Monday, July 13, 2009

The Mess - is the pot calling the kettle...?


I believe the comment of Larry (who probably one day will blog himself) on the discussion below needs to be displayed here because he gives a challenging critique of the fruits of Calvin's ideas.

Please note that I have Calvinistic friends whom I regard and give brotherly affection. I am featuring Larry's critique here not because I want to be quarrelsome, but because Larry was a former Calvinist himself, I think that counts for something. Then secondly, I am featuring this in the spirit of honest, respectful conversation or dialogue.

Here is what Larry said...

The interesting thing about Calvinism and America and the complaint regarding today’s evangelical church is that many Reformed complain about it, yet don’t really see that Calvinism is it’s root and this, even Pentecostalism is the logical extension of Calvin.

America is practically solely influenced by English Calvinism and all its derivatives, even the Baptist church can trace itself back to Calvin, even Wesley and Arminianism. All those came out of Calvin. The Puritans, staunch Calvinist, if you read them much over time, having thoroughly followed Calvin in disconnecting the Sacraments (look up their “half-way” covenant stuff) over time looked more and more inward and for the “process of conversion”, the ordo salutus. If you read even the highest end Puritans like Jonathan Edwards they spend much paper and ink ferreting out what is real conversion and what is not, I mean nearly everything they wrote…it was obsessive. Children were panicked about “am I elect” and such. A true story of a woman throwing her baby down a well killing it and saying, “Now I know I’m not elect, surely I will go to hell”. What is frightening about that is that she found comfort in knowing she was hell bound over NOT knowing IF she was elect. You see how true hell works, and this kind of terror among many in Calvinism, though not that drastic in doing what she did, is not too few at all. These kind of terrors over election are pretty part and parcel with Calvinist. Hell I nearly on numerous occasions wanted to commit suicide over it, and that is WELL outside of my normal personality – yet the terror is so great and the sacraments according to the Calvinist doctrine (Baptist OR Reformed) allows for no help whatsoever it drives men and women to utter despair. It is EXACTLY as Luther once said that the devil leads men to these great heights to break their necks and fall like he did.
Larry continues...
So since the sacraments are unhinged and only signs and seals of a grace elsewhere given in the ordos salutus[sic] one MUST find where? After all what God fearer is going to sleep at night without knowing, “am I saved, elect, reborn”? What else in the entire universe is worth having if you don’t have that! And there, the inward journey begins, back INTO the heart and soul of the sinner to find “the spirit’s” work that “grace elsewhere given” but not in the sacraments. So it is no surprise that men like Wesley and Finney and others arose. It’s the logical progression of Calvin’s sacramental-less theology. And from Finney it is no small leap whatsoever to rank Pentecostalism, health and wealth theology, all sorts of theologies of glory. It starts with Calvin’s ever so seemingly slight error on the sacraments, just a half a degree off back in his time, but then 500 years later we have Finney, Wesley, Benny Hinn, etc… That’s what inward turning produces at length. When the “sacraments” only signify the grace ELSEWHERE given, that elsewhere becomes the search, “where is it”, that’s what the end product becomes. Hiding the Word of God, actual grace given in the water, bread and wine so that one’s theology in essences says, “Nope, God’s not here for you, elsewhere”, falsely send you on this hide and seek searching, “Then where is God’s salvation for me”, and so presto ‘theologies of glory’ of ALL sorts. Calvinist rail against Arminians, but the truth be known Arminians are their creation, their doctrinal children. If faith doesn’t come as a gift in the sacraments, and grace is conferred elsewhere, then these “ex-calvinist” become Arminian are simply try to put back into concrete something they can hold on to. So they move faith to “man’s decision”, it’s seemingly more concrete than Calvin’s vague ordos salutus.

Final point to where this all leads concerning American religion and its father Calvin. American’s Christian spectrum, in the widest sense is in a deplorable state. From liberalism to conservativism[sic] from Methodist, Baptist, Presby., Reformed, you name it – all the grandchildren of Calvin. America’s religion is now like and worse than Medieval Rome ever was. And we all consider the Papacy as thoroughly antichristic, but America is in a sense worse. It took the errors via Rome nearly 1500 years to produce a situation so bad that it took an evangelist like Luther to be used reform. Yet it has taken Calvin’s errors 500 year to manifest nearly the same level if not worse antichristic characters.
Dawn K, carries the thoughts of our conversation further in her musings.

Just to let you know that my blog programming will be sparse in the days to come, I will be busy writing on my research etc. etc., blah blah blah. Or to quote Todd Bentley, the fake healer - bam, bam, bam.

BTW, there are lots of guests coming from twitter. Nice for you guys to visit but how did you hear about this post? Leave a comment and let us know.

96 comments:

richard said...

I got here from @imonk on Twitter

L P said...

Thanks Richard for letting us know. I do not twitter so I have no clue.

Peace,

LPC

Raggedy Lamb said...

Larry comments express all the things that I've noticed/gone through, but I could only "sense" it. I couldn't articulate it at all. I was never a Calvinist, but raised a Lutheran. As a child I was surrounded by Lutherans; after I got married most of the people around me were non-Lutheran Christians or non-Christians. How many times I felt like I could not identify with anyone at all! Even with my Christian friends, I had never heard some of the ideas they bandied about. One of my missionary friends, a loving Presbyterian, was well-meaning, but caused me so much turmoil exactly as Larry described. Once I asked her, "How could I be sure I am one of the elect?" She told me that my just being anxious about it must be an indication that I probably was.

Sorry.... that was not convincing enough for me. I wanted/needed something me definite than a "probably" answer. God's promises, which He gives to us through Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, are tangible ways to know that He is faithful and will save those that yearn for the mercy that only comes because of Christ.

Thanks for posting Larry's comments. I am looking forward to following his blog one of these days. (No pressure, Larry! Take your time.)

Becky

Steve Martin said...

The Lord Jesus didn't command that we baptize and that we partake of His body and blood....just for kicks.

He wanted us to be immersed in Himself and to actually ingest Himself in tangible ways that we might have that blessed assurance that He is FOR US.

He DOES HIS PROMISES TO US.

BUT it isn't magic as many R.C.s believe and as derided by many Evangelical Protestants, but this is accessed by FAITH.

And faith is a gift of God, given to us in the Word and Sacraments.

willisadair said...

Thanks for the article on a critique on Calvin. Found the writer on twitter. I’ve written two pages in response on willadair.com if you or anyone is interested.

Basic summary of my article is you don't understand Calvin rightly or Calvin's teaching and thus your conclusion with valid points is ultimately coming up with the wrong conclusion since it is built on the wrong foundation in your understanding of Calvin.

As Charles Spurgeon once said “Calvinism is the gospel.” I would say it like this, “In Calvinism one sees the beauty of the gospel.” Calvinism draws us to sees the beauty of the gospel because it draws us outside of us and to Christ.

Steve Martin said...

Willisadair,

I went over to your blog and the read the post you linked to.

I think you have it exactly right in your assessment.

But I think the Calvinist view, spiritualizing the Sacraments is a wrongheaded view.

It doesn't lead to externalizing the Word, but the opposite.

That is why the Lutheran view is a better view. The Lutheran view takes the Sacrament at face value. It IS the body...it IS the blood (as Jesus said it was).

Christ comes to us in the elements, when His promise is attached to them.

Then we are not caught up in our spiritualizing these events. We TRUST that God is active in them, totally aside from anything we think, feel, say or do.

Thanks, Willisadair.

Steve Martin said...

We (Lutherans) believe that God doesn't want us to spiritualize Himself...because He knows where that will lead...to just about anything!

So, He decided to attach His promises, indeed Himself, to earthly elements.

That we might taste Him, touch Him, smell Him, be immersed in Him, and actaully ingest Him.

This is where the rubber meets the road.

Not in some etherial spirituality which we will inevitably turn in on ourselves.

J. K. Jones said...

Good discussion. I hope to have time soon to look up some quotes from Cavlin that woul give lie to the notion that the Puritan / Baptist 'are you are saved' theme is a perversion of what he said, not a logical outgrowth of it.

But there is an oposite and equally serious error: antinomialism. Antinomialism has had it's way with the USA
church in recent years (nearly all denominations). How would you all address that error?

Would the terrors of the law toward those with obviously questionable habitual behavior and not firm statement or expressed intention to repent be warrented?

Steve Martin said...

There ceratinly is a bent these days in many chrches to throw out the law.

Liberalism in academia (including the seminaries) seems to rule the day.

The Word can be broken down to Law and Gospel and they musy both be there and they must both not be watered down.

In many churches that do not hold to the true presence of God in the Sacraments, the Law is watered down in such a way as to make it managable. How else will they know that they are Christians unless they are living a "Christian life".

The Law should kill off any attempt at righteousness by what 'WE DO' or 'HOW WE LIVE'.

So then, if we can't look there for proof, and we can't (we ought not) look to our feelings of being saved...where do we look.

Well, I look to the assurance that comes TO ME from OUTSIDE of MYSELF...and that comes from Christ's promises in the Sacraments.

Indeed, this is why I believe He instituted them.

willisadair said...

It is indeed valid to argue the point that when Jesus said "This is my body" that he was being literal. It is just as valid to argue that he was being figurative. Jesus called Herod that "fox" but most of us would agree that he wasn't being literal but figurative. I will be honest and say perhaps Calvin didn't get it right. Maybe Jesus literally meant that he was literarily in the elements. Yet that seems to create a paradox that is not necessary.

When Jesus said "this is my body," he wasn't being literal but figurative. I am not going to argue the whole "It is generally impossible to be two places at once" line of logic. He is God after all. Calvin and I agree that Christ very well could be physically in both places but that he was pointing to the objects as signs of his impending death and ultimately pointing to himself. The sacraments in
Calvin's view are only important in that they draw us to the cross of Christ. The point wasn't on the physical but on the spiritual.

So Calvin concludes (I believe rightly) that the point of communion is to draw us to Christ and never to focus on us the physical. Here the HS draws us to the real presence of Christ not in the elements but to what he did in the cross and what he is doing in heaven.

As the Baptist joke goes to the Catholic, "If you literally ate part of Jesus then you better never go to the bathroom again because that would be one heck of a sin."

I would love it if the author would revise his critique and be more generous to Calvin's legacy. I certainly don't lay the atrocities of Nazi Germany and the complacency of the Lutheran church at that time on Luther's anti-Semitic remarks that Hitler used in his propaganda. It would be wise and more gracious to not lay all the sins of other movements and perversion of Calvin's teaching on the legacy of that reformer. He has enough sins on his own that Christ chose to die for.

God in his providence gave us Luther first then Calvin. Neither man was perfect and both made errors if nothing more then in the fallibility of the vocabulary they used. That is why they both worshipped at the once crucified feet of our risen Lord. That is why they both now eat at one great table waiting on the rest of schmucks to arrive. :) When we who are elect get to heaven we can ask Jesus who was right. My guess is he will let John cover that one for him. :)

L P said...

Willisadair,

Thanks for attempting to do dialogue.

Just for started , Larry, Augustinian Successor and I were ex-Calvinists. Larry was in Calvinism more than I have. I was also an ex-RC.

I am right now not able to respond in length, but I will after work.

Basic summary of my article is you don't understand Calvin rightly or Calvin's teaching and thus your conclusion

This reminds me of my RC critiques.

Each time I point out the errors I saw in Romanism, RC apologists say to me I was mis-catechized and did not understand the real RC teaching.

This is similar to the answer given by folk who defend Islam.

When people point out to Muslims that their teaching drives the impetus for terrorism, they also point the same, these terrorists misunderstood Islam.

Misunderstood or the consequence of ideas?

In other words, the argument is no longer in the realm of being misunderstood or what not.

The question is this, is the teaching true, is it Biblical?

LP

willisadair said...

LP, thanks for your kind reply. I was raised in free churches and Methodist churches. I use to be theological more inline with the Armenian position and didn't stay with the Methodist because of their theological infidelity on cultural issues.I was saved in a independent Baptist church that was very fundamentalist. First church I joined was a SBC church on the contemporary Rick Warren church flavor. I attend a conservative SBC seminary. I have studied in depth the issues the issues of the terrible splits within the Church. I love the history of the RCC but can't stand their theology. I love Lutheran (particularly Missouri Synod) but I feel Luther missed the mark on the Sacraments.

