likeliehood, these forums aren’t that helpful to you either. The information is out there if you will but look for it. Do with it what you will.

  • kerner

    No it wouldn’t, TU&D, I can be convinced to change my mind by a logical argument. Kristofer pointed out that good things can become false idols, and that made me think. I have just never thought of applying that to God’s Word before. He may not convince me ultimately, but I respect him and I respect his opinion. I might respect your opinion too, if you’ll tell me what it is, and I may be convinced by it.

  • kerner

    No it wouldn’t, TU&D, I can be convinced to change my mind by a logical argument. Kristofer pointed out that good things can become false idols, and that made me think. I have just never thought of applying that to God’s Word before. He may not convince me ultimately, but I respect him and I respect his opinion. I might respect your opinion too, if you’ll tell me what it is, and I may be convinced by it.

  • kerner

    Now that I have had time to read Kris’ comments here, as well as some of his postings on his website, I find food for thought, but not a position with which I readily agree. But, thanks for saving me some homework Kris. I really will think about it.

    TU&D: One thing of which Kris’ exposition convinces me is that his rationale for choosing option A is very probably different than your own; so, what’s yours?

    Or, is tODD right in saying that you are just setting up a false dichotomy?

  • kerner

    Now that I have had time to read Kris’ comments here, as well as some of his postings on his website, I find food for thought, but not a position with which I readily agree. But, thanks for saving me some homework Kris. I really will think about it.

    TU&D: One thing of which Kris’ exposition convinces me is that his rationale for choosing option A is very probably different than your own; so, what’s yours?

    Or, is tODD right in saying that you are just setting up a false dichotomy?

  • Grace

    Kristofer Carlson @170

    The Biblicist can worship the Bible as a book (in addition to or instead of the God revealed in that book); the Lutheran can worship their “pure doctrine”, their confessional books, their hymnody, or the common service; the EO can worship their ritual and traditions. Never underestimate the human capacity to create false idols for themselves. I’ve done it myself. Fortunately for me, God is merciful.”

    Kristofer, the Bible is God’s Word. You can twist it, an then try and convince others through whatever means, that they are using the Bible is an idol, .. in most cases it’s done by those who live by ‘tradition, rather than seeking God’s inerrant Word as their source. Many do it by praying to Mary, or as they like to say, using her as a mediator to Christ. And then there are those who kneel before statues of saints in their churches, an icon, an idol, however…. they will tell you it’s ‘tradition. Do you kneel before statues of saints, or pray through Mary?

    Kristofer Carlson @ 179

    “P.S. Only a biblicist would say in all seriousness, “I believe in the Bible”, whereas most Christians throughout history have confessed a belief in the God of the bible, vs. the bible itself.”

    God’s inerrant, infallible Word cannot be trusted? – You can trust God, but not HIS Word? – yet you can trust ‘tradition’ .. typical excuse for changing what is written in HOLY Scripture, by those who live by ‘tradition.

    The Roman Church, Orthodox, and others, who live from ‘tradition’ rather than the Word of God (Bible) are well known. Those of us who trust the inerrant, infallible Word of God, trust the LORD, trust HIM to have given HIS Word to the Apostles and Paul through the HOLY Spirit, penned to parchment, just as HE wanted it, not ‘tradition but HIS Word.

    God Almighty is all powerful, its obvious that HE and HE alone is capable of keeping safe HIS inerrant, inspired, infallible Word of God, which mankind would learn, and understand throughout the world until HIS Son returned.

    Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalms 119:105

  • Grace

    Kristofer Carlson @170

    The Biblicist can worship the Bible as a book (in addition to or instead of the God revealed in that book); the Lutheran can worship their “pure doctrine”, their confessional books, their hymnody, or the common service; the EO can worship their ritual and traditions. Never underestimate the human capacity to create false idols for themselves. I’ve done it myself. Fortunately for me, God is merciful.”

