Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why no ordo?

Not Novus ordo but Ordo salutis (order of salvation), that is what I mean. In general, theologians I have read pose a logical order of salvation (how a man is saved) as opposed to a temporal sequence. Rightly so ,because some aspects happen co-existentially.

This came to mind as I was reading the BoC- Solid Declarations Article III. In there it clarifies how the terms justification and regeneration are being used in the Apology.

As I was reading this article, it reminded me of a couple of things. First, this clarification is following the wise procedure of distinguishing categories and IMHO-- justification is not the same as regeneration properly speaking, they are distinct categories but related. This is akin to the post I think I made on reconciliation not the same as justification, they are distinct but related.

It reminded me as well of how the Reformed have a well articulated ordo while the Concordians do not speak of this as much. It is left without much mechanistic explanation.

The Reformed says the following: 1) election, 2) predestination, 3) gospel call 4) inward call 5) regeneration, 6) conversion (faith & repentance), 7) justification, 8) sanctification, and 9) glorification. (Rom 8:29-30).

On the Lutheran side, J. A. Quenstedt suggested this: 1.) calling, 2.)regeneration,3.) conversion, 4.) justification, 5.) mystical union, 6.) renewal (sanctification?).

Notice that the two coincide in regeneration->conversion->justification.

I am not so sure of Quenstedt's suggestion in entirety. It my reading of the Solid Declaration, it seems after calling comes conversion, justification and then regeneration.

My proposal is conversion->justification->regeneration.

I could be amiss here, I am happy to be corrected because I am sure Quenstedt has a far superior theological acumen compared to mine.

I base mine on John 1: 12-14.

However it seems to me though if regeneration (the giving of a new heart) is ahead of conversion and justification, then logically speaking faith is the good fruit of regeneration and looks like faith is one of the good work of a good heart. Hence, faith can be seen as another good work.

I suspect I am being thick headed once more but I welcome correction as to why we should follow Quenstedt's. Why am I disagreeing with him? Am I not fully accounting the evidence?

Thanks for the help.


J. K. Jones said...

“…if regeneration is placed prior to justification, the faith is the result of sanctification leading to justification. What I mean is that faith is just one of the good things that a changed heart does.”

Faith is not a meritorious work. No good work done by the regenerate is meritorious. Sanctification does not merit God’s grace, and it seems to me your logic would require that.

Also, I think regeneration is logically primary, not temporally. We are regenerated and have faith and repent at the same time. Sanctification comes later. Faith would have to be temporally separate for it to be a good work in the sense you mean.

I am often accused of not being a Calvinist by some Calvinists in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in view of the paragraph above (the temporal issue). I am also accused of being Hyper-Calvinist by many in the SBC because of the paragraph before that (the logic issue). I do not self-describe as a Calvinist at my own church for that reason. The term is just to confusing.


L P Cruz said...


I guess I need to be clearer.

Indeed faith is not a meritorius virtue, it is simply grasphing what is given. Yet I think in some articulations I have seen it is used as a form of 'obedience' in the sense of a work.

We already in agreement that it should not be seen that way.

BTW in the Lutheran scheme of Quenstedt, all of these are the Works of God - calling, conversion, regeneration etc etc.

I also agree that regeneration and conversion are temporarily simultaneous but logically different.
What I am pointing out is that anything to the right of justification like sanctification are fruits of justification. However, I am testing the hypothesis that a good heart which is regeneration is to thr right side of being justified.

BTW JK, the Lutherans are not into an ordo, they are quite open to this question or have not bottered to formulate a scheme.

As to being Calvinist --- well, I know that is a term that is precious in evangelicalism. Though I was in a Preby church for some 4-5 years, I am happy not to be called one. That is not a word I like to treasure.

I have to be for the Gospel and though I want to be identified as Lutheran, I want it so that people know where I stand. That is the only purpose for my need for labels.

Besides, labels change their meaning if you look in my post like


L P Cruz said...

BTW, historically, the Lutherans did not call themselves as such originally, they called themselves Evangelical - for the Gospel.

In that respect, I would rather be called Old-Evangelical.


The Scylding said...