I discovered Reformed theology after I had already come to a Reformed conviction as the biblical view.

I really feel (God knows I can be wrong) that Calvin got the issue right on the Sacraments. I even abandoned the paedo(only)-baptist position in favor of covenant baptism. I think Calvin has it dead on.

It is though wrong to lay Armenianism and Pentecostalism at the feet of Calvin. They are only his children in the sense that they abandoned their father. Best illustration I can give is that they are the prodigal son.

I agree with Spurgeon (that great Calvinistic Baptist) that "Calvinism is the gospel."

Personally I think Luther punts on the whole issue but I will study it further. Would love some insights from your camp. BTW one of my best friends is a Baptist convert to Lutheranism. So it isn't that I am not exposed to your position I just don't believe it is quite right.

At the end of the day Reformed Calvinist and Lutherans and reformed Baptist (as well as all other Christians) will sit at the same table. Our Baptist brothers will have to make due with just the bread since they don't do wine. :) We Calvinist may have to sneak the cup so you guys don't drink it all.

I believe Calvin had the right articulation on what the Bible said on the issue of the sacraments. By all means though let the dialog continue. Yet to quote a hero of mine "here I stand, God help me, Amen."

L P said...

JK,

First we need to get a handle on what repentance is.

Lutherans are not pietistic for sure, however, they should have no quarrel with piety, they have a quarrel with pietism.

A person who flagrantly flaunts his freedom is an antinomian. That runs contrary to being sorry for being a sinner.

Depart from me O Lord, I am a sinful man. So says St. Peter.

We need to discuss it at length next post or at yours.

LPC

L P said...

Williadair,

Luther got the sacraments wrong?

It is for the very reason I abandoned Calvinism!

More later.


LPC

Dawn K said...

Thanks for the link, LP!

Dawn

Dawn K said...

Willisadair:

"The sacraments in
Calvin's view are only important in that they draw us to the cross of Christ. The point wasn't on the physical but on the spiritual.

"So Calvin concludes (I believe rightly) that the point of communion is to draw us to Christ and never to focus on us the physical. Here the HS draws us to the real presence of Christ not in the elements but to what he did in the cross and what he is doing in heaven."

My question for the Calvinist is this: how do you know that Christ's forgiveness is for you personally? Without looking inward to your own heart and works?

For me, Christ in the elements says that what He did on the cross was for me. Absolutely, undeniably for me. It is not something that takes place only in my heart, which is deceitfully wicked. It is an objective fact outside of me.

Blessings,
Dawn

L P said...

Dawn,

You are correct I believe in pointing that out.

Notice what Willisadair said..

The point wasn't on the physical but on the spiritual.


Because of this disdain on the physical, it shows Calvin's ideas and those who follow him tend to be gnostic.

Gnosticism, is anti-incarnational, as AS said in the previous post in the comment. He comments that the Sacraments are incarnational, and this is Christianity. Christianity is not anti-physical, because the Word became Flesh.

Gnostic tendency is pretty serious.

This is why Calvinism and its descendants want things to be spiritualized even in practice of the Christian life. What I mean Calvinistic spirituality lend itself to puritanism and pietism.

These tend to be legalistic.

More later, just having a lunch break.

LPC

J. K. Jones said...

At the risk of repeating one side of an age old argument:

The point of the discussion is christological. Can Christ in His physical body be in more than one place at the same time? If you hold that He can, do you not hold that He is not incarnate in the same form of body as we are?

Despite the fact that it does not go as far, is that not a violation of the same tenants that the gnositics violated?

Augustinian Successor said...

I still believe that it is possible to distinguish between Calvin and his Puritan successors. Even though I no longer subscribe to Calvin's christology, sacramentology and the Christian life, I still cherish his views on the sovereignty of God which actually was essentially the same as Luther's in the Bondage of the Will.

J. K. Jones said...

Dawn K.,

I know the what Christ did on the cross, He did for me personally because I turst that it is so. I trust based on the sure promises of God as revealed in His word.

Some quotes of interest:

“ Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.2.7)

“Indeed, if we should have to judge from our works how the Lord feels toward us, for my part, I grant that we can in no way attain it by conjecture. But since faith ought to correspond to a simple and free promise, no place for doubting is left. For with what sort of confidence will we be armed, I pray, if we reason that God is favorable to us provided our purity of life so merit it?” (John Calvin, 3.2.38)


So Calvin looked outside himself.



"Faith must of course be sincere. It must be a faith that performs good works through love. If faith lacks love it is not true faith. Thus the Apostle bars the way of hypocrites to the kingdom of Christ on all sides. He declares on the one hand, "In Christ Jesus circumcision availeth nothing," i.e., works avail nothing, but faith alone, and that without any merit whatever, avails before God. On the other hand, the Apostle declares that without fruits faith serves no purpose. To think, "If faith justifies without works, let us work nothing," is to despise the grace of God. Idle faith is not justifying faith. In this terse manner Paul presents the whole life of a Christian. Inwardly it consists in faith towards God, outwardly in love towards our fellow-men." (Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, on verse 5:6)

Thus Luther looked inside himself at times.

L P said...

JK,

This the Lord of the universe who says to you - this IS my body given for you. Was he saying the truth? Or was he just playing with words?

Just think, Jesus was incarnate and he was on this earth. Did his divinity get confined to where he was only i.e. just in Palestine?

Secondly this is the resurrected Christ. Our Christianity (Lutheran view) does not say that God can be found anywhere, we specifically confess, He is found where he says he is to be found - in the Supper, in Baptism in the Word of God.

This is our concept of means of grace. Our concept of means of grace is always objective, this is where God comes down to us. For this reason, we do not view prayer to be a means of grace unlike the Puritans, because it is not objective, it is subjective.

LPC

L P said...

JK.

Luther looked inside himself at times

Could you give examples of this?

Luther when he was assailed by doubts if he was a Christian or did he have faith, looked to his Baptism. See Cary's article below

http://www.scribd.com/doc/2215011/Luther-and-Calvin


Notice he did not say - but I have faith, I had a conversion experience, I got "born again". None of these.

I would agree Luther spoke about his experience of finding the Gospel, however, he pointed outside himself for assurance.

Where did we get the term Extra Nos in the first place?

LPC

Dawn K said...

"Can Christ in His physical body be in more than one place at the same time? If you hold that He can, do you not hold that He is not incarnate in the same form of body as we are?"

Christ is 100% God and 100% man. How is this possible? I have no idea. The Scripture says that Christ ascended to fill the whole universe, and it also teaches that in Christ all the fullness of the Deity still lives in bodily form. How is this possible? I have no idea. The answer is not to affirm one and deny the other. When we start trying to understand HOW things are possible that's where we can fall into all sorts of errors.

Dawn

J. K. Jones said...

LP, Luther looked within himself in the same way you accuse Calvin of looking within himself: he insisted on works as a fruit of justification. Calvin is being misrepresented in much of the dicussion above.


Dawn K, God's Word does employ logic (if-then as in Matthew 16:3; see also the strings of logical argument given in Romans). In fact, "God is not the author of confusion..." (1 Cor. 14:33). We should try to understand what the Bible says to the extent that we can.

Is it a flat contradiction that Christ has two natures? Is it a flat contradiction that God is one in being but three in person?

Is contradition the "hallmark of truth" as some would have it?

J. K. Jones said...

Dawn K, please also provide the scripture reference that Christ in His bodily form fills the whole universe. I don't recall ahving read that verse, and it is pivotal.

Drew Lomax said...

Amen, Dawn!

L.P.

I tend to agree with Krauth's position which states Anglicanism, as the source of Americas "diverse" religious landscape.

Check out my little blurb and his quote at my blog:

http://fromonewecanjudgetherest.blogspot.com/search/label/C.%20P.%20Krauth

What do you think?

Drew

joel in ga said...

Calvinist preachers cannot say to a potential convert, Christ loves you and died for you. They cannot say to a new convert, Your sins have been washed away in baptism. Calvinist pastors do not tell their flocks, I forgive your sins in Christ's name, or, You have received Christ's very Body and Blood in this Sacrament. It is for such reasons as these that I see Calvinism as something less than the Gospel.

I was a Calvinist for about 10 years, until I finally understood Luther. O happy day!

Dawn K said...

JK,

There is a big difference between acknowledging that good works flow from faith and scrutinizing one's works and faith for assurance - which is where Calvinism often leads. The pivotal difference between Calvin and Luther on this matter is what they believed about the Sacraments.

Dawn

Dawn K said...

Regarding Christ's filling the universe and still being incarnate:

"He who ascended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe" (Ephesians 4:10).

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority" (Colossians 2:9-10).

I am not going to try to understand how both can be possible. I am just going to let God's Word speak for itself.

Dawn

Dawn K said...

Joel,

"Calvinist preachers cannot say to a potential convert, Christ loves you and died for you. They cannot say to a new convert, Your sins have been washed away in baptism. Calvinist pastors do not tell their flocks, I forgive your sins in Christ's name, or, You have received Christ's very Body and Blood in this Sacrament. It is for such reasons as these that I see Calvinism as something less than the Gospel."

That is exactly it. In Calvinism Christ might not be for you. You don't have the certainty that He comes to you in the Sacraments. The Holy Spirit comes independently of the Sacraments, so the only way you can know whether Christ is really for you is whether you have trusted sufficiently, or had some inner experience, or whether you have a certain level of good works. This is certainly where the Puritans went, even if Calvin hadn't quite gotten there.

"I was a Calvinist for about 10 years, until I finally understood Luther. O happy day!"

Amen!

Dawn

Augustinian Successor said...

With regards to the Luther quote, I don't think Luther was saying that our assurance is based on faith and works. But that faith issues in good works before men. The focus here is before men, not before God. Faith is always and only demonstrated before men, never before God.

L P said...

JK,

When Jesus was here on earth and when St Paul speaks of Jesus he does not divide his Humanity from his Divinity.

Therefore at Incarnation, the Humanity and Divinity of Christ is united forever and ever. It can never be separated anymore.
Thus where his Divinity is, his Humanity is there. The whole Christ. How that works I do not know but by faith I understand. I do not need faith if I am the arbiter of what God says is true or not true. I am dependent on him telling me what is, is.

Likewise the scars and nail pierced hand of Jesus will be there forever. He showed it to Thomas. So when in heaven we see his hands pierced for our transgressions, or he puts his hand on our shoulders, or he waves at us etc. whatever When we see those hands, we will shout "Hallelujah Thank you Thank you Thank you" (at least I think I will), we will bow down because those pierced hands are the payments for our sins, the scars on his back will ever be there because they speak to us. We are eternally saved because of that sacrifice.

Sorry to be carried away, a bit of joy makes me somewhat an Enthusiasts.

LPC

L P said...

Drew,

I had a look.

In that Wesley and Whitfield were both former Anglicans the first an Arminian the second a Calvinist, and they both influenced the revivalistic stream in American Christianity, I think Krauth was correct.

The Bible says pick what is good and throw what is bad. The contribution I think by Puritans to American culture is that the Americans at least Christian minded whereas Europe is now neo-pagan.



LPC

L P said...

JK,

BTW, what Dawn and AS said.

Indeed Luther did not deny good works and our BoC does not deny it either as fruit of faith.

But the fruit of faith is never perfect and thus is never used as a source of assurance. Why? Because we are both sinners and saints at the same time!

For the Lutheran, to find out if he is a Christian - he is asked to look at the promises of God - in the Word and the Sacraments.

As surely as you eat the bread and it is real, Jesus surely is saying to you, it is his body broken for your sins. This is assurance that He is Immanuel, the God who is with us and for us.

Romans 5:10.

LPC

L P said...

Drew,

I forgot to add the comment of Krauth on "The Eclectic Reformation is like the Eclectic Philosophy,".

This is spot on for isn't Evanglicalism like configure your own PC? It is like picking an choosing what suits as a type of cafeteria. Calvinism has become like that too.

