Luther and the universalism debate

Luther and the universalism debate March 17, 2011
The evangelical blogosphere is all abuzz over a new book entitled Love Wins by the influential evangelical pastor and author Rob Bell, in which he argues for universalism, the notion that God will save everyone, whether or not they have faith in Christ.   I had assumed that this debate did not concern us Lutherans, since we have our theology thoroughly worked out and this is just not an issue in our circles.  But now I learn that Bell enlisted Martin Luther in his cause, quoting a letter from 1522 in which he  said that no one could doubt that God could save someone after death.
Now Luther, in his long and tumultuous and developing career, said all kinds of things, including things that were flat out wrong.  They mean nothing for Lutheran theology, which is defined by the confessional statements collected in the Book of Concord.  But Westminster Theological Seminary Professor Carl Trueman dug out what  Luther actually said (with Bell’s quotation in italics):
If God were to save anyone without faith, he would be acting contrary to his own words and would give himself the lie; yes, he would deny himself. And that is impossible for, as St. Paul declares, God cannot deny himself. It is as impossible for God to save without faith as it is impossible for divine truth to lie. That is clear, obvious, and easily understood, no matter how reluctant the old wineskin is to hold this wine–yes, is unable to hold and contain it.
It would be quite a different question whether God can impart faith to some in the hour of death or after death so that these people could be saved through faith. Who would doubt God’s ability to do that? No one, however, can prove that he does do this. For all that we read is that he has already raised people from the dead and thus granted them faith. But whether he gives faith or not, it is impossible for anyone to be saved without faith. Otherwise every sermon, the gospel, and faith would be vain, false, and deceptive, since the entire gospel makes faith necessary. (Works, 43, ed. and trans. G. Wienke and H. T. Lehmann [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1968], 53-54; WA 10.ii, 324.25-325.11)
Talk about taking something out of context!  Bell takes a sentence out of Luther while ignoring what he says about it!  And ignoring Luther’s conclusion, that, yes, faith in Christ is necessary for salvation.
HT:  Cap Stewart
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  • WebMonk

    Just to play devil’s advocate here, couldn’t Bell be meaning that God will impart faith to everyone? Those who did not have faith in life would have it imparted to them after/upon death. That would fit in context (sort of).

    I suspect that Bell agrees with Luther’s following statement that we can’t prove that God does that, but would say that the Bible tends to point toward God doing that.

    (I’ve not read the book or any quotes from it, so I have no clue if that meshes with what he wrote or not. I am very much talking shooting blindly. )

  • WebMonk

    Just to play devil’s advocate here, couldn’t Bell be meaning that God will impart faith to everyone? Those who did not have faith in life would have it imparted to them after/upon death. That would fit in context (sort of).

    I suspect that Bell agrees with Luther’s following statement that we can’t prove that God does that, but would say that the Bible tends to point toward God doing that.

    (I’ve not read the book or any quotes from it, so I have no clue if that meshes with what he wrote or not. I am very much talking shooting blindly. )

  • Jonathan

    If everyone’s a winner in the end, then what is the point of being a Christian, or anything? Why did Christ have to come down here and die on a cross? Does Jesus just become a role model and life coach who happened to get a really bum deal? In that case, I think I’d rather follow Dr. Phil or the Oprah if I want to have my best life now. It really makes God out to be irrational if even a bit devious.

  • Jonathan

    If everyone’s a winner in the end, then what is the point of being a Christian, or anything? Why did Christ have to come down here and die on a cross? Does Jesus just become a role model and life coach who happened to get a really bum deal? In that case, I think I’d rather follow Dr. Phil or the Oprah if I want to have my best life now. It really makes God out to be irrational if even a bit devious.

  • helen

    What do you do with the story of the sheep and the goats, Webmonk?

    It doesn’t sound like Jesus Christ thought all men would be given faith.

  • helen

    What do you do with the story of the sheep and the goats, Webmonk?

    It doesn’t sound like Jesus Christ thought all men would be given faith.

  • Jonathan

    On a further thought, who cares what Luther speculated about on the matter. What does Jesus have to say about the matter? Seems to me, most of what we know about hell and eternal judgment comes straight from Jesus–the weeping and knashing of teeth, and all. How does Bell treat that?

