My take on the Lutheran/Calvinist discussion

Some thoughts on the discussion about Lutherans and Calvinists that was provoked by thoughts from Peter Leithhart and D. G. Hart.  (To get up to date with the latest contributions, see also what Anthony Sacramone had to say about it, as well as Dr. Hart’s rejoinder.)

I am one Lutheran who is not a Calvinist basher.  Having grown up in mainline liberal Protestantism and then hanging out in grad school with collegiate evangelicals, I heard about God’s grace for the first time from a friend who was a Calvinist.  It had never occurred to me and I had never been taught that God accomplishes everything for my salvation.  I found that very liberating.  I read Calvin’s Institutes and was greatly instructed.  I credit Calvin for leading me to Luther, whose theology seemed to me to have everything I appreciated in Calvinism while avoiding some of its problems.   In Lutheranism, I would find  dimensions of grace that I never dreamed of before.  But, frankly, if there had been a Calvinist church in the small Oklahoma town where I got my first teaching job, I might have gone in that direction.  Instead, there was a congregation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, which opened up to me dimensions of grace that I had never dreamed of before, including a deeply sacramental kind of spirituality.  Which brings up my first point:  [Read more...]

Why is Calvinism so influential and not Lutheranism?

There are lots more Lutherans than Calvinists.  And Calvinism has all of those scary doctrines like double predestination and the limited atonement, whereas Lutheranism is, well, happier, with its emphasis on the certainty of grace, Christian freedom, and its affirmation of the secular realm as God’s hidden kingdom.  And yet it’s Calvinism that has been so influential in English and American Christianity and the culture as a whole.  So marvels D. G. Hart, himself a confessional Calvinist and a perceptive scholar of American Christianity.  Read his ruminations after the jump, and then offer your own theories about why this is.

UPDATE:  Anthony Sacramone, former Calvinist who is now a Lutheran, has a very helpful response.

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Calvinist Predestination vs. Lutheran Predestination

James R. Rogers has written a post for First Things entitled “Credit the Calvinists,” in which he asks why Calvinists are thought of in terms of the doctrine of predestination and not Lutherans, who also believe in predestination.  Well, as Mathew Block explains, there is a big difference between the Calvinist view of predestination and the Lutheran view. [Read more...]

A great conversation about vocation

A Lutheran, a Calvinist, and  a Baptist walk into a bar. . . and start talking about vocation.  Well, not really.  The Baptist would not go into a bar, and in this case there is no Baptist.  I’d describe the Liberate folks (a ministry of Tullian Tchividjian) as Lutheran-influenced evangelicals.  But this video  is a good example, in light of our recent discussions of those traditions, of how a Lutheran concept can indeed carry over into other traditions.  Here Lutheran Rod Rosenbladt, Calvinist Michael Horton, and Liberate’s Daniel Siedell (a faculty member of Knox Seminary) are all talking about vocation and its relationship to justification.

The point, though, is that this is an EXCELLENT discussion of vocation, and a great introduction to what we keep talking about on this blog.  (I appreciate the shout-outs to my work on the subject and the references to my book God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life.)

 

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Can there be “Lutheran Baptists” or other non-Lutheran Lutherans?

Southern Baptists are currently embroiled in a controversy over “Calvinist Baptists.”  David Koyzis and Collin Garbarino over at the First Things blog are asking if there can be Calvinist Baptists, why can’t there be “Lutheran Baptists”?

After all, Lutherans were flexible about allowing different kinds of church polities.  Calvin is associated with Presbyterianism.  One might think that Luther’s theology would be more adaptable.  When it comes to soteriology, says Mr. Garbarino, Calvinism and Lutheranism are pretty much the same anyway.  (He adds in a parentheses:  “I know some people will disagree with that last statement, but those people are wrong.”)

Read David T. Koyzis, Calvinist Baptists, But No ‘Lutheran’ Baptists?  and Collin Garbarino,   Why We Don’t Have Lutheran Baptists  and help them out with this question.  Let me begin. [Read more...]

A heresy trial over baptism

Reformed theologian Peter Leithart is in trouble again over his views on baptism.  He was tried by the Presbyterian Church in America and found innocent of doctrinal violations, but when the prosecutor in that case recently converted to Catholicism, the church body is questioning that decision and looks to put Rev. Leithart back on trial.   (So double jeopardy doesn’t apply to church trials?)  I am in no position to know whether his position is in accord with PCA doctrine or not, but I am curious about the extent to which it accords with Lutheran doctrine.  I’ll post his statement of his beliefs after the jump. [Read more...]


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