A letter from a new friend

This letter was written to Larry, and then forwarded to me as well:John Piper by puritan-monergist

(Larry) It is so strange you mentioned John Piper because that guy has caused me more anxiety than anyone.  I think his whole goal is to make every person on earth think they are not a child of God.  His teachings on Christian hedonism and not wasting our life is the worst law I have EVER heard.  Just when I thought the ten commandments were impossible, Piper comes along with something worse.  I guess God’s law wasn’t enough to drive us to the cross so Piper invented some other stuff to come after the cross.  I guess really the cross isn’t enough.  When I hear him I think that I would prefer either staying in the Arminian camp or just giving up the whole thing and enjoying life and be damned since according to him, I am probably damned anyway.  I try not to mention his name on blogs because some of his followers become seriously angered and I try not to start any internet hostilities but, seriously how can I know I am saved if I am listening to people like him?  I started listening to R.C. Sproul but, now I see that he is teaming with Piper more and more so, I had to get out before I committed suicide.  I just don’t understand why a solid reformation guy like Sproul who has Veith and others contribute to table talk suddenly partner up with Piper and make declarations like he is now a Christian hedonist?  By the way, I have thought about that suicide more than once in the past six months.  I came to the point where I thought if I am going to be damned anyway then I should just speed up the process since I am already in misery so why not just get it over with?

 My question is how can Calvinist like Michael Horton give such hope and team up with Lutherans and the like while people like Piper desire to persuade others that so few will be in heaven, he will know them all personally.  I believe that he thinks that only he and other Calvinist will probably be the only ones there.  I once read an article in table talk magazine where R.C.’s son said that now C.S. Lewis is in heaven, he is a Calvinist.  That is when I called and canceled my subscription.  I was shocked that these guys would imply that Christ himself was a Calvinist.  It was so disturbing and I am still reeling from the shock of it all.  Of course it is amazing that they believe Lewis is with Christ at all since he wasn’t a Calvinist.

 Here is my problem.  I constantly struggle with my salvation.  I hear people say well, if you struggle then that is a sign that you are saved.  So, when I have moments of assurance that begins to freak me out. Because doubt means you are saved.  What???  At this point I am getting really angry and wanting to shout at any evangelical or Calvinist that walks my way.  I see no difference.  These folks are one in the same.  I have heard soooo many times the same thing.  You may think you are saved but, your not.  Or if you struggle with your salvation you are saved.  I have heard John Piper say that if you come to Jesus because you fear hell then you aren’t really saved.  Then, some Calvinist will give some terrifying talk on hell so people will repent and come to Jesus.  So, which is it?  Is there only one reason why people come to the end of their rope and flee to Christ?  If I am terrified of being separated from the triune God and bend the knee to him knowing that only his blood shed for me saves is that or isn’t it enough?
  MacArthur gave a nice little sermon about how even though you believe in Jesus as the one true savior of the world you may still go to hell.  WHAT???  Thanks John I really want to be a Christian now.  Heck a Mormon can give me something better than that!  The problem is that I am not looking for some non gospel or law light types to give me comfort (a la Joel Osteen) No, I don’t want that at all.
  I can say from the law prospective these Calvinist are right.  Unfortunately, i have yet to hear the gospel from any save the White Horse Inn.  Why is that?
I am sorry that this email isn’t filled with more questions; I plan to get to those but, right now I need to rant and scream!  I have to get this out because this anger is consuming me and causing much anguish.  I need prayer to move past my crazy Calvinist Baptist past and not let this forever cause me to leave the church all the while feeling such intense pain.  I am so afraid that I don’t truly believe and it haunts me most days.  I pray and pray but, as soon as I hear some law and gospel in its purest sense some Calvinist from my past will come sit on my shoulder and whisper a thing or two about the lack of my known works.  Thank you for being willing to converse with this stranded Evangelical.  I am going to the Mockingbird conference this weekend in Pensacola and am hoping to hear some refreshing message about Grace.  I have always heard that word but I can be honest and say I have no clue about its means within my life since I grew up in memorial views of baptism and communion and rarely hear the pure Gospel.
I am sorry to have gone on so long but, I hope to have many meaningful conversations with you to come.  I am so grateful to meet someone via internet that has shared in my struggle.
    Thank you,
Any thoughts on Susan’s concerns?

147 Responses

  1. My advice?

    Keep seeking, Susan. You’ll eventually find a Christianity that looks exactly like you want. You could even join the “emergent movement” and define Christianity however you want.

  2. Wow.

    It seems to me that one of the big differences between the “bad” Calvinists and people like Michael Horton is their view of God. Most Calvinists see God as primarily wrathful, only able to love us once He’s saved us ( a slight exaggeration, perhaps). The others see God as primarily loving (us), and His wrath is poured out on the sin that plagues us.

    I think she’d probably benefit from the book I just co-authored, “The Gospel Uncensored.” (really, this is not a plug.) If you would forward me her address, I’ll send her a free copy. I wrote the book for people like her.

  3. What I would say to Susan is this:

    Forget about Piper or any fallible human interpreter of the Scriptures. Simply look to Christ, God in the flesh, the perfect God image and God’s ultimate and final Word, and ask yourself the following questions:

    1. Is there anything in Christ other than God’s eternal word of grace to you (2 Timothy 1:9)?

    2. Does Christ reject anyone who wants to come to Him (John 6:37)?

    3. Is God’s love for you dependent on your action or the degree of your faith (Romans 5:8)?

    4. Is faith anything but accepting and enjoying what is already true from God’s perspective – that He already DID reconcile the world with Himself (Hebrews 11:1, 2 Corinthians 5:19)?

    5. As you look to Christ, can there be any doubt that God was, is and always will be for you and that in Christ there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1,31-39)?

  4. Good to hear about going to the Mockingbird conference – certainly some helpful work being done there. My advice – stick with the White Horse Inn.
    Messers Horton, Riddleberger and Rosenbladt faithfully blast the follies of our age with the essential ‘Sola’s’ of the Gospel – and that most certainly helps to build us up in the truth in Jesus Christ.

  5. I had many of the same issues a few years ago. I, too, often had thoughts of wanting to die since it would lessen my earthly agony. At the time, I didn’t realize it was due to so much Calvinist doctrine. I’m in Japan, and most of the Christian missionaries I associated with were proclaiming those “truths.”

    I credit my Lutheran childhood for some doctrines that refused to budge, and I remember the thoughts of ‘who am I to put myself above God and His Word … if He says I am forgiven, I am forgiven…. if I doubt His forgiveness, I doubt His Word, but I do not want to doubt, I want to believe…. even if my faith is as small as a mustard seed…. even if I look to Christ the littlest bit…. because He said it, it has to be so… or none of His Words matter….’

    I, too, had to reject the idea that God had already chosen those for damnation. If that were so, what is the point of Jesus’ death? One dear missionary friend always “encouraged” me to “just obey and take the next step. God will not do anything in my life until I take that next step.” Huh? God was powerless to act without me? Umm.

    It seemed like I was constantly trying to be right with God on my own, but always failing. Giving God the credit with my lips, but not letting Him work through me without my putting in my share. Constantly under the Law, and in fear of God’s Sovereignty. Someone also told me that my worrying about whether or not I was really truly saved was an indication that I must be. But, that never made sense. My worrying that maybe I had married the wrong person was no assurance that I hadn’t!

    Too much looking at me, myself, and I. How gross. I needed a Savior, not a healthy self-esteem.

    My advice to Susan, as someone else said. Stop believing those whose teaching contradicts what is clearly written in God’s Holy Word. Jesus, His death and resurrection is what to see – in everything. He does not lie. We may not understand everything, but when He says that belief in Him is all you need, you can take Him at His Word.

    Otherwise, our faith is in vain anyway, and none of it matters at all.

  6. I actually like Piper… except he seems to always put one twist on every sermon and I don’t like that one twist.

    To me the guy will spend a LOT of time around the bullseye …. but somehow never sticks the arrow IN the bulls eye. Martin Luther had a way of hitting the bullseye and staying there. But I have also heard a few Piper sermons that hit the bullseye too… they just seem too far apart for me.

    Many of the “good calvinists” wrestle with the question of what changes and sanctifies people. This is a very difficult question and in my opinion not answered well by many denominations without getting into law based thinking….. and I would also say this question is also answered poorly by lutherans too!

    But it is a very valid question! How do people change! I think this is addreesed in scripture. John Piper and a few guys that co-write with him have some good ideas in this area and I think are not compromising Gods truth when doing this!!!

    The problem with John Piper and some people who think like John Piper is they have a hermeneutic ( a lens of interpreting scripture) that sometimes overrides the truth that they are presenting to people. If they could lessen that hermeneutic and enhance the message of the Gospel I would not be far off of wanting to spend more time in their camp…. but it hasn’t quite happened so far!

    I am in the process of changing Churches. The one possible Church I decided NOT to join I was attending I sat two rows behind Piper on his sabbatical. However, one of the reasons I chose not to attend this Church was because I could sense the language of John Piper at the Church in a big way. The head pastor and worship leader both were from Desiring God. The head pastor was pretty good but the overall language of the Church was too Calvinistic for me. They were Calvinistic (capital C) and gospel (little g). If they could have been Gospel (Big G) and Calvinistic (little C) my wife and I may have joined this Church.

    We made the decision to get back to our Lutheran heritage and join a Lutheran Church instead!

  7. Sorry for the length in advance, I tried to pare it down.

    My advice is to flee these false teachings pronto and I don’t mind at all saying it the way I just said it. They are first of all condemned by Scripture roundly, second of all no Christian owes one single wit of alligience to such, in fact Scripture says “flee them” and thirdly, their satanic destructive reality is so obviously displayed in Susan’s struggle which I had which so many like experienced had I grow weary of even labeling them remotely Christian at all. They say, “lo here is christ, there is christ…” do not believe them.

    Susan’s experience is common in the circles she mentions. Once again it boils down to removing the sacraments as real sacraments, synergism must come. All is linked to what is the REAL meaning of justification by faith alone. To that point there is a wonder book out there written by Uuraas Saarnivaarna (hope I spelled that correctly, try that one out on a spelling bee!) that Dr. Rosenbladt was able to convince Concordia to republish (its an older book) entitled “Luther Discovers The Gospel”. This one is a treasure.

    Many in Susan’s shoes, like my self and others I conversed with who went this route of Calvinism feel a kindredship to Luther like, “hey this guy’s been living in MY skin” as to experience. There is a reason for that, its precisely the set of false teachings, under various medieval RC schools of thought Luther went through. That’s why we can say that really Reformed and Baptist have never really left Rome, just some superficial externals.

    The two primary issues the book deals with is predestination and what was Luther’s REAL tower experience concerning justification by faith alone and thus the REAL Law Gospel distinction? Without repeating the book and looking to the later for now:

    Most, especially in baptist circles think that Rome teaches “works salvation” overtly and they don’t. They do BUT not overtly. Rome does not say, “saved by your works”, rather she teaches Augustine’s view of justification by faith alone, she always has. This form of “justification by faith alone” is precisely what heterodoxy Protestantism teaches. What is this form? And what was Luther’s real tower experience begetting the real Gospel and the real Law/Gospel distinction? Augustine (and Rome) did/does teach that man’s sins are not (1) imputed to him for Christ’s sake (good so far), but that the famous Romans 1:17, “for in it (the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed”, that particle, “the righteousness of God”, means ‘the righteousness whereby God gives his grace so man may begin to make the change into a more or less righteous being and is thus finally be justified’. This righteousness of God is a “gift” via “grace” that is never perfect in this life and any sin done is ‘not imputed’ to them. You see that’s precisely protestant heterodoxy doctrine on the matter, to the chagrin of many, Rome does not disagree at all. We see that Augustine’s and thus Rome’s doctrine sees the primary problem of man being a need for “a change of taste” (as Saarvinaara states), his heart needs the grace (Rome called it infusion, heterodox Protestantism just calls it “grace”) to be changed and made different, to start the PROCESS of being healed. Man is sick needing healing, during the healing he still retains a ‘sickness’ though he is in the PROCESS of healing. Thus, Augustine’s view is man needs to DESIRE things of God and heavenly things over more or less earthly things (See the neoplatonism and thus future gnosticism!). This is the ENTIRE basis of ministries like John Piper, “Desiring God”. His entire program, man’s entire problem is to need to desire God and not earthly things, he quotes CS Lewis at length (who had neoplatonic ideas himself). Anyone who has read his books and heard his sermons and his programs at length knows this. I’ve personally read nearly everything Piper wrote of significance and some smaller treatise. I use to devour his works. Thus in summary what Augustine taught and Rome still teaches is that man’s sins are (1) indeed not imputed to him, but (2) man gets this “grace” to begin the process of becoming, actively, righteous and thus = justified.

    Many erroneously think (I did too) that Luther’s tower experience over Romans 1:17 was a move from “the righteousness of God” being ‘that whereby He is Himself righteous’ to ‘that grace He gives men to begin to become righteous’. That is false. Rome never taught that, nor does so, they taught what Augustine taught, what John Piper teaches, what ALL heterodoxy teaches. Luther’s tower experience whereby he discovered the 200 proof Gospel and the true Law/Gospel distinction was a move from “the righteousness of God” being that ‘gift of grace to man whereby man begins to become righteous’ to “the righteousness of God” being that truly gifted imputed rigthteousness of Christ given to man whereby Christ’s works are imputed to us as well as our sins not imputed to us but to Christ! Therefore, there is LITERALLY NOTHING LEFT TO DO! Not even the fruits of faith prevail in the justification before God but Christ’s fruits alone! That’s why Lutherans can say, “It does not matter even if you do not get better, your sins are forgiven you AND you are righteous for Christ’s sake”. This we know by PURE naked and nude passive (this is what passion and suffering mean, and to be on the cross) trust alone in that IT IS SO because God said so. No measurement of it or observation of it can be made! THIS was Luther’s tower experience whereby he said he felt he had entered into the gates of paradise.

    There was two groups among medieval RC that parallel basically Arminianism and Calvinism. The first was the scholastics the second was the German mystics. The former group saw this ability (a kind of created grace if you will) given to CREATED man, which is basically what full blown pelagianism is and Arminianism, ‘man has the ability to choose to believe or not and it is rooted in his CREATED state. The later group, the German mystics, are basically precursors to Calvin and Calvinism which lead with mixture to the Baptist. The German mystics saw this ability to believe and thus be saved in the “infusion of grace”, ala Calvin. In other words man is “totally depraved” until grace (infused grace is the German mystic phrase for the same thing) is put into a man to “be able to believe” and thus begin the process of repair even though no perfection should be expected in this life and forgiveness of sin is always there. This, the later, is how a man is supposed to know his election unto salvation, this grace infusion (Rome) or inward working (Calvin/Baptist) begets the “becoming healthy sick man” (Augustine). Once that is detected, then supposedly assurance of salvation follows. What they fail to see it is the hidden pit/trap of crypto-works-righteousness as opposed to overt works-righteousness.

    Here’s where Luther’s tower experience shines through, and one begins to see his link to the sacraments! For it is Christ’s righteousness that is the righteousness of God given, literally NOTHING LEFT TO DO, it is literally FINISHED. Therein lay the Gospel and the Law Gospel distinction. This reads in all the OT and NT. Thus, when one reads the Psalms speaking of the “righteous” whom God defends and comforts and destroys the wicked, the “righteous” are those who trust, nakedly, in the righteousness of Christ being theirs (nothing left to do) and the wicked in reality encompass the overtly wicked as well as those who believe that post conversion they are making the process work for themselves.

  8. Here is the other thing. Many people see a continous line with Arminans on one end and Calvinists on the other end like they are opposites. In my opinion the Gospel truth is not something on the line but in fact goes a third direction completely different from either Arminians or Calvinists. Many years ago my Lutheran pastor asked me to look at the Lutheran camp as a third direction completely different from both the Arminian and Calvinistic extreme.

    That was a freeing concept for me. The Gospel path is indeed a third direction… different from Arminians or Calvinistic thinking and not captive to either side!

  9. I agree with Larry but want to add one thing… but its a looooong discussion. Grace gets twisted and perverted by men in more ways than just works based righteouss ways.

    We also want to hang on to a tolerance based 1960s “unonditional love” type of theology and never grow from Gods purposes in how he as at wirk in our lives. This can also twist Grace.

    I believe wholehearted that starting at the Gospel of Grace (1) also changes us. As we do this we also see (2) God sovereignly working on us ( and disciplining us) to grow into Christ likeness.

    However, as soon as you get into a discussion on the modus operandai of how people grow and change you start getting in the “uncomfortable zone” for many people.


  10. The point of Luther’s tower experience was that “no justification” is made by God, AT ALL, based on any change whatsoever in man. The God comes to the sinner, unlovable in everyway, and finds nothing but that which by way of reason should be hated and utterly despised, and says, “I love you”. Thus, man is justified before God by a shear declaration, like exonerating a brutal murderer while in the act of murdering. This declaration is never changed ever, not even when that murder grabs another and kills them after he’s heard the declaration.

    Thus, the only people ultimately in hell are those who refuse the declaration of (1) not guilty and (2) Christ is your ONLY righteousness. No one is changed in this life, we are as to actuality sinners through and through, to this proof, you/me/all of us are going to die one day. Proof is in the pudding, nothing in this life survives, it is judged and executed.

    Thus, the real simul justus et peccator is NOT as heterodoxy teaches, like some salt and some pepper in various ratios per person. Rather, 100% in reality utter sinner still and always even post conversion, and 100% by shear declaration “not guilty” and “just as if you had fulfilled the Law by Christ’s righteousness being imputed.

    For Luther and Lutheranism, which is simply tag line for orthodox Christianity, i.e. Christianity that is in fact Christianity lest anyone be confused, JUSTIFICATION is the utter ceasation of any process of change. THAT was Luther’s tower experience, that’s the Gospel that freed him from himself completely.

    If you want a changed life, go to another overt other religion because that’s what all such in reality are. So why piddle around with rank amatures like Arminianism, Calvinism, or Romanism when you can “REALLY lean into the harness” via some hard working religion like Mormonism or Islam.

  11. The reason poor lay Christians cannot recognize a false teacher or teaching is that in our day and age they will be told when they use their discernment to do so per the plenteous commands of God, OT and NT, they will be told; “that is not so they are just a bit eschew” but in the end some truth is there. God nowhere enjoins us to mingle falsehood with His truth, in fact just the opposite. These people play and amuse themselves with the Word of God by on the one hand insisting on their false teaching but on the other hand insisting that’s no reason to separate. They will find no Scriptural support for such a flight of the imagination. As one Lutheran well pointed out, “we will be saved without the love and friendship of the heterodoxy churches, but we will not be saved without the true doctrine” (paraphrased).

    This is the reason many like poor dear Susan get trapped, nobody calls it like it is, and so they are scared, already in terror having been so inwardly turned into themselves regarding their eternal salvation, that they dare not add more wood to the fire by daring to say, “Hey brothers and sisters, I think I’ve found a false teaching/teacher we should avoid.” This wish washy toying with God’s Word traps people like Susan who hear us saying, “Yea it’s not good but it’s not so bad” and thus they read our doctrine which is orthodox as saying, “this is better but not necessary”, thus “six one way, half a dozen another”. And thus they do not hear SURENESS in our words, “Come to the Sacraments that are Christ and thus the Gospel and eat and drink without money, come beggar, come!” Their conscious’s hear, “You are jumping the gun, you are just wanting to justify your sin and beggarly weakness, you may stay in this other teaching without harm, you doubt you are saved and elected and your harshness to even ponder that a man like John Piper is a false teacher teaching false gospel is simply more proof of what you already fear!”.

