Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A case of hijacking, again.

A few years ago, I think I posted about how the word "Evangelical" has been hijacked from the First Evangelicals. Please note, that observation was not original to me. So now, the word has been so used and misused, we do not know now what that word means.

I have been reading of what has been happening in the Calvinist/Reformed world.

Dr. R. Scott Clark, a Reformed professor of historic theology, wrote a piece here, arguing that the label "Reformed" should be confined to paedo-baptists Calvinists who confess the Continental (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, Canons of Dort) and English Calvinist Confessions (Westminster, Savoy, etc).

Famous Reformed Baptists, like apologist Dr. James White of AOMIN.ORG took exception to this.

So in a sense, Dr. Clark's point is that technically the word "Reformed" should be the proper label for infant baptizing Calvinists, and it should not be applied to credo-baptizing ones. Hence, it is not proper for credo-baptists "Calvinists" to call themselves Reformed as another variation of that term, there is no such thing as Reformed Baptist, I think this is what Dr. Clark is saying.

I think Dr. Clark is right, historically Calvinism has a distinct pedigree and paedo-baptism is one of them.

On the other hand, Dr. Clark should know that Calvinists stole many concepts from Lutherans and rehashed them and gave them their own spin. I think this mostly happened in what Lutherans called The Interim.

So, all I can say is, what goes around, comes around, no?

38 comments:

Mark Henderson said...

Lito, I think Dr Clark has a point - if I were Reformed I certainly wouldn't be happy about being associated with Baptists ;0)


But I suspect that Reformed Baptists were either labelled with or adopted that term because they were opposed to Arminian Baptists. But I'm sure it has Calvin 'turning in his grave'.

Reminds me that when I first went to seminary it confused me that Lutherans referred to all non-Lutheran paedo-baptist Prostestants as 'Reformed'; coming from an English background, Reformed to me meant Presbyterian or Dutch Reformed, but certainly not Methodists!

Just goes to show yet again that language is alive and changes over time.

Now, sometimes I speculate that if we weren't called Lutherans what could we be called?

L P said...

Pr. M,

if I were Reformed I certainly wouldn't be happy about being associated with Baptists ;0)

hahaha, that is a laugh.

Now, sometimes I speculate that if we weren't called Lutherans what could we be called?

Concordians? Gospellers? They don't sound right and not as smooth.

LOL


LPC

Mark Henderson said...

Hard one, isn't it?
In some eastern European countries the Lutheran church is called 'The Church of the Augsburg Confession'; but in the a-historical new world we have enough trouble telling people who Luther was, never mind The Augsburg Confession!

Davidh said...

Hey LP,

You really do seem to have an axe to grind with regard to Calvinism. :(

More often than not, the early Reformers considered Luther to be a fellow-worker in the Gospel. While they may have disagreed with some emotion(eg Zwingli and Luther) they held Luther in high esteem.

Could it be that later hostilities between Lutherans and "Calvinist" communities as well as the present antipathies between Reformed and Lutheran groups is colouring your assessment of classic Calvinism?

As to Scott Clark, he is over-playing the alleged "Reformed" distinctives for some other end I think, rather than allowing historical realities inform him properly. At the very least he is fighting over words, and its foolish to engage him on his own terms.

Thanks,
David

Dizma said...

And L.P. should know that Lutherans stole many concepts form Roman Catholics and gave them their own spin... Such statments who stole from whom can be a boomerang.

L P said...

David/Dizma,

Touche,

But we stole first !

So you guys should not be stealing what we stole. That is the problem!

And we are sour about it. ;-)


LPC

L P said...

David,

In seriousness, some Calvinists are much more respectful of Luther than Lutherans are to Luther!

But in my readings while wondering off to Geneva, I did get the idea that Calvinists are paedo baptists because of the covenant.

I guess Dr. Clark is into the recovery business.

LPC

David said...

Hey LP,

I was just reading something Muller wrote. Once you move out of ex opere operato for baptism, you have to ground baptism in something else. And that became covenant.

What is it for classic Lutheran theology?

From my own reading, Calvin, while rejecting Romanist views of ex ex opere operato, clearly held to sacramental regeneration. The infant is regenerated and washed in baptism. How is that different to classic Lutheranism?

As to Scott Clark, he is being a little revisionist in is views of what is and is not Reformed. While it is true "Reformed" was coined at certain points to differentiate the non-Lutheran Reformist movements from the Lutheran-Melancthonian movements.

