Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Is Calvinism synergistic?

I rarely comment on Lutheran theology, but since some Lutherans are picking on Calvinism, I'll return the favor. I'm going to respond to two comments by Larry on this post:

i) Larry says: "One issue about Calvinism that many Lutherans miss is that it is just as synergistic & works righteousness as Arminianism, it’s hidden."

According to Lutheran theology, saving grace is both universal and resistible. Saving grace is not unilaterally efficacious. Rather, the efficacy of saving race depends on whether sinners accept or reject it. So the human response is decisive. 

How is that not synergistic? By contrast, Calvinism regards saving grace as inherently efficacious, because it ultimately depends on God's will and power. 

ii) Larry seems to be suggesting that Baptists, Presbyterians, et al. don't have true sacraments because they don't believe in baptismal regeneration and the real presence: "the reformed & Baptist do not really have the sacrament of the altar, they do not have the Lord’s Supper at all."

If so, then he's claiming that the nature of what you receive (at baptism or communion) depends, not on God's will and power, but on the disposition of the recipient. The communicant has the ability to make it the real presence or make it mere bread and wine. The baptismal candidate has the ability to make it regenerative or make it mere water. 

How is that not synergistic? 

iii) Larry seems to suggest that the Gospel is equivalent to physical contact with Christ: "Christ’s presence is the Gospel is the Sacrament…"

Not what Christ taught. Not his miracles. Not his death on the cross. Not the Resurrection. 

Rather, to be in physical contact with Christ via the communion elements is sufficient to experience the Gospel: "the forgiveness of sin in their mouths received…all the way down."

iv) In Calvinism, salvation is not about our mentally reaching out to God (“reach up/go into heaven” where one arrives at Christ to receive forgiveness and thus heaven), but what God does for us (e.g. election, redemption, justification) and in us (e.g. regeneration, sanctification, preservation). 

v) According to Larry: "If Christ is not there as he said where he said in Word and Sacrament (this is My body), then the revelation of the Father alone, Christ, is not down here, FOR me/you. If He’s not then the bridge to God is back to the infinite."

There's only "bridge to gap" on the assumption that salvation is about space. Up and down. Physical distance. It's as if Larry equates salvation with astronautics. 


  1. I got tired of interacting with the confessional Lutherans over at The Wittenburg Gate site a long time ago.

    Their modus operandi was to emote and hand wave over tradition sans Scriptural argumentation, and when Scriptural exegesis was brought to bear on their traditional interpretations, to block comments.


    They don't need a Physician.

  2. This LCMSer suggests you stop wasting your time with Lutheran blogs, because there is no equivalent to this blog in the Lutheran world. Few FC subscribers have any meaningful contact with Calvinism or Calvinists, and fewer still make any effort to undertstand their opponents. If you compare this and similar blogs to Madison at the Constitutional Convention, consider Lutheran blogs to be like Kruschev banging his shoe at the UN.

  3. Has lutheran theology always been synergistic? From reading about Luther and the bondage of the will it'd not what I would have expected.

    1. Much more comes via Melanchthon.