Lito - I actually prefer the Lutheran option of not bothering to work out a scheme. The obsession of some reformed with a precisely worded ordo is something I just cannot grasp - in the end, the Spirit's movements is mysterious. We should rejoice in our salvation, and preach the good news. Our theology should be Christ-centred, more than salvation-mechanics centred. Not that these things are worthless, but sometimes I'm reminded of my favourite quotation:

To understand the living whole
They start by driving out the soul;
They count the parts, and when all's done,
Alas! the spirit bond is gone.

-Goethe, from Faust

David said...


Rather than concern with what Quenstedt stated when we look at scripture we see that salvation is illogical from a human standpoint. The fact that some verses seem to indicate an order it could be rather a list of what God has done rather than the way He does it.

The scylding is correct in what is stated earlier. It is interesting all my years as a Calvinist, approximately 42, I dont recall ever confronting the ordo. Perhaps I was sheltered. :P

God's peace. †

L P Cruz said...


You guys have a point and I am beginning to think it is not safe either to draw a scheme. Scripture just goes ahead and tells the story there is no fascination with the mechanics.

I think I should stick to that. Let God sort the mystery out. Our method also is not afraid to say we do not know when Scripture is silent. Confess what Scripture confesses, that is safe.



J. K. Jones said...

The Scylding ,

I’m with you.

Discussion of the order of salvation probably should be discontinued after all parties have realized that they can share the common task of evangelism. I get caught up in the arguments just like everyone else. I forget.

I try to just get upset when I find someone who has gone so far as to deny substitutionary atonement. That’s what keeps me from endless arguments in my Southern Baptist church.

Not that we could in good conscience attend each others’ churches, or even necessarily be granted the privilege of taking communion in each others’ churches; but that we find a common task before us. We should strive to find the whole truth together.

J. K.

The Scylding said...

Some might be shocked at this, but I have come to hold that if you are on a search for "authentic, historic" Christianity, as some term it, you'll sit with essentially 2 options: Swimming the Rhine, or swimming the Bhosporus. Why? The other normal options are Rome, Canterbury, or Geneva.

Rome: Not only has she abandoned a lot of what she really is, her history, especially the development of the absolutist nature of the papacy, is steeped in machinations I'd ratjer do without.

Geneva: To much ambivalence on the subject of the Real Presence, and an overt reliance on judicial interpretations of the gospel (like the ordo discussion here, or the covenant of works discussion over at Ref Cath).

Canterbury: Here is the most tragic one of all. So close, yet so far. An imploding/exploding communion, a tale at its end??

So that leaves us with Wittenberg, or the eastern Patriarchs (whether Constantinople, or Moscow, or Athens, or Antioch, or Alexandria, or..). Confessional Lutheranism might be (I hope not) the last vestige of the original strain of Western Christianity.

L P Cruz said...


That seems a fair observation. Here is where Lutheranism really needs to be 'catholic' by that I mean, diverse. One body many members.

I really think the adiaphoras in the BoC are fair ones and allow for diversity in the non-essentials but monotony in the main - JBFACA (JBFA in Christ Alone).

The problem is when this tension is no longer maintained, when adiaphoras are no longer treated as such but by divine commands.

If Lutheranism recovered the prestine faith, then we can learn how from the prestine state the Church strayed away so much so that it needed a Reformation.

There is something that happened in the Church such that the Gospel got obscured by the peripherals in short I think there were additions that became distractions. If I notice, the kernel can be found but what is confessed is already confused.


Past Elder said...

Scylding, I gotta ask -- did you see the recent movie Beowulf and if so what did you think of it?

OK I'll try to sort of stretch that to fit the topic more or less -- I noticed a number of places where a society in transition from the Norse religion to the new Christian religion came out.

Doorman-Priest said...

I like your sequence.

The one I keep coming across is;
cofess, repent, repent again, repent a bit more, no you're still an evil sinner because somewhere on your blog you have swear words, repent, not removed the swear words yet, you can't be a Christian, you're going to Hell.

I think that sums it up.

L P Cruz said...


Back home we have a well known cult group that sprouted when the Mormons came out.

People in this group can testify of their change of moral behaviour upon entry.

Something to think about I am sure.


Augustinian Successor said...

I agree with Scylding. The problem with the Reformed's theological obsession of an 'ordo' is that this results in justification 'taking a back seat' - the central article of the Christian Faith recedes into the background.

