What defines an “evangelical”?

Al Mohler has an interesting piece trying to define what is meant by “evangelical.”  He goes back into history, though strangely he says nothing about the source of the word in Lutheranism.  “Evangelical” used to be the name for “Lutheran,” in distinction to both Roman Catholics and Calvinists, a.k.a., “Reformed.”  The term comes from  evangelium, the Latin version of the Greek word for “good news”; that is, the Gospel.  And the Christian Gospel is that  salvation is a free gift, won by Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, who atoned for the sins of the world when He died on the Cross and who rose from the dead for our justification.  “Evangelical” was used to describe Lutheranism because the Gospel is the “chief article” of its theology–not God’s sovereignty, not morality, not church government, but the Gospel–the linchpin of every other teaching, including Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

But I acknowledge that many other kinds of Christians–not just Lutherans–also believe in the Gospel and make it central, and they too can go by the name “evangelical.”

Dr. Mohler, whom I think highly of,  says that the term refers to conservative Protestants to distinguish them from liberal Protestants, as well as from  Catholics.  He then gives some description of evangelicals as a social group.  But I think that the term, to be meaningful, must retain its core meaning of holding to the centrality of the Gospel.  And some conservative Protestants do NOT make the Gospel central, not really, and so shouldn’t use the name “evangelical.”

If you believe that you are saved by your good works, you are NOT an evangelical.

If you believe that salvation comes from how good you are, you are NOT an evangelical.

If you no longer believe in justification by grace through faith in Christ (as many “evangelical” theologians don’t anymore), you are NOT an evangelical.

If you do not believe in the Atonement (as many “evangelical” theologians don’t anymore), you are NOT an evangelical.

If you believe that Christianity is all about creating a perfect society on earth,  you are NOT an evangelical.

If you believe that Christianity is all about giving you prosperity, that the good news is about your earthly success, rather than the Cross of Jesus Christ, you are NOT an evangelical.

If you believe in faith, but put your faith in yourself, rather than in Christ (as I have heard “evangelicals” preach on TV), you are NOT an evangelical.

I’m not saying those I’m referring to may not be Christians–if they have even a trace of faith in the work of Christ, buried under all kinds of other teachings, they may be–but they should come up with other words for themselves.

What Makes Evangelicalism Evangelical?, Christian News.

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.

  • PHW

    I wish more people understood these distinctions…and the history of the term.

  • PHW

    I wish more people understood these distinctions…and the history of the term.

  • Pete

    “Evangelical” used to be the name for “Lutheran,” in distinction to both Roman Catholics and Calvinists, a.k.a., “Reformed.”

    A few years back, I was in Luzern, Switzerland on Good Friday and my son and I attended a service at the “Evangelische” church. The service was in German, but the liturgy was unmistakably Lutheran. There are places in Europe where “evangelical” = “Lutheran” still.

  • Pete

    “Evangelical” used to be the name for “Lutheran,” in distinction to both Roman Catholics and Calvinists, a.k.a., “Reformed.”

    A few years back, I was in Luzern, Switzerland on Good Friday and my son and I attended a service at the “Evangelische” church. The service was in German, but the liturgy was unmistakably Lutheran. There are places in Europe where “evangelical” = “Lutheran” still.

  • larry

    That’s the real issue because men like Mohler do define “evangelical” largely as conservative versus liberal whatever. That’s probably the reason he did not go back to refer to its reference in int the Lutheran reformation, because it strikes against the conservative groups (like Calvinist) as well as the liberal groups. “Evangelical” used to be the name for “Lutheran,” in distinction to both Roman Catholics and Calvinists, a.k.a., “Reformed.”

    I came from that background, especially the Mohler, MacArthur, Piper doctrinal package and they largely deny the Gospel (I know how that sounds but contrary to popular opinion doctrine DOES matter). As a rule “conservative” whatever doctrinal teachers get a pass over “liberal” whatever doctrinal teachers do and garner more respectability. However, the Gospel is denied men as much if not more in conservative circles as is liberal circles. The issue is always the doctrine and not the conservative versus liberal flavors. Both end up denying the Gospel, just one is more respectably doing so than the other.

    At the end of the day there’s no real substantial difference between the liberal theologian that wants to make nearly everything in the bible metaphorical than there is in the conservative that denies the reality and power of baptism and that the Christ said what He meant when He said “This is My body/blood…”. They are like a bad married couple that cannot get along but yet can’t exist without the other, conservative versus liberal theologians. Each gives the other something to talk about. Meanwhile both are denying the Gospel.

    Luther saw this coming and in particular near the end after Marburg over the issue of the sacrament of the altar. He knew that this foul spirit would produce at various lengths all kinds of denying of the articles of faith, the root issue being the Word and faith, God hidden and revealed. And he stated that it would cause all kinds of razing of the country side, the enthusiasts doctrines (Zwinglian, future Calvinist, Anabaptist, etc…).

    Every single doctrine concisely confessed in the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed are variously denied by every heterodoxy out there and variously by conservative and liberal theologians alike. All the “I believes” (on the Word alone contrary to empirical evidence and reason) are denied. We say “I believe” because faith alone comprehends them through the Word (Heb. 11). All articles are variously denied either directly (the more liberal approach) or sinisterly insinuated and altered (the more conservative approach).

    The problem is “conservative” theologians get legitimized whereas “liberal” theologians do not. Both should not due to heterodoxy versus orthodoxy, not conservative versus liberal. But that won’t win many friends, which is why it’s largely not done. And I mean the teachers, preachers and theologians of such not the laymen. While the laymen due to weakness may get fooled and are true Christians, belong with us, Scripture no where gives the slightest hint of a pass for false teachers/prophets. It no where says, “False prophets will perish except if their heart was in the right place, they meant well, meant not to deceive or if they just don’t know they are false prophets”. Does a false prophet know he’s a false prophet goes the question. Is a false prophet guilty if he does not know it? It gets back to God’s Word, just like the Law, we don’t know we are sinners unless Law Word comes and says, “you good moral man are a sinner condemned eternally”. Same way with the false prophets, they need to hear from the Word they are such, they will not “self recognize it”. Sure it will get a teeth gnashing, so does the Law shouted into the sinners heart, but it must doe its work and maybe then in a private moment of fear and terror a false prophet will recognize himself and question himself.

    That being said even Luther said it is rare that false teacher converts.

  • larry

    That’s the real issue because men like Mohler do define “evangelical” largely as conservative versus liberal whatever. That’s probably the reason he did not go back to refer to its reference in int the Lutheran reformation, because it strikes against the conservative groups (like Calvinist) as well as the liberal groups. “Evangelical” used to be the name for “Lutheran,” in distinction to both Roman Catholics and Calvinists, a.k.a., “Reformed.”

    I came from that background, especially the Mohler, MacArthur, Piper doctrinal package and they largely deny the Gospel (I know how that sounds but contrary to popular opinion doctrine DOES matter). As a rule “conservative” whatever doctrinal teachers get a pass over “liberal” whatever doctrinal teachers do and garner more respectability. However, the Gospel is denied men as much if not more in conservative circles as is liberal circles. The issue is always the doctrine and not the conservative versus liberal flavors. Both end up denying the Gospel, just one is more respectably doing so than the other.

    At the end of the day there’s no real substantial difference between the liberal theologian that wants to make nearly everything in the bible metaphorical than there is in the conservative that denies the reality and power of baptism and that the Christ said what He meant when He said “This is My body/blood…”. They are like a bad married couple that cannot get along but yet can’t exist without the other, conservative versus liberal theologians. Each gives the other something to talk about. Meanwhile both are denying the Gospel.

    Luther saw this coming and in particular near the end after Marburg over the issue of the sacrament of the altar. He knew that this foul spirit would produce at various lengths all kinds of denying of the articles of faith, the root issue being the Word and faith, God hidden and revealed. And he stated that it would cause all kinds of razing of the country side, the enthusiasts doctrines (Zwinglian, future Calvinist, Anabaptist, etc…).

    Every single doctrine concisely confessed in the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed are variously denied by every heterodoxy out there and variously by conservative and liberal theologians alike. All the “I believes” (on the Word alone contrary to empirical evidence and reason) are denied. We say “I believe” because faith alone comprehends them through the Word (Heb. 11). All articles are variously denied either directly (the more liberal approach) or sinisterly insinuated and altered (the more conservative approach).

    The problem is “conservative” theologians get legitimized whereas “liberal” theologians do not. Both should not due to heterodoxy versus orthodoxy, not conservative versus liberal. But that won’t win many friends, which is why it’s largely not done. And I mean the teachers, preachers and theologians of such not the laymen. While the laymen due to weakness may get fooled and are true Christians, belong with us, Scripture no where gives the slightest hint of a pass for false teachers/prophets. It no where says, “False prophets will perish except if their heart was in the right place, they meant well, meant not to deceive or if they just don’t know they are false prophets”. Does a false prophet know he’s a false prophet goes the question. Is a false prophet guilty if he does not know it? It gets back to God’s Word, just like the Law, we don’t know we are sinners unless Law Word comes and says, “you good moral man are a sinner condemned eternally”. Same way with the false prophets, they need to hear from the Word they are such, they will not “self recognize it”. Sure it will get a teeth gnashing, so does the Law shouted into the sinners heart, but it must doe its work and maybe then in a private moment of fear and terror a false prophet will recognize himself and question himself.