As well you have lots of mediating attempts in the work of Bucer, Cranmer, and even the Hiedelbergers, who worked with Lutherans and Reformed at the University. Hyperius was an early theologian who worked in both Lutheran and non-Lutheran Reforming wings.

Ive read Zwingli's extant English works and clearly at times he's cranky with Luther, but can we say the fault lies entirely with Zwingli? I don't think so.

What we need to do is get back to some of that earlier desire for cooperation.

Thanks,
David

L P said...

David,

Sorry bro for my sarcasm, I believe we can have a good educational discussion on this.

Good point on the ground of baptism if it is not ex opere operato. My answer here will be summary and not nuanced.

The ground is the promise of God as in Acts 2:38, it is a gift. Lutherans is into testaments not covenants, as in last will and testament. So slightly different category of understanding the acts of God or the communications of God. They call these communications God's gift, you do nothing, you trust it.

Baptism give what it conveys, forgiveness of sins per Rom 6:1-6. It regenerates always. Here Calvin/Calvinisst I think will differ slightly. I read for Calvin, it regenerates indeed, but only the elect.

So this go now to the difference between what Calvin and Luther think of regeneration.

For Luther regeneration may be lost, for Calvin it can never die.

You correct me if I got Calvin right.

Hence, from a Lutheran view, a baptized baby who turned apostate as an adult will be called a man who was given a gift but flaunted it. rejected it.

Lutherans teach that you are to trust what God did to you in your baptism that he united you to Christ's atonement. So they still teach faith in the gift - baptism which is tied to the atonement.

I agree some cooperation should be going on. We have a bigger problem, once again, Islam, I think Sharia law is coming through the back door.

LPC

Mark Henderson said...

David,

You are responsible for the web site, 'Calvin and Calvinism' yes? I read it regularly, very informative.

As to the hostilities between Lutherans and Calvinists, you must realise that crypto-Calvinism in Lutheran circles and later developments in Germany in the
19th century have contributed to this, even down to this day.

Mark Henderson said...

Lito,

Yes - baptism (whether infant or adult!) is grounded in the promise attached to it.
(Luther also went back time and again to the fact that infants are born in original sin, and therefore need the grace that baptism offers - but that is not a ground so much as the condition which renders baptism necessary also for infants.

L P said...

Pr. M.

DavidH is fellow Ozie, now American.


As you know I am not seminary trained, just self taught.

So your input to David's questions would be good too.

Sometimes though I hear Calvinist preachers using Lutheran pastoral care methods yet not giving credit to where they got this and so I get to wonder about this.

But we should not disagree with the Reformed where they speak rightly as per Scripture, that is also un-Lutheran too.


LPC

L P said...

Dizma/David

Dr. Scott Clark opened up a discussion

http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/differences-between-lutheran-and-reformed-orthodoxy/

on his blog, but I have no time to chime in.

Benefits of Lutheranism - rich tradition of pot luck dinners, (almost) free cemetery lots, Bach, Pacabel, etc. It has some perks you know.

LOL

LPC

Mark Henderson said...

I'm self-taught in theology too (seriously, our dogmatics course at seminary was very weak).

David said...

Hey LP,

I don't know where Davidh came from.

LP says:

The ground is the promise of God as in Acts 2:38, it is a gift.

David says: Calvin would totally agree.

LP: Lutherans is into testaments not covenants, as in last will and testament. So slightly different category of understanding the acts of God or the communications of God. They call these communications God's gift, you do nothing, you trust it.

David: There is a big debate whether or not Calvin saw covenants as universal (testament) or bi-lateral (covenant). He was probably both. I would encourage you to read Calvin directly, LP. I am sure you would find a lot of agreement, and then if not, respectful disagreement.

LP: Baptism give what it conveys, forgiveness of sins per Rom 6:1-6. It regenerates always. Here Calvin/Calvinist I think will differ slightly. I read for Calvin, it regenerates indeed, but only the elect.

David: Okay. 2 things come to mind. Firstly, is that distinction something you want to use as fuel for one's animus towards Calvin? Should one draw the line in the sand over that point? Secondly, there is something going on here when Calvin says:
"Hence at the very beginning he proclaims in express words the grace of God made known to us in Christ; and at the same time he adds, that it is received by faith and possessed by hope, so that the godly might raise up their minds and hearts above the world. Hence he exhorts them to holiness, lest they should render void the price by which they were redeemed, and lest they should suffer the incorruptible seed of the Word, by which they had been regenerated into eternal life, to be destroyed or to die. John Calvin, 1 Peter, The Argument."