    All such is nothing less than the original word of the serpent, “hath God REALLY said….”. Hath God really said such concerning true pure doctrine! Well indeed it has and it is as clear concerning this as when God said, “do not eat…”.

  12. Grace points to the seriousness of our sin condition… is what I was trying to say. Hence Larrys point about the “righteoussness of Christ”


  13. Some very good comments here.

    Thanks to all of you for your concern and your thoughts on Susan’s situation.

    I happen to be of the mind that she should stop listening to anyone who would rob her of her assurance. No matter how many bible verses they quote, no matter how sincere they seem to be, no matter how popular of a ministry they have.
    Turn off the radio. Turn off the t.v. Turn off the computer, whenever these folks start to open their mouths and plant seeds of doubt in your head.

    I feel the same way for anyone who listens to folks that would keep them on the religious rat-wheel. Get out of the cage.

    Find a place that knows how to properly distinguish the law from the gospel. Find a place where the body and blood of Christ are truly present in the bread and the wine. Find a place where they know what sinners they really are, and where they know what a Savior they really have.

    And stay there and be saved. Over and over and over and over again.

    And if they ever change the focus of their ministry and start to place ‘YOU’ at the center…then get out of there, as well.

  14. I agree with the robbing of assurance comment Steve. One point I would make here is most Calvinists think assurance is one of the non negotiables of TULIP. . In other words Calvinistic should give assurance and NOT take it away. However, it really does the opposite in my opinion!

    Assurance comes from the Gospel and not some stoic (detached from the heart) doctrinal concept that stems from systematic theology!

  15. What did Jesus say comes from the hearts of man?

    I don’t want my assurance tied to my heart, in any way.

    That’s why the Word, and the Sacraments come to us from outside of ourselves. They are an objective Word of promise that does not depend on how we act, think, feel, or what we say.

    Feeling are good (or can be), but we ought not trust them. We ought only place our trust in Christ…alone.

    This is my problem with Calvinism. Too much, ‘me’ and not enough Christ.

    Thanks, Jon.

  16. Good comments!

    When I was in the deep bowels of Pipers (Calvinistic/baptist/puritan) teaching and that push to “desire God”, I was near the verge of suicide numerous days. It was a personal exchange from Dr. Rod Rosenbladt that began to pull me out. He began to DO the Gospel to me, I’d never had that done before. He was like a surgeon and could pick up on false teaching confounding Law and Gospel anywhere.

    Specifically what was destroying faith in me and thus obscuring Christ was Piper’s teachings, “Desiring God” and literally what it implies. Ironically, Dr. Rosenbladt quoted Lewis against this one day pulling me out of the despair of hell. He said Lewis once pointed out (paraphrased from memory) concerning “joy”, “There’s one sure fire way to make CERTAIN a person is never joyful. That way? Tell them to be joyful.” That opened my eyes!

    Thus, there is one sure fire way to make people NOT desire God. That way? Tell them to desire God in many and various ways.

    Therefore, there is one sure fire way to make them to DESIRE God truly. That way? Tell them for the sake of Christ THEY THEMSELVES are forgiven all their sins for Christ’s sake and Christ’s righteous works are theirs, and He hands them to them in their baptism and in a real and true Lord’s Supper that is not sign and symbol (neo Platonism)!

    That’s the difference between a REAL Gospel and the REAL Christ, and a false gospel and another christ.

  17. ‘Desiring God’ ?

    Right. Most of the time I am desiring to be my own god.

    Listen to one of Piper’s talks (not worthy to be called ‘sermons’). Loaded with flowery adjectives describing God (the devil can do that) and then loaded with admonitions on how WE OUGHT FEEL about God. Nothing but Law. No gospel there.

    There’s no salvation there, only condemnation.

    Don’t believe me? Ask Susan.

  18. When I was attending the “Desiring God’ Church a few times this summer…. it was difficult to see or hear anything that was not taught correctly. However, the one twist of the Gospel in the language at the Church just made things not quite smell right if you will !

    However, it was kind of cool to see John Piper there on Sabattical.

    The problem, IMO, was that this entire Church had been somewhat ‘head shaped’ by a Piperish influence. you could tell by a very subtle language difference that seemed VERY strong in the air and language in the Church.

    You will hear an overtly large emphasis of ‘Gods sovereignty’ and ‘Gods Glory’ as a subtle method of turning your ear toward obedience.

    I decided to start attending Hosanna Lutheran instead!

    I do tend to feel you dont have to throw the baby out with the bathwater on Piper. I think Piper is not in the same camp as some of the ODM (online discernment ministries) and heretic hunters online. He is a warrior for truth…. just misled by his hermeneutic that seems to override other truths of scripture.


  19. I do tend to think you need to throw the baby out with the bath water on Piper, because Piper has thrown the baby out of the bath water of baptism and one cannot in any sense of the word sustain the Gospel without the sacraments. Luther made this very point, Sasse reiterates it. There’s a reason there is no “pro me” in Baptist “liturgy”. The ONLY way to hear the Gospel in the baptist church is to hear a very rare evangelistic sermon meant to reach out to the lost that is not Calvinistic, probably comes from an Arminian baptist in which the general Gospel is maintained for the sake of “evangelizing” via the sermon. Then you will hear a “Jesus died for you”. That’s what converted me many years ago. Its after you “get in” that you begin to loose Christ via the doctrine when the move goes from the general gospel to the particular gospel, which is not there.

    In other words, evangelistically, the general Gospel, John 3:16, in more or less non-Calvinistic baptist churches is a kind of cheese on the mouse trap. When you stick your neck in to eat on it, SNAP, goes the more pure Arminian/Calvinstic flavors of their other gospel.

    I belonged to a Calvinistic SB church that idolized Piper. The emphasis was ALWAYS law. When I’d go to the pastor with struggles he’d just give more and more law. These were the kinds of lawyers that drove children unbaptized as infants in the church upon teen years away from the church. That all those many years they were taught, unbaptized mind you, to participate in missions, evangelism, etc… Then one fine day when the heart monitors, the elders, examine an approaching child, usually a teen for baptism, they come to find lo and behold all these many years “they really were not Christians” as the baptist church spews and they are not yet quite ready for baptism because they still “don’t quite get it”.

    “Children and infants, be like adults or you can never be baptized and enter into our church”, says the Baptist religion.

    “…you must be like these infants (adults), to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs, or you will NEVER enter the Kingdom of heaven”, says Jesus Christ the Lord of HIS church.

    So I don’t sweat one single second throwing a false teacher like Piper out of my thinking. In fact Scripture says to do just that, “flee from them”. And nice smiles and good lives are no judge of doctrine, these can all be sheep’s cloth.

  20. There is a lot of Piper idolatry… including some people I work with in my building that attend one of his campus Churches. However, to be fair its not just Piper that does not do “sacramental baptism”. Thats pretty much all the calvinistic “reformed churches”. As far as I know denominationally only the RC and Lutheran Church bodies do sacramental baptism. Most other Churches make it an ordinance or something that is “symbolic” of Christ and the Gospel.

    And of course many Churches are now using the Burger King method of baptism…. We’ll do it your way!

    Of course Southern baptists and Baptist General Conference have never done sacramental baptism as far as I know.

    There are probably a few others too!

  21. http://www.sovgracemn.org/statement_of_faith.php

    This was the Church Piper probably still is attending on his current Sabbatical.

  22. Thanks, Jon.

    I went there and read this, “All believers are exhorted to study the Scriptures and diligently apply them to their lives.”

    “…apply them to their lives.”

    This is where so much of the trouble is.

    In Lutheranism, the Lord applies the Word to our lives. The Word is done to us, and is not a project that we embark upon.

  23. There was definitely an odor at the Church mixed in with good teaching. Of course for a lie to exist it must resemble the truth!

    My take on things in this general area is not a project and yes ‘ NOT do vs done in Christ’. But works as an act and response to what God has done “for us’ is always something as an act of worship! Its not a way of earning status or getting into or a better place in heaven …. of course. IF things were stated that way then people would have ‘assurance identity crisis’ like the e-mail above!

    This is exactly what the book of James is about!

    Its about encouraging people saved by the blood of Christ to ‘move their feet’… because we are ALL sinners and need a savior as well as some personal encouragement … as well as being encouraged to take on some responsibility (we are after all …. ALL sinners).

    But when you use words like “real Christians” would do this or that…. then I get a bit upset.

    One of my favorite personal books is James.

    James 1:2
    2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

    james 1:14
    14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

    Thank Jesus I can worship the way James says with an assurance that Christ has already done his work on my behalf!!!!! This brings James to light for me!

  24. I should have said it this way

    Thank Jesus I can worship the way James says with an assurance that Christ has already done his work on my behalf!!!!!

    Because I do doubt…. and I do sin.

  25. http://itodyaso.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/john-piper-becoming-purpose-driven/

    When you read this BLOG keep in mind its completely satirical humor. There is not much seriousness about this BLOG except serious humor making fun of “overt” religiosity!

  26. Yes and it is ironic because Luther uses James, as well as other scriptures, to show forth that one single alteration of the Word of God is to sin against it all. This is proven true in that in order to reject the sacrament Zwingli and Calvin had to reject the truth of “the right hand of God”, what it actually is, insert a Greek unbiblical concept of heaven in order to not give up their doctrine on their supper. One now finds baptist like John MacArthur saying the blood of Christ was symbolic and to no avail only his death meant a reality, he was not saved by the blood of Christ but His death, the Gnostic necessity carried out tearing and violently ripping apart more and more the Scriptures (Luther predicted ALL of this from Zwingli forward).

    Therefore, to not baptize infants and teach baptism accordingly, to deny the real and true body and blood presence of Christ, ultimately is to deny the Scriptures, ultimately the Gospel. Make no mistake about it, an attack against the sacrament IS an attack against the Gospel (I speak of learned teachers here not laity).

    The attack is not that “the body and blood” are there that they attack so much, but rather that God is GIVING His body and blood to us to eat and drink FOR the actual issuance of the forgiveness of sin. All is against that utter assurance of forgiveness of sin and righteousness of Christ bestowed upon a man in the particular, make no mistake about it.

    The root essence of ALL forms of gnosticism is to prevent God from coming ALLLLLLLLLLL the way down into the sludge of the sinner to save them, the dead sinner must raise up to grab some how. The rejection of the doctrine of the communication of attributes goes both ways: It prevents Christ’s body and blood from moving around anywhere but some Greek conception of heaven broom closet he’s supposedly locked up into. AND it prevents God from suffering REALLY so that the human nature was more or less an Avatar in which no real suffering of God for us occurred. “Jesus wept” becomes, more or less, a façade in all such theologies.

  27. An irony in their statement of faith, “or worldly wisdom.” Which is precisely what interprets for them via Zwingli and Calvin the institution of the Lord’s Supper. “The finite cannot contain the infinite” is PRECISEL said worldly wisdom thus interpreting the Word’s of Christ falsely. Throw that away and the argument is utterly lost.

  28. Keep in mind that Luther struggled with the book of James in his early(er) years. He thought it could not be reconciled with Salvation by faith alone in Romans. In his later years he finally reconciled it more.

    This is a deep topic all in all. I tend to see Romans as a “profound” statement that describes our vertical relationship with God. I see James as practical statement of “putting feet” on our faith!

  29. There is no “good teaching” at these heterodox churches. Having actually come from them and been in them for years and read extensively their writings and confessions!

    As our confessions boldly proclaim (paraphrasing), ‘the greatest comfort comes from the doctrine that the highest worship in the Gospel is the desire to RECEIVE the forgiveness of sin, grace and righteousness.” This is why Christ called GREAT faith those who came to him to be forgiven, healed unto forgiveness, and children and infants who cried out “save us now Lord” (i.e. Hosanna). These he called “great faith”, faith of which he did not find in all of Jerusalem, the infants that came to Him that He may put himself on them, bless them, the owners of the kingdom of heaven.

    Note well how we’ve went, in this conversation, from “I agree”…”but”…”to works righteousness and Christ obscured yet again. Note well how this discussion over the clear false teachings of a heterodox pastor terrorizing a believer in real time in real life a real flesh and blood believer causing them to doubt and not have assurance has tacitly been more or less accepted into the house of faith by an argument of “silence as to their false teachings” or fearfulness of men to call it what it is! As Luther says, “there’s the poison”.

    No the facts are these, that when false teaching is not called false teaching and these doctrines of demons (Yes I mean precisely those terms) are not called such, but rather have applied to them a thin veneer of ‘its not all bad’ sugar coating, the person whose conscience, like this person’s, is stricken all the more and then forced to swallow this chocolate coated arsenic as a “healing medicine”. Thus, their fears via their stricken and raw conscience is realized that “maybe I’m not elect and my harshness against these teachings by this nice man is just further proof I wish to remain in my weakness of sin”.

    It is as Luther said, “if God had not wanted us to be assured of our salvation he wasted his time sending Christ and giving us the sacraments” (paraphrased) and that speaks VOLUMES.

    This nice quote via Gneiso Lutheran’s web site from Franz Pieper is much more helpful in this situation (I in no way can improve on this):

    Toying with God’s Word For The Sake of Love & Unity
    The Sacramentarians defended their false doctrine with great obstinacy, but at the same time they held that the doctrine of the sacraments was not important enough to dispute about. This is the reason that Zwingli, although still in disagreement with Luther after the Marburg Colloquy of 1529, offered Luther his hand in fellowship. Luther recounted about this issue:
    Thus they (the Sacramentarians) sufficiently indicate how little they value the matter of the majesty and glory of God’s Word. If in their hearts they earnestly believed that it is God’s Word, they would not so frivolously play and toy with it but would hold it in the highest esteem and, without doubt and dispute, believe what it says and reveals. They would know as well that one of God’s words is one with all of His Word and in turn that all of God’s words are one. They would know that all the articles of our Christian faith are one and in turn that one article is all of the others. If they abandon one article, then surely in time all of them, one after another, will fall by the way; for one depends upon the other, and they belong together…
    Without a doubt, then, if you deny God in one article, most certainly you have denied Him in all of them. For He does not let Himself be divided piecemeal into many articles, but He completely and wholly in each one of them; and, at the same time, in all of them, He is one God…. In brief, we must keep all articles of the Christian faith, whether great or small (though for us none is greater or smaller), pure and certain and not compromise one jot. This is how it must be. For doctrine is the sole lamp which lights and leads the way to heaven. if we allow it to be weakened or diluted at one point, then without question it will become powerless altogether.
    If we overlook this, love will be of no avail. We can be saved without the love and unity of the Sacramentarians, but it cannot happen without pure doctrine and faith…. Therefore it is not at all valid if one attempts to compare doctrine with life, for much more depends on one letter, indeed one single jot, of Scripture than on heaven and earth…. Thus we must learn more highly to honor the majesty and splendor of Scripture; for it is not the minor and facile thing the enthusiasts imagine, one tittle of it is more and greater than heaven and earth. Hence we are not inquiring here about Christian unity and love, but we are turning at once to the seat of judgment; that is, we judge and condemn all who in the least falsify and twist the majesty of the Word for “a little leaven sours the whole lump” [1 Cor 5:6; Gal 5:9].
    You must clearly understand the thoughts expressed by Luther. He underscores that all the words of God are God’s one Word and that all the articles of faith are one article of faith. Luther is pointing out that Christian doctrines are so intimately interconnected that if one is denied, then all are affected when the error is consistently carried through.
    – excerpt from Franz Pieper, ‘Lectures on the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the True Visible Church of God on Earth, The Tenth Lecture’

  30. All of “us” should examine ourselves.. but we have to be very careful about becoming “phobic”. Our emotions go here and there……but faith in Christ alone is solid.

  31. See, again, this how destructive false teaching gets a pass and throws it right back on the one whose soul it is murdering. Don’t dare identify it but rather “excuse it” and throw the blame on the effects of it upon someone as being “phobic”. And this is the poison within it, how it ropes you in, surreptitiously kills one’s soul never accepting the blame or tag “false teaching”, “false teacher”, “doctrine of demons”, “antichrist”, “from Satan”, but rather throws the blame back upon the person it is murdering as being “phobic”, not really understanding the “doctrine”, etc…ad nausem.

    To blame it on the person whose soul is being ravaged by the false doctrine as if they are being “phobic” about it is like telling a person who has just ingested poison snuck to them in a sweet drink, “it is not poison that you drank, but you are not digesting it correctly.”

    All of this is against the clear Word of God on the issue of fleeing false teachings and teachers, don’t not give them ear, don’t even let them into your house. John the apostle of love would not even take a public bath, a common thing in that time/erra, with a particular Gnostic false teacher for fear God would strike the building. This is nothing but playing with the Word of God and to the destruction of souls leading His people to err as the prophet says so very clearly.

    The ENTIRE false argument is thus: It cannot be that the doctrine is false and that’s what’s poisoning this person’s faith, why they cannot believe so it must be their improper use of the (false) doctrine. By this way a deadly camouflage is supplied to such antichristic doctrin that hides under sheep’s cloth and disarms men and women by its fine and outward appearance. If they begin to recognize it via its effects, having lost Christ because of it, then the façade says, “See here now, it is not I the doctrine but you who are doing it wrong, work harder at it, but don’t dare leave me”. Thus, it keeps unsuspecting Christians lured within its claws that it may continue to devour them slowly like ghoul feeding off of their flesh. Yet it is ONLY by false doctrine that one can IN FACT loose Christ!

    We have this charge from Christ himself who says positively, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:20.), and the prophet in Jer. 23:28 says, “He that hath My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord.” Paul confesses in 2 Cor. 2:17, “For we are not as many which corrupt the Word of God.”
    Thus, those preachers and teachers who depart from God’s Word and MIX the truth with error (not just rank error only and preaching nothing but error) are threatened in Scripture with God’s wrath; Jer. 23:31-32: “Behold I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.” Christ says, “My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27.) “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.” (Acts 2:42.)

    Negatively we have full command, warning and gift from God’s own Word to us to guard ourselves carefully against false prophets; “Beware of false prophets,” Christ urges them in Matt. 7:15. 2 John 10: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine—namely, the doctrine of Christ—, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed…”. Deut. 13:6ff.: “If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou has not known, thou nor thy fathers; namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; thou shalt not consent unto him; nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: but thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die.” I Pet. 4:11: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” John 8:31-32: “If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” St. Paul warns that we should flee and avoid those who want to lead us away from God’s Word. “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and YOU TOGETHER ARE THAT TEMPLE 1 Cor. 3:17. Acts 20:29-30: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” And in 1 Cor. 11:19 Paul says: “There must be also heresies,” that is, parties which will spread false doctrine, “among you.”

    Theodore Gaebner writes in 1918 regarding “The Leprosy of Unionism” and its ravages, “Once we admit that the Word of God has not clearly spoken on points of Christian doctrine, and “the lid is off,” faith disintegrates, and rationalism rules. . . Unionism works just like leprosy. First the disfigurement – the entrance of unscriptural views and practices, then the decay of doctrinal preaching, followed by the sloughing off of one teaching after another, until the church-body is a walking death.

