Cultural engagement requires the Sacrament

Peter Leithhart, a Reformed pastor and theologian, says that what evangelicals need if they are going to respond effectively to our time is to recover Holy Communion:

Evangelicals will be incapable of responding to the specific challenges of our time with any steadiness or effect until the Eucharist becomes the criterion of all Christian cultural thinking and the source from which all genuinely Christian cultural engagement springs.

The church is called to keep our Lord Jesus, his death and resurrection, as the focal point of worship, witness, service, and mission. How do we protect ourselves from darting off after each fresh fad? Jesus didn’t think Christ-centered preaching would be enough. He left his church not only a gospel to preach, but rites of water, bread, and wine to practice. It’s difficult to forget Christ and his cross when we proclaim his death in the breaking of bread at the climax of every week’s worship. When the Sign seals the Word, the church becomes a communion of martyrs ready to bear the cross because they have consumed the cross. . . .

Sharing the Supper forges us into a corporate body that participates in Christ through the Spirit. By the Spirit, we become what we receive: “We are one body because we partake of one loaf” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). In practice, Evangelicals don’t partake, and so we aren’t a body. When we do partake, we don’t partake together. We aren’t a body with many members so much as an aggregation of individuals. There’s little point in asking what “message” the “church” needs to proclaim unless we can speak of a church with something resembling a message.

In addition to the ecclesial, the political consequences of our Eucharistic neglect are almost beyond calculation. The great French Catholic Henri de Lubac traced in intricate detail how the sacredness of the table slowly migrated first to consecrate the institutional church and then to sanctify the state. Evangelicals are intensely protective of the “sanctity” of the flag, but many would be puzzled at the classic Eucharistic announcement, “Holy things for holy people.” Lacking a rightly ordered Supper, modern Christians wrap nationalism in a veil of sanctity, with sometimes-horrific results. In the U.S., Christians are frequently urged to give political support to this or that variation of Americanism. There is no genuinely Christian alternative because the church has no defined public shape with the resilience to withstand the political forces that press in on us.

As it is in politics, so is it in economics. Because we don’t take our bearings from the table, the growing debate among Evangelicals about how to constitute a just economy lists awkwardly from hedonism to asceticism and back. The Supper ritualizes a Christian vision of production and distribution as it catches up our economics into the economy of God. By the Spirit, bread and wine, products of human labor, become vehicles for communion with Christ.

As the Russian Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann pointed out long ago, the Supper discloses the purpose and destiny of all creation. Not only this bread, but all bread, all products of human work, can be means of fellowship with God and one another. Further, we receive these products of human labor, with thanks; as a gift of God. Thus the table discloses the mystery of the creature’s participation in the Creator’s creativity, and this participation produces goods that are ours only as gifts received, goods to be shared and enjoyed in communion.

The Supper closes the gap between joy in creation and pious devotion to God. At the table, delight in the taste of bread and the tang of wine is delight in God, though this double delight is not unique to this meal. Every meal and every moment, every encounter and every project burst with the promise of communion with God. This world, Schmemann said, is the matter of God’s kingdom.

Evangelicals move away to Constantinople or Rome at an alarming rate, often because they lose hope of finding even a glimmer of liturgical piety in Evangelical churches. They’re hungry, and they believe they have found where the banquet is happening. Luther and Calvin would be aghast, for in their eyes the Reformation was an effort to restore priestly food to all of God’s priests as well as an effort to recover the gospel of grace.

All the cultural and political challenges that Evangelicals face come back to the Supper. It’s important to do it right, but it’s more important to do it and to do it together. Until we do, most of our cultural chatter will continue to glance harmlessly off our targets. Until we do, Evangelicals will flop and flounder with every cultural wind and wave.

via Do This | First Things.

As a Lutheran, I appreciate this call to recover a spirituality centered in the Sacrament.  (And, I would add, evangelicals looking for this in Rome or Constantinople would do well to first see it closer to home in Wittenberg, where they would find that they wouldn’t have to cease being evangelicals in order to be sacramental.)  I know some Calvinists are being accused in their circle of crypto-Lutheranism.  But is this particular view of the Sacrament, however “high” it seems and for all of its presence talk, all that Lutheran?  Amidst all of the talk of identifying the church and engaging the culture and reforming the economy, where is the “given for you for the remission of all of your sins”?  Or could these other benefits become ancillary effects?

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.

  • #4 Kitty

    Participating in the Eucharist (even if done incorrectly) produces amazing results.

    1. It prevents us from darting off after every new fad~ like the church growth movement, for example.
    2. It forges us into a corporate body instead of an aggregation of individuals.
    3. It informs us politically.
    4. It teaches economics.
    5. “It discloses the purpose and destiny of all creation”.
    6. It narrows an alleged “gap between joy in creation and pious devotion to God.”
    7. Evangelicals are apparently converting to Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy at an “alarming rate”. Yep, the Eucharist fixes this.

    In short, “All the cultural and political challenges that Evangelicals face come back to the Supper.” Wow, that’s quite a statement. Is there anything this rite can’t do?

  • #4 Kitty

    Participating in the Eucharist (even if done incorrectly) produces amazing results.

    1. It prevents us from darting off after every new fad~ like the church growth movement, for example.
    2. It forges us into a corporate body instead of an aggregation of individuals.
    3. It informs us politically.
    4. It teaches economics.
    5. “It discloses the purpose and destiny of all creation”.
    6. It narrows an alleged “gap between joy in creation and pious devotion to God.”
    7. Evangelicals are apparently converting to Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy at an “alarming rate”. Yep, the Eucharist fixes this.

    In short, “All the cultural and political challenges that Evangelicals face come back to the Supper.” Wow, that’s quite a statement. Is there anything this rite can’t do?

  • larry

    It swerves close but misses the mark in the final analysis. The key is how evangelicals “sense” something is wrong then run to EO or RC to find that tangible thing, liturgy, the sacraments, etc… I recall this myself. You know something is missing, where is God for me, where do I go. Evangelicals send people to the route of nebulous and Gnostic prayer and works (as fruit), but there’s nothing there by it always leaving a question mark at the end of the day. So the Christian identity is lost.

    What the author comes close to but ultimately misses is “in the direction” as it were of the sacraments. I.e. the conversation is coming into the correct category or realm even though it continues on in its swerve and misses the mark of the final connection of that Christian identity of “My body/blood…given/shed…FOR YOU”. Its kind of like Luther thanking Erasmus for AT LEAST coming to the table with THE issue at hand rather than trifles. Erasmus was ultimately wrong and Luther goes to great length and power to dispute him, but Luther did recognize ‘at least we are talking about THE issue, THE thing and not some other trivial pursuit. Same thing here.

  • larry

    It swerves close but misses the mark in the final analysis. The key is how evangelicals “sense” something is wrong then run to EO or RC to find that tangible thing, liturgy, the sacraments, etc… I recall this myself. You know something is missing, where is God for me, where do I go. Evangelicals send people to the route of nebulous and Gnostic prayer and works (as fruit), but there’s nothing there by it always leaving a question mark at the end of the day. So the Christian identity is lost.

    What the author comes close to but ultimately misses is “in the direction” as it were of the sacraments. I.e. the conversation is coming into the correct category or realm even though it continues on in its swerve and misses the mark of the final connection of that Christian identity of “My body/blood…given/shed…FOR YOU”. Its kind of like Luther thanking Erasmus for AT LEAST coming to the table with THE issue at hand rather than trifles. Erasmus was ultimately wrong and Luther goes to great length and power to dispute him, but Luther did recognize ‘at least we are talking about THE issue, THE thing and not some other trivial pursuit. Same thing here.

  • George

    Grasping at the wind.

  • George

    Grasping at the wind.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Larry is quite correct here. Nothing which Leithart write is wrong per se – but the emphasis is. It helps to understand where Leithart, the man and theologian comes from: He is a postmillenial Calvinist, influenced to some extent by the Reconstructionists, and in Doug Wilson’s camp. But at the same time, he is a particularly brilliant fellow, not given to Wilson’s excesses, but not admonishing Wilson either.

    Given that background, this is a particularly good example of where the theologians of Glory, such as Leithart, differ from the theologians of the Cross, such as Luther.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Larry is quite correct here. Nothing which Leithart write is wrong per se – but the emphasis is. It helps to understand where Leithart, the man and theologian comes from: He is a postmillenial Calvinist, influenced to some extent by the Reconstructionists, and in Doug Wilson’s camp. But at the same time, he is a particularly brilliant fellow, not given to Wilson’s excesses, but not admonishing Wilson either.

    Given that background, this is a particularly good example of where the theologians of Glory, such as Leithart, differ from the theologians of the Cross, such as Luther.

  • http://womanofthehouse-blog.blogspot.com/ Woman of the House

    “And, I would add, evangelicals looking for this in Rome or Constantinople would do well to first see it closer to home in Wittenberg, where they would find that they wouldn’t have to cease being evangelicals in order to be sacramental.”

    I realize this isn’t the main point of this post, but I wanted to say that you have summed up exactly why my husband and I are Lutherans today. Two decades of evangelicalism had ground us into dust, and what a relief it was to discover Luther! We could have the best of liturgy, tradition, and historically vibrant Christianity without losing salvation by grace through faith. We don’t know why the Lutheran church did not enter into our picture for so long (perhaps it’s the oft-mentioned tendency of Lutherans to stick to themselves), but we truly did not know we had an alternative to Calvin, Arminius, Rome, and Constantinople. We thank the Lord for bringing us to Wittenberg.

  • http://womanofthehouse-blog.blogspot.com/ Woman of the House

    “And, I would add, evangelicals looking for this in Rome or Constantinople would do well to first see it closer to home in Wittenberg, where they would find that they wouldn’t have to cease being evangelicals in order to be sacramental.”

    I realize this isn’t the main point of this post, but I wanted to say that you have summed up exactly why my husband and I are Lutherans today. Two decades of evangelicalism had ground us into dust, and what a relief it was to discover Luther! We could have the best of liturgy, tradition, and historically vibrant Christianity without losing salvation by grace through faith. We don’t know why the Lutheran church did not enter into our picture for so long (perhaps it’s the oft-mentioned tendency of Lutherans to stick to themselves), but we truly did not know we had an alternative to Calvin, Arminius, Rome, and Constantinople. We thank the Lord for bringing us to Wittenberg.

  • ThreeFormed

    Klasie is right; Leithart is associated with the Federal Vision, an aberrant movement that is growing out of the Reformed world, which I believe has been discussed on Cranach before. They are most noted for their departure from the Protestant view of Justification. In fact, he has come under charges within his own church body, the PCA, but so far his presbytery has played the “love and tolerance” card to cover over what many see as he departure from his ordination vows to uphold and defend the Westminster Standards, the confessional basis for that communion. I don’t know about Leithart in particular, but the Federal Vision movement has been one of the most vocal critics of men like Michael Horton for being “crypto-Lutheran” for their views on the Two Kingdoms and Vocation.

  • ThreeFormed

    Klasie is right; Leithart is associated with the Federal Vision, an aberrant movement that is growing out of the Reformed world, which I believe has been discussed on Cranach before. They are most noted for their departure from the Protestant view of Justification. In fact, he has come under charges within his own church body, the PCA, but so far his presbytery has played the “love and tolerance” card to cover over what many see as he departure from his ordination vows to uphold and defend the Westminster Standards, the confessional basis for that communion. I don’t know about Leithart in particular, but the Federal Vision movement has been one of the most vocal critics of men like Michael Horton for being “crypto-Lutheran” for their views on the Two Kingdoms and Vocation.