More research needs to be done on some of this. Our modern problem, from the Calvinist side of scholarship, is that TULIP has blinded us to different categories in classic theology. We do not have a place for a form of life implanted in a person, but which does not come to proper fruition. I think something like this was going on in Augustine.

LP: So this go now to the difference between what Calvin and Luther think of regeneration.

For Luther regeneration may be lost, for Calvin it can never die.

David said...

continued...

David: Perhaps not given what he says above. I think "regeneration" is being defined more broadly and less technically, in Calvin (and in others of his time) than we moderns are used to, modern TULIPers included.

LP: You correct me if I got Calvin right.

David: I would just ask that folk be careful. Too much of our animus one way or another is misdirected. Often its sourced and generated by secondary source mythology, and/or the absurdities of third generation Calvinists, who, when the rubber hits the road, are really quote historically ignorant.

For my part, Ive been trying to branch out into reading Melancthon, Luther, Sarcarius, and soon to read Hemmingsen. I thoroughly enjoyed Sarcarius. And as an example of Reformed respect, whenever Kimedoncius referred to Melancthon, it was always with the prefacing remark "our esteemed brother" or something like that. The Hiedelbergers worked hard to work out some sort of cooperative platform with Lutherans.

LP: Hence, from a Lutheran view, a baptized baby who turned apostate as an adult will be called a man who was given a gift but flaunted it. rejected it.

David: I think Calvin would totally agree.

LP: Lutherans teach that you are to trust what God did to you in your baptism that he united you to Christ's atonement. So they still teach faith in the gift - baptism which is tied to the atonement.

David: Calvin agreed. He explicitly connected the regeneration of the child with the washing of the blood of Christ shed for the child. This blood was shed for all baptized infants.

LP: I agree some cooperation should be going on. We have a bigger problem, once again, Islam, I think Sharia law is coming through the back door.

David: Sure, I was thinking a little more locally though: Hypercalvinism and Sectarianism within the Reformed and Evangelical movements.

There tension between the "Reformed" and Lutherans is a multi-layered problem. It dates back to the communion debates between Luther and Zwingli, Calvin and certain Lutherans. This tension spilled into the second generation. The distrust has been on both sides. The problem was exacerbated when substitutionay atonement came to be identified as limited atonement, which in turn as seen as "the gospel.' All that has been furthering sectarianism.

That mentality, even broader Reformed sectarianism, is only the death-knell for Reformed theology. If our folk become more and more insular, our walls get higher and thicker, our motes get deeper and wider, the ghetto gets smaller and smaller, we will only find ourselves more and more irrelevant on every level, social and theological. We dont need you Lutherans helping us out in our rush to isolation. :-)

Reach out to us, LP. Engage Calvinists as friends. In doing so, keep in mind, much of the Calvinist blogosphere needs to be saved from itself, LP.

Thanks,
David

David said...

Hey Mark,

Mark: You are responsible for the web site, 'Calvin and Calvinism' yes? I read it regularly, very informative.

David: Yes that's me. Thanks for visiting. And I am glad its informative. Chats my prime goal, to inform as well as to persuade.

Mark: As to the hostilities between Lutherans and Calvinists, you must realise that crypto-Calvinism in Lutheran circles and later developments in Germany in the 19th century have contributed to this, even down to this day.

David: Yeah, Ive been reading something of that, distrust has been mutual. One of the big sins of Calvinism since the 19thC has been its sense of manifest certainty. I think this increase in "certainty" is inversely proportionate to the philosophical drift of the world, and as well certain theological hardening in critical areas.

I remember back in Australia, many Presbyterians seemed irked that they would be associated with Evangelicalism, rather than as "distinctively Reformed." Ive seen the same reproduced here, and on the net.

It would be good if we could break some of these pathetic cycles.

Thanks,
David

Anonymous said...

LP,

I think you are spot on on this one. I was in that blog battle a few years ago too and got lambasted by “reformed Baptist” by point out, “you are not really rightly called Reformed or Calvinistic” and that’s true. It stunned me to be in a WCF church that allowed as members R. Baptist who did not baptize their children and allowed Baptist pastors to ascend the pulpit who were more or less reformed as opposed to arminian Baptist on unionized occasions. Allowed these members to the Lord’s Supper, which of course we know is not. Furthermore, that allowed INTO its doors Baptist doctrinal literature (e.g. John Piper, Spurgeon and Baptist puritans). All that when the WCF clearly says that to not baptize one’s child is a GREAT SIN. Not just “a” sin but a GREAT sin.