Historically speaking, it is no surprise that Pietism in the Reformed tradition actually grew out of Protestant Scholasticism (Reformed Orthodoxy). William Perkins is one such classic example. The Perkinsian ordo salutis and reflective syllogism go hand in hand together.

In the final analysis, the ordo salutis is subjective-centric. The other option - as Protestants - is the Lutheran proposal of extra nos.

Justification is not a prelude to the goal which is sanctification. Justification is both the source and the goal itself. Sanctification therefore seen in this proper and correct perspective is the goal's movement upon us - eschatological.

A Reformed ordo salutis has more in common with the Roman schema which conceives or practically treats grace in infused terms. That is the theological implication of an ordo salutis - whereby regeneration or rebirth is the classified as the first infusion of grace - hence the term synonymous with: prevenient grace.

In Lutheranism, regeneration and justification is the same thing, i.e. killing of the old Adam and raising up of the new Adam in Christ. To be born again is to be killed and raised up again by the effective Word of thhe justifying Gospel. Such a justification can and ought to be distinguished from UOJ. Thus, regeneration is simply the subjective side of the justification conceived as a discrete doctrine. Sanctification is the daily regeneration of the Christian as a citizen of the left-hand kingdom, i.e. the kingdom of this world. Sanctification is also the subjective part of justification but properly belongs concretely in its institutional forms of family and state. Regeneration can be construed as pertaining to the ecclesial life of the Christian - Word and Sacraments.

So, justification for the Lutheran is all pervasive. Forensic justification is not merely the basis and ground of salvation. It is salvation in its entirety but located from different perspectives grounded in a Lutheran anthropological matrix.

If I am not mistaken, even Calvin in his Institutes conceived of regeneration as synonymous with repentance and faith. It was Reformed Orthodoxy which in the interest of consolidating the doctrine of the 'perseverance of the saints (to take the cue from the Synod of Dordt's mnemonic TULIP), isolated regeneration as a decisive moment in the Christian life as marking its beginning.

Furthermore, the Lutheran conception of regeneration provides a more solid ground for defending the practice of infant baptism. After all if regeneration is not a one-time affair, but a daily scenario, then the poser of 'are you born again' applies equally to ALL the baptised and not just infants. I believe this is what St. Peter meant when he said that we are to make our calling and election sure. To be called is none other than to be justified and to be justified is none other than to be elected. But God call, justifies and elects through the Word and Sacraments. Justification is God for us. God for us is God revealed.

And God reveals His predestination only in the Word and Sacraments as these are grounded in the Cross and by extension the Resurrection.

L P Cruz said...


Justification is not a prelude to the goal which is sanctification. Justification is both the source and the goal itself. Sanctification therefore seen in this proper and correct perspective is the goal's movement upon us - eschatological

This is quite good and thanks for this insight, well worth re-reading.

All good.


Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Big Bro. Lito,

It is precisely the Reformed ordo salutis which has psychologically relativised the experience of the Christian life - introspective. It is ironic because the ordo salutis is derived from abstract theological speculation. Yet, the ordo salutis has provided the basis for much of the evangelical construal of the Christian life in terms of immanent progression. Hence, this accounts for much of evangelical Protestantism's obsession with 'techniques' ... if you follow a series of steps, you will experience this ... including of course Pentecostalism.

In a sense, Pietism is the experiental content of the Scholastic structure of the Christian life. The danger inherent in the Reformed ordo salutis is that justification gets displaced by sanctification as the source of holiness without which no one can see God. Justification is past. Now, the real business is sanctification. Justification may be monergistic but sanctification is synergistic. It is inevitable when the Christian life is construed as a progression.

So, the Christian life is seen in terms of a movement towards the goal. Our Lutheran tradition simply shatters such schemes. The movement is reversed. Actually, despite our emphasis on the Sacraments, the Reformed ordo salutis and conception of sanctification has much more in common with Roman theology, than we do.

But forensic justification is the Christian life, since we are always saints and sinners at the same time. Therefore as Luther says, we are always beginning anew. Sin is always attacked in its totality in oppositioh to the totality of the law.

Justification is always total, and this establishes law as its total counterpart. If justification and law are total, it would no longer make sense to speak sanctification as increasing or decreasing. Moreover, the law coram Deo is never neutral. It is either a friend or foe. The law coram Deo is never used by man as a tool of sanctification, but by the Holy Spirit. This is meant by the uses of the law. The law always accuses and only Christ establishes the end of the law. So, the law will still condemn in its totality despite sanctification.