    Behold the final state of such a church: Because they tolerated error in their midst and permitted their faithful churches and pastors to remain in fellowship with unfaithful churches and pastors, the representatives of the so-called conservative element of the Reformed Churches round about are helpless over against the inroads of unbelief. The official publishing house of the Methodists is publishing Sunday School literature which is absolutely unchristian. . . . Everywhere sectarian preachers are openly denying the very fundamentals of Christian doctrine. Churches are rapidly degenerating into agencies of political reform, and in many cases have given up even the pretense to a spiritual mission. Such churches are dying of spiritual tuberculosis, the final stage of spiritual leprosy – unionism….
    … It is a bad sign when hearers become angry at their pastor for “preaching against other churches.” It is a worse sign when pastors, bowing to such disapproval, begin to withhold instructions concerning the errors of the sects. It is a most alarming symptom when pastors and parishoners fraternize. . . with those who represent a different conception of Lutheranism. It becomes denial of the Truth when they associate with such for the purpose of “making church-work more effective” or “keeping the Lutheran Church on the map.”
    As we love our church, let us so teach our people so that they will fear the contagion of error as they would fear to breathe the air of a small-pox hospital. Let us exhibit to them the damnableness of false doctrine. Let us preach Luther on this point, who saw only the work of Satan in every deviation from the truth of Scripture. If our people learn to recognize every false doctrine as a snare of the devil, spread to catch victims for hell, they will not need to be held with a rein lest they stampede into unionism. . .
    Let it be understood that any undertaking or activity which is, in effect, the doing of religious work jointly with those from whom we ought, according to Scripture to separate, is unionism. Here, if ever, the old sayings must apply: “Nip the evil in the bud.” Our first duty is that of watchfulness. There is no higher duty now because there is no greater danger.”

    So no far be it from Susan is no more “phobic” about a true doctrine but is in fact experiencing the pains of false doctrine attempting to destroy her soul.

  32. Larry.

    Susan said, ” I am so afraid that I don’t truly believe and it haunts me most days.”

    I’m on her side. I feel for her. I said faith alone in Christ is solid. Many people struggle with “security” and for many reasons. When it effects you to the point of “haunting”…..I would call that “phobic”. That doesn’t put blame on her like you are saying…….and you know “darn” well I didn’t mean that. Like I said before…..it would be more of a miracle if the Lord would cause an “ass” to stop speaking.

    • Ike,

      You may call me an ass all you like, I expect it, but you and I are not of the same faith nor spirit, this much I’ve made plain.

      You’d rather support your false hellish doctrine to the death than deal with the poor and suffering.

      Calling her “phobic” IS blaming her. It is like a lamb being chewed to death by a wolf and you say, “Lamb your bleating is phobic”, rather than the pain of the wolf eating them alive.

      This is the way false doctrine operates.

    • See you say “faith alone” is “I believe” as opposed to “God cannot lie”. That’s why you deny the sacraments.

      This is typical Calvinism:

      Suffering: “I don’t know if I believe or am elect”
      Calvinist: “Faith alone is sufficient”. “If you believe these things then you are saved and elect…faith alone is sufficient.”

      Suffering: “But that’s just it, I don’t know if I believe, I’m in agony”.

      Thus you starve them to death with dangling the Gospel just out of reach rather than GIVE it to them.

      To Susan I say, “Susan, Christ’s blood is yours, God has forgiven you, and given you all of Christ’s righteousness, His suffering, His life, what He said and did just as if you yourself did it…WHETHER YOU BELIEVE IT OR NOT.”

  33. I still don’t quite get the point. If you intend to be preaching to anyone other than the choir, you might want to clear up some things:

    A) You seem to be saying that Susan’s anecdotal reports of anxiety are “proof” that Calvinism is wrong.

    1) I know people who left Lutheranism over anxiety. I don’t think we can conclusively say which system breeds more anxiety.

    2) If level of anxiety were a sign of heresy, I suppose unitarian universalists would win. Or maybe the “emergents”, because then you could define Christianity to create the lowest amount of anxiety. Isn’t it Biblical to say that Satan can use both excessive anxiety *and* excessive complacency to lead people astray?

    B) I always find it jarring when you accuse Calvinists of secretly promoting “works-based” salvation

  34. B) I always find it jarring when you accuse Calvinists of secretly promoting “works-based” salvation, and then say that the sacraments are necessary works. I understand that there is an explanation, but it certainly seems jarring for anyone who isn’t already in your choir.

    C) All of the recommendations to Susan to “go to a Church that preaches the Bible” seem really absurd. It’s as if you don’t realize that Calvinists say the same thing against Lutherans. Presumably, Susan’s anxiety is partially caused by Bible verses like “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”, and all of the other verses Calvinists cite.

    I fully understand that you guys perceive Calvinists to be overly intellectual and “man-centered”. I’ve even been slowly persuaded of this myself, by Larry’s excellent posts. But telling someone like Susan to “read your Bible”, or “Go to a church that is based solely on the Bible”, is completely unhelpful. How does she know if she’s going to a Bible-centered church? By checking her anxiety level? By asking you guys if you approve? Since Calvinists will quote Bible verses all day long, she certainly can’t tell by looking at their use of the Bible. You might as well cut to the chase and tell her, “Go to a church that we approve of, and that doesn’t make you anxious”.

  35. I must confess that I have not read all of everyone’s comments on this topic.

    Everyone (all Christians) read the Bible. It’s what they lift out of the Bible that matters.

    What I would tell Susan, and I think I already have, is to trust in what Christ has done for her. And do not fall prey to those that would have her on some spiritual navel-gazing project. Do not engage in fruit inspecting exercises, or you will either fall into despair, or swell up with pride.

    Trust in Christ’s cross…alone. Do not trust in anything that you do, say, feel, or think. Trust in your Baptism. It was (and is) God’s doing, anyway. He adopts you and gives you your new identity as His child in that Baptism. Receive the true body and blood of Christ Jesus in the Supper. He commands that we do so. And then live your life in the freedom that Christ has won for you.

    I don’t think very many Calvinists would feel comfortable with that advice I’ve given. To the extent that they do, then we agree.

  36. @theoldadam – OK, I suspect that Calvinists and Arminians would agree with “Trust in Christ’s cross…alone. Do not trust in anything that you do, say, feel, or think. “.

    There would probably be disagreements about whether or not baptism or communion are required for salvation, but I can live with that.

  37. JS Allen,

    I’m sure I could find a lot of Lutherans who would have a few problems with trusting in Christ’s cross alone, too.

    For us, though, the Sacraments are a way that we believe God has instituted for our assurance. A place where our faith can land, so that we do not have to look to ourselves in any way to know that we are saved.

  38. That’s where the Calvinist MISS the boat, they are not heretical just because they anxiety, which misses the ENTIRE point of nearly every post on here, but their doctrine. The anxiety and lack of assurance is precisely an EFFECT of their already FALSE doctrine. It’s a Luther said if God wanted us to be unsure of His salvation then He would not have sent Christ nor given us the sacraments. Their other gospel of “I have good news for some of you” is everything BUT the Gospel.

    The reason Calvinistic doctrine is heretical is because they evade the Word, albeit, very craftily as opposed to more obtuse false teachings and they do so using “reason” not scripture as their magisterial hermeneutic. The simplest and plainest example of this is in the Word’s of institution. They are so plain a child can understand them, “This is My body/blood…”. Yet the Calvinist, and Zwinglian derivatives (a.k.a. baptist) say, “the infinite cannot be contained by the finite”. A philosophical axiom and hermeneutic they employ a priori. This is why Calvin finally admitted that Luther’s view of the LS, the Scriptural view, Paul’s view, Christ’s view, was “absurd to all reason”. Which is the same heretical cry of all heretics and heresies that say against the Trinity (Arius), justification by faith alone (the Pope), the two natures (various other Gnostics), Creation (Darwinians) etc…

    The cry is always the same of Satan’s subtle devices, “against reason, against reason, against reason”. Eliminate “the finite cannot contain the infinite”, which they must if they are serious at all concerning Scripture rules, then they MUST, not us, give a reason to depart from Christ’s lips on this. Reason is indeed, when in the magisterial position, “the devil’s whore” and necessarily offended by ALL articles of faith without exception. In the ministerial position, reason, subdued to Christ it is glorious SERVANT (i.e. not LEADER). Reason is so totally depraved, to borrow a term Calvinist don’t really and truly employ correctly, that it does not realize its very magisterial movement is usurpation to God and the sine quo non of original sin. In this reason is sin HIGHER than the worst gross sin one can think of as it is utter idolatry. It seeks to know God in His kept secrets, it ignores Christ when He said that know one has known the Father except Him Whom He sent (Christ) and thus the revelation of God.

    Thus, when the words of institution thus speak it as if they say, “BE SILENT rebellious Satanic reason, God is speaking SERVANT and you WILL be silent or you WILL be utterly silenced, one way or the other”.

    It is these Words of comfort in the sacraments that God gave to His people, like Susanne, FOR their assurance and comfort that these same false teachers via the continuation of the same false doctrines (the cause) back during Luther’s time carried forward and added to that rob them of Christ and the comfort of Christ (the effect).

    Thus, we both the duty and right to label such as false doctrines, heretical, doctrines of demons and to leave them and NO DUTY WHATSOEVER to remain in them, in fact just the opposite, “LEA VE THEM”.

    God’s Word is not divided in the least and the generic principle that many espouse today that these are unessential while all along they vigorously argue for their false doctrine is itself a false doctrine in order to support and expand said false doctrine. It blasphemes God and His name and His Word, and divides up the Trinity. So we can see from this one false doctrine on the sacraments is rooted in numerous false doctrines and produces a multitude of false doctrines that doctrinally attempt to tear asunder the Trinity, the Word, the name and Christ in all manner of hidden direction. A thing Luther practically prophetically foresaw after Marburg and speaking with Zwingli, Bucer, et. All. And by extension Calvin and certainly all the teachers their derived from.

    But the bible predicts this. In fact it is the one singular constant prediction from Christ to Paul to Peter to Jude to John concerning things that had begun and increase greatly as the end of the age approaches, locust swarms of false teachings. That picture is very picturesque, a picture is worth a thousand words and “a locust swarm” of false teachings/teachers blotting out the light of the Son (Christ and the Gospel) is quite accurate of our day and age. Swarms of Baptistic, Calvinistic, Arminian, Methodistic, Roman, etc… teachers teaching their false Christ hiding doctrines, terrorizing the assurance of all, binding men in conscience to their synagogues. Their teachings are like swarms of locusts, great hordes of enthusiast, massive clouds of flies going throughout the land, not devouring the land or the grass or the trees but rather terrorizing with their false doctrine the peoples. They are very disarming having a sheep’s wool of fine outward life over them but their doctrine is the god of their bellies (their hearts/the seat of their being) that lash out to devour the souls of men and women. They put a sop of Gospel in their traps to attract the unsuspecting and when one begins to feed off of it, SNAP, the jaws of steel of their hidden false doctrines grabs them and has them in their clutches, bleeding dying lest they escape.

    Such false doctrines will give the suffering, from their false doctrines, a thousand laws to do to “get better”, but they will NEVER give the one thing that cures, Christ for you to you for the forgiveness of sin and the imputation of His righteousness. This they will NEVER absolve you with, wash you with, this they will never say was actually given you in baptism, the Lord’s Supper, rather their empty memorial meal. The Gospel becomes an ever decreasing echo in their churches, they have to borrow Gospel capital from Luther to even re-infuse ANY Gospel whatsoever into their deathly sick churches. Much less is the Gospel DONE to you, it rather still remains a carrot on a stick in their doctrines because no sacrament or absolution BRINGS it to you and puts it onto you to you and for you. They in fact explicitly withhold doctrinally absolution (the Gospel) and baptism and the Lord’s Supper from you.

    Charles Haddon Spurgeon in a sermon one time boasts, boast mind you, that a poor woman approached him pleading with her pastor, Spurgeon, to pray to God that she would believe. To which he proudly replied, “I will not”. So you see a wolf for what a wolf is! He had no real Gospel to give the poor woman under his Calvinistic double predestinarian doctrine. She could not believe but rather doubted entirely that God was merciful to her a sinner, and pleaded, “help my unbelief”. And did he absolve her? Did he turn her to her baptism, the name and WORD (Christ) of God? Did he feed her weak faith the very body and blood of her Savior for the forgiveness of her sin? No, rather he howled, as wolves do, saying, “I will not”.

  39. Susan said, ” I am so afraid that I don’t truly believe and it haunts me most days.”


    Faith alone is not sufficient, Christ is alone sufficient. It does not matter whether you TRULY believe or not, it is so for you whether you believe it or not!

    Forgiveness of sin and Christ righteousness imputed to you is an already done thing within the heart of God. It does not await your faith to be for you, it is already done and given to you for you by God, Christ, Himself. It is an already resolved and done thing…whether you believe it or not, truly or not truly believe it.

    You are already forgiven, have Christ’s righteousness, this is why GOD baptized you giving you this forgiveness of sin and righteousness of Christ, His very name. THIS HE gave to you for you, whether you believe it or not.

    Do not look to your faith, rather HEAR God’s pronouncement to you for you on you in His Word in Word and baptism. That water was not just any ole water and it did not come upon you looking for faith first. Rather it was the very hand of God via the pastor putting His name upon you, forgiving you, saying, “I forgive you Susan”.

    He was not looking for your faith, He was forgiving you and giving you Christ’s righteousness…whether you believed it or not. This He does to all of us, whether we believe it or not!

    • Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” In v. 21 Jesus announces His standard: “If you would be perfect.” After listing all the commandments he had kept, the young man was almost perfect, but not quite. He needed to be perfect and could have met Jesus’ definition of perfect by obeying Jesus’ instruction. Did you catch that? The man could have met Jesus’ definition of perfect through obedience, but that does not mean he was earning his salvation. Had the man obeyed Jesus, his obedience would be proof of saving faith. Saving faith in his case meant that he was more attached to Jesus than money.

  40. You read these precisely the way Pelagious does, “if God commands, then surely we can” was Pelagious’ argument. You are HARDLY even a Calvinist!

    So Ike, go and prove to us your saving faith to us. Go and sell all that you have, etc… Otherwise YOUR faith according to YOUR definition is a PURE sham. Don’t come back and talk to me until YOU have done this.

    You cannot lower the law to your arbitrary standards, nothing reaks of flesh more than that. Go and sell ALL that you have…etc…then come and follow Christ. You have not done so as far as I can tell, since you are on a computer and the internet, I assume you have a home,etc…, you are not saved. If you wish to show YOUR obedience do this, otherwise you faith is false, a sham, worthless wind.

    Do you REALLY love Christ more than YOUR money? REALLY, then it is easy enough for you to give it all up! Yes, no? Give it up IF you love Christ more than your money. No justification you can give allows you to keep it, you must give it up, else you love YOUR money, YOUR things, YOUR cpu, YOUR internet, YOUR clothes, YOUR car more than Christ. Else, you’d give them up without thinking – stop screwing around sell all that you have if your faith is true and you love Christ more than YOUR money and goods.

    Your faith is a sham and a ruse and excuse you give is simply YOU justifying keeping your god money and things over loving Christ. If you love Him more than these, it should be such a simply thing for you to do. In fact you should not even need ponder it a second, it should be second nature.

    Go ahead rich young Ike, sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor for they certainly have need of it do they not, do they not starve to death, do they not not have homes, then come and follow Christ, THEN you will have treasure in heaven.

    Again, Ike, you and I do NOT worship the same God. I reject yours and you reject mine.

    So don’t come back and talk to me until you’ve done this. I will not respond to your idiocy any more. You are not a Christian, nor do I recognize you as one. Not because I can read your heart, but because of your confession YOU confess.

    • “So Ike, go and prove to us your saving faith to us. Go and sell all that you have, etc… Otherwise YOUR faith according to YOUR definition is a PURE sham. Don’t come back and talk to me until YOU have done this.”


      My wife had her entire colon removed a couple years back. The cancer came back and she has had a double radical mastectomy. She is now in renal failure. I have spent my entire 401K monies and savings on medical bills. I’m broke and still have thousands to pay. Does this qualify me to continue this conversation?

      God doesn’t lower the standard for me or you. We must be perfect….it’s a command….but we can’t do it!! Because of Christ….our faith is exchanging our unrighteousness for His righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. My point “wasn’t” that we have to be perfect….we are only perfect in Christ’s blood.

      • Ike,

        Remember Ike, you set this criteria up, I did not.

        That being said;

        I’m sorry to hear of that tragedy for you and your wife, but that has nothing to do with your heretical interpretation of the rich young ruler. Theologically speaking you have yet to show forth perfection whatsoever per the rich young ruler. Many go through trials and I’m in no way diminishing what you’ve gone through, that’s horrible truly and my heart goes out to you (which I know doesn’t help the pain at all). All of us have tragic trials at differing times in our lives some have lived homeless, some have had to care for and watched beloved family members die of cancer and other disease for long periods of time, people starving to death, etc… Its never a competition of trials for each because every trial hits all of us in our hearts deeply and drives us to despair and wonder “where is God in all of this”, no less yours than any others. Many unbelievers go through similar and worse trials, but such is not “selling all that you have” to prove your faith. Suffering put upon a person is not the same as a person giving up themselves voluntarily, which is what Christ did.

        Even if you yourself where dying I could not let you stay in the unbelieving confession you’ve given hear, if I care anything for your soul.

        You are right on one point, God does not diminish the perfection one single iota for you or me, and you have not met it. That’s why Christ righteousness, Luther’s tower experience, is imputed to us so that literally NOTHING is left to BE DONE in this life AT ALL. So, according to your own theological requirements no you have not at all for it says “sell all”.

        So no you do not yet qualify according to your criteria. If you think you have done as Christ prescribed to the rich young ruler you entirely missed the passage not just a little bit but entirely. Your entire interpretation of it is utterly not Christian.

        Ike it’s not that I don’t want to speak to you as a brother in the faith, it’s that I cannot because of what you say. I like you, I like you as a friend make no mistake about it. But I cannot shake hands with you as a brother, it’s a matter of confession.

  41. That seems like a shockingly heretical reading of Matthew 19. Larry is correct to label it Pelagian; I can’t imagine any Calvinist *or* Arminian preaching such a thing. I’m pretty sure Catholics don’t even say stuff like that anymore.

    • Matthew 19:21 is what Jesus said….not Ike.

      • It’s not what Jesus said, its what Ike added to via interpretation of what Jesus said.

        E.g. Jesus said, “This is My body….” he did not say as the baptist interpret it, “this is NOT My body…”.

        That’s the problem.

        Jesus actually said in Matthew 26:26, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

        But the Baptist and Reformed bibles read, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is A SIGN OF my body.” Alternatively “this is NOT my body…”. Same thing either way as to what “this” (the bread) is.

        Sectarian doctrine has no legitimate right to qualm with Joseph Smith or JWs for changing words in their bibles as they do the same. The only difference, which is a difference without a distinction, is they do it in the footnotes and bottom of the page commentaries.

      • Ike,

        The problem is you are all over the maps on this stuff.

        For you say:

        “My point “wasn’t” that we have to be perfect….we are only perfect in Christ’s blood.”

        Which on face value we’d agree with. But as we shall see in that statement we don’t really mean the same thing, which is the point of doctrine not just the external words.

        Yet you state, “The man could have met Jesus’ definition of perfect through obedience, but that does not mean he was earning his salvation. Had the man obeyed Jesus, his obedience would be proof of saving faith. Saving faith in his case meant that he was more attached to Jesus than money”

        Which is contrary to the one above and is in fact de facto works salvation. It’s double tongued confusing Law and Gospel at a monumental level: “definition of perfect through obedience” yet “that does not mean he was earning his salvation”

        You still yet see grace and saving faith as basically a RC de facto infusion of “grace” whereby man is made righteous actively with the aid or power of grace in order to withstand the judgment. Nothing could be further from Scripture or Luther. That which withstands the judgment of God is nothing but the righteousness of Christ and imputed so that man is PASSIVELY righteous yet ACTIVELY sinful = the real simul justus et peccator.