    Kristofer, the Bible is God’s Word. You can twist it, an then try and convince others through whatever means, that they are using the Bible is an idol, .. in most cases it’s done by those who live by ‘tradition, rather than seeking God’s inerrant Word as their source. Many do it by praying to Mary, or as they like to say, using her as a mediator to Christ. And then there are those who kneel before statues of saints in their churches, an icon, an idol, however…. they will tell you it’s ‘tradition. Do you kneel before statues of saints, or pray through Mary?

    Kristofer Carlson @ 179

    “P.S. Only a biblicist would say in all seriousness, “I believe in the Bible”, whereas most Christians throughout history have confessed a belief in the God of the bible, vs. the bible itself.”

    God’s inerrant, infallible Word cannot be trusted? – You can trust God, but not HIS Word? – yet you can trust ‘tradition’ .. typical excuse for changing what is written in HOLY Scripture, by those who live by ‘tradition.

    The Roman Church, Orthodox, and others, who live from ‘tradition’ rather than the Word of God (Bible) are well known. Those of us who trust the inerrant, infallible Word of God, trust the LORD, trust HIM to have given HIS Word to the Apostles and Paul through the HOLY Spirit, penned to parchment, just as HE wanted it, not ‘tradition but HIS Word.

    God Almighty is all powerful, its obvious that HE and HE alone is capable of keeping safe HIS inerrant, inspired, infallible Word of God, which mankind would learn, and understand throughout the world until HIS Son returned.

    Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalms 119:105

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Although this may be an exercise in futility, let’s try anyway.

    Kerner, let’s recall the question and reset the stage: “Do you think it possible that the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism”, both in Doctrine and Practice, might be a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans?

    (A) Yes, it’s possible. Or…

    (B) No, it’s not possible.”

    Both Kristopher Carlson and myself said (A) while you stated (B).

    Here’s why I think it’s possible (split across two comments). Let’s take a look at some observations made earlier:

    o “One episode stands out. I was working in my office one day and heard a knock on the office door–we kept the church unlocked. Opening the door, I found two junior high school boys standing there. After greeting them I invited them in for a visit. They said they were on a mission from school to find some working stiff and ask him about his job, and they’d chosen me. They had a few questions about what I did with my time and then we turned to religion. I asked them if they went to church and they both said they did now because they were in confirmation class and you had to go to church while you were in confirmation class. Their church was the local WELS congregation.

    Then one boy turned to the other and announced with some high anticipation, “My dad says as soon as confirmation is over, I can stop going.” (Pastor Tim Bayly).

    That did an excellent job of summing up the WELS version of Christian faith I observed there in Wisconsin. It appeard to be a ghetto of pure sacramentalism with no observable impact for Christ anywhere or any time.

    o “Think of Breivik, who was one of the 90,757,570 reported Lutherans in the world (as of 2005) and who must have been one of the 3,991,545 members of the State Church in Norway, which is Lutheran, as 79.2 percent of Norwegians are. It is hard not to be baptized and a registered member of that Church. Then think further; it is hard to picture that Breivik was anything but one of the 97 percent of the members who never shows up. That he caught many ideas from this religious [Lutheran] background is clear from citations in his monstrous manifesto and elsewhere.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Although this may be an exercise in futility, let’s try anyway.

    Kerner, let’s recall the question and reset the stage: “Do you think it possible that the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism”, both in Doctrine and Practice, might be a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans?

    (A) Yes, it’s possible. Or…

    (B) No, it’s not possible.”

    Both Kristopher Carlson and myself said (A) while you stated (B).

    Here’s why I think it’s possible (split across two comments). Let’s take a look at some observations made earlier:

    o “One episode stands out. I was working in my office one day and heard a knock on the office door–we kept the church unlocked. Opening the door, I found two junior high school boys standing there. After greeting them I invited them in for a visit. They said they were on a mission from school to find some working stiff and ask him about his job, and they’d chosen me. They had a few questions about what I did with my time and then we turned to religion. I asked them if they went to church and they both said they did now because they were in confirmation class and you had to go to church while you were in confirmation class. Their church was the local WELS congregation.