You get Calvinists who are not dispensational and those that are. You have Calvinists that are baptistic and those that are not. You have Calvinists that are charismatic and those that are not. You have Calvinists that are liturgical and those that are not. You got 5 pointers, 4 pointers, 3 pointers and no pointers. And so you can have combinations in between. 5-pointers and baptistic and dispensational, 5 pointers not baptistc and dispensational etc.

LPC

M. A. Henderson said...

OK. I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that while what Larry writes about the Puritans, Edwards, the half-way covenant and the problem of assurance in Reformed praxis is spot on, his laying of all this at Calvin's feet is at best only half right, and then it is so only because many professed Calvinists have misread their mentor and perpetuated their misreading so that their interpretations have come to be seen as representing "Calvinism" (in some American writings of these Calvinists, one will even find them openly expressing mystification or even disagreement with the sacramental doctrine of their Master).

I say this not out of any interest in defending Calvin (!), but because we should be interested in pursuing the truth in all things, and the truth of a matter is always much more nuanced than polemic allows for.

What Larry ascribes to Calvin - unhinging the sacraments from grace and leading people to look to their election for assurance of salvation instead of to Christ and his promsies - are not charges that can be easily proved against him. Just read in full the sections on election and the sacraments in the Institutes before dismissing what I say.

When one reads Calvin himself, as opposed to what is usually termed "Calvinist" theology, especially the 19th C. American variety, one actually finds that he drew back from those implications of his theological priciples. Unfortunately most of Calvin's disciples were less cautious.

Am I saying Calvin did not err in his theology? No, I believe he did, but those were not his errors, his errors were more subtle. For further confirmation of what I say, read the Reformed confessions that were most influenced by Calvin, e.g. the Scotch Confession of Faith of 1560, and observe how their statements on these questions are fenced with very cautious words precisely so that no-one would draw the conclusions Larry cites.

I certainly do agree with Larry on the influence of English Christianity upon American evangelicalism - and it is precisely in this connection that we find the real culprit and source of the gross errors which have plagued many sensitive Reformed Christians through the generations since.

I put it before you that Reformed English Christianity was much more influenced by Heinrich Bullinger than by John Calvin, and that the errors Larry cites - encouraging people to look to their election for assurance rather than to Christ and the sacraments, and separating sign and thing signified in the sacraments, are the errors of Bullinger and also of his predecessor Zwingli.

Bullinger's influence upon Reformed English Churchmen came about through three means, his formal writings, his letters (his still extant letters number in the thousands & he corresponded with Henry VIII, Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey, Elizabeth 1 as well as many English churchmen) and his personal interactions with several English refugees in Zurich, whom he pastored and who later became bishops in the English church, including, most notably, John Hooper, the most Puritan bishop the English church has ever had - so Puritan was he that he was suspicious of John Calvin! After his execution Hooper in turn had a profound influence upon the Separatist Puritans as his works went through many published editions with the imprimatur of his martydom at the hands of Bloody mary to commend them. Some of those Separatists set sail in the Mayflower and forever stamped their image upon later American Protestant Christianity.

The rest is history!

Now I'm going to retreat from my limb and take refuge.

L P said...

Pr. M.

Thanks for giving us some sanity here. Calvin himself is quite nuanced.

However his writing was fuzzy on issues. Like I said, he has technique but that makes him confusing to read and understand, as unlike Luther.

Hence, in one stroke you can have a Presbyterian who believes that Calvin taught baptismal regeneration. At the same time you have a Presbyteiran who believed Calvin taught no such thing.

I find the whole program just simply problematic.

I was a confessor of the Heidelberg Catechism for a while, that was the most Lutheranised Calvinist confession I can think of because it was written by an ex-Lutheran.

Yet, it's view of the Sacraments such as the Lord's Supper I found too weak and foggy.

I am inclined to lay on his fuzziness as the cause. At the same time, I agree we have to be sane. I have read LC-MS pastors blog and criticize Calvin and actually what they got are just hearsay.


LPC

willisadair said...

Dawn,

I trust I am saved the same reason I trust that you are saved by the unmerited grace of God. I trust in God's sovereignty not my experience. My experience helps give comfort to me but I never trust it as foundational. I know my own heart is to prone to sin and it can even lead me to doubt my own savior. God forbid I trust anything but Him. I address what you said to Joel a bit below. Yes, a Calvinist preacher can say that "God loves you" to a sinner before them. God while incarnate on this Earth loved his enemies. We do not feel it is necessarily or right to say that Jesus died for him/her. We can say if you believe you will be saved, if you do not believe you are standing condemned already. Repent. See John 3:17-21.

LPC,

I said the point isn't on the physical but on the spiritual. The spiritual is the Spirit of God. It is not so much a disdain for the physical but simply not caring about it as much as the spiritual. We aren't bodies with souls, we are souls with bodies (to borrow from CS Lewis). This world has much joy and beauty, we appreciate it that. Yet all the beauty ever created was to help us transcend past it (not in disdain to it) so we could see that God is the source of true beauty. He is our Sovereign Joy.

Joel and all,

Calvinist pastors due preach that if you believe then you will be saved. Yes the majority reject the concept of universal atonement. We do believe that God saved the elect in a special way. Yet the offer is available to all. When I preach I fling wide the gates of heaven and pray against those close to falling through the gate of hell. The reality though is broad is the way that leads to destruction and narrow is the way that leads to life.

Calvinist who know Calvin's teaching will be the first to say we to offer "the whosoever will" and to pray for the salvation of the lost. All non-elect are lost, but not all who are lost are non-elect. The Lord knows who are his even when we don't.

It is sad that there are Calvinist preachers who don't get that limited atonement follows unconditional election and is followed by irresistible grace. Some Calvinists just don't get it. If one of those has soured you on Calvin then I humbly ask consider Calvin's on teaching and those of us who try to practice a humble apologetic.

God bless all.

M. A. Henderson said...

Lito,

Yes, Calvin can be rightly criticised for being ambiguous - this is the element of truth in the polemical Lutheran view of him that has been strongly coloured by the crypto-Calvinist controversies and later by Prussian Unionism.

I think this ambiguity is mostly attributable to his attempt to chart a middle course between the Lutherans on the right and the Zwinglians on the left, so he is always distinguishing his position from those two - but we must remember that he always regarded Zwinglianism as a greater "error" than Lutheranism.

He was also inclined to be more conciliatry than Luther in the interests of church unity, even to the point of compromise on his positions - one could cite the Consensus Tigurinus as an example.

Lutherans, in contrast, are right to demand clarity where the Gospel is concerned and to be suspicious that ambiguous language may be an attempt to cover real difference.

L P said...

Willisadair.

You said the point is the spiritual not the physical.

But that is the point of the Lord's Supper, it is the physical!

Hence, and you should not be ashamed of this, you do deny the bodily presence of Christ in the Supper. That is fair, you should be consistent with your confession.

I reject what you however do deny.

As a former Calvinist, I used to believed that the HS carries me TO HEAVEN in faith to commune with God and Christ at the Supper.

I do not believe the direction of this concept. Rather it is the reverse. At the Supper, Jesus through the HS in the form of bread and wine communes, or comes down to me.

See the difference in direction?

The point is the physical, we let Jesus speak - he was holding the bread and he said to his disciples, this is my body broken for you.

If he says that is it, then that is it.

To follow a Baptist quip, God says it, I believe it, that settles it.

I do not know if it will help you but I am skeptical but I hope I am wrong in my skepticism that I my scripture quote can convince you for this Scripture convinced me that the Lutheran view is correct.

1 Cor 10:14-16.

This verse made me leave Heidelberg for Wittenberg.

Peace and blessing,

LPC

L P said...

Pr. M.

Firstly I agree, Calvin is not Zwinglian. The American Lutheran critics who lump Calvin with Zwingli on the Supper are to me just plain ignoramus. I do not take them seriously. Most of these folk I suspect of being crypto-Romanists. They simply parrot what they heard from their sem professors. Calvin was more sophisticated than Zwingli.

However, that sophistication made him fuzzy.

I relay my experience.

After coming to the Lutheran Confessions, I went back and read out of interest Calvin's view of repentance.

I have not gone more than 50% of my reading and I walked away saying - this is semi-Roman view. Now those who love Calvin, will accuse me of simply not understanding him. So if some one is obscure, it is your fault for not understanding his clarity eyh?

Hence, I walked away saying - jeepers, this is just too much work. If I want to salvage Calvin's view of repentance I would have to spend great effort doing the public relations work for him. What for? It is not my fault he was not clear.

Why do I have to spend the energy and hard yakka on such a position? It is just too much to demand, I do not have time for that anymore. I am old for this.

So I will say to Calvin in regards to the Sacraments, what he said to Servetus...

"I neither hate you nor despise you; nor do I wish to persecute you; but I would be as hard as iron when I behold you insulting sound doctrine with so great audacity."


LPC

M. A. Henderson said...

Lito,

I can understand why you "left Heidelberg for Wittenberg" based on 1 Cor 10:16. On my blog (newly re-titled 'Glosses From An Old Manse')I recently posted citing that verse as one of the rocks on which Calvin's Lord's Supper doctrine comes to grief (and sinks!).

joel in ga said...

Willisadair,

You wrote: "We do not feel it is necessarily or right to say that Jesus died for him/her. We can say if you believe you will be saved..."

By this, you illustrated how Calvinism fails to provide the well-grounded assurance that Lutherans enjoy. For, if you do not preach to a potential convert that that Christ is his Savior who died for him, what is the poor soul supposed to believe? What other truth will bring relief to his trembling heart and smarting conscience? How can anyone trust in Christ as Savior while still unsure whether Christ is his Savior?

For Lutherans, the content of faith is clear, as in Augsburg Confession, Article IV. For Calvinists, the definition of faith is nebulous.

willisadair said...

Joel,

The well grounded assurance is Jesus promise in John 3:17-18. We trust that the Lord can save a sinner even when they don't fully get it. He did me. He said it, I believed it, that settled it. :)

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe with your heart then you will be saved is pretty awesomely good news too.

I do not believe for a second our faith is nebulous, our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. All other ground is sinking sand.

LP,
We believe we already down here, we need God's grace to bring us up, yet you are quite right and I believe Calvin agreed (the more I read the more Eastern his view of communion is) that the Spirit comes down to us to bring us up to the real presence of Christ in heaven. The elements are signs/symbols because they are inferior to the real physical presence of our Lord in heaven.

The irony is Calvin is arguing for the Spirit to bring us to the physical human side of our Lord in heaven. Luther is holding to the Spirit bringing the physical into the elements themselves. Perhaps Luther is right and I'm suppose to see Jesus in that cracker and wine. I think though Paul in 1 Cor. 10:14-16 is telling us that we are partaking with Christ in a literal sense. We are spiritually there with him on the cross not that he is physically with us in the elements.

Frankly I hold that it is a great mystery, I may have it wrong but the beautiful Savior is still using even my limited understanding to draw me closer to him. Thank God the litmus and doctrinal test for heaven is simply "confess Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will be saved." My comfort is in the just shall live by faith, and that faith is in what Jesus has and is doing.

I shall read Luther more on his position, I don't doubt that I will see something new in it. Any suggestions where to start?

L P said...

wilisadair,

Firstly let me provide a follow up of what Joel is trying to point out.

By the way you stated in the above, in that "if you believe you will be saved" is in a way telling half the story.

As Luther said, faith needs an element to grab on. If the sinner is not guaranteed that Jesus died for him, what is there to believe? How can he believe Jesus died for him if your doctrine says that Jesus died for some and not for all? It is possible Jesus did not die for him! So it will be argued, but you do not know if he did or did not die for you so believe! No one in his sensible mind can be comforted by possibilities, only the actual is factual and should be believed.

Besides, this is where Calvin is more nuanced than what Calvinist suppose. Calvin I would say did not believe in Limited Atonement. The way you articulated what you just said is the Owenian view.

For arguments showing that Calvin did not believe in Limited Atonement look here.

http://calvinandcalvinism.com/

(It is plug for an aussie-american mate LOL).