        That confusion is causing you to confuse law and gospel everywhere, which is easy for any of us to do.

        In its most shocking portrayal only visible to faith the reality is this: The sins of the world, entirely without exception have been taken away. There are no more sins in the world, this is the resolution in the heart of God without exception extended to all people without exception. Only faith sees this truth and reality, reason which functions by sight and not the Word alone is abhorred by it. Reason lives by sight, senses experience, emotions, etc…, faith by the Word alone and ALONE nakedly against sight, senses, experience, emotions, etc…
        Yet, many will not have the Word, i.e. forgiveness of sin/righteousness of Christ, they will not hear of it, both the open sinner and false saint. That some men reject this merely points out its reality, that some believe it merely points out is power. The paradox of the revelation stands because the Word creates the paradox, which is the realm in which faith “sees”, lives and breaths. The paradox of the Word is the reality in which sight, sound, touch, other senses, emotions and reason are utterly blind, deaf, dumb and dead – yet faith sees, hears, touches, senses, feels, and considers perfectly – the Word is the fabric of its universe as it were. The only “principle” of reality in this universe or world of faith’s – the paradox to the universe and world of reason’s reality – is the Word, not the laws of physics or creation.

        The Word reaches into the reality of the this creation using this creation to communicate (means) its dawning reality. This world/universe/reality/creation will be destroyed along with ALL its earthly righteousness, whether done by pagans or Christians. All that stands in the new heaven and earth is the righteousness of Christ alone and nothing from the old creations. When that happens, we will live by new sight, see God as He is, not by faith but by the new creation and the paradox that was to this reality will be gone.

        Until then, we live, quite literally by nude passive receptive faith alone. That’s what it means to suffer the cross individually. I.e. YOU (nor I, nor anyone) has no “proof” righteousness that proves our faith, we must SUFFER the cross that God said we are righteous having Christ’s righteousness ONLY imputed to us. And THAT really, really, really is to suffer the cross in the strictest since against the temptation to get off of it.

        I hope that is more helpful.



      • Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ What struck me about Jesus’ teaching is that all the things done in Jesus’ name were all great things (things like prophesying, exorcisms, and doing many mighty miracles). All those big, Christian ministries were being accomplished by many who Jesus called “workers of lawlessness.” They must not have been doing God’s will (v. 21) in the little, routine areas of life. Faith in Christ creates a people who work righteousness in the mundane, day-to-day responsibilities of life. Jesus knows those people and will allow them access into His kingdom because they are already displaying the characteristics of the King.

      • “Faith in Christ creates a people who work righteousness in the mundane, day-to-day responsibilities of life”

        We are closer here than ever, seriously!

        We do not disagree with that excerpt quote I pulled out of yours at all.

        One clarification helps: What frees them to do this work rather than the church yard busy body list is the already done FACT of forgiveness & the righteousness of Christ given them. It is also that later imputed righteousness of Christ’s alone that is what gains them access to heaven, for not even their mundane good works do this. This same righteousness of Christ’s so that nothing is left “to do”, “it is finished”, is both the alien imputed righteousness that gains heaven and frees a man to do the mundane day-to-day responsibilities of life.

        Also it is this alien imputed righteousness that, on the other hand, the others rejected so that they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven thereby attempting to do the “religious” works or church yard works. They are not allowed into heaven not because they didn’t do the mundane works (which too does not gain the access of heaven) but rejected the imputed alien righteousness which does gain the access of heaven. Subsequently their UNBELIEF in not trusting nakedly passively in the imputed righteousness of Christ results in their attempting to do religious works righteousness which reject doing the mundane, day-to-day responsibilities of life.

        They are thus workers of iniquity because they did not do the will of the Father. And that will? John tells us, “that they believe (trust) in Me (Christ and his forgiveness/righteousness FOR THEM) Whom He sent”. Not because they failed to do the mundane works. The failure to do the mundane works is DUE to the lack of trusting nakedly passively in Christ’s righteousness, and the ability or freedom to do mundane works is begotten due to the freedom the reality and fact of the given imputed righteousness of Christ gives.

        In short if men think/trust/believe Christ is all sufficient for their salvation and eternal life and NOT ONE SINGLE WORK OTHER THAN THAT; they will be free to do the works of mundane life, which are of no value toward heaven either, “profitless servants”. If men do not trust/believe this (PASSIVELY – i.e. its true with or without faith), then they will not begotten to do the works of mundane life to which the Law supports but then begin to invent “super” religious works because this they think saves them.

        People go to hell precisely because they reject that which Christ has actually and really done for them, primary cause hell, and subsequent to that, since they reject this their sins remain, secondary cause of hell.

        In a way it’s really very simple, yet due to the flesh impossible to believe. We are truly religious book keepers by nature.

        Now, not too far dear friend and brother, not too far at all!

        Yours Truly,


  42. This is why people like Susan, and myself, and many others find themselves terrorized and often in a danger they don’t realize.

    Lutheran Franz Pieper (not heretic John PIPER) writes, “…Fellowship with heterodox churches militates against God’s honor, and IS A CONSTANT DANGER FOR THE SOUL…We must say with Luther: “I feel that every Word of God MAKES THE WORLD TOO NARROW FOR ME.” That is rightly honoring God!”

    “Furthermore, God’s Word teaches that those who obtain salvation are converted and saved alone by God’s grace in Christ, so that no human being can glory in himself above others, but each one must confess: “That I now am converted, that Thou alone hast done.” But the synergists, that is, certain false teachers, claim that a man by his own efforts, by his good conduct, etc., brings it about that he, in preference to others, is converted. They thereby do not allow God alone the glory for their conversion and salvation, but ascribe this glory partly to themselves.
    The Reformed, and all Reformed sects, deny the Real Presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. Through this they detract from God’s honor. Apart from the fact that such do not accord Christ the honor of believing His Word, consider how gloriously the love of Christ beams on us poor sinners when we in accordance with His Word firmly hold that He even gives us as a seal His body and blood for the assurance of the forgiveness of our sins! Whoever vitally understands this will, in his heart, really sings praises to God. Whoever, on the other hand, regards the Lord’s Supper as a mere memorial feast in which there is nothing else present than bread and wine, no such praise of God will be found in his heart.”

    But we ask why and what danger to the soul is it?

    “Furthermore, also this is a difference between the orthodox and the heterodox Church, that only in the orthodox Church are souls rightly cared for, while fellowship with the heterodox churches is a constant danger for souls.

    No doctrine in Holy Scripture is given us by God without a purpose, but with each doctrine God has our salvation in mind, namely, that we should come to faith in Christ, be kept in faith, and thus by the power of God through faith be preserved unto salvation. Thus we read in John 20:31, at the end of John’s Gospel — and what applies to this Gospel applies to all of Scripture —: “These (things) are written, that ye might believe,” etc. Whoever, therefore, cuts off a part of Bible doctrine, CUTS OFF A PART OF THAT WHICH SHOULD BRING HIM TO FAITH AND KEEP HIM IN IT. We read, furthermore, in 2 Tim. 3:16: “All Scripture is given by inspiration or God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” And in Romans 15:4: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime (namely all Scriptures of the Old Testament) were written for our learning, that we through patience AND COMFORT OF THE SCRIPTURES MIGHT HAVE HOPE.” Thus, ALL DOCTRINES REVEALED IN SCRIPTURE RELATE TO OUR SALVATION. They SERVE THIS PURPOSE, that they correctly reveal God’s will regarding us human beings, so that we might in faith know God AS A GRACIOUS GOD, that in temptation WE MIGHT HAVE RICH COMFORT, that patience might remain with us in affliction, and that WE MIGHT FIRMLY CLING TO THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE. Whoever, now, detracts from the doctrines revealed in the Scriptures or falsifies them, TAKES AWAY FROM THE SAVING DOCTRINE, DETRACTS FROM THE COMFORT SO NECESSARY FOR US POOR SINNERS AND INTENDED FOR US BY GOD.

    Let us make this clear by considering several examples. Whoever falsifies that doctrine, that only by grace for Christ’s sake through faith in Christ we have forgiveness of sin and eternal life; whoever, then, ascribes the obtaining of God’s grace in whole or in part to our works or our better conduct, MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR US TO BE SURE OF GOD’S GRACE AND OUR SALVATION. For he who has an awakened conscience, and knows a little about himself, must confess with Paul that in him, that is, in his flesh, DWELLETH NO GOOD THING. Now, if grace and salvation rest, even only partly, ON OUR OWN WORTHINESS, THEN WE CAN NEVER BECOME SURE OF THEM, BUT MUST SPEND ALL OUR LIFE IN DOUBT AND UNCERTAINTY.
    The doctrine of the free grace of God in Christ, however, is denied not only by the Pope, but is ALSO CORRUPTED BY ALL THE SECTS (I.E THE REFORMED AND BAPTIST, ET. AL.). How soul-destroying the doctrine of work-righteousness is, as it is promoted by the papacy, we can see in Luther. In spite of his honorable and strict life, he sank ever deeper into doubt concerning God’s grace. And he would have been ruined altogether in body and soul if he had not, by God’s grace, come to the realization that the forgiveness of sins does not rest on our works, but altogether on God’s mercy in Christ. With this knowledge the certainty of grace entered into his heart.

    But most of the time, THE SECTS TEACH IN SUCH A WAY, that THE GRACE-HUNGRY SOULS CAN HAVE NO SURE COMFORT. The almost universal practice of sectarian preachers is to offer the comfort of the Gospel only then when sinners have first CEASED FROM SIN AND CHANGED THEIR WAYS. Whereas, a true Christian knows, that there can be no change in a person as long as he does not believe the grace of God.


    It is, of course, true: if someone on the basis of the preached Gospel, yes, on the basis of only one passage (for example, “God so loved the world,” etc., “The blood of Jesus Christ,” etc.) believes in the forgiveness of sins, he really has forgiveness of sins and, in general, all the spiritual gifts merited by Christ, and can die saved. His faith which is based on only one Gospel passage has a divine foundation. For that reason also, MANY WITHIN THE SECTARIAN CHURCHES ARE SAVED, although THEY ARE PREVENTED BY SECTARIAN DOCTRINE FROM MAKING THE RIGHT USE OF THEIR BAPTISM, THE LORD’S SUPPER, AND ABSOLUTION. They should, however, make use of that which Christ has richly supplied His own. Thus, in the heterodox churches the rich comfort meant for them by Christ IS SPOILED, and therefore such churches ARE NOT THE RIGHT DWELLING PLACE FOR THEM. SOULS ARE NOT RIGHTLY CARED FOR AMONG THE SECTS.”

  43. Part I of II

    All things theological seem to go wrong at the root, grace. What it is. I don’t know if there is a direct historical link but there is definitely a theological heritage between what is today Arminianism and Calvinism on one hand, and the old RC scholastics and RC German mystics on the other hand.

    Preliminary considerations: Protestants, neither Arminianism or Calvinism, don’t call or label grace “infused” grace. However, they do speak of grace imparting this more or less “power”, “ability”, “secret operation” in such a way that grace given is ultimately this divine influence of some kind or nature upon man so that man can “DO” what is commanded. That’s important to hold in mind as opposed to Luther and his tower experience with Paul’s epistle and the connected Psalms concerning the “righteousness of God”. Rome called it “infused grace” or an “infusion of grace”. The idea is, protestant or Roman, is basically the same, this divine imparting or instilling of a strength, called or connected to grace coming through the same, to then do the work of becoming ACTIVELY righteous before God and thereby able to stand before the judgment “justified” before God. Any failures where cleaned up by the forgiveness of sins via Christ.

    The old RC scholastics thought this “infusion” occurred BEFORE conversion as a part of the created ability of man, which is oddly similar to Arminianism. The German mystics, on the other hand, thought this infusion took place AFTER conversion (i.e. rebirth) which is oddly similar to Calvinism.

    The DIFFERENCE in the two was the “when” of the infusion of grace to do, which is exactly the difference between Arminianism and Calvinism. The later pretends to be monergistic claiming the former synergistic, but the former contends this saying “we monergistic”. Because they too can claim, God is the one that gives man the ability no less than the Calvinist claim. Mixed in all this is a complete confusion of grace, rebirth, life and death on multiple levels among all involved.

    The COMMON thing between the two, either the scholastics versus the mystics or their modern counter parts the arminians versus the Calvinist is their concept of what grace is, heretofore described.

    Different from both of these was Luther’s reformational rediscovery of the full evangel in his tower experience in which grace is no such infusion or divine influence in the sense of a power or ability to then start becoming “actively” righteous in order to stand before the judgment with God, with Christ covering the failures of sin. Rather that “the righteousness of God” revealed in the Gospel was that active righteousness of Christ imparted to us who are passive so that all He did, said and done is ours – we receive that perfection (e.g. required of the rich young ruler) that Christ did for us so that it is in fact as if we did it all. This is almost impossible to believe had God not declared it so Himself by His own Words and voice! We find ourselves sheepishly red faced that “we are perfect”, because we know we are not in active reality, not even close, yet God says we are and that due to an imputation, a declaration of God saying, “What Christ did, said and suffered is yours as if you did it yourself”. That is in fact an article of faith reason can never grasp!

    This has implications as to what is “born again”! Part II.

  44. Part II of II

    Lutheran theologian/pastor Siegbert Becker peels apart what is death and life very nicely. Synthesizing some of this with Luther’s thoughts on what is really monergism and what is meant by flesh verus spirit. This may help us to see what is “born again” contra the more or less Greek concepts we tend to find in Rome, Arminianism and Calvinism and all their heirs. This is preliminary and I’ve not had an opportunity to really dig into it more yet. I think this might help us to see why baptism is a rebirth!

    Dr. Becker points out that we too often think of death as basically ‘death of the body’ or sometimes the separation of the soul from the body. But that in and of itself does not really impart what is “life” and what is “death”. In a way it’s really more likely a Greek concept or something similar. Because the Scriptures speak of “dead in sins and trespasses” yet people walk around every day alive in their bodies. Furthermore, the Scriptures speak of eternal death of the damned but yet they are not annihilated, although some teach this heresy, and exist eternally in a reunited but damned body and soul. So we see immediately that life versus death cannot be understood as mere separation of the body and the soul. It’s something different and deeper in the Scriptures.

    Dr. Becker gives a very helpful and simple understanding of life versus death; life, generically, is to have and be in the blessings of God, death, on the other hand is to be without them. This then lays over top of three specifics: (1) earthly blessings = life in the here and now earthly since is to be among the blessings of God as the remain temporarily in the first creation, death of the body (the death we seem to understand the most) is to be separated from them, including our bodies, (2) spiritual life (blessings) versus spiritual death (curse); and then (3) eternal life (blessings) versus eternal death (cursing).

    It’s the #2 I wish to focus on. Because Scripture speaks of being born (earthly blessing) in sin and this sin is “dead in trespasses and sin” (spiritual curse), king David laments this in his famous penitential Psalm. And Scripture speaks of birth, flesh, versus rebirth, of the spirit. Here a man lives in earthly blessing, temporarily, but is yet in this birth to life, flesh, physically he is said to be born “dead in trespasses and sin”. Said another way a man is given temporary earthly blessing but yet under a spiritual curse and cannot help himself out of the later which ultimately if not helped from without leads to final eternal curse or death as opposed to an eternal life or blessing or bliss.

    How is a man brought from spiritual death (or curse) to spiritual life (or blessing)? Since we divorced ourselves from God seeking to be like God and be our own god, a cutting off of the spiritual blessing of God to BE OUR GOD to us, or as Luther says, “to be God is nothing but to be nothing but GOOD to man” (paraphrased), the only repair can come from God coming all the way down to us. This He does when He becomes man and suffers for original sin and all subsequent fruits of original sin, and then gives us His righteousness via imputation. This is in and of itself a divine blessing, shear gift, pure grace – need it be spelled out “true and pure blessing”. Luther points out that as to flesh we are flesh, spiritually speaking, dead in sins and trespasses, in so much that we find an active righteousness within ourselves (always remember what original sin REALLY IS). Luther also points out that we are spirit in so much that we appropriate by nude passive receptive faith (trust) the forgiveness of sin and righteousness of Christ that is ALREADY proclaimed so to be ours for Christ’s sake. This is why baptism is to be born again, literally the Word of God proclaiming the forgiveness of sin and righteousness of Christ upon an infant or adult objectively from God as a resolution in the heart of God. I.e. BLESSING, “they brought their infants to Christ so that He could BLESS them (or better “put Himself upon them”), the link to baptism = blessing = a GOOD Word from God.

    To be born again is to have in the particular the general proclamation of the forgiveness of sin and Christ’s righteousness given to one for the sake of Christ. This moves one from spiritual death to spiritual life, from “dead in trespasses and sin” to “rebirth via water and spirit”. Not the more or less Gnostic concept we find in Calvin, et. Al. concerning life and death, spiritual or otherwise.

    This spiritual life leads to and is eternal life, here and now by nude passive faith, in eternity in fullness without the need of faith but in reality and finitude. This spiritual life is the forgiveness of sin and imputation of Christ’s righteousness now by faith that is passively receiving it by trusting it alone, and is the same in REALITY in the eternal Kingdom. Reason wants to say, and who can blame it as we do see what constant terrible sinners we are, “You gotta be kidding me, are you serious, that’s mine seeing who I am in thought, word and deed every single second of my life”. It’s like a poor wretched mud turtle of a child who is brought into the halls of the richest King of all and said, “ALL YOURS”. “Are you SERIOUS!” Yet faith is begotten of this because the King says it is so. Faith is rooted inseparably in the validity and truthfulness of God, not ourselves. Thus, faith is not “I believe” but rather “God cannot lie!”

  45. Thanks Larry,

    If you read point 1 of the following link you will understand Pipers hermeneutic of understanding scripture.


    If you ever go to a Piper church listen for the words Gods Glory and Gods sovereignty….. you will hear it a lot.

    Calvinists call their understanding of scripture “systematic theology” which appeals to “heady theologions” types and people looking for “higher truth”. What they have done is they have placed human reason along side scripture to develop this systematic theology. As a lutheran we believe a calvinists his misused this human reason to develop theor theological bend.

    My pastor once said that a Lutheran is “willing to say “I dont know when it comes to things that are a mystery in scripture. This is what Martin Luthers battle cry of “sola scriptura” is about. Scripture alone. And of course in the bible the Gospel workings of Jesus Christ is referred to as a mystery.

    Basically, Piper is calvinism on steroids a little like Greg Boyd is Arminianism on steroids.

    Here is another link on Calvinistic bends of scripture:


  46. Here are the words clarifying the Lutheran difference vs the Calvinistic difference in the first link above:

    4. The authority of Scripture. A fourth difference (from Calvinism) has to do with the proper use of reason and its relationship to the authority of Scripture. Lutherans look to Scripture alone as the source of all Christian doctrine, and hold to the teachings of Scripture even when they are incomprehensible to human reason. Some Calvinistic churches tend to place human reason alongside Scripture as a source of doctrinal authority, and seek to bring seemingly paradoxical Scriptural truths into harmony with human reason in ways that (in our view) undermine the truthfulness and authority of Scripture.

    On one good note you have people like Tim Keller in the presbyterian Church bringing back a Lutheresque Gospel centrality kind of thinking to the Presbyterian Church. However, the best result you can hope for is that some of these Churches become gospel (capital G) and Calvinistic (little c).