    That being said even Luther said it is rare that false teacher converts.

  • Tom Hering

    “If you believe in faith, but put your faith in yourself …”

    Or, worse yet, if you put your faith in the faith that you have … then you probably believe there was something about you that made you good enough to receive the gift of faith in the first place.

  • Tom Hering

    “If you believe in faith, but put your faith in yourself …”

    Or, worse yet, if you put your faith in the faith that you have … then you probably believe there was something about you that made you good enough to receive the gift of faith in the first place.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    The statements that “many” evangelical theologians deny the atonement or justification by grace through faith is overstated. “Some” would be accurate, but in my circles (Evangelical Free and PCA) a pastor or seminary professor would be expelled for denying those basics.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    The statements that “many” evangelical theologians deny the atonement or justification by grace through faith is overstated. “Some” would be accurate, but in my circles (Evangelical Free and PCA) a pastor or seminary professor would be expelled for denying those basics.

  • Michael Z.

    I am with Kevin @5. Can any of you name the “many evangelical theologians” that you are talking about here? This is one of the first times I have been actually shocked by the generalizations on this blog.

  • Michael Z.

    I am with Kevin @5. Can any of you name the “many evangelical theologians” that you are talking about here? This is one of the first times I have been actually shocked by the generalizations on this blog.

  • rlewer

    If salvation is by your decision, it is not by grace. Now you can name a bunch who don’t actually believe in salvation by grace.

    “Giving your heart to Jesus” is not “by grace.”

    “By grace you have been saved by faith and THAT not of ourselves.” Neither the grace or the faith comes from us. It is all from God.

  • rlewer

    If salvation is by your decision, it is not by grace. Now you can name a bunch who don’t actually believe in salvation by grace.

    “Giving your heart to Jesus” is not “by grace.”

    “By grace you have been saved by faith and THAT not of ourselves.” Neither the grace or the faith comes from us. It is all from God.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    If you believe baptism is about obedience to an “ordinance” and not about regeneration, being sanctified and made holy, being buried into Christ’s death, and rising to walk in the newness of life, in short if you deny baptism to babies, you are not an evangelical.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    If you believe baptism is about obedience to an “ordinance” and not about regeneration, being sanctified and made holy, being buried into Christ’s death, and rising to walk in the newness of life, in short if you deny baptism to babies, you are not an evangelical.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    If one defines evangelical as one who holds the gospel as central then only confessional Lutherans (not the political party in the LCMS) are evangelical.

    Armenian – your act of will is essential to salvation – decision theology
    Reformed – God’s sovereign decision – grace is not necessary and your source of confidence is your works.
    R.C.C – Your works and participation merit grace.

    Me, I am tired of salvation by works people trying to co-opt our name and that include Dr. Mohler. He and others do not look to Lutherans when attempting to figure out the meaning of evangelical because they do not understand the true nature of the Gospel. They never left the Catholic Church and still believe their works can save them, so they cannot see the pure grace taught in the Lutheran Confessions and see true evangelicalism.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    If one defines evangelical as one who holds the gospel as central then only confessional Lutherans (not the political party in the LCMS) are evangelical.

    Armenian – your act of will is essential to salvation – decision theology
    Reformed – God’s sovereign decision – grace is not necessary and your source of confidence is your works.
    R.C.C – Your works and participation merit grace.

    Me, I am tired of salvation by works people trying to co-opt our name and that include Dr. Mohler. He and others do not look to Lutherans when attempting to figure out the meaning of evangelical because they do not understand the true nature of the Gospel. They never left the Catholic Church and still believe their works can save them, so they cannot see the pure grace taught in the Lutheran Confessions and see true evangelicalism.

  • Dennis Peskey

    Christianity is really quite simple – the euvangelium is always Christ for you. Beware adding the “I, we, me or thee” as a modifier to this fundamental truth.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Christianity is really quite simple – the euvangelium is always Christ for you. Beware adding the “I, we, me or thee” as a modifier to this fundamental truth.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • http://fivepintlutheran.blogspot.com/ David Cochrane

    Amen Pr Erickson. Therefore, Al Mohler is not an evangelical.

  • http://fivepintlutheran.blogspot.com/ David Cochrane

    Amen Pr Erickson. Therefore, Al Mohler is not an evangelical.

  • Philip Larson

    From Dr. Luther in the 21st Century: “Reformed – God’s sovereign decision – grace is not necessary and your source of confidence is your works.”

    That’s a caricature of a Reformed view. I.e., it’s false.

    The gospel is not simply that Jesus died for my sins, but that, as a result of his submission to his Father, he has been elevated above all principalities and powers, etc.: he is my King. As my Priest, he continues to intercede for me. As my King, he subdues us to himself, he in rules and defends us, and he restrains and conquers all his and our enemies.

    Maybe a big difference is that Lutherans (and perhaps lots of other T4G guys) think the gospel = justification. But that’s just a part of what Christ has accomplished for his people: sanctification also counts.

  • Philip Larson

    From Dr. Luther in the 21st Century: “Reformed – God’s sovereign decision – grace is not necessary and your source of confidence is your works.”

    That’s a caricature of a Reformed view. I.e., it’s false.

    The gospel is not simply that Jesus died for my sins, but that, as a result of his submission to his Father, he has been elevated above all principalities and powers, etc.: he is my King. As my Priest, he continues to intercede for me. As my King, he subdues us to himself, he in rules and defends us, and he restrains and conquers all his and our enemies.

    Maybe a big difference is that Lutherans (and perhaps lots of other T4G guys) think the gospel = justification. But that’s just a part of what Christ has accomplished for his people: sanctification also counts.

  • Jonathan

    Well, can we just cede the greek name to them, since they have redefined it anyway to mean whatever they want it to mean, and then come up with our own–again–to define what we “First Evangelicals” are?

  • Jonathan

    Well, can we just cede the greek name to them, since they have redefined it anyway to mean whatever they want it to mean, and then come up with our own–again–to define what we “First Evangelicals” are?

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Thank you, Philip, for in your attempt to prove me wrong, you proved me right. You changed the definition of the Gospel to make it about sovereignty. In reformed theology, the cross is removed and supplanted by a God who lords it over his people and he demonstrates his lordship by picking some to save and picking others to damn. It becomes about his sovereign choice. When you make it about his sovereign choice aka lordship, then you remove the cross.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Thank you, Philip, for in your attempt to prove me wrong, you proved me right. You changed the definition of the Gospel to make it about sovereignty. In reformed theology, the cross is removed and supplanted by a God who lords it over his people and he demonstrates his lordship by picking some to save and picking others to damn. It becomes about his sovereign choice. When you make it about his sovereign choice aka lordship, then you remove the cross.

  • kenneth

    I spent many rears trying to figure out reformed theology in quite a variety. Presuppositioinalism, Baptist, Covenant theology, inter-alia. Except for the intellectual excersise it has produced nothing in the way of personal evangelization success to anybody.

    I love lutheranism (lcms) because it is about God’s love for us–for anybody who will take it. And this is a fairly recent development for me. I missed that vital fact although I had a love for doctrine without really grasping it as in the commandment to love. On some occasions I did but it was never very lasting in my life. It was church music which has sustained me in faith since my return from new age babble many years ago.

    I am so glad to be a lutheran now that it is virtually indescribable but I am certain that “hymns, and spiritual songs” comes closest to communication God’s love for humanity. Loving it!

  • kenneth

    I spent many rears trying to figure out reformed theology in quite a variety. Presuppositioinalism, Baptist, Covenant theology, inter-alia. Except for the intellectual excersise it has produced nothing in the way of personal evangelization success to anybody.

    I love lutheranism (lcms) because it is about God’s love for us–for anybody who will take it. And this is a fairly recent development for me. I missed that vital fact although I had a love for doctrine without really grasping it as in the commandment to love. On some occasions I did but it was never very lasting in my life. It was church music which has sustained me in faith since my return from new age babble many years ago.

    I am so glad to be a lutheran now that it is virtually indescribable but I am certain that “hymns, and spiritual songs” comes closest to communication God’s love for humanity. Loving it!

  • larry

    Bror and Dr. Luther beat me to the punch and I second every bit of it.

    And Dr. Luther nailed the subtle equivocation that occurs when the “generalization” straw man is brought forth. Sure if you change the definition of the Gospel, then you can alter “who is an evangelical”, it goes hand in hand. It’s why Paul didn’t really warn “beware of those who bring other Laws” but “another gospel that is not the Gospel”. Other gospels will not come under the name “Hey I’m another gospel”. That’s why doctrine, is examined and tested. That’s why one can’t stop at “hey we believe in justification by faith alone too against Rome” because every protestant knows the right answer to the test question. One has to reveal other Gospels through the entire fabric of the constituted doctrines of a group. Reveal it when absolution pro me is denied, when “you believe baptism is about obedience to an “ordinance” and not about regeneration, being sanctified and made holy, being buried into Christ’s death, and rising to walk in the newness of life, in short if you deny baptism to babies, you are not an evangelical”, when you don’t believe the sacrificial body and blood are put into your mouth that day for the forgiveness of your sins (living in repentance constantly or life long as Luther put it), when you put election into the Law and not the Gospel – all these are denials of the Gospel.

    In other words you may say, “we believe in justification by faith alone”, to the test question but if you don’t baptize infants or you symbolize somehow the Lord’s Supper, you are denying the right answer to the test question you (in words) said you believe and confess.