The Christian life, therefore is a total state; simul iustus et peccator. Our 'movement' is movement of already reached the goal and starting all over again. It's a kind of axiological oscillation.

Hence, any talk of progression will always be in the sphere of creation, i.e. towards our fellow men.

L P Cruz said...



To the consternation of our Reformed friends, they do have a tendency to stretch sanctification and converge it to the Roman view. Thus they do collapse.

This is one of the reasons why I sometimes smile like a dog when I hear crypto-papists Lutherans who are aweful with the reformed/evangelicals because they do not appreciate that the two can be made to converge.

It is because they are in the same circle although not in the same spot, but then when they travel either direction, they will meet.


Augustinian Successor said...

The crypto-papists should read the Confessional Principle of the Lutheran Church. I have got a copy myself. They are crypto-papists because they do not love the truth. They are ashamed to be Lutherans, really.

Crypto-papists think that by having a higher view of the ministry, they can somehow narrow the gap with the papists which has been paved the way by the belief of a Real Presence in the Lord's Supper. Well they can dream on.

On a different note, another thing is that the author describes Lutherans as Protestants throughout.

And back to the ordo salutis, the focus of the Lutheran tradition is on extra nos - the oral and sacramental Word. In short, the focus is not on Law, but Gospel.

Justification is not only declaring righteous, but its forensic character is powerful and effective. Hence the Law kills and the Gospel makes alive. It is emphatically not a legal fiction.

In Baptism, we are put to death and raised up again, as we put on Christ. In Absolution, the effective Word of the Gospel kills the Old Man and raises up the New Man. In the Lord's Supper, we who are mortal and decaying receive the Body and Blood to our immortality.

On the Cross, we who killed Jesus were actually killed ourselves in Him Who died for our sins and raised up again in Him Who rose again on the third day.

It is eschathological - we who are decaying and part of this decaying creation are at the same time part of the New Creation, ready to be revealed at the last day.

The Lutheran tradition is wonderful in able to synthesise creation and redemption together as part of the same act of the triune God. God's glory is revealed precisely in the redemption of creation - that is here and now, down-to-earth. God's glory does not transcend creation. It is precisely revealed on earth and the universe - the material sphere. This is why the Bread and Wine are to us the medicine of immortality and path to glory. This is in Baptism we are already a New Creature ... the old has passed and all things are made new. This is why the same voice who create the heavens and earth also now speak the Word of Absolution with the same creative effect and power.

L P Cruz said...


Justification is not only declaring righteous, but its forensic character is powerful and effective. Hence the Law kills and the Gospel makes alive. It is emphatically not a legal fiction

This I believe the Scripture teaches, it is not a legal fiction.

God imputed our sins to Christ. God imputes His righteousness to us through faith in Christ. What God does, he does willingly and joyfully, because Christ sastisfied the demands of the Father. God is not making make believe when he imputes righteousness to us.


Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Big Bro. Lito,

I forgot to add that however much I really admire Lutheran Orthodoxy and I still esteem them as front-line theologians from the Lutheran tradition alongside the pre-Orthodoxy era theologians like Chemnitz under the leadership of Luther, I have moved from sticking precisely to an ordo salutis. Back in my fully Reformed days, I too was obssessed with the ordo salutis and considered that as a badge of pride, to distinguish myself from the Reformed Pietists.

But with Luther's insights and the Lutheran motifs of Law and Gospel, Word and Sacraments, Justification as killing and making alive, etc. the ordo salutis is effectively rendered an abstract theological speculation, and hence can be of no pastoral value unless the EXTRA NOS is sacrificed.

The other alternative is to overcome the abstract nature of the theological speculation is simply to proclaim the Word and Sacraments as FOR YOU. I think this would be difference between the Reformed and Lutheran in approaching the ordo salutis. The FOR YOU is EXTRA NOS. In the case of the Reformed, the FOR YOU is INTRA NOS. Hence the Holy Spirit is not given via the Word and Sacraments, but ALONGSIDE. This means the Word itself is not effective the whole way, but further steps by the Holy Spirit is necessary to bridge the gap.