  47. Susan,

    “When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.’”

    Martin Luther, writing to Jerome Weller, quoted in Theodore G. Tappert, editor, Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel (Philadelphia, 1955), pages 86-87.

  48. Nice!

    That quote is also featured in a scene from the latest ‘Luther’ movie.

  49. Centralityofthegospel,

    Thanks for the links. I actually have been at Piper’s preaching a couple of times, not at his home church but as a visiting pastor. Like wise our former SB calvinistic church was central on Piper on everything. His works were held as pretty much center of our teaching, so I’m very familiar with what he teaches and preaches, not to mention I use to devour his works.

    Your are right the tone, as with most calvinistic churches is on the sovereignty of God. Where that goes? It’s suppose to comfort, but it does not. It really says nothing that Islam doesn’t say.

    Let me give you an example. A few years ago, we were PCA ourselves at the time, a dear friend of my side of the family, practically family himself. In fact closer than family to us and who was also a key Christian (deacon) to me and my parents during the time I converted suddenly absolutely “out of no where known to anybody”, I mean it was utterly shocking to us all, took a gun and killed himself. I got the phone call while visiting my wife’s family over the holidays. I just sat in stunned silence, not much stuns me, but that did.

    Anyway a family member who is a minister within the SB church, a calvinist, a Piperite, (and I know he meant well, no less than an atheist attempting to comfort one “means well” – when all is said and done EVERYBODY means well) gave me the line about, “well you just need to trust that God is sovereign”. Cold comfort INDEED! No Gospel, nothing. In his defense, his theology would not let him do it.

    We had a similar situation just months ago, same side of the family, same Piperite MacArthurite Calvinist concerning the death of a family member 9 day old new born. You should have heard the cold Calvinism come out from that one. It was worse than above and I’d rather type every cuss word I can think of than vomit back what we heard.

    I can multiply these REAL LIFE STORIES, not hypothetical analyticals of the doctrine, REAL LIFE more times than I care remind myself. Many I share more privately with others.

    That is where that false crap goes, and I hate it with every fiber of my being and confess against it with the full force of the Lutheran confessions. We need more Lutherans like Joachim Westphal and Philipp Nicolai (not to mention Luther himself), who call it out plainly for what it is and via their polemics smoked out the subterfuge and crafty underhanded language like men such Calvin who attempted to sneak in rather than be forthright about their doctrines.

  50. Ike,

    Very nice. One of my favorite quotes when I’m despairing myself!

  51. CoG,

    Your are spot on on PCA folks like Keller and others. They are “coming back” toward Luther. However, they will reach a nexus eventually. Either they will have to give up their understanding of the sacraments and come all the way to Luther on the sacraments or end up as you say, “G”/”c”.

    One cannot sustain the Gospel long or extensively without eventually coming to the sacraments or turn back at that point, some just more or less stick their fingers in their ears for a while on the issue.

    I know personally because that’s the nexus I reached. At first I attempted to reconcile Calvin with Luther on this, I honestly wanted to because I honestly wanted to say “true Gospel in both the Reformed and Lutheran churches per the confessions. But I kept running against brick walls. I tried the old “we are saying the same thing differently trick” with myself and others, but in my mind I began to know better, if we were saying the same thing but differently then we could “just simply say the same thing”, right! Then I tried, well its just a matter of “mode” and the difference is inconsequential, well that didn’t last long either because that’s just another form of denial, I admit, I’ve done myself, I confess.

    Eventually I saw the nexus the Gospel brought me to, either continue on into the pure and true evangel, or cave for the sake of peace and ease and basically turn back the other way toward the Reformed sacraments. However, then it hit me because I’d seen the difference. If that, then nothing held me from returning all the way back to Baptist theology on the matter.

    I tried “sticking my fingers in my ears” for a while. The only problem there is it does not silence one’s own mind!

  52. The Luther quote is good, but I prefer Romans 8:38-39.

  53. I like it too especially if the false teachers of Calvinism wouldn’t withhold it from you in verses 28-30. Problem is the Calvinist and Baptist cannot seem to leave the Word alone and insert their fallen human reason magisterially and beside Scripture, remember, I do, Scripture AND “good and necessary consequence”, says the confession. The “golden chain” as it is termed is indeed golden, but with the addition of the Calvinistic interpretation you must find out that you are elect. How? Variously by your post conversion good works, changed life and at last and ad nausem if you have faith. To quote a fairly well known modern Calvinist who answered on a Lutheran show, “how do I know I’m elect”, “IF you believe these things, THEN you are elect”. Problem is when you don’t know IF you believe because of your weak faith this is utterly pointless (Susan’s dilemma DUE TO the doctrine). And as Luther says to have assurance via your faith really, really, really is idolatry.

    Again, that’s why faith is NOT “I believe”, in fact that’s false faith. Rather faith is “God cannot lie”. BIG DIFFERENCE.

  54. BTW, I was recently reading Hoekema’s “Saved By Grace”, where he spends a chapter emphasizing John 6:56; which seems to be identical to what Lutherans say about LS and “assurance”.

    I assume that even if a Lutheran is confirmed, baptized, and takes regular communion; he’s going to get in trouble if he decides that his assurance gives him license to engage in adultery and violence? How do Lutherans handle that scenario? Is this one of the reasons that Lutherans practice closed communion — so people (and especially leaders) who cross a certain line can be excluded?

  55. Larry you said:

    Your are right the tone, as with most calvinistic churches is on the sovereignty of God. Where that goes? It’s suppose to comfort, but it does not. It really says nothing that Islam doesn’t say.

    — Spot on! It does not show comfort because it is stoically detached from the Gospel message!

  56. “Cold comfort”…. good quote. IMO that’s what hedonistic Christianity is… cold comfort!

    JS Allen,

    that’s what Grace is about… an unlimited number of times of forgiveness and repentance…. because it points to an “imputed righteousness” freely given to us via the Cross. But, IMO, Gosple-centric doctrine also changes, sanctifies, and grows us. The problem occurs when we don’t understand that growth in Grace is slow and we always can and will resist Gods grace.

    It is precisely when we see the depth of our need for Gods Grace that we see the height of Gods purpose with Christ on the cross.

  57. Every Christian is “going to get into trouble”.

    Do you know of some that do not sin? Even willingly sometimes? I don’t know a one that keeps his/her nose clean.

    Our assurance is not based on what we do , or don’t do. it’s based on what God has done for us. God is the One who gave us His name.

    Would you tell your child that they are no longer your child because he or she broke a window, or didn’t clean their room?

  58. In the example I gave, I tried to make it clear that I wasn’t just talking about someone who is struggling with sin, but rather someone who decides that his assurance gives him license to sin freely.

    I just checked “Book of Concord’, and apparently the Lutherans distinguish these as “besetting” vs. “ruling” sin. For people who assume that assurance gives them license, the Lutheran remedy (as I suspected) appears to be to cut that person off from the communion.

    So, in the scenario I described, it would apparently be a judgement call of the man’s Church as to whether or not he was simply struggling with besetting sin, or given over to ruling sin.

  59. OK. I thought you were talking about someone who knows that Jesus wants us to visit those in prison, but NEVER, or HARDLY does so.

    Or those that pass by the poor and pinch out ONLY when they feel they have an abundance, or when their gulit strikes them, or when they feel like it.

    Now..on to the real sinners. Those that are NOT repentant. We don’t cut them off from communion except in blatent cases where the whole congregation could be affected. It’s a judgement call, usually made by the pastor. But I have never seen it in my 13 years in my congregation.

    We are ALL engaged in sins on a daily basis in which we feel are no big deal. Such as going 3, or 5 miles an hour over the speed limit.

    We invite all sinners who are baptized, and who believe Christ to be truly present in body and blood, to join in receiving the Lord’s Supper.

    We trust that Christ will be merciful to those who do not deserve it (all of us). No litmus test, other than what I mentioned.

  60. Yeah, I assume that the guy given over to ruling sin would just stop coming to church, and avoid the other congregants.

    As a teen, I remember hearing Lutheran peers say stuff like, “I just did my confirmation; I don’t have to go to church anymore. Yay!”. So I formed this impression that Lutherans believed as long as you’re baptized and confirmed, you can live the rest of your life however you want, and you’re going to heaven. I was an atheist then, so it didn’t bother me much, but it seemed slightly illogical. From what you’re telling me, those kids also need to be a part of a church and go to LS with some regularity, if they want to get to heaven. Is that correct?

    I suppose there is also the possibility that someone could be baptized, confirmed, and regularly attend LS, yet indulge regularly and unrepentantly in serious sin — yet never be discovered and cut off from communion. The fact that he’s never cut off from communion doesn’t necessarily mean he would end up in heaven, though, I assume; since he’s there under false pretenses. Is that correct?

  61. You see, Lutherans do not focus on ‘sins’…but rather on ‘sin’. And we are in bondage to it.

    But, we have a Savior. One has freed us from the world, the flesh, and the devil…and it has nothing to do with our obedience. He loves us in spite of our obedience.

  62. Anyone can walk away from their Baptism and seperate themselves from the love of Christ.

    I’m sure there will be people in Heaven who never went to church, and there will be many who went all the time, who Jesus “never knew”.

    Only Christ knows for sure who are His and who are not.

  63. Agreed. However, I would add one thing to this:

    Only Christ knows for sure who are His and who are not.

    Believers can be convinced of their own salvation, as Paul expressed in Romans 8:38-39.

  64. That is a wonderful quote, JS.

    Nothing can seperate us from God. But we can walk away from Him. Our faith must touch down somewhere, however. And for us, it touches down in the Sacraments, which are God’s doing, in a tangible form that we can return to, over and over again. As the Jews returned to Shilo and Bethel. Places where God showed up and did something for them.

    For us, we return to our Baptisms (daily) and we return to the Supper. The Lord has acted (still acts) in these visable means of grace, for us.

    As I have often said, the Lord is not into empy religious ritual. He acts in these things that He has done for us. He shows up and is there for us. We can count on it.

    Our feelings, our thoughts, our obedience, our faith…all can waiver or be influenced in some way by the devil, who shows up “as an angel of light”.

    But the Sacraments come to us from outside ourselves and can be trusted in absolutely…in spite of whatever else is going on inside of us, or around us.


  65. I believe the Lutheran stance is Baptism is sufficient to save but does not guarantee salvation. …. sound right?

    As Steve said we can and do walk away.

    The idea is God is doing the work to save. Even faith is a gift from God.. Another example of Christs righteousness being imputed, ascribed, or given freely, to man.

    Then confirmation serves as the secondary, adult state of taking hold of the grace by faith that was given to you in baptism..

    Assurance always comes from being “in Christ” or being under the Gospel. Christ has done the work for us.

    I may not have picked my words the best for some of the purists here… but its late and cold in Minnesota,

    Oh yes and point of Grace and Phillips, Craig, and Dean concert I just went to was wonderful!!!!

  66. Sounds right, Jon.

    My wording isn’t always right. But as long as we remember it is all God’s work in us (including the sacraments), then I think we are on point.

    Stay warm up there in Minnesota, Jon.

    Thanks, my friend.

  67. JS,

    One cannot reconcile Luther via Calvinistic glasses, one can “read into” Lutheran statments Calvinistic understandings. Luther had this issue with Augustine reading what he thought Augustine was saying agreeing with his tower experience, when in fact Augustine did not.

    I see two questions in your question. Why the practice of closed communion? And withholding someone in gross sin from communion? Which by the way John Calvin actually practiced. One thing I can say about John Calvin, nearly without exception, he would not recognize the best of his heirs. Calvin at LEAST understood the necessity of united confession on the sacraments before altar communion AND that these are ESSENTIALS whereby a church is true or false. He would not AT ALL identify with modern Calvinist.

    Closed communion is driven from 1 Cor. 11:19 because individually he/she does not ‘discern the body and blood of the Lord’.
    Corporately it is an issue of confession! Two separate spirits, one not believing it to be the body and blood of Christ, actually, and one that does (which is rooted in the assurance issue and ultimately Christology to lengthy to get into here) cannot be accepted as de facto true confession either openly or by silence on the matter. A Reformed/baptist scenario I ran into while in the PCA may help illuminate in principle this matter. At our fairly sound former PCA church we admitted baptist as baptist to membership, including their unbaptized children, AND to the reformed supper. Now that is in spite of the WCF regarding the matter calling the failure to baptize one’s children not just “a” sin but a GREAT sin. On the assurance side, what was that telling our youth, and adults for that matter? Well it was by silence confessing, “yes infant baptism is good and all but its really just a thing not so urgent”. Which is contrary to EVERYTHING reformed, at least historically, Calvin would have had a heart attack to find this out being the child of his theology. This tears to shreds any residual comfort and assurance that baptized child in infancy within the Reformed community might have since the “elders” and pastor seem to indicate by their silence on the matter and opened admission of baptist to membership to their churches that its not “that big of a deal”. Ultimately in such “confession doesn’t really matter”, is the logical and practical extension of this. And indeed it is as we see in so many PCA and Reformed churches, their confessions now have no more strength nor serious reality than does the SB Faith and Message gathering dust if it exists at all in the SB churches everywhere.

    Admitting mixed confessions on essentials says de facto, “this is not really essential”. So you see how grossly far many are from any seriousness about scripture and Christ in spite of all their huffing and puffing to the contrary, in practice, their gross unionism, even among the heterodox doesn’t even pass the laugh test and is the height of folly. You have baptist pastors ascending the pulpits of PCA and Reformed churches, UNTHINKABLE! Baptist who cannot even confess the Nicene Creed whom the Reformed do, at least the later does with their mouths but with their internal sectarian unionism with the baptist they confess something else.

    Put on a different scale for clarity. Why not just let a Buddhist ascend the pulpit, you know for the purpose of love and peace. After all we can just say that their name for God and a savior is merely a “different way speaking the same thing”, can we not? Just like the Reformed say “we only believe in a different mode of presence, nothing to it that should cause concern”. You see in principle alone this is heresy and apostasy let alone the specific content being the same.

    The assurance issue. This, Lutheran assurance, cannot be understood through the lens of Calvinistic thinking. First, those possessing faith can fall away and can return. Second, the entire POINT of assurance of forgiveness of sin, a point often missed in such questions, is presupposed upon the reality that you are confessing your sin as sin. If you are locked into it because you are refusing to recognize it as sin, then you very well can’t confess it as sin because you are fooling self!

    The other folly is this: such questions tend to imply or explicitly, in some cases, say that “grace” is the reason for someone being sinful. Sin came before grace did, and to blame grace for sin, which is what hidden legalist do, is blaspheme. If that where actually true, free grace causes or creates the situation of sin and license, then atheist are sinless since they reject free grace altogether and thus remove the cause the legalist presuppose.

    Finally, a shepherd that does not practice closed communion is no shepherd at all. He obviously is not involved much with the specific flock under his care if he opens the communion doors.

    The early church, even in the time of the Apostles, locked and barred the doors. Those who were not believers and thus confess the body and blood of Christ were not even allowed to be in the room during communion.

  68. Luther’s tower experience is misinterpreted by nearly every non-Lutheran protestant as well as some Lutherans and they misunderstand Rome.

    In Saarnivaara’s “Luther Discovers the Gospel” he nicely spells this out. Luther’s pre-reformational understanding of the Gospel, we might say “part gospel” but not its full ‘noon day’ shining as Saarnivaara terms it was also the Augustinian and Med. RC churches understanding, and ironically pretty much all sectarian churches grasp of it. Protestant churches never really left Rome doctrinally.

    Two misunderstandings of Luther’s tower experience are very common. (1) that it was the BEGINNING of his journey and thus the Reformation. (2) he this precipitated the removal of the abuses of the RC church. In Radical Reformers, including Calvin, this pretty much meant throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    The Augustinian, RC, and protestant understanding of the Gospel and in particular justification was and is this: That Christ’s work does indeed give the forgiveness of sins but that righteousness which will stand in the judgment of God is that grace or “justification by faith alone” that is a process of change or of becoming righteous, though imperfect always in this life and covered more or less by the first part, the forgiveness of sin. That’s pretty much 99.999999% of all Roman and Protestant’s understanding and confession of what the Gospel is in some form or another. The changed life or “becoming righteous” actively become the “proof” and thus the assurance of “I’m saved” and can stand before the judgment of God.

    Luther’s Romans 1:17 and associated Psalms ‘tower experience’ was to truly understand what ALL of Scripture is saying, in particular Paul, concerning the “righteousness of God” revealed in the Gospel. It is NOT IN THE LEAST the aforementioned ‘justification’, rather that Christ’s ENTIRE righteousness, everything he did said suffered is BESTOWED upon man by imputation, Divine declaration. NO CHANGE WHATSOEVER IN THE MAN. It is THIS righteousness that stands in judgment of God on judgment day. It is this that is the full “noon day” Gospel or as Dr. Rosenbladt states it “200 proof” Gospel.

    It is this Gospel, in particular the justification of Christ’s work to and for us, not what God does or does in us but FOR US that Luther discovered Paul and all of Scripture speaking of. It is this that precipitated the TRUE Law and Gospel division, not what Calvinist say it is, not even the best of them. It is that that changed everything for Luther and it was not the BEGINNING of his journey nor the BEGINNING of his Reformation of the church, it was the CONCLUSION AND CULMINATION of what he himself did not see before.

    At that point Luther realized he was in disagreement with the med. Church and even Augustine that got many things right. It is at this point all sectarian churches err and it is upon this point that error of the sectarian churches proffer their false teachings on the sacraments (Reformed) or ordinances (baptist). It is also upon this error that the same err on conversion, grace, faith, post-conversion good works, rebirth, Law and Gospel (even those Calvinist that somewhat recognize the idea of Law and Gospel) and pretty much everything else Christian. They err on what is humility, repentance, fear of God, trust, faith, love of God, hope, election, Christology, eschatology…everything.

    This error feeds EVERYTHING.

  69. ‘The Sacrament is the Gospel’.

    And just who is the gospel meant for?

    Yes, we don’t let unbelievers participate. But we don’t give out a test each time to see if everyone is on the right page that day.

    When we invite baptized Christians to come if they believe the Lord is actually present in the Meal, we trust that the Lord will deal rightly them, no matter where they happen to be. And that He will actually use the meal for His purposes.

    At my Father’s funeral mass, the Catholic priest ran down the aisle to retrieve the wafer out of my brother-in-law’s hand (when he realized he was not a Catholic).

    As if the Lord would not deal rightly with my B-i-L had he ingested it.

    St. Paul’s warning was to those who were getting drunk and not sharing their food with others.

    We aren’t biblicists, after all, but sinners in need of the One who came for us.

  70. There’s one thing many forget reading Paul in Corinthians on this issue. It’s both due to reading what is already a false heterodoxy doctrine (post reformation) and then anachronistically back into Paul and the Corinthian church creating a false picture.

    That thing?

    Paul ALREADY presupposes a unified confessing church and not a heterodox church in the first place. Paul nor would have the Corinthian church communed the Gnostics nor their congregations, which is precisely the issue with the sectarians of our day and age.

    Also a HUGE error made, pretty much perpetuated by heterodoxy is this: The Lord’s Supper is the CULMINATION of an already unified confession. It is NOT as heterodoxy presupposes, the Lord’s Supper, the MEANS of unity. In other words the LS presupposes, requires and is the result of unity in confession of the true and orthodox faith that is utterly unified.

    To this end, again, no apostle nor church would have communed the heterodox churches (false churches) of their time either and they were considered false churches.