    Then one boy turned to the other and announced with some high anticipation, “My dad says as soon as confirmation is over, I can stop going.” (Pastor Tim Bayly).

    That did an excellent job of summing up the WELS version of Christian faith I observed there in Wisconsin. It appeard to be a ghetto of pure sacramentalism with no observable impact for Christ anywhere or any time.

    o “Think of Breivik, who was one of the 90,757,570 reported Lutherans in the world (as of 2005) and who must have been one of the 3,991,545 members of the State Church in Norway, which is Lutheran, as 79.2 percent of Norwegians are. It is hard not to be baptized and a registered member of that Church. Then think further; it is hard to picture that Breivik was anything but one of the 97 percent of the members who never shows up. That he caught many ideas from this religious [Lutheran] background is clear from citations in his monstrous manifesto and elsewhere.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    (Continued)

    Let’s now look at some remarks made by Lutheran commenters on Cranach:

    o “Our faith rests not in what we do or do not do, but in who we are in Christ alone. That is made certain in baptism.

    o “My first question at a starbucks when talking about theology with a stranger is to inquire as to whether or not they are baptized. If they have been, I address them as a christian regardless of what else they say. I call them back to their baptism.”

    o “The thing I want to know when talking to a gay man or women or transgender or other human who is or is not going to church is whether or not they were baptized.”

    Given these observations and statements, let’s now look at what Reverend Paul T. McCain, a Confessional Lutheran, states:

    “I’ll say it again, and it always irritates people when I do, but the reality is that there are those who have been so “comforted” that they think nothing of engaging in sin and pursuing vile activities, all the while appealing to their Baptism, or being “free in Christ.”

    Taking all this together is why I wrote: “(A) Yes, I think it is possible that the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism”, both in Doctrine and Practice, might be a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans.”

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    (Continued)

    Let’s now look at some remarks made by Lutheran commenters on Cranach:

    o “Our faith rests not in what we do or do not do, but in who we are in Christ alone. That is made certain in baptism.

    o “My first question at a starbucks when talking about theology with a stranger is to inquire as to whether or not they are baptized. If they have been, I address them as a christian regardless of what else they say. I call them back to their baptism.”

    o “The thing I want to know when talking to a gay man or women or transgender or other human who is or is not going to church is whether or not they were baptized.”

    Given these observations and statements, let’s now look at what Reverend Paul T. McCain, a Confessional Lutheran, states:

    “I’ll say it again, and it always irritates people when I do, but the reality is that there are those who have been so “comforted” that they think nothing of engaging in sin and pursuing vile activities, all the while appealing to their Baptism, or being “free in Christ.”

    Taking all this together is why I wrote: “(A) Yes, I think it is possible that the “distinctive Lutheran take on Baptism”, both in Doctrine and Practice, might be a false idol for some Baptized Lutherans.”

  • kerner

    TU&D @184-185:

    Now, was that so hard?

    And my response is that I understand the problem you are describing and I have encountered it myself. But I would not have previously considered it a manifestation of the Lutheran doctrine and/or practice of baptism being a “false idol”.

    I mean, assuming the doctrine is true and the practice is a means of grace (please do that for the sake of argument), then how can it be a “false” idol? That doesn’t mean that hypocracy or prodigal behavior or outright apostacy are justifiable, but false idolatry? I’ll still have to mull that over.

    But maybe you, and even Kris, have a point. And I will consider it.

  • kerner

    TU&D @184-185:

    Now, was that so hard?

    And my response is that I understand the problem you are describing and I have encountered it myself. But I would not have previously considered it a manifestation of the Lutheran doctrine and/or practice of baptism being a “false idol”.

    I mean, assuming the doctrine is true and the practice is a means of grace (please do that for the sake of argument), then how can it be a “false” idol? That doesn’t mean that hypocracy or prodigal behavior or outright apostacy are justifiable, but false idolatry? I’ll still have to mull that over.

    But maybe you, and even Kris, have a point. And I will consider it.

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  • Kristofer Carlson
  • Kristofer Carlson
  • Grace

    Kristofer @187

    Regarding Skye Jethani …. the Emergent Church movement – do you know who Dan Kimball is?