    So if we neutralize it, remove the moniker, we can say, if by “evangelical” you mean the doctrine box that is the Reformed as written, confessed and taught or the Baptist as written, confessed and taught, etc…then no I’d say don’t label Lutherans (confessions not the politic as mentioned above) as that kind of evangelical because it is not. But if you define as evangelical the box of doctrine confessed as Lutheran, then the opposite is true, the Reformed, Baptist, etc…are not evangelical.

    But take the Lutherans out and speak confessional relatively (as opposed to absolute definitions) speaking; thus even in principle the Reformed should understand this and deny that the Baptist are evangelical per the Reformed confessions and vice versa for the Baptist. There could be nothing more, in principle, contrary than “Together For The Gospel” where by the Reformed and Baptist gather – because their own internal doctrines speak differently.

    But since at length, since Calvin’s day himself, baptism and the sacraments have become increasingly nothing, just signs pointing elsewhere at best and thus since nothing more, why not commune with the Baptist.

    However, being that the sacraments are the Gospel to deny them is to deny the Gospel is to deny justification by faith alone by another way.

    But again, this is why the Gospel largely remains hidden because the debate is “conservative” vs “liberal” when in reality conservative heterodoxy is damnable. Heterodoxy is just a $50 word for something that ultimately gets around to denying and thus promoting another gospel that is no gospel at all.

  • larry

    Bror and Dr. Luther beat me to the punch and I second every bit of it.

    And Dr. Luther nailed the subtle equivocation that occurs when the “generalization” straw man is brought forth. Sure if you change the definition of the Gospel, then you can alter “who is an evangelical”, it goes hand in hand. It’s why Paul didn’t really warn “beware of those who bring other Laws” but “another gospel that is not the Gospel”. Other gospels will not come under the name “Hey I’m another gospel”. That’s why doctrine, is examined and tested. That’s why one can’t stop at “hey we believe in justification by faith alone too against Rome” because every protestant knows the right answer to the test question. One has to reveal other Gospels through the entire fabric of the constituted doctrines of a group. Reveal it when absolution pro me is denied, when “you believe baptism is about obedience to an “ordinance” and not about regeneration, being sanctified and made holy, being buried into Christ’s death, and rising to walk in the newness of life, in short if you deny baptism to babies, you are not an evangelical”, when you don’t believe the sacrificial body and blood are put into your mouth that day for the forgiveness of your sins (living in repentance constantly or life long as Luther put it), when you put election into the Law and not the Gospel – all these are denials of the Gospel.

    In other words you may say, “we believe in justification by faith alone”, to the test question but if you don’t baptize infants or you symbolize somehow the Lord’s Supper, you are denying the right answer to the test question you (in words) said you believe and confess.

    So if we neutralize it, remove the moniker, we can say, if by “evangelical” you mean the doctrine box that is the Reformed as written, confessed and taught or the Baptist as written, confessed and taught, etc…then no I’d say don’t label Lutherans (confessions not the politic as mentioned above) as that kind of evangelical because it is not. But if you define as evangelical the box of doctrine confessed as Lutheran, then the opposite is true, the Reformed, Baptist, etc…are not evangelical.

    But take the Lutherans out and speak confessional relatively (as opposed to absolute definitions) speaking; thus even in principle the Reformed should understand this and deny that the Baptist are evangelical per the Reformed confessions and vice versa for the Baptist. There could be nothing more, in principle, contrary than “Together For The Gospel” where by the Reformed and Baptist gather – because their own internal doctrines speak differently.

    But since at length, since Calvin’s day himself, baptism and the sacraments have become increasingly nothing, just signs pointing elsewhere at best and thus since nothing more, why not commune with the Baptist.

    However, being that the sacraments are the Gospel to deny them is to deny the Gospel is to deny justification by faith alone by another way.

    But again, this is why the Gospel largely remains hidden because the debate is “conservative” vs “liberal” when in reality conservative heterodoxy is damnable. Heterodoxy is just a $50 word for something that ultimately gets around to denying and thus promoting another gospel that is no gospel at all.

  • John

    I’ll be completely honest – I have no idea what Mohler was trying to do in this article. His central argument seems to be that we have a right (or maybe a responsibility?) to define evangelicalism, or else we will lose (or forfeit?) the right to self-define.

    I think this argument is very poor, as is obvious if one extends it to any other definition. Suppose for a moment that I declare loudly that the word “gay” means happy, and I am a happy person, so I shall henceforth refer to myself as “gay”. I suspect most of the world will simply roll their eyes and move along. Mohler does not own language, and this attempt seems futile – even pointless (I would add that trying to define any “christian” movement not based upon a creed entails some very thorny issues).

  • John

    I’ll be completely honest – I have no idea what Mohler was trying to do in this article. His central argument seems to be that we have a right (or maybe a responsibility?) to define evangelicalism, or else we will lose (or forfeit?) the right to self-define.

    I think this argument is very poor, as is obvious if one extends it to any other definition. Suppose for a moment that I declare loudly that the word “gay” means happy, and I am a happy person, so I shall henceforth refer to myself as “gay”. I suspect most of the world will simply roll their eyes and move along. Mohler does not own language, and this attempt seems futile – even pointless (I would add that trying to define any “christian” movement not based upon a creed entails some very thorny issues).

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

    Has the more generic “evangelical” become a new identity to replace denominational identity among Christians whose families from a variety of denominational backgrounds? I mean all these denominations have some theological differences which they didn’t effectively communicate to the next generation. So the next generation just calls themselves Christian. Obviously some folks in these groups have hard and fast theological positions, but I bet the majority are pretty fuzzy on most of the stuff. (Anyway, that is what I gathered from that Pew Survey Dr. Veith posted a while back). People probably just want some convenient identity in a group that is close enough for political work and they are too fuzzy both on political organizing and theology to know how to do much else. Just thinking out loud here.

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

    Has the more generic “evangelical” become a new identity to replace denominational identity among Christians whose families from a variety of denominational backgrounds? I mean all these denominations have some theological differences which they didn’t effectively communicate to the next generation. So the next generation just calls themselves Christian. Obviously some folks in these groups have hard and fast theological positions, but I bet the majority are pretty fuzzy on most of the stuff. (Anyway, that is what I gathered from that Pew Survey Dr. Veith posted a while back). People probably just want some convenient identity in a group that is close enough for political work and they are too fuzzy both on political organizing and theology to know how to do much else. Just thinking out loud here.

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

    Kevin & Michael Z, sorry to have shocked you. But I was even more shocked at last year’s convention of the Evangelical Theological Society, which was on Justification, with many, many participants criticizing the “traditional” notion. Go on virtually any evangelical seminary campus and you will find “the New Perspective on Paul” (which teaches that the law we are freed from is only the Jewish ceremonial law and that the Reformers got justification all wrong) and N. T. Wright (who, for all of the good parts of his apologetics is the most popular advocate of the New Perspective) well represented and well supported.

    You can find the names of some specific theologians here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Perspective_on_Paul

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

    Kevin & Michael Z, sorry to have shocked you. But I was even more shocked at last year’s convention of the Evangelical Theological Society, which was on Justification, with many, many participants criticizing the “traditional” notion. Go on virtually any evangelical seminary campus and you will find “the New Perspective on Paul” (which teaches that the law we are freed from is only the Jewish ceremonial law and that the Reformers got justification all wrong) and N. T. Wright (who, for all of the good parts of his apologetics is the most popular advocate of the New Perspective) well represented and well supported.

    You can find the names of some specific theologians here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Perspective_on_Paul

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

    If you believe baptism is about obedience to an “ordinance” and not about regeneration, being sanctified and made holy, being buried into Christ’s death, and rising to walk in the newness of life, in short if you deny baptism to babies, you are not an evangelical.

    Okay, but why wouldn’t you believe the obedience/ordinance position if that is what you have always been taught? I mean if a person has heard that since he was 2 years old, doesn’t if follow that he would believe it? His dad believed it, and his grandpa and his great grandpa… So, it keeps going. People need better teaching, not just more judgement.

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

    If you believe baptism is about obedience to an “ordinance” and not about regeneration, being sanctified and made holy, being buried into Christ’s death, and rising to walk in the newness of life, in short if you deny baptism to babies, you are not an evangelical.

    Okay, but why wouldn’t you believe the obedience/ordinance position if that is what you have always been taught? I mean if a person has heard that since he was 2 years old, doesn’t if follow that he would believe it? His dad believed it, and his grandpa and his great grandpa… So, it keeps going. People need better teaching, not just more judgement.

  • Dave

    Bror’s comment is narrow minded, bigoted, and ignorant of what the term “Evangelical” means today. And if you think you’re going to heaven because your parents made the decision to have you Baptized, you could be in for a surprise as well. Besides, wouldn’t a baby “crawl” in the newness of life?

  • Dave

    Bror’s comment is narrow minded, bigoted, and ignorant of what the term “Evangelical” means today. And if you think you’re going to heaven because your parents made the decision to have you Baptized, you could be in for a surprise as well. Besides, wouldn’t a baby “crawl” in the newness of life?

  • rlewer

    The question is simple: Is baptism God’s work or your work? Is salvation God’s work or your decision?

    Which is the Gospel?
    Which is Good News (evangelical)?

