One of the big difference between Calvinism and orthodox Lutheranism is in the area of the Means of Grace. Ex-Calvinist who become Lutherans hammer on the difference between Calvinism and Lutheranism on the Lord's Supper and this is true.
However, IMHO, the difference starts before that. It really starts on what Lutherans mean by the Means of Grace. Firstly, what do Lutherans mean by this? Well, these are objective means that God uses to create faith and sustain faith in the life of a believing sinner. These are the Word and Sacraments (Baptism and Supper). Lutherans believe (or I think they should) that God, though he is sovereign, has bound himself to these Means for our assurance of salvation.
Talking about God being Sovereign is talking about God in the abstract. Now that Jesus came and we have the Scripture we cannot talk about God in the abstract anymore; because God has made things now concrete, Jesus came, died for our sins, rose again and now seats at the right hand of God.
Yes in the abstract, God can do anything to save a sinner, but now that Jesus has come, we cannot talk now of what God can or cannot do, rather we should talk about what will he do! God won't violate his means, so that we may not be in doubt where we might find him. For if God violates his means of grace, then we are no longer with an anchor as to where we are guaranteed where we may find him. This opens the door to Enthusiasm and mystical experiences.
In Calvinism, for example, they consider reason or the mind as a means. For example, some Calvinists I have read say that God illumines reason and uses it for man to find him. In Lutheran concept, this is not objective and it is not considered by Lutherans to be God's means of grace. Why? Because in Scripture, God is seen by the Lutheran to be binding himself to Word and Sacraments only. In our relationship to God, the Lutheran is not to go anywhere apart from Word and Sacrament to find his forgiveness, which is life and salvation.
Let me now come to the statement of Walther found in the post below.
If Walther was correct, then that baby over there just recently delivered, had his sins already forgiven. Then Dr. Ichabod (and others like him, like the late Pr. Vernon Harley) is correct in his critique and opposition, for this means that God forgives sins without the Means of Grace. Seriously the statement is quasi-universalism.
If God has already forgiven the sins of that baby, then what is the need for the Means of Grace? For Baptism of the baby? None.
Then there is also one thing that is also serious about Walther's words. Walther's statements violate the teaching of the BoC and contradicts it and I quote: Solid Declaration, I (Original Sin).
31] Because of this corruption(original sin), too, the entire corrupt nature of man is accused and condemned by the Law, unless the sin is forgiven for Christ's sake.
The emphasis is mine.
If sins have been forgiven without the Means of Grace why would the BoC say the above quoted text? Waltherian Lutherans in effect have an irrelevant Means of Grace.
Truth is, as far as the BoC is concerned, no one is forgiven unless the Means of Grace has been applied and believed.
Back to the hole.