  • Tom Hering

    I like this: “… the church has no defined public shape with the resilience to withstand the political forces that press in on us” (Leithart).

    Reminds me of something Jerry Falwell’s biographer, Michael Sean Winters, said on Book TV (I paraphrase from memory): “Christian involvement in politics hasn’t reformed government as much as it has secularized Christianity.”

  • Tom Hering

    I like this: “… the church has no defined public shape with the resilience to withstand the political forces that press in on us” (Leithart).

    Reminds me of something Jerry Falwell’s biographer, Michael Sean Winters, said on Book TV (I paraphrase from memory): “Christian involvement in politics hasn’t reformed government as much as it has secularized Christianity.”

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    WotH@5,
    A lot of the reservation held by us Calvinists regarding Lutherans is that they are not seen as being separate from Rome in their use of the sacraments. I’ve had baptism explained to me before by Lutherans, both here and by Rev. Fisk on youtube, and I’m almost sold on the explanation given. But the Eucharist is still a little odd for me to understand. It still seems like a step in the direction of idolatry, even if that is not the intent of Lutherans to do so.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    WotH@5,
    A lot of the reservation held by us Calvinists regarding Lutherans is that they are not seen as being separate from Rome in their use of the sacraments. I’ve had baptism explained to me before by Lutherans, both here and by Rev. Fisk on youtube, and I’m almost sold on the explanation given. But the Eucharist is still a little odd for me to understand. It still seems like a step in the direction of idolatry, even if that is not the intent of Lutherans to do so.

  • http://drhambrick.com drhambrick

    I was, until last year, an elder in a Reformed Presbyterian church, and was always known as the crypto-Lutheran of the session. This moniker came about due to not only my view of the Sacrament, but Holy Baptism as well.

    I became Reformed out of modern Evangelicalism due in no small part to a statement made by Michael Horton on an episode of the WHI: “The Sacraments are not just memorial services, but actual MEANS OF GRACE…” This is what I had been looking for for so many years. I had no idea though that most Reformed circles just pay lip-service to the phrase, “Means of Grace,” and while my beliefs seemed to abide with the Westminster Confessions on the surface, closer and deeper study revealed that Lutherans and Calvinists differ on more than just a differing view of the Lord’s Supper.

    The final straw was when I really studied the Westminster Larger Catechism, specifically question and answer 175. It is a very gnostic approach to the effects of the Lord’s Supper. I could no longer in good conscience serve as an elder, so I demitted. Thankfully, we found and are now attending a confessional LCMS church. We hope to be confirmed soon.

    Even at its best the Reformed view of the Sacraments “misses the mark,” as has been said here already. I think that deep down people like Leithart know to be true what they are saying about the Means of Grace, but their reason and their tradition blinds them from ever knowing exactly why.

  • http://drhambrick.com drhambrick

    I was, until last year, an elder in a Reformed Presbyterian church, and was always known as the crypto-Lutheran of the session. This moniker came about due to not only my view of the Sacrament, but Holy Baptism as well.

    I became Reformed out of modern Evangelicalism due in no small part to a statement made by Michael Horton on an episode of the WHI: “The Sacraments are not just memorial services, but actual MEANS OF GRACE…” This is what I had been looking for for so many years. I had no idea though that most Reformed circles just pay lip-service to the phrase, “Means of Grace,” and while my beliefs seemed to abide with the Westminster Confessions on the surface, closer and deeper study revealed that Lutherans and Calvinists differ on more than just a differing view of the Lord’s Supper.

    The final straw was when I really studied the Westminster Larger Catechism, specifically question and answer 175. It is a very gnostic approach to the effects of the Lord’s Supper. I could no longer in good conscience serve as an elder, so I demitted. Thankfully, we found and are now attending a confessional LCMS church. We hope to be confirmed soon.

    Even at its best the Reformed view of the Sacraments “misses the mark,” as has been said here already. I think that deep down people like Leithart know to be true what they are saying about the Means of Grace, but their reason and their tradition blinds them from ever knowing exactly why.

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

    J. Dean,
    How in your mind does our use of the Lord’s Supper border on idolatry? What about your perception of what we do says idol worship?

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

    J. Dean,
    How in your mind does our use of the Lord’s Supper border on idolatry? What about your perception of what we do says idol worship?

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

    I do find this article curious. He bemoans that evangelicals leave for Rome and Constantinople. But who does he turn to to describe the sacrament and it’s benefits? Rome and Constantinople, (or moscow in any case)
    But for all his effort to reclaim the glory of the Eucharist he really does miss it completely. I found this paragraph quite intriguing:”The Supper closes the gap between joy in creation and pious devotion to God. At the table, delight in the taste of bread and the tang of wine is delight in God, though this double delight is not unique to this meal. Every meal and every moment, every encounter and every project burst with the promise of communion with God. This world, Schmemann said, is the matter of God’s kingdom.”
    So it seems this meal is special in the same way eating a hotdog from a cart is special, because God gave you the hot dog. Great….
    It isn’t to say that God isn’t acting through the daily things. But the Lord’s Supper is the Christian’s Passover Meal, where we participate in the Passover Christ, our Passover Lamb, prepared for us. This meal is special because by partaking in it we are given the forgiveness of sins and led out of Egypt, the angel of death passes over us, and we are given eternal life. In this meal we receive manna from heaven to sustain us on our journey through the wilderness. This meal is sacred, not profane. So in short, this is not even coming close to Lutheranism. It still refuses to take what Christ’s own words say about the Lord’s Supper with any seriousness. And rather than diverting people from making the treck to Rome and Constantinople, where I think they might actually be better off than in Geneva,(But not near as well off as they’d be in Wittenburg) it reinforces the bridge across the Tiber and the Bosphorus, (or is it the Volga? ) respectively.

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

    I do find this article curious. He bemoans that evangelicals leave for Rome and Constantinople. But who does he turn to to describe the sacrament and it’s benefits? Rome and Constantinople, (or moscow in any case)
    But for all his effort to reclaim the glory of the Eucharist he really does miss it completely. I found this paragraph quite intriguing:”The Supper closes the gap between joy in creation and pious devotion to God. At the table, delight in the taste of bread and the tang of wine is delight in God, though this double delight is not unique to this meal. Every meal and every moment, every encounter and every project burst with the promise of communion with God. This world, Schmemann said, is the matter of God’s kingdom.”
    So it seems this meal is special in the same way eating a hotdog from a cart is special, because God gave you the hot dog. Great….
    It isn’t to say that God isn’t acting through the daily things. But the Lord’s Supper is the Christian’s Passover Meal, where we participate in the Passover Christ, our Passover Lamb, prepared for us. This meal is special because by partaking in it we are given the forgiveness of sins and led out of Egypt, the angel of death passes over us, and we are given eternal life. In this meal we receive manna from heaven to sustain us on our journey through the wilderness. This meal is sacred, not profane. So in short, this is not even coming close to Lutheranism. It still refuses to take what Christ’s own words say about the Lord’s Supper with any seriousness. And rather than diverting people from making the treck to Rome and Constantinople, where I think they might actually be better off than in Geneva,(But not near as well off as they’d be in Wittenburg) it reinforces the bridge across the Tiber and the Bosphorus, (or is it the Volga? ) respectively.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Bror @ 10,
    If I understand the Lutheran concept of Eucharist (and I fully admit I could be wrong on this), then the bread and wine actually become (in some sense) the body and blood of Christ. Doesn’t this become more or less an indirect “worship” of the elements, which violates the second (your first) commandment?

    Maybe my thoughts on this are too tainted by what I understand of Eucharist from Roman Catholicism, and I do agree that at times the evangelicals are guilty of making the sacraments “merely” symbolical, but the Lutheran understanding of the elements leaves me scratching my head.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Bror @ 10,
    If I understand the Lutheran concept of Eucharist (and I fully admit I could be wrong on this), then the bread and wine actually become (in some sense) the body and blood of Christ. Doesn’t this become more or less an indirect “worship” of the elements, which violates the second (your first) commandment?

    Maybe my thoughts on this are too tainted by what I understand of Eucharist from Roman Catholicism, and I do agree that at times the evangelicals are guilty of making the sacraments “merely” symbolical, but the Lutheran understanding of the elements leaves me scratching my head.

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  • Another Jon

    Why would an evangelical who wants to better understand the Eucharist go anywhere but Rome or Constantipole? I mean, Lutherans complain they are overlooked by evangelicals who want a more sacramental liturgy. But such evangelicals often want a respite from the ‘culture war uber alles’ mentality that engulfs them there. The Lutheran synods offer more of the same – a culture war mentality with liturgical colors. My wife and I traveled this road; we spent two years in the WELS; in the largest such church in the large SW city. We were largely shunned because we didn’t hate Obama. The pastor finally told us that while, he didn’t personally believe a Christian had to be a Republican, well, it was hard to not to be. Evangelicals get all the culture war politics where they are. Having Harrison testify at the congressional birth control committee meeting was a like waving big sign in front of any disaffected evangelical – we’re just like you. Catholics and Orthodox surely have many adherents who fight the culture wars, but on both sides, if you will. And life isn’t hell for nonRepublicans who still want the sacraments. Take @7 to heart – politics secularizes the churches who throw themselves into it. And they all become alike. No, Wittenburg is not a good detour from Geneva or Falwell’s college to Rome or Constantipole.

  • Another Jon

    Why would an evangelical who wants to better understand the Eucharist go anywhere but Rome or Constantipole? I mean, Lutherans complain they are overlooked by evangelicals who want a more sacramental liturgy. But such evangelicals often want a respite from the ‘culture war uber alles’ mentality that engulfs them there. The Lutheran synods offer more of the same – a culture war mentality with liturgical colors. My wife and I traveled this road; we spent two years in the WELS; in the largest such church in the large SW city. We were largely shunned because we didn’t hate Obama. The pastor finally told us that while, he didn’t personally believe a Christian had to be a Republican, well, it was hard to not to be. Evangelicals get all the culture war politics where they are. Having Harrison testify at the congressional birth control committee meeting was a like waving big sign in front of any disaffected evangelical – we’re just like you. Catholics and Orthodox surely have many adherents who fight the culture wars, but on both sides, if you will. And life isn’t hell for nonRepublicans who still want the sacraments. Take @7 to heart – politics secularizes the churches who throw themselves into it. And they all become alike. No, Wittenburg is not a good detour from Geneva or Falwell’s college to Rome or Constantipole.

  • Joe

    J. Dean – we confess that the real body and the real blood of Christ are actually present in the supper. How they are present we don’t have strict dogma on (we do reject the notion that it is only a spiritual presence and we do reject the RC teaching on transubstantiation). It is often termed that the body and blood are “in, with and under” the bread and wine. We don’t worry too much about the how; because we are willing to take God at his Word even when we don’t fully understand it.

    So do we indirectly worship the elements? Not 100% sure what you mean by that. Once the Words of Institution are spoken Christ is really there, he is really present. Its not a picture, a symbol or an image of Christ; it is really and truly Jesus Christ himself. We eat and drink our Lord. So unless you want to say that worshiping Christ is idolatry, i don’t think you can get there.

    Before the WoI are spoken, the bread is just bread and the wine is just wine and we treat them as such.

  • Joe

    J. Dean – we confess that the real body and the real blood of Christ are actually present in the supper. How they are present we don’t have strict dogma on (we do reject the notion that it is only a spiritual presence and we do reject the RC teaching on transubstantiation). It is often termed that the body and blood are “in, with and under” the bread and wine. We don’t worry too much about the how; because we are willing to take God at his Word even when we don’t fully understand it.

