Monday, February 08, 2010



“Luther well recognized all enthusiasts and thereby theologies of glory function basically the same, be the Rome, Calvinist, Baptist or Islam – they fundamentally look inward for the work of God and not extra nos.”

i) A simpleminded caricature of Reformed theology

ii) What makes you think that Islam fundamentally looks inward for the work of God? I can think of few religions with a more externalistic piety than Islam.

Sufism tries to counteract that outward orientation, but Sufism flirts with pantheism, which is anathema to orthodox Islam (the sin of shirk).

“This they do for they see that ‘grace’ is this kind of infusa gratia (official roman terminology) or the ‘conversion/regeneration’ that is a ‘secret’ operation of the ‘spirit’ upon the soul with the Word (or sacrament) as nothing more than a kind of appendage.”

i) In Calvinism, saving grace has both an objective dimension (i.e. election, justification, adoption, redemption, propitiation) and a subjective dimension (i.e. regeneration, sanctification, perseverance, glorification).

ii) There is nothing secretive about regeneration. If the Spirit renews the soul, then the soul is aware of that fact–just as somebody who flatlines is conscious of a successful resuscitation. You can’t be revived by the Spirit without the resultant awareness of new life.

iii) Why do you place the name of the “spirit” in lower case? Do you deny the divinity of the Holy Spirit?

iv) As the Spirit is the source of faith, so the Word is the object of faith. Hardly an appendage. On the one hand, faith is the gift of the Spirit. On the other hand, the Word is what the faithful believe.

v) By contrast, the Word is just an appendage in Lutheranism since you get everything you need from the font, chalice, or wafer.

“Here we see that the Pope, heterodoxies of all colors, Islam, secular religion, etc… all function the same way. Restoration is ultimately unto the ‘law’ by some ‘infusion’ called ‘grace’ that now ‘enables’ one to ‘do’ or ‘believe’ (faith as a work or coin to merit salvation).”

i) Is it your position that saving faith is not the result of saving grace?

ii) If, according to Calvinism, faith is the necessary effect of monergistic regeneration, then that’s the polar opposite of faith as a “work” or “coin to merit salvation.”

“In the trio of theologies of glory (enthusiasm, god withinness) parading itself around as ‘christain’ – Rome, Arminianism, and Calvinism – this infused grace (by any other name) comes either ex opera operato via the sacraments as a kind of ‘means’ of ‘pouring it into you (Rome); or in the creation as the ‘grace’ to use ‘free will’ (arminianism); or by that secretive elective operation of the ‘Holy Spirit’ to rebirth/convert (calvinism).”

i) Those were three very different models of salvation. Hardly something you can intelligently lump under the same rubric.

ii) Why do you put the Holy Spirit in scare quotes? Is Lutheranism synonymous with unitarianism?

iii) Conversion isn’t “secretive.” Conversion is a conscious experience. A convert may be unaware of the cause, but he’s not unaware of the effect. For the effect of conversion is to reactivate his mind and heart in a Godward direction.

“Other religions adhere more closely to the arminian infusa. Thus we see all enthused religions, theologies of glory, display the same fallen religion namely that man’s problem is mostly a matter of needing to ‘improve’ himself via the law and its just a matter of how to get so called ‘grace’ (the infusa gratia) INTO that man so that the so called ‘gospel’ may now serve the so called ‘law’. This is opposed by orthodoxy, Luther, Lutheran confessions and true Christianity on every single point in which Christianity is NOT a repair job, rather the law serves the Gospel and man’s problem is not ‘needing grace’ to do or even believe, but a grace that is the utter forgiveness of his sins, real sin not just pretend sin.”

Original sin renders fallen man both culpable and corrupt. Therefore, saving grace must address both the objective consequences of original sin (i.e. culpability) as well the subjective consequences of original sin (i.e. corruption).

So your position is, at best, a half-truth. And heresies are typically half-truths.

“Herman Sasse was right in saying that if one gets the sacraments wrong, one will of necessity get the rest of scripture wrong, as well as Luther saying that Christianity is a tapestry of which if one removes one single thread the entirety is ruined.”

If that’s true, then of necessity, Lutheranism is systematically wrong inasmuch as Lutheranism got off to the wrong foot with the sacraments.

“This can be discovered by assessing where a religion sees its individual “pro me”, its either utterly objective in the Word and sacraments or some enthusiast concept (false christian or rank pagan) the ‘god withinness’, which also is the source of all gnostcism.”

i) The Word is objective, but the Word must be appropriated by faith, which is subjective. Or does Lutheranism now deny justification by faith?

ii) Likewise, is it your position that sacramental grace has no effect on the personal condition of the recipient?

“But if you or I win that same lottery then the general good news does in fact become GOOD NEWS TO and FOR me and you. I think we can all see the difference here as it is fairly obvious.”

And is it GOOD NEWS that in Lutheranism, you can win the lottery, but still lose? All those lottery winners roasting in hell.

“Thus it is critical where the ‘pro me’ is found. It is critical that the pro me be grounded objectively in something utterly, completely and entirely objective, sure and certain.”

i) No. It’s critical that assurance be grounded in the God-given grounds of assurance, revealed in Scripture.

ii) But this is a good example of Lutheran apriorism. The Lutheran begins, not with Scripture, but with his desired result–then contrives a theological system to yield the desired result.

Unfortunately, that leads to make-believe.

iii) Assurance cannot be grounded in something “utterly, c0mpletely and entirely” objective, for that squeezes out any role for faith in God.