  • Jonathan

    On a further thought, who cares what Luther speculated about on the matter. What does Jesus have to say about the matter? Seems to me, most of what we know about hell and eternal judgment comes straight from Jesus–the weeping and knashing of teeth, and all. How does Bell treat that?

  • WebMonk

    helen, did you miss that little section where I said I was only playing the devil’s advocate? I’m not a universalist.

    I was putting forward a way in which Bell might not be a completely ignorant idiot who can’t read, or who was purposefully taking the Luther quote completely out of context for some nefarious purpose.

    Best construction.

  • WebMonk

    helen, did you miss that little section where I said I was only playing the devil’s advocate? I’m not a universalist.

    I was putting forward a way in which Bell might not be a completely ignorant idiot who can’t read, or who was purposefully taking the Luther quote completely out of context for some nefarious purpose.

    Best construction.

  • LAJ

    Sunday’s USA Today paper had an article about it. Bell is dead wrong.

  • LAJ

    Sunday’s USA Today paper had an article about it. Bell is dead wrong.

  • Is it the whole book, or is it just the video trailer I saw? The latter is appalling enough, and I shudder to think that the book would truly be what the video suggested it would be–a “Highway to Bell”.

    There is something appropriate about this post being done on St. Patty’s day, as Bell’s video–and apparently the book–are more cunning than any other beast.

  • Is it the whole book, or is it just the video trailer I saw? The latter is appalling enough, and I shudder to think that the book would truly be what the video suggested it would be–a “Highway to Bell”.

    There is something appropriate about this post being done on St. Patty’s day, as Bell’s video–and apparently the book–are more cunning than any other beast.

  • Helen F

    I believe the saddest possible result of this false teaching reaching millions with his universalistic garbage is that many will fall for it.
    Why? Ignorance of God’s Word and His plan of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

  • Helen F

    I believe the saddest possible result of this false teaching reaching millions with his universalistic garbage is that many will fall for it.
    Why? Ignorance of God’s Word and His plan of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

  • Jonathan, seriously? Oprah or Dr. Phill if Christianity is wrong? Can I rquest you turn over your mancard now? I think I might go something along the lines of Nietzche, revive my viking heritage or something.

  • Jonathan, seriously? Oprah or Dr. Phill if Christianity is wrong? Can I rquest you turn over your mancard now? I think I might go something along the lines of Nietzche, revive my viking heritage or something.

  • I think the only possible “best construction” is that this is but one of many examples of sloppy scholarship that litters Bell’s book [which, yes, I have read!]. He probably picked up this “clip” from some other book and ran with it, without bothering to think about checking the context of the quote.

    Bell’s book is a jumbled mess of emotive, manipulative, passive-aggressive little barbs, quips and “questions” in which he basically deconstructs the message of the NT, using just enough of it to make it sound good.

    I could not help but think Bell is working through some major personal issues as a result of his fundamentalist upbringing.

  • I think the only possible “best construction” is that this is but one of many examples of sloppy scholarship that litters Bell’s book [which, yes, I have read!]. He probably picked up this “clip” from some other book and ran with it, without bothering to think about checking the context of the quote.

    Bell’s book is a jumbled mess of emotive, manipulative, passive-aggressive little barbs, quips and “questions” in which he basically deconstructs the message of the NT, using just enough of it to make it sound good.

    I could not help but think Bell is working through some major personal issues as a result of his fundamentalist upbringing.

  • Jonathan

    Pr. E,
    Things didn’t work out so well for Nietsche personally, as I recall. His was not really an example of the “best life now.” And, Nihilism as a fall back, not so much for me. Maybe hedonism.

    Is that where Evangelicalism is eventually leading? Do what you want as long as you’re moral according to some standard, and God will save you anyway?

  • Jonathan

    Pr. E,
    Things didn’t work out so well for Nietsche personally, as I recall. His was not really an example of the “best life now.” And, Nihilism as a fall back, not so much for me. Maybe hedonism.

    Is that where Evangelicalism is eventually leading? Do what you want as long as you’re moral according to some standard, and God will save you anyway?

  • I’ll go so far as to publicly state what others are probably thinking: I’m really questioning whether or not this man is a Christian at all.