Lastly on this point, I contend that such an articulation of the atonement, clearly violates the Nicene Creed and thus makes Limited Atonement believers non-catholic (please note - small c). LA believers are not catholic because it denies what the Nicene Creed confess. There is a line there that says "for **us** and for our salvation he came down from heaven". LA believers violate this line because they cannot confess that Jesus came down for all human beings. LA believers collapse the Atonement and Justification as synonymous - a great blunder and a category mistake.


re: Calvin on the Supper.

I have heard that argument before that his view was closer to the Eastern Orthodox. I am skeptical about this, EO has theosis underpinnings but they as far as I can tell are like us, believe in the physical eating of Jesus' body and drinking of his blood so that is the first point that needs to be addressed.

I think though Paul in 1 Cor. 10:14-16 is telling us that we are partaking with Christ in a literal sense. We are spiritually there with him on the cross not that he is physically with us in the elements

Here you affirm and deny at the same time the same point. If it is literal it cannot be spiritual.

Put it this way, at passover, they ate the literal flesh of the lamb, they did not eat the symbol of the lamb. Also at passover, the very lamb itself protected them from the death angel. Its blood on their doorposts covered them. There was nothing symbolic at passover. The very lamb was the very atonement and the lamb was eaten.

Perhaps start at the Book of Concord Solid Declaration VII.

LPC

L P said...

Pr. M.

I went over on what you posted...

Calvin's doctrine on the Supper (and, btw, I haven't yet met a "Calvinist" who holds it, although I have met several high church Anglicans who do, although they would shudder at being called "Calvinists"!) comes to grief on the twin rocks of 1 Corinthians 10:16 and 11:27, which clearly show that for Paul, and therefore for the Holy Spirit which inspired him, it is the bread and wine which are the bearers of Christ's body and blood to us in the sacrament, not the Spirit. A doctrine which exists in such tortured contradiction to Paul's teaching as Calvin's does cannot be called scriptural.

Classic, indeed the HS, points us to Christ by saying, he is here, here is his body broken for you, his blood shed for you, eat and drink.

What can be more concrete than that?!

Calvin's modification is an abstraction. I kinda blame Melanchton on this. The two were pen pals. It has been said that Melanchton was afraid to show Calvin's letters to Luther on the Supper because he knew the smelly monk would go amok.

LPC

joel in ga said...

Dawn, LP,

appreciate the validation and clarifications. I'm not sure that, for their part, many Calvinists grasp the Lutheran point of view. I know that during my Calvinist days--and I was a well-read Totally Reformed proselytizer for Calvinism--Lutheranism, while respectable for its heroic beginnings, seemed odd.

Willisadair,

do you then reason with yourself that because you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and because you have confessed that He is Lord, Christ therefore must have savingly died for you? Or did you arrive some other way at the conclusion that Christ savingly died for you?

To illustrate the nebulousness of Calvinism's portrayal of saving faith you need seek no farther than the Westminster Standards themselves and then compare them with the Augsburg Confession. In the whole Westminster Confession, e.g., there is no clear definition of faith or what it means to believe the Gospel. There is even a separate chapter on Assurance because the Calvinist version of the Gospel does not in itself convey assurance of salvation.

Btw, the Westminster definition of faith that comes closest to the more direct Lutheran approach to the objective Word appears in the explanation of the preface to the Ten Commandments in the Smaller Catechism, where it is taught, without adding any qualifications, that we should believe that the Lord is our God.

Augustinian Successor said...

"I'm not sure that, for their part, many Calvinists grasp the Lutheran point of view ..."

Too right ... it's funny how many seemingly well-read, and well-meaning folks, I mean solid Reformed who just misunderstand, do not understand the Lutheran doctrine of the Sacraments at all! It's really funny, they seem to presume that they (i.e. the Reformed) knows more about what Luther actually taught than we (i.e. the Lutherans). And I'm afraid they're a bit too arrogant to acknowledge that they *could* wrong. I have experience conversations with a well respected and godly Reformed man who just totally refuse to consider the REAL Lutheran view other than what he believes is *consubstantiation.* Sad but very true ...

L P said...

Joel.

Agree and what A.S. said.

Most Calvinists stop at Calvin, so you hear people like Spurgeon who was a Baptist saying Calvinism is the Gospel. If Calvin was around, he would be insulted that a Baptist was associating with him.

Calvin was no re-baptizer.

At any rate Calvinists have no clue as to what Lutherans believe and why Lutherans called Calvin to the carpet on his views.

You mentioned Westminster, the same is true for the London Baptist confession.

Indeed unlike in Augsburg and specially the Apology, you have a clear definition of what is the Gospel as understood and what it means to believe it. In a matter so important one needs to speak forthrightly and not vaguely which I find Calvin to be at times.

In short, what the right hand gives, the left hand takes away.

LPC

willisadair said...

On Joel's

Faith in the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things yet seen. Christ is our hope. He is the substance we partake in, the elements again are tangible conduits. The evidence will be fully seen when the Lord comes for us yet we certainly know him now. It may best to be said that communion in the Calvinist view is a eschatological hope grounded in the crucifixion. God willing, I cling to Jesus just as real as if he was before me now tangibly. The elements are the physical that points to the spiritual as I understand it.

LP
I have heard the assertion he was not a limited atonement advocate. I will read on that. Owen certainly was no theological slouch but I will have to take your word on that.

As for limited atonement: the Creed clearly is speaking for the Church not the world. Context is on holy Catholic Church.

re: Calvin on the Supper.

Bleh, what can I say but I have defended what the scriptures are teaching. The focus is always to be beyond the elements themselves.

I will read the Book of Concord Solid Declaration VII sometime. Thank you.

L P said...

willisadair,

First I went to your post and I read it, suggestion: perhaps you should not require your commenters to log in. I wanted to comment but I cannot be bothered to get another account and another password etc.

The Creed says "for us* and for our salvation", the *us* means us human beings. His incarnation is the taking of humanity to himself in his person. LA says there is a human being out there whose humanity Jesus did not take. This is what happens when you read the creed as if the early christians believed in LA. They did not.

On second count, if you are a Baptistic Calvinist, see http://extranos.blogspot.com/2006/09/that-one-line-in-nicene-creed.html

Will, I hate to break the news to you - you are not Catholic (which should make you happy), neither are you catholic (small c)(which I think you should be sad) ;-)

I understand where you are coming from - we all defend what we thought was taught by Scripture.

I was a charismaniac and in 1995 when an LC-MS minister talked to me on the internet about Lutheran understanding of baptism and communion, I found him strange too.

It just shows, that the Calvinistic/Arminian infiltration of Protestantdom is hard to break. It is a mindset, a paradigm, like contact lenses that have been sewn into your eyes.

We are here and happy to help. We have been there, done that and we have the t-shirt to prove it.

Lastly, Lutheranism is not a denomination, it is a confession. Please make a note of that.

God bless,

LPC

Dawn K said...

My last post seemed to have gotten lost in the void, so if something similar to this comes up again later, I apologize. It’s really rather discouraging, as I never seem to be able to say the same thing in the same way twice. But here goes my attempt to reproduce what I wrote.

LP wrote:

“As Luther said, faith needs an element to grab on. If the sinner is not guaranteed that Jesus died for him, what is there to believe? How can he believe Jesus died for him if your doctrine says that Jesus died for some and not for all? It is possible Jesus did not die for him! So it will be argued, but you do not know if he did or did not die for you so believe! No one in his sensible mind can be comforted by possibilities, only the actual is factual and should be believed.”

This is exactly it. How can I believe a promise if I am not sure the promise applies to me personally?

I spent nearly my entire life prior to becoming a Lutheran (the majority of this as an Arminian evangelical and a much shorter period of dabbling in Reformed theology) not really being sure if Christ’s forgiveness was for me. How do I know I really believe, that I really have true saving faith?

But everything clicked when I came to understand that in the objective, external Word and Sacraments, Christ is absolutely, undeniably for ME. Christ saved ME in the waters of my Baptism. He continues to bring ME the forgiveness of sins as I eat and drink His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. My pastor speaks Christ’s words of forgiveness to ME personally. And faith is kindled through those things – because it is objectively for ME.

These things cause me to look to Christ alone – not to my faith, but to Christ alone. My faith is not what saves me, per se. Faith is what takes hold of Christ and says, “You alone are my only hope. My only hope is the perfect life that You lived for me, and Your agonizing death on the cross to pay for my sin. My faith is weak and faltering. But You are absolutely able to save me. And You have shown that You are willing to save me through the promises You have given me in Word and Sacrament. For all these things I will give You thanks and praise forever and ever.”

Blessings,
Dawn

J. K. Jones said...

Dawn K.,
Thanks for the reference. I have found at least three interpretations of this verse that seem plausible. One of them is your own.

However, it seems to me that your interpretation of this verse proves to much. If Christ “fills all things” in a literal sense, then He is in a lot more than bread and wine. He’s in all things in a physical sense.

John 16:7, in Christ’s own words, seems pretty clear to me. You can look up the full quote. It’s logical. Christ goes. Then the Spirit comes. Christ is at God’s right hand in His flesh. He is with us in Spirit, and with us in Spirit in the sacraments.


LP,

I get a little tired of being accused of not being part of the catholic church around here. Let’s see how it works in reverse.
It seems to me that you all cannot call yourselves members of the ‘little-c’ catholic church because you cannot affirm the Nicene Creed as it says Christ “ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father.” After all, Christ is not up in heaven, He’s in the bread and wine. I could also bring up the Athanasian Creed what with it’s insistence on not “confounding the persons.”

I’ll make you a deal. Kindly stop putting me out of the church universal and I’ll stop putting you out as well.

Buy the way, you use the word “Calvinist” in such a way as to include many whose creeds bear little or no resemblance to historic Calvinism. (Many of them would be greatly offended to be referred to as Calvinists.) It becomes almost as useless as the word “evangelical.” It covers over so many different creeds and confessions that it hampers communication.


All,

I think we have a several material causes (sacraments, double predestination) and a formal cause (defined below) that leads to our disagreement. The Westminster Confession states:

“The whole counsel of God … is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture…” (Chapter 1)

It seems the Lutheran group is reluctant to affirm that which is deduced by good and necessary consequence from Scripture. The ambiguity is held with great zeal.

I hold to Westminster, quoted above, and I am not willing to treat what can be logically deduced as ambiguous. If God chooses some but not all, then by definition He does no choose some. If Christ’s physical body is in one place, He cannot be somewhere else except in Spirit because logic demands a physical body to only be in one place.

As to the definition of saving faith, I’ll go with Westminster again:

“By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word…embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come.” (Chapter 14)

So faith is believing what God said in His word.

“But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.” (Chapter 14)

I know of no clearer call to look outside oneself to Christ. Depending on Christ and Him alone for the entirety of our salvation.

As to assurance of salvation, my understanding of the Lutheran view is that an apostate looses his salvation. One who turns his back on the faith in such a way as to no longer trust in Christ ceases to be a Christian. Where exactly is the assurance in that? What’s the practical difference between the Lutheran view of apostates loosing salvation and the Calvinist view that apostates never had salvation to begin with?

As stated before, both systems see good works as non-meritorious (not earning salvation) but necessary (must be present for faith to be real).

As some point both systems encourage a person to determine if he has genuine saving faith. We must know that we look to Christ alone and to no other.

It seems to me that seeing Christ in the sacrements, and not in His perfect life and sacrificial death, confuses the issue.

A Humble Member of the Invisible Church,

JK

L P said...

JK,

Re: Nicene, "we acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins". I was a credo-baptist and the fact I rebaptized baptized as an infant people proved I did not believe in the Nicene Creed.

Now, you did say you were leaving the SBC to be Presbyterian.

One the line "for us and for our salvation", the us there meant we human beings for speaks about the incarnation of Jesus. So if one maintains LA, I doubt if he was being sincere when he recites the Nicene creed, unless he redefines what the ancients meant by those words - so I remain skeptic.

So faith is believing what God said in His word.

But what does that mean? God said many things, in the Scriptures, it speaks about demons, it speaks about Jezebel, it speaks about creation of God, if I believe those, does belief in those save me? Demons believe in those too and in fact know them better than we do. Are they saved?