    So do we indirectly worship the elements? Not 100% sure what you mean by that. Once the Words of Institution are spoken Christ is really there, he is really present. Its not a picture, a symbol or an image of Christ; it is really and truly Jesus Christ himself. We eat and drink our Lord. So unless you want to say that worshiping Christ is idolatry, i don’t think you can get there.

    Before the WoI are spoken, the bread is just bread and the wine is just wine and we treat them as such.

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

    J. Dean,
    Yes we believe the bread and wine become Christ’s Body and Blood, the whole in with and under thing. So you have that correct. I think it might be your understanding of the first commandment that is then skewed.
    Of course, the reformed understanding of the first commandment in that they split it into two rather than having what they call the second commandment as commentary on the first is a much bigger difference than first might meet the eye. I’m perhaps a bit of a firebrand on this, but I find the reformed numbering to be a bit blasphemous, as it does not allow for Old Testament Temple Worship, and therefore, as you bring up, New Testament Temple worship, as Christ’s body is the temple destroyed and rebuilt in three days.
    That said. For us Lutheran’s the first question is What did Christ say? He said this is his Body, this is my blood. He told the disciples to eat and drink it for the forgiveness of sins. If it is what Christ says it is, and Christ commanded it, then it can in no way be a breaking of the first commandment, as long as Christ is God. I think we are in agreement that he is God. Of Course the reformed like to play a Nestorian game with the body and so on. Get passed that, get to the incarnation, God became man, so as man he is God. He can do what he wants. And I think things will resolve for you. I mean did Thomas commit idolatry by falling on his knees and saying My Lord and My God? Jesus doesn’t seem to think so.
    So the first job that needs to be tackled is what has God said about the bread and the wine, what has he commanded us to do? Then it is only idolatry if God can command us to commit idolatry.

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

    J. Dean,
    Yes we believe the bread and wine become Christ’s Body and Blood, the whole in with and under thing. So you have that correct. I think it might be your understanding of the first commandment that is then skewed.
    Of course, the reformed understanding of the first commandment in that they split it into two rather than having what they call the second commandment as commentary on the first is a much bigger difference than first might meet the eye. I’m perhaps a bit of a firebrand on this, but I find the reformed numbering to be a bit blasphemous, as it does not allow for Old Testament Temple Worship, and therefore, as you bring up, New Testament Temple worship, as Christ’s body is the temple destroyed and rebuilt in three days.
    That said. For us Lutheran’s the first question is What did Christ say? He said this is his Body, this is my blood. He told the disciples to eat and drink it for the forgiveness of sins. If it is what Christ says it is, and Christ commanded it, then it can in no way be a breaking of the first commandment, as long as Christ is God. I think we are in agreement that he is God. Of Course the reformed like to play a Nestorian game with the body and so on. Get passed that, get to the incarnation, God became man, so as man he is God. He can do what he wants. And I think things will resolve for you. I mean did Thomas commit idolatry by falling on his knees and saying My Lord and My God? Jesus doesn’t seem to think so.
    So the first job that needs to be tackled is what has God said about the bread and the wine, what has he commanded us to do? Then it is only idolatry if God can command us to commit idolatry.

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

    Another Jon,
    I would have disagreed with that WELS Pastor. And I know LCMS Lutherans that are democrats. I suspect there are many WELS too just perhaps not at that church.
    I tend republican these days. Well I don’t know that I can actually say that as the republican candidates get me as excited as another 4 years of Obama. I really have a hard time distinguishing which would be worse or better. And Ron Paul, well I have a hard time taking him seriously, and think I’d weep were he actually elected. All that said, I don’t think the Pulpit is the place for politics.

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

    Another Jon,
    I would have disagreed with that WELS Pastor. And I know LCMS Lutherans that are democrats. I suspect there are many WELS too just perhaps not at that church.
    I tend republican these days. Well I don’t know that I can actually say that as the republican candidates get me as excited as another 4 years of Obama. I really have a hard time distinguishing which would be worse or better. And Ron Paul, well I have a hard time taking him seriously, and think I’d weep were he actually elected. All that said, I don’t think the Pulpit is the place for politics.

  • Ross

    “Amidst all of the talk of identifying the church and engaging the culture and reforming the economy, where is the “given for you for the remission of all of your sins”?”

    God forbid we believe what Christ told us His supper is for. It can’t be for forgiveness of sins so we have to come up with all of these other things. The gospel is NEVER a means to an end. It is the end. Even if the economy and political world go to hell in a handbasket, Christ’s promise of forgiveness in His supper will always remain true. Though heaven and earth pass away.

  • Ross

    “Amidst all of the talk of identifying the church and engaging the culture and reforming the economy, where is the “given for you for the remission of all of your sins”?”

    God forbid we believe what Christ told us His supper is for. It can’t be for forgiveness of sins so we have to come up with all of these other things. The gospel is NEVER a means to an end. It is the end. Even if the economy and political world go to hell in a handbasket, Christ’s promise of forgiveness in His supper will always remain true. Though heaven and earth pass away.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Another Jon, you start your comment (@13) by asking:

    Why would an evangelical who wants to better understand the Eucharist go anywhere but Rome or Constantipole?

    But, tellingly, you then 80+% of your comment ignoring the Eucharist and, instead, complaining about politics. So perhaps your beef with Lutherans isn’t really about the sacraments, hmm? Maybe the “culture wars” are just as important for you as the people you left behind?

    I say this as a member of the WELS who is not exactly a fan of the Republican Party, as you may well know. But that’s all beside the point. The point here is the sacrament.

    Did you actually have anything to say about that?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Another Jon, you start your comment (@13) by asking:

    Why would an evangelical who wants to better understand the Eucharist go anywhere but Rome or Constantipole?

    But, tellingly, you then 80+% of your comment ignoring the Eucharist and, instead, complaining about politics. So perhaps your beef with Lutherans isn’t really about the sacraments, hmm? Maybe the “culture wars” are just as important for you as the people you left behind?

    I say this as a member of the WELS who is not exactly a fan of the Republican Party, as you may well know. But that’s all beside the point. The point here is the sacrament.

    Did you actually have anything to say about that?

  • EGK

    Comments regarding worshipping Christ as Thomas did brought to my mind that the issue is not only Sacramental, but Christological. The Calvinist / Zwinglian view is a rehash of Nestorianism, where the two natures of Christ are kept separate and the body of Christ is confined to some local “throne room of God” at God’s right hand, rather than recognizing that the two natures are in communion with each other and letting Christ be where Christ actually says he is. More and more I find for myself that it is in the sacrament, confronted with Christ’s body that hung on the cross and the blood shed there, accompanied by the words “for you,” is where I really find assurance that my sins are forgiven and that I am His and He is mine.
    This is especially coming to my mind as I had the privilege of presiding at the Sacrament in seminary chapel just a couple of hours ago.

  • EGK

    Comments regarding worshipping Christ as Thomas did brought to my mind that the issue is not only Sacramental, but Christological. The Calvinist / Zwinglian view is a rehash of Nestorianism, where the two natures of Christ are kept separate and the body of Christ is confined to some local “throne room of God” at God’s right hand, rather than recognizing that the two natures are in communion with each other and letting Christ be where Christ actually says he is. More and more I find for myself that it is in the sacrament, confronted with Christ’s body that hung on the cross and the blood shed there, accompanied by the words “for you,” is where I really find assurance that my sins are forgiven and that I am His and He is mine.
    This is especially coming to my mind as I had the privilege of presiding at the Sacrament in seminary chapel just a couple of hours ago.

  • SKPeterson

    Reading through the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, I’ll note that Lutherans and the RC (we don’t really speak to the EO, so…) effectively agreed on Baptism. However, we rapidly diverge on what the outcome of that Baptism is: Lutherans hold that God makes us his own by his grace, washed in the righteousness of Christ. The RC holds that we get a covering for original sin, and then some sort of “grace” allotment to cover additional sins; we can then add to that by doing some good works or tapping into the surplus merited “grace” obtained by the saints (oddly, they never explain how you can tell if a saint’s surplus good works for grace bucket has been tapped – I mean, you pray to St. Anselm for 50 years and then you find out that he was tapped out in 1437).

    As to the Eucharist and sameness/difference between Lutherans and the RC, here is one synopsis from the LCMS:

    At the risk of oversimplication, let me say briefly the following. Roman Catholics share with Lutherans a belief in the real presence of Christ’s true body and blood in the elements of the Sacrament [of the Eucharist or Lord's Supper]. However, disagreements have existed historically on whether or how the mystery of Christ’s presence can be explained. Catholics explain the Real Presence through their doctrine of transubstantiation.
    Lutherans reject such an attempt to explain the Real Presence and insist that we must adhere to the simple words of Christ and be content to believe them as a divine mystery beyond human comprehension or explanation. In addition, longstanding differences exist regarding the Catholic position on the Eucharist as a sacrifice. Lutherans have rejected any understanding of the Lord’s Supper as a sacrificial act on our part, holding that it is purely God’s gift through which He acts to impart His forgiveness and strength to communicants. With respect to Baptists, usually Baptists understanding the Lord’s Supper as a symbolic act, including the elements of bread and wine as symbolizing Christ’s presence–in contrast to the Lutheran position that Christ’s true body and blood are present in, with, and under the external elements of bread and wine.

  • SKPeterson

    Reading through the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, I’ll note that Lutherans and the RC (we don’t really speak to the EO, so…) effectively agreed on Baptism. However, we rapidly diverge on what the outcome of that Baptism is: Lutherans hold that God makes us his own by his grace, washed in the righteousness of Christ. The RC holds that we get a covering for original sin, and then some sort of “grace” allotment to cover additional sins; we can then add to that by doing some good works or tapping into the surplus merited “grace” obtained by the saints (oddly, they never explain how you can tell if a saint’s surplus good works for grace bucket has been tapped – I mean, you pray to St. Anselm for 50 years and then you find out that he was tapped out in 1437).

    As to the Eucharist and sameness/difference between Lutherans and the RC, here is one synopsis from the LCMS:

    At the risk of oversimplication, let me say briefly the following. Roman Catholics share with Lutherans a belief in the real presence of Christ’s true body and blood in the elements of the Sacrament [of the Eucharist or Lord's Supper]. However, disagreements have existed historically on whether or how the mystery of Christ’s presence can be explained. Catholics explain the Real Presence through their doctrine of transubstantiation.
    Lutherans reject such an attempt to explain the Real Presence and insist that we must adhere to the simple words of Christ and be content to believe them as a divine mystery beyond human comprehension or explanation. In addition, longstanding differences exist regarding the Catholic position on the Eucharist as a sacrifice. Lutherans have rejected any understanding of the Lord’s Supper as a sacrificial act on our part, holding that it is purely God’s gift through which He acts to impart His forgiveness and strength to communicants. With respect to Baptists, usually Baptists understanding the Lord’s Supper as a symbolic act, including the elements of bread and wine as symbolizing Christ’s presence–in contrast to the Lutheran position that Christ’s true body and blood are present in, with, and under the external elements of bread and wine.

  • larry

    Bror,

    This may be helpful. Because I went through a version of what J. Dean is wrestling with. If the Reformed system where true, then it is very logical to say what Lutherans do is idolatry, but one has to understand and believe what is taught in the Reformed system is in fact true. Just as one cannot read Luther with Calvin eyes or through its paradigm and grasp it accurately, nor can one read Calvin through Lutheran eyes or through its paradigm and grasp it accurately.