  • Grace

    Kristofer @187

    Regarding Skye Jethani …. the Emergent Church movement – do you know who Dan Kimball is?

  • Grace

    @ 187 —– Kristofer Carlson

    RE: IDOLS –

    I asked you a question in post 183:

    “Kristofer, the Bible is God’s Word. You can twist it, an then try and convince others through whatever means, that they are using the Bible is an idol, .. in most cases it’s done by those who live by ‘tradition, rather than seeking God’s inerrant Word as their source. Many do it by praying to Mary, or as they like to say, using her as a mediator to Christ. And then there are those who kneel before statues of saints in their churches, an icon, an idol, however…. they will tell you it’s ‘tradition. Do you kneel before statues of saints, or pray through Mary?

  • Grace

    @ 187 —– Kristofer Carlson

    RE: IDOLS –

    I asked you a question in post 183:

    “Kristofer, the Bible is God’s Word. You can twist it, an then try and convince others through whatever means, that they are using the Bible is an idol, .. in most cases it’s done by those who live by ‘tradition, rather than seeking God’s inerrant Word as their source. Many do it by praying to Mary, or as they like to say, using her as a mediator to Christ. And then there are those who kneel before statues of saints in their churches, an icon, an idol, however…. they will tell you it’s ‘tradition. Do you kneel before statues of saints, or pray through Mary?

  • kerner

    Kris:

    OK, so something really really good, something that comes from God, can still be an idol if we elevate it from something that comes from God to something that is God. I can see that. C.S. Lewis talked about human love (affection, erotic love, friendship, etc.) becoming a demon once we attept to make a god of it.

    But sometimes we run into something so closely identified with God that the scripture says that God is these things. For example, “God is love”, or “the Word was God”. Lewis discussed the kind of “love” that “God is”, I think. And I admit that God so identifies with His people, the Church, that He calls us “His Body”.

    Now I suppose Christians who have a lower view of the Church than you do could say that the Orthodox have made a false idol of “the Church”, or “Church tradition” using your own logic.

    And I hope I can say this without being offensive, but I still have quite a bit of trouble with the elevation of St. Mary to the position of “Mother of all Christians”, effectively a demi-goddess who hears the cacaphony of all our prayers (a divine attribute to be sure) and intercedes with God on our behalf. I think that really is elevating something, or in this case someone, good to a divine place where she does not belong. I mean, where in Scripture is there any indication of a place for an interceding “mother” in God’s plan to reconcile Himself to a sinful and fallen human race?

    But I digress. My first point is whether it is possible for something that God says he “is”, to be, per se, an idol.

  • kerner

    Kris:

    OK, so something really really good, something that comes from God, can still be an idol if we elevate it from something that comes from God to something that is God. I can see that. C.S. Lewis talked about human love (affection, erotic love, friendship, etc.) becoming a demon once we attept to make a god of it.

    But sometimes we run into something so closely identified with God that the scripture says that God is these things. For example, “God is love”, or “the Word was God”. Lewis discussed the kind of “love” that “God is”, I think. And I admit that God so identifies with His people, the Church, that He calls us “His Body”.

    Now I suppose Christians who have a lower view of the Church than you do could say that the Orthodox have made a false idol of “the Church”, or “Church tradition” using your own logic.

    And I hope I can say this without being offensive, but I still have quite a bit of trouble with the elevation of St. Mary to the position of “Mother of all Christians”, effectively a demi-goddess who hears the cacaphony of all our prayers (a divine attribute to be sure) and intercedes with God on our behalf. I think that really is elevating something, or in this case someone, good to a divine place where she does not belong. I mean, where in Scripture is there any indication of a place for an interceding “mother” in God’s plan to reconcile Himself to a sinful and fallen human race?

    But I digress. My first point is whether it is possible for something that God says he “is”, to be, per se, an idol.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Does the following appeal to baptism supply partial evidence that baptism is a false idol for some Lutherans?