I hope I am being clear regarding the vagueness of the language.

Depending on Christ and Him alone for the entirety of our salvation.

Which means what?

Does that mean depending on Christ alone for salvation because what? Because he died for you? But LA does not guarantee that he died for you, in fact no one knows if Jesus died for a specific individual there on the street. This is a fair statement, is it not?


re:assurance. The assurance is that God supplies to you what he demands because he uses means. He demands faith in Christ. He does not say - ok that is what I demand, you go and do it, figure it out comeback when you have it. No.

He uses his Word (Law/Gospel) and Sacrament to keep you believing that you are a doomed sinner but for Christ's sake God is forgiving you because Christ died for you.

The Sacrament assures you that as this bread is real, that you can touch it and taste it, his promises are concrete and real, he is for you - in Christ he is for you. Rom 5:17

It seems to me that seeing Christ in the sacrements, and not in His perfect life and sacrificial death, confuses the issue

But the confusion is detaching Christ from the Sacraments. That is the confusion. The Lutheran view maintains that connection. At the Supper what he offers to you is the very body that bore your sins. Heb 10:5.

To best understand what we are on about - you got to understand that in the Lutheran view, God supplies what he demands. Faith is a gift - for sure, repentance is a gift - for sure. These things that God demands he creates using means - Word and Sacrament. Though God is Sovereign, he chose according to his Word, to bind himself to the means of grace for our salvation - these are objective promises using both invisible (the Word) and visible (the Sacraments). All of these point to Christ's sacrifice for sins. This is the difference between a Calvinist and a Lutheran. A Calvinist has Sovereignty of God - he is a free agent and can do anything he likes. To the Lutheran, God's Sovereingly limits himself in relation man, through the means of grace. Thus he lives us with certainty because he says where he chooses to meet with us.

At the end of the day - Calvinism - even the Atlantic or the Continental kind, IMHO has no Sacraments (another name is mysterion).

So effectively from our standpoint - that the means of grace is Word and Sacrament, you only have the Word and effectively no Sacraments.


So if the Lutheran is wondering if God is for him, he does not look inside himself if he has faith etc, he looks at the promises both invisible and visible to know that for sure God is for him. Rom 5:6.

Please go back again and read Phillip Cary's article on the difference between Calvin and Luther and how Luther used his baptism to assure himself. There is a theology functioning in there that is acted out by Luther.

LPC

M. A. Henderson said...

Lito,

Re Calvin & the Eastern Orthodox:
There is a similarity between the two positions.
The similarity is the role of the Spirit.
Most EO will say that without the 'epiclesis' (the invocation of the power of the Holy Spirit upon the sacramental elements) in the anaphora (pries't prayers in the liturgy) you do not have a proper celebration of the Lord's Supper.

The Spirit plays aimilarly central role in Calvin's doctrine as the 'power' in the sacrament, so to speak; it's a possibility that he got the idea from the 'sursum corda' (Lift up Your hearts...).

Basically, for Lutherans the Words of Institution are consecratory, and an epiclesis in not necessary, although some modern Lutheran liturgies have it.

Some Lutherans and Anglicans are leaning towards the EO view that the epiclesis is necessary, or at least preferable to not having it. Thsi is why I wrote elsewhere (on my blog) that many High CHurch Anglcians are quite hapy with Calvin's doctrine, they see it as a bridge to the EOs.

L P said...

Pr. M.

Calvin is known to be a theologian of the HS.

The crucial point is did he believe in the bodily presence of Christ in the Supper?

If so, then why say the HS may or may not be in the Supper?

LPC

Dawn K said...

JK,

"However, it seems to me that your interpretation of this verse proves to much. If Christ “fills all things” in a literal sense, then He is in a lot more than bread and wine. He’s in all things in a physical sense."

I wasn't using those verses (Eph. 4:10, Col. 2:9-10) to say that Christ is in all things in a physical sense. I was saying that in light of those verses it cannot be argued that Christ CAN'T be in more than one place at one time.

"John 16:7, in Christ’s own words, seems pretty clear to me. You can look up the full quote. It’s logical. Christ goes. Then the Spirit comes. Christ is at God’s right hand in His flesh. He is with us in Spirit, and with us in Spirit in the sacraments."

Yes, the Holy Spirit is to be found in the Sacraments, bringing life and salvation. This is what we have been trying to say all along! But this does not preclude Christ from also being present bodily in the Supper. He told us that He would be with us always, to the very end of the age (Mt. 28:20).

Blessings,
Dawn

Dawn K said...

LP wrote:

"To best understand what we are on about - you got to understand that in the Lutheran view, God supplies what he demands. Faith is a gift - for sure, repentance is a gift - for sure. These things that God demands he creates using means - Word and Sacrament. Though God is Sovereign, he chose according to his Word, to bind himself to the means of grace for our salvation - these are objective promises using both invisible (the Word) and visible (the Sacraments). All of these point to Christ's sacrifice for sins. This is the difference between a Calvinist and a Lutheran. A Calvinist has Sovereignty of God - he is a free agent and can do anything he likes. To the Lutheran, God's Sovereignly limits himself in relation man, through the means of grace. Thus he lives us with certainty because he says where he chooses to meet with us."

This is probably the clearest articulation of the difference between Lutherans and Calvinists on God's sovereignty that I've ever read. Thanks, LP!

Dawn

J. K. Jones said...

L P,

True, I no longer hold believer’s baptism.

“…I doubt if he was being sincere when he recites the Nicene creed…”

There, you did it again. I guess that unless I am a Lutheran I am not part of the catholic church.


“…God said many things, in the Scriptures…”

But most of the things in the Scriptures are not “promises” that we are to embrace. You never dealt with the part where Westminster says “…accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.”


“But LA does not guarantee that he died for you, in fact no one knows if Jesus died for a specific individual there on the street. This is a fair statement, is it not?”

LA does in fact guarantee that Christ died for all of those who place their faith in Him.

How does a person come to place their faith in Christ? You said it yourself: “God supplies to you what he demands.”

But God does not supply what He demands from all people, does He? If he did, hell would be empty because all people would have been provided faith and repentance.

As long as there are people who will go to hell, the extent of the atonement is going to be limited. There are going to be some people whose sins are not paid for by Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Those people are going to have to pay for their own sins in hell.

Once we decide hell is real, and once we decide people do in fact go there, we are left with an atonement limited by something. We must then decide who or what limits the atonement.

If, as you put it, “God supplies what he demands. Faith is a gift - for sure, repentance is a gift - for sure. These things that God demands he creates using means - Word and Sacrament,” then God does not grant Word and Sacrament to all. If He granted Word and Sacrament to all, all would go to heaven.

If God grants the gift of salvation to some, but not all, He limits the extent of the atonement in that there are some whose sins are not ultimately paid for by Christ.

Christ suffered infinitely in His soul. This infinite suffering could pay the penalty for the sins of the entire world. No Calvinist I know of says otherwise. In that sense, “Christ died for your sins” is a valid thing to say because he potentially did so.

But that is confusing. It indirectly tells a person his sins are paid for whether he repents or not.

What can I promise a person “on the street” when I share the gospel? If you repent of your sins and place your trust in Christ, you will be saved. Christ’s death can pay the penalty for your sins if you repent and have faith.

What can you promise a person when you share the gospel? Can you really say to a person that Christ died for his sins? If he does not put his faith in Christ, then Christ did not in fact die for his sins in any meaningful way. At least with what I tell him he realises he has a choice to make.

Christ commands (!) faith and repentance. Therefore so do I.


“… his promises are concrete and real, he is for you - in Christ he is for you. Rom 5:17”

We agree on that part. God is in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.


“Thus he [leaves] us with certainty because he says where he chooses to meet with us.”

And whether He meets with us at all. It all depends on Him, so I can rest assured.


“…you only have the Word and effectively no Sacraments.”

I have the Spirit of the Living God present in the sacraments to strengthen my faith. Christ is present, in a real sense, by His Spirit. By the way, I believed that while still SBC.


“…he looks at the promises both invisible and visible to know that for sure God is for him.”

Is Christ for a person who does not have faith? Or can I just take the sacraments and go live any way I please? Or should I study what saving faith is and decide to have that faith?


“Please go back again and read Phillip Cary's article on the difference between Calvin and Luther…”

I will.

JK

J. K. Jones said...

Dawn K,

“…in light of those verses it cannot be argued that Christ CAN'T be in more than one place at one time.”

If those verses are referring to Christ’s physical presence, then they do not merely say that He can be in more than one place at one time. They say Christ is in all things. That’s what the verses say. That would place His physical presence everywhere.

“…the Holy Spirit is to be found in the Sacraments, bringing life and salvation. This is what we have been trying to say all along!”

In this we agree. Please keep in mind I am a recent “convert” from the Southern Baptist Church to the Presbyterian Church in America. I still have much to learn about this baptism thing, adn I reserve the right to change my mind.

I also want to say that I do respect the Lutheran position, and I hope I have not come across as disrespectful. That was not my intent.


Learning as Much as I Can as Quickly As I Can,

JK

Steve Martin said...

J.K. Jones,

I am a Lutheran convert (I tried just about everything), and I have to say that it(the Lutheran understanding of the Sacraments) does take some time.

I constantly need to hear it (the gospel)over and over and over again, because the Old Adam/Eve in us just does not want to believe it.

We just do not want to give up our...whatever (spirituality, emotions, efforts, etc.). 'Doing something' is our default position.

So when the gospel comes along in it's purest form (infant baptism for example) we naturally think that it can't be right.
After all, the baby cannot understand anything that is going on. We(Lutherans)say, "that is the best part!" It puts grace before faith! And that is the way it works with anybody (or should, anyway), but it is really evident in infant baptism.

Anyway, I have said this to you before and I mean it, I don't care if you become a Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, or whatever...but I do care that you come to a more Christ centered understanding of the gospel.

We Lutherans don't believe that we are the only ones who know the gospel. But we do believe that we know what it is.

By the way, there are a great many in my own congregation that wouldn't have a clue as to what we are talking about here.

The Holy Spirit opens minds and hearts and creates faith when and where He wills.

Thanks, my friend!

L P said...

JK,

Sure Lutherans do limit something.

It is Justification not the Atonement because the two are not equivalent.

LA equates Atonement = Justification. It sees justification to be subjective and since it is equal with Atonement, so it says Atonement is also subjective.

The Gospel is the Atonement, and when people reject this message people are not justified.

There is a difference between Christ being for a sinner, and that sinner rejecting Christ. Christ is still for the sinner, except that unbelieving sinner will not enjoy what Christ has won for him, he remains and wishes to remain in his sins.

There is a mystery that Calvinist and Lutherans agree, why some are saved but not others. The difference is where do they assign the mystery.

From a Lutheran standpoint, if that sinner is ever going to have faith, it will only be through the means of grace, no other way.

So a person who says that he has come to faith in Christ by looking at beautiful sunset, I for one will be say "Duh"? What no Word, no Sacrament and yet you arrived at faith in Christ? And so I will be skeptical of what he says because this is Enthusiasm, a person getting saved or coming to faith without the Word, without the Sacrament. The HS comes and gives faith without the Word being preached without the Sacraments being administered? This is Enthusiasm.

Calvin sees the means of grace being used and concludes that nothing seems to be happening to this guy here who got exposed to the Word and Sacrament, that means the HS may or may not be there. This presupposes that HS spirit cannot be resisted. This presupposes that man is not capable of suppressing the truth in righteousness.

This makes one distrusts the means of grace so as people do, they go through all sorts of psychological methods to get someone to believe.

This presupposes that faith is always visible amongst people. This is not correct. We do not have full information as to what is going on in people's hearts and even in ours.

If I use the means of grace and I do not see results, I leave that to God - I must go on using the means for I have no other guarantee where he promises he will work.

Or can I just take the sacraments and go live any way I please?

If I look at myself and my failings and that is the pre-requisite for taking the sacraments then I will never meet the requirement. I will always be away from the Lord's table.

BTW, the question points out the difference in understanding by Calvinists and Lutherans on the issue of repentance, the two do not have the same understanding. This is the reason why IMHO that at least I think Calvin's idea of repentance is semi-Roman.