  • I’ll go so far as to publicly state what others are probably thinking: I’m really questioning whether or not this man is a Christian at all.

  • Abby

    Rob Bell also follows “reformed Judaism” (he is Jewish), which is, partly, where the social justice and liberation theology comes from. He has been teaching universalism at his church for years–a young couple at my church left there because of that. One of the “emergents” up in Minnesota is having a Rabbi teach in his congregation.

  • Abby

    Rob Bell also follows “reformed Judaism” (he is Jewish), which is, partly, where the social justice and liberation theology comes from. He has been teaching universalism at his church for years–a young couple at my church left there because of that. One of the “emergents” up in Minnesota is having a Rabbi teach in his congregation.

  • Paul

    I do think that the concept of “universal grace” can sound “universalist” to non-Lutherans. If Christ did in fact die for all sins of all people, then why doesn’t everyone go to Heaven? Well, we know that people can and do reject God’s grace, even to the point of taking offense at being told that Jesus has paid for their sins. From what I can glean from comments about Bell’s book, it seems to me that Bell holds to both universal grace and “irresistible grace”. To those who have read the book: Is that accurate?

  • Paul

    I do think that the concept of “universal grace” can sound “universalist” to non-Lutherans. If Christ did in fact die for all sins of all people, then why doesn’t everyone go to Heaven? Well, we know that people can and do reject God’s grace, even to the point of taking offense at being told that Jesus has paid for their sins. From what I can glean from comments about Bell’s book, it seems to me that Bell holds to both universal grace and “irresistible grace”. To those who have read the book: Is that accurate?

  • WebMonk

    Jonathan @11

    Is that where Evangelicalism is eventually leading? Do what you want as long as you’re moral according to some standard, and God will save you anyway?

    I think the more typical accusation leveled at Evs is that they have a “work hard to get into heaven” theology, rather than a “God will save all the sort of nice people” sort of theology. But, evangelicals are such a large population that I’m sure there are streams of both styles of theologies with room to spare.

  • WebMonk

    Jonathan @11

    Is that where Evangelicalism is eventually leading? Do what you want as long as you’re moral according to some standard, and God will save you anyway?

    I think the more typical accusation leveled at Evs is that they have a “work hard to get into heaven” theology, rather than a “God will save all the sort of nice people” sort of theology. But, evangelicals are such a large population that I’m sure there are streams of both styles of theologies with room to spare.

  • Steve

    Rev. Paul:

    “I could not help but think Bell is working through some major personal issues as a result of his fundamentalist upbringing.”

    I wonder if that’s the case. I’m not sure how much of his upbringing was in the fundamentalist vein, but my sister and brother-in-law knew Bell quite well at Wheaton, and my sister was always surprised at how a pretty flaky guy became such a popular evangelical. (Yes, that probably says a lot about contemporary evangelicalism.) So my thought is that it’s less an issue of background, and more an issue of an unfortunately shallow thinker and sloppy exegete. (Bell is a nice guy, so I hesitate to get too personal in my criticism of him.)

    And whether he acknowledges it or not, Bell does exhibit tell-tale signs of emergent theology, in which questions are valued more than answers, the “narrative” in theology matters more than the theology itself, religion and spirituality is just one great “journey” without any concrete destination, everything is “culture-bound” and needs personal reinterpretation (including Christian doctrine), etc. etc. etc. Look up emergent theology or the Emergent Church if you’re not familiar, and you’ll see postmodern theology running itself off a cliff.

    Or just ask Dr. Veith about postmodern theology. He, quite literally, wrote the book on postmodernism. (I’m looking at it right now on my shelf, and I enjoyed it immensely.) Rob Bell, quite unfortunately, is cut from this cloth.

  • Steve

    Rev. Paul:

    “I could not help but think Bell is working through some major personal issues as a result of his fundamentalist upbringing.”

    I wonder if that’s the case. I’m not sure how much of his upbringing was in the fundamentalist vein, but my sister and brother-in-law knew Bell quite well at Wheaton, and my sister was always surprised at how a pretty flaky guy became such a popular evangelical. (Yes, that probably says a lot about contemporary evangelicalism.) So my thought is that it’s less an issue of background, and more an issue of an unfortunately shallow thinker and sloppy exegete. (Bell is a nice guy, so I hesitate to get too personal in my criticism of him.)