As a former Baptist then Reformed, I agreed with men like Dr. Clark and still do in principle. Yet, I would also argue that Baptist theology is ultimately the logical outcome of Calvinistic theology, particularly on the sacraments. After all in both ceremonial meals all one has in one’s mouth is mere bread and mere wine. The Baptist just basically say, ‘we don’t ascend into the fiery heaven, we remember”, like memorial day or a birthday cake. They take Calvin to his logical conclusion, no real body and blood, then on earth in my mouth is nothing but bread and wine (mostly grape juice now). So in that since I’d say that though Dr. Clark and others, whom I agreed with, have the principles right, cannot mingle truth with falsehood else a confession is utterly useless – in reality their confessions reach the same conclusions as opposed to Luther. The irony of heterodoxy trying to be orthodox is that it sees the necessity of the principle of orthodox and that the Word of God demands it, in fact curses heterodoxy – yet heterodoxy itself cannot BECOME orthodoxy without shedding its own internal heterodoxy and arriving at the one single orthodoxy. Two heterodoxies like 2+2=5 (Reformed) and 2+2=7 (Baptist) may indeed realize that only orthodoxy must be so. But only 2+2=4 (Luther) is orthodox. So the 2+2=5 (Reformed) crowd may indeed think it to be orthodoxy and say, “You heterodoxy 2+2=7 (Baptist) cannot be 2+2=5 (Reformed)”. Yet fail to see their true brotherhood, both are heterodoxy false for 2+2 is neither 5 nor 7, it’s 4. So their argument that Baptist cannot be Reformed is true, their error of “ 5 and 7” are unlike heterodoxies on face value, but in the end are both the same, false and error, they are not 4.

It IS, however, the very nature of any heterodoxy that ultimately says or implies, “the sacraments are non-essential” and we can “get together for the Gospel” otherwise, in whatever form you say it. Lutherans are in danger of this in unionizing with the Reformed thinking “we are close to each other” and Calvin was close to Luther anyway. No he was not, in fact Luther would have hit the roof on his version of the lord’s supper had he lived to hear about it no less than Zwingli and no less than Bucer (Calvin’s main influence) whom Luther refused the right hand of fellowship, Bucer, said explicitly he was of a different spirit and was not Christian. Nothing has been more clear in the record of Marburg than that.

Yours truly,

Larry

L P said...

David H,

David: There is a big debate whether or not Calvin saw covenants as universal (testament) or bi-lateral (covenant). He was probably both. I would encourage you to read Calvin directly, LP. I am sure you would find a lot of agreement, and then if not, respectful disagreement.

I have read but of course not thoroughly, such that when I was wondering around Calvinist landscape I was much comforted referring myself to being Calvinian rather than Calvinist.

I can agree more with Calvin than with Calvinists!

However, there is some things I am not able to articulate in my trepidations, that was some 7 years ago. 1 Cor 10:14-16 swung me away and I concluded the Lutheran view of the Supper is more accurate with Scripture, but that is another story for later.

Also to be fair with you, I have read Lutheran critique of Calvin and they do not know Calvin's nuanced take on things and sometimes they repeat the propaganda they got from their Profs. That too does not help in the conversation.

Now is Scott Clark's recovery program worthy of energy/effort? In a sense, this is a corollary issue to this: should Calvinists go into a salvaging program or just abandon the project and just become Lutherans?

I know my question is so simplistic but I thought I should ask anyway.

LPC

L P said...

Hey Larry,

I think you and David can have a good conversation.

Knowing that you are well versed with Calvinist Confessions being ex-Calvinist yourself, and convinced of some issues, (stands to reason or you will still be Calvinist today), it would be a good chance to reach Calvinist in a friendly discussion, of course time permitting.


David,

I wish to alert you on our use of "heterodox" language. By this we mean a church that is malformed, not healthy.

Although I know Luther referred to Zwingly in the Marburg colloquy as having a "different spirit", I am not so sure if Lutherans consider them that way. I know later Lutheran dogmatic theologians use the word "heterodox" to refer to a Christian with a broken limb. Needless to say, I know Calvinists consider Luther's reform, not far enough etc etc.

Larry's conviction of course, is a conviction arrived at due to some pastoral implications living and using Calvinist theology to interpret the world.


LPC

Mark Henderson said...