Some Lutherans speak as though they don’t really care about God. They only care about assurance. They crave the gift, not the Giver.

iv) Notice the radical dualism in Lutheran assurance, whereby it restricts certainty to the purely objective realm. So, for Lutheranism, God is only Lord over the objective realm.

“For men seek God, so they think, by their works of one of three ways always; via fallen human reason (were Calvinist astray from the Word)…”

That fails to distinguish between regenerate and unregenerate reason.

“Although Arminianism arose in reaction against Calvinism, they share much in common. Both have a low view of the Holy Sacraments.”

Which begs the question.

“(In reality a non or false view) and emphasize subjectivity–personal election in the case of Calvinism.”

Either God chooses who will be saved or man chooses who will be saved.

“Both incline toward legalism–for the Calvinist, to ensure that he is persevering in his election.”

All assertion, no argument.

“Rather than in the sacraments where the Gospel comes to and for me personally, am really washed and forgiven of sin, really and truly receive that very body and very blood that was given for my forgiveness of sin for real not symbolically, the Calvinist and Arminian ‘pro me’, due to, I would say, NO view of the holy sacraments as opposed to a ‘low view’, goes and directs men’s souls elsewhere (as do all forms of theologies of glory that avoid the Cross).”

Notice that Lutheranism replaces Christianity with Waferanity. It directs men away from the Cross, and redirects them to the wafer. It bids them find Jesus, not in the Word, but in the wafer.

“Thus this theology of glory ‘pro me’ begets what it always begets a drudgery and slogging along of outward ‘good works’ to , to ensure that one is persevering in his election (Calvinistic).”

There is no salvation apart from perseverance. You must abide in the vine. He who endures to the end will be saved.

“If one insists on looking inward to one’s heart one will find eventually the truth of one’s heart and see in reality nothing but death, condemnation and hell…for that is the state of the fallen heart.”

Notice that Lutheran theology is functionally unitarian. It has no room for the Father’s elective grace or the Spirit’s regenerative grace and sanctifying grace.

And, frankly, it has no need for a living, Risen Savior. Instead, it reduces the Gospel to the font, wafer, and chalice.

“This sacrament (the Lord’s Supper) is the Gospel, said Luther. And so it is for it gives what it says and it gives it TO you/me and FOR you/me and the object for FAITH to cling to is what it says it is, the very body and blood of Jesus Christ.”

In Lutheranism, Jesus ceases to be the object of faith. The wafer becomes the object of faith.

“Faith clings to NOTHING else than Christ alone.”

And Lutheran faith clings to nothing else than a wafer alone.

“Where the Word has been put in water, bread and wine…”

We don’t need Jesus anymore, for everything he had to offer has been transferred to a piece of bread. Once we cash in the lottery ticket, we no longer need the ticket. We can toss our ticket in the trashcan. It served its temporary purpose.

“And faith alone ‘sees, detects and knows’ salvation and Christ are for it, the senses of experience, affections or human reason are utterly blind to this thus they wrestle with the Word of God, think Him impossible attempt to ascend high into heaven as enthused gnostics tend to do and there seek out god in the nude bringing their works via reason, affections or experiences with them.”

Actually, nothing could be more Gnostic than the notion of an invisible, intangible body. A real body has empirical properties. A real body isn’t something you can only see by faith.’ Real blood isn’t something you can only see by faith.

Lutherans complain about the allegedly hidden, secretive character of election (which is misleading even on its own terms), but they replace secret election with secret blood. If election is hidden from human eyes, so is “true” body–hidden in the sacrament.

“All articles of faith ask us to believe an absurdity because via our fallen senses of reason, affections and experiences we have utterly lost the knowledge of God.”

I don’t find the articles of faith “absurd.” And, in any case, I don’t reject the Real Presence because it’s absurd. Rather, I reject the Real Presence, both because (i) it’s exegetically unsound and also because (ii) it lays an ax to the root of the Incarnation.

When Lutherans redefine a body in such insensible terms, they implicitly deny the Incarnation.

“The Word of God that commands us that they are so (e.g. ‘Take eat/drink this is My body/blood…given/shed…FOR YOU…for the forgiveness of sins).”

Calvinists also obey God’s command by celebrating the Eucharist.


  1. "Notice that Lutheranism replaces Christianity with Waferanity. It directs men away from the Cross, and redirects them to the wafer. It bids them find Jesus, not in the Word, but in the wafer.

    In Lutheranism, Jesus ceases to be the object of faith. The wafer becomes the object of faith."

    May I, a Calvinist, assume that this is hyperbole done for rhetorical effect? And perhaps humor as well?

  2. No, not hyperbole, but implication. And, indeed, it's pretty explicit in what various Lutheran epologists are saying. Look at their own language and draw the obvious conclusion.

  3. Steve, I wonder what the Lutheran epistemology is concerning being saved by the sacraments.

    I've seen it said more than once that, unlike Calvinists, the Lutheran does not point to repenting and believing (which are gifts from God). They point to baptism and communion. So, how do they know?

    They still have to come back and admit that they are the ones trusting in God. Even though baptism and communion are gifts to the church the individual must still participate.

    In the same way, a Calvinist will trust Scripture to understand the receiving of the gifts of faith and repentance. Though these are gifts from God one must participate in repenting and believing.

    I've yet to see this admitted or clearly and biblically dealt with.

  4. This is interesting.

    In that long convoluted thread over at "Evangel" Paul McCain gave that very answer for his assurance of salvation, but had no answer as to why the non-believing Lutheran beside him, taking those same elements, should not also have assurance.

    I don't get that at all.