“Common grace”? 

Steven Peterson sent me a link to an article by the Reformed theologian Richard J. Louw.  It deals with vocation and the Two Kingdoms, but he comes at it from a completely different perspective than Lutherans do.  He uses the concept of “common grace,” as well as Kuyper’s “sphere sovereignty.”

In the early days of my Lutheranism, I referred to “common grace” and was chastized for it by a colleague in Concordia’s theology department, who explained that Lutherans reserve “grace” to refer to God’s unmerited favor by which He justifies sinners.  For God’s blessings that He bestows on entire His creation, Lutherans use other terms, such as “God’s First Article gifts,” a term referring to the exposition of the Creation article of the creed in the Small Catechism.  (But aren’t those gifts unmerited, and thus proceeding from a kind of grace?)

Read the article by Prof. Louw, linked after the jump.  Does he arrive at the same place that Lutherans do, arriving at an objective truth from a different angle?  Or is there a difference, however subtle, between the Lutheran and the Reformed view on these issues, one that comes from their different approaches and terminology?

[Read more…]

Tullian Tchividjian expelled for crypto-Lutheranism?

Tullian Tchividjian, the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian and the grandson of Billy Graham, was kicked out of the Gospel Coalition blogging community for what the GC folks are calling a doctrinal issue over sanctification.  Others claim other reasons, including Rev. Tchividijian’s criticism of how other GC members handled a sexual abuse scandal.  But I take the official statement from the Reformed organization seriously.

As we have posted, Rev. Tchividijian discovered the distinction between Law and Gospel in some Lutheran writers who helped him through a personal crisis in his ministry.  The complaints about “anti-nominanism,” being weak on sanctification,  and downplaying the role of moral improvement in salvation sound like common Calvinist misunderstandings of Lutheranism. [Read more…]

A Reformed & a Lutheran take on Lent

The online periodical the Federalist has two articles on Lent–specifically, on observances such as giving things up for Lent.  One is by a Reformed pastor, Rev. Brian Lee, entitled  Repent of Lent:  How Spiritual Disciplines Can Be Bad for Your Soul.  The other is by a Lutheran pastor, my friend, Rev. Todd Peperkorn, entitled  Why Lent Should Matter to Everyone.

Read them both.  What did you learn from the two articles?  Which one, in your opinion, makes the best case?

HT:  Reg & Abby

Pornography, Idolatry, and the manipulable image

Dr. Jack Kilcrease has a rather brilliant post at Theologia Crucis on the connection between pornography and idolatry.  Both fixate on images that can be manipulated according to our desires, as opposed to the “real presence” of an actual human spouse or of the true God.

A bonus in that post is a discussion of how the Reformed view religious images vs. how Lutherans view them. [Read more…]

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…]

Not knowing if you are a Christian

Picking up on some earlier discussion, I came across this list of ways that a person can know whether or not they have been truly saved.  They are from a book by Jim Wilson entitled (ironically, it seems to me) Assurance of Salvation:

1. The Holy Spirit seals, guarantees, and assures us (1 Jn. 4:13, Rom. 8:16-17, Eph. 1:13-14, 2 Cor. 5:5, 1 Cor. 2:11-16).

2. Change of Character: read the lists of the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:19-25. Which list characterizes you? Jesus saves out of the first list into the second.

3. Confessing Jesus as Lord (1 Cor. 12:3, Rom. 10:9-10, Lk. 6:45).

4. Obedience: People who are saved obey Jesus (1 Jn. 3:6, 3:9-10, 5:18, 2:3).

5. Discipline: If you are getting away with disobedience, you are not a child of God. If you are being disciplined, pay attention and repent (Heb. 12:5-11).

6. Loving Christians: People who have passed from death to life love the brothers and it’s obvious to everyone (1 Jn. 3:14, Jn. 13:34-35).

7. Loving Enemies: Sinners can act with civility; saints are enabled to imitate their Father in heaven (Lk. 6:27-36).

8. Jesus said so: If you hear the word of Jesus and believe in Him, then you have eternal life, you have crossed from death to life (Jn. 5:24).

via Assurances of Salvation | Having Two Legs.

The poster, Toby Sumpter, to his credit, adds Baptism and the Lord’s Supper to the list, but Heaven help us!   People aren’t sure whether or not they are Christians?   It’s not enough to, you know, have faith in Jesus?

I realize that Christians who don’t think the sacraments do anything have to make check -off lists, but how horrible!   I want to ask those who go by a list like this, how are you doing with these?  Has your character been changed enough?  How’s your discipline? How are you getting along with your fellow Christians?  How are you getting along with your enemies?

Doesn’t this circle right back to salvation by works?  Can this formula for attaining “assurance” do anything but drive an honest Christian to despair?

That can only be a good thing if it drives you to the Cross of Jesus Christ, who has done all of this for you!

The problem with such exercises is that they end up DESTROYING faith, whereas faith is exactly what those who are struggling with such questions need.  That is to say, MORE trust, confidence, assurance in the Gospel of what Christ has freely done for them.

TGTBL


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