David,

Yes, I've noticed what you aptly refer to as Calvinism's belief in its 'manifest destiny'. A very different spirit prevails in Lutheranism, almost the opposite of this. Just last week I was chuckling at Garrison Keillor on the radio when he was monologuing about how his character Pastor Engqvist's brother-in-law was a synod delegate on the side that won a controversial vote that split the church, but then he had a nervous breakdown - 'Lutherans, you see, are not geared for winning', Keillor said in his deadpan way. Spot on!

Anonymous said...

LP,

That’s a good point on the heterodox language. The term as I’ve learned to understand it does not impugn those under heterodoxy but does explicitly condemn heterodox churches as false churches merely tolerated by God for the sake of the believers confused and subducted by their false doctrines. The terms “false” and “condemn” can be oft misunderstood in our day and need some clarity so as to on the one hand not wrongly offend but on the other be crystal clear for the sake of love. These terms should not be employed or understood like a “name calling” like “you idiot”, rather MUST be used so that the importance identifying deadly faith killing false doctrine and calling/coming out of it in this way: My child is running into a busy highway. I don’t sugar coat it and try to coax them back. I clearly yell and retrieve them. Yes, they not understanding at first will likely cry and throw a fit that I did that and kept them from going the direction they so desired to go. They may even hate me for it though I loved them in doing it. One, perhaps, they will come to realize this. I think that helps set a right tone in using these terms for we dare not on one hand pretend these differences are mere matters of opinions and unessential, falsehood is deadly and the Word of God must stand pure. We are called to ‘come out of’ false teaching and to eschew with all due diligence all false teachers, teachings, confessions and preachings. Unfortunately many may for lack of exposure remain in them, they are Christians to be sure, but Christians unbeknownst to themselves in the enemies camp and the devil’s churches. Luther was right to refuse Zwingli and Bucer the right hand of fellowship, call it another spirit (meaning not just not the Holy Spirit, but the enemy’s spirit) and even not Christian. Luther was not being mean, but clear and loving though it may sound, as described above, as mean. Many modern Lutheran’s today fail here and compromise thinking it loving. But it is not, it feeds the problem.

The difference between the condemnation of heterodox churches, false churches, and not the real Christians within can be captured well, I think, in something Pieper once said on the issue (my paraphrase), “we call them out so that they (the Christians in false churches) may be with us. They (being true Christian brothers and sisters) belong to us, not the false churches and we wish them to be with us”.

I think that put’s it well, again it is my paraphrase.

Yours,

Larry

Matthias said...

Hey folks let's get one thing clear here,just because baptists do not practice paedo baptism does not ,make them any less Christian than those who do or vice versa.What counts is faith in Christ's Atoning death and Resurrection,that He is the Risen Lord of the Church. As one medieval scholar wrote "call no man worthless for whom Christ died".I am really getting sick of the nitpicking that goes on especially by traditonal catholics and also by some Reformed Christians about the beliefs of other Christians who may practice the faith differently.A theological look down their nose as it were. as a Baptist-who had both his kids baptised when in the UCA- I cherish the work of Luther,zwingli,Calvin,Grebel and Simons.
I was contemplating becomming a Catholic earlier this year ,but after a long night of the soul realised that Luther's position was essentially my own,hence i could not abandon my Reformed heritage.

L P said...

Matthias,

I doubt if Luther would have approved of re-baptism but you said ...

I was contemplating becomming a Catholic earlier this year ,but after a long night of the soul realised that Luther's position was essentially my own,hence i could not abandon my Reformed heritage

If Luther's position is your own, would it not be more logical for you to be Lutheran?

Just curious, why did was being Catholic in your list? What made you attracted to that possibility?


LPC

matthias said...

Rebaptism-notme-Iwas baptised at 13 in the Church i grew up in- a Church of Christ and as for mykids they were 3months old when they were baptised in the UCA as my wife comes from that denomination.

Yes i have thoughtof returning to the Lutheran fold-getting very sick of the triumphalism in my own church-and am gaining a deep appreciation of Luther the more i go toblogsites such as this one,pastor Mark's and THE BLOG OF VEITH.
Becomming a catholic was considered due to my disillusion with my own church ,esoecially when i said to one woman that i had been a member of the LCA ,she said 'well we're better than they"
As for Reformed Baptists it was Luther's writings on Galatians that were used by God to ensure that John Bunyan committed his lifeto Christ. Bunyan was a Puritan of the Baptist stream,and his THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS is a classic

L P said...

