Lutheran libertarians

I keep running into conservative, confessional Lutherans (including on this blog) who, in their political ideology, are libertarians.  Could somebody explain how that works, in light of the relatively high view of the state and of temporal authority evident in Lutheran theology (e.g., the orders of creation, the estates, the vocation of citizenship, the Table of Duties, Augsburg XVI,  etc.)?  Doesn’t libertarianism require a kind of individualism unknown until the Enlightenment and Romanticism?  Wouldn’t the distaste for earthly government that characterizes libertarians be more characteristic of Karlstadt and the enthusiasts of the Peasants’ Revolt rather than Luther, Gerhardt, and Chemnitz?   Or are Lutheran libertarians different from regular libertarians?  (I’m not criticizing Lutheran libertarians, mind you, just trying to understand them. Please, somebody, explain.)

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  • I’m one of those extremely confessional Lutherans who politically is a libertarian (although registered Republican, as I have been by my volunteering and work or registration since I was nine years old). Politics is, in fact, my livelihood as a political consultant and strategist. For me, it is our clear teaching on the Two Kingdoms that males libertarianism so.obviously Lutheran. I’ve written about it many times, including at the blog linked with my name.

    Also keep in mind there is a huge difference between big “L” and small “l” libertarianism. What you describe in your post is largely big “L” (as in the political party) Libertarianism, whereas most Lutherans who happen to be libertarians I know are of the small “l” variety. We focus more on the political underpinnings of classical liberalism, such as very limited government, rule of law, personal responsibility, and that the government very rarely knows best (less of a distaste for government, and more of an inherent distrust of anything that operates outside of the realm in which it is supposed to, as our government clearly does now) without getting into the Objectivism and anarchy you often find in the Libertarian Party. Small “l” libertarians, at least the ones I know, tend to be Republicans. We aren’t anarchists, we just want to see government fulfill its proper role rather than be something it was never intended by God or our Constitution to be, as far as I can tell.

    Hope that as helpful–and apologies for typos–I am writing this on my phone during a mid-night feeding for my son,and it isn’t the easiest thing to proofread on here.

  • I know almost nothing about Lutheranism, but I do know Scripture. And while I don’t believe one MUST be libertarian, I believer liberty is generally Biblical endorsed and encouraged. (And I assume most possible Biblical positions could also be Lutheran positions.)

    1 Timothy 2:1-4, Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    We know from Romans 13 that government is not evil, it has been given proper role by God. That said, generally, my attitude toward government is to pray that they leave us alone and let us be the Church! And, because we live in a democracy, I find that I am a small part of the answer to that prayer (through various political action).

    Personally, I often use the term minarchism over libertarianism because the former explicitly embraces government (just a limited form) and is a subcategory of the latter which is a big tent that also includes anarcho-capitalism, etc…

    A simple definition of liberty might be: the political ability to do whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want, with whomever you want…as long as you don’t infringe upon the right of someone else. It’s where one person’s actions begin to infringe upon another that we sometimes need a governing force. And, as has been stated by many wise men, a state has a difficult time allowing broad liberties to a people who are not self-governed. Thus, if we want to maintain maximum freedom to live quiet and peaceable lives, let us preach the Gospel and see many transformed by the power of God and growing in their self-government.

  • Dr. Veith,

    The paper on this is in the works! Natural law libertarians actually take their cue (knowingly or not) from Luther’s derivation of just government from the natural structure of the family. Many Lutherans have taken this to mean that the authority of fathers is given to every ruler – natural law libertarians would stress that this derivation actually implies and imposes the limits of just authority.

    As Albert J. Nock says in his seminal work _Our Enemy, the State_, every man wants government (free access to justice, protection of liberty, banding together for self defense) but this is to be distinguished from “the State” which is an anti-social institution. This book is a must read to understand libertarians.

    And the Biblical data is very interesting. When God set up a government for His people his plan was the judges. Comparing this set up with Nock’s discussion of government vs. the State is very interesting.

    I thank God for good government and pray for more of it – and the diminuition of the State.


  • Joe

    I describe myself as trending libertarian. I have been moving in that direction since young adulthood. Politically, the realization has been that gov’t is not very good at much of anything, that it often drives out others who are better able to provide services and often makes things worse.

    Biblically, I find it not incompatible with Scripture. If you believe (as Lutherans do) that gov’ts are instituted by God, then it follows that how they are instituted matters. We have a constitution that as written sets up a very limited, small federal gov’t. Thus, my adherence to libertarianism at the federal level is not inconsistent with either the founding documents or the Bible. The Bible teaches that we are to respect and honor the gov’t. I do, when that gov’t is acting in conformity with its instituting documents and pray for our gov’t when it is not. (now I don’t think there is anything magical about our documents, we could have a system designed in such a way as to make honoring the gov’t and functional libertarianism incompatible).

    At the state level, it is harder. Under our federal system the States are granted a larger sphere of authority. They are general gov’ts (although still bound by the individual rights protected by the Bill of Rights and the various state constitutions). Here, I vote and advocate for limited government, but realize that if I lose the debate, I will have to honor the gov’t anyway because it is not out of sync with the manner of its institution.

    Another way to look at it, is to ponder why Christ has given authority to earthly gov’ts. In general it is to keep order and to punish the wicked. There is always room to debate whether it is effective in doing so. If we pass all kinds of drug laws that are not effective and do not keep order you have to ask whether it is still proper for the gov’t to attempt to stamp out drug use via the War on Drugs or if a different approach is necessary to keep order and deal with the wicked. I think that the reason God choose too work through earthly gov’ts in this area might be because keeping order might sometimes (due to our inherent sinfulness) involve having a gov’t that draws lines in places that the Church cannot. After all, divorce was given to the Jews, not because it was a good thing but because it was a necessary evil to keep order – in the civil realm.

  • Patrick Kyle

    I am not a political philosopher, however I agree with what both Sarah and pastor Curtis have said in their comments. One of the things that puts me solidly in the libertarian camp was my realization that the ‘State’, to borrow the term from Pastor Curtis, is limited by it’s very nature as to how much good it can do, but is almost unlimited in the amount of harm it can cause. For many tasks outside it’s purpose as defined in the Constitution, Government is the wrong ‘tool’ to use to ‘fix’ the problem. This also explains why people are becoming disillusioned with the entitlement mindset as you have discussed in your other post today.

  • SKPeterson

    I thank Sarah and Jamie for their comments. I’ll weigh in as well. I’ll try to organize this as a set of distinct, yet interrelated points.

    1. Classical Lutheranism does have a high view of the State. However the State described in the Confessions is radically different from the State as it is manifested almost 500 years later. If we are going to question the “kind of individualism unknown until the Enlightenment and Romanticism,” then we also need to question the underpinnings of our modern state political structures which also spring from not only the Enlightenment but also from later philosophical structure such as Higher Criticism and the varieties of Socialism.
    2. The doctrine of the Two Kingdoms does not break down into a simple Kingdom of God/Kingdom of the State dichotomy. The breakdown is properly the Kingdom of Virtue and Earthly Righteousness against the Kingdom of Grace and Heavenly Righteousness. Luther and the early reformers noted that earthly virtue could be found in the Ethics of Aristotle or Aesop’s Fables. Is a State necessary then for those ethics and virtues to be lived out to the benefit of our selves, our families and our communities? What other institutions exist outside the State that also set limits, promote virtue, and contribute to the common weal? I would argue that the State does not encompass the Kingdom of the Left Hand; t is also made up of a vibrant civil society that relies upon custom, tradition, the common law, and the various trappings of what we loosely define as “culture” and “society.”
    3.Conflation of the State with Society leads to the expansion of the State at the expense of Society. The more the State does, the less civil society is able to operate effectively. Essentially, civility and culture begin to break down. In this instance, I would argue that libertarian calls for limiting the State are actually conservative – they are designed to preserve culture and the institutions of civil society such as churches, civic organizations, neighborhood associations and the like.
    4. Libertarians hold to a high view of the State as articulated under the Jeffersonian principle that “that government governs best that governs least.” In order to maintain a high view of the State, it is necessary to curtail the State and to limit it, with some even going so far as to say that we should dispense with a high view of the State and focus on a high view of Civil Society that is not dependent upon the State. While I am not so sanguine, I am sympathetic to such anarchist arguments. The State is a danger and a menace to Civil Society, both to the individuals who constitute that society, and to the organizations and associations they devise.
    5. The main argument for the State is the argument of the Sword – the principle of the exclusive monopoly of force in a specific geographic area in order to protect the lives and property of the citizenry and administer justice in accordance with that principle. Since men are sinful and full of evil desires and will often seek to do others harm, some means of protecting, preventing and prosecuting violations of life and property must needs be maintained. Our answer has been some sort of State apparatus. However, what we too often fail to recognize is that the State itself is made up of the same sorts of sinful men prone to visit evil upon their fellows. As a Lutheran, I recognize that all Men are sinful and fall short of the glory of God. Yet, the State, especially in its modern form, has the capacity to leverage that sinfulness, those evil tendencies, and to promote them, to institutionalize them, all to the detriment of the citizenry. It is the State that abrogates the rule of law, it is the State that allows great and monstrous evils to be unleashed in the form of war or internal repression or restrictions of civil liberties and the inherent God-given rights we all bear as individuals. As a libertarian, I argue that the capacity of the State to concentrate and to magnify the Evil in Man far surpasses the ability of dispersed individuals to inflict mayhem and harm upon their fellows. As a libertarian Lutheran I would much rather have my evil localized and largely disorganized in a community of individuals, rather than have that evil actively promulgated by the institutional machinations of an expansive and intrusive State.