  • rlewer

    The question is simple: Is baptism God’s work or your work? Is salvation God’s work or your decision?

    Which is the Gospel?
    Which is Good News (evangelical)?

  • http://princetonlutherans.com jgernander

    This is a small-potatoes part of the discussion, but a pet peeve: In the article, in trying to show what “evangelical” is, Mohler quotes SC Justice Potter Stewart on pornography: “I know it when I see it.” Please, please, please, can we stop with this reference finally? I see it all the time. Everybody now knows that Potter Stewart said this. Pornography gets mentioned through this statement in so many articles that have nothing to do with it. Please. Stop. It’s bad writing, because it is gaining cliche status. End of my rant.

  • http://princetonlutherans.com jgernander

    This is a small-potatoes part of the discussion, but a pet peeve: In the article, in trying to show what “evangelical” is, Mohler quotes SC Justice Potter Stewart on pornography: “I know it when I see it.” Please, please, please, can we stop with this reference finally? I see it all the time. Everybody now knows that Potter Stewart said this. Pornography gets mentioned through this statement in so many articles that have nothing to do with it. Please. Stop. It’s bad writing, because it is gaining cliche status. End of my rant.

  • larry

    “So, it keeps going. People need better teaching, not just more judgement.”

    Bror’s right on target, that’s why we distinguish between laity and teachers. See if you, teachers, continue to perpetuate that “believers baptism”, “infant baptism”, Calvin’s supper, etc…are “eeehhh just six one way and half a dozen another”, one bears witness even if only by implication that these doctrines are not important.

    As a former baptist, raised more or less baptist, it was the stark difference and so held I read in Luther, his strong language, no pussy footing around about it, that gave me pause. Granted, it seemed strange to my ears at first but it was the difference that caused the pause. But when you mash all these together and pretend, “well we are all after all Christians anyway” that’s when the doctrines and thus the Gospel gets more and more buried.

    One has to get use to the fact that when you raise Gospel in purity up, and that means the sacraments, you are not going to make friends. Like I said to my wife, “when our children, infants, when we made the move, were baptized, make no mistake about it – it was also a condemnation of the Baptist religion. And when we first partook of the sacrament of the altar at our Lutheran church, it was likewise a condemnation of our PCA religion.

    It is EXACTLY, baptism, the same as Hebrews 11:7 states of Noah, “BY FAITH Noah, when warned about things NOT YET SEEN, IN HOLY FEAR BUILT AN ARK TO SAVE HIS FAMILY. BY HIS FAITH HE CONDEMNED THE WORLD and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”

    The paraphrase and encouragement for Lutherans, orthodox confessions because that is what we confess is, “BY FAITH Lutheran parents, when warned about things NOT YET SEEN, IN HOLY FEAR ARE BAPTIZED AND BAPTIZE THEIR CHILDREN (FAMILY). BY OUR FAITH WE CONDEMNED THE WORLD and become heirs of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”

    Same with the Lord’s Supper.

    That teeth gnash against this is no surprise at all, they always gnash against the Gospel.

    Pieper makes this point constantly in his distinction between heterodoxy and orthodoxy, that the distinction is raised, which includes the negative condemnation of the heterodoxies, so that the Christians among them, who belong to us, may hear and come out.

    The reason Mohler and others grope around in the dark for a definition is that (1) they don’t have their confessions rooted firmly in Scripture and (2) rarely appeal to them as really binding and a true exposition that firmly says, ‘this is what scripture says’. Because in reality, the confession of faith IS the defining instrument of what IS an evangelical, Christian, the external expression of the true hidden church (its orthodoxy). If their confessions were firmly, thus, rooted, he would have to grope around in such an article but point to the SB F&M and say, “this is an evangelical”. But they don’t. Why? Not rooted firmly in the Scriptures. Same for the Reformed, if their confessions are absolutely true, then they should be able to point to them thusly and say, “this is evangelical”, every word of it and what is contrary to it is not. But they don’t, because the implication would narrow the world for them and exclude others (which is should, heterodoxy is heterodoxy, plain and simple). It’s why they cannot as a group be “nailed down” on the LS, the only thing they agree upon concerning the LS as a singularity (they call truth) is what it is not, what it is – is so varied nobody knows. Same with Baptism.

    The orthodoxy has always functioned to define itself by its confession of faith. It started out with a simple paragraph or two, the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds. But as heresy and falsehood by nature can ever morph and ever insinuate and deceive, the confession over time have grown to throw down the newer seeds of heresy, until as of the time of the reformation we ended up with the book of Concord. Heresy and false teaching so proliferates like flies that we go from a paragraph to a rather large book.

    If they wish to co-opt the term “evangelical” then fine, but it’s not orthodox or to be blunt Lutheran and Lutherans, orthodoxy, should not identify with it as they define it but clearly steer from it. Christians were once referred to as “atheist” until Polycarp used it against them, and “the Way”. Maybe we should adopt the term, now, “evangelical atheist”, speaks to the Gospel and speaks against the religious heterodoxy simultaneously. Just an idea.

  • larry

    “So, it keeps going. People need better teaching, not just more judgement.”

    Bror’s right on target, that’s why we distinguish between laity and teachers. See if you, teachers, continue to perpetuate that “believers baptism”, “infant baptism”, Calvin’s supper, etc…are “eeehhh just six one way and half a dozen another”, one bears witness even if only by implication that these doctrines are not important.

    As a former baptist, raised more or less baptist, it was the stark difference and so held I read in Luther, his strong language, no pussy footing around about it, that gave me pause. Granted, it seemed strange to my ears at first but it was the difference that caused the pause. But when you mash all these together and pretend, “well we are all after all Christians anyway” that’s when the doctrines and thus the Gospel gets more and more buried.

    One has to get use to the fact that when you raise Gospel in purity up, and that means the sacraments, you are not going to make friends. Like I said to my wife, “when our children, infants, when we made the move, were baptized, make no mistake about it – it was also a condemnation of the Baptist religion. And when we first partook of the sacrament of the altar at our Lutheran church, it was likewise a condemnation of our PCA religion.

    It is EXACTLY, baptism, the same as Hebrews 11:7 states of Noah, “BY FAITH Noah, when warned about things NOT YET SEEN, IN HOLY FEAR BUILT AN ARK TO SAVE HIS FAMILY. BY HIS FAITH HE CONDEMNED THE WORLD and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”

    The paraphrase and encouragement for Lutherans, orthodox confessions because that is what we confess is, “BY FAITH Lutheran parents, when warned about things NOT YET SEEN, IN HOLY FEAR ARE BAPTIZED AND BAPTIZE THEIR CHILDREN (FAMILY). BY OUR FAITH WE CONDEMNED THE WORLD and become heirs of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”

    Same with the Lord’s Supper.

    That teeth gnash against this is no surprise at all, they always gnash against the Gospel.

    Pieper makes this point constantly in his distinction between heterodoxy and orthodoxy, that the distinction is raised, which includes the negative condemnation of the heterodoxies, so that the Christians among them, who belong to us, may hear and come out.

    The reason Mohler and others grope around in the dark for a definition is that (1) they don’t have their confessions rooted firmly in Scripture and (2) rarely appeal to them as really binding and a true exposition that firmly says, ‘this is what scripture says’. Because in reality, the confession of faith IS the defining instrument of what IS an evangelical, Christian, the external expression of the true hidden church (its orthodoxy). If their confessions were firmly, thus, rooted, he would have to grope around in such an article but point to the SB F&M and say, “this is an evangelical”. But they don’t. Why? Not rooted firmly in the Scriptures. Same for the Reformed, if their confessions are absolutely true, then they should be able to point to them thusly and say, “this is evangelical”, every word of it and what is contrary to it is not. But they don’t, because the implication would narrow the world for them and exclude others (which is should, heterodoxy is heterodoxy, plain and simple). It’s why they cannot as a group be “nailed down” on the LS, the only thing they agree upon concerning the LS as a singularity (they call truth) is what it is not, what it is – is so varied nobody knows. Same with Baptism.

    The orthodoxy has always functioned to define itself by its confession of faith. It started out with a simple paragraph or two, the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds. But as heresy and falsehood by nature can ever morph and ever insinuate and deceive, the confession over time have grown to throw down the newer seeds of heresy, until as of the time of the reformation we ended up with the book of Concord. Heresy and false teaching so proliferates like flies that we go from a paragraph to a rather large book.

    If they wish to co-opt the term “evangelical” then fine, but it’s not orthodox or to be blunt Lutheran and Lutherans, orthodoxy, should not identify with it as they define it but clearly steer from it. Christians were once referred to as “atheist” until Polycarp used it against them, and “the Way”. Maybe we should adopt the term, now, “evangelical atheist”, speaks to the Gospel and speaks against the religious heterodoxy simultaneously. Just an idea.

  • http://www.indicativelove.com David Rufner

    Dr. Veith, I too think highly of Dr. Mohler, but I am not at all convinced that he thinks highly of Luther and by extensions Lutheranism.