Matthias,

I was enamored with Puritanism once too when I was in Pentecostalism.

Until I realized that I was a Christian without a Confession, it was only then that I started comparing Confessions with Scripture. Even then I was already leaving my credo-baptistic Pentecostalism, I parked for a while with the Heidelberg Catechism then observe how the confession worked in worship and life.

After also hearing of people with similar experience as mine and my struggle with the Lord's Supper, 1 Cor 10:14-16 convinced me that the Lutheran view of this properly handled it well.

I found the BoC sound and consonant with Scripture.

LPC

matthias said...

I am currently working myway through both the Heidelberg Catechism and Luther's Small Cathechism and hope to procure a Book of Concord for Christmas.

L P said...

Matthias,

You mentioned you were a member of the LCA? Were you a member by conviction, I take it that you had not studied the BoC based on your last comment.

OK, hopefully you would not get over info with what I am going to say. Take it with a grain of salt as I am now of course, quite biased.

Ursinus, the author of Heidelberg was an ex-Lutheran. A few points for me - a.) the Lord's Supper was weak, b.) the issue of election was also entry points for making it the over arching themes.

Heidelberg is of course smaller but BoC makes things explicit and clearly defined specially the issue of means of grace, etc and justification by faith.

LPC

matthias said...

Yes member by conviction but left due to a -in retrospect stupidly -personal issue. When i joined i was not offered BoC ,perhaps because there was a change in the pastorate at the same time.

L P said...

Matthias,

Often I look at what is happening in local level no matter what because that is what affects me in concrete form.

It took me more than 6 months after being convinced the Lutheran view of Christianity is the most Biblical of all to be united to a congregation. It was because I was studying if I can work with the pastor and praise the Lord my pastor is a good confessional man and offered me encouragement.

However, church is like being born in a family, you do not get to choose who and what your siblings are. So I look at if my pastor preaches to me the Law/Gospel that is more important to me.

Unforntunately for my wife, that is not so. She has been discouraged by the unfriendliness of some people she encountered in church.

LPC

Anonymous said...

Matthias,

I assure you there is no looking down the nose that’s why I labored to lay out the issue as best I could to avoid that. At some point I suppose its going to offend and that’s OK I’m not bothered by that.

It’s really not an issue of one “faith” being better than another “faith” but central only truth upon which only one faith is built and it cannot be “many truths”. The sacraments as such are not neutral or non-essential issues, but rather central issues. Once one understands that, then it amounts to ferreting that out.

I find an odd parallel, again analytically looking at it, in the prevailing American concept of “all faiths” are good so don’t dare offend my faith as all paths lead to God, the external religions if you will, of which Christianity is one of the ways: and this concept in heterodoxy that basically in principle says the same thing, “don’t tread on how I practice my faith” concerning the Word and sacraments.

If it really doesn’t matter then why do we separate? I already know and have stated the Lutheran answer. However, the Baptist must apply his own logic to himself lest he by a hypocrite, thus, if it really didn’t matter, and the question cuts both ways, then why not out of Christian love just practice infant baptism? Upon which you must give the Baptist answer and in such find that in fact even from the Baptist point of view it does matter that’s why there are Baptist. So it shear hypocrisy to say, “its unessential and doesn’t matter”, and require it of the “other side” and yet require just the opposite for “your side”. The sum of which is “when its for you, your doctrine, you must realize its unessential. Yet when the doctrinal leanings lean in ‘my’ favor its suddenly essential”. Otherwise such splitting away is truly a sectarian spirit, we don’t split on non-essential issues. If the sacraments are truly non-essential (they are not but for the sake of argument), and one splits out on non-essential issues then that is truly sectarianism and sin.

Furthermore, it reveals whether one fundamentally views the Word of God as uncompromising or not, and it is. We are everywhere commanded to avoid false and heterodoxy, no where are we entreated to embrace it…no where at all. Thus, one’s problem is with the Word of God not people in another denomination.

Thus, grace is truly not grace if that grace exits the very Word from which the grace comes and remains and is nowhere else; this forbids other faiths/religions (a general god is mercy) and likewise forbids views on essentials such as the sacraments are that in fact preach no or another grace altogether. There is a touch of the secular/all relgion’s “all truths are true” that is found in such unionism (orthodoxy mingling with heterodoxy) that is just as false as its “all relgion’s” “all truth is true”.