  • Here in America, we are blessed that we have a Constitution that declares “We the People” are responsible for the Government and it’s doings.

    I see nothing inconsistent with advocating for libertarianism (or any other style of government consistent with the Constitution) while maintaining A Christian perspective on the role of the government.

    As others have noted, bigger government isn’t the only way to effect societal betterment, and in fact experience shows us that it’s not a very good way to do that at all.

  • Martin R. Noland

    Dear Dr. Veith,

    The roots of modern libertarianism may be found, first, in the various Anabaptist movements of the 16th century.

    Second, it appears in a more robust form in Lutheran Pietism, starting in the late 17th century, with at least six major varieties. Only Halle Pietism was closely connected to the State. All others were individualistic, in various ways. Eventually Pietism overthrew Orthodoxy in the Lutheran State churches, but that was because, in my opinion, the Lutheran princes realized they could co-opt the Pietist movements for their own purposes. On that, see Mary Fulbrook “Piety and Politics” (Cambridge U.Press). Carter Lindberg has an excellent reader published by Blackwell titled “The Pietist Theologians” that will let you read the historical sources in primary texts.

    Libertarianism in the Reformed tradition has a different development. The Episcopalians and Presbyterians were pro-State, and the Baptists and Independents were anti-State. This showed itself in the English Civil War in the later 17th century. Also shows up in the Regulator Movement in North Carolina, just before the American War of Indepence. Thus in the Reformed tradition, denominational boundaries were formed because of the pro/anti state stances of their respective church bodies. See H. Richard Niebuhr “The Social Sources of Denominationalism” for that story.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  • I agree with Sarah @1 – little “l” libertarianism looks a lot like classical liberalism.

  • Tom Hering

    So, no roots in orthodox Lutheranism, but rather, in its opponents. Hmm.

  • Dr Luther in the 21st Century

    Libertarianism is hard to nail down. There are just so many varieties. They are kinda like Baptists really. :p
    Others have already brought up some of the points so I won’t be labor them. My libertarian streak comes from the desire to just be left alone and not hemmed in with pointless regulations and fees. I have always been a fan of a few simple laws consistently enforced. The second cause of my libertarian streak is pure pessimism. I have seen too many governmental screw ups to believe our government can fix anything or at least do anything but get more bloated. I don’t see hope in government. So, I’d rather see less of it.

  • SKPeterson

    Tom @ 10 – The implications of Pr. Noland’s post @ 8 would call into question not only libertarianism, but the classical liberal political ideologies that undergirded the entire American Revolutionary enterprise, or rather place the ideas of classical liberalism firmly in the detritus of English denominationalism and the fragmentation of Anglicanism.

    It is curious though that Lutheran Pietism would be the loci of libertarian thought within Lutheranism, when the Pietists were responsible for and fellow travelers with modernist political notions and the social policies of Prohibition for example associated with the Progressive movement resulting in the expansive State we have today.

    Very curious how the Confessional and the Pietist strains of Lutheranism have apparently switched political sides. The ELCA’s lurch leftwards both theologically and politically has been described as a distinctly Pietistic enterprise, while the Confessional Lutheran churches came to America largely as a result of political oppression in Germany and sought to be left alone by the government in the United States, a classically libertarian position if there ever was one.

  • As a Confessional Lutheran, and with a rather strong libertarian position (little “l”, as others have mentioned above), I believe the two work together. Our nation was built upon our constitution, which in itself limits the government. I am more of a “minarchist” or even “constitutionalist” (I believe the technical position name is “consequentialist propertarian minarchist libertarian” but that’s a mouthful), I simply want our government to be restrained back to what the law of the land specifically dictates. I tend to register Republican, but I will back any politician that is the closest to my personal ideology for government.

    Even if libertarianism came from non-Lutheran philosophies, as it does not pertain to sin, repentance, and salvation, it falls squarely into the earthly kingdom, and therefore I say it falls into Christian Freedom & Christian Responsibility. I believe that an overly-bloated government does not fair well for my neighbors (or myself), and therefore I believe that a smaller, more localized government with a very specific, limited role in society, while increasing the responsibility and role of the basic family units, are much more beneficial, and what God had intended. The government should serve the people (as wikipedia puts it, their only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and that the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police, and courts). This way, the government is put into a position of protecting the citizens of the country, rather than oppressing or controlling them. I don’t believe that positions of political office should be paid, I believe these people need to be actual members of the community, and with a limited role for the government, they’d not need as much time to deliberate over everything.

  • Dr. Veith, I’ve noticed that libertarianism has particularly taken hold among younger people, and, many of them have been huge fans of Ron Paul and now Rand Paul (assuming he survives his drone gaffe).

    My sense is that there is a sentiment that government has become too pervasive a presence in their lives and that every facet of day-to-day existence is becoming monitored, regulated, watched, taxed, controlled, and otherwise interfered with by the government.

    On the other hand, it is undeniable that Martin Luther assumed that government would play a very active role in the safety and welfare of society. You can find this theme throughout the Large Catechism and in all of his writings.

    I’m enjoying the comments here that give me more insight into Lutherans and libertarianism.

  • DonS

    As a point of clarification, libertarianism is distinct from anarchism, though many seem to confuse the two very different philosophies for some reason. Libertarians believe in government staying small and functioning in the roles to which it is uniquely suited.

    Scripturally, to follow up on what Jamie said above, @ 2, the Book of Judges sets forth a governing philosophy that is very libertarian in nature. Men were free to conduct their affairs, and the judges in charge were primarily responsible for settling their differences as they arose. It was the people who insisted on a king, and God very clearly told them that they would regret that decision.

    We have. Very much.

  • I am a proud capitalist. I believe that capitalism provides the greatest opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, for the most people in a society. I do believe that “the tide of capitalism raises (most) boats”. However, capitalism unchecked leads to selfish greed. And selfish greed leads to monopolies that crush competition, undue political influence by the very rich, pollution of our environment, leading to increased illness and death of those living near the polluting businesses, and utter despair for those who have trouble finding work: single mothers with children, the uneducated, the elderly, the disadvantaged.

    My impression of libertarianism is: “every man for himself” and “sink or swim, fella!” Was that the social outlook of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Would Jesus support the elimination of social welfare programs for the poor, elderly and sick? Would Jesus tell the hungry child, the homeless mother, the sick and disabled elderly man…”You are on your own! I do not want my tax dollars spent on people who can’t take care of themselves, or who have made unwise decisions in their lives. Go ask for help from the local Episcopal Church, not from me and my tax dollars.”

    In my humble opinion the best political position for a Christian is to support capitalism, because of its ability to give opportunity to the most, but support government regulation so that unbridled greed does not leave the weak, poor, and sick in destitution. It’s called being a political moderate, approaching social and political issues based on pragmatism, not rigid ideology.

    If libertarianism means limiting government to the minimum needed to provide opportunity for all and yet protect the weak and disadvantaged…I’m all for it! If it means “each man for himself” then forget it. That is not “Christ-like”.

  • I wouldn’t call myself a strict Libertarian, but I’m on the libertarian wing of conservativism.
    The germane principle is that moral action can only take place within freedom. Hence, Christian citizenship chiefly calls for a free society in which the Church performs her duty free of state imposed encumbrances.
    For example: It’s a sin to take god’s name in vain, and I persuade people to obey God’s law, but I would not want the government to use force to prohibit someone from taking God’s name in vain. If the government were to enforce the 10 commandments, there would be several bad results. People would comply out of a fear of punishment not out of thankfulness for the Cross. The interests of the Church would be confused with the interests of the government. The power-based, cynical theater that is politics would corrupt our religious lives like manure in merlot. There would be a strong pressure for people to strike a self-righteous pose for political ends. The government, in the name of religious pluralism, would enforce a type of mushy, man centered, works righteous civil religion which would not only be different from Orthodox Lutheranism, it would be hostile towards it.
    If written these points as hypotheticals, but we all see these things already.
    P.S. A misunderstanding that some people have is to confuse libertarianism with libertinism. (Alas, some libertarians do this.) When I assert that something should not be illegal, that in no way means that I’m saying that it is not wrong. On the contrary, the non governmental institutions of society must be more powerful and vigorous, because the government will not be doing their work for them. If I want government out of the charity business, because (being an agent of physical force) it has no ethical dimension, I will want private charities (which can give both money and spiritual guidance) to more prevalent and active. Remember Marvin Olasky’s book The Tragedy of American Compassion?

  • Matt Jamison

    Great discussion!

    I’m eagerly looking forward to reading Fr. Curtis’ paper, as I’m not sure what a “natural law libertarian” is. One thing is clear, however: natural law thinking is taking a huge beating in the public square right now, particularly along issues of marriage. Is libertarianism the best way to defend the role of natural law in public life or might we need something more muscular?

  • Matt

    I think, it should be emphasized again, that Libertarianism is not the same as Anarchism. Some libertarians are Anarcho-capitalists, but not everyone. Libertarianism can actually be rightly called “Classical Liberalism”. Economist and Libertarian thinker Ludwig Von Mises was dead set against anarchism and his arguments are very good. (See his books “Liberalism” and “Human Action” both of which can be found online.)

    Libertarianism says that we have three basic rights: Life, Liberty, and Property.

    To take your life is murder.
    To take your liberty is slavery.
    To take your property is theft.

    If it is wrong for a Citizen to murder, enslave, or steal, then the Government, which is just a bunch of Citizens, can not do those things either. Thomas Jefferson said, “Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.”

    Libertarians who are Minarchists, hold that governments ought to exist (as opposed to anarchy), that their only legitimate function is the protection of the above individual rights from aggression. This includes things like assault, murder, theft, breach of contract, and fraud. The only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police, and courts. In the broadest sense, it also includes fire departments, prisons, the executive, and legislatures as legitimate government functions. Such states are generally called night-watchman states.

