Lutherans object to the “secret” decree of Calvinism. Because the decree is allegedly secret, the Calvinist has no “objective” basis for the assurance of salvation–unlike Lutherans who vest the assurance of salvation in the objectivity of the sacraments. But there are several problems with this objection, of which I’ll focus on just two:
1.The decree is “secret” in the same sense that the future is secret. In relation to the present, the future is secret. Likewise, in relation to the present, the decree is secret.
Put another way, the decree is secret in the way that the plans for D-Day were secret prior to D-Day. But this doesn’t mean the plans for D-Day remained a secret. The day after the Normandy Landings, the plans for D-Day were hardly a secret.
The decree is “secret” in relation to the future, but not in relation to the past. For God’s plan is a plan for time. By putting his plan into effect, his plan becomes evident over time.
Even if the planning stage is “secretive,” the implementation of the plan ceases to be secretive. For the decree has real-world effects. Effects in time and space.
2.However, another irony with the Lutheran position is the way in which Lutheranism replaces a secret decree with a secret body.
They complain about how God’s decree is allegedly hidden from human view. Yet the body of Christ is hidden in the bread and wine.
Unlike the decree, which has visible, tangible effects–the sacramental body of Christ is indiscernible.
They complain about how election is allegedly indetectible, yet they vest their assurance in the sacramental body of Christ, which is utterly indetectible. Although the communion elements are objective, the real presence is indistinguishable from the real absence at the empirical or phenomenological level.
All they have to fall back on is their subjective faith in the real presence. They believe it’s really there. So they put faith in their faith.