    And whether he acknowledges it or not, Bell does exhibit tell-tale signs of emergent theology, in which questions are valued more than answers, the “narrative” in theology matters more than the theology itself, religion and spirituality is just one great “journey” without any concrete destination, everything is “culture-bound” and needs personal reinterpretation (including Christian doctrine), etc. etc. etc. Look up emergent theology or the Emergent Church if you’re not familiar, and you’ll see postmodern theology running itself off a cliff.

    Or just ask Dr. Veith about postmodern theology. He, quite literally, wrote the book on postmodernism. (I’m looking at it right now on my shelf, and I enjoyed it immensely.) Rob Bell, quite unfortunately, is cut from this cloth.

  • Steve

    Abby:

    “Rob Bell also follows “reformed Judaism” (he is Jewish), which is, partly, where the social justice and liberation theology comes from.”

    He’s not Jewish, as far as I know. He grew up in an evangelical family and went to Wheaton College, which is pretty mainstream in its evangelicalism. But his early preaching does show a great respect for Judaism and the Torah. He was well known for preaching from Leviticus when he started Mars Hill in Grand Rapids.

  • Steve

    Abby:

    “Rob Bell also follows “reformed Judaism” (he is Jewish), which is, partly, where the social justice and liberation theology comes from.”

    He’s not Jewish, as far as I know. He grew up in an evangelical family and went to Wheaton College, which is pretty mainstream in its evangelicalism. But his early preaching does show a great respect for Judaism and the Torah. He was well known for preaching from Leviticus when he started Mars Hill in Grand Rapids.

  • Jonathan,
    I’m just saying no man in his right mind find Oprah or Dr. Phill as being viable alternatives. And I’d rather die of syphilis in an asylum than listen to joel Olsteen!

    As far as evangelicalism, its morality has never been well defined by biblical principles, and has been going that way for sometime.

  • Jonathan,
    I’m just saying no man in his right mind find Oprah or Dr. Phill as being viable alternatives. And I’d rather die of syphilis in an asylum than listen to joel Olsteen!

    As far as evangelicalism, its morality has never been well defined by biblical principles, and has been going that way for sometime.

  • By the way, after reflecting on Bell’s book for a few days, I’ve come up with this five second summary:

    Non-Christians think Christianity is just about telling people how to avoid going to hell and telling them who is not going to heaven. That is bad. We should talk about God’s love for his whole creation and how cool that is. Leave the rest up to God. People can be saved even after they die, so don’t sweat it.

  • By the way, after reflecting on Bell’s book for a few days, I’ve come up with this five second summary:

    Non-Christians think Christianity is just about telling people how to avoid going to hell and telling them who is not going to heaven. That is bad. We should talk about God’s love for his whole creation and how cool that is. Leave the rest up to God. People can be saved even after they die, so don’t sweat it.

  • WebMonk

    RevM @ 19,
    I think that summary is something I agree with on broad strokes. Both individuals and denominations can focus far too much on declaring who is in and who is out. A bit of the opposite extreme can help balance things out in some ways. The extremes don’t justify or make each other correct, but they do help to put each other in context.

  • WebMonk

    RevM @ 19,
    I think that summary is something I agree with on broad strokes. Both individuals and denominations can focus far too much on declaring who is in and who is out. A bit of the opposite extreme can help balance things out in some ways. The extremes don’t justify or make each other correct, but they do help to put each other in context.

  • A good friend of mine’s wife attended Wheaton with Rob Bell. She reports that Bell’s number one passion was being a Christian rock star and being a “big man” on campus, he had no interest in theology. The Christian rock band thing didn’t work out for him. So, there you go.

  • A good friend of mine’s wife attended Wheaton with Rob Bell. She reports that Bell’s number one passion was being a Christian rock star and being a “big man” on campus, he had no interest in theology. The Christian rock band thing didn’t work out for him. So, there you go.

  • larry

    I don’t know Bell nor his works at all.

    This kind of debate for Lutheran’s and our confessions ALWAYS gets that old dead end Arminian – Calvinism speculative religion pendulum swinging again and again and again.