    Libertarians generally believe a laissez-faire approach to the economy is most likely to lead to economic prosperity. The state has no authority to use its monopoly of force to interfere with free transactions between people. The state’s sole responsibility as ensuring that contracts between private individuals and property are protected, through a system of law courts and enforcement.

    Also, there is the idea that not all Sin should be a Crime. This is not an unusual perspective in the Christian tradition as well. In the Treatise on Law in his Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas explains (citing Augustine) that not all vices should be punished by the law. Human laws should chiefly forbid those things that cause direct physical harm to others; Aquinas offers murder and theft as examples. With regard to practices that do not physically harm or defraud others (whatever other intangible grief they may cause), it can be necessary to tolerate them if prohibiting them would lead to still further evils.

    These ideas are not anti-Lutheran. Let’s take property rights for example.

    The seventh commandment is “Thou shalt not steal.” In Martin Luther’s explanation of the ten commandments, he write, “What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we may not take our neighbor’s money or property, nor get them by false ware or dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and business that his means are preserved and his condition is improved.”

    The idea of property is inherent in the commandments. Christ in parable also summarizes the basics of Capitalism, by saying, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?” (Matthew 20:15) Land and possessions can be owned in private according to the OT as well. Look at the distribution of the Promised Land. Look at the argument about Issac’s well. Look at the situation with Jezebel’s husband wanting land that wasn’t his and taking it by force. There are other examples as well, but one could do this with all the ideas of Libertarianism. It’s simply an economic and political philosophy based on the inherent rights of life, liberty, and property.

    Hope that helps.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    These terms are unfortunately very fluid, and also differs from place to place. The identification of libertarianism with classical liberalism is a modern American phenomenon. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (a very useful tool in these matters)has a nice article on the matter – .

    As such, it might be more convenient to state that one leads libertarian in this or that matter, rather than adopt a single label (always a perilous exercise). There are substantial philosophical and moral issues with the blanket assumption of autonomous agent (moral and otherwise), an absolute essential component of libertarianism. I cannot see how a Lutheran, or anyone with an Aristotelian ethic (as most Christians are) could be a consistent Libertarian. Too often though it seems that a complex philosophical debate boils down to the very simplisitc government always = bad position, something which is in direct conflict with Christianity. While this position is actually a variant of Libertarianism, (anarchist vs minarchist, such as what Matt is propounding), it is also a profoundly ignorant position, both in terms of Human morality as well as human evolution.

  • I will support the Government getting out of the social welfare business when Churches set up to the plate and fill the void:
    –build or supply housing for all the sick, disabled, elderly, and disadvantaged.
    –provide daily food for these same individuals and families.
    –provide financial assistance for living expenses to these same groups at an equal level that they currently receive from Social Security and welfare.
    –provide medical coverage and medical care which is at least equivalent to the benefits the elderly and disabled receive from Medicare and the poor receive from Medicaid.

    When Christian Churches prove that they are ready and able to immediately provide the above services to millions of needy Americans, I will then support the government getting out of the social welfare business. But the chances of Churches being willing and capable of providing the same level of services and care that the government now provides to the needy, seems to have about the same odds as that of hell freezing over.

  • SKPeterson

    KK @ 20 – I am not sure I follow your notion that libertarianism cannot be consistent with Aristotelianism. I would argue that Aristotelianism is entirely consonant with a libertarian political and social ethic. Where do find the inconsistencies? Or who has made these arguments? Unless perhaps you are arguing from the standpoint of Aristotle’s hostility to the free-market? We Lutherans don’t take everything good Dr. Luther said as gospel, perhaps we should afford the same latitude to Aristotle.

  • An important caveat is in order.

    There is no one divinely commanded, inspired, or constructed human political system and any suggestion that one is more “God pleasing” or “God-appointed” than another has no support in Scripture.

    God has seen fit to work His good and gracious will through the kingdom of the left and the right in a wide variety of governmental forms: monarchy, absolutism, dictatorship, republics, etc. etc.

  • Matt


    I think we need to distinguish between Luther’s private political views, which are still quite medieval, and his theological understanding of the State as is represented in the Confessions. I agree with the Confessions as to the relationship between Christian and State, but disagree with some of Luthers private political opinions which are not in the confessions.

    Lutheran Pastor Joseph Stump summarizes the Christian’s relationship to the state nicely:
    “The duty of obedience to the State is enjoined in Scripture (Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1-5; 1 Pet.
    2:13). Insurrection and rebellion are forbidden (Rom. 13:2). Changes in the forms and methods
    of government are to be obtained by legal means. Resistance is justifiable only when those in
    authority persist in violating the basic principles of the State, and when resistance
    therefore is really a defense of the State against those who are seeking to revolutionize it
    from above.”

    Pastor McCain, a caveat to your caveat.

    Just because God worked through a variety of Governmental forms, doesn’t mean that are all neutral to him. If a government is based on unjust laws then they do not please God. Some forms of government are based entirely around breaking commandments. Communism breaks the commandment, “You shall not steal”. It’s an entire system founded around governmental theft of money and property. God does not approve of it. How could he? If he did, he’d be approving theft.

  • @21


    # First, I don’t think it needs to be a digital switch (one day the government provides $500 billion, and then next day the church does it).

    In fact, that seems somewhat impossible seeing that the government just took thousands of dollars from me a couple weeks ago. I don’t have much money left after tax day, and I imagine it’s similar for most believers.

    But as the government backs out, others may step up to the challenge.

    # Second, presently the government provides many resources…and you’re right, more than the church could readily provide. But it’s not exactly the same game, the government takes money by force (threat of prison, etc…) and the church accepts donations. I just wanted to note this not insignificant fact!

    # Third, and most importantly, I think you miss an important point. The end goal is not some needy persons having their needs met, it is about the glory of God.

    And certainly when Christ preached the Good News of the Kingdom He met practical needs, and we’re called to do the same (James 2:14-17). But He wants the glory.

    Let me set up an illustration: meet Susan. She makes about $20k each year doing a few different small jobs and working on staff at her church. She pays about $4k in taxes and gives away another $3k to her church and those in need. If the government were minimized and her taxes went down to $1k each year, she would be able to give away twice as much to those in need.

    Now, ideally, all those taxes are efficiently going to those in need (of course, we all know the government isn’t that efficient). But the problem is this: Susan is a born again believer, but when her money is taken by the government to feed someone instead of Susan being able to do it the government shines, thus diminishing her ability to be a bright light in this world. Consider this passage:

    Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

    Let *US* do good works to bring glory to God…

    Now, obviously, we can be a light for Jesus in *ANY* context no matter the political system. That said, certainly we are better able to do good works when we have the resources God gave us.

    This is why we should pray that the government allows us to serve the Lord as we’ve been called (1 Tim 2:1-4).

    Ultimately, my argument is not that the poor will necessarily (though maybe) better taken care of but that the church will shine more brightly if the government did what it is called to do and allows us to keep our money and do what God has called us to do.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    SKP – Aristotle is to be read within the context of his political world. I’ll quote the last 2 paragraphs of thew Stanford article about his ethics, something which sums it up quite well:

    Although Aristotle argues for the superiority of the philosophical life in X.7–8, he says in X.9, the final chapter of the Ethics, that his project is not yet complete, because we can make human beings virtuous, or good even to some small degree, only if we undertake a study of the art of legislation. The final section of the Ethics is therefore intended as a prolegomenon to Aristotle’s political writings. We must investigate the kinds of political systems exhibited by existing Greek cities, the forces that destroy or preserve cities, and the best sort of political order. Although the study of virtue Aristotle has just completed is meant to be helpful to all human beings who have been brought up well—even those who have no intention of pursuing a political career—it is also designed to serve a larger purpose. Human beings cannot achieve happiness, or even something that approximates happiness, unless they live in communities that foster good habits and provide the basic equipment of a well-lived life.

    The study of the human good has therefore led to two conclusions: The best life is not to be found in the practice of politics. But the well being of whole communities depends on the willingness of some to lead a second-best life—a life devoted to the study and practice of the art of politics, and to the expression of those qualities of thought and passion that exhibit our rational self-mastery.

  • helen

    Matt @24
    Communism breaks the commandment, “You shall not steal”. It’s an entire system founded around governmental theft of money and property. God does not approve of it. How could he? If he did, he’d be approving theft.

    So if “venture capitalists” buy a company [borrowing against the company’s own assets to do so] strip it of those assets, including the employees’ savings in 401K’s invested in their company, bankrupt it, put the workers out of jobs and park the proceeds overseas beyond reach of their tax obligations, that is NOT theft!?
    Kyrie eleison!

  • SKPeterson

    KK @ 26 (and Matt @ 24 good points) – I still don’t see this contradicting in any way the libertarian premise. I suppose I see a vast difference between the polis of Aristotle and the modern State.

  • Matthew 25:35-45 English Standard Version (ESV)

    35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    SKP – I think a lot depends on a person’s view of “the State”. I fully agree that the modern state has a propensity to over reach, and from watching the news, it seems that that is is more often the case in the US than here, strange as that might sound. But for me that doesn’t indict “The State”, but rather the way statecraft is currently practiced. I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Furthermore, I am not convinced that there is any one political/economic theory that is “the answer”. While I have called myself an Ordoliberal in the past, I have to come to recognize that there is good in both the Austrian as well as the Cambridge (ie Keynesian) Schools, if we just consider economics. I am a Liberal (Classically speaking), but a realistic one: I think the State should be as big as it needs to be, and not one bit bigger or smaller. Whatever that size is, though, depends on the time and place. Call me a pragmatic Liberal, maybe?