Here we look at the (heterodoxy’s) doctrines, not the Christian’s heart or belief. One is in fact called to judge/discern doctrines, that’s not the same as judging a person/individual which we should not do. The trick, if you will, is peeling that apart so that the former is done and not the later in persons stuck in heterodoxy/false confessions. THAT is, unfortunately, tricky since emotions run high in religion. I had similar reactions myself.

Yours truly,

Larry

L P said...

Larry,


The saying - In essentials unity, in the non-essentials liberty in all other things charity, wonder of all wonders, came from a Lutheran ( I traced it a few years ago) RUPERTUS MELDENIUS!

It just shows we do have a an element of ecumenism to some degree (but not much). However, I like to highlight that line flowing in our genes though small.

You raise a good point about the Sacraments.

Orthodox Lutheranism considers agreement on the Sacraments as something essential for unity.

At first blush the common evangelical will be offended at this. But you are making a good point that on this point there should be unity and hence, it is an essential article of faith.

Many limit the fellowship to confessing the Apostles Creed, and all other things negotiable, which are not covered by this creed.

Take a look for example the Baptists and Presbyterians exchanging pulpit supply ministers. Lutherans will not get invited in such situations but even if they do, they will decline.

They think we are being cultish or being sectarian in our behaviour. However it is because they, time and again miss, our doctrine of the means of grace (mind you I think even Lutherans miss this).

And this is where the inquirer I think should start after they appreciate JBFA. Then they get to understand why we affirm JBFA and yet still have real and not imaginary sacraments.

LPC

Anonymous said...

LP,

Very nicely stated! You’ve hit it right on the money. It does from the outside looking in look “cultish” or uninviting. I recall my first reaction to it looking in from the outside (Reformed) myself. There is that first ‘gut reaction’.

Yet, it began to dawn on me from two sides when I first saw it. From my Reformed church/confession side in which we did as you well said, shared the pulpit, Baptist writings sold and promoted in a WCF church, Baptist allowed table membership even though they had not baptized their children in spite of the WCF on the issue. This began to look like to me what I had just left, the SBC in which the Bap. Faith & Message itself is not adhered to. As an ex-atheist I couldn’t help but wonder, “what’s the point of a confession of faith if at length its so malleable”? It was not an issue of legalism for me, but WHAT DO we actually confess and why? On the flip side I wondered, “If we all love JBFA, then why don’t Lutherans show up at ecumenical events where both Baptist and Reformed do. Like our local big one up here in Louisville, KY that garners the biggest names from both sides, “Together For the Gospel”. I didn’t understand at the time why Gospel loving Lutherans either were not invited or declined if they were. It wasn’t until I studied the sacraments, and why they are closed, that it all began to come together.

In non-essentials, of course we can have unity that’s the beauty of creation. But the sacraments are not non-essentials, if they were they would be superfluous and at length unnecessary, which they have become in some sects at length. When they at length follow this logical pathway of error and become superfluous then unnecessary then eventually dropped, at that point there is no longer a church for nothing can define it, no Gospel, nothing, just a community of gathered people gathering around nothing more than their own assembly itself in a local space at a specific time. Eventually at length in such the final extension of this logical error is generations down the road, which we see at churches and denominations that have been somewhere for a while, “What was it that we gathered for in the first place?” The final blow is utter dissolution of that assembly since all is lost as to why the assembly in the first place. This is in part why the LS is defined as a gathering around the real and true body and blood of Christ, His real and true body makes and creates the church that gathers. It is NOT as evangelicalism in all its forms speaks as first and foremost, even, the gathering of believers. The objective reality that secondarily CREATES out of nothing the church and the members after that are the Sacraments, not vice versa. This is the real argument for the both objective realities concerning the two sacraments, the is the real argument for baptismal regeneration, it creates the members that form the church, the real body and blood of Christ, it creates and sustains the members that form the church. NOT vice versa as both Reformed and particularly specifically explicitly Baptist doctrine of ordinances.

Yours truly,

Larry

Larry said...

You know this is an interesting article and discussion you have on the subject, I’m surprised not many Lutherans have chimed in. I was once in the midst of it among Reformed and Reformed Baptist myself as I was moving from Baptist to Reformed.

I suppose the over riding critical question is this:

Are Reformed confessions altogether different from Baptist, OR are Baptist merely the logical outcome of Reformed/Calvinistic theology?