    The REASON that’s over looked is multiple, but one reason is fairly obvious, one has to finely realize that, “Yes, reformed and Baptist and Methodist, etc… are in fact really and truly heterodox confessions and that is to say false churches” just like the proto-gnostics of John’s day. They would not have nor did commune or commune with the false churches.

    That’s in part why the early church, including the times of the Apostles, barred the doors.

    Finally, even true that this sacrament is the Gospel its operation is not the same as Baptism, which is the Gospel or the Word which is the Gospel. That’s basically a principle from sectarian thinking. The principle John Calvin used in defining a sacrament was to normalize them all, reduce all of them to their common denominator and said, “here is the (root) of what a sacrament is”. In fact he comments on this very method concerning circumcision.

    The other issue is its not just about “real presence”. That again is Calvinism. Its about the real and very true body and blood. That’s why Luther gave the simple test question to ferret out these subtle deceivers, “ask the pastor what it is he is putting in your mouth”. Calvinism can say “real presence” but it is not the flesh and blood of Christ they mean is placed into your mouth.

  71. Right, Larry. I agree that we ought let people know that we believe that the true body and blood are in the Supper.

    But, again, what kind of a God do we have?

    Would our Lord want you denied Himself at my church? Would our Lord want your congregation to deny me Himself, at your congregation?

    One guy from an LCMS background visited our church for several weeks, and would not commune with us at the Supper. I thought it was a shame. I thought he was missing out on what the Lord desired for him.

    We do believe that the Sacrament is the gospel, and we want people to have it, even though their doctrine may not be perfect and even though they may not fully understand it.

    We believe the Lord can handle it.

    I know we disagree on this matter.

    We feel that if we are to err…we want to err on the side of God’s grace.

    Thanks, Larry.

  72. Yes, although I come from a Calvinist perspective, I have never understood why the insistence on saying that the sacraments are merely a “symbol’. I just don’t even know why they would go there. It bothers me a lot.

    Regarding the way Paul and the others would “bar the doors”, it was clearly for heterodoxy in some situations, but also for licentiousness. So I think that is consistent with what the Book of Concord site said about excommunication for “ruling sin”.

    Sometimes, when I see someone expressing anxiety over their position WRT God, I find it very difficult to judge whether to proclaim the law, or proclaim the gospel — the link to Book of Concord says that it should vary based upon the type of sin:

    Ruling sins are when a person has truly given themselves over to what they know to be sin and no longer struggle or fight against it. To such people, the Law only is to be proclaimed. But they are quite different from those who struggle with besetting sins, sins that they fight against continually, and sometimes win against and sometimes lose. But they HATE the sin and wish to be free of it, and so they flee to Christ, who is the Savior of poor sinners and who will forgive them and strengthen them anew for the battle. To them, the Gospel alone is to be proclaimed.

    My problem is that I can’t always tell. The ruled sinner who is looking for people to soothe his pangs of conscience would most likely feign anxiety over the “legalism” of the church; hoping that people would respond with a very permissive message. I just can’t imagine Paul saying to someone like Susan, “Don’t worry; Christ is sufficient”, without first getting to the bottom of exactly what that person’s sin life looked like, and calling the person to repentance if necessary.

  73. Interestingly, I just remembered I wrote a blog post titled “Anxious about judgement“, where I tackled the exact issue of people who feel anxious about their status before God.

    When I wrote it, I had this nagging doubt that something was wrong with my theology there, but nobody argued with the post. It was the only post of mine in months that didn’t get a reaction, so I forgot about it. After reading this post, and all the comments, I think I need to re-think my post on the topic…

  74. I thought your post was excellent, J.S..

    I made a comment on it over at your site.

    I look forward to perusing your site a bit more.

    Thanks for sharing.

    – Steve

  75. I wanted to give a response if I may…

    I have been reading everyone’s posts and have been very grateful for all of the comments. Most were very kind and yet attempting to lead me to the gospel. I want to thank you.

    However, to the first comment on the blog, I have no intention of finding a church that will finally make me feel anxious free. I do not wish to go down the emergent path. I have begun to understand what law and gospel is and the nature in which anxiety over sin is necessary. However, I also hear that Christ died for me a sinner. So, I do want to thank that first blogger because many of your following comments were quite helpful.

    I want to say that my first letter was definitely a rant but, I am not backing down from the frustration that I feel/felt. However, I would like to give some background to the situation.

    I was raised in an Arminian Baptist background; my parents were and still are very much apart of that group. I was taught to lead a moral life and by earthly standards I was quite “good.” I based my salvation around certain issues such as not drinking, abstaining from sex, not smoking nor doing drugs etc. When it came to those typical sins that are blatant in your face sin that the world also confesses to be wrong or at least unhelpful, I thought I was doing quite well. But, I was judgmental of others and constantly wondered why you wouldn’t just “do right.” If I could pull it off why couldn’t they? Notice Jesus Christ is no where in this.

    One day I was struck with the reality that Christianity is not the only religion that promotes “clean living.” In fact, Mormons were more “moral” than me and the Muslims were actually attempting to keep a law that seemed an awful like what was commanded in the old testament. I quickly realized that the Gospel is not found in my moral living.

    I sought help from a camp counselor at one of our church youth retreats and he directed me to the sinners prayer that I had never prayed. So, I prayed it and well… nothing happened.

    I went to college and that is where Calvinism was first introduced to me. The group was from a Presbyterian church but they never identified themselves with the church nor did they tell us they were Calvinists; however, they began to do bible studies with groups of people with the hope of convincing us that just because we live in the bible belt doesn’t mean we were saved. I was convinced that I was not saved and again went to this group seeking absolution and again I prayed a prayer with my discipleship leader. Again, nothing happened except this time I was part of a group that sought to disciple me in the finer points of the faith and then hopefully send me out on the mission field. I quickly ran to my discipleship leader for all of my problems; I needed her to tell me I was ok. There was no discussion about the means of grace or any of what I am learning in Lutheranism, there was no real emphasis other than God’s Sovereignty and then what we needed to do. I don’t have time to get into the specifics but let’s just say that I couldn’t see this freedom in Christ. When I didn’t attend a 10 week long event that focused on your spiritual growth, I was told that I would become stagnant and when I returned to college without this type of equipping, I would not be able to relate to my friends who had gone. Needless to say I transfered universities. That group was the group that introduced me to John Piper.

    I soon discovered that within Calvinism there are the reformed. I began attending the Reformed University Fellowship and begin to hear more about the Gospel. I wanted to hear more but, no one could ever say Jesus Christ died FOR YOU.

    Six months ago my world came crashing down. I began to suffer from depression and began to doubt the truth claims of Christ. I no longer could lean on my rationale. I was broken and in desperate need of the absolution that only comes from Christ but, no one could quite give it to me. You see God’s Sovereignty wasn’t saving me. God’s Sovereignty apart from Christ damns me because he is Holy and I am not. I heard about God’s glory but, it seemed to encompass his glory but as I was in Hell. I was supposed to be joyful because God might sovereignly send me to hell. Again, God was there and Jesus was present but not so much in his saving office. The Gospel was there maybe to the left or to the right but never preached after they had given me the law.

    So, I will thank the Calvinist for giving me the law and showing me how utterly depraved I am. I need that in order to be broken and say just like an addict when they finally are down for the count “I can’t save myself.” But, that is just where I lay in the mire of my sin wondering if that is what it all is about? Thinking that since I was doubting and knowing what I sinner I was could I be saved? Does Christ love me? Why don’t I feel victorious? I must not be saved.

    Then I found Dr. Rosenbladt’s message “The Gospel for those Broken by the Church.” I had not been broken by the church but, not knowing much about Lutherans I decided to have a listen. I wasn’t sure they were Christian but, I listened anyway.

    For the first time someone from the Reformation told me that Christ’s shed blood was enough for my sins –even my doubts. Christ’s resurrection proved he was God and that if I were in him I too would be raised to be with him. Christ really came down and rescued me totally one sided. It was outside of me and God does love me on the count of Christ. This truly showed how deeply God loved me in that he chose to love me only in the death of his only son. Now, THAT is love! For the first time I felt safe to say no God I don’t love you with my whole heart please have mercy on my Lord! I could confess how wretched I was and how only Christ’s death and resurrection could save me.

    I still struggle, and doubt but, I am running to the cross because now I see When I was yet a sinner (deep in the muck of life, doubting, self righteous me that I am) Christ died for me.

    Thank you for responding and giving me the Gospel. I hope that we can continue to communicate with one another. You all really placard Christ and him crucified.

    Thank you

  76. Thanks for elaborating, Susan.

    I don’t want to say that you are now on the “right track”…because there is no “right track” for Christians. There is only the Way, and He (who IS the Way) has you in His strong grip.

    You can never be a better Christian than you were the moment you were Baptized. You were a fully His then…and you are fully His now. And you are totally free…in Christ. Free from “religion”…and free to live on the horizontal plane for the benefit of your neighbor. And this you will do to a greater or lesser degree each and every day…to the best of your ability…OR NOT! ( join the club…)

    And through it all, your sin (every bit of it) is forgiven for Jesus’ sake!

    That’s the Good News!!!

    May the peace of the Lord be with you, Susan!

    – Steve

  77. Susan,

    PS – If anyone ever tells you that there is something else you need to be doing to be “a real Christian”…you have every right to tell them to visit the nether regions, and to go and get remediated in the Christian faith before they talk to you again about it.

  78. Steve,

    I agree, err on the side of the Gospel. BUT, that presumes one is erring on the side of the Gospel and communing such that way is not, its erring in the direction of legalism and works righteousness. Again we have in Paul in Corinth the unified confession, heterodoxies where not allowed in. And for what reason? Because at length they deny the very Gospel that we are presupposing we are erring on the side of. That’s why Reformed doctrine and Baptist doctrine cannot be allowed even as much as a toe hold, not even from a visitor.

    Put another way; this entire post was based on Susan’s struggle. Yet if those being so attacked by Satan see that we just let anyone naming “real presence” commune, it diminishes that same Gospel we say we are erring on the side of. They begin to think that there’s nothing THAT important about narrowing in on it being the actual and true body and blood of Christ. I think many Lutherans have forgotten or never understood this. Luther and the Lutheran confessors particularly had the tender conscience in mind (as did Paul) concerning doctrine unto the Gospel. If a reformed person comes in and says, “well I believe in the real presence” and is allowed in and a tender conscience sees this it is the tender conscience that will suffer ‘that this doctrine is after all not that much’ and it is, by the way, it is that tender conscience that is under that pastors care, not the visitor. When a reformed or Baptist person denies the body and blood, he needs to be told so. Because he’s denying the Gospel, the two are connected. That’s why in reality their doctrines deny the Gospel, that’s why they don’t absolve, etc… To not do that and communion them is to confirm them in their denial and that is not “defaulting in the direction of grace” but in the opposite direction in the way of legalism, law and works righteousness.

    There’s a reason Luther said he’d ‘rather drink blood with the Pope than wine with the sacramentarians’. That’s something one needs to keep in mind. Luther’s point? Well he elaborates that God is still God even in hell and was so on the Cross. Christ’s body and blood is still his body and blood even in the RC church. HOWEVER, in the sacarmentarian churches it is not, it’s just a bread and wine ritual, one is not receiving anything but (as their doctrine says) ‘just bread and just wine’. They have what they say they have. One is NOT receiving that body and blood that was IN FACT shed and given for you for the forgiveness of sin (the VERY Gospel, ‘this sacrament is the Gospel’) AND in the LS you are to actually RECEIVE it, not ‘trot up into the fiery heavens’ for it. This Holy Spirit is not the medium that communicates the body and blood of Christ, as Paul says, it is the Word through the bread and wine.

    If a Lutheran church or group of churches, whoever they are, opens their communion doors to sacramentarians, whomever they are, they de facto denying the body and blood of Christ in their communion. THAT was the thrust of Paul in Corinth. That is why he makes the point about communing with the table of demons in that culture, the Christian cannot mix communions. The Christian, in that case, should not commune with the sacrifice (the meat) sacrificed to their Roman gods and that communion’s concepts likewise are not to be brought into the communion of the body and blood of the Lord. What does light have to do with darkness.

    The reality is this and it is this powerful: ALL, without exception, false doctrine is from hell. False teachings of those entirely outside the church, evolution, Islam, etc…and false teachings from false teachers from false churches and false confessions (e.g. Baptist, Calvinism, Rome, etc…) These same false doctrines are set forth by Satan for one singular purpose, to deny the Gospel to people so that they are roped into hell. To mingle with them explicitly, implicitly or by silence is to allow them entrance into the truth, the Gospel. Such allowance is not defaulting in the direction of grace or the Gospel but defaulting in the other direction, works righteousness.

    Defaulting in the direction of the Gospel often times means to deny men entrance with their false doctrine (gospel denying doctrine). Because when they come for example a Reformed person saying, “I believe in the real presence just not the body and blood in my mouth”, is denying the very Gospel.

    Rod Rosenbladt in a conversation with Michael Horton recounts that Horton said to him, “I’d commune you would you commune me.” Rod replied, “I can’t you sign on to a different confession.” Dr. Rosenbladt understands protecting the Word, the Gospel, the suffering conscience, etc…

    Luther, “Let us learn clearly to recognize the tricks and subtleties of the devil. No heretic comes in the name of error or Satan, nor does the devil himself come as devil, especially not the white one…In spiritual matters, not the black but the white devil operates and presents himself in angelic and divine guise….Therefore Paul ironically calls the doctrine of the false apostles, the minister of Satan, a gospel.”

    “The white good-looking devil is the one who does the most harm, the devil who eggs people on to commit spiritual sins, which are not regarded as sins at all but as pure righteousness and are defended as such…Therefore he must embellish them with a fine appearance and gloss them over with these holy names: God’s Word, the worship of God, a divine life, etc.”

    —From “What Luther Says”

  79. Steve,

    Put another way, a Christian should DESIRE the body and blood of Christ. The closed communion is not so much from our end is it is from their end. That’s the way unbelief works. One may desire to baptize an atheist friend, but cannot. Why? Because he does not really want it.

    It’s never about a test, that’s red herring many throw up to avoid doctrine. It’s about unbelief, not intellect but unbelief. It’s not that they cannot pass a ‘theological test’ its that they refuse to believe, that is to say, trust.

    The greatest danger to the Lutheran church is not necessarily Rome and secular atheism but as it was then and is today the Reformed churches. Rome, Islam and secular atheism are like the armies storming the citadel from the outside, the church is surrounded by all sides. The reformed and their connected heterodoxies (e.g. Baptist) are more like Trojan Horses sneaking in. Once they get in and kill from the inside, those outside are shortly soon to storm the gates as the internal intruders open the gates for them.

    This is the picture, for example, Revelation paints for the suffering church nearer and nearer to the end. The church looks like Helms Deep, to borrow an image, near the end. About to collapse due to the enemies within and without. It looks like she’s all but lost and the evil one about to finally crush her under foot. But then suddenly a ray of light from on high the hilltop shines, the Savior returns and reigns fire down out of heaven upon her enemies. Thus, rescuing his suffering bride.

    The whole message of Revelation is this great hope. It will look like the end is about to finally come to the church with false doctrines pursuing and making in roads from nearly every direction, open enemies and false friends. But the message is not that to worry but that at the last minute, Christ comes and fire reigns down from heaven destroying these enemies forever and the church enters into paradise forever and forever.

  80. Larry,

    We ALL refuse to believe. That’s why we come to the Meal as sinners.

    What makes the Supper effective?

    Our belief? Or Himself?

  81. I don’t think the litmus test question is a red herring.

    One week we are strong in the faith, and the next it is barely there at all.

    That they are Baptized, and that they are informed and invited to receive the true body and blood of Christ is enough.

    If you think God cannot work in someone under those conditions, then you have a very different doctrine of the Word than I do.

  82. Steve,

    It has nothing to do with our belief or unbelief as to its reality. It is objectively true. But it does have to do with confession. That’s why sacramentarian churches don’t have that sacrament, that’s why we dare not go to their churches and “partake” of their meal. That’s why Luther said what he said. Put another “mormon baptism” is not baptism, the purpose and intent in not there. Same thing.

    And the sacrament is NOT for evangelism. To reduce the sacraments to all equal application is precisely to reduce them the way many do. Each sacrament has its part to play. One cannot come to the sacrament of the LS before baptism, that’s clear. There’s a reason for that.

    And again it misses the point and fact that Paul did not, nor did John commune with the Gnostic “Christian” congregations. Corinth assumes an orthodox church confession at the beginning. One has to understand as hard as it sounds that Reformed churches, Baptist churches, etc…many of whom I have great friends and family in are in fact heterodox and false churches. This does not speak to individual’s faith but the corporate confessions of such. They are in fact false churches no less than the Gnostics of Paul’s day. They are outside of the pale of true Christianity. They contain believers for sure, but the confessions are false, being mingled. This is no where permitted in the Word new or old testament.

    An orthodox church that opens its communion doors will eventually at length fall away in a few generations and loose the Gospel then be roped into works righteousness. I’ve seen this in as much as old SB churches still retained some Gospel. When they open their confessions to other confessions, eventually they loose what Gospel they had. E.g. a move from Charles H. Spurgeon, who did have a good gospel now and then (Walther recognizes this in his L & G book), to Rick Warren who has utterly lost the Gospel and preaches nothing but works righteousness. Baptist WELL know this experience. It started with what was labeled the “Down Grade” controversy. Basically they opened their confessions to other confessional ideas.

    PCA is experiencing the same thing. Some letting Baptist be members with unbaptized children. What then does that say about the sacrament of baptism? It gets lost under the Baptist doctrine of believers baptism. They are loosing what gospel they had even in that confession.

    It’s a slow creep away from the purity of the Gospel, that little leaven of the Pharisees which starts with attempting to be “gracious”. In the words of John MacArthur who got this exactly right, “in order to reach the world we are becoming the world”. In order to get people to grace we are giving up grace, because the Cross is necessarily offensive to all works righteousness explicit or implicit, overtly stated or implied works righteousness.

    It is precisely a red herring because it has nothing to do with the intellect and reason but is rejection of that article of faith. Luther makes that very clear, the sacrament is precisely for weak faith, not weak intellect. The sacrament does not in anyway answer an intellectual question, nor does appeal to reason, in fact it purposely offends reason in saying what it does as do all articles of faith. It beckons to be believed/trusted nakedly, particularly weak suffering faith that needs it.

    The question is not do you believe in the “real presence” but that this is the very true body and blood of Christ. The real presence was never the issue from the Lutheran side of the equation, Sasse and Chemnitz make this crystal clear but is it the very and true body and blood of Christ. It would be similar to agreeing with Arians, because they would say, “we only believe in a differing mode”. Which is the Reformed argument for the LS.

    When Luther said “this sacrament is the Gospel” he also stated and understood that anyone teaching against or another way (i.e. Zwingli and Bucer leading to Calvin) it was to teach against the Gospel and thus another gospel. That’s why he would not commune with them.

    Thus, one cannot say, “I default toward grace”, all the while refuting and damaging the very object and means of grace. Because defaulting toward grace is not giving up that grace which objectively is for another confession.

    It is precisely the same issue when people outside the church say they believe in a gracious god they just don’t feel that his name has to Jesus or that his name comes under other names by other religious systems.

    Therefore, yes grace (the Gospel) is universal but it is THIS grace/gospel that is universal and no other. And allowing the entrance of other confessions is to eliminate the grace that is OBJECIVELY so with or without faith.