  • To Jamie #25

    I’m curious, you use an example of a “born again” believer. You do realize that you are on a Lutheran website? We Lutherans do not believe in the term “born again believer” as defined by the Baptists and evangelicals. We do not limit who is a Christian only to those who have prayed the “Sinner’s Prayer” or its equivalent. We refer to all those who have been baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as Christians, as believers. To us, being born again occurs in our baptism. Peace be with you, my Christian sister.

    (Just a little Lutheran evangelization)

  • SKPeterson

    KK @ 30 – I do prefer a more localized, decentralized political organization in line with the concept of subsidiarity. Moreover, while this concept has been developed more thoroughly by Roman Catholic scholars, I think it is a concept both well-suited to, and best informed by, a Lutheran doctrine of vocation and the Two Kingdoms. Further, the notions of subsidiarity are noted as being Aristotelian in derivation, hence my previous questions. I suppose as a Lutheran I’m not a libertarian idealist where I believe that the elimination of the State will usher in some grand new era of human achievement. As noted above, my concern is with Sin and Evil in disturbing the lives and property of people and I view a more libertarian polity with a more active and engaged civil society as being more conducive to addressing those concerns than a more powerful State. In weighing the consequences (I am a virtue ethic eudaemonistic consequentialist I suppose) of private evil over public evil, I find the evils of the public sphere more pervasive, dangerous, and damaging to life than those of the private.

  • +1 Gary @31. Hear, hear.
    -1 Gary @29, if the implication is that we Christians have an obligation to allow the State to confiscate and redistribute our resources for the good of the herd. The sad news is that we do, though. (sigh.)

  • Matt

    @Mike Westfall #33


    According to the explanation of The fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill”, “We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need, in every need and danger of life and body.” While we have an should help our neighbour in his bodily need, that doesn’t excuse theft. If a thief steals $1000 dollars from you and tries to justify it by saying he gave it to a needy person, does that excuse his theft? No! We should help our neighbour, but WE should help our neighbour. Being forced to help our neighbour at gun point is far beyond the intent of the commandment.

    When the State says, “We are going to to steal our neighbor’s money, property, business and his means.” The justification for such a violation? “So that we may but help our neighbor in his bodily need and not harm him.” It’s a violation of the seventh commandment while trying to justify it by in essence claiming they’re obeying the fifth. Reminds me of Judas. “The poor you’ll always have with you.” Also, though not in this context, I think it may apply, when St Paul says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” I don’t know about you, but helping my neighbour when there is a gone to my head isn’t something that makes me very cheerful.

  • DonS

    Gary @ 31: The term “born again” is derived from John 3:3 — “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”. We are born once of water, and then born again of the Spirit (John 3:5). This is true whether one is a Lutheran or a Baptist, or an Episcopalian, …

    Jamie never said anything about the Sinner’s Prayer. I’m wondering why you brought it up, since it has nothing to do with the context of her comment.

  • @31


    Thank you for the education. I did know I was on a Lutheran website, but all I know about Lutherans is that they’re Christians. I was just referring to the term Jesus uses of all those who’ve found new life in Him. This idea is referenced in John 1:13 implicitly and in John 3:3 explicitly, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'”

    If you wouldn’t mind continuing the education, why do Lutherans not use this phrase?

    I should add that I don’t know anything about Baptists either. I don’t belong to a denomination.

    Finally, (not that it much matters but) I’m male but recognize the name is not particularly clear : )

  • SKPeterson

    I think it would be helpful at this juncture to point out to new commenters here at Cranach that Tom Hering (posting @ 10) is

    a) an apostate
    b) probably a heretic,
    c) a fellow traveler with atheistic demonrats, and
    d) a cat fancier.

    While d) is proof enough of his predilection for evil, in civility we allow his other profane pronouncements and scurrilous screeds to be read and discussed in this august forum. 😉

  • For reference, some basic categories of libertarianism:

    “drunk college student” libertarian; the kind that doesn’t really have any fixed opinions on economics or political theory, but thinks it’d be cool of dope and hookers were legal

    classical liberal; the kind of libertarian who notes that some things just aren’t public goods. See Mises, Adam Smith, etc..

    Randian: devotee of Ayn Rand and “Greed is good”

    anarcho-capitalist–almost a parallel to Randian, belief that government can more or less disappear, even its security functions

    Big L Libertarian: the Libertarian party, an amalgam of all these and more types of libertarians.

    My take is that Christian faith (and probably it’s Lutheran sub-faith) can coexist very well with classical liberalism and restrained government. Romans 13 and the premiss of Biblical government don’t work so well with Randianism, anarcho-capitalism, and “drunk studentism”.

    I personally tend towards classical liberalism, and my response to Gary’s challenge “let’s become libertarians once the church takes over all that good the government is doing” is simply to question whether what government is doing is actually good or helpful. For example, have 40 years of subsidies for windmills, ethanol, and solar power created viable energy sources, or are they still going bankrupt despite the subsidies?

    How many people could get good paying jobs and leave welfare if we stopped pouring money into boondoggles like this?

  • Matt

    @bike bubba #38

    I thought Ayn Rand hated Libertarians? Isn’t her view is called Objectivism? I read somewhere that Rand claimed that Libertarians were plagiarists who stole her economic and political views, while abandoning the rest of her philosophy.

  • Matt: I believe you’re right about the name, but I’m not well enough versed in Rand to answer your first and third questions. What I know for sure is that a lot of people who call themselves libertarian today either note that their libertarianism started with Rand, or profess a great admiration of Rand. So if you’re correct on #1 and #3–and certainly von Mises’ experience with Rand suggests that it’s at least plausible–we still have an interesting mixture in libertarianism of people who “ought to hate each others’ guts” caucusing together.

  • To DonS and Jamie:
    “We Lutherans do not believe in the term “born again believer”—–as defined by the Baptists and evangelicals”.

    Lutherans DO believe in being born again. However, most Lutherans avoid using that term because its most common meaning nowdays is “someone who has made an adult free-will decision to accept Christ into his or her heart”. Lutherans believe that salvation occurs by God alone. Sinners do not decide to “accept Christ”. Christ decides to accept THEM. Lutherans believe that God chooses whom he will save and when and how he will save them. The sinner’s participation in his salvation is completely passive. The Bible tells us that God has chosen to save sinners in Holy Baptism. And since the sinner is a passive participant in his salvation, God can save the sinner at any point in time of his life: as an adult who hears the preaching of the Word, or as an infant whose Christian parents have obeyed God’s command to bring their child to the waters of Holy Baptism.

    I hope that better explains why most (not all) Lutherans avoid using the term “born again believer”. Most Lutherans refer to Christians as “the baptized”.

  • Rick

    It seems to me that people who rightly see problems with the two major parties somehow stumble into libertarianism. I personally don’t see how a Christian can possibly embrace the individualistic, anti-community stance of libertarianism, and I get more and more alarmed when I notice friends and family starting to embrace it and attempt to integrate it into their Christian faith. But, that’s one person’s opinion.

  • @42


    I agree that community and hospitality and such are in many ways becoming a thing of the past, however, I don’t think that it is necessarily linked to libertarianism.

    In fact, many of my closer friends fall in the libertarian camp, but by the grace of God they are super generous, helpful, hospitable. In fact, my parents would count. They have raised nine children (three still at home) and over the years have had eleven other friends of the family live with us for a serious length of time (for free)…the longest guest/family add on was with us for well over a decade.

    We’re a huge family. A huge family who would like the government to do what they’re supposed to do and not fund groups like Planned Parenthood who don’t exactly spend the money the way we would. We would use it to provide food and housing for our friends and neighbors…they use it to teach our young children craziness:

  • Joe

    Rick – @ 42. There is nothing inherently anti-community about libertarianism. To accept your assessment as true, you first have to accept the idea that community = gov’t or state. This is not correct. Many libertarians are libertarians precisely because they do care about the community and other people. Having lost faith in the ability of gov’t to solve problems does not equate to not caring for or about others.

    Further, libertarians are necessarily individualistic only vis a vis the State. It is not (or at least does not have to be) a wholesale rejection of obligations toward others; it is a only rejection of the idea that the state is the proper or an effective entity to regulate those obligations.

  • Matt

    @ Rick # 42

    Rick, it is important to help our neighbour. Christian has some major individualistic elements. Salvation is personal, not communal. You will face the consequences of your own sin, not the sins of others as well. Talk of community is dangerous. It’s dangerous theologically. It’s dangerous politically. Now that doesn’t mean that we throw away the community. But the community must always be understood as the collection of individuals.

    For more on the theological problems with taking the community thing to far, take a listen to Chris Roseborough’s lecture: Resistance is Futile: You Will Be Assimilated Into the Community

  • Matt

    Either way, if you take either individualism or collectivism to extremes you are in a dangerous area. It’s not either or, but both and. This is a theme in Christianity: Body and Blood, Saint and Sinner, God and Man. The church is the “community” of saints gathered around Word and Sacrament. That’s SO different than a government forced collective though.

  • Eric Brown

    Here are my thoughts on what I think spurs Lutheran folks towards some Libertarian leanings:

    1. Fear of Democracy. Okay, that might be overstating it — it might be better to say fear of the tyranny of the Majority. A lot of current libertarian rhetoric does hearken back to the Founding Fathers and wanting a limited government that is a Republic… so that the whims of the people can’t crush a minority. As Christianity is moving towards being a minority, I think the hope is that if we can have a live-and-let-live ethos meshed with a limited government approach, we can survive even when we are not the majority — America will remain a place where we are free to worship, even when most no longer think our approach to morals or life is right and proper.