    But Scripture, the Confessions and Luther are clear on this very matter that it is through faith. Now there is that subtle but entirely religious difference between Calvin/Calvinism and their explicit double predestination and its sister implicit double predestination (i.e. limited atonement) which paints a more Islamic god (which ultimately sets forth a surreptitious synergism as active as any Arminian/Pelagian could drum up), and the Confessions and Luther. The former is the enemy and killer of faith, the later creates it, sustains it, etc…

    Speculation is ALWAYS the enemy and murderer of faith. Once the concrete, objective, extra nos, revelation is “surpassed”, one has entered into debate with the devil. As Sasse said, “the Sacrament can be rightly administered only where the Gospel is purely taught, and the proclamation of the Gospel can remain pure only where Christ’s Sacrament is rightly celebrated.”

    Note just how both double predestination/limited atonement and universalism both do the same thing, they attack faith by attacking the concrete, objective, sure, certain, cannot fail, extra nos Word and Sacraments! Both end up doing this. The former by making the sacraments (including absolution) merely signs needing faith, as a work, to reach up to them and then the signs do not give what they signify (i.e. the Calvinistic “don’t confuse the sign with the thing signified”, what then do the hypocrites eat?) The later, universalism, makes the sacraments really superfluous and needless. In the former “faith” becomes a work (a product of reason) which is to really mean “no faith”, and in the later, “no faith” is explicitly stated.

    Also our confessions very clearly spell out in no uncertain terms that the fault or reason men go to and end up in hell and eternal damnation is to be found entirely in man and none whatsoever in God.

  • larry

    I don’t know Bell nor his works at all.

    This kind of debate for Lutheran’s and our confessions ALWAYS gets that old dead end Arminian – Calvinism speculative religion pendulum swinging again and again and again.

    But Scripture, the Confessions and Luther are clear on this very matter that it is through faith. Now there is that subtle but entirely religious difference between Calvin/Calvinism and their explicit double predestination and its sister implicit double predestination (i.e. limited atonement) which paints a more Islamic god (which ultimately sets forth a surreptitious synergism as active as any Arminian/Pelagian could drum up), and the Confessions and Luther. The former is the enemy and killer of faith, the later creates it, sustains it, etc…

    Speculation is ALWAYS the enemy and murderer of faith. Once the concrete, objective, extra nos, revelation is “surpassed”, one has entered into debate with the devil. As Sasse said, “the Sacrament can be rightly administered only where the Gospel is purely taught, and the proclamation of the Gospel can remain pure only where Christ’s Sacrament is rightly celebrated.”

    Note just how both double predestination/limited atonement and universalism both do the same thing, they attack faith by attacking the concrete, objective, sure, certain, cannot fail, extra nos Word and Sacraments! Both end up doing this. The former by making the sacraments (including absolution) merely signs needing faith, as a work, to reach up to them and then the signs do not give what they signify (i.e. the Calvinistic “don’t confuse the sign with the thing signified”, what then do the hypocrites eat?) The later, universalism, makes the sacraments really superfluous and needless. In the former “faith” becomes a work (a product of reason) which is to really mean “no faith”, and in the later, “no faith” is explicitly stated.

    Also our confessions very clearly spell out in no uncertain terms that the fault or reason men go to and end up in hell and eternal damnation is to be found entirely in man and none whatsoever in God.

  • helen

    Webmonk @ 5
    “helen, did you miss that little section where I said I was only playing the devil’s advocate? I’m not a universalist.”

    After I posted I realized I should have said, “How does Rob Bell explain….?” instead of laying it on you. Sorry!

  • helen

    Webmonk @ 5
    “helen, did you miss that little section where I said I was only playing the devil’s advocate? I’m not a universalist.”

    After I posted I realized I should have said, “How does Rob Bell explain….?” instead of laying it on you. Sorry!

  • larry @ 22,

    I thought Luther preached predestination as well. At least, that’s the impression I get from reading Bondage of the Will.

  • larry @ 22,

    I thought Luther preached predestination as well. At least, that’s the impression I get from reading Bondage of the Will.

  • larry

    J,

    In the bondage of the will Luther points out that the school boys would focus speculatively on predestination using what he said in there to do this and not on the real meat and potatoes of what he said in BOW, and this exactly what Calvinist do. They rarely read anything BUT BOW that Luther wrote and almost NEVER read any of his other writings, the later confessions (which are against them on this and the sacraments), let alone Chemnitz, Sasse or others. In fact they very narrowly quote Luther as if to procure him for their cause.