The Reformed conception smacks of mysticism, or at least opens the door for myticism or provide the congenial environment or fertile ground for mysticism to take root. Of course even Pietism grew from within the structures of Lutheranism (institutional and theological) and its modern-day inheritors likewise appeal to Luther as a mystic. But that would be due to historical revisionism.

In the case of the Reformed, aspects of Calvin's theology represent a continuity with the medieval tradition, including mysticism. His doctrine of the Holy Spirit would be a case in point. Applying also to the area of the Lord's Supper where believers are lifted up in their spirit to heaven to commune with Jesus.

The Lutheran focus on the Lord's Supper is very down-to-earth. It focuses on the literal text of Scripture, the actual and historial background which the Last Will and Testament of Jesus, bread and wine as revealing Jesus in Body and Blood. So, it's extra nos, unlike the latent Platonism of the Calvinistic conception of the Lord's Supper, substantial presence notwithstanding (depending on the theological accent or stress).

Having said this, Big Bro. Lito, I'm not discouraging any construal of an ordo salutis. But just that we need to put it into perspective and context. Abstract theological speculation can hinder a proper drive to proclamation EXTRA NOS-FOR YOU.

After all, Lutheran Orthodoxy notwithstanding, we Lutherans are called not to make sure of our own ordo salutis, but to look to the Word and Sacraments for our assurance. That in turn would provide the basis, legitimacy and foundation of our ordo salutis. In other words, instead of introspection, Lutheranism proposes extrospection.

Augustinian Successor said...

And then I also agree with you Bro. Lito on the issues of creationism and inerrancy.

Of course as Lutherans, and not Fundamentalists, our take on inerrancy is different from them. As Lutherans, inerrancy is not a "regulative" but a "constitutive" principle. In other words, inerrancy means that it is not we who interpret the text but the text which interprets us, precisely because it IS the Word of God!

Inerrancy represents the very inspired voice of God sacramentalised in written form. If Scripture is not inerrant, then we might as well be Barthians since Scripture is devoid of any abiding power.

Inerrancy does not mean that the Bible we have now in the various translations including the KJV is inspired directly by God the Spirit. No, inerrancy in that sense pertains only to the revelation and production of the ORIGINAL texts.

But the power of inerrancy in the original texts REMAIN in the Bible today. If not, then we might as well give up calling Sacred Scriptures the Word of GOD!

The preservation of Holy Bible is grounded in the belief of the abiding power of inerrancy in ensuring the faithful transmission of the texts despite corruption and so on. The original texts may have been lost and the process of direct inspiration may have been stopped, but the wider and entire process of PRESERVING Scripture CONTINUES.

Verbum Dei Manet In Aeternum

Augustinian Successor said...

Evolutionism or progressive creationism does not make sense in the Lutheran theological schema. The Fall was an UPWARD fall, not a descent. In fact, evolution fits the Roman conception of the Fall very well. The Roman Fall was a LAPSE into baser instincts, disordered appetites, brutishness which would fit the idea of a pre-Adamic race must better.

Adam and Eve succumbed to the temptation to become gods, and hence implicitly desired to become masters of their destiny.

He and She who were created upright, noble, righteous, etc. wanted more than their status, not knowing that they were to be complicit with Satan in his desire to be king of the entire universe.

Hence, evolution as a historical account does fit into the Lutheran theological understanding of the Fall, but evolution as a theological understanding fits well into the Lutheran historical account of the Fall. The desire to 'evolve' into gods - independent of God - is what evolutionism in essence in all about.

So, evolutionism only make sense in the Lutheran theological schema if it is conceived as a meta-narrative account rather the story of the Fall itself.

Yup, six-day biblical creationism is indispensable and foundational for the Christian Faith.

Augustinian Successor said...

Some additional things about inerrancy: In Fundamentalism, inerrancy leads to *legalism* because it is USED as LAW. In Lutheranism, inerrancy is first and foremost USED as the GOSPEL. Inerrancy is used therefore by the Fundamentalists to bind people to non-essentials, but in Lutheranism, inerrancy is used to set people free. Hence, inerrancy constitutes the power of the Gospel.

Thus, the Gospel does what it says, and says what it does ...

L P Cruz said...


Very good points and also on the topic of means of grace. This is what is not fully appreciated or understood by our non-Lutheran Prot brethren, as to why these are emphasized and relied on.

It is all because of JBFAICA.