    2. Big Government Inefficiency. Many folks I know find that big government is inefficient at the task of properly aiding the neighbor, and thus view Libertarianism as the best approach to limit the size of the government – especially as both Republicans and Democrats have been expanding governmental roles for the past few decades. As a Pastor I find it sad that now, when confronted with some sort of community problem, the first thought is “what government agency is supposed to help” — the idea of the congregation stepping up first and foremost to handle the problems (not just help a bit, but HANDLE) is no longer present. We are used to to having care for our neighbor accomplished not directly, but through a distant government intermediary.

    3. Culture War Fatigue. With the first two, one might simply be describing someone who is part of the Constitution Party. I think another added nuance is some fatigue of fighting to try to use political means to create an idealized moral society. Me personally – I’m sick of the Drug War. I think it is wasteful and ineffective. Add on top of it some of the strange bedfellows that are made in vain attempts to enforce morality from above in a government that is voted on from below… eh. Better to train my kids and my congregation of what is truth and how to survive in a world that disdains what we know to be True rather than run them rough shod and drive them into bitterness fighting a losing battle.

    Just some thoughts.

  • Grace

    Gary @ 41

    “I hope that better explains why most (not all) Lutherans avoid using the term “born again believer”. Most Lutherans refer to Christians as “the baptized”.”

    Christ Jesus made clear, using the the very words “born again” in John 3, but you as “most Lutherans” use another term.

    Why would Luther / Lutherans believe you have a way to change, or re-arrange John 3 to make your point, which is bogus, since Jesus Christ made HIS, pronouncement – HE is God the Son. What part of God the Son’s statement to you not understand, or find OFFENSIVE? – in John 3

  • Grace


    Lutherans DO NOT BELIEVE in Free Will –

  • Capitalism is driven by human greed.


  • Matt

    Rev. McCain,

    This is a common objection. There are entire books on this subject.

    The argument that capitalism is based on greed is a “straw man” that is not only inaccurate, but suggests that alternative systems are somehow friendlier. “Greed” seeks pleasure at the expense of others. It is present in all of us, but we find it easier to see it in others and difficult to see it in ourselves. Greed can motivate theft, entail him hurting another.

    To equate ‘capitalism’ with ‘greed’ is a mistake. We tend to confuse self-interest in the marketplace with selfishness or greed. At the heart of capitalism is the idea of exchange between ordinary, self-interested human beings, who seek to advance their interests peacefully in the marketplace . Adam Smith called this ‘rational self-interest’ . It is the same motive that gets one to jump out of bed in the morning or makes one carry an umbrella if it rains, nothing selfish about that. To be human is to be self-interested , and this is what exchange in the market place entails.

    Capitalism not based on greed, but self-interest. Self-interest is about self-preservation, responsibility and increased quality of life. It is self-interest that motivates us to get up and go to work, tend to our home, care for our children, seek education and follow doctors’ orders. Neither greed nor selfishness is virtuous, but self-interest just is. I ate breakfast and got dressed this morning out of self-interest: I wanted to be fed and clothed, but I’m not greedy or selfish because of that. The natural desire and core motive of human action is simply to better one’s condition. It is self-interest that Christ appeals to when he says, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

    When does a guy making money become bad? Should we forbid him to make more than a million dollars? A hundred thousand? And what gives us the right to tell him how much he can make? Where would that right come from? How would you begin to justify that? By complaining about some (imaginary) “common good” and using that as a reason to steal from some people and give the money to others? Remember that every dollar the guy with too much money makes has benefited someone else as well – or else they wouldn’t have done business with him. The richer he makes himself, the more wealth he has created. Don’t count another guy’s money. It’s none of your business. If the guy lies, cheats and steals, then you have an issue, and not until.

  • Matt

    Also, is it really that capitalism is driven by greed, or do we already have greedy people who use the economic freedom of the capitalistic system to achieve their own ends? Because people are sinful and selfish, some are going to use the capitalist system to satisfy their greed. But that is not so much a criticism of capitalism as it is a realization of the human condition. Just like they’d find a way to use any other system.

  • @Eric Brown:
    1. Fear of Democracy. Okay, that might be overstating it — it might be better to say fear of the tyranny of the Majority.

    Yet our government *is* a republic, and not a democracy (it is a democratic republic, not a republican democracy). We democratically vote in the people who then make decisions, the people do not vote on every decision there is. So there is no fear of democracy, there is simply realizing the truth that we’re not a democracy anyway. A small, limited government does not change this at all.

    It also is not a fear of the tyranny of the Majority. Because, like I said before, the Majority is still voting the people into office, the Majority already is not voting on every single issue, bill, budget, etc. that comes up. All this does is stops the government from meddling in things the government shouldn’t have its hands in any way.

    2. Big Government Inefficiency.

    I’d agree with you there.

    3. Culture War Fatigue. With the first two, one might simply be describing someone who is part of the Constitution Party. I think another added nuance is some fatigue of fighting to try to use political means to create an idealized moral society. Me personally – I’m sick of the Drug War. I think it is wasteful and ineffective. Add on top of it some of the strange bedfellows that are made in vain attempts to enforce morality from above in a government that is voted on from below… eh. Better to train my kids and my congregation of what is truth and how to survive in a world that disdains what we know to be True rather than run them rough shod and drive them into bitterness fighting a losing battle.

    Besides, trying to have a government that sets up “morality” laws is a dangerous thing to do. More law increases sin, not the reverse. If the government was out of the morality business, then it would be left to individual churches (and families) to teach it, which basically makes much more sense.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Matt – excellent responses on both the places of the individual and the community (#46), and the exposition on capitalism (#51).

  • Rick, libertarians aren’t people who don’t value community, not even Objectivists/Randians. They simply want the freedom to not fund things with which they disagree, much as anti-war activists tried to deduct the cost of the Vietnam War from their taxes back in the late 9160s and early 1970s.

    Quite frankly, I’d argue that the greater anti-community force we’ve got in this country is (ironically) the community organizer we elected to the White House. How on earth did he live and work in the South Side of Chicago for 20 years without figuring out that the things he was doing weren’t working out so well for the people he was theoretically trying to help? Why didn’t he care?

  • Joe

    Rev. McCain:

    This goes to your discussion point.

  • to Grace 48 and 49

    Jesus never referred to anyone as a “born again believer”. He did say, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” When Nicodemus questioned the Lord on what being “born again” meant, Jesus replied, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God…Ye must be born again.”

    Christians are born again in Holy Baptism. All Christians believed this sacred truth without any significant controversy for almost 1,000 to 1500 years. The idea that baptism is simply and only OUR act of obedience/public profession of faith, cannot be found anywhere in the Holy Bible, nor in any teachings of the early Church.

    Do you want to be “born again”? Then be baptized into the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

    The term “born again” only appears three or four times in the Bible. The word baptism, or one of its derivatives, is found over 100 times in the Bilbe. If the Baptist/evangelical understanding of “born again” was the manner in which God saves sinners, don’t you think that Jesus, Paul, Peter, James and others would have used that term more often than just three or four times in total?

    And yes, Lutherans do not believe that sinners have a free will. Why? Because that false teaching is not found in the Bible either.

    You are following false doctrine, Grace. Your doctrine is an invention of sixteenth century western Europeans. It is not the doctrine of the Early Church. It is not the doctrine of the Apostles. It is not the doctrine of Jesus Christ.

    If you would like more information on Lutheran doctrine, I suggest obtaining the following book published by Concordia Publishing House: “The Lutheran Difference”. God bless you, sister.

  • Matt

    Gary, #57

    It’s not true that we don’t have ANY free will. Just not free will in Spiritual matters. As the Christian Cyclopedia on says “He has lost his power of free will in spiritual things but still retains it in earthly matters and the area of civil righteousness and so remains a free moral agent.”

    And also Augsburg Confession Article XVIII: Of Free Will.
    Of Free Will they teach that man’s will has some liberty to choose civil righteousness, and to work things subject to reason. But it has no power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness

  • The alternate understanding in John 3: 3-7 is that the water spoken of is the water of the womb. Let’s take a look at the conversation:

    Verse 4: Nicodemus understands “born again” in terms of re-entering the mother’s womb.
    Verse 5: Christ notes that one must be born of water and the Spirit.

    Lutheran understanding; water = baptism. In short, Jesus has changed the subject.
    Baptistic understanding; water = womb . No claim Jesus has changed the subject.

    Verse 6: Jesus notes that one must be born of the flesh and the Spirit. Both views would, I hope, admit that the “flesh” obviously refers to being born physically.

    Since the Lutheran view requires Christ to change the subject twice in two sentences without telling Nicodemus, it seems to me that the Baptistic view of this passage is a far more reasonable way of viewing it, especially in light of the thief on the cross, who had no chance to be immersed.

  • “All men are created equal.”

    That sentence cannot be interpreted in anyother way other than to say that ALL men…property owners and endentured servants, Chinese and American Indian, free man and slave, white and black…are created equal. To make that sentence mean anything else is to completely change the literal, grammatically correct meaning of the sentence.

    It does not matter that multiple historical documents indicate that when the writers of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constititution wrote this sentence over two hundred years ago, the meaning of the word “men” had a very different meaning that it does today. We must ignore this historical evidence and stick to the literal, grammatically correct interpretation.

    Please show me any historical documentation that any early Church Father, or for that matter, ANY early Christian, believed that baptism is simply and only an act of obedience/ a public profession of faith.