    What J. Dean says, from a Reformed perspective, is precisely and honestly true (it is what for the longest time gave us struggle) within the Reformed paradigm he is speaking. It is refreshingly honest, and gets away from the “well we basically mean the same thing, i.e. real presence, what’s the big deal?”. It’s the reformed corollary to the Lutheran “what is the pastor putting into your mouth”.

    In other words if the bread and wine is not the very body and blood of Christ, then as Lutherans which I am now, receive forgiveness from it, bow to it, etc… this is nothing less than giving worship to it. Hence Melancthon in the confession writes concerning worship, “The greatest comfort comes from this doctrine, that in the Gospel the highest worship is the desire to receive forgiveness of sin, righteousness…”.

    Thus J Dean is correct from the Reformed point of view on the sacrament, if it ultimately is as Calvin says (and Zwingli more crassly), then from that understanding it would indeed be idolatry.

    When weighing these things, the counter is true, if it is actually the body and blood of Christ and one does not go to receive forgiveness from the bread and wine etc…would be to despise Christ Himself and the Gospel.

    Therein lay the real eternal weight on “This is My body/blood….”.

    What one must ask one’s self fundamentally is not “how” but “why do I or don’t I believe it at face value”. It is the same fundamental problem that the arians had and many others had/have with the incarnation. The contemporaries from the Pharisee party and others continually had problems with (1) Jesus saying, “forgiven” to specific people (not just some general ideal of forgiveness) and (2) people worshipping Him.

    The question is “why” does one not believe it, not “how” does it work.

  • larry

    Bror,

    This may be helpful. Because I went through a version of what J. Dean is wrestling with. If the Reformed system where true, then it is very logical to say what Lutherans do is idolatry, but one has to understand and believe what is taught in the Reformed system is in fact true. Just as one cannot read Luther with Calvin eyes or through its paradigm and grasp it accurately, nor can one read Calvin through Lutheran eyes or through its paradigm and grasp it accurately.

    What J. Dean says, from a Reformed perspective, is precisely and honestly true (it is what for the longest time gave us struggle) within the Reformed paradigm he is speaking. It is refreshingly honest, and gets away from the “well we basically mean the same thing, i.e. real presence, what’s the big deal?”. It’s the reformed corollary to the Lutheran “what is the pastor putting into your mouth”.

    In other words if the bread and wine is not the very body and blood of Christ, then as Lutherans which I am now, receive forgiveness from it, bow to it, etc… this is nothing less than giving worship to it. Hence Melancthon in the confession writes concerning worship, “The greatest comfort comes from this doctrine, that in the Gospel the highest worship is the desire to receive forgiveness of sin, righteousness…”.

    Thus J Dean is correct from the Reformed point of view on the sacrament, if it ultimately is as Calvin says (and Zwingli more crassly), then from that understanding it would indeed be idolatry.

    When weighing these things, the counter is true, if it is actually the body and blood of Christ and one does not go to receive forgiveness from the bread and wine etc…would be to despise Christ Himself and the Gospel.

    Therein lay the real eternal weight on “This is My body/blood….”.

    What one must ask one’s self fundamentally is not “how” but “why do I or don’t I believe it at face value”. It is the same fundamental problem that the arians had and many others had/have with the incarnation. The contemporaries from the Pharisee party and others continually had problems with (1) Jesus saying, “forgiven” to specific people (not just some general ideal of forgiveness) and (2) people worshipping Him.

    The question is “why” does one not believe it, not “how” does it work.

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

    Larry
    I get all that. I mean from a Lutheran perspective what Calvinists are doing is perhaps worse than Idolatry, it is a total mocking of the words of Christ. I understand the Reformed don’t see it that way. And I pray God forgive them there ignorance.
    So I understand why from a reformed point of view what Lutherans are doing may look to be idolatry.
    Thing is, J. Dean seemed to have been saying “If what Lutherans believe is true, then what Lutherans are doing is idolatry.” And that just doesn’t hold. If what Lutherans believe is true, then what calvinists are doing is idolatry. If what calvinists believe is true than what Lutherans are doing is idolatry. Those are if then propositions I can live with. But not what J. Dean was saying.
    This is why I asked J. Dean to clarify. and in my rebuttle of his position I ask him to take seriously the question as to what Idolatry is. The reformed are severely messed up in their understanding of the 10 commandments. Severely. When your interpretation of them runs counter to God’s word you have a problem. If your reading of the 10 commandments will not let you have build a bronze sea supported by 12 oxen and have that in your Old Testament worship space, because it would be a breaking of your reading of the first commandment, even though God instructed the Bronze Sea to be built that way, well then you have a huge problem.

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

    Larry
    I get all that. I mean from a Lutheran perspective what Calvinists are doing is perhaps worse than Idolatry, it is a total mocking of the words of Christ. I understand the Reformed don’t see it that way. And I pray God forgive them there ignorance.
    So I understand why from a reformed point of view what Lutherans are doing may look to be idolatry.
    Thing is, J. Dean seemed to have been saying “If what Lutherans believe is true, then what Lutherans are doing is idolatry.” And that just doesn’t hold. If what Lutherans believe is true, then what calvinists are doing is idolatry. If what calvinists believe is true than what Lutherans are doing is idolatry. Those are if then propositions I can live with. But not what J. Dean was saying.
    This is why I asked J. Dean to clarify. and in my rebuttle of his position I ask him to take seriously the question as to what Idolatry is. The reformed are severely messed up in their understanding of the 10 commandments. Severely. When your interpretation of them runs counter to God’s word you have a problem. If your reading of the 10 commandments will not let you have build a bronze sea supported by 12 oxen and have that in your Old Testament worship space, because it would be a breaking of your reading of the first commandment, even though God instructed the Bronze Sea to be built that way, well then you have a huge problem.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    One very big question Leithart really needs to deal with, IMO, is that if the Lord’s Supper is a key to cultural engagement and such, how do we explain the collapse of the the same churches that agree with Leithart in sacramentalism of this type? Church of England, Evangelische churches of Germany and the Nordic nations. Even the Catholics are becoming a shell as so many become “Catholics in name only,” and those familiar with Lutheran church membership will also concede that things could be healthier (to put it gently).

    Perhaps I’m missing Leithart’s point–perhaps we find that in the sacramental churches, people are bound together in a way that they are not among evangelicals?–but it seems to me that if I look at churches which do preach a sacramental understanding, they’re not, as a whole, thriving.

    And don’t get me wrong; I do believe that many evangelicals can and do preach a watered down theology (just like many mainline churches), and if you note that too many churches don’t take communion seriously enough, you will find me in the Amen corner on that, too.

    I just do not, having seen and experienced the results of sacramentally centered churches, believe that there is evidence that suggests that sacramentalists are bound together in a way that theologically mature non-sacramentalists are not.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    One very big question Leithart really needs to deal with, IMO, is that if the Lord’s Supper is a key to cultural engagement and such, how do we explain the collapse of the the same churches that agree with Leithart in sacramentalism of this type? Church of England, Evangelische churches of Germany and the Nordic nations. Even the Catholics are becoming a shell as so many become “Catholics in name only,” and those familiar with Lutheran church membership will also concede that things could be healthier (to put it gently).

    Perhaps I’m missing Leithart’s point–perhaps we find that in the sacramental churches, people are bound together in a way that they are not among evangelicals?–but it seems to me that if I look at churches which do preach a sacramental understanding, they’re not, as a whole, thriving.

    And don’t get me wrong; I do believe that many evangelicals can and do preach a watered down theology (just like many mainline churches), and if you note that too many churches don’t take communion seriously enough, you will find me in the Amen corner on that, too.

    I just do not, having seen and experienced the results of sacramentally centered churches, believe that there is evidence that suggests that sacramentalists are bound together in a way that theologically mature non-sacramentalists are not.

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

    Bike,
    Good to have you comment again.
    All I’ll say, is I don’t remember anywhere in scripture where it said be faithful to my word and your congregations will be busting at the seems with new people and a beehive like atmosphere of activity. Just don’t recall that. I do know it admonishes us to be faithful to his word. It does promise us tribulation and so forth. Says somewhere about many being called and few chosen.
    Of course I like to see a full church on Sunday morning, I love to be baptizing new converts. And I am always questioning to see if there is a better approach to the community I am in to bring them the word of God. I’m skeptical of pastors that hide behind a self proclaimed badge of orthodoxy to defend declining numbers. But I also wouldn’t dream of using your criteria to evaluate the health of a church. Because you can have all the people in the world show up for all sorts of godless displays of heterodoxy, I mean look at the Calvary Chapel movement, or a Benny Hin show.

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

    Bike,
    Good to have you comment again.
    All I’ll say, is I don’t remember anywhere in scripture where it said be faithful to my word and your congregations will be busting at the seems with new people and a beehive like atmosphere of activity. Just don’t recall that. I do know it admonishes us to be faithful to his word. It does promise us tribulation and so forth. Says somewhere about many being called and few chosen.
    Of course I like to see a full church on Sunday morning, I love to be baptizing new converts. And I am always questioning to see if there is a better approach to the community I am in to bring them the word of God. I’m skeptical of pastors that hide behind a self proclaimed badge of orthodoxy to defend declining numbers. But I also wouldn’t dream of using your criteria to evaluate the health of a church. Because you can have all the people in the world show up for all sorts of godless displays of heterodoxy, I mean look at the Calvary Chapel movement, or a Benny Hin show.

  • #4 Kitty

    @bike bubba
    All of his claims are unfounded. It’s almost like he just sort of… made stuff up.

  • #4 Kitty

    @bike bubba
    All of his claims are unfounded. It’s almost like he just sort of… made stuff up.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Thank you for the answers, gentlemen. And thank you, Bror, for putting up with my Calvinist roots :D

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Thank you for the answers, gentlemen. And thank you, Bror, for putting up with my Calvinist roots :D

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

    You welcome J. Dean.
    I try to hate the sin and love the sinner… doesn’t always work.

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

    You welcome J. Dean.
    I try to hate the sin and love the sinner… doesn’t always work.

  • Bob

    Another John,

    I certainly understand your frustration with conservative Lutherans also imbibing conservative politics. It’s one of the big letdowns I’ve experienced as a confessional Lutheran.

    Sometimes, the CLs I know — at least some of them, until recently — have been more reasonable conservative Republican types. They’re also fine folks. There’s also a knee-jerk shunning of anything ELCA, which I find annoying.

    I don’t see their theology informing their political views very much, at least not from my POV. Mostly they seem to baptize libertarianism and often, a rather unthinking (to me), golden calf-style endorsement of the “free market.”

    So I read theologians and writers from other traditions who are of more help and more substance.

  • Bob

    Another John,

    I certainly understand your frustration with conservative Lutherans also imbibing conservative politics. It’s one of the big letdowns I’ve experienced as a confessional Lutheran.

    Sometimes, the CLs I know — at least some of them, until recently — have been more reasonable conservative Republican types. They’re also fine folks. There’s also a knee-jerk shunning of anything ELCA, which I find annoying.

    I don’t see their theology informing their political views very much, at least not from my POV. Mostly they seem to baptize libertarianism and often, a rather unthinking (to me), golden calf-style endorsement of the “free market.”

    So I read theologians and writers from other traditions who are of more help and more substance.