    This past spring I attended The Gospel Coalition conference in Chicago. The theme was on finding Christ in the Old Testament – something very familiar and central for confessing Lutherans. Dr. Mohler had the opening plenary talk to the thousands gathered. It was a profitable talk and yet was so shocking to me was that he took specific time to throw Luther under the proverbial bus. As an aside. In a manner that did not further his argument one bit. I was shocked. At the very conference where De Young was beginning to ask “where are the Lutherans” Dr. Mohler was speaking ill of Luther and his ability to understand the place of the law in the life of the church and therefore its relationship to the Gospel, Christ, and the evangellion. I was saddened by Mohler’s barb towards Luther and Lutheranism. I was also shocked for I feel he was entirely wrong! While it is true that Luther’s confession developed over time, yet it is true Luther saw the use of the Law from early on! Read Luther’s thesis in the Heidelberg Disputation (1518) and you will see that even early on Luther had a very strong understand of the place of the Law in relation to the Gospel & the use of the Law!

    So, I too read Mohler’s post on the roots of Evangelicalism and I was both surprised and unsurprised to find Lutheranism missing from the conversation.

    You can listen to Mohler’s talk here (the Luther attack is in minute 40) :
    http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/studying_the_scriptures_and_finding_jesus_john_531-47

  • http://www.indicativelove.com David Rufner

    Dr. Veith, I too think highly of Dr. Mohler, but I am not at all convinced that he thinks highly of Luther and by extensions Lutheranism.

    This past spring I attended The Gospel Coalition conference in Chicago. The theme was on finding Christ in the Old Testament – something very familiar and central for confessing Lutherans. Dr. Mohler had the opening plenary talk to the thousands gathered. It was a profitable talk and yet was so shocking to me was that he took specific time to throw Luther under the proverbial bus. As an aside. In a manner that did not further his argument one bit. I was shocked. At the very conference where De Young was beginning to ask “where are the Lutherans” Dr. Mohler was speaking ill of Luther and his ability to understand the place of the law in the life of the church and therefore its relationship to the Gospel, Christ, and the evangellion. I was saddened by Mohler’s barb towards Luther and Lutheranism. I was also shocked for I feel he was entirely wrong! While it is true that Luther’s confession developed over time, yet it is true Luther saw the use of the Law from early on! Read Luther’s thesis in the Heidelberg Disputation (1518) and you will see that even early on Luther had a very strong understand of the place of the Law in relation to the Gospel & the use of the Law!

    So, I too read Mohler’s post on the roots of Evangelicalism and I was both surprised and unsurprised to find Lutheranism missing from the conversation.

    You can listen to Mohler’s talk here (the Luther attack is in minute 40) :
    http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/studying_the_scriptures_and_finding_jesus_john_531-47

  • Tim D

    There is no such word as “euvangelium”.

    The Greek word is “euangelion”, and in Latin it is “evangelium”.

  • Tim D

    There is no such word as “euvangelium”.

    The Greek word is “euangelion”, and in Latin it is “evangelium”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dave said (@21):

    And if you think you’re going to heaven because your parents made the decision to have you Baptized, you could be in for a surprise as well.

    Which is just Dave’s way of saying that he doesn’t understand how God could be active in baptism. All he sees is your parents standing up there, so he assumes that your faith is in them and their actions.

    Dave, all of Scripture’s promises about baptism tell us about what God does, not about what our parents did.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dave said (@21):

    And if you think you’re going to heaven because your parents made the decision to have you Baptized, you could be in for a surprise as well.

    Which is just Dave’s way of saying that he doesn’t understand how God could be active in baptism. All he sees is your parents standing up there, so he assumes that your faith is in them and their actions.

    Dave, all of Scripture’s promises about baptism tell us about what God does, not about what our parents did.

  • Helen K.

    following this, thanks!

  • Helen K.

    following this, thanks!

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

    Thank you, Tim. I’ll fix it.

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

    Thank you, Tim. I’ll fix it.

  • David Rufner

    Tim D – Thank you for correcting my inadvertent conflation/misspelling.

  • David Rufner

    Tim D – Thank you for correcting my inadvertent conflation/misspelling.

  • mendicus

    A couple years ago at the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting I attended a talk on the question of how to define Evangelicalism. I thought it was interesting for its inability to find a suitable definition. Speaking with a couple of Evangelical friends afterward, I learned that there a papers like this one fairly regularly at the AAR and the ETS meetings, and the conclusions, while differing in specifics, are generally the same: Evangelicalism is too amorphous to define. Yet in this modern non-form, there’s at least one thing that it clearly isn’t: Lutheran.

  • mendicus

    A couple years ago at the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting I attended a talk on the question of how to define Evangelicalism. I thought it was interesting for its inability to find a suitable definition. Speaking with a couple of Evangelical friends afterward, I learned that there a papers like this one fairly regularly at the AAR and the ETS meetings, and the conclusions, while differing in specifics, are generally the same: Evangelicalism is too amorphous to define. Yet in this modern non-form, there’s at least one thing that it clearly isn’t: Lutheran.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    My parents didn’t baptize me, christ did and in that I trust.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    My parents didn’t baptize me, christ did and in that I trust.

  • larry

    That’s exactly it, as a baptist one doesn’t, via reason, that it is God doing the baptizing, like I tell my kids “how do you know you are forgiven/saved?” Answer, “I am baptized”. “Who baptized you”, answer, “God baptized me with the pastor’s hand”. “What did God give you when He baptized you?” Answer, “His name, in which alone is the forgiveness of sins, given the Holy Spirit, salvation”. “there is no other name under heaven by which men are saved” or as in the prayer of Psalm 54 “By Thy name oh Lord now save me, grant me justice by your strength…” among many places. It is to be given and washed by the very name of God…this is baptism.

    To say “baptism does not save you” is to say “the name of God/Jesus” doesn’t save you…the Gospel doesn’t save you”. In order to do this one’s doctrine places the sine quo non of baptism (what makes baptism baptism without which it is not) not in the name and Word of God, but in faith itself or by indirect connection works labeled as the “fruit of faith”. Either way, to make this the sine quo non of baptism is idolatry for it is to make the essence of baptism the creatures (faith, fruits), the very essence of the fall of man and original sin and not the essence of baptism the very name and Word of God. Yet we find that in the institution of baptism it is given the name of God, Peter repeats this at Pentecost.

    So the Word and name of God are denied via the baptistic doctrine. But it does not stop there, just like Zwingli and Calvin as Luther warned, one false doctrine begets more false doctrine in order to ‘patch up’ the loop holes and sustain it (in vain). Thus, the essence of “how do I know I’m saved” in particular (the pro me or “for me”) cannot be, in such doctrines, in the sacraments (in this case baptism) else one gives up their (false) doctrine. So one invests at length in the proof of salvation in faith and/or the fruits of faith or works whereby works become at length one’s trust, hope and assurance. The eyes of the soul look to works and not Christ in spite of one’s “knowing the right protestant answer to the question – how am I saved”. So the Law gets reduce, especially passages such as in Jeremiah where the Law says that the fallen human heart is so deceptive that no one, much less one’s self can know it. That gets reduced to “well until I’m reborn then I can”. But that is not recognizing the reality and proving the very Law verse to wit: “You are so self deceived that you think post conversion you can now recognize, as if outside of yourself observing and diagnosing that your heart is desperately wicked that now you CAN KNOW IT.” This happens in order to serve the root false doctrines of believers baptism (and Calvin’s ideas on the sacraments as well). Because if you actually HEAR the Law there, then you’d flee to the name and Word of God and say, “Yes my heart IS this deceptive, so I am baptized”. Which is to say, “Thanks be to God for His saving name and Word poured out upon me that assures me that there is no other name under heaven by which men are saved”.

    One false doctrine begets other false doctrines in a vicious cycle that continues to spin itself out. If men really heard what the Law is saying in all its “hammer of God-ness”, they’d flee false doctrines in the such false churches as the Baptist church. They’d have too for the shear terror of it, and then flee to Worded elements (the sacraments) and thus to the real Word for these go hand in hand, i.e. whether one really HEARS the Word is expressed in how one views the sacraments. Or if you deny “this is My body/blood…this baptism saves you, etc…” then you are denying the Word saying what it says so very plainly. It’s not intellectual, its about naked belief in the Word.

    Luther writes that true Christians accept the Word with childlike docility, “It is the will of the Lord Christ that all true Christians have and follow the manner and artlessness of children. For children cling to the truth. A child will let itself be drawn by what it hears and has no opinion or argument to offer. A child does not ask whether what one tells him is right or wrong but believes everything. Just so Christians should simply cling to the Word alone and not argue as to whether God is lying or telling the truth. They are simply to believe it because Christ says it.”

    Luther further writes that Christians are recognized by attitude toward the Gospel, “You say: How, then, can I know which are genuine fruits? Or whereby am I to recognize those who stay in Christ? Answer: He has told us by saying, “Now are ye clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). Hence we are not to look at the size and the number of works which men do, for all of these are still no more works which even non-Christians and rogues are able to do and perform. Rather we are, ABOVE ALL THINGS, to watch their lips, to note whether what they teach and believe is the pure Word of Christ or not.”

  • larry

    That’s exactly it, as a baptist one doesn’t, via reason, that it is God doing the baptizing, like I tell my kids “how do you know you are forgiven/saved?” Answer, “I am baptized”. “Who baptized you”, answer, “God baptized me with the pastor’s hand”. “What did God give you when He baptized you?” Answer, “His name, in which alone is the forgiveness of sins, given the Holy Spirit, salvation”. “there is no other name under heaven by which men are saved” or as in the prayer of Psalm 54 “By Thy name oh Lord now save me, grant me justice by your strength…” among many places. It is to be given and washed by the very name of God…this is baptism.