    Your interpretation of a two thousand year old document, written in ancient versions of foreign languages that I doubt you speak, written in a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean culture is just as reliably accurate as the interpretation of the Bible by a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness. All three groups depend upon grammatical convolutions and an inner voice telling you that you are right. All three groups have invented doctrines that did not exist on planet earth for at least 800 years after Christ’s death and resurrection. They are false doctrine, your superb grammatical and English language skills notwithstanding.

    Show me historical documentation that anyone in the first approximately 800 years of Christianity believed like you do on the PURPOSE of Baptism.

  • I apologize to those of you who were involved in the political discussion that was the topic of this post. However, I try to never miss an opportunity to share the Gospel with the lost or to share the true, 2,000 year old orthodox Christian doctrine, in full agreement with the Lutheran Confessions, with our confused and deceived evangelical Christian brothers and sisters.

  • Rev. Paul L. Beisel

    The part I don’t understand is the social part. How can a Lutheran Christian, who rejects certain behaviors as morally reprehensible and sinful, nevertheless defend the allowance of those behaviors by the State?

  • Matt #58

    You are correct, Lutherans do believe that sinners have a free-will in non-spiritual matters. The sinner has a free will what time to get up in the morning, what breakfast cereal to eat, which sports team to follow, who to marry, and where to live.

    The sinner does NOT have a free will to come to God, “accept God”, “ask Christ into his heart”. Why because the Bible clearly states in Ephesians and Colossians that the sinner is spiritually dead. Dead men tell no tales AND dead men make no decisions.

    The sinner does not come to God and accept Him. God comes to the sinner and accepts him.

    Sorry, I should have clarified that point. Thank you for the correction. We do no want our evangelical friends thinking that Lutherans believe that human beings are robots.

  • SKPeterson

    Rev. Beisel @ 62 – The defense of the political position that the State should be curtailed in its prosecution of certain morally evil or sinful actions is due to this tenet: that the action to prevent evil by the State often (not always, but far too often) engenders more evil and social dislocation when such actions are undertaken. Further, the unintended consequences and dislocation often come at the expense of the general public to such an extent that the common weal is not advanced but harmed and impaired.

  • Matt

    Pastor, go back up and read my first post. There are a few things here. First, not all sin should be criminalized. Augustine and Aquinas both agree to this. Second, just because a libertarian doesn’t think something should be illegal doesn’t mean they approve of it morally. Getting drunk in the privacy of your own home is a sin. That doesn’t mean it should be illegal. If you start making things illegal because they are sin, where do you stop? Also, is it really the government’s job to enforce morality, or is it their job to protect our rights from various forms off aggression? If someone wants to sin and ruin their life and eternity they should be free to do so. It’s our job as the church to preach law and gospel and bring them to repentance and the forgiveness of their sins.

  • @Rev. Paul L. Beisel — I’m not sure I follow you on this one. I do not support evil & reprehensible actions. SKPeterson and Matt both explain it quite well. The problem is that preventing people from doing any kind of evil is not the jurisdiction of the government (the state). The state exists to ensure that we are not in anarchy — so the state exists to protect the person & property of its citizens from physical harm, so a police force and a standing military makes sense for this. But the state’s role is not to tell everyone what is right and what is wrong morally. That way leads to a bloated, out of control government that is kinda where the USA has been heading. If you give the reigns over to a human institution like this, you are just asking for trouble. No, the place for moral discernment is through the Word. The government should only be there to make sure all parties are playing nicely and not killing each other.

  • Don Kirchner

    Is not “classic” libertarianism by definition a denial of original sin? I believe Bill Hecht discusses that in his book.


  • Jason Harris

    Basic summary: Obama is not Caesar. You and I are Caesar. Thus each individual, in his/her vocation as a part of Caesar, serves others by supporting ideas defending their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

  • @Don — I’m not sure what the “classic” definition of libertarianism is, but the modern version is someone who basically wants his/her freedoms back, which typically means having a desire for a government that goes back to the original form the founding fathers came up with. A hamstrung government, which serves a limited purpose, and leaving the rest to individual freedoms. Rather than the government telling us what is right or wrong, people are able to make that decision. Transferring the seat of power away from a central, corrupt, and overpowered government to the individual or family unit, which is where it really belongs.

  • Matt

    No, libertarianism is in no way a denial of original sin. Ludwig von Mises in his book “Liberalism” is clear that “classical liberalism” (aka libertarianism), has nothing to say in religious matters. It is a political and economic system. There are many libertarians who are not Christians who have other philosophies that would, but there is nothing in anything by the key libertarian thinkers and writers that suggests that.

  • I am going to assume that #60 is in general a response to non-Lutheran views of immersion, and perhaps my comment #59. I’ll respond with a question; what is the insistence upon the knowledge of the Greek language, and upon the testimony of the Church Fathers, but appeal to authority, a basic logical fallacy?

    Is not the very premiss something we ought to expect, ahem, from Rome–that those who attempt to understand the Scriptures in their native tongue will fall into error, and hence we need the Church to read and interpret it for them?

    Gary, please; argue my exegesis, argue the Greek, but be careful you don’t swim the Tiber. I understand and respect that we differ. I cringe to see the Council of Trent echoed, though. The Church Fathers are interesting, as are the original languages, of which I have a smattering, but let’s not forget what was achieved in the Wartburg.

  • Matt, von Mises was incorrect in that he had nothing to say about religious matters–and I suspect he knew better. Having read “Human Action,” it struct me that his central hypothesis–man acts–does not fit with the mechanistic, agnostic worldview he proposes, but does mesh rather well with the doctrine of human responsibility from the Scriptures.

    That doctrine, along with Romans 13’s grant of the sword to human government, clearly speaks of, well, the sword–and thus a government limited to an economic sphere where “the sword” ought to be used.

    Say, national defence, courts, and police, and not so much 35 pages of regulations on how cabbage should be grown. Let’s be careful about “compartmentalizing” our lives; our faith does indeed interpret our economics and politics. Or, at least, it should.

  • Matt

    @ Bike #72

    Hmm… that’s interesting. I’m going to be reading Human Action soon. So your thought is that Mises is actually in some ways borrowing from a Christian Worldview when he talks about humanity? The idea that Humans are free to act, (i.e. Civil Righteousness), and that we are responsible, and that governments should be set up to protect ourselves from one another?

  • Matt

    @ Don #67

    I think it’s important to note that there is something else which bears the name of Libertarianism which DOES deny original sin. Libertarianism in philosophy is related to the problems of free will and determinism. Ever hear the term, “Libertarian Free Will”. It’s basically used to refer to those who believe in free will, instead of to determinism. The Arminian branch of Evangelicalism would fall into this category. So this “libertarianism” is a denial of Original Sin.

    However, the Libertarianism we are referring to here is not the same thing. Libertarianism today is used to refer to the Political and Economic views only. “Classical Liberalism” from the 18th and 19th centuries became known today as Libertarianism after Moderate Socialists took the name Liberal. Also, most Anarchists who are also Capitalists (Anarcho-Capitalists) are also known as Libertarian.

  • To Bike #71

    We Lutherans still consider ourselves Catholic. We never chose to leave the ancient, apostolic Catholic Church. We were kicked out by Romanists who had perverted the true Catholic faith with false teachings such as works righteousness. the idolatry of saint worship, and the vicarship of the Church by the Roman Bishop. The ancient doctrine of regenerational baptism was never questioned until heretics like the Petro-Brussians (sp?), the Waldensians, the Albigensians, and eventually the Ana-Baptists and Baptists invented adult-only baptism, denying it as God’s act and turning it into an act of man, a human act of Christian obedience.

    I will not spar over grammar and proper translation with an evangelical Christian for the same reason that I will not argue the same topics with Mormon and Jehovah Witness cultists. All three groups have no evidence to prove that anyone in the Christian world held their beliefs until their “enlightened” leaders suddenly discovered the real “truth” of the Gospel over a thousand years after Christ’s death.

    Again, please show me ANY historical evidence that ANY Christian in the first approximately 800 years of the Christian Faith believed that baptism is simply and only our act of Christian obedience/our public profession of faith. You won’t, because you can’t.

    There is plenty of historical evidence of other non Catholic/orthodox heretics and their beliefs: the Arians, the Gnostics, etc., etc.. Where is the evidence of these early “Baptistic” believers? “There is none because they hid in caves for 1,000 years??” “There is none because the “Catholics” chose to destroy all evidence of this ONE heretical group??”

    Nonsense! Such beliefs are nothing more than Ana-Baptist old wives tales dreamt up one late night sitting around a campfire in Switzerland.

    Show me the evidence!

    Lutheranism is the true representation of the ancient apostolic Church; the Church universal; the Church Catholic.

  • As I have previously stated, Baptists and Mormons use the same excuses for why they have no historical or archaeological evidence for their new found, “re-discovered” doctrines. Watch/listen to this Mormon bishop give the same excuses that our Baptist/evangelical Christian brothers and sisters want to give when asked to provide evidence that ANY early Christians held “baptistic” beliefs on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

  • “Libertarianism holds exactly one political position: no one may initiate physical aggression against an innocent person.” (Thomas E. Woods, Jr.)

  • Um, Gary, your line of argument assumes that the Scriptures are insufficient towards doctrine, which would have come as news to the Reformers as they abanoned ancient doctrines about the episcopacy/overseers, at least five of seven sacraments, monastic communities, deadly and venal sins, the authority of church tradition, and a whole lot more. In a nutshell, your insistence on 2nd and 3rd century evidence really places the Church Fathers above the Scriptures in authority.

    Let’s be real here. If I want to debate a Mormon or JW about polygamy, the nature of salvation, the nature of Heaven, or really any other aberrant doctrine there, I can make that point from any decent translation of any stream of the Greek and Hebrew text. The deity of Christ can be seen in countless places, for example, even in the OT. It is not subtle. And in that light, if you’re insisting on the Church Fathers, you’re working from an argument of weakness, not strength, because you’re undermining Sola Scriptura by your very line of argument.