    Early on in his career when he was still Augustinian he still struggled with what was basically a proto-calvinism, no as Calvinist understand it later on. For the best treatment of this get a copy of “Luther Discovers the Gospel” by Uuras Saarnivaara. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    A couple of quickies: what we find is the Med. Roman theology had two main camps if you will. The scholastics who thought that men had this natural ability to do and believe and begin the active righteousness needed to stand before the judgment of God. These are really the proto-arminians. Then on the other side the German Mystics, from which Luther more came. These believed that God after conversion gave the “grace” to believe and do, etc…. These were more or less the proto-Calvinist. These two camps set up, not at all unlike Arminians and Calvinist do, to speculatively answer the question of predestination.

    What Calvin ultimately did was reassert Augustine, it is 100% true when Calvinist say Calvin was just being a good Augustinian. It was Luther that basically unseated Augustine, his tower experience on what “the righteousness of God” meant. In fact what Luther ultimately came from and rejected was not just properly Roman Catholic but a proto-type of Calvinism, which is kind of retro-naming it because “Calvin” himself wasn’t around (its better to see and understand Calvin as never really have left Med. RC theology per the German Mystic variety). I.e. Luther’s tower experience was not just a rejection of Rome, though that it was that, it was a rejection of that principle theology that was more formally crafted under Calvin.

    And one sees this in the Confessions. The early part of the confessions is directed at the more dominant Scholastic thought of the Roman church, but the later part of the confessions are directed at the (then) arising proto-calvinistic/reformed thought (rooted in Augustine and the German mystics), which is just a very refined version of the Scholastic thought. One might rightly think of the Scholastics as the forefathers of the later day Arminians, and the German mystics and more purely Augustinians as the forefathers of the Reformed/Calvinist. The peasant becomes the new monk if you will. What was internal formal battles within Med. RCism escapes the “oversight” and “hold” of Rome and then re-manifests itself through the non-lutheran reformed in the large sense of the term “reformed” (i.e. both Arminians and Calvinist).

    Luther’s tower experience was ultimately the culmination of his gaining the pure Gospel, and a formal present time (at the time) rejection of those two under Rome’s rubric (scholastics and mystics) and a preemptive rejection of what would be arminianism on the one side of the road and Calvinism on the other side of the road.

    I highly recommend this book, “Luther Discovers the Gospel” by Uuras Saarnivaara, to you. It’s inexpensive and worth every single penny.

  • larry

    J,

    In the bondage of the will Luther points out that the school boys would focus speculatively on predestination using what he said in there to do this and not on the real meat and potatoes of what he said in BOW, and this exactly what Calvinist do. They rarely read anything BUT BOW that Luther wrote and almost NEVER read any of his other writings, the later confessions (which are against them on this and the sacraments), let alone Chemnitz, Sasse or others. In fact they very narrowly quote Luther as if to procure him for their cause.

    Early on in his career when he was still Augustinian he still struggled with what was basically a proto-calvinism, no as Calvinist understand it later on. For the best treatment of this get a copy of “Luther Discovers the Gospel” by Uuras Saarnivaara. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    A couple of quickies: what we find is the Med. Roman theology had two main camps if you will. The scholastics who thought that men had this natural ability to do and believe and begin the active righteousness needed to stand before the judgment of God. These are really the proto-arminians. Then on the other side the German Mystics, from which Luther more came. These believed that God after conversion gave the “grace” to believe and do, etc…. These were more or less the proto-Calvinist. These two camps set up, not at all unlike Arminians and Calvinist do, to speculatively answer the question of predestination.

    What Calvin ultimately did was reassert Augustine, it is 100% true when Calvinist say Calvin was just being a good Augustinian. It was Luther that basically unseated Augustine, his tower experience on what “the righteousness of God” meant. In fact what Luther ultimately came from and rejected was not just properly Roman Catholic but a proto-type of Calvinism, which is kind of retro-naming it because “Calvin” himself wasn’t around (its better to see and understand Calvin as never really have left Med. RC theology per the German Mystic variety). I.e. Luther’s tower experience was not just a rejection of Rome, though that it was that, it was a rejection of that principle theology that was more formally crafted under Calvin.