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

    I don’t know. It seems to me that people have to actually believe. I was stunned when I woke up and smelled the coffee of unbelief in the ELCA. I mean if the focus is entirely on this world and our role in it, then I can find other things to do with my $$. Without Christ, my interest in helping anyone anywhere is zero. With faith in Christ giving 10% + is pretty easy. So is volunteering and being patient and kind etc. Without faith, all my efforts would benefit me, myself and I. So, I am not up for those churches that don’t exactly believe, but see it more as a philosophy, cuz it ain’t my philosophy. So, I guess I feel a connection with those who believe the Bible and the creeds. Those historical critical Bible debunking non believers are loons. Why even bother? “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:14

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

    I don’t know. It seems to me that people have to actually believe. I was stunned when I woke up and smelled the coffee of unbelief in the ELCA. I mean if the focus is entirely on this world and our role in it, then I can find other things to do with my $$. Without Christ, my interest in helping anyone anywhere is zero. With faith in Christ giving 10% + is pretty easy. So is volunteering and being patient and kind etc. Without faith, all my efforts would benefit me, myself and I. So, I am not up for those churches that don’t exactly believe, but see it more as a philosophy, cuz it ain’t my philosophy. So, I guess I feel a connection with those who believe the Bible and the creeds. Those historical critical Bible debunking non believers are loons. Why even bother? “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:14

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Cultural engagement requires the Sacrament

    A sacramental culture warrior in the two-kingdoms doctrinal tradition.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Cultural engagement requires the Sacrament

    A sacramental culture warrior in the two-kingdoms doctrinal tradition.

  • larry

    Bror,

    I see what you are saying. I took the “If what Lutherans believe is true, then what Lutherans are doing is idolatry.” was more along the lines of trying to see Luther through Calvin’s eyes. Even though it does not explicitly state it that way, often times one can be doing that mentally though one is speaking it differently. Something like with parenthetical mental notes behind the thought, “If what Lutherans believe is true (but I as a Calvinist don’t believe it is to complete this thought), then what Lutherans are doing is idolatry (according to what I as a Calvinist believe).” Again, reading it through the paradigm of Calvin. Very similar to how the Bible in prior times by many was read through the “law paradigm”. By doing that one can have basically the various forms of “grace” that yet are not really grace, even Augustine, but rather “grace” in the form of that “power” as it where to then at last fulfill the law (a common link between the theologies of Rome, Arminianism and Geneva).

    One can have a ‘total depravity’ that needs a ‘grace’ (pseudo sola gratia) that at last gives power to fulfill the law post conversion/rebirth so that God alone ‘gets the credit’ and one is not accused of “synergism” ala Arminianism but has a kind of law-monergism or legal-monergism, so that said “grace” can be called a “gift” (the power to fulfill the law post conversion) and “fruits” become the sign of the “gift” of “grace” “given”. This is linked directly and explicitly to the sacraments. That is to say once the sacraments are unhinged as God actually giving you forgiveness of sins and His righteousness, not signs pointing elsewhere, but actual gift actually given actually every time, then one is left with this searching in various forms for other “signs” for the “gift” of “grace” (i.e. the power to fulfill the law post conversion as fruit/sign of the same “grace”). That’s very different from a Word out of heaven come to earth saying, “forgiven” “here is Christ’s righteousness”, when the pastor dips his voice into the ink well of the baptismal waters and then speak-writes the name of God, forgiveness of sins onto the sinner giving the Holy Spirit. So one finds Lutherans and Calvinist saying “monergism” we agree upon, when really we don’t mean the same thing at all. This confuses things greatly.

    It takes a strong word like “idolatry” to begin to extricate the situation. This is what I found both very honest and refreshing from J. Dean, that he is seeing the sharp contrast though he agrees with the other side. That in itself is what I call the “first eye opener”. I went through that myself. Because as long as one attempts to “marry” Calvin and Luther on this (or other), as we often see many do by blunting the issue for the sake of “unity”, one will never “feel” the contrast enough to say, “Hey I need to check this out more, why is it that my beloved Calvinism is not the same, whose right and who is wrong”. By JD saying “idolatry” he’s speaking the proper contrast language. Like Luther and the Lutherans who were stunned more by the fact that Zwingli and the other sacramentarians where not willing to turn them over to Satan too. Or as Sasse put it that the serious Calvinist, serious Baptist, serious RC are closer in principle concerning the issue at hand on the Word of God than are those that consider “commonalities”. By J. D. saying “idolatry” he’s made that very honest step. To put it another way, to a Lutheran (or Calvinist that’s serious, or Baptist that’s serious) it’s MORE offensive to say, “these things are not essential and we share a lot, than to say, “you doctrine is false and idolatry”. It’s like a good Baptist pastor friend of mine once said when it occurred to him, “…there really is no way to unify with these things, sacraments, under consideration…”, and he meant at length the whole of the doctrine stands or falls on it being whole and not one stitch out of place lest it all fall apart at length.

    In short the otherwise honorable desire to be unified can become the greatest hindrance to actual unity because it leaves open the very things, the sacraments, upon which only true unity can be had and thus maintains a disunity everyone ignores or at least largely glazes over most of the time that outside observers see very clearly & starkly (this I recall as an atheist; there was NOTHING more confusing than a pretend unity under the banner of Christian, yet seeing overt the disunity. The disunity was not the problem, but the pretend silent look the other way unity was. It screamed to me as an unbeliever, as it does to other unbelievers, if X is absolute truth, then why are you pretending to be unified with opposing views). Nothing confounds the Christian witness as absolute truth, way and life more than the pretend unity under variations of “truth”, “way” and “life”. And believe me when one says baptism is the way, truth and life and another says, “oh no its not”, but we are both true Christian doctrines more or less – the truth always gets sacrificed. That desire is very strong in any Christian, for years I tried to unify in my mind Calvin and Luther (it did force a good exercise of looking into things though), but it can also be the greatest hindrance one has.

    Just so that all understand and maybe its well understood but it never hurts to clarify especially when speaking through the written media, there is NO harsh feelings on this discussion between any of us, just frank honest conversation, as I know Bror and J.D. mean this too.

  • larry

    Bror,

    I see what you are saying. I took the “If what Lutherans believe is true, then what Lutherans are doing is idolatry.” was more along the lines of trying to see Luther through Calvin’s eyes. Even though it does not explicitly state it that way, often times one can be doing that mentally though one is speaking it differently. Something like with parenthetical mental notes behind the thought, “If what Lutherans believe is true (but I as a Calvinist don’t believe it is to complete this thought), then what Lutherans are doing is idolatry (according to what I as a Calvinist believe).” Again, reading it through the paradigm of Calvin. Very similar to how the Bible in prior times by many was read through the “law paradigm”. By doing that one can have basically the various forms of “grace” that yet are not really grace, even Augustine, but rather “grace” in the form of that “power” as it where to then at last fulfill the law (a common link between the theologies of Rome, Arminianism and Geneva).

    One can have a ‘total depravity’ that needs a ‘grace’ (pseudo sola gratia) that at last gives power to fulfill the law post conversion/rebirth so that God alone ‘gets the credit’ and one is not accused of “synergism” ala Arminianism but has a kind of law-monergism or legal-monergism, so that said “grace” can be called a “gift” (the power to fulfill the law post conversion) and “fruits” become the sign of the “gift” of “grace” “given”. This is linked directly and explicitly to the sacraments. That is to say once the sacraments are unhinged as God actually giving you forgiveness of sins and His righteousness, not signs pointing elsewhere, but actual gift actually given actually every time, then one is left with this searching in various forms for other “signs” for the “gift” of “grace” (i.e. the power to fulfill the law post conversion as fruit/sign of the same “grace”). That’s very different from a Word out of heaven come to earth saying, “forgiven” “here is Christ’s righteousness”, when the pastor dips his voice into the ink well of the baptismal waters and then speak-writes the name of God, forgiveness of sins onto the sinner giving the Holy Spirit. So one finds Lutherans and Calvinist saying “monergism” we agree upon, when really we don’t mean the same thing at all. This confuses things greatly.

    It takes a strong word like “idolatry” to begin to extricate the situation. This is what I found both very honest and refreshing from J. Dean, that he is seeing the sharp contrast though he agrees with the other side. That in itself is what I call the “first eye opener”. I went through that myself. Because as long as one attempts to “marry” Calvin and Luther on this (or other), as we often see many do by blunting the issue for the sake of “unity”, one will never “feel” the contrast enough to say, “Hey I need to check this out more, why is it that my beloved Calvinism is not the same, whose right and who is wrong”. By JD saying “idolatry” he’s speaking the proper contrast language. Like Luther and the Lutherans who were stunned more by the fact that Zwingli and the other sacramentarians where not willing to turn them over to Satan too. Or as Sasse put it that the serious Calvinist, serious Baptist, serious RC are closer in principle concerning the issue at hand on the Word of God than are those that consider “commonalities”. By J. D. saying “idolatry” he’s made that very honest step. To put it another way, to a Lutheran (or Calvinist that’s serious, or Baptist that’s serious) it’s MORE offensive to say, “these things are not essential and we share a lot, than to say, “you doctrine is false and idolatry”. It’s like a good Baptist pastor friend of mine once said when it occurred to him, “…there really is no way to unify with these things, sacraments, under consideration…”, and he meant at length the whole of the doctrine stands or falls on it being whole and not one stitch out of place lest it all fall apart at length.

    In short the otherwise honorable desire to be unified can become the greatest hindrance to actual unity because it leaves open the very things, the sacraments, upon which only true unity can be had and thus maintains a disunity everyone ignores or at least largely glazes over most of the time that outside observers see very clearly & starkly (this I recall as an atheist; there was NOTHING more confusing than a pretend unity under the banner of Christian, yet seeing overt the disunity. The disunity was not the problem, but the pretend silent look the other way unity was. It screamed to me as an unbeliever, as it does to other unbelievers, if X is absolute truth, then why are you pretending to be unified with opposing views). Nothing confounds the Christian witness as absolute truth, way and life more than the pretend unity under variations of “truth”, “way” and “life”. And believe me when one says baptism is the way, truth and life and another says, “oh no its not”, but we are both true Christian doctrines more or less – the truth always gets sacrificed. That desire is very strong in any Christian, for years I tried to unify in my mind Calvin and Luther (it did force a good exercise of looking into things though), but it can also be the greatest hindrance one has.

    Just so that all understand and maybe its well understood but it never hurts to clarify especially when speaking through the written media, there is NO harsh feelings on this discussion between any of us, just frank honest conversation, as I know Bror and J.D. mean this too.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Bror–understood fully that any number of false theologies can result in numbers. See the “Mormons” out your way, for example. That said, the Scripture do promise that the Gates of Hell will not stand against the Church–implying that the Church is on an offensive, not a defensive, mission–and it also promises that believers will bear fruit including making disciples.

    So while I readily concede that numbers are not the end-all, I do think that it is telling that we have, among the sacramental churches, gross violations of basic fundamentals of the faith (authority of the Scripture, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection, etc..) and drastic declines in the membership and attendance of these churches. Can the Lord’s Supper be a linchpin of “responding to the challenges of our time” while sacramentalism is practiced by so many churches rotting out from the inside?

    So my take here is that, contra Leithart, there are some far more critical markers of spirituality than the Lord’s Supper. I’d start with the original five fundamentals, actually–and then the seriousness with which the Lord’s Supper ought to be treated (whether as ordinance or sacrament) ought to follow from that.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Bror–understood fully that any number of false theologies can result in numbers. See the “Mormons” out your way, for example. That said, the Scripture do promise that the Gates of Hell will not stand against the Church–implying that the Church is on an offensive, not a defensive, mission–and it also promises that believers will bear fruit including making disciples.