    Disagree with me all you want on the nature of immersion, but let’s not cross the Tiber with a line of reasoning that would have horrified the Reformers.

    Matt; that is my contention exactly. I’d love to hear your insights in the future on this topic, whether or not you agree.

  • Unfortunately many Baptists and evangelicals have confused Martin Luther’s “sola scriptura” to mean something that would make Luther roll over in his grave. By “Sola Scriptura” Luther did not mean that the Scriptures are the ONLY authority in understanding Christian doctrine. What he meant is that Scripture is the HIGHEST/SUPREME authority. Papal edicts, Church Councils, and even the Church Fathers cannot be held as equal authorities to Scripture, as the Church of Rome was trying to tell everyone. Luther did NOT mean that Church Councils and the Church Fathers were of no authoritative value. He strongly encouraged using the writings of the early Church Fathers to understand what the early Church taught and believed on Christian doctrine.

    Your Baptistic beliefs have no historical evidence of existence for the first approximately 800 years of Christianity. Don’t you see that as a problem? Your beliefs sound very logical from YOUR interpretation of Scripture, but Luther, Augustine, Justin the Martyr, Clement and others would be baffled by how you come up with your doctrinal beliefs on baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

  • Why can’t Baptists and evangelicals answer the question? Where is the historical evidence of their existence during the first 800 or so years of Christianity? Here are the excuses that I have heard:

    1. The people of the Mediterranean during the first century AD were still very primitive. Very few people wrote letters.
    —What? We are talking about the Roman Empire. We are talking about Greek culture and philosophy. All kinds of letters, books and documents were written in this time period!

    2. The Catholics destroyed all evidence of the early Baptistic believers existence and writings.
    —Where is the evidence that this whole-sale Baptist book-burning occurred? There isn’t any! And why would the Catholics destroy all the evidence about the Baptist heretics but leave plenty of evidence about other more threatening heretics like the Arians and the Gnostics, and many, many other groups? And what about lands not under the control of the Roman Empire, and therefore not under the control of the Catholic Church? Ethiopia? Mesopotamia? Persia? India? Not one shred of evidence has been found anywhere in the world that supports Baptistic beliefs on the purpose of Baptism and the purpose of the Lord’s Supper.

    3. The Baptistic believers were hiding out in caves for 1,000 years. They had no access to writing instruments or paper.
    —Really? So for 1,000 years several hundred, if not several thousand Baptists are hanging out in caves, and not a single one of them decides to scratch something on the cave walls? “Baptism is only an ordinance. No one is saved in Baptism!” or “The Lord’s Supper is just a memorial. Jesus is not bodily present in the bread and grape juice.”

    These excuses are all preposterous! You seem very intelligent, my brother. Do you really buy these excuses? WHERE is the evidence of the existence of Baptistic believers in the first 800 years of Christianity??

    I grew up a fundamentalist Baptist preacher’s son. I know the Baptist interpretation of the Bible by heart. It seems to make ALOT of sense IF you ignore the writings of the early Christians who tell us what the writers of the Bible were trying to really say. These early Christians were disciples of the Apostles or disciples of the disciples of the Apostles. Is it really possible that ALL the early Church Fathers were “apostate Catholics’?

    Think about, my Christian brother! What Baptists insist happened to the early, true, “Baptistic” believers is more far-fetched that any Star Wars movie!

  • kerner


    Do you actually want to talk about this? If so, I’d like to contribute. I agree with Gary, but his argument is one of many that fit together well.

    My understand of the Baptist line of argument is implicit in your comments:

    1) Justification is by faith alone, and not of works lest any man should bost. (granted)

    2) Baptism is a work of man, therefore it can have nothing to do with salvation.

    3) And leave what Christians did for 800 years out of this. That is merely tradition, and 800 years of repetitive works is still works. It does not affect faith and it doesn’t mean Baptists are wrong.

    Have I got your argument right so far? I realize it is a pretty summarized expression of a doctrine on which entire books have been written. I use the term “baptist” here generically, to refer to the doctrine that baptism is a symbolic act of obediance that should be done on ly by/to believers as an expression of their faith.

  • kerner

    argh, typo! I mean “boast”.

  • To Kerner #81

    You are correct, Brother Kerner, just because Christians did something for 800 years doesn’t prove it was scritpural. The Church of Corinth was baptizing for the dead…and the Apostle Paul was still alive!

    The point is: is there any evidence that ANYONE in the early Church believed that Baptism is simply and only an act of Christian obedience/public profession of faith.

  • To Bike #78

    Dear Brother Bike: if you can find ONE historical document of ANY early Christian, saying something similar to the following, I will convert to be a Baptist TODAY!:

    “Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
    A new and dangerous heresy is spreading among the majority of Christian churches. This false belief is that God saves and forgives sins in Baptism. As every true Christian knows, the Apostles clearly taught us that Baptism is nothing more than an act of Christian obedience/an act of public profession of faith. It is a command of God, Christians very much should do it, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with salvation. As the Scriptures clearly tell us: salvation occurs when an older child or an adult repents and believes in Christ as his personal Lord and Savior, and asks Christ to come into his heart and save him. Baptismal regeneration is false doctrine!”

  • Kerner, Gary, my point is even simpler; we find that people can forget a truth very quickly. Look at Dr. Bradley’s comment on missional legalism elsewhere. Look at the descent of the ELCA, UMC, and dozens of other mainline churches into liberalism in the course of a few decades in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

    And so I am left with the one thing I know the Church would not change; the Scriptures, and I simply conclude that if indeed there were no credobaptists for 800 years, that simply means that for eight centuries, churchmen got it wrong. Just like works-based salvation contradicts Paul clearly, just like the episcopacy is contradicted by Paul’s equivalent use of “episcopos” and “presbuteros”, just like the Scriptures do not speak of seven sacraments, and a host of other doctrines unique to Rome and Constantinople.

    And so, given the choice between the simple Greek of the Scriptures, clearly describing immersion of believers, and the academic Greek of the Church Fathers, perhaps moving towards infant sprinkling…in the 2nd and 3rd centuries….I go with Ockham and choose the simpler alternative. It is backed by the Didache, which prescribes a fast prior to baptism at about AD 100, which would indicate that (a) these were not infants, who could not fast and (b) the candidates for baptism already believed. In short, as Paul notes, baptism is a burial of the old man, not a slaying of the sin nature.

    For that matter, wiki’s article in infant baptism ( indicates that the first record of infant baptism is by the heretic Origen after AD 100, and notes as well that by the third century, many in the church delayed baptism as long as possible in order to show up at death with as few sins to atone for as possible.

    Now I’m not a Lutheran, but I’m pretty sure that’s not Lutheran doctrine on baptism. Where did it go for all those centuries?

    Let’s argue from the Scriptures, brothers. It seems that many of those ancient writings y’all are insisting on are the “Origen” of a lot of heresy.

  • I will be happy to discuss Infant Baptism with you, brother, but first we need to reach agreement on the PURPOSE of Baptism. Is Baptism an act of God, or an act of man? Does God forgive sins at the time of Baptism or not? Is there anywhere in Scripture that describes Baptism as simply and only an act of Christian obedience/public profession of faith. If not, why not?

    If the purpose of Baptism is only to make a public profession of one’s previous adult decision to “accept Christ”, then you are correct…infants should NOT be baptized. So we cannot reach agreement on the issue of baptizing infants until we reach agreement on what is actually happening in a Christian baptism.

    The word baptism or one of its derivatives is found over 100 times in the New Testament. The term “born again” is only found 3 times. Isn’t that odd, if the importance of baptism pales in comparison to being “born again” in a Baptist style conversion?

  • Baptists and evangelicals are very good at studying Scripture, biblical translations, etc. But if one fails to take into account the culture and customs of the period of time in which a document was written you may well miss what the author really was trying to say.

    Again I bring up the example of the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution. If we look at the statement “all men are created equal”, in today’s English language and social context it means “all men…rich or poor, land-owners and renters, free and slave, black and white…are created equal. That is plain, simple English. But would anyone buy the argument that since that is the proper interpretation TODAY then that means that when the authors of the Bill of Rights wrote the statement “all men are created equal” they meant the same thing 200 years ago that we believe it says now?

    Of course not. Anyone who tries to push that argument is ignoring the social context and other historical data from that time period which clearly shows that black slaves and Indians were not meant to be understood as included in the term “all men”.

    Baptists ignore the social context, culture and customs of the 1st century, and rely only on their good grammar and translation skills to come up with a doctrine that any first century Christian would be shocked to hear. That is why there is no historical evidence to support the Baptist doctrine of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

  • Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
    Why do you tarry, arise and be baptized and wash away your sins.
    Baptism doth now save us.
    He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.

    Christians have always believed that by the power of God’s spoken Word, GOD saves sinners in Holy Baptism. Baptist doctrine is a sixteenth century invention by well meaning, but deceived and confused followers of Reformed doctrine.

  • kerner

    Thanks Bike:

    But I agree with Gary that you are, in your reading of Scripture, confusing description with a command. But to do so is a logical fallacy. In Genesis, Jacob marries two sisters, and has sex with their servants, producing children with all four women. Just because this behavior is described in Scripture, as having been done by one of the great patriarchs, that does not mean that this is the paradigm for marriage for believers indefinitely and that we may never do otherwise.

    And as Gary points out, context is important. Your argument seems to be:

    1) In the new testament, there are specific descriptions (mostly in the Book of Acts) of adults believing the preaching of the Apostles, and being baptized afterwards.