Sasse in his book “We confess the sacraments” seems to answer the question as it being the later. Basically, infant baptism though critical can be shown at the end of the day only demonstrative of what really happened under the Reformed post Luther. That Calvin destroyed in the Reformed camp the sacrament of Baptism and it merely retains infant baptism not theologically nor doctrinally, but rather what they hate to hear most of all, traditionally. The Baptist merely carried Calvin to his logical end point formerly rather than implicitly.

Larry

L P said...

Larry,

I seem to think so too, that is Baptist theology is an outgrowth of Calvin being vague with the Sacraments.

Now of course, this may be called Post hoc ergo propter hoc .

However, there may be some validity to our conclusion, it is a matter of demonstrating that since the base or ground for the validity of the sacrament has been wheeled out, so what is there to keep it anchored? Notice how the Federal vision movement tried to be a la Lutheran in the Sacraments but they cannot dislodge themselves from Calvin's teaching.

The rise of such movements in Calvinism is evidence of this flawed weakness on the sacraments.


The Anglicans did a better job in articulating their view of the sacraments.

Actually Larry it was 1 Cor 10:14-16 that made me Lutheran, for I was already confessing the Heidelberg Catechism already back in 2003/4. But IS it or is it NOT the Body /Blood of Christ? There is no middle ground on this, if you say no - there you go - generic evangelicalism, if you say may be, there you go again. It cannot be in between on this.

Luther's wisdom which is always cast aside makes us poorer, the man had experience.

LPC

Larry said...

Hey LP,

“Notice how the Federal vision movement tried to be a la Lutheran in the Sacraments but they cannot dislodge themselves from Calvin's teaching.”

You are the ONLY person, Lutheran, that I’ve ever heard understand that movement and nicely connect the “why” to it. Yea, I saw in Doug Wilson who attempted to get back to a sacrament that meant something so despising the emptiness of Baptist ordinances, but they could not as you say dislodge themselves not due to Baptist but Calvin’s teachings. They teaching, FV, almost ends up like a covenantal version of ex opera operato. It’s like they can see the searing reality in the Baptist ordinances and wish to pull away, yet Calvin holds sway. That’s when I first saw the similarity of the two.

I too was, when Reformed, confessing the Heidelberg Catechism though I was in a WCF church, I liked the HC it sounded closer to Luther. When I first saw the “IS it or is it NOT the Body /Blood of Christ”, I saw the logical disconnect of no middle ground. But that at first, while confusing, didn’t completely move me because I didn’t see the significance of it. I bought into the thought, “well we just can’t know”, so let’s stay together otherwise. I didn’t realize how that makes Christ look confusing on the Supper. But then again, I didn’t see the “why such a big deal”. Luther’s simple but brilliant insight on this, ‘this sacrament IS the Gospel’, and any attack, which a reinterpretation is, on those words of institution and their meaning is an attack, therefore, on the very Gospel. That STUNNED me, profound in its insight and yet profound in its simplicity.

Yours,

Larry

Larry said...

LP,

You know in some since its simple. One has to ask why there can be those calling themselve "REFORMED" Baptist, but no baptist exists that says, "We are LUTHERAN Baptist", or for that matter Lutheran Reformed. There's a reason there's no cross over even in that name, just like there's a reason there IS cross over in that name between Reformed and Reformed Baptist.

Why didn't the LBCF basically mimic the Augsburg or something like it did with the WCF, and just remove the infant baptism and LS parts to its liking? For it could not, because the Augsburg and the BoC are holistic confessions that connect all the dots such that one CANNOT remove or alter its confession on the sacraments without the rest either looking ridiculous or itself being gutted.

Yours,

Larry

L P said...

Larry,

One has to ask why there can be those calling themselve "REFORMED" Baptist, but no baptist exists that says, "We are LUTHERAN Baptist", or for that matter Lutheran Reformed. There's a reason there's no cross over even in that name, just like there's a reason there IS cross over in that name between Reformed and Reformed Baptist.

Great insight! Yeah, we have no such specie. You cannot be a Reformed Lutheran, nor a Lutheran Baptist. Either you are or you are not, no case of Mr. In-Between.

Yeah, the BoC is indeed holistic, thanks for that. Indeed!

It is like a kernel, the BoC I mean, its doctrine is really wrapped up in Justification, the Word and Sacrament agree.

The more I read Luther the more I appreciate his experience and wisdom and Evangelicals who ignore him are doing it at their loss because he has insights that are very applicable and useful.

What a shame. I should have been directed to him in my early years and I could saved myself some wilderness experience, wondering off as a Christian with nothing to confess.

LPC