    It’s confession not faith. Jesus Christ is objectively real and so sans faith, but it is THAT confession, Jesus Christ, “there is only ONE name under heaven by which men are saved” that is objectively true.

    Bringing it back around: The sacrament that CONFESSES and GIVES the true body and blood of Christ into your mouth is the only real Christian sacrament and thus grace/gospel given for the forgiveness of sin to and for the man in particular. No other sacrament confessed is.

    So it does not depend for its existence upon faith to be the sacrament, it does depend upon the true confession however, AND as Luther says and the catechism states, “….it requires that all hearts believe”. When it gives forgiveness we are required to believe that it indeed does forgive. It does not work some magic behind the scenes, that’s Calvinism in which they divorce the secret inner operation of the spirit from outer word.

    The Gospel is universally salvific but it is only THIS Gospel that is salvific and universal and not another, nor another sacrament whose intent is not the intent of the Words Christ clearly instituted.

    The Gospel IS whether we believe it or not, but it is the One Gospel that IS. Grace is free indeed and universally so, but we must participate in it not reject it.

    The hell of hell is that men will realize that they rejected free grace and that begets what is the gnawing and gnashing of teeth, the conscience forever tormented.

  83. The Supper is a free gift of God, to us. When one comes and receives, he is receiving the true body and blood of Christ. If they don’t believe that and come anyway, then the Lord will have to work that out with them.

    We wouldn’t let someone partake who says that it is only symbol, or who disparages it before the congregation. We announce what it is, and ask for I.D. (Baptized Christians) to come and receive it.

    I think so much of this desire to put up fences around the gospel is a direct outcome of the doctrine of scriptural inerrancy.

    I think Gerhard Forde had it right when he said that “the Supper is the last will and testament of Christ Jesus”. What is needed for someone to inherit a gift from someone else? What is to be bequeathed is to be made known (we do that), and then I.D. is needed (Baptism). Other than that, no special knowledge of procedure is necessary.

    The Sacrament is God’s free gift to His own and we ought not erect fences around it.

    I know many at Missouri believe that they are the only true Lutherans (only ‘true Christians’ for that matter)…(not accusing you of that, but the tendancy is there in Missouri ). We are not saved by our correct doctrine, but by the blood of Christ. Not that doctrine is not important, it is. But we ought not be biblicists. We ought seek to lift the gospel out of the text, rather that the text from the text.

    This one, Larry, is one we will not see eye to eye on. When we get to Heaven, maybe the answer will be clear…and maybe it won’t matter. In the meantime, I will not hinder people from receiving the free gift of the Sacrament, when they are of the fold (Baptized), and they hear what it is (true body and blood of Christ) and desire to come and get it.

    “He sets a table before me in the sight of my enemies.”

    That is us, His enemies. And He loves us anyway. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

  84. There is a middle ground between the rigid biblicism of so much (not all, of course) of Missouri…and the liberalism and outright rejection of God’s Law by so much of the ELCA.

    The middle that we strive for, is Christ Jesus and His great love for real sinners, and to trust that His Word will accomplish what it sets out to do.

  85. When I am in another denomination’s worship, I will not commune with them. For their confession is heresy. (to their credit, a couple of Missouri Synod pastors have allowed me to receive the Supper at their worship service)

    But when others (non- Lutherans) are in our house of worship and they come and receive, they are affirming our confession.

    Many do not come up and receive. That’s fine.

  86. Steve,

    Many of these we’d agree upon and I think your hearts in the right place, in fact I know it is. But the risk I speak of is real and your not seeing for some reason.

    It’s a mistake to think my thinking comes from a more or less LCMS inherited background, it does not. The Lutheran confessions are not a family heirloom in my family at all.

    The reason what you state in principle is a red herring is that is not the reason the communion doors are closed. Not one apology given for it says, “You must pass test.” When I was pre-Lutheran visiting my family was not withheld by some apeish answer of, “You have to pass a test.” So to continue that line of “reasoning” in the face the facts to the contrary is both a logical diversion and false accusation – falsely leading some to conclude, “Yea those mean ole Lutherans” and to affirm those who so falsely accuse to continue to do so to those who confess the truth.

    Secondly, we are speaking of almost two differing issue. Lutherans versus those who do not hold to said confession but confess otherwise. One should desire to receive the true body and blood of Christ, not pass a theological exam. On the one on one person level if a reformed person desires this, then one has to wonder why they maintain their fellowship within their church. There’s a difference in someone going up to the altar desiring it and wrestling with unbelief and one going up saying basically, “after all it is just bread and wine”. When we were “interim” and desiring the sacrament, and by this time I was pretty read on Luther and Lutheranism but in the process of catechism…I didn’t take offense at having to patiently wait. In fact I loved watching my future fellow churchmen and women going up and partaking of that treasure. I loved it for them! I didn’t throw bratty fit and say, “Well then I’ll just take my toys and go play elsewhere”. So if someone coming out of heterodoxy is so desiring this sacrament, then their patience will be true as would any Christians, but if they think they may by some inalienable American right, that’s altogether different.

    Thirdly, Opening the communion doors is more than “just the sacrament itself”. It opens the way for heresy (which legalism by definition in any form it is) and affirms false doctrine. If someone weak in their faith coming out of heterodoxy is partially coming out of it but yet retains some things they don’t quite grasp and are just visiting still desiring mostly to stay within their false communion, opening the communion doors is de facto approving of their false communion and saying “we are basically in agreement with Calvinism, Baptist, Rome, etc…”.

    Fourthly, sometimes we have to bear this cross of accusation, “you closed minded Lutherans”. The Cross demands it. It’s a mistake and another false accusation to explicitly state or imply that one affirms closed communion “just to be mean, or legalistic or pharisaical (more on them in a minute). It is in no way easy, especially for folks in our situation in which we are the sole confessing Lutherans on both sides of our families as far as the eye can see, and ALL of our friends are Baptist, PCA, etc… There’s not one bone in me that does not desire that my family and friends would commune with us, and many nights this comes with great tears in prayer. Yet sometimes this is a hard, I would say the hardest, test of faith there is. That you love your loved one’s, family and friends, in the human sense more closely than any, yet one is torn emotionally between one’s emotions and being faithful to the Word. I don’t know Richard Dawkins the infamous atheist. I can say, “I feel for him in his lostness”, but truthfully I don’t know him so those affections are somewhat artificial and more “wished for” as a Christian. Now my brother or dad, etc…those people I know, was raised by them lived and played, sweated and suffered along side them my whole life, I don’t have to manufacture deep love for them it’s already there. So the trial of that, one’s beloved family, and fidelity to the Word is REALLY a trial. I have NEVER enjoyed, nor does any pastor I personally know, having to inform them, “now communion is closed and this is why”. One often will get all that, “so you mean I’m not a Christian thrown up in your face”. However, many have understood it, Baptist in our family and ex-Methodist because their former churches too practiced it and understood it to be about confession. Open communion is a rather novel religion known mostly to America.

    Fifthly, it confirms if only by its silence or weakness that false churches are “maybe not false”. Many make this error regarding Judas and his communing. Judas was IN AN ORTHODOX communion by definition, the LORD of the Church was their. He was not denied due to his unbelief which Jesus was certainly aware of. Neither did Jesus open the doors to other “confessions”. Neither did Paul in Corinth nor any Apostle in the inception of the church nor any of the early church. That is the point missed. It’s not about individuals per se nor weakness nor unbelief, closed communion…we all battle with unbelief every second. It’s about a true confession and false churches, the heterodox, can no more commune as confessing heterodox than can an atheist as a confessing atheist nor a Muslim as a confessing Muslim. That’s the point about closed communion, not “is so and so truly a Christian but about the TRUE confession. Which leads to the answer of it being a gift from God to us.

    Sixthly, it is indeed a gift from God to His church to so distribute. And orthodoxy is the external expression of the invisible church from which and to which these gifts where given. They must be THESE gifts and not another false gift (e.g. memorial meal, calvin’s/zwingli’s suppers). Calvin’s supper is NOT the gift from God to be given, it’s a false manufactured gift ultimately, and I know this sounds rough, but from the devil. This goes back to why the closed communion is an issue of CONFESSION and not FAITH. It is again the same issue of the Gospel being truly universal, people in hell are actually forgiven people! But it is THIS Gospel and THIS Gospel ALONE that is the saving Gospel that is universal and the treasured gift from God – and no other. When a church begins to open their communion up ever so slowly, they begin to loose the very treasure they are attempting to give and give universally. When Noah built his ark it was THAT ark that was going to save, no other boat was going to last. Not due to the engineering, but because Noah’s ark had God’s Word behind it. A nuclear submarine of modern times would not have survived the flood in spite of its superior engineered design because it would not have had the Word of God behind it. Other’s could have entered Noah’s ark and been saved, but they did not. They laughed and mocked Noah’s orthodoxy (right doctrine and right praise of the Saviour) and fidelity to the Word of God. Sure they had boats and ships, but none saved because they did not have the Word behind it. I’m sure its safe to say as the flood became apparent many attempted to save themselves by their crafts only to find the one ark with the true Word of God behind it saves. Noah’s ark (the orthodoxy) was not a fleet leader with other boats (heterodoxy/cults/other religions) trailing its wake to be saved.

    Thus, if a visitor from another confession desires the true body and blood of Christ, then good, that’s good and wonderful. But they should desire it with humility and patience and if by not allowing them to partake it allows the opportunity to explain the deadliness and falseness of their former confession, that to is good. We should not just desire that true brothers and sisters stuck within heterodoxy should remain their under that false dangerous evil that is deadly to their souls even if they do not readily recognize it. We should desire that they be with us, or in my case come out of it, “I know what you are going through I’ve been there, the feast is here”. And withholding communion is in reality one of the most loving things a pastor can do to help, hopefully, call them out of falsehood and the danger to their souls. The most hateful thing and self preserving thing a person can do is to not do this. Now I realize that the later will “look loving” and the former will “look hateful and mean”, no less than the pagan cry that accuses general Christianity of being hateful because it says Christ is alone the way, the truth and the life and all others leads to hell. Yet it is the same thing, and the former which looks hateful is really the deepest love and is persecuted by the later, while the later is most evil and hateful and is yet still offered the hand of the love of the former even when it lashes out to bite it off.



  87. Again it’s about love of the brethren in the heterodox churches, not hate of them. This is how the Apostle Paul instructs this very thing. If one knows a man to be A CHILD OF GOD, it does not follow that he is to be admitted to fellowship in the Church. Paul instructs the Thessalonians, “If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him NOT AS AN ENEMY, BUT ADMONISH HIM AS A BROTHER.” Here we find the apostle recognizing as one whom Paul will own, have and identify as a brother, and will have the Church to do the same thing, and yet his present conduct, his refusal to submit to inspired counsels, excludes him from fellowship.

    This is not only speaking of some “gross sin”.

  88. Larry,

    If someone comes and receives the body and blood, as announced…aren’t they affirming the confession therein?

    If a man stumbles into your congregation (maybe for the first time) and desires to receive the Lord’s Supper, I don’t think it is our job to keep him from it. That day might be the last day in that man’s life that he will have a chance to receive it. And we would deny him? Why? To preserve what? To protect a confession that he is willing to affirm?

    I know you and many others have your reasons. I just don’t buy them. I would much rather err on the side of God’s grace, than to err on the side of putting a fence around the gospel.

    Thanks, Larry.

  89. Open communion or similar discourages self-examination and growing in the faith.
    Open communion or similar discourages the study of the divine word. If one may enjoy the highest privileges of the Church, no matter what one believes within the range of Evangelicalism there is no pressing necessity to apply myself to a close and searching examination of the word, that I may know the deep richness of the doctrines of Christ and the Gospel. One is thus as it were well enough as one is. One may thus remain in the dangerous heterodoxy to the soul!
    Open communion or similar leaves false impressions with regard to the importance of the truth of the Gospel. By inviting Reformed, Methodists, Baptists and other heterodoxy to the Lord’s table, we teach them that we make little account of what we ourselves profess, and that it has little hold within our hearts. And we are teaching in the most effectual manner to our own people that it is no matter whether we believe that Christ’s death secures the salvation of those for whom He died and that the sacraments are indeed the gifts that actually give and DO the Gospel to the person, pro me.
    Open communion or similar professes a desire to promote union yet it tends to perpetuate disunion to the end as many Lutherans like Sasse have well shown. There is the outward husk and appearance of harmony, and yet in reality there remains the same contrariety of judgment and disunion of which there is no attempt to correct. It is, thus, not because we are enemies of union that we should advocate close communion as the confessions state, but because we love it and love the erring brethren. It is not because we are enemies of our brethren who differ from us, but because we love them.

    Open communion or similar promotes uncertainty in the Word of God and nothing could be worse! It makes uncertain by its action that God’s Word is certain, final, finished and utterly trustworthy as to the gifts of the Gospel. It says by its action, “Well this might be the real body and blood of Christ given to you today for the forgiveness of your sin, but because we allow and import the erring likewise by opening the doors, maybe we are wrong and are too rigid, perhaps Calvin was right, perhaps the Baptist are right.”

  90. What does self-examination and growing in the faith have to do with receiving a free gift?

    He gives the gift to those who don’t merit it, whatsoever. Which of the apostles merited it on that night He instituted it?

  91. I know for a fact that many in my own Lutheran congregation do not have a good grasp of what is actually taking place at the Lord’s Supper. And I would bet it is that way in most Lutheran congregations…of all stripes.

    Is that grounds for denying them what the Lord has commanded of them?

    Does not the Lord grant to us, by grace, what He demands of us?

  92. Steve,

    No they are not. And I say that from personal experience not just “academic” musings. Some of the more astute Calvinist (=REAL Reformed, not baptist, continental Calvinist, not Owenian Calvinist) will grasp this.

    There’s was a point and time when we where within the Reformed church still and we were the Calvinist who confess per above. We confessed more the Heidelberg than WCF. We were the more Dr. Horton leaning Calvinist (good Gospel, great Gospel, as far as it goes). Within that one finds themselves able to confess “real presence”, even “body and blood”, ‘just a different mode’. Most of such, if not all, do not understand Luther at all on this. So on face value I would have said, “yes we believe in the real presence, real body and blood”. And having stumbled into your church with no more than that gone to the altar, desiring the LS, no doubt…I’ve loved the LS above all things even when I was a baptist, and partaken. Now one may argue that was innocent ignorance on “my” or someone’s part, and I’d agree whole heartedly. But what it is on the part of such a pastor is negligence. It’s leaving one that one desires IN their false belief. Not legalistically, but one is, ‘out of misplaced passion’, leaving them in a starving position within what they believe.

    It was the love, yes love, of closed communion, that did not offend me, but caused me to dig deeper and learn more and thus begin to truly feast on this Gospel sacrament in ways I can spell out for days. It changed every thing from “how I viewed the Word, faith versus reason, what the “right hand of God” really meant, ideas of heaven, what Christ’s ascension meant…a WHOLE HOST of things that did and continues to this day enrich the Gospel and increase hope all the more…every single day! That would have never happened had closed communion and ensuing catechism and reading taken place, “forced” if you will by the love of closed communion.

    Which leads me to what it means to “teach”. Which is in part perhaps a sticking point.

    There are two ways of teaching one, it doesn’t come out in the English well but in for example the great commission there are two forms of the word in Greek used. The first is when Christ says to ‘make disciples by baptizing and teaching them’ (two ways to make disciples), then he says, ‘…teach them all things…’. The former form is to teach in such a way as to “convince them” of the truth. The later is ‘inform them with information’. E.g. seminaries ‘teach’ evolution, but not to convince them of its truth, which it is not, but for information purposes, apologetics.

    The former way, convince of its truth, is the loving way of catechesis toward the LS, not just “inform them”, “this what we do and confess”. Many people can just rattle their heads at the later, take the supper, and not at all being confessing with you. One’s desire should be to have people actually believe and confess with you, not just the outer appearing shell of it. In fact the later is just plain irresponsible, lazy and self serving. When I teach my kids I teach to convince them of the faith as true, not just to get them to agree with dad because I’m their authority figure (same is the pastor who just gets a nod from the head after he briefly says, ‘this is it’).

    Thus, if one wishes the LS to truly be the gift that is a GIFT of the 200 proof Gospel, then one should have no problem whatsoever with closed communion, see its loving reality (to get to that 200 proof Gospel), and to do so by the love of teaching them.

    When our pastor was catechizing us, and believe me by then I was pretty well Luther read, he gave us SO much more so that when we did go it was inexplicable and rich. But when a pastor basically just “informs them” and gets a “nod of the head”, he’s being irresponsible and unloving to them – though they nodded their heads they may not at all know what they are partaking of…not to ‘pass a test’ but not having been informed. The Word operates through the Word, not just some mystical in between the Word operation (=Calvinism/Zwinglianism). That’s why one teaches, to convince of the truth so they can with joy enjoy, that’s to love a person coming into the LS.

    Put another way, I don’t want my dear brothers on here that are still Calvinist and Baptist, Ike or JS or others, to just be convinced because of some argument I’ve made. They should be convinced because the Word is really that RICH in the Gospel. They should DESIRE DEEPLY like we should this sacrament AS THE REAL SACRAMENT and not husk all of us were taught in our various backgrounds, myself included.

    Remember the “Apple Pie” piece I did on my blog. That Lutherans should sometimes do that, so “bake the Gospel” in all its sweetness that men from outside the church and heterodoxy should smell its sweet wafting odor and come to the window sill desiring it. That’s what we should do. And closed communion is a part of that because it causes one on the “outside” to examine, “hey maybe I ought to REALLY look at what my denomination confesses versus Luther on this…Luther does bake the best Gospel Apple pies hands down…there might be a reason for that…why do they close their communions…there might be something to it.”

    The same thing is said of baptism. Why not make a person a “church member” without baptism? Why have “closed membership”. Why not just let some Buddhist link some Jesus things to Buddhism and become a full blown church member. I mean they would say, “I don’t disagree with Jesus being the way, truth and life…I just don’t want to be baptized”. “That mean ole Christian church requiring baptism to be a member…such closed membership is legalistic”.

    Same thing.

    This is a good conversation, and we know each other well enough to know that we are not angry with each other over this. I just thought I should say that in case there is some misunderstanding by readers.

    I WANT our baptist and reformed brothers to commune with us with all my heart. But there is that sad reality of “you sign on to another confession”.


  93. Oh come on, Larry.

    Missouri has a Southern Baptist view of Scripture. (textual innerancy). Luther never thought that way about the Bible.

    But would we deny the Supper to someone from the LCMS…NO!!!

    “If it says that Jonah swallowed the whale, then that’s what happened”

    AGAIN, I’m not saying that my own denomoniantion does not have it’s faults, and very SERIOUS ones. That’s I advocate a middle ground, more along the lines of the old ALC.

    • Steve,

      You are not correct nor do not understand the SB on inerrancy as opposed to Luther. You think, erroneously, that I’m carrying forth my SB background on this? You could not be further from the truth, in fact just the opposite:

      Actually Luther thought precisely that way concerning inerrancy. The SB do not in the same way hold to scriptural inerrancy the way Luther, I know I WAS a SB. I had to shift more “purely” or truly if you will concerning inerrancy with Luther than as I was as a SB or Reformed to even come to the point of ANY of the confessions of Luther and Lutheranism.

      Luther did, however, distinguish between books from which articles of faith can be given and those in which they may not, which differs too from the SB who tend to put James on the level with Paul. The LS is an article of faith established from the books in which articles of faith are established, as such, Luther always held to them as inerrant more than the SB, more than Reformed.