    So while I readily concede that numbers are not the end-all, I do think that it is telling that we have, among the sacramental churches, gross violations of basic fundamentals of the faith (authority of the Scripture, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection, etc..) and drastic declines in the membership and attendance of these churches. Can the Lord’s Supper be a linchpin of “responding to the challenges of our time” while sacramentalism is practiced by so many churches rotting out from the inside?

    So my take here is that, contra Leithart, there are some far more critical markers of spirituality than the Lord’s Supper. I’d start with the original five fundamentals, actually–and then the seriousness with which the Lord’s Supper ought to be treated (whether as ordinance or sacrament) ought to follow from that.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Larry @ 31, Superb Comment!

    Bike Bubba, your rebuttals to Leithart’s “Cultural engagement requires the Sacrament” just blasted home runs over the center-field fence:

    o “One very big question Leithart really needs to deal with, IMO, is that if the Lord’s Supper is a key to cultural engagement and such, how do we explain the collapse of the the same churches that agree with Leithart in sacramentalism of this type? Church of England, Evangelische churches of Germany and the Nordic nations. Even the Catholics are becoming a shell as so many become “Catholics in name only,” and those familiar with Lutheran church membership will also concede that things could be healthier (to put it gently).”

    o “Can the Lord’s Supper be a linchpin of “responding to the challenges of our time” while sacramentalism is practiced by so many churches rotting out from the inside?”

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Larry @ 31, Superb Comment!

    Bike Bubba, your rebuttals to Leithart’s “Cultural engagement requires the Sacrament” just blasted home runs over the center-field fence:

    o “One very big question Leithart really needs to deal with, IMO, is that if the Lord’s Supper is a key to cultural engagement and such, how do we explain the collapse of the the same churches that agree with Leithart in sacramentalism of this type? Church of England, Evangelische churches of Germany and the Nordic nations. Even the Catholics are becoming a shell as so many become “Catholics in name only,” and those familiar with Lutheran church membership will also concede that things could be healthier (to put it gently).”

    o “Can the Lord’s Supper be a linchpin of “responding to the challenges of our time” while sacramentalism is practiced by so many churches rotting out from the inside?”

  • JunkerGeorg

    Much good here by Peter Leithhart. Yet one note of concern I’d have revolves around his statement:

    “Sharing the Supper forges us into a corporate body that participates in Christ through the Spirit. By the Spirit, we become what we receive: “We are one body because we partake of one loaf” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). In practice, Evangelicals don’t partake, and so we aren’t a body. When we do partake, we don’t partake together. We aren’t a body with many members so much as an aggregation of individuals.”
    —-

    Why is this problematic, at least for me? Firstly, it reflects the typical thinking that one’s partaking of the Sacrament of the Altar is the place/means/action by which we become one body, RATHER than God’s Action upon us in Holy Baptism, there and then making us one with Him and with all others who have been baptized. Though we in a sense are active in Holy Communion, we are passive in baptism, God in action, taking us dead branches and grafting us into His Son, the Vine, making us alive again. The consequent of which then is that we the baptized, as newly-grafted branches on the Vine of Christ, having been made one with the Vine, then as a result consequently receive the nutrients from the Vine which bestows them, thus being made alive, growing in that new life, and being made to bear fruit as signs of that new life—that new life all brought about by God and His Vine and His Nutrients bestowed unto us branches who were dead but now have been made alive again by such ingrafting (Baptism) and consequent nutrients received from the Vine (e.g., Preached Word and Holy Supper).

    Thus, the Sacrament of unity is not Holy Communion, which the language of this Reformed dude suggests, but rather Holy Baptism. Having said that, the Sacrament of Community I suppose could in some senses be applicable to the Lord’s Supper.

    Why is this important? Because one of the reasons for why our separated brethren in the ELCA practice open communion is precisely because many of them see the Lord’s Supper and/or our participation in the Lord’s Supper as the means/place/action whereby we are made to be one with God and each other. What such a princple which I’d argue is false, is is any wonder that many of them are so much for open communion practice?

    Lastly, even if the Sacrament of the Altar (as distinct from Holy Baptism) were the place/event for the creation of unity, I find it interesting how so many read Paul’s statement in 1 Cor 10:16-17 in such a way that the “oneness” is posited not to the One Bread (The Body of Jesus)and the One Cup (The True Blood of Jesus), but simply to the fact that all present are doing the same action of partaking, i.e., they are made to be one because they all performed the same action of partaking. Hence, we can see this view of oneness and/or of becoming one coming from an anthropocentric point of view in which those doing the action of partaking create such oneness, rather than it being bestowed unto them forensically by God via Baptism, and then this given unity via baptism is then REALIZED in the Lord’s Supper, and in such realization experienced in the Lord’s Supper, one could say such unity is also strengthened. But this is quite different from the faulty suggestion that the Lord’s Supper were the place/event/action for the CREATION of unity. That is Baptism’s gift. If it were true, then alot of the arguments opposing open communion would be null and void.

    Sorry, I’m writing in a flurry. Wish I had more time. Make what sense of it as you can. (No offense to our non-Lutheran readers==just stating what I believe to be a confessional Lutheran perspective. Take it or leave it.)

  • JunkerGeorg

    Much good here by Peter Leithhart. Yet one note of concern I’d have revolves around his statement:

    “Sharing the Supper forges us into a corporate body that participates in Christ through the Spirit. By the Spirit, we become what we receive: “We are one body because we partake of one loaf” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). In practice, Evangelicals don’t partake, and so we aren’t a body. When we do partake, we don’t partake together. We aren’t a body with many members so much as an aggregation of individuals.”
    —-

    Why is this problematic, at least for me? Firstly, it reflects the typical thinking that one’s partaking of the Sacrament of the Altar is the place/means/action by which we become one body, RATHER than God’s Action upon us in Holy Baptism, there and then making us one with Him and with all others who have been baptized. Though we in a sense are active in Holy Communion, we are passive in baptism, God in action, taking us dead branches and grafting us into His Son, the Vine, making us alive again. The consequent of which then is that we the baptized, as newly-grafted branches on the Vine of Christ, having been made one with the Vine, then as a result consequently receive the nutrients from the Vine which bestows them, thus being made alive, growing in that new life, and being made to bear fruit as signs of that new life—that new life all brought about by God and His Vine and His Nutrients bestowed unto us branches who were dead but now have been made alive again by such ingrafting (Baptism) and consequent nutrients received from the Vine (e.g., Preached Word and Holy Supper).

    Thus, the Sacrament of unity is not Holy Communion, which the language of this Reformed dude suggests, but rather Holy Baptism. Having said that, the Sacrament of Community I suppose could in some senses be applicable to the Lord’s Supper.

    Why is this important? Because one of the reasons for why our separated brethren in the ELCA practice open communion is precisely because many of them see the Lord’s Supper and/or our participation in the Lord’s Supper as the means/place/action whereby we are made to be one with God and each other. What such a princple which I’d argue is false, is is any wonder that many of them are so much for open communion practice?

    Lastly, even if the Sacrament of the Altar (as distinct from Holy Baptism) were the place/event for the creation of unity, I find it interesting how so many read Paul’s statement in 1 Cor 10:16-17 in such a way that the “oneness” is posited not to the One Bread (The Body of Jesus)and the One Cup (The True Blood of Jesus), but simply to the fact that all present are doing the same action of partaking, i.e., they are made to be one because they all performed the same action of partaking. Hence, we can see this view of oneness and/or of becoming one coming from an anthropocentric point of view in which those doing the action of partaking create such oneness, rather than it being bestowed unto them forensically by God via Baptism, and then this given unity via baptism is then REALIZED in the Lord’s Supper, and in such realization experienced in the Lord’s Supper, one could say such unity is also strengthened. But this is quite different from the faulty suggestion that the Lord’s Supper were the place/event/action for the CREATION of unity. That is Baptism’s gift. If it were true, then alot of the arguments opposing open communion would be null and void.

    Sorry, I’m writing in a flurry. Wish I had more time. Make what sense of it as you can. (No offense to our non-Lutheran readers==just stating what I believe to be a confessional Lutheran perspective. Take it or leave it.)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    “Truth Unites,” let’s keep in mind that what I’ve enumerated here is not necessarily a home run–it is a difficulty with Leithart’s theory (IMO at least) that advocates of sacramentalism do need to cope with. The same could be said about JunkerGeorg’s comment on baptism. If we assume his point–that faith is given in baptism–then what do we say about the baptized hordes of Western Europe and Russia (and hey, closer to home too) who are obviously not knit into unity in active expression of faith? I would have to guess that far more people are baptized into sacramentalist churches than actually bother to take communion, especially in Western Europe.

    And again, not a home run; a difficulty.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    “Truth Unites,” let’s keep in mind that what I’ve enumerated here is not necessarily a home run–it is a difficulty with Leithart’s theory (IMO at least) that advocates of sacramentalism do need to cope with. The same could be said about JunkerGeorg’s comment on baptism. If we assume his point–that faith is given in baptism–then what do we say about the baptized hordes of Western Europe and Russia (and hey, closer to home too) who are obviously not knit into unity in active expression of faith? I would have to guess that far more people are baptized into sacramentalist churches than actually bother to take communion, especially in Western Europe.

    And again, not a home run; a difficulty.

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

    Bike,
    One think I see with baptist types that is rather troubling to me, is that rather than take God’s Word at face value for what it says concerning baptism, that it regenerates, sanctifies, justifies and confers the Holy Spirit and therefore kindles and strengthens faith, a point which can be seen more pointedly in Acts 16 and the jailers family, baptists seem to take a preconceived notion of what faith is and somehow a concept of once saved always saved to negate that which their beloved innerrant scripture says. Us Lutherans don’t have this problem. Baptism is grace, it does what it says. It is not the fault of baptism that people stop going to church, or don’t partake of Holy Communion on a regular basis. There are many other factors at play to blame. Baptism isn’t one of them. If if was well then we would not be believing Scripture.

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

    Bike,
    One think I see with baptist types that is rather troubling to me, is that rather than take God’s Word at face value for what it says concerning baptism, that it regenerates, sanctifies, justifies and confers the Holy Spirit and therefore kindles and strengthens faith, a point which can be seen more pointedly in Acts 16 and the jailers family, baptists seem to take a preconceived notion of what faith is and somehow a concept of once saved always saved to negate that which their beloved innerrant scripture says. Us Lutherans don’t have this problem. Baptism is grace, it does what it says. It is not the fault of baptism that people stop going to church, or don’t partake of Holy Communion on a regular basis. There are many other factors at play to blame. Baptism isn’t one of them. If if was well then we would not be believing Scripture.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    #36: “a concept of once saved always saved”

    a concept derived from “once baptized, always saved.”

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    #36: “a concept of once saved always saved”

    a concept derived from “once baptized, always saved.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    TUaD (@37), once again, your ignorance is showing. Nobody here is arguing for “once baptized, always saved” — precisely because we don’t subscribe to the unscriptural “once saved, always saved”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    TUaD (@37), once again, your ignorance is showing. Nobody here is arguing for “once baptized, always saved” — precisely because we don’t subscribe to the unscriptural “once saved, always saved”.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @BikeBubba, #35

    Well, there is much discussion needed over how we define “faith” itself. I’ve mentioned this on here before, but the distinction between the God-given gift of “fides directa” (i.e., the capacity to receive the Christ given unto oneself as Christ likewise grafts you into Himself, all this via Holy Baptism) and “fides reflexa” (i.e., the cognitive ability to reflect upon that Christ Who has been given/recieved in Holy Baptism) is a crucial one. We Lutherans accept both forms, while placing saving faith on the first (fides directa). I mean, besides, if we didn’t, then there’d be alot of doubt regarding individuals who’ve been severely mentally-disabled from birth. I’m not an Anabaptist, but I’m not so sure those who reject infant baptism really acknowledge “fides directa” at all. This would explain why they can’t see how one would be baptized before the “age of discretion” (i.e., at a time when a cognitive, fides relexa has clearly “kicked in” so to speak.) But again, not much can be said for those with severe cases of mental-disability from birth…of course, they would respond with this notion of being saved by the faith of their parents in their stead (a notion I have trouble finding in Scripture, i.e., that someone can believe for someone else, which in some ways parallel’s Rome’s notion of a treasury of merit of Saints in Heaven available for those sinners on earth.)