    2) There are no specific descriptions of infants or young children being baptized in Acts or the Epistles (There are, in fact, examples of entire households being baptized, and both sides of this argument have demanded that the other assume the burden of proof, but the fact is that we really don’t know, and can not know for certain, whether there were any young children in those households.)

    3) Therefore, because “credo-baptisms” are the only ones we see described in Acts, etc. Baptizing infants must be wrong.

    But this ignores the context, as Gary says. The Book of Acts, is a very short, and not extensive, chronicle of the first generation of Christians. The Apostles are sent into a world that is utterly unbelieving, and preach the Gospel to the adults in it. But regarding the issue under discussion, Acts describes nothing, because the Book of Acts ends before that first generation of Christians starts having children and needs to decide whether to baptize them. Of course all of the adult converts described in Acts believed before they were baptized. That is how the Church treats adult converts to this day. But in the first generation of the Church, EVERYBODY was an adult convert. There was no way to convert children without converting their parents first.

    But once adult Christians began to have children, then, and only then, does the question of infant baptism come up. And here Gary is right again. History, or what we know of it (including Origen), seems to indicate that all those adult converts who responded to the preaching of the Apostles seem to have baptized there children shortly after birth. Now this may not be conclusive proof of the validity of infant baptism all by itself, but Gary is right in that it DOES weigh in favor of it to some extent. It DOES seem very unlikely that all those “credo-baptized” first generation converts who learned from the Apostles themselves would immediately start baptizing their infant children, with none saying a word against it, had the Apostles themselves actually been against it.

  • kerner


    The reason I think Baptist doctrine is incorrect is that threats baptism as an afterthought instead of as a subject of study. As I said before, your line of reasoning goes:

    1) Justification is by faith alone. (granted)

    2) We have just come from a corrupt system that emphasizes works and insists that works save us, and we really want to eradicate any doctrine that might lead us back to the horrible errors of the Roman Catholic Church. (Well, yeah, but not at the expense of what Scripture actually says.)

    3) Baptism is a “work”. (This is where you begin to go wrong)

    4) Therefore, baptism can have nothing to do with salvation.

    In my opinion, we are much better served to start with reading all those passages that say what baptism does. None of them say that baptism is an act of obedience by which believers demonstrate their faith. The Scriptures I know of that clearly address the significance of baptism are:

    Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Romans 6:3-4, I Cor. 12:13, Gal. 3:27, Col 2:12, I Peter 3:21 (Some include Titus 3:5, but that passage uses the word “washing”, which IS used in Scripture interchangeably with baptism in at least one instance I know of, but I’ll leave that alone for now).

    Gary quoted some of these without citations, but from these we learn that in baptism we “put on” or are clothed with Christ. We learn that in baptism we are buried and resurrected with Christ. We learn that we are baptized into the Body of Christ (i.e. the Church). We learn that baptism washes our sins away. And above all, we learn that baptism “saves us”. All of these Scriptures say that our baptisms affect us in a way that cleanses us, kills our old selves and gives us new life, clothes us in Christ, joins us to the Church and saves us. It is not a work (something WE do) at all, but it is something that is done TO US. Baptism is, generally speaking (I’m not saying that it is impossible to be saved without it) part and parcel of the process by which we become saved. The Holy Spirit works through baptism in much the same way as the Holy Spirit works through the preaching of God’s Word.

    I do not know why God should choose the application of water, in conjunction with the preaching of His Word, as the means by which people get saved. Frankly, I don’t even know why He should need preachers to bring people to Him. What I DO know, from Scripture, is that God, in His infinite wisdom, has chosen to use believers, the Church, as His Body, to do the things he wants done, like saving souls. And all these scriptures say that baptizing people is one of the things He wants the Church to do that gets them saved.

    That being the case, I see absolutely no reason why the Holy Spirit ought not be introduced to our children at the earliest possible opportunity, and baptism is the way to do that.

  • Excellent points, Brother Kerner!
    Brother Bike, below is a comment you made above:
    “And so I am left with the one thing I know the Church would not change; the Scriptures, and I simply conclude that if indeed there were no credobaptists for 800 years, that simply means that for eight centuries, churchmen got it wrong. ”

    By saying this I take it that you do not buy into the old wives’ tale that Baptistic believers were hiding out in caves for 800 years since there is absolutely no proof of this having occurred. Your position is that “So what if there were no Baptistic believers for 800 years. The Bible still says that salvation does not occur at Baptism. Salvation can only occur when a person who has reached the Age of Accountability makes a free-will decision to believe, repent, and ask Christ to come into his heart.”

    If that is the case, then for 800 years there was no Church. For 800 years there was no Bride of Christ. There were no true believers. For 800 years there were only “Catholics” who believed that God saved them in their infant baptism.

    So what you are saying is that the Church and Christianity disappeared for 800 years!

    I thought Christ said that the gates of hell would not destroy his Church but yet you believe the Catholics were able to do what Satan is incapable of doing.

    That doesn’t make any sense, my friend. According to Jesus Christ, God Almighty, the Church CANNOT disappear for 800 years! That is unscriptural. Either the old wives’ tales are true about Baptists (the “true” Church) hiding out in caves (without any corroborating evidence that this really occurred) for 800 years or the Church has always existed.

    So we are again left with this fact: Christ states that the Church, his Bride, will never cease to exist, but yet there is no evidence that for 800 years there was ANYONE who believed that Baptism is simply and only an act of our obedience/our public profession of faith. God is either a liar, or you, my brother, are terribly mistaken.

  • And I must comment on your reference to the Didache:

    The Didache was written approximately in the year 100 A.D. (About 65 years after Christ’s death). This document says nothing even remotely close to the Baptist view of Baptism: that Baptism is only an act of obedience/public profession of faith. What it does discuss is the MODE of Baptism. The Didache states that immersion is the PREFERRED method of baptism. However, the preferred method of immersion is in running (live) water such as a river or the ocean. How many Baptist/evangelical churches in the US mandate that all baptisms must be done by the preferred method: immersion in a river or ocean?? Not many.

    This mention of a “preferred” method of Baptism is clear evidence that the MODE or manner of Baptism is not what matters. It is the act of Baptism itself that matters. Lutherans baptize by immersion, pouring and sprinkling. This has always been the custom of the Church to allow for variations of administering the water with the Word. Your reference to the Didache is proof of this.

  • And…isn’t it strange that the Didache spends so much time talking about Baptism but not one word is said about “accepting Christ into your heart”, “leading people to accept Christ as their Savior by asking him to come into their hearts”??

    Why so much time spent discussing Baptism and none spent discussing the real manner of salvation: a Baptistic born again experience??

  • Our brother Kerner hit the nail on the head when he discussed why there is no mention of baptizing infants in the Didache. In the first several centuries after Christ, the overwhelming majority of the baptized would have been new converts to the faith. The 2,000 year old Christian Church, including the Lutheran Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Eastern Orthodox Church have ALWAYS taught that an adult convert must believe before Baptism.

    The practice of bringing the infants and young children into the Faith at the same time that their parents converted to the Faith, goes back thousands of years to Abraham. Abraham didn’t wait until Ishmael or his male servants or the male children of his servants made an adult decision for themselves; they were automatically converted with the head of the household when he converted! This is the KEY cultural issue that Baptists forget in studying the doctrine of Baptism. It would have been UNHEARD of in first century, Middle Eastern culture, for the head of the household to convert to a new religion and not expect that his whole household, including his young children and babies, would undergo conversion with him. Unheard of!! The idea that young children would be allowed to grow up, and then be asked whether or not they wanted to convert to the faith of their father, would not have been accepted in Middle Eastern culture. That kind of thinking is western European, sixteenth century Enlightenment thinking!

    Baptists must remove themselves from the western European, individualistic world view of the sixteenth century and today and go back to the first century cultures of the Mediterranean to understand why there is no mention of infant baptism in the Bible. There is no mention, because everyone knew that infants are included in the conversion of the parents. It was a forgone conclusion.

  • I have a challenge for all Baptists and evangelical Christians: Read through the Book of Acts, start to finish.

    What will stand out?

    How many times will you hear someone say “Be born again”? or “Accept Jesus into your heart.”? Not once, my Baptists friends. Now notice how often this question is asked: “Have you received the baptism of Jesus”?

    When Christ’s apostles met some of John the Baptist’s disciples, what did they ask? “Have you been born again?” “Have you prayed the Sinner’s Prayer?” “Have you prayed to ask Jesus into your hearts?” No they asked them if they had been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and when John’s disciples said no, they baptized them. No mention of praying the Sinner’s prayer.

    Why not?

    Because Christians are born again IN BAPTISM!

  • To Lutheran readers:

    In my humble opinion, that is how to share the true Gospel with our deceived evangelical brothers and sisters. They will always want to take you down the path of debating the interpretation of Scripture. Don’t take the bait! They are very adept at putting together a very complicated alternative interpretation of the plain reading of Scripture. “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins” means just what it says. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” does not need to be explained away.

    Continue to point out to the evangelical that there is ZERO historical evidence of anyone in the first approximately 800 years of Christianity who held the belief that baptism is simply and only an act of Christian obedience/public profession of faith. Point out that Christ said that the gates of Hell would not prevail against his Church, so it is impossible for the true Church to have disappeared for 800-1500 years and then reappear with the Ana-Baptists and the Baptists.

    If there is no proof that Baptistic believing Christians were hiding out in caves for 1500 years, and Christ’s Word is true that his Church will not disappear, the Baptist doctrines of symbolic Baptism and symbolic Lord’s Supper crumble into the same dump heap of false doctrine as that of the Arians and the Gnostics.