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Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Hmm, something about this doesn't make a whole lot of sense...


Rhology said...

Hi there,

I just wanted to stop by to commend you on your participation in this discussion. The Lutheran doctrine of baptism and such has long puzzled me, and you helped dig it out in clear terms and comparison to biblical teaching. So I appreciate it.

I take it you're (a) Calvinist(ic)?

Grace and peace,

Darius said...

Thanks Rhology. I'm glad I could help, even though I don't have everything figured out in my own head (though I love to pretend I do :) ). Until recently, I didn't know much about Lutheran doctrine. Now that I have been informed, I realize why Luther wasn't the last reformer... he took us a good distance, but was still held back in some areas. Then again, the Church will always need reformers, as no one person has it right. Thank God that Jesus won't ask us "was your doctrine perfect?" when we get to heaven!

Yes, I am a Calvinist, at least as that term is understood today. From what some of those Lutherans said, modern Calvinism may not be fully representative of what Calvin had in mind... that wouldn't surprise me, since I'm sure he had some areas of bad theology just like Luther.

What I find worrisome about Lutheranism is that it isn't a theology that someone would be able to come to with just an honest, first-time reading of the text. It requires that you add in someone else's words to "decipher" the secret message hidden within. While there IS mystery to the Gospel and Jesus clearly didn't want everyone to understand, it's also not gibberish that requires a Luther to translate it into the vernacular. If you were on a desert island and read the Bible without any preconceptions, you would not come away with the Lutheran perspective. That in itself should be a warning that perhaps they have over-stepped in their theology. This is actually a good warning for Christians of all theological stripes... if your orthodoxy (or your orthopraxy, for that matter) wouldn't exist if you read your Bible in a theological vacuum, then you should be careful foisting it upon others.

Thanks again!

Rhology said...

I'm a recent Calvinist, been Baptist a good while longer. I'd say the thing that concerns me most about Lutheranism is the not-so-subtle strongarming of "but baptism IS faith!" onto sola fide. It's exactly what Romanists and Eastern Orthodox say.
No, friends, baptism is not faith. Baptism is baptism.
And the way it leads them to baptise enemies of God (ie, babies) and then fret about how we can lose our justification (b/c the unsaved baptised babies grow up to be...unsaved) and ignore the obvious NT teaching of God's preservation of His saints makes me shake my head.

Indeed, let us be ecclesia semper reformanda.

Grace and peace,

Chris A said...

"From what some of those Lutherans said, modern Calvinism may not be fully representative of what Calvin had in mind... that wouldn't surprise me, since I'm sure he had some areas of bad theology just like Luther."

I have enjoyed reading both Luther and Calvin, but admittedly my reading of them both has been rather limited. There is a lot of illumination evident in what they wrote. But what you find, as you might expect, are a series of writings that must be understood as a collection of progressive theological ideas. In other words, they were works in progress; these guys were coming into an understanding of things - many of them good - but they must be put into historical context. You know, the reasons for the Reformation and the fact that Protestantism was not only hostile to Romanism but also emerged from it, etc. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest flaws with Calvinism; it took such a reactionary stance against Romanism that it actually threw out the baby with the bathwater in some ways. Same thing with Luther, who expressed some Cessationist views, but not always. In fact, sometimes he almost seemed to be the polar opposite, particularly in personal correspondence. So there is no real consistent Luther or Calvin any more than there is a flawlessly consistent theology of Chris A. going back over the span of x amount of years.

But I immediately digressed. I was going to comment on what you said about the possibility of there being some bad theology in Calvin's writings. In my opinion, there is quite a bit - not that this depreciates its value both historical and theological - but something I think most people will agree that the idea of Jesus suffering in hell is bad theology. This is a teaching that many people have criticized modern Charismatic/Word of Faith teachers like Kenneth Copeland for, but folks are either ignorant of the fact that Calvin taught the exact same thing, or they just want to give him a pass.

Darius said...

"folks are either ignorant of the fact that Calvin taught the exact same thing, or they just want to give him a pass."

It's both. It's just like so many Calvinists who regularly quote from Luther even though Luther was very anti-Calvinism. You pick and choose the good stuff and leave the rest. Calvin had plenty of faults, just as many teachers do.

Rhology said...

I haven't read anything on that, but I wonder how much of that was influenced by the Apostles' Creed's saying "He descended into Hell".

Chris A said...

Rhology, your hunch is right. It was at least partially Calvin's interpretation of the Apostles' Creed.

Of course, the Scriptures do say that Christ descended into the "lower parts of the earth" and "thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption", but it is quite a different matter to interpret suffering in hell as something necessary for completing the work of redemption. I suppose there might be an element of truth to this, but its still just speculation since the Scriptures don't explicitly say as much. The word "hell" here does not exclusively mean a place of punishment.

We might just as well assume, because we do have a solid biblical basis to do so, that Christ went to "Abraham's Bosom" or Paradise, a place that was separate from the place of punishment, because he told the thief on the cross that "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."

The other theory supposes that Christ's work was not complete until he entirely became man's substitute by suffering for sin the way man would have otherwise suffered.

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The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
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When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
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