  • JunkerGeorg

    @BikeBubba, #35

    Well, there is much discussion needed over how we define “faith” itself. I’ve mentioned this on here before, but the distinction between the God-given gift of “fides directa” (i.e., the capacity to receive the Christ given unto oneself as Christ likewise grafts you into Himself, all this via Holy Baptism) and “fides reflexa” (i.e., the cognitive ability to reflect upon that Christ Who has been given/recieved in Holy Baptism) is a crucial one. We Lutherans accept both forms, while placing saving faith on the first (fides directa). I mean, besides, if we didn’t, then there’d be alot of doubt regarding individuals who’ve been severely mentally-disabled from birth. I’m not an Anabaptist, but I’m not so sure those who reject infant baptism really acknowledge “fides directa” at all. This would explain why they can’t see how one would be baptized before the “age of discretion” (i.e., at a time when a cognitive, fides relexa has clearly “kicked in” so to speak.) But again, not much can be said for those with severe cases of mental-disability from birth…of course, they would respond with this notion of being saved by the faith of their parents in their stead (a notion I have trouble finding in Scripture, i.e., that someone can believe for someone else, which in some ways parallel’s Rome’s notion of a treasury of merit of Saints in Heaven available for those sinners on earth.)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Bror; the way I read Acts 16, verse 31 says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and those of thy house.” So it appears to me that the jailer and his household believed–there is regeneration–and only afterwards were they immersed.

    Now there is legitimate room for discussion and debate about whether the household was justified on the basis of the jailer’s faith, or that the faith was experienced by all members of the household, but there is not room in Acts 16 for baptism conferring what you suppose. Saving faith–as expressed by Paul himself via the Holy Spirit–precedes immersion.

    This would simultaneously be another great reason why I’m skeptical of Leithart’s hypothesis; if we see the jailer’s salvation as at all indicative of New Testament soteriology, then we know that what plagues many sacramentalist denominations like the churches of Europe; their “baptisms” are simply the sprinkling of a sin nature that has not been dealt with (killed) by saving faith. It is a halfhearted burial of a live man with predictable results.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Bror; the way I read Acts 16, verse 31 says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and those of thy house.” So it appears to me that the jailer and his household believed–there is regeneration–and only afterwards were they immersed.

    Now there is legitimate room for discussion and debate about whether the household was justified on the basis of the jailer’s faith, or that the faith was experienced by all members of the household, but there is not room in Acts 16 for baptism conferring what you suppose. Saving faith–as expressed by Paul himself via the Holy Spirit–precedes immersion.

    This would simultaneously be another great reason why I’m skeptical of Leithart’s hypothesis; if we see the jailer’s salvation as at all indicative of New Testament soteriology, then we know that what plagues many sacramentalist denominations like the churches of Europe; their “baptisms” are simply the sprinkling of a sin nature that has not been dealt with (killed) by saving faith. It is a halfhearted burial of a live man with predictable results.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Junker–if “fides directa” refers to God “ingrafting Himself via baptism,” Baptists of all types would have to reject this. We simply view it as an ordinance, a step of obedience where the corpse of the old sin nature is dealt with as any civilized society deals with the dead.

    However, if “fides directa” refers to God’s calling to know Him, that we would endorse. At least all but the most radical “Arminians” would.

    And I’m going to be fair here; it would be wonderful to believe that there is some saving effect of immersion. A vaccine–if even partly effective– against one’s children going to Hell–Amen and Halleluiah!

    However, when I view the Scriptures in their context , and quite frankly “test the hypothesis” of salvation depending in whole or part upon baptism as an infant or child, I just don’t see it. As Bror courteously noted, the jailer of Acts 16 had saving faith before going under the waters of immersion, as did the thief crucified beside our Lord.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Junker–if “fides directa” refers to God “ingrafting Himself via baptism,” Baptists of all types would have to reject this. We simply view it as an ordinance, a step of obedience where the corpse of the old sin nature is dealt with as any civilized society deals with the dead.

    However, if “fides directa” refers to God’s calling to know Him, that we would endorse. At least all but the most radical “Arminians” would.

    And I’m going to be fair here; it would be wonderful to believe that there is some saving effect of immersion. A vaccine–if even partly effective– against one’s children going to Hell–Amen and Halleluiah!

    However, when I view the Scriptures in their context , and quite frankly “test the hypothesis” of salvation depending in whole or part upon baptism as an infant or child, I just don’t see it. As Bror courteously noted, the jailer of Acts 16 had saving faith before going under the waters of immersion, as did the thief crucified beside our Lord.

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

    Bike, sometimes I get the impression you are really noot wanting to have anything near a profitable discussion concerning this topic. I get this impression because though you have had to repent publicly in the past for your unscriptuarl views concerning baptism, you return to them like a dog to vomit. It is baptism not immersion, remeber we covered that. Now back to Acts 16. The astute reader not clouded by preconceptions concerning the rite of baptism, will notice that it is not until after the jailer’s household has been baptized that they thank the lord that they had believed. This shows that the relation between faith and baptism is much more closely linked than you give it credit for.

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

    Bike, sometimes I get the impression you are really noot wanting to have anything near a profitable discussion concerning this topic. I get this impression because though you have had to repent publicly in the past for your unscriptuarl views concerning baptism, you return to them like a dog to vomit. It is baptism not immersion, remeber we covered that. Now back to Acts 16. The astute reader not clouded by preconceptions concerning the rite of baptism, will notice that it is not until after the jailer’s household has been baptized that they thank the lord that they had believed. This shows that the relation between faith and baptism is much more closely linked than you give it credit for.

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

    bike@ 41
    The question is why do you view it simply as an ordinance is there any scriptural reason for ignoring what scripture says concerning baptism, such as that verse in 1 peter which explicitly states that baptism now saves you. Or Acts 2:38 where it is explicitly stated that in baptism you are given the gift of the Holy Spirit (God) and that the promise is for your children (when do your children become your children again?). Or perhaps that verse in Ephesians that says Christ sanctifies us in baptism, the washing of water with the word. or that passage in the second chapter of Colossians where it tells us we were made alive with Christ in Baptism, or perhaps that verse in Ezekiel 36 where God says he will cleans us by SPRINKLING. Get honest with yourself.

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

    bike@ 41
    The question is why do you view it simply as an ordinance is there any scriptural reason for ignoring what scripture says concerning baptism, such as that verse in 1 peter which explicitly states that baptism now saves you. Or Acts 2:38 where it is explicitly stated that in baptism you are given the gift of the Holy Spirit (God) and that the promise is for your children (when do your children become your children again?). Or perhaps that verse in Ephesians that says Christ sanctifies us in baptism, the washing of water with the word. or that passage in the second chapter of Colossians where it tells us we were made alive with Christ in Baptism, or perhaps that verse in Ezekiel 36 where God says he will cleans us by SPRINKLING. Get honest with yourself.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    tODD, #38: “Nobody here is arguing for “once baptized, always saved” — precisely because we don’t subscribe to the unscriptural “once saved, always saved”.”

    There are antinomian baptized Lutherans who de facto practice and believe in “once baptized, always saved.”

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    tODD, #38: “Nobody here is arguing for “once baptized, always saved” — precisely because we don’t subscribe to the unscriptural “once saved, always saved”.”

    There are antinomian baptized Lutherans who de facto practice and believe in “once baptized, always saved.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    TUaD (@44), and, well, are you going to name them? Do you have there in your hand a list of 205 “antinomian baptized Lutherans” who are known by TUaD to “practice and believe in ‘once baptized, always saved’”?

    I mean, even Don Quixote attempted to tilt at the windmills. Even he, wrongheaded and foolish as he was, wasn’t content to simply sit there and carp anonymously at some vague enemy.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    TUaD (@44), and, well, are you going to name them? Do you have there in your hand a list of 205 “antinomian baptized Lutherans” who are known by TUaD to “practice and believe in ‘once baptized, always saved’”?

    I mean, even Don Quixote attempted to tilt at the windmills. Even he, wrongheaded and foolish as he was, wasn’t content to simply sit there and carp anonymously at some vague enemy.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    tODD,

    Do you believe there are antinomian baptized Lutherans?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    tODD,

    Do you believe there are antinomian baptized Lutherans?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    TUaD (@46), yawn. Are you going to name them, or what? How do you expect to be taken seriously with tactics like this?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    TUaD (@46), yawn. Are you going to name them, or what? How do you expect to be taken seriously with tactics like this?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    tODD,

    Suppose a Lutheran pastor mentions antinomian baptized Lutherans. Would you ask him to specifically name antinomian baptized Lutherans for you to take him seriously that there are antinomian baptized Lutherans?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    tODD,

    Suppose a Lutheran pastor mentions antinomian baptized Lutherans. Would you ask him to specifically name antinomian baptized Lutherans for you to take him seriously that there are antinomian baptized Lutherans?

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

    TUAD, Trolls United Against Discourse

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

    TUAD, Trolls United Against Discourse

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

    Truad, the problem here comes down to this, No one here would describe themselves as an Antinomian Lutheran. No one here is arguing for any position you are describing. What we are arguing here is for what it is Lutherans believe, Lutherans being those who hold to scripture and the Lutheran confessions such as they are found in the book of concord. So tell you what. Don’t name any antinomian Lutherans. Find in the Book of Concord where it teaches the unscriptural doctrine of either once saved always saved, or once baptized always saved. Then we can have a discussion.
    Otherwise, throw in your cards already.

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

    Truad, the problem here comes down to this, No one here would describe themselves as an Antinomian Lutheran. No one here is arguing for any position you are describing. What we are arguing here is for what it is Lutherans believe, Lutherans being those who hold to scripture and the Lutheran confessions such as they are found in the book of concord. So tell you what. Don’t name any antinomian Lutherans. Find in the Book of Concord where it teaches the unscriptural doctrine of either once saved always saved, or once baptized always saved. Then we can have a discussion.
    Otherwise, throw in your cards already.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Bror Erickson,

    Name a Confession that formally teaches “Once Saved, Always Saved.”

    If you can’t, then throw in your cards.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Bror Erickson,

    Name a Confession that formally teaches “Once Saved, Always Saved.”

    If you can’t, then throw in your cards.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Bror Erickson,

    Do you believe there are antinomian baptized Lutherans?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Bror Erickson,

    Do you believe there are antinomian baptized Lutherans?

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

    Tuad,
    Once saved always saved is a tenant of the reformed movement also known to fly under the flag of “perseverance of the saints.” And I don’t need to name any specific group that holds to it. I need Bike Bubba to deny it, and then explain to me how the criteria with which he judges the efficacy of baptism is unrelated to that doctrine.