    And one sees this in the Confessions. The early part of the confessions is directed at the more dominant Scholastic thought of the Roman church, but the later part of the confessions are directed at the (then) arising proto-calvinistic/reformed thought (rooted in Augustine and the German mystics), which is just a very refined version of the Scholastic thought. One might rightly think of the Scholastics as the forefathers of the later day Arminians, and the German mystics and more purely Augustinians as the forefathers of the Reformed/Calvinist. The peasant becomes the new monk if you will. What was internal formal battles within Med. RCism escapes the “oversight” and “hold” of Rome and then re-manifests itself through the non-lutheran reformed in the large sense of the term “reformed” (i.e. both Arminians and Calvinist).

    Luther’s tower experience was ultimately the culmination of his gaining the pure Gospel, and a formal present time (at the time) rejection of those two under Rome’s rubric (scholastics and mystics) and a preemptive rejection of what would be arminianism on the one side of the road and Calvinism on the other side of the road.

    I highly recommend this book, “Luther Discovers the Gospel” by Uuras Saarnivaara, to you. It’s inexpensive and worth every single penny.

  • larry,

    Thank you for the information! So is Lutheranism Arminian?

  • larry,

    Thank you for the information! So is Lutheranism Arminian?

  • Rob

    And, look at the Formula of Concord (either the epitome or the Solid Declaration) XI to see how the Lutheran Confessions (as opposed to Luther the person) formulate a Lutheran view of God’s eternal foreknowledge and election. Online at bookofconcord.org

  • Rob

    And, look at the Formula of Concord (either the epitome or the Solid Declaration) XI to see how the Lutheran Confessions (as opposed to Luther the person) formulate a Lutheran view of God’s eternal foreknowledge and election. Online at bookofconcord.org

  • J. Investigate lutheranism read “Luther discovers the gospel” and realize there are more options than calvinism and arminianism. Read that book and you will find calvinism and arminianism are joined at the devil”s hip.
    Calvinists think that since they don’t have free will in spiritual things they can’t in temporal either. Arminians thaink that since they have freewill in temporal things they must have it in spiritual things too.

  • J. Investigate lutheranism read “Luther discovers the gospel” and realize there are more options than calvinism and arminianism. Read that book and you will find calvinism and arminianism are joined at the devil”s hip.
    Calvinists think that since they don’t have free will in spiritual things they can’t in temporal either. Arminians thaink that since they have freewill in temporal things they must have it in spiritual things too.

  • Steve

    Rev. Paul:

    “The Christian rock band thing didn’t work out for him. So, there you go.”

    My brother-in-law was the drummer in that band! They were pretty good, except for the off-tune singing of their lead singer, who was…Rob Bell. (The title of one of his early books, “Velvet Elvis,” comes from one of their band’s songs.) And if Rob ever thought they might make it big, he was the only one of the four of them who thought that.

  • Steve

    Rev. Paul:

    “The Christian rock band thing didn’t work out for him. So, there you go.”

    My brother-in-law was the drummer in that band! They were pretty good, except for the off-tune singing of their lead singer, who was…Rob Bell. (The title of one of his early books, “Velvet Elvis,” comes from one of their band’s songs.) And if Rob ever thought they might make it big, he was the only one of the four of them who thought that.

  • Abby
  • Abby
  • larry

    J,

    No problem. I would heartily echo and amen what Bror and Rob said too.

    Seriously check out that book it will help a lot, and the BOC. The later just takes a bit of time to chew and digest.

    As Bror said Arminianism and Calvinism are basically speculative religions that are apparently opposed to each other but in fact “joined at the devil’s hip” to each other.

    Because they can’t stand the paradox, which is the atomosphere, if you will, faith must live, even dare we say suffer the cross in, they follow the devil’s two trap doors. In both we find reason not serving under Christ and the Word where it is a good and dutiful servant, creature and gift of God, but a usurper “hath God really said”.