Precisely because I am not happy the way I live that is why I take the Sacrament. I take it because I need to hear again that while I was a sinner Christ died for me. It is the goodness/kindness of God that leads us to repentance - Rom 2:4.


BTW: I take note that our criticism of Calvinists being Nestorian on the supper, they can reply back that Lutherans are eutychianistic, but the BoC answers with ample evidence from the Fathers.

LPC

L P said...

Dawn,

IMHO

Calvinists rejoice in the Sovereignty of God.

Lutherans rejoice in the Humility of God.

LPC

L P said...

SM.

We Lutherans don't believe that we are the only ones who know the gospel. But we do believe that we know what it is.

Amen.
---
JK,

I/We do not expect people to become Lutherans.

(Because when they get to heaven, they have become one. LOL, it is a Lutheran internal joke.)

Kidding aside...

If we could get people to rejoice in the Gospel and be strengthened in their assurance in the Sacraments, they do not have to have the label - Lutheran.

Lutheran Christianity is not a denomination, it is a Confession.

God does not respect any labels. He is no respecter of persons.

The whole point is being built up in Christ - for the one who is coming to him, the believer most specially.

God bless your studies,


LPC

Anonymous said...

Calvin like Zwingli and Melancthon in protecting against the false fear that Luther’s doctrine would lead back to an adoration of the elements (ala. Rome) do what all spiritualist do, wreck the car in the other erroneous ditch of loosing the Sacrament in the physical. Which has been proven wrong since Lutherans don’t adore the sacraments ala Rome. One cannot disconnect the error on the sacraments from error on the two natures of Christ. In fact Luther at length rightly recognized that those who err on the sacrament, deny the true and real body and blood of Christ, will and do inevitably err on the two natures ultimately deny them when all is summed up, said and done. Thus, it’s really a Gnostic error in various subtle shades. On the one hand we are not to worship the creation, yet where the Word of God is put we do. The incarnation being the example of this, Jesus in His human body accepted worship.

One has to look at the “big picture” as it were, creation is not evil in and of itself (various forms of Gnostic/platonic and pietistic thought), it was created “good, very good indeed” per the Word of God. In fact it is the handiwork of God, to deem it evil is fallen sin. In fact the whole of redemption is to redeem and recreate the creation and not some ‘wispy spiritual realm’. When we confess in the Creeds (Apostolic and Nicene) “and we look for the resurrection of the body” we either mean it or not and it is a good thing. So good in fact God sent His only Son to become incarnate and die for it.

Further the two hardest difficulties to overcome, increasingly in our day and age, in communicating the true presence of the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Lord’s Supper are (Sasse points these out in “This Is My Body”):

1. The cursed enchangment we are increasingly under in seeing all things and creation in under rationalism (Zwingli and Calvin strongly come from this). Miracles are increasingly seen, even real ones, as either explainable or fairy tales and thus not miracles at all. Rationalism has taken over and vexed many Christian groups minds as is testable concerning issues like evolution and such. This extends to the miracle of the Lord’s Supper.

2. This one is more difficult given number 1. What is the point or advantage as it were of having the actual true body and blood in the bread and wine as opposed to some other figurative view (Zwingli and Calvin)?

Luther realized that at length if one conceded a figure in the “is” of “This is My body/blood” that that extends a figure to the “given for you/shed for you”. Thus, the Gospel is lost entirely. Luther could say the sacrament IS the Gospel, Zwingli and Calvin never could. Because the Gospel IS the forgiveness of sins, nothing less! And if the Gospel is in the sacrament then forgiveness of sins is truly given sacramentally and not figuratively, and not a mere “if faith is present”. Calvin’s view on the Lord’s supper in reality is no different than the Baptist view of baptism, it’s a baptism IF faith is real, it’s the LS IF faith is real. Thus, he like the Baptist regarding baptism makes the sacrament dependant upon the faith of the individual and NOT the Word of God. Which is the issue!

TO BE CONT...

Anonymous said...

Not being a grammarian I confess this point of Luther’s was lost on me for some time. What did Luther mean? I could see it in baptism in Luther versus Baptist and Reformed and the rest of Protestantism (mostly due to the struggles I had gone through under those false doctrines), but it eluded me in the LS.

How exactly is the Gospel truly lost in a figurative view, Zwingli’s or Calvin’s? In short the “for you” in the specific that makes it the Gospel and makes the Gospel indeed Gospel. The ACTUAL administration of the forgiveness of sins! But how exactly in the figurative view?

If the figure is in the “is” of the “This is My…”, either in the “is” copula (Zwingli) or the predicate (Calvin) it reads something like this: (1) This represents My body/blood, or (2) This is a figure/symbol of My body/blood. So what how is the Gospel lost. We have to go to the to “for you” we find in the Lutheran confessional. Recall the catechism Q and A? Where is this found, the for you?…in these words “given and shed FOR YOU”. If the “This is My body/blood becomes a figure (#1 or #2) then the “given and shed for you” become a figure as well and there the Gospel is lost not slightly or tangentially but ENTIRELY. The forgiveness is never administered, just like absolution! How? We have to extend the figure as it must logically follow and as indeed are Reformed interpretations of the “given and shed for you”. The words of institution become this: (1) As this represents My Body and Blood so does it REPRESENT My body and blood that will be broken (body) and shed (blood) on the cross for you, and/or (2) As this represents My Body and Blood so does it REPRESENT My body and blood that will be given on the cross for you. Or Calvin if you prefer: (1) As this is a figure/symbol My Body and Blood so does it is figure/symbol My body and blood that will be broken (body) and shed (blood) on the cross for you, and/or (2) As this is a figure/symbol My Body and Blood so does it figure/symbolize My body and blood that will be given on the cross for you.

At first blow we don’t see it, for there is a “for you” in these figures but they remain - due to the figures of speech - in the general, they never touch as it where “YOU” singular and in the specific and issue forth in actuality and reality the Gospel, the “forgiveness of sins”. One never hears as the Prostituted did, “I (Jesus) forgive YOU (the prostitute in particular) all your sins”. And the FOR YOU IS the Gospel, without which all one can have is historical faith which is false faith, confirming the facts but just not “FOR YOU”! They never touch nor come to YOU Dawn, LP, Steve, Will, Larry, John, Jen, Peter, Paul, Luther, Calvin, etc…

...FINAL COMING

Anonymous said...

Thus, the Lord’s Supper in a figurative understanding, Zwingli or Calvin, never is anymore than John 3:16. It is also notable in Reformed circles in confession and absolution these never come personally TO THE MAN, and of course Baptist are far more ‘hands off’ when it comes to absolution, in fact they don’t have it at all – which is to say no Gospel at all since the Gospel IS absolution (the Prostitute heard I Jesus/God forgive you YOUR sins, not Bob over there only) in that factor.

So that in the figurative understanding whether Zwingli or Calvin, which Luther prophetically saw, if you have the figure in the “is” or “predicate” it extends to the for you to which the Supper is given and all is lost in the Supper and it is no Lord’s Supper at all. It could communicate Christ died for US but no more than John 3:16 or other similar universal passages. With the Sacraments disengaged thus (through the figurative language), and predestination engaged as the will of God, it’s just a matter of time before the entire Gospel is lost.

In contradistinction with this is the true and real body and blood of Jesus in the bread and the wine truly and really eaten and drank the Gospel comes “to the man” “in the specific” “FOR YOU”, and that makes it the Gospel! Because one is really and truly eating and drinking that which was broken and shed for you and the forgiveness of sins, and really and truly eating and drinking that which is truly and really given – not just figures “like” that which would be broken, shed and given.

Another point of fact Sasse points out. First, historically the issue was never a matter of one mode versus another mode, which Reformed attempt to make it. But rather, the body and blood of Christ and thus, the WHOLE Christ human and deity in the One person (See the issue is really about the two natures and the one person, the incarnation of God and not just the Sacrament, Luther saw this!). Second but related, the issue was never “is Christ present” but is the WHOLE Christ present.

There is a very sad side to Calvin though that Sasse points out:

“No one can study Calvin seriously without feeling the deep longing of this man for the real sacrament. There is a touching hunger and thirst for the sacrament which expressed itself in the classical liturgies of the old Reformed churches. Calvin really wanted to retain the sacrament. Only reluctantly did he give up the desire to have the sacrament celebrated each Sunday. But his theology, made it impossible to reconcile the realistic terminology with his actual thoughts. This was seen at once by the Lutherans. For Luther the crucial question had always been: Must the word est be understood literally? Is there a ‘sacramental union’ between the elements and the body and blood, so that we receive the body together with the bread? Do we receive the body and blood of Christ orally? Do the impii or indigni receive it, or the believers only?...All these question had to be answered by Calvin in the negative. The Words of Institution are to be understood figuratively; a literal understanding was impossible.”

Blessings,

Larry

M. A. Henderson said...

Lito,

Just picking up a train of thought: someone mentioned Calvina and the EO in the discussion and you asked is it so?

As for your question, from Calvin's viewpoint, invoking the Spirit enabled him to avoid a "bodily" presence, because for Calvin the body (and blood) of Jesus are locally present in heaven, and hence cannot be present on earth.

This is the beginning of Calvinist "spiritualism" which becomes more radical in later "Calvinism".

This where/why we (Lutherans) must say there is a different "spirit" operating in Calvinism. The difference has its roots in a philisophical debate going back to medieval times. Naturally, I would say Luther's view is more Biblical, and less bound to philosophy and reason.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Naturally, I would say Luther's view is more Biblical, and less bound to philosophy and reason."

Yes, more *christological* too ... in full accord with Scriptural witness and creedal affirmation - the Chalcedonian Definition ...

L P said...

Larry,

I am thankful for your input. I believe Calvin threw the baby with the bath water.

It is very evident that one can have a high view of the Supper and yet not be idolatrous about it - Calvin's thesis has a counter refutation, case in point the Lutherans.

LPC

L P said...

Pr. M/A.S.

Here is an example of Calvin's lack of faith in Jesus's body being capable of passing space (and as well as time).

“They [the Lutherans] object that Christ went forth from the closed sepulcher [Matthew 28:6] and went to His disciples through closed doors [John 20:19]. This gives no more support to their error. For just as the water, like a solid pavement, provided Christ with a path as He walked upon the lake [Matthew 14:25], so it is no wonder if the hardness of the stone yielded at His approach. Yet it is more probable that the stone was removed at His command, and immediately after He passed through, returned to its place. And to enter through closed doors means not just penetrating through solid matter but opening an entrance for Himself by divine power, so that He suddenly stood among His disciples clearly, in a wonderful way, although the doors were locked.”

John Calvin, ed. John T. McNeill, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 vols., Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960, II, p. 1400. Book IV, XVII, #29.


Here is what Luther said in the BoC (Smalcald articles).

And in those things which concern the spoken, outward Word, we must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one, except through or with the preceding outward Word, in order that we may [thus] be protected against the enthusiasts, i. e., spirits who boast that they have the Spirit without and before the Word, and accordingly judge Scripture or the spoken Word, and explain and stretch it at their pleasure, as Muenzer did, and many still do at the present day, who wish to be acute judges between the Spirit and the letter, and yet know not what they say or declare. For [indeed] the Papacy also is nothing but sheer enthusiasm, by which the Pope boasts that all rights exist in the shrine of his heart, and whatever he decides and commands with [in] his church is spirit and right, even though it is above and contrary to Scripture and the spoken Word."

Smalcald Articles, VIII.


LPC

L P said...

I wish to add, clearly Calvin was speculating and was convinced of his speculation, hence, rationalism was taking over instead of the plain statements of Scripture. In fact his explanation is humanistic contrary to what the Bible insinuates i.e. a miracle, Jesus appeared and disappeared and showed himself to his disciples.

LPC

Anonymous said...

LPC,

Great info!!!

"Calvin threw the baby with the bath water"

That's it in a nut shell as they say. Having been both ex-baptist and ex-Reformed, I began to see the baptistic arguments against baptism to be the same as the Reformed arguments regarding the LS. The content and context may have varied but the principle, basically forms of rationalism and "pulling the spirit apart from the earthly, and putting everything over in the wispy spiritual realm were all the same.