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

    Tuad,
    Once saved always saved is a tenant of the reformed movement also known to fly under the flag of “perseverance of the saints.” And I don’t need to name any specific group that holds to it. I need Bike Bubba to deny it, and then explain to me how the criteria with which he judges the efficacy of baptism is unrelated to that doctrine.

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

    and yes I believe there are those who have been baptized and call themselves Lutherans, who also happen to be antinomians, and it makes no difference in this conversation, because here no one is defending anything that they profess.

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

    and yes I believe there are those who have been baptized and call themselves Lutherans, who also happen to be antinomians, and it makes no difference in this conversation, because here no one is defending anything that they profess.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Bror Erickson, #54: “yes I believe there are those who have been baptized and call themselves Lutherans, who also happen to be antinomians, and it makes no difference in this conversation, because here no one is defending anything that they profess.”

    No one is asking you to defend the professions of antinomian baptized Lutherans. Only that you acknowledge and admit that there are antinomian baptized Lutherans.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Bror Erickson, #54: “yes I believe there are those who have been baptized and call themselves Lutherans, who also happen to be antinomians, and it makes no difference in this conversation, because here no one is defending anything that they profess.”

    No one is asking you to defend the professions of antinomian baptized Lutherans. Only that you acknowledge and admit that there are antinomian baptized Lutherans.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @ bike bubba, post #41,

    Junker–if “fides directa” refers to God “ingrafting Himself via baptism,” Baptists of all types would have to reject this. We simply view it as an ordinance, a step of obedience where the corpse of the old sin nature is dealt with as any civilized society deals with the dead. However, if “fides directa” refers to God’s calling to know Him, that we would endorse. At least all but the most radical “Arminians” would…..

    However, when I view the Scriptures in their context , and quite frankly “test the hypothesis” of salvation depending in whole or part upon baptism as an infant or child, I just don’t see it. ”

    ————————————————————————

    Bike Bubba,

    For lack of a better analogy, the gift of “Fides Directa” given by God in baptism is God making a “tupperware container” of one’s soul, in order that they are enabled to receive and “contain” the whole Christ (along with all of His gifts). Since prior to His Work of baptism, we were spiritually dead in our tresspasses and sins, God must make us alive in Christ Jesus. (see Rom 5:6; Eph 2:1, 5; Col 2:13–not how the new circumcision for Paul in the New Testament is holy baptism). So all this talk of “God calling unto us to know His”, hoping we’ll heed the call and come is wrong. Try it some time on a corpse. Try it on a dead dog. See if Spot comes to when you call, let alone moves at all. Your suggestion is like the doctor “offering” medicine to a coma patient, who just needs to reach out and grab it and be healed. But the truth of the Gospel is rather that God doesn’t merely “offer” us salvation, but He Himself must “apply” it to us, since we who were spiritually dead were incapable of doing anything. This He does in Holy Baptism.

    As far as you’re not seeing it in Scripture, I’m amazed that you can’t see it in such texts as Titus 3:3-7.

    This is another thing though: We Lutherans don’t need to appeal to anything other than Scripture to prove an Arminian wrong. Don’t need to appeal to Luther. Actually, not really fair to do so, since they don’t accept many of his positions anyways.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @ bike bubba, post #41,

    Junker–if “fides directa” refers to God “ingrafting Himself via baptism,” Baptists of all types would have to reject this. We simply view it as an ordinance, a step of obedience where the corpse of the old sin nature is dealt with as any civilized society deals with the dead. However, if “fides directa” refers to God’s calling to know Him, that we would endorse. At least all but the most radical “Arminians” would…..

    However, when I view the Scriptures in their context , and quite frankly “test the hypothesis” of salvation depending in whole or part upon baptism as an infant or child, I just don’t see it. ”

    ————————————————————————

    Bike Bubba,

    For lack of a better analogy, the gift of “Fides Directa” given by God in baptism is God making a “tupperware container” of one’s soul, in order that they are enabled to receive and “contain” the whole Christ (along with all of His gifts). Since prior to His Work of baptism, we were spiritually dead in our tresspasses and sins, God must make us alive in Christ Jesus. (see Rom 5:6; Eph 2:1, 5; Col 2:13–not how the new circumcision for Paul in the New Testament is holy baptism). So all this talk of “God calling unto us to know His”, hoping we’ll heed the call and come is wrong. Try it some time on a corpse. Try it on a dead dog. See if Spot comes to when you call, let alone moves at all. Your suggestion is like the doctor “offering” medicine to a coma patient, who just needs to reach out and grab it and be healed. But the truth of the Gospel is rather that God doesn’t merely “offer” us salvation, but He Himself must “apply” it to us, since we who were spiritually dead were incapable of doing anything. This He does in Holy Baptism.

    As far as you’re not seeing it in Scripture, I’m amazed that you can’t see it in such texts as Titus 3:3-7.

    This is another thing though: We Lutherans don’t need to appeal to anything other than Scripture to prove an Arminian wrong. Don’t need to appeal to Luther. Actually, not really fair to do so, since they don’t accept many of his positions anyways.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    TUaD, what, are you eight years old? I ask based on your rhetoric here — to say nothing of your understanding of the underlying issues.

    Allow me to recap, since you appear to have completely lost track of the thread here.

    In response to Bror’s mentioning (@36) “once saved always saved”, you tossed out (@37):

    a concept derived from “once baptized, always saved.”

    Which makes no sense (again, you sound like you’re eight) and doesn’t even address anything anyone had said.

    Perhaps unwisely, I chose to engage you by pointing out (@38) that:

    Nobody here is arguing for “once baptized, always saved”

    Let me make this clear: this remains true. No one here is arguing for the thing that you say some people believe. That makes your argument an obvious straw man. Feel free to prove me wrong. I know you can’t.

    But since your goal here clearly isn’t rational discussion, you decided to make this your new position (@44):

    There are antinomian baptized Lutherans who de facto practice and believe in “once baptized, always saved.”

    Okay, so … now your point is that there exist … somewhere … some people who … do something.

    Hey, do you know where the burden of proof lies in such an assertion? That’s right, with the person making the claim! I called you on the rug (@45, 47), as did Bror, but of course you failed to back up your claim. Not that it matters — it’s a really pointless claim to make, anyhow.

    Here’s the thing: you probably think Lutherans keep criticizing you here because, oh, I don’t know, you’re hitting a nerve or something. Maybe you think you’re being persecuted for being so brave here on this blog.

    Allow me to disabuse you of that notion. I know plenty of people that aren’t Lutheran whose arguments I respect. They make me think when they talk to me.

    You? You appear to just be a troll whose anti-Lutheran fervor far exceeds his rhetorical skill.

    But hey, why don’t you go quote someone else back at me at length? Maybe you can go complain on some Calvinist blog and ask them to write a response for you, which you can paste here? Or maybe you can just try endlessly repeating one of your questions? Sounds like fun.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    TUaD, what, are you eight years old? I ask based on your rhetoric here — to say nothing of your understanding of the underlying issues.

    Allow me to recap, since you appear to have completely lost track of the thread here.

    In response to Bror’s mentioning (@36) “once saved always saved”, you tossed out (@37):

    a concept derived from “once baptized, always saved.”

    Which makes no sense (again, you sound like you’re eight) and doesn’t even address anything anyone had said.

    Perhaps unwisely, I chose to engage you by pointing out (@38) that:

    Nobody here is arguing for “once baptized, always saved”

    Let me make this clear: this remains true. No one here is arguing for the thing that you say some people believe. That makes your argument an obvious straw man. Feel free to prove me wrong. I know you can’t.

    But since your goal here clearly isn’t rational discussion, you decided to make this your new position (@44):

    There are antinomian baptized Lutherans who de facto practice and believe in “once baptized, always saved.”

    Okay, so … now your point is that there exist … somewhere … some people who … do something.

    Hey, do you know where the burden of proof lies in such an assertion? That’s right, with the person making the claim! I called you on the rug (@45, 47), as did Bror, but of course you failed to back up your claim. Not that it matters — it’s a really pointless claim to make, anyhow.

    Here’s the thing: you probably think Lutherans keep criticizing you here because, oh, I don’t know, you’re hitting a nerve or something. Maybe you think you’re being persecuted for being so brave here on this blog.

    Allow me to disabuse you of that notion. I know plenty of people that aren’t Lutheran whose arguments I respect. They make me think when they talk to me.

    You? You appear to just be a troll whose anti-Lutheran fervor far exceeds his rhetorical skill.

    But hey, why don’t you go quote someone else back at me at length? Maybe you can go complain on some Calvinist blog and ask them to write a response for you, which you can paste here? Or maybe you can just try endlessly repeating one of your questions? Sounds like fun.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    tODD,

    Based upon your comments, your Lutheran baptism and your partaking of the Lord’s Supper in Lutheran churches don’t appear to be helping you in engaging the culture.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    tODD,

    Based upon your comments, your Lutheran baptism and your partaking of the Lord’s Supper in Lutheran churches don’t appear to be helping you in engaging the culture.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Troll (@58). Have a nice day.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Troll (@58). Have a nice day.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Bror, again; what criteria does Paul explicitly give for salvation? Hint; they do not include immersion. Yes, the gaoler thanks God for his salvation after he is immersed, but it does not follow that it was only then that the seed of faith was planted.

    Sorry, if you really desire a productive discussion, you’ve got to start conceding the obvious.

    Georg; just like the gaoler, the thief on the cross, and most of the people on Hebrews’ faith hall of fame, were quickened to faith without immersion. Something is missing in your logic here.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Bror, again; what criteria does Paul explicitly give for salvation? Hint; they do not include immersion. Yes, the gaoler thanks God for his salvation after he is immersed, but it does not follow that it was only then that the seed of faith was planted.

    Sorry, if you really desire a productive discussion, you’ve got to start conceding the obvious.

    Georg; just like the gaoler, the thief on the cross, and most of the people on Hebrews’ faith hall of fame, were quickened to faith without immersion. Something is missing in your logic here.

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

    Bike, I suppose I’ll just finish here. If you are comfortable being in the ranks of tuad, grace, and dust I will leave you there. At one time I remember having some decent conversations with you. It is quite hillarious you squaring baptism with immersion given mark 7 and Luke 11:38 and then telling me I need to concede the obvious when the obvious is faith and baptism which is a lot more then immersion are inextricably linked in acts 16 as well as amanuenses other places.some day you will answer to another for your wanton disregard for scripture and your stubborn unwillingness to let it speak for itself.

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

    Bike, I suppose I’ll just finish here. If you are comfortable being in the ranks of tuad, grace, and dust I will leave you there. At one time I remember having some decent conversations with you. It is quite hillarious you squaring baptism with immersion given mark 7 and Luke 11:38 and then telling me I need to concede the obvious when the obvious is faith and baptism which is a lot more then immersion are inextricably linked in acts 16 as well as amanuenses other places.some day you will answer to another for your wanton disregard for scripture and your stubborn unwillingness to let it speak for itself.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Bror Erickson, #61 to Bike: “some day you will answer to another for your wanton disregard for scripture and your stubborn unwillingness to let it speak for itself.”

    A lovely benediction and blessing from Lutheran Pastor Erickson to Bike Bubba.

    Yet another wonderful example of Leithart’s thesis that “Cultural Engagement Requires the Sacrament.”

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Bror Erickson, #61 to Bike: “some day you will answer to another for your wanton disregard for scripture and your stubborn unwillingness to let it speak for itself.”

    A lovely benediction and blessing from Lutheran Pastor Erickson to Bike Bubba.

    Yet another wonderful example of Leithart’s thesis that “Cultural Engagement Requires the Sacrament.”


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