    I noted interesting experience in my own journey. As an atheist thinking about or attempting to engage Christianity, and a staunch evolutionist/geologist I kept asking in principle the same questions that boiled down to “but how” concerning creation. As long as I stayed there, I could not believe. Interestingly enough in my journey from Calvinism (first as a Baptist then as a Presbyterian) to Confessional Lutheranism the BIG sticking point was not baptism but the Lord’s Supper. Interestingly, the questions where in FORM and PRINCIPLE the same unbelief, “but how”. Again, as long as reason won’t shut up and quit inquiring as to “how” and LISTEN to God speak (via the Word), all articles of faith remain a black hole and utterly incomprehensible. Once the Cross crucifies reason and makes it a silent servant (give up the “how” which is really “hath God said”), everything changes.

    Arminianism and Calvinism are joined at the devil’s hip in this way, via the devil’s mistress, reason.

    Every article of faith is like this, the Trinity, justification by faith alone, the real presence, baptism, creation, you name it – these are the sources of all heresy and false religion.

    Keep in mind, NONE OF US, deny the Word of God (in reality) because it is not understandable. In fact we deny it because we ALL TOO WELL UNDERSTAND what it is saying. “This is My body/blood…”, is not hard to understand. That’s not why it’s denied. It’s denied because it is all too well understood. Here we begin to see just how craftily our fallen reason deceives us and makes us in fact follow the devil, which we will call “following God”. Scary? Terrifying? You bet it is, here begin to just but taste of our fallenness, blindness and the true Bondage of the Will.

  • larry

    J,

    No problem. I would heartily echo and amen what Bror and Rob said too.

    Seriously check out that book it will help a lot, and the BOC. The later just takes a bit of time to chew and digest.

    As Bror said Arminianism and Calvinism are basically speculative religions that are apparently opposed to each other but in fact “joined at the devil’s hip” to each other.

    Because they can’t stand the paradox, which is the atomosphere, if you will, faith must live, even dare we say suffer the cross in, they follow the devil’s two trap doors. In both we find reason not serving under Christ and the Word where it is a good and dutiful servant, creature and gift of God, but a usurper “hath God really said”.

    I noted interesting experience in my own journey. As an atheist thinking about or attempting to engage Christianity, and a staunch evolutionist/geologist I kept asking in principle the same questions that boiled down to “but how” concerning creation. As long as I stayed there, I could not believe. Interestingly enough in my journey from Calvinism (first as a Baptist then as a Presbyterian) to Confessional Lutheranism the BIG sticking point was not baptism but the Lord’s Supper. Interestingly, the questions where in FORM and PRINCIPLE the same unbelief, “but how”. Again, as long as reason won’t shut up and quit inquiring as to “how” and LISTEN to God speak (via the Word), all articles of faith remain a black hole and utterly incomprehensible. Once the Cross crucifies reason and makes it a silent servant (give up the “how” which is really “hath God said”), everything changes.

    Arminianism and Calvinism are joined at the devil’s hip in this way, via the devil’s mistress, reason.

    Every article of faith is like this, the Trinity, justification by faith alone, the real presence, baptism, creation, you name it – these are the sources of all heresy and false religion.

    Keep in mind, NONE OF US, deny the Word of God (in reality) because it is not understandable. In fact we deny it because we ALL TOO WELL UNDERSTAND what it is saying. “This is My body/blood…”, is not hard to understand. That’s not why it’s denied. It’s denied because it is all too well understood. Here we begin to see just how craftily our fallen reason deceives us and makes us in fact follow the devil, which we will call “following God”. Scary? Terrifying? You bet it is, here begin to just but taste of our fallenness, blindness and the true Bondage of the Will.

  • Abby

    Steve @17

    Sorry, Steve. I can’t find the article I was referencing. If I am mistaken that he is Jewish, I apologize. I should have found the article first.

  • Abby

    Steve @17

    Sorry, Steve. I can’t find the article I was referencing. If I am mistaken that he is Jewish, I apologize. I should have found the article first.

  • Andy

    @ Paul 21

    I would stick to refuting the theology of the book rather than attack Bell personally based on hearsay about who he was or was not several years ago. That is irrelevant to the book’s material. I expect more from someone in your position.

  • Andy

    @ Paul 21

    I would stick to refuting the theology of the book rather than attack Bell personally based on hearsay about who he was or was not several years ago. That is irrelevant to the book’s material. I expect more from someone in your position.