    “kerner @ 89

    The pastor is not to try to examine someone to see if they are a true believer. Lutherans know that that task is reserved for Christ at the end of the age.

    Lutherans are therefore to ask “have you been baptized?” If the answer to that is a “yes”, then we must assume, in love, not in faith, that that person is a believer and address that person accordingly. This is the Lutheran practice that our Confessions teach us.

    So the part about “examining and absolving” is about what? It is about closed communion for one thing. When this was confessed in our Confessions 100% of Germany was baptized. We have to interpret the Confessions against that fact here.

    Secondly it is not even about determining who is and who is not a member of the Holy Catholic Church, or visible church that is composed of both hypocrites and true believers (apology article “on the church”). If you are baptized , you are in!

    ———

    Then note what Rev. Paul T. McCain, a Confessional Lutheran, writes:

    “I’ll say it again, and it always irritates people when I do, but the reality is that there are those who have been so “comforted” that they think nothing of engaging in sin and pursuing vile activities, all the while appealing to their Baptism, or being “free in Christ.”

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Does the following appeal to baptism supply partial evidence that baptism is a false idol for some Lutherans?

    “kerner @ 89

    The pastor is not to try to examine someone to see if they are a true believer. Lutherans know that that task is reserved for Christ at the end of the age.

    Lutherans are therefore to ask “have you been baptized?” If the answer to that is a “yes”, then we must assume, in love, not in faith, that that person is a believer and address that person accordingly. This is the Lutheran practice that our Confessions teach us.

    So the part about “examining and absolving” is about what? It is about closed communion for one thing. When this was confessed in our Confessions 100% of Germany was baptized. We have to interpret the Confessions against that fact here.

    Secondly it is not even about determining who is and who is not a member of the Holy Catholic Church, or visible church that is composed of both hypocrites and true believers (apology article “on the church”). If you are baptized , you are in!

    ———

    Then note what Rev. Paul T. McCain, a Confessional Lutheran, writes:

    “I’ll say it again, and it always irritates people when I do, but the reality is that there are those who have been so “comforted” that they think nothing of engaging in sin and pursuing vile activities, all the while appealing to their Baptism, or being “free in Christ.”

  • NB

    I hate to come so late to a party, but Dr Veith’s question seems largely unanswered. Why do protestants skip over Lutheranism and go to Rome or Constantinople when looking for a sacramental, traditional church? One answer already said is the issue of “true church” and apostolic succession perhaps. But one MAJOR issue for parents of young children is often paedocommunion.

  • NB

    I hate to come so late to a party, but Dr Veith’s question seems largely unanswered. Why do protestants skip over Lutheranism and go to Rome or Constantinople when looking for a sacramental, traditional church? One answer already said is the issue of “true church” and apostolic succession perhaps. But one MAJOR issue for parents of young children is often paedocommunion.

  • Marcella

    This discussion about Lutherans caught my attention. I grew up in the ELCA, but left it around 15 years ago due to their ordination of gay clergy. I also had a discussion with the woman Pastor, who was in support of abortion, so I left the ELCA. Recently, at a MO Lutheran Church, I discussed Luther’s Small Cathecism with the Pastor. I was shocked at the false doctrine contained within it! I was baptized as a baby and led to believe for 29 years of my life that I was saved and bound for Heaven. I heard someone say infant baptism is not biblical, nor does it offer eternal life, and I was just shocked and very upset! I came to know the truth through reading my Bible and praying. Also, I cannot accept that Jesus Christ comes to us through the communion elements: bread and wine. Some Lutheran Pastors also teach and believe that Christ becomes the bread and wine or that He is present above, within and under the communion elements. That’s also unbiblical.

    Absolution? What’s that? Only Jesus Christ can forgive us of our sins. A “called and ordained Pastor” cannot. That’s another area of Lutheranism that really bothers me.

    I’m not here to stir up trouble, cause dissension or division, but I just want to voice my concerns over false doctrine.

    Are there any churches out there, where the true gospel is preached? I live in a large city, and all I’ve found here is false teaching and many cults housed within buildings that look like churches.