    To say “baptism does not save you” is to say “the name of God/Jesus” doesn’t save you…the Gospel doesn’t save you”. In order to do this one’s doctrine places the sine quo non of baptism (what makes baptism baptism without which it is not) not in the name and Word of God, but in faith itself or by indirect connection works labeled as the “fruit of faith”. Either way, to make this the sine quo non of baptism is idolatry for it is to make the essence of baptism the creatures (faith, fruits), the very essence of the fall of man and original sin and not the essence of baptism the very name and Word of God. Yet we find that in the institution of baptism it is given the name of God, Peter repeats this at Pentecost.

    So the Word and name of God are denied via the baptistic doctrine. But it does not stop there, just like Zwingli and Calvin as Luther warned, one false doctrine begets more false doctrine in order to ‘patch up’ the loop holes and sustain it (in vain). Thus, the essence of “how do I know I’m saved” in particular (the pro me or “for me”) cannot be, in such doctrines, in the sacraments (in this case baptism) else one gives up their (false) doctrine. So one invests at length in the proof of salvation in faith and/or the fruits of faith or works whereby works become at length one’s trust, hope and assurance. The eyes of the soul look to works and not Christ in spite of one’s “knowing the right protestant answer to the question – how am I saved”. So the Law gets reduce, especially passages such as in Jeremiah where the Law says that the fallen human heart is so deceptive that no one, much less one’s self can know it. That gets reduced to “well until I’m reborn then I can”. But that is not recognizing the reality and proving the very Law verse to wit: “You are so self deceived that you think post conversion you can now recognize, as if outside of yourself observing and diagnosing that your heart is desperately wicked that now you CAN KNOW IT.” This happens in order to serve the root false doctrines of believers baptism (and Calvin’s ideas on the sacraments as well). Because if you actually HEAR the Law there, then you’d flee to the name and Word of God and say, “Yes my heart IS this deceptive, so I am baptized”. Which is to say, “Thanks be to God for His saving name and Word poured out upon me that assures me that there is no other name under heaven by which men are saved”.

    One false doctrine begets other false doctrines in a vicious cycle that continues to spin itself out. If men really heard what the Law is saying in all its “hammer of God-ness”, they’d flee false doctrines in the such false churches as the Baptist church. They’d have too for the shear terror of it, and then flee to Worded elements (the sacraments) and thus to the real Word for these go hand in hand, i.e. whether one really HEARS the Word is expressed in how one views the sacraments. Or if you deny “this is My body/blood…this baptism saves you, etc…” then you are denying the Word saying what it says so very plainly. It’s not intellectual, its about naked belief in the Word.

    Luther writes that true Christians accept the Word with childlike docility, “It is the will of the Lord Christ that all true Christians have and follow the manner and artlessness of children. For children cling to the truth. A child will let itself be drawn by what it hears and has no opinion or argument to offer. A child does not ask whether what one tells him is right or wrong but believes everything. Just so Christians should simply cling to the Word alone and not argue as to whether God is lying or telling the truth. They are simply to believe it because Christ says it.”

    Luther further writes that Christians are recognized by attitude toward the Gospel, “You say: How, then, can I know which are genuine fruits? Or whereby am I to recognize those who stay in Christ? Answer: He has told us by saying, “Now are ye clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). Hence we are not to look at the size and the number of works which men do, for all of these are still no more works which even non-Christians and rogues are able to do and perform. Rather we are, ABOVE ALL THINGS, to watch their lips, to note whether what they teach and believe is the pure Word of Christ or not.”

  • Dave

    What if your parents decided to not have you Baptized? Then where would you be? Let’s talk real world. How many thousands of Lutheran’s have been baptized as infants only to grow up and deny their faith? Where does our faith come from? The truth is, it’s a mystery. This is not a mystery though. If you are Baptized as an infant, but as an adult, do not confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and don’t believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be condemned. However, if you are not Baptized as an infant, but grow to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. It is not lack of Baptism that condemns, but lack of Faith. From my experience with Lutherans, they put way to much focus on Baptism, and not enough on FAITH! Just IMO though. Other than that, I think the LCMS kicks butt, that’s why I became one.

  • Dave

    What if your parents decided to not have you Baptized? Then where would you be? Let’s talk real world. How many thousands of Lutheran’s have been baptized as infants only to grow up and deny their faith? Where does our faith come from? The truth is, it’s a mystery. This is not a mystery though. If you are Baptized as an infant, but as an adult, do not confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and don’t believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be condemned. However, if you are not Baptized as an infant, but grow to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. It is not lack of Baptism that condemns, but lack of Faith. From my experience with Lutherans, they put way to much focus on Baptism, and not enough on FAITH! Just IMO though. Other than that, I think the LCMS kicks butt, that’s why I became one.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dave (@33), you said:

    How many thousands of Lutheran’s have been baptized as infants only to grow up and deny their faith?

    This is a curious argument, especially coming from a Lutheran. Are you trying to argue for once-saved-always-saved? If you aren’t, then why are you surprised that people can fall away from the faith. I mean, how many people who made professions of faith as adults also went on to deny their faith later in life?

    Does the unfaithfulness of man somehow prove to you that God is not faithful in his promises?

    Speaking of which, your argument was chock full of human logic, but completely lacking in any reference to God’s promises. Which should I listen to: your logic, or God’s promises? I think you know the answer, Dave.

    Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

    In him [Christ] also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

    Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

    Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

    Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

    Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

    For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

    For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dave (@33), you said:

    How many thousands of Lutheran’s have been baptized as infants only to grow up and deny their faith?

    This is a curious argument, especially coming from a Lutheran. Are you trying to argue for once-saved-always-saved? If you aren’t, then why are you surprised that people can fall away from the faith. I mean, how many people who made professions of faith as adults also went on to deny their faith later in life?

    Does the unfaithfulness of man somehow prove to you that God is not faithful in his promises?

    Speaking of which, your argument was chock full of human logic, but completely lacking in any reference to God’s promises. Which should I listen to: your logic, or God’s promises? I think you know the answer, Dave.

    Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

    In him [Christ] also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

    Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

    Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

    Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

    Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

    For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

    For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

  • Craig

    It will be a great day when Lutheran (LCMS) stop caring about when “evangelicals” think. Clowns like Mohler, Sproul, Piper, MacArthur, Keller, etc. are no friends of the biblical/Lutheran faith. Get over it! A BoC Lutheran will never be welcomed to the Vatican or to the latest T4G thing. Who cares? Where are the Lutherans they ask? Hopefully preaching the Word and administrating the Holy Sacraments to their parishes. When they show at a “conference” look out. Someone is going to compromise and it is usually the Lutherans who do, sadly.

  • Craig

    It will be a great day when Lutheran (LCMS) stop caring about when “evangelicals” think. Clowns like Mohler, Sproul, Piper, MacArthur, Keller, etc. are no friends of the biblical/Lutheran faith. Get over it! A BoC Lutheran will never be welcomed to the Vatican or to the latest T4G thing. Who cares? Where are the Lutherans they ask? Hopefully preaching the Word and administrating the Holy Sacraments to their parishes. When they show at a “conference” look out. Someone is going to compromise and it is usually the Lutherans who do, sadly.

  • Craig

    Dave Todds

  • Craig

    Dave Todds

  • Craig

    Dave, Todd’s answer is better than mine. But here it is anyway. Get out of the LCMS and go to a Reformed Church. There you will get to talk all about your faith and how comforted you are by looking inward and seeing your faith you can be proud. You will get to talk about how Calvin sees baptism as an “empty symbol” and mock the Lutherans for resting in their baptisms. Also you can talk about how illogical the Lutherans (election and universal atonement) are and you can gory in your election and rejoice that you will get to watch the reprobate get what they deserve. Dave as soon as you focus on YOUR FAITH you will miss Christ. Baptism is done to you by Christ himself. Baptism keeps our eyes on the one who saves. When you emphasize faith you end looking inward. And there is no security or peace in that. Anyway, please re-read Todd’s response.

  • Craig

    Dave, Todd’s answer is better than mine. But here it is anyway. Get out of the LCMS and go to a Reformed Church. There you will get to talk all about your faith and how comforted you are by looking inward and seeing your faith you can be proud. You will get to talk about how Calvin sees baptism as an “empty symbol” and mock the Lutherans for resting in their baptisms. Also you can talk about how illogical the Lutherans (election and universal atonement) are and you can gory in your election and rejoice that you will get to watch the reprobate get what they deserve. Dave as soon as you focus on YOUR FAITH you will miss Christ. Baptism is done to you by Christ himself. Baptism keeps our eyes on the one who saves. When you emphasize faith you end looking inward. And there is no security or peace in that. Anyway, please re-read Todd’s response.

  • Joanne

    Dave @33, that’s precisely correct, baptism is a mystery, the Greek word for sacrament. Through the washing with water and the Word of God, faith is imparted to us no matter how old we are when we are baptised. And baptism works like a seal that comfirms us as God’s property, leaving a mark that drives out and drives away the Devil, you may hear a little exorcism at Lutheran baptisms.
    Because, what is faith? Is it something you think with a brain that is competent? Is that how Jesus described it when he said unless you become like these little children, you will never enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. When is your adult brain ever going to tell you to accept the Gospel, because when will the Gospel ever make sense?
    The Law does make sense and an adult brain will help.
    As you say, baptism washing is not the only way God can give us faith. He comes to us in his word anytime we hear it and his word has the power to work faith in us when we hear it. If we have faith when God brings us to baptism, then baptism cements and confirms the Holy Spirit in us and gives us a public claim before the assembly of all the promisses of baptism. In baptism, Jesus effects his personal decision to accept us into his church.