I think that's why you can see more and more these ecumenical breaches among many Reformed and Baptist "pulling together" in various parachurch situations.

I was talking to a good baptist pastor friend of mine about this and he was seeing it too, in principle he saw the problem even though as to content and detail we'd disagree. He did understand why we cannot mingle communions this way because at length one's confession on essentials like the sacraments mean nothing whatsoever and become effectually "non-confessions".

He and I both agreed on this even though as to content we disagreed. He even said that even if I'm wrong as to the detail and content of our views on the sacrament/ordinances, that is better than this idea that we can accept each others opposing views as if there is no significant difference whatsoever such that the individual confessions really mean nothing and one is not confessing a thing in reality, except for "I don't know". For the mingled "I don't know" folks really are saying God's word is utterly uncertain and at length have a false idea of God's word. Thus, Paul's call to doctrinal purity is overthrown and this deluded idea that there is something pious about "just agreeing to disagree to get together" is the GREATEST offense against the Holy Word. It's tantamount to Pilate's "What is truth?" And the world's "truth is either relative or unknowable".

Yours,

Larry

L P said...

Larry,

That was helpful exposition you gave on why IS is IS in the Supper. It did not click with me that the Gospel is lost too if it were interpreted symbolically. What happened with me was that I went to Scripture 1 Cor 10:14-16 and frankly looked at it to test if the Lutheran teaching on this was true. That scripture convinced me and blew a hole that I cannot confess anymore what Calvinists on this confess. So I chucked it away, to follow where the Word leads.

The nice thing about the internet is that you can read materials on this. I just went and read some quotes of Pieper, Krauth and Jacobs etc said about the Calvinistic view and their assessment is so perceptive. It went down to really: Christology. The Calvinist's view in so far as it uses rationalistic interpretations of Scripture has a tendency to slide into Unitarianism/Socinianism.

LPC

Anonymous said...

LPC,

That's what finally clicked for me too. When you dig, read deeper into the issue and think about the situation in which it arose - one's entire perspective and understanding changes. The link to christology is HUGE too.

Sasse makes, among a million, point that the union of the two natures in the one person in Christ (the hypostatic union - $50 term) is NOT just a verbal one but real one. And within that consideration one communicates, albeit mysterious to our reason, with the other without confusion. But that the communication is REAL and not just a verbal description on paper somewhere. To this end Sasse points out that those who more or less understand and believe the true two nature in the one person, have no problem at all concerning the same in the sacramental union between the bread/wine - body/blood.

I think if I might put it in a "nutshell" it is this: It's the principle underlying it all that is of issue. I'll use a good Reformed analogy. RC Sproul once said that "once the pulpit goes (meaning the lectern for a stage or glass stand or similar) it is not long before the theology and doctrine soon follow in going out the door". RC's point? Is there something "spiritual" about a wooden pulpit? Not at all. He was getting behind the presupposition and mindset change that has occurred that allowed for them to remove the pulpit, to wit; instead of the Word and Sacraments preached and distributed to build and feed the flock, even if all walk out the door on them, one gets 'starry eyed' over "growing the church". And in doing so, over time it manifests itself very slowly and insidiously. First the pulpit, then the style of the church, then the liturgy, then the message, etc...

THAT is how the heresy insinuates itself into the church (e.g. Ablaze in the LCMS). The eye of the pastor and flock becomes bewitched in "growing the church" rather than preaching the Word in and out of season!

The connection to the christology and the LS? It's that often more or less unspoken hidden under belly set of presuppositions and mind set that is REALLY driving the boat.

This is why both Zwingli and Calvin if you read them they bring up the "other absurdities" regarding what such a view the LS (Luther's) brings in their opinion. Those absurdities are their rationalisms regarding their christology at the end of the day. Luther saw this, the issue was how/what one thought in principle that was driving the boat.

That's why he could say that to deny the real presence is to ultimately deny the two natures and one person. Not overtly but subtle underlying presuppositions that seem to not but actually do. E.g. Not understanding the two natures in the one person MUST be real and not just a verbal discussion.

Yours,

Larry

joel in ga said...

J.K.,

You asked an astute question:

"What’s the practical difference between the Lutheran view of apostates losing salvation and the Calvinist view that apostates never had salvation to begin with?"

Lutherans somehow avoid the Arminian/Calvinist dilemma: the Methodist knows he's got it but is afraid he might lose it; while the Presbyterian knows he can't lose it but is afraid he hasn't got it.

I think it's because Lutherans are encouraged to focus on the objective word of the Gospel, which graciously declares, "Your sins are forgiven", that they are shielded from the usual Methodist/Calvinist agonies over assurance.

L P said...

Joel,

Good way of putting it.

When I was Arminian (Pentecostal) - it was "faith got you in, faith will keep" you in (I heard my Penty pastor said this and I smile now each time I remember it).

Then I toyed with Calvinism (4 years) in a Presby church so it got turned to "grace got you in, grace will keep you in".

Now the more appropriate and accurate way as I see in Scripture and through the means of grace --
"the Gospel that got you in, is the same Gospel that keeps you in".

In Lutheran talk - The same thing that God used to give you faith which is the Gospel is the same one he uses to keep you in the faith.

LPC

L P said...

Larry,

And within that consideration one communicates, albeit mysterious to our reason, with the other without confusion.

As I was saying to JK, once Jesus took on humanity in his divinity, you can no more separate the two natures in one person. They are now united in his person without confusion. Where his divinity is, his humanity is there if we are to take Jesus' words at face value, in an unexplained but believed way as in the case Mt 18:20.

It is more important to believe his words rather than explain it in fact, even Scripture says that faith precedes knowledge. Heb 11:3.

LPC

Dawn K said...

LP wrote:

"Calvinists rejoice in the Sovereignty of God.

"Lutherans rejoice in the Humility of God."

Well said!

Dawn

Anonymous said...

“Methodist knows he's got it but is afraid he might lose it; while the Presbyterian knows he can't lose it but is afraid he hasn't got it.”

That’s a great way of putting it, and that’s were the synergism on both sides begins. Calvin would like to point you outward like Luther but due to his theology, ultimately, he cannot. Where this is most shown is the trial of “when God appears to be the enemy”, Calvin’s empty sacraments reveal themselves there and thus now “extra nos” to go to.

But there’s a more dangerous thing here. Luther points out in his HD discussing mortal vs. venial sins, borrowing the Roman language and turning it against them says that (Rome constructed a mortal/venial sin scenario based on degrees of some sort, as to length and quality). But Luther said:

(1) The only truly mortal or deadly sin or work (good or bad) that separates one from God is that sin in which it is not considered mortal or deadly.
(2) The only truly venial or forgivable sin or work (good or bad) is that sin which is considered deadly.

In this we see that we confess as God says, “You O’Lord have right words”. Here’s the link and the big issue that is deadly in ANY “can’t fall away scenario”: Luther said to ever think a sin or work is only dead (dead here in the Roman system did not rise to the level of “deadly”) but not deadly (recall deadly means fall away from God eternally unto damnation) seems to be a perilous surrender of the fear of God. And to not have that, is to lead into damnation. Here’s the problem with ALL forms of “I’ve crossed the conversion line and cannot fall away”, that surrender of the fear of God. And by the way, the problem with ALL third use of the Law scenarios! Because it surrenders to that thought that this sin is not deadly. See THAT sin would be a truly mortal sin as it is thought to be venial. Recall a truly venial sin or work is that which is always considered DEADLY or mortal. That means one MUST be able to believe in reality one can fall away. To arrive at “I cannot fall away” one cannot have a true fear of God and to not have that is to lead unto damnation.

The SURENESS we rest in is grace of God for those works (good are bad) and sins we always continually know are in fact and reality truly mortal sins. Such consideration of sin is to be IN continual repentance and faith and speaking thus, “You O’God have right words). That’s what it means to confess we are sinners, and what 1 John means when “we say we have no sin the truth is not in us”.

Beware of “cannot fall away” pretend sin. We must know we are real and strong sinners (i.e. know our sins and works are truly mortal, so that they so confessed are truly venial)

Larry

Dawn K said...

"...the Presbyterian knows he can't lose it but is afraid he hasn't got it.”

This applies to the fundamentalist/evangelical dispensational baptist, as well. The system I was raised in was pretty much Arminian except for their belief in "eternal security." If you sincerely accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, it was argued, you could never lose your salvation. This sounds good on the surface but ultimately it rests on shaky ground since the basis for your assurance is a work that you did and the sincerity with which you did it.

Thus I was always looking at my own faith and asking - was I really sincere when I prayed that prayer? Did I say everything in exactly the right way? Was I sorry enough? Am I committed enough to Christ to really be a Christian? When I discovered Calvinism, it shifted slightly to become, "Am I really one of the elect? Are my good works sufficient to prove that I am one of God's elect?"

Eternal security and/or Perseverance of the Saints isn't worth a hill of beans if you don't know if you are saved in the first place and the only answer you get to this problem is to recommit yourself or somehow take comfort in your works or in the fact that God knows your heart. When I would share my concerns with various people, they would always tell me why they were convinced that I was saved - "look how much you love God." "Look how much you love the Scriptures." "Look what you do for people." Etc, etc, etc. But they can't see the inside of my heart. I can, and everything is tainted with sin. My only hope is Christ who lived a sinless life in my place. This is the difference with the Lutheran approach - we are to look to Christ, and not to ourselves. I have nothing to bring Him but my sin. But He took all of it upon Himself at the cross. And in the Sacraments Christ is saying, "What I did on the cross was for you. Yes, even for you."

God bless,
Dawn

L P said...

Dawn,

What you got involved with is what is called the OSAS Arminianism, similar to Dave Hunt. OSAS - stands for once saved always saved.

May be you should post on OSAS Arminianism. It is in the web and they have apologists for this too.

Right. When we learn that again and again, the gift that Jesus gave us sinners - while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, that he came to give his life to the world, it happened outside us, without our consent, without any help from us nor suggestion from us, when we learn he did it all on his own accord, he laid his life down - there is the comfort and assurance. There is also faith.

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. St. Paul says we believe therefore we speak, faith blurts out in expressing as Peter did - Jesus is the Christ.

Jesus is Lord, precisely because he is Savior (as Dr. Nagel said).

This is why I see Christianity as a confession, we confess the Gospel, we confess Jesus as Messiah, the one who gave his life a ransom for man.

LPC

M. A. Henderson said...

As,

Yes, christological differences too...it's all of a piece. Chemitz is very good to read on both these questions.

Augustinian Successor said...

Ma Henderson,

It's funny you should say this ... as a matter of fact, I have Chemnitz's Two Natures in my personal "library", borrowed from a Christian resource centre. I had just returned the other two books, but the two books which I kept was McGrath's Luther's Theology of the Cross and Chemnitz's Two Natures.

Dawn K said...

LP,

"What you got involved with is what is called the OSAS Arminianism, similar to Dave Hunt. OSAS - stands for once saved always saved.

"May be you should post on OSAS Arminianism. It is in the web and they have apologists for this too."

I may just do this at some point. I used to be a very strong proponent of OSAS myself.

Dawn

Anonymous said...

Dawn,

Your journey sounds exactly like mine, I probably went to Calvinism "sooner" in the progression of things.

AS,

I just started reading Chemitz "The Lord's Supper & The Two Natures". Just finished up Sasse on "This is my body" (which I highly recommend to anyone, even if your not Lutheran - it frames the reality of the debate and issue back then and brings it forward to today). E.g. we tend to think that denominations more or less always exist as we perceive them today. Yet, Calvin sought to be a Lutheran. Getting a "feel" for the "atmosphere" is helpful, as opposed to reading "today" into 500 years ago. Most non-Lutheran protestants would be shocked to find that they actually hold Medieval RC positions on a LOT of issues, including the sacraments.

There's another summary that is free for down load (pdf) on line entitled "The Lord's Supper In The Theology Of Martin Chemitz".

Anyone looking to investigate these issues regarding the sacraments seriously (Lutheran or otherwise) or learn more of what treasures they are to us - would be doing themselves a favor reading these!