  • Marcella

    This discussion about Lutherans caught my attention. I grew up in the ELCA, but left it around 15 years ago due to their ordination of gay clergy. I also had a discussion with the woman Pastor, who was in support of abortion, so I left the ELCA. Recently, at a MO Lutheran Church, I discussed Luther’s Small Cathecism with the Pastor. I was shocked at the false doctrine contained within it! I was baptized as a baby and led to believe for 29 years of my life that I was saved and bound for Heaven. I heard someone say infant baptism is not biblical, nor does it offer eternal life, and I was just shocked and very upset! I came to know the truth through reading my Bible and praying. Also, I cannot accept that Jesus Christ comes to us through the communion elements: bread and wine. Some Lutheran Pastors also teach and believe that Christ becomes the bread and wine or that He is present above, within and under the communion elements. That’s also unbiblical.

    Absolution? What’s that? Only Jesus Christ can forgive us of our sins. A “called and ordained Pastor” cannot. That’s another area of Lutheranism that really bothers me.

    I’m not here to stir up trouble, cause dissension or division, but I just want to voice my concerns over false doctrine.

    Are there any churches out there, where the true gospel is preached? I live in a large city, and all I’ve found here is false teaching and many cults housed within buildings that look like churches.

  • NB

    Marcella, if you want to deny all those doctrines then you will find yourself at home in a baptist or presbyterian church. (depending on if you still want to baptize babies or not). But if you’re interested in TRUE doctrine, like you say, you could do alot worse than LCMS. All the things you mentioned have clear biblical precedent and teaching- and may require you doing some study WITH a spiritual father, like a pastor. But you sound more interested in being your own pope, so to speak.

  • NB

    Marcella, if you want to deny all those doctrines then you will find yourself at home in a baptist or presbyterian church. (depending on if you still want to baptize babies or not). But if you’re interested in TRUE doctrine, like you say, you could do alot worse than LCMS. All the things you mentioned have clear biblical precedent and teaching- and may require you doing some study WITH a spiritual father, like a pastor. But you sound more interested in being your own pope, so to speak.

  • Marcella

    NB, you are sooooo funny that I cannot stop laughing! It’s sad that so many have chosen to accept false doctrine, and Martin Luther was such a heretic! People don’t read the Bible, and if they do, they don’t read it and study it IN CONTEXT! So much twisting and rewriting of the Bible occurs and deceives alot of people. I study under a Pastor, who preaches the gospel truth, Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We are saved by grace through faith, not of works. Romans 8. So many people add works to the “salvation” as if Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross wasn’t enough. People have to do their part, as well in order to try to be saved. Sad! Very sad! The gospel is simple and true. I won’t compromise it or the full truth of the Bible! I get more out of reading my Bible and praying in my own quiet time than I have in listening to most of the preachers that are behind the pulpits today. There are alot of wolves and false teachers, who are creating their own deceptive gospels and luring people to follow them rather than Jesus Christ. It’s absolutely shameful! Praise the Lord for the truth of His Word and for the FREE gift of salvation through Jesus Christ!

  • Marcella

    NB, you are sooooo funny that I cannot stop laughing! It’s sad that so many have chosen to accept false doctrine, and Martin Luther was such a heretic! People don’t read the Bible, and if they do, they don’t read it and study it IN CONTEXT! So much twisting and rewriting of the Bible occurs and deceives alot of people. I study under a Pastor, who preaches the gospel truth, Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We are saved by grace through faith, not of works. Romans 8. So many people add works to the “salvation” as if Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross wasn’t enough. People have to do their part, as well in order to try to be saved. Sad! Very sad! The gospel is simple and true. I won’t compromise it or the full truth of the Bible! I get more out of reading my Bible and praying in my own quiet time than I have in listening to most of the preachers that are behind the pulpits today. There are alot of wolves and false teachers, who are creating their own deceptive gospels and luring people to follow them rather than Jesus Christ. It’s absolutely shameful! Praise the Lord for the truth of His Word and for the FREE gift of salvation through Jesus Christ!


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