  • Joanne

    Dave @33, that’s precisely correct, baptism is a mystery, the Greek word for sacrament. Through the washing with water and the Word of God, faith is imparted to us no matter how old we are when we are baptised. And baptism works like a seal that comfirms us as God’s property, leaving a mark that drives out and drives away the Devil, you may hear a little exorcism at Lutheran baptisms.
    Because, what is faith? Is it something you think with a brain that is competent? Is that how Jesus described it when he said unless you become like these little children, you will never enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. When is your adult brain ever going to tell you to accept the Gospel, because when will the Gospel ever make sense?
    The Law does make sense and an adult brain will help.
    As you say, baptism washing is not the only way God can give us faith. He comes to us in his word anytime we hear it and his word has the power to work faith in us when we hear it. If we have faith when God brings us to baptism, then baptism cements and confirms the Holy Spirit in us and gives us a public claim before the assembly of all the promisses of baptism. In baptism, Jesus effects his personal decision to accept us into his church.

  • Joanne

    About 30 years ago, I noticed that newspaper reporters had begun using the term “evangelical” when referring to American Enthusiasts. I though it was just a mistake and would cease over time. Now, you say that the American Enthusiasts and Unionists are actually applying the term “evangelical” to themselves. Odd.
    My initial thought would be that this comes from unionism with the German Unionists and German Pietists/Methodists that had used the term Evangelical in their American names. Like, back in the 60s the EUB and the Methodist church became the United Methodist church, but dropping the evangelical and keeping the united. Then, 1967?, evangelical was a blank in the American protestant mind. I guess it’s become fashionable now. Still, I note that the Europeans will mostly note when they are using the word in this new sense, they say, “American Evangelicals.”
    Evangelical is a term that is, of course, very much in use and has been for almost 500 years. All of the German protestant state churches that are Lutheran or Union churches in tradition, use the term evangelical in their official name. The E in ELCA is for evangelical and Lutheran congregations typically put evangelical in the name of their congregation.
    But, Lutherans have a bit of ambivalence about the term, as you will note that the LC-MS dumped the term at it’s last name change. The enforcers of state church unionism back in Germany used the term Evangelical when they wanted to avoid Lutheran doctrine, practice, and tradition when instituting new amalgamations of German protestantism. The recent amalgamation of the Refomed Church of Anhalt, the Union Church of Sachsen-Anhalt, and the Evangelical-lutheran Church of Thuringia into the Evangelical Church of Mitteldeutschland is a lovely example of that lowest common denominator use of evangelical in a church name among Lutherans. It’s was/is the exit name for Lutheranism.

  • Joanne

    About 30 years ago, I noticed that newspaper reporters had begun using the term “evangelical” when referring to American Enthusiasts. I though it was just a mistake and would cease over time. Now, you say that the American Enthusiasts and Unionists are actually applying the term “evangelical” to themselves. Odd.
    My initial thought would be that this comes from unionism with the German Unionists and German Pietists/Methodists that had used the term Evangelical in their American names. Like, back in the 60s the EUB and the Methodist church became the United Methodist church, but dropping the evangelical and keeping the united. Then, 1967?, evangelical was a blank in the American protestant mind. I guess it’s become fashionable now. Still, I note that the Europeans will mostly note when they are using the word in this new sense, they say, “American Evangelicals.”
    Evangelical is a term that is, of course, very much in use and has been for almost 500 years. All of the German protestant state churches that are Lutheran or Union churches in tradition, use the term evangelical in their official name. The E in ELCA is for evangelical and Lutheran congregations typically put evangelical in the name of their congregation.
    But, Lutherans have a bit of ambivalence about the term, as you will note that the LC-MS dumped the term at it’s last name change. The enforcers of state church unionism back in Germany used the term Evangelical when they wanted to avoid Lutheran doctrine, practice, and tradition when instituting new amalgamations of German protestantism. The recent amalgamation of the Refomed Church of Anhalt, the Union Church of Sachsen-Anhalt, and the Evangelical-lutheran Church of Thuringia into the Evangelical Church of Mitteldeutschland is a lovely example of that lowest common denominator use of evangelical in a church name among Lutherans. It’s was/is the exit name for Lutheranism.

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  • Martin Winter

    Late to the party, but I’ll try anyway.

    First, some background on the word “evangelical” in German: As mentioned in an early comment, the usual complement is “Evangelisch”, as in “Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche”. However, there is a more literal translation back from the English, which is “evangelikal”. This has a more fundamentalist/conservative notion, and refers to non-state churches like Baptists etc. So, when doing some translation work into English for the Lutheran state church here in Germany, we settled on using “Protestant” (which, by the way, does exist in both English and German) instead of “Evangelical” because we assumed it may have the same bent in English.

    Second, as a non-Lutheran, I want to add my two (Euro) cents to the discussion about infant baptism. I am non-denominational and currently living in a staunchly Roman-Catholic area. My landlord died recently and I attended his funeral. (While there must be serious theological differences between the RC and the Lutheran teachings on baptism, I would bet the average Christmas and Easter churchgoer sees infant baptism pretty much the same way in both churches.) What struck me, what I had feared would happen and actually did, was how the priest referred to this man’s infant baptism as his having become a Christian. To be sure, he added works and the prayers of the congregation as requisites for salvation, which would never happen in a Lutheran church of course. But still, this is a major reason why I am so critical of infant baptism: It gives false security to millions of unbelievers who live pagan lives but were sprinkled as babies. I am sorry to sound so quip, but that is how it works out in reality here in Germany and, I am sure, in other countries around the world as well. It is easier to talk with an atheist about God than with a self-righteous, infant-baptised pseudo-Christian about his need of repentance. This could probably be alleviated if these people were actually attending church (which many older people still do) and were actually hearing the Word (which they usually don’t in either the RC or Lutheran state churches). But then I would argue: Why risk this confusion and baptise infants in the first place …

    Third, I am a little offended that Craig called people like John Piper, R C Sproul, and Albert Mohler clowns and enemies of the faith. There are other streams of biblical faith besides Lutheranism out there, you know.

  • Martin Winter

    Late to the party, but I’ll try anyway.

    First, some background on the word “evangelical” in German: As mentioned in an early comment, the usual complement is “Evangelisch”, as in “Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche”. However, there is a more literal translation back from the English, which is “evangelikal”. This has a more fundamentalist/conservative notion, and refers to non-state churches like Baptists etc. So, when doing some translation work into English for the Lutheran state church here in Germany, we settled on using “Protestant” (which, by the way, does exist in both English and German) instead of “Evangelical” because we assumed it may have the same bent in English.

    Second, as a non-Lutheran, I want to add my two (Euro) cents to the discussion about infant baptism. I am non-denominational and currently living in a staunchly Roman-Catholic area. My landlord died recently and I attended his funeral. (While there must be serious theological differences between the RC and the Lutheran teachings on baptism, I would bet the average Christmas and Easter churchgoer sees infant baptism pretty much the same way in both churches.) What struck me, what I had feared would happen and actually did, was how the priest referred to this man’s infant baptism as his having become a Christian. To be sure, he added works and the prayers of the congregation as requisites for salvation, which would never happen in a Lutheran church of course. But still, this is a major reason why I am so critical of infant baptism: It gives false security to millions of unbelievers who live pagan lives but were sprinkled as babies. I am sorry to sound so quip, but that is how it works out in reality here in Germany and, I am sure, in other countries around the world as well. It is easier to talk with an atheist about God than with a self-righteous, infant-baptised pseudo-Christian about his need of repentance. This could probably be alleviated if these people were actually attending church (which many older people still do) and were actually hearing the Word (which they usually don’t in either the RC or Lutheran state churches). But then I would argue: Why risk this confusion and baptise infants in the first place …

    Third, I am a little offended that Craig called people like John Piper, R C Sproul, and Albert Mohler clowns and enemies of the faith. There are other streams of biblical faith besides Lutheranism out there, you know.

  • Helen K.

    Martin Winter @41.

    As a seeking, but not yet member of a Lutheran congregation, your comments and concerns resonate with me. Years ago, one of my best friends who was, and still is, a German born Lutheran, never attended or showed any interest in her faith except for occasional attendance at a local church on Christmas Eve. I used to tape “evangelical” type TV messages for her in the hopes she might feel a need to actively practise her beliefs. To my knowledge, she never has. No denial, just indifference. So…I know where you are coming from in regards to your observation about people who were baptized as infants and assume they are “saved”.
    From what I am learning of the Lutheran church in my readings and searchings, I am coming to love its teachings however, and will probably join our local congregation.

    By the way, RC Sproul, Al Mohler and John Piper several others, were the sort of folks I was brought up with. I, myself was not offended by Craig’s (can’t recall who he is) comments on the above. I do think there are a few Lutherans along with many other protestant believers, who aren’t very familiar with the actual teachings and views of the well-respected bible teachers that you mention. Thank you for your insights. Do you have a website or blog?

  • Helen K.

    Martin Winter @41.

