A Lutheran critique of Escondido theology

Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California, has some impressive theologians–Michael Horton, David Van Drunen, and other Calvinists of the sort who appear on White Horse Inn.  I know some of these guys, think highly of them, and appreciate how some of them are being influenced by Luther and Lutheran theology.  But though they speak of the distinction between Law and Gospel, have a stronger influence on the Sacraments, and teach about vocation, they are still Calvinists and their use of Luther is still within a Calvinist context.

A controversy has broken out in Reformed circles about the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, as formulated by these Escondido theologians, particularly David Van Drunen in his book Living in Two Kingdoms:  A Biblical Vision of Christ and Culture.  He is developing an alternative to the “one kingdom” model of the Dominionists and to the Abraham Kuyper’s “neocalvinism” with its notion of “sphere sovereignty” over every dimension of life.

This is a worthy project, but Van Drunen’s version of the Two Kingdoms is NOT the same as the Lutheran view.  Yet the two are being confused.  As other Reformed theologians push back against this so-called “Escondido theology,” they are saying that Van Drunen’s view is the official position of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  I’ve heard that Dr. Van Drunen’s book is being taught in courses on Lutheran theology.  And, to top it off, I’m told that I am even mentioned in at least one book on the subject as advocating this Escondido theology!

At that Two Kingdoms conference I participated in, Jordan Cooper gave an important presentation entitled “Escondido Theology: An Evaluation and Critique.”

After the jump, I’ll sum up some of the differences and post the video of Jordan’s presentation. [Read more…]

Ben Sasse is a “Lutero-Calvinist” 

Nebraska Senator and rising conservative star Ben Sasse describes himself as a “Lutero-Calvinist.”  Though he grew up and came to faith in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and says he is “in love with the Lutheran tradition,” he is now a member of a Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) congregation.  He talks about his faith and his Reformed theology with World Magazine, excerpted and linked after the jump.  I then raise some questions. [Read more…]

Doug Wilson on Crypto-Lutherans

Douglas Wilson, who is associated with the “Federal Vision” movement, weighs in on the Crypto-Lutheran controversy within Calvinism.  Read his whole post, but I give an excerpt after the jump. [Read more…]

“It’s time to out the Lutherans among us”!

Back in the 19th century, Lutherans went through a “crypto-Calvinist” controversy.  But today, Calvinists are undergoing a “crypto-Lutheran” controversy.  It seems a number of Reformed pastors are realizing that the Bible teaches a higher doctrine of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper than is common among Calvinists and are introducing liturgical worship.  It appears that the controversy has something to do with the “Federal Vision” movement, which does emphasize Baptism but is far from Lutheran.  I suspect that some of those attracted to the Federal Vision are finding that Lutheranism gives them what they are looking for without falling into the problems of that newer Reformed theology.  Anyway, Calvinist firebrand Tim Bayly calls out the “neo-Lutherans” and sounds the alarm of our “sacramentalism,” which “has always been one of our Enemy’s principal tools of leading souls to Hell.”  Read what he says after the jump. [Read more…]

Was Luther a Calvinist?

Short answer:  NO!  But Calvinists often claim him for their own.  Douglas Sweeney,Trinity Evangelical Seminary church historian, takes up this question at the Gospel Coalition site, showing where Luther and Lutherans stand vis a vis the Five Points of Calvinism.  It’s a good discussion.

Prof. Sweeney stresses that the controversy between Calvinism and Arminianism, according to which Calvinists evaluate all theologies, is very much a disagreement among Reformed Christians, and isn’t easily applicable to separate theological traditions, such as the Lutherans, Anglicans, and Anabaptists.   What sets apart Lutheranism from the Reformed, of course, whether Calvinist or Arminian, is the issue of the Sacraments, which aren’t discussed here.  Still, read the analysis.  Is there anything missing? [Read more…]

Catholic, Calvinist, and Libertarian

David Brat, the Virginia economics professor who overthrew House Majority leader Eric Cantor in the Republican congressional primary, calls himself a “Calvinist Catholic libertarian.” Let’s hope Pope Francis doesn’t burn him at the stake!  But what could that possibly mean?

Does that make him, in effect, something like a Lutheran, holding to a sacramental spirituality that expresses salvation by grace alone, with a strong emphasis on Christian freedom?  Or is he trying to combine beliefs that can’t be combined?

Or is it mainly a matter of his social and economic theory? Julie Ingersoll explains that, after the jump. [Read more…]