It's a fair amount of reading to be sure, but just do like I do, take it in chunks you can manage, and digest it as you are able to. I'm a notoriously slow reader so I understand getting overwhelmed too much too fast.

Blessings,

Larry

Augustinian Successor said...

Larry,

It's good to know you're devouring confessional Lutheran books. But you take it in chunks since you're a slow reader. Anyhow, take your time. No rush. As for me, I'm a pretty quick reader ...!

Augustinian Successor said...

Although, Larry, I'm not sure if Calvin sought to be a Lutheran. He was indebted to Luther, no doubt, and was sympathetic to Lutheranism on some counts, but the best place to find the commonality is in the Bondage of the Will. If you haven't read it, you should. I strongly recommend the book. The Bondage of the Will makes Luther sound like Calvin!

Anonymous said...

Part I of II:

The problem with Calvin is that he uses all the same language as Luther but in most parts means something different. For one he is systematic rather than centering on Christ and Him crucified. The insidious Order of Salvation finds its origins not in the Puritans POST Calvin but in Bucer PRE Calvin and Calvin’s “teacher more or less”.

Nothing so shows Calvin’s egregious error like the Lord’s Supper. Example, what do the unworthy receive. Calvin must answer nothing, not the body and blood of Christ. Yet for Luther they do in fact receive the very body and blood of Christ unto wrath. This seemingly “small” point makes painfully obvious the two differing religions of the two. Remember Luther was not being mean when he refused Bucer (Calvin’s predecessor) and Zwingli the right hand of fellowship calling it of another spirit. For in the sacraments, both baptism and the LS, nothing is actually given but more or less only offered and that’s the difference between Luther and Calvin, an irreconcilable difference of which there can never be communion as the same orthodox religion. Luther makes a critical distinction that pulls apart Calvin and himself. A philosophical sign is a sign of something absent (e.g. Calvin and Zwingli on the LS), but in a theological sign it is the sign of something actually present (e.g. Luther).

Furthermore, Calvin’s error reveals itself in that he cannot in ANYWAY answer the greatest trial a saint may go through, namely when God appears to be the enemy and forsakenness ensues. For nothing actually COMES to the man but is only more or less offered for faith to reach up to and grab. And here Calvin’s concept of faith differs from Luther’s. Both say it is required but both are not speaking of the same thing nor in the same way. Faith for Calvin is this thing otherwise given somewhere else that must “reach up and grab” what the absent philosophical sign only points to and offers, thus the Holy Spirit may or may not be operating in the Word and the Sacrament (yet another significant difference). Yet for Luther the sign of the real thing present actually comes down and bestows and gives a, the theological sign, whether faith is real, there, present or not. That’s why the unworthy ACTUALLY receive the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, while in Calvin’s rite called the Lord’s Supper they receive nothing but mere bread and wine (and so do believers according to the doctrine that says “this is NOT the true and real body and blood of Christ if we are doctrinally honest).

Calvin’s concept of bondage of the will is not Luther’s. To be sure he set forth “total depravity” but it cannot be disconnected with its idea of “limited atonement” which even a Calvinist must admit or otherwise he does not even confess what he thinks he confesses. One cannot miss the fact that LA is linked again to the sacraments in which the unbeliever receives nothing in Calvin as opposed to Luther in which the unbeliever does receive what the believer received, again look at the Lord’s supper. So that because the unbeliever receives nothing in the sacrament, ultimately the believer receives that same nothing in the supper. The pastor cannot in one man in the same ritual event be putting into the mouth of the unbeliever only mere bread and wine and the very next guy, a believer the true body and blood of Christ (which they deny ANYWAY). Yet for Luther both receive the same and it is the sign of a real and true presence that actually GIVES its significance, and not just points elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Part II of II

In BoW, and more so in Luther’s HD, we see that Luther and Calvin are not near at all concerning BoW and what Calvinist call “Total Depravity”. For the unbeliever by his very nature as a religious “doer” cannot be a naked beggar for it is the very death of him, his crucifixion. This is what Luther saw, this is what the unbeliever ACTUALLY rejects in reality and not mere word, verbs and ideas. Again, look at the LS for the critical picture of this difference, the unbeliever REJECTS the body and blood of Christ but yet ACTUALLY can receive it unto his wrath. He does not just receive “a (philosophical sign = absence) sign”. We see this in Judas at the LS, Christ did not lie to Him nor offer him signage of bread and wine…what Judas rejected was the very reality of grace itself, the body and blood of Christ (the sacrament IS the Gospel –Luther) and when he did what does St. John say? Satan enter into him!

What can never be forgotten is that all heresy uses the same language but means different things under and behind the words, THAT is what one must peal apart and ask “What does this mean”. Do not just be satisfied with “we both confess and say”. For men and theologians have long learned to confess correctly things their hearts do not really believe. And to NOT believe that the true body and blood is not present in the sacraments or to use cagey language that in reality confesses the absence of Christ’s actual body and blood, the whole Christ (it’s Christological at the end of the day) is just a fancy way of saying the obvious, unbelief.

One cannot patch up a doctrine of non-real presence of the actual body and blood of Christ with all the theological patch work caveats in the world, not even the entire Institutes. Why? Because fundamentally Calvin denies that fundamental issue, not all the doctrinal gymnastics in the world can make “not-X” into “X”. Calvin misses his own logic here, there can BE no middle ground and this is what the Marburg Coll. Found out and settled long ago. That part has been settled and cannot be fixed for “not X” has nothing in common with “X” whereby there is a middle ground.

Larry

L P said...

Larry,

The problem with Calvin is that he uses all the same language as Luther but in most parts means something different

Right on. Calvin and Calvinists placed their own spin on the terms used by Lutherans, they use the same words but they have their nuanced twist to them.

Example, what do the unworthy receive. Calvin must answer nothing, not the body and blood of Christ. Yet for Luther they do in fact receive the very body and blood of Christ unto wrath.

Absolutely. Calvinists make this a small point but I now realize why it is a big issue with Lutherans.
The rejecting participant of the LS indeed is receiving the body and blood of Jesus but it is condemning him. Hence, so to speak - it is poison to the unbelieving participant not a healing balm.

I asked one Calvinist friend on this as to why would scripture say - "for this reason many are sick and even died". He just ignored my point.

One cannot patch up a doctrine of non-real presence of the actual body and blood of Christ with all the theological patch work caveats in the world, not even the entire Institutes


Exactly, it is a patch up job if you want to defend Calvin. That is why I said to myself, this is just too much work trying to keep him from the frying pan. He is toasted on the Sacraments, hence, even new generation of Calvinists who see this are trying to patch their doctrine - see Federal Vision.

On BoW, I read somewhere a quote by a Lutheran theologian of long ago that Calvin and Luther were not the same on this too. I am trying to get that quote but I lost it. Anyway I found his comment interesting.

Blessings,

LPC

Anonymous said...

LPC,

Great, if you find that quote definitely post it.

YOurs,

Larry

L P said...

Larry,

I think I found it, it was a documented quote from Ichabod...
"As a matter of fact, however, also in the doctrine of predestination Zwingli and Calvin were just as far and as fundamentally apart from Luther as their entire rationalistic theology differed from the simple and implicit Scripturalism of Luther. Frank truly says that the agreement between Luther's doctrine and that of Zwingli and Calvin is 'only specious, nur scheinbar.' (1, 118.) Tschackert remarks: 'Whoever [among the theologians before the Formula of Concord] was acquainted with the facts could not but see that in this doctrine [of predestination] there was a far-reaching difference between the Lutheran and the Calvinistic theology.' (559.) F. Pieper declares that Luther and Calvin agree only in certain expressions, but differ entirely as to substance. (Dogmatics, III, 554.)"

F. Bente, Concordia Triglotta, Historical Introductions to the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 209.


I have not checked this as I do not have lost of Lutheran books.

Terrible, no? I know.
LPC

Anonymous said...

LP,

That would be consistent with what I've read and seen. I think I've read the Pieper one before.

That's why though denied in words there IS IN FACT real and true synergism in Calvin. And if there's ultimately synergism then ultimately the IMMEDIATE implications are:

1. There's no substantive difference in Calvin and Arminious, nor semi-pelagianism.

2. And as semi-pelagianism is in finality no different than full blown pelagianism, so goes it with Calvinism. For there is absolutely no theological difference between "earning the grace of God" or "with a little of me + grace".

3. Total Depravity is just, as many experentially detect, just high dollar works righteousness law to do. This is seen most dominantly in Reformed/Calvinistic Baptist realms (e.g. the John MacArthur Lordship salvation issue - in which he basically turns cheap grace into expensive grace we buy. His exposition of the RYR shows this most clearly).

4. At the end of the day ALL these groups never really left Rome as to substance and content, just externals. Only Luther maintained the real and true reformation and in reality the real and true Word of God!

It is ironic that assurance of salvation is a HUGE issue in ALL these groups, be it Wesley, Rome or the Reformed.

Larry

L P said...

Larry,

Some of the things you wrote at first look may cause some wonderment but your exposition here adds points to what I have suspected before.

When I was studying Calvin's take on repentance as his was being compared to Luther, I was semi-disgusted because Calvin's take on repentance was more Roman than Lutheran. Calvin gave me an impression that repentance for him was not the admission of you are a doomed sinner, but contains an area of improvement.

I concluded that there is tint of Romanism in his since I was a child of Rome as a kid and was familiar to the catechism they gave me. I could recognize the meaning.

Now, our Reformed friends will find this accusation of synergism a wonderment. I know they think that we are the one in synergy because of our Sacramental Theology.

But if they stop for a moment and breath, Calvin was trying to be a via media between Lutherans and the Romans but there was no compromise, Luther saw this fundamental difference and presupposition right at the beginning.

The shell in the Reformed masks its similarity with Rome but operationally and this is where things happen, operationally it is Roman in psyche.

That is why for me, Lutheran doctrine between the two - Rome and Reformed is the only one that has the real means of grace.

For Calvin's heirs and for his, the HS is not necessarily in the means of grace. For Rome, the means of grace is actually a means of work and not a gift. Hence, both do not have means.
Thus both Reformed and Romanists do not have a means of grace, there is no gift given in it. So both are the same. Lordship Salvation is an example as you stated.

This is hard to swallow by the Reformed but, what we see today is the turmoil that the system was built on.

Thanks for this, you ought to collect your thoughts and publish it somewhere.

LPC

Anonymous said...

LPC,

Thanks for the encouragement. Due to much encouragement from Steve, yourself, Dawn and some others I’m actually building a blog over on Word Press. I’m an amateur so it is what it is. My main goal is to hopefully be a helpful voice for the Gospel like you all are, I LOVE reading the discussions you all have and the input of many like AS. One cannot really speak the Gospel to one’s self, but when fellow brother and sister Christians talk the Gospel BACK to you – it IS powerful and almost makes you want to dance through your working day (and I’m a terrible dancer).

It is interesting, you come FROM the Roman direction, I come from the evangelical/Baptist/Reformed direction and we’ve discovered the same thing.

You said: “For Calvin's heirs and for his, the HS is not necessarily in the means of grace. For Rome, the means of grace is actually a means of work and not a gift. Hence, both do not have means. “Thus both Reformed and Romanists do not have a means of grace, there is no gift given in it. So both are the same. Lordship Salvation is an example as you stated.” That really is hitting nail on the head.

Back in my Baptist days the common statement one hears in those circles, I use to say it myself, particularly SB is “RC believe they are saved by baptism (works).” As I struggled with the Baptist doctrine on baptism in terror for years to the point of contemplating suicide a lot (totally out of my normal character) and read more about Rome and the fall out of their doctrine something hit me in the face. I was walking with a Baptist pastor friend of mine one day and said, “You know it is utterly false that RCs believe they are saved because they are baptized. They are just like us regarding baptism and do not in the least believe baptism saves” (This was before my Luther days). “That’s why they suffer assurance doubts under their other works system. We, SB, just name our works different, like alter calls, pray the prayer again, rebaptism, have you given alllll your heart to Jesus, what are you holding back…etc. We just don’t have nice formal Latin names for ours and they are not written down somewhere, rather passed on by more or less oral tradition.”

L