    As a seeking, but not yet member of a Lutheran congregation, your comments and concerns resonate with me. Years ago, one of my best friends who was, and still is, a German born Lutheran, never attended or showed any interest in her faith except for occasional attendance at a local church on Christmas Eve. I used to tape “evangelical” type TV messages for her in the hopes she might feel a need to actively practise her beliefs. To my knowledge, she never has. No denial, just indifference. So…I know where you are coming from in regards to your observation about people who were baptized as infants and assume they are “saved”.
    From what I am learning of the Lutheran church in my readings and searchings, I am coming to love its teachings however, and will probably join our local congregation.

    By the way, RC Sproul, Al Mohler and John Piper several others, were the sort of folks I was brought up with. I, myself was not offended by Craig’s (can’t recall who he is) comments on the above. I do think there are a few Lutherans along with many other protestant believers, who aren’t very familiar with the actual teachings and views of the well-respected bible teachers that you mention. Thank you for your insights. Do you have a website or blog?

  • Martin Winter

    Helen,

    Thanks for your kind words. I have a varied background when it comes to churches, from the Moravian Church to Baptists to Charismatics. Today, I feel most at home theologically in the “Young Restless Reformed” camp, though there are hardly any people here that think and believe the same.

    In fact, I have grown rather fond of Lutherans lately, especially listening to Issues Etc. for a while. I consider them brothers in the faith. However, the stress on the sacraments seems sometimes over the top for me (I hope I won’t get too much of a scolding for saying that). I think that leads to people like Larry (3) saying that Mohler, Piper, Sproul deny the Gospel. I mean, seriously? While I can be quite critical myself, I don’t understand why some Lutherans are so hostile against other denominations. Much to his credit, I think Mr Veith is not among them!

    As to a website or blog, I do have both but they are in a sad state. I should definitely pick it up again.

  • Martin Winter

    Helen,

    Thanks for your kind words. I have a varied background when it comes to churches, from the Moravian Church to Baptists to Charismatics. Today, I feel most at home theologically in the “Young Restless Reformed” camp, though there are hardly any people here that think and believe the same.

    In fact, I have grown rather fond of Lutherans lately, especially listening to Issues Etc. for a while. I consider them brothers in the faith. However, the stress on the sacraments seems sometimes over the top for me (I hope I won’t get too much of a scolding for saying that). I think that leads to people like Larry (3) saying that Mohler, Piper, Sproul deny the Gospel. I mean, seriously? While I can be quite critical myself, I don’t understand why some Lutherans are so hostile against other denominations. Much to his credit, I think Mr Veith is not among them!

    As to a website or blog, I do have both but they are in a sad state. I should definitely pick it up again.

  • Helen K.

    Martin W. @43
    Interesting. I’ve been through several of the major persuasions throughout my life. I first discovered Lutheranism in my early 20′s and really liked the services I was attending. From all the training of my childhood, I couldn’t justify infant baptism. Now….many, many years later, I’m beginning to understand.

    Dr. Veith’s books are helping me a great deal as he, himself was not born into the Lutheran faith. Of course I grew up with all the mainline scholars and Billy Graham of course. I’m sure my own simple definition of evangelism is not what was being discussed here. Far more complicated than I realized.
    I haven’t heard the Issues, Etc. program yet but have read some on the Ligionaire’s site. (sp) I think New Reformation Press is another site you might find interesting if you haven’t already. One Lutheran pastor and two Calvinists I think.

    I am very much at home with the litergical style of worship even though I’ve attended many kinds of non-denominational and Baptist leaning congregations over my lifetime.

    Yes, you should get your blog or website going again. I bet it would be interesting!

  • Helen K.

    Martin W. @43
    Interesting. I’ve been through several of the major persuasions throughout my life. I first discovered Lutheranism in my early 20′s and really liked the services I was attending. From all the training of my childhood, I couldn’t justify infant baptism. Now….many, many years later, I’m beginning to understand.

    Dr. Veith’s books are helping me a great deal as he, himself was not born into the Lutheran faith. Of course I grew up with all the mainline scholars and Billy Graham of course. I’m sure my own simple definition of evangelism is not what was being discussed here. Far more complicated than I realized.
    I haven’t heard the Issues, Etc. program yet but have read some on the Ligionaire’s site. (sp) I think New Reformation Press is another site you might find interesting if you haven’t already. One Lutheran pastor and two Calvinists I think.

    I am very much at home with the litergical style of worship even though I’ve attended many kinds of non-denominational and Baptist leaning congregations over my lifetime.

    Yes, you should get your blog or website going again. I bet it would be interesting!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Martin (@41), not sure if you’re still here, but here are my thoughts…

    But still, this is a major reason why I am so critical of infant baptism: It gives false security to millions of unbelievers who live pagan lives but were sprinkled as babies.

    Which is a remarkably odd way to discern the truth. You appear to be saying “I do not believe this thing to be true, because this thing can be used incorrectly.” But I could say the very same thing of the Bible! Surely we agree that there exist people in the world who, though reading and knowing their Bible, nonetheless lack faith (faith being more than mere knowledge or intellectual assent). Should we therefore deny that the Bible is God’s Word, with the life-giving power that it says it contains? I think not.

    Likewise, baptism should be judged as true on the basis of what God says about it, not on what man does with it.

    But then I would argue: Why risk this confusion and baptise infants in the first place …

    And I would reply: because that is what Scripture tells us to do, regardless of what we think of its effectiveness (though Scripture also tells us about this, too).

    Are you really surprised that people can fall away? What does the parable of the sower tell us about those who hear the Word? Why would we not expect the same thing to apply to those who first hear the Word applied to them along with water at their baptism?

    Surely churches that don’t believe in infant baptism also notice people falling away. Many have said the “sinner’s prayer”, or started attending church, or delved into Bible study, only to end up rejecting God. Should we therefore teach people not to pray, attend church, or read their Bibles, lest we give them a false sense of security? Or should we teach them to trust in God for their salvation?

    It’s strange to me — the “self-righteous, infant-baptised pseudo-Christians” you refer to seem to believe in “once saved, always saved”, given that they apparenlty point to God working faith in them in baptism, and yet completely fail to acknowledge sin in their life or their need for repentence. But are there churches that teach both infant baptism and “once saved, always saved”? Not that I can think of.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Martin (@41), not sure if you’re still here, but here are my thoughts…

    But still, this is a major reason why I am so critical of infant baptism: It gives false security to millions of unbelievers who live pagan lives but were sprinkled as babies.

    Which is a remarkably odd way to discern the truth. You appear to be saying “I do not believe this thing to be true, because this thing can be used incorrectly.” But I could say the very same thing of the Bible! Surely we agree that there exist people in the world who, though reading and knowing their Bible, nonetheless lack faith (faith being more than mere knowledge or intellectual assent). Should we therefore deny that the Bible is God’s Word, with the life-giving power that it says it contains? I think not.

    Likewise, baptism should be judged as true on the basis of what God says about it, not on what man does with it.

    But then I would argue: Why risk this confusion and baptise infants in the first place …

    And I would reply: because that is what Scripture tells us to do, regardless of what we think of its effectiveness (though Scripture also tells us about this, too).

    Are you really surprised that people can fall away? What does the parable of the sower tell us about those who hear the Word? Why would we not expect the same thing to apply to those who first hear the Word applied to them along with water at their baptism?

    Surely churches that don’t believe in infant baptism also notice people falling away. Many have said the “sinner’s prayer”, or started attending church, or delved into Bible study, only to end up rejecting God. Should we therefore teach people not to pray, attend church, or read their Bibles, lest we give them a false sense of security? Or should we teach them to trust in God for their salvation?

    It’s strange to me — the “self-righteous, infant-baptised pseudo-Christians” you refer to seem to believe in “once saved, always saved”, given that they apparenlty point to God working faith in them in baptism, and yet completely fail to acknowledge sin in their life or their need for repentence. But are there churches that teach both infant baptism and “once saved, always saved”? Not that I can think of.

  • Helen K.

    tODD @45. And then I have to leave….(:

    Just read through your thoughtful views. Last comment, “once saved, always saved”. Major teaching of Charles Stanley. (baptist)

    This is what I was taught all my life. But….for one reason or another I was never quite sure I’d “really been saved” in the first place. (I was baptized at age 14, but not by a Lutheran).

    Some people seemed so sure of themselves as to their salvation, but I continued to have so many questions. And I could never quite muster what seemed the honest enthusiasm I’d notice in other folks in various congregations.

    Finally after lo, all these many years, I think I’m coming to understand that I am secure. What I meant to say, I personally never subscribed to the eternal security doctrine. I tried, but failed. Its good to get this insight.

  • Helen K.

    tODD @45. And then I have to leave….(:

    Just read through your thoughtful views. Last comment, “once saved, always saved”. Major teaching of Charles Stanley. (baptist)

    This is what I was taught all my life. But….for one reason or another I was never quite sure I’d “really been saved” in the first place. (I was baptized at age 14, but not by a Lutheran).

    Some people seemed so sure of themselves as to their salvation, but I continued to have so many questions. And I could never quite muster what seemed the honest enthusiasm I’d notice in other folks in various congregations.

    Finally after lo, all these many years, I think I’m coming to understand that I am secure. What I meant to say, I personally never subscribed to the eternal security doctrine. I tried, but failed. Its good to get this insight.

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