      Luther’s entire defense of the LS is built upon the issue that articles of faith are incomprehensible to fallen human reason (e.g. the Trinity).

      The SB and Reformed in theory hold to inerrancy but since they have allowed the reason to take the magisterial position, “the finite cannot contain the infinite” in practice they do not on a number of articles of faith. In fact the entire reason the SB do not baptize their children and have only memorial meal is built entirely on reason over Scripture, which usurps their otherwise in principle confession of biblical inerrancy. This is the door way of all gnosticism whether its on the supper, baptism, the trinity, creation, you name it.
      You keep throwing up this ECLA vs LCMS ad hominem that I’ve never once mentioned, not one single time. I wish you would not do that as its not in my thoughts at all. Nor has a single one of my reasons given been anything associated with that issue. So you are confounding, accidently I think, something with your more or less life long Lutheran background something that’s not really being discussed with what is actually being discussed concerning Reformed issues.



  94. I think we are chasing our tails, here.

    Like I said, I think this is one area we will not see eye to eye on. Lutherans have disagreed on this for a long time, and I doubt you and I will clear it up.

    Off to work. Be back in 8 1/2 hours.

  95. I actually like the fact that the Missouri Synod is at least CLEAR about what they believe and they place it on their website. Many denominations dont place a clear understanding in public and dont and lay it out in public (ala the mormon Church…. hidden doctrine until your part of the inner circle). It will allow the Missour Synod to not deviate far from their core over time … like the ELCA is doing.

    My issue with the Missouri Synod is not doctrinal … but rather most Churches are staunchly conservative and blend being a societal conservative with traditional theology. You basically cant attend many of the Churches without feeling like a blazing liberal for asking for some non-theological changes. People get set in their ways when you have an aging Church body.

    There are few MS Churches that I like though. As is usual the head pastor’s influence is always a key.

  96. Scriptural inerrancy is part of LCMS doctrine. it’s in their documents.

    I’m saying that is not correct doctrine in my estimation and many other Lutherans from the begining of the Reformation agree with me.

    I believe that so much of this erecting of fences around the gospel (for whatever reason) is tied to that doctrine of inerrancy.

    In my estimation most of the ELCA does not get it. But there are many good and faithful pastors within that denomination who are made sick by what they have done.

    There is also a legalist streak in many LCMC pastors and congregations. I also know there are many good and faithful congregations there also, that get it.

    We won’t put up a fence around the Lord’s Supper for those Baptized Christians who come forward for it. In over 14 years at LCM (my congregation) I have not seen our doctrine of the Lord’s Supper moved one iots towards any heretic’s. The Lord continues to use this gift to us, for His purposes.

    I think we know where each of us stands.

  97. My apologies to Susan for the detour that this topic has taken.

    I think I’ll put up another post on the Lord’s Supper with an accompanying piece on the topic by Gerhard Forde.

    Then, we can kick it around a little bit more there.

  98. These are not side issues and I know Susan is battling with them, having actually been in her same shoes. So it’s good to hear the discussion.


    You will not find Luther on your side at all on the issue of inerrancy. In fact Luther’s greatest defense, spelled out by many Lutherans, like Chemnitz and Sasse at great length show this specifically during the Marburg Colloquoy. That’s why he wrote clearly on the table in chalk, “This is my body”. He was making a concrete point about inerrancy and the problem of fallen human reason.

    What you do not understand about SB or Calvinistic inerrancy is that in principle they both say yes to this but in practical outplay they do not. Ironically, this error, reason magisterially over faith, explicitly or implicitly is the common link between mainline liberal churches and conservative churches. The ironic reality is (to give a few concrete examples to the concept) this that the confessional reality of the “conservative” Southern Baptist and PCA types are linked to the hip to the “liberal” United Methodist and synodical ECLA types (note here I say generally not specific local churches, I’m not interested in “picking on a persons church” just confession hierarchies so that we may analytical, not emotionally, discuss principles). How so?

    One has to examine, for example, what the WCF (reformed) or the SB say versus mean concerning inerrancy and then the actual use of reason (Luther’s main point in his philosophical thesis of the HD). The SB do indeed say the bible is inerrant and so do the Reformed. Yet both do not really apply this, I assume their genuineness, but they are blind sided by the reasoning (as all of us can be and are at various times). While they both confess, biblical inerrancy, the SB allow fallen human reason the magisterial position in interpretation of a number of articles of faith (I’ll give an example in a minute). The Reformed actually formerly reveal where their magisterial use of reason begins in the WCF when they say basically “Scripture and necessary and good consequence (caveat) from scripture”. There’s an old irony here, the Baptist who argue with the Reformed on articles of faith, like infant baptism, ironically see this error of the Reformed and state it so (I use to be in TONS of those debates), they just don’t see their own use of it because its not formerly stated anywhere.

    E.g. #1 In Acts chapter 2 where Peter in answer to “what shall we do” says, “repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins, the promise is to you and your children and all who are far off to whom the Lord God shall call”. This is a PRESCRIPTIVE text. Because this goes against their false doctrine of believers baptism and thus ultimately their reasoning and ultimately the reason why no Baptist can really affirm total depravity or bondage of the will; they (1) explain this away via reason (the usurping magisterial position of reason over faith and the Word begins to show itself) by inserting things like, “Well children there means “spiritual children” those who might be converted in the future, then they can be baptized as adults”. Then (2) they go down a few verses to a DESCRIPTIVE text, which is just normal language speaking and not a prescription and say, “See only those who believed were baptized”. Which is just as silly as saying this, “Those seeking liberty and freedom came to America”…”but they left their children and infants behind in Europe”. Thus, we have inerrancy confessed but fallen human reason in actual application usurping Scripture and faith, putting itself in a magisterial and not ministerial position (informed by faith) and fixing a grid to say, “well actually this is what is meant by what that says”.

    E.g. #2 The Reformed do the same thing with the Lord’s Supper. Instead of taking Christ at His word on the institution, it too offends reason and GIVES, like baptism, TOO MUCH Gospel (does the Gospel to you). It wars against a number of their doctrines not the least of which is Calvinist with a formal double predestination or implied one from limited atonement. So, they depart from Christ’s clear PRESCRIPTIVE words and begin to explain them away, “Well this is what is meant by ‘this is My body/blood…” And off their reasoning goes. They even admit to it, “the finite cannot contain the infinite”, is their base philosophical, not Scriptural, axiom. This axiom is like above fallen human reason once again, like the fall, rising ABOVE the Word of God to interpret it in a magisterial position (NOT informed by the Word/faith).

    Both of these are the essence of the fall of man to be like God and to be our own god.

    Those are the conservative versions of the same magisterial position the “liberal” mainline churches use to do the same thing with other articles of faith, like creation, etc… (granted you will find some confessing LCMS folks lining up on some of these too, at least I have).

    Now when Luther sometimes has spoken of some biblical revelations as being incredible, he’s merely being honest that to our human reason this is incomprehensible, like he said and admitted to Zwingli, that he even battled his own reason on the sacraments – WHO DOES NOT. It’s not as if my or your own human reason doesn’t at least internally scoff, the flesh, at the “is this the real body and blood”. The echo of our fall, “hath God really said”. Luther is simply confessing the reality of our sin nature and not being ‘aloof’ from it as if: Zwingli you only battle this I do not. Which would truly be pharisaical. Truth be known its an utter internal WAR to believe the words of institution EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY! One ends up having to say, “BE SILENT, SHUT UP, my reason, you are listening to the devil and NOT the Word”.

  99. My point, Larry is that Luther NEVER spoke of the text in the Bible the way many do as inerrant.

    It is a product of man and of God. It is the WORD itself that is inerrant, not every jot and tittle of the text.

    That LCMS voted on it, goes against another doctrine Luther taught, and that is that we don’t vote to make doctrine.

  100. My point is that none of us is perfect (doctrinally), and that the Lord desires us to come and receive His body and blood, anyway.

  101. Since nobody is doctrinally perfect and the Word is not inerrant and needs some interpretation some how, being we don’t hear commentary whispers in our head from God clarifying the issue; then “is” can indeed mean “signifies” for then who are you to presuppose that it must mean “body and blood”. Since you are a doctrinally imperfect perfect person yourself (unless you excuse your self in particular from your very own claim) and no one can rely on inerrancy of scripture your claim to the sacrament must being the body and blood of Christ cannot stand anymore than can the Baptist claim nor the Reformed claim. In fact not only MUST you admit the other claims, in reality NOBODY’S claim can be admitted and thus we end not knowing a single firm ground about not only “this is” but anything written in Scipture.

    In fact with your premise and basis you’ve just render scripture, if we believe as you say, utterly unreliable as to assurance, faith, hope, firm ground, truth, etc… And at length must not only admit “many ways to heaven just different ways of speaking” but that we may know nothing whatsoever beyond our noses of experience and then its open to interpretation. In fact you’ve bypassed Zwingli and moved on to Locke.

    But rather Luther said, ‘If God had wanted us to be unsure he wasted his time sending his son and giving us the sacraments (which presuppose inerrancy since the Sacraments themselves are based on the WORD). Every the Word is not inerrant as you say Luther says, which he does not, then the Word’s of institution are not inerrant.

    That’s the link to the Word, the sacraments, closed membership, closed communion, and singular unified confession. In fact Luther said explicitly if one varies one “jot or tittle” (which is the EXACT words he used) from the Word one is guilty of violating the ENTIRE Word. So you are dead wrong Luther and ultimately Scripture.

  102. “If a different way to heaven existed, no doubt God would have recorded it, but there is no other way. Therefore let us cling to these words, firmly place and rest our hearts upon them, close our eves and say: Although I had the merit of all saints, the holiness and purity of all virgins, and the piety of St. Peter himself, I would still consider my attainment nothing. Rather I must have a different foundation to build on, namely, these words: God has given His Son so that whosoever believes in Him whom the Father’s love has sent shall be saved. And you must confidently insist that you will be preserved; and you must boldly take your stand on His words, which no devil, hell, or death can suppress. Therefore no matter what happens, you should say: There is God’s Word. This is my rock and anchor. On it I rely, and it remains. Where it remains, I, too, remain; where it goes, I, too, go. The Word must stand, for God cannot lie; and heaven and earth must go to ruins before the most insignificant letter or tittle of His Word remains unfulfilled.”

    –Martin Luther

  103. I never said the Word is not inerrant.

    I said the text of the Bible is not inerrant.

    Luther knew this.

    Your Luther quote has nothing to do with Scriptural innerrancy.

    Luther never believed in it, and it does put you in the Southern Baptist camp regarding the question.

    I happen to believe in the inerrant Word, and not the inerrant words.

    The elements for the Sacraemts (the bread and the wine and the water) don’t have to be perfect for God to use them for His perfect purposes.

    The words of the poor preacher don’t have to be perfect for God to use them for His perfect purposes.

    So why in the world would God need to have a perfectly inerrant book to work His perfect will?

    Even the Lord Himself was fully a product of man, and of God.

    The Southern Baptists are wrong on this, and anyone who allies themselves with them on this doctrine is wrong, also.

    • “The words of the poor preacher don’t have to be perfect for God to use them for His perfect purposes.”

      This was, ironically, Zwingli’s argument. This is a baptistic argument, “Well God can use anything”, I know it well. Nearly every baptist on here and perhaps some reformed have had to hear that argument before. Oh they recognize it, especially the Calvinist among them. It always came from the anti-calvinist. It has been stalwart defense for the alter call and nearly any asinine so called evangelistic method out there….”God can use it anyway”. While nobody would deny that God may use anything that pleases him, he did not choose to reveal it this way to us but set forth specific means of Grace so that men might know for sure. Luther argued this constantly.

      Yes, I converted while amongst the baptist, and so are many, but that simply affirms the Word not error. In fact it was the external Word in spite of the later doctrine of the Baptistic theology that worked. Your ideas approach John Gill and the hyper-calvinist who basically assert conversion comes out of the clear blue sky without any means whatsoever. Not even an honest Calvinist would go that far.

      Because God willed that His Word be externally preserved.

      Christ was not a product of man and God, for man is creature of God! Christ was fully human, full incarnation, including a soul, yet without sin. He was in fact perfect.

      Using your line of reasoning you cannot even make this statement without being an utter hypocrite, “The Southern Baptists are wrong on this, and anyone who allies themselves with them on this doctrine is wrong, also.”

      Using your line of argument, how I might one believe you on this or even take you seriously. It implies that you are the judge of perfection and perfect doctrine. You see Steve, you claim no perfect doctrine then you turn around and say, “Behold my very own perfect judgment on doctrine”, which presupposes you have in hand some metric of perfect doctrine whereby you may “test” the tolerances of other doctrines in order to say, “The SB (or anyone) are wrong on this and anyone who allies themselves with them on this DOCTRINE is wrong, also”. Your contradiction on this is so thick on this you can cut it with a knife.

      Step back and look at the forest for a minute, seriously. You are sitting here arguing, “there is no perfect doctrine” therefore “your doctrine is wrong”. You are dying on your own sword. Maybe another way will illuminate this for you. Your argument is a form of an epistemology (i.e. how we know what we know) that states, “The truth is there is no truth”. Which dies on its very own epistemology, to wit, if the truth is there is no truth (or alt. similar “all truth is truth”), then the epistemology that “The truth is there is no truth” is too also by its very own claim false. Thus, we know nothing.

      So your doctrine that there is no perfect doctrine and whereby you judge that the SB doctrine is wrong, dies by its own sword.

  104. You hardly understand the SB on this issue and it shows. You academically gleem some thoughts that you assess to be “an understanding” but you hardly understand it. You may “know some things of the history of China”, but you were not Chinese, nor where you actually SB or Calvinistic.

    The distinction you are making is Calvinistic, in fact even baptist (By the way, that’s not meant to be name calling, its principle labeling, I’m not calling you a Calvinist, I’m saying your principle is Calvinisitc). Because the external text is in fact the objective Word we actually have. You are continuing to build the base argument for everything against the sacraments by doing this. Luther also said this, “Where the Holy Spirit is proclaimed without the external Word or sacraments, there is the devil”. It’s precisely this kind of subtle divorce between the Word (external) and the Spirit whereby all enthusiasm enters. The Calvinist do it this way, as do the baptist: Two men hear the same Gospel same day same place side by side. One converts and one does not. So they divorce the word to assuage their reason; the inward working of the Spirit occurred on one man and not the other man so that the external Word that came to both them is really nothing but has to “find” the Holy Spirit in one and not the other. There is the “Spirit proclaimed without the Word or sacrament and thus the devil”. Because it is precisely there where men begin to wonder and ponder, “then did the Spirit work on me so that I believe, am elect, saved, regenerated…etc….”. Thus, the external Word becomes “nothing” in the mind of such a one misdirected by the devil.

    You are doing the same thing divorcing the Word from the external Word, which is how all enthusiasm operates and how the devil ‘gets between man and the Word’. Luther never made that kind of divorce.
    The issue on errors or inconsistencies here and there from manuscript copy to manuscript copy in the none questionable books of Scripture do not have to do with articles of faith, none whatsoever. About this Luther was crystal clear. By casting such doubts upon the external Word of God the Word of God becomes doubtful in the conscience where the battle for faith occurs (said Luther). Its simply another form of “hath God really said”, loosening men and women from the external Word so as to no longer have them trust the Word of God but go seeking for “the Word” or “the Spirit” elsewhere and inwardly within their thoughts and experiences.

    If, as you say the text of the Bible is not inerrant then Matthew 26:28 (the external Word – a text of the bible) which speaks, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Is/may not be inerrant, which how every liberal mainline theologian, the Sadducees and secular historians studying the Bible, in principle, read it and operate upon it. Thereby, again in the conscience, where the battle for faith is, where Satan operates, especially of the weak for which Luther took GREAT care, you have rendered the very Gospel and very Gift you speak otherwise of God wishing to give us of no value whatsoever.

    The devil operates in many ways to render forgiveness of sin and the righteousness of Christ given to a man in the general and particular “pro me” of no avail, that is to say to “take the Word away from them” (the Gift, the very Gospel itself). All of them involve the principle of some how getting between man and the Word. Sometimes this is gross as in other religions with other words, other times, more often really, he uses (rather abuses) the Word of God in such a way that he’s not outwardly denying. He is rather quoting it yet still very effectively getting between man and the Word so that faith killed and man is then turned in upon himself. This was his first and most effective technique at the fall and tried it again on Jesus in the wilderness. That way comes in many subtle forms like the one outlined above. It comes when the Baptist is prompted by his reason to reason away Acts 2 concerning baptism or Reformed concerning the Word of institution. Reason always “reasons” the Word away, hence Luther’s calling human reason (uniformed by the Word) the devil’s whore and in his philosophical thesis in the HD warning that a man must be “thoroughly foolish in Christ before he dare engage Aristotle, else he eternally endangers his soul” (paraphrased). Another subtle way, by way of example, is seen thus; a well meaning Baptist minister tells a baptized Lutheran or Reformed person who is weak in conscience and not firm in their doctrine and perhaps wondering about baptism, “I’m not going to ask that you be rebaptized, if you think God has given you something I’m not going to take that away from you.” It sounds nice, and is surely meant to be so by the one stating it. It sounds as if he’s leaving him his gift, baptism. But the devil is more crafty and subtle a general than we see for he causes, because of underlying false doctrine, the baptist pastor to say, “…if you think…”, and “therein lies the poison” as Luther would say. He took it from the objective external Word that was in the mind and heart of the believer, which he or she was battling for in conscience (the battle ground of faith), and put it into the subjective. So subtly turning the man inward, even using the Word to do so that few would recognize it lest the CLING to the external Word. This was the very point of Luther’s famous chalk on the table illustration during his debate with Zwingli, et. Alli. at Marburg, “This is My body”.

    The devil has many devices to get between man and the Word. Sometimes its rank logic subtlety inserted as with Calvin and Zwingli and the “good and necessary consequent”. It’s notable that in the LBCF and WCF that their root reason they deny the body and blood of Christ is that it is “against all reason”. Which is what Calvin said. Other ways are the ways that say in some form or another that the external Word is unreliable in some way or another.

    What ever the method or means used it’s always the same, to get between man and the Word of God (hath God really said). The purpose for this is to get between the Word (Gospel, which includes the sacraments) – whereby man is saved – and man so that man may be brought into hell. In short to ROB him of the saving gift! By this method the devil has introduced all forms of false damning and hell leading doctrines (which Christ and the apostles predict would happen nearer and nearer to the end). From arguments denying creation to the sacraments themselves to justification by faith alone to the resurrection, etc…

    This brings us all the way back around to the original reason for why communion between heterodoxy must remain closed. Not to “be mean” as some claim or imply and not some artificial claim of “passing a test”, neither of which has to do with the facts, but to protect the doctrine (i.e. the very Gift of the Gospel itself) for all Christians, those who are and shall be, and especially the tender conscience.
    Closed communion, like closed membership (unbaptized) is not a “pass the test” thing nor is it an exclusionary Beverly Hills membership thing. Rather it is one of the most loving things, yet difficult things to do. In fact real love is always this difficult, false love is very easy and very convenient and really self-love. Closed communion (and closed membership) is nothing less than the parable of the prodigal son, the love the of his father. He let him go (broke the familial communion) BECAUSE he loved him, so that he might gain him back! It is exactly the same thing Jesus does to the rich young ruler, as the text says, “Jesus loved him”, and so he turned him over to the Law, his alien work, so that he might save his soul, his proper work. This we often do not see, that the wrath of God is an alien work of God that is rooted in mercy and grace so that one might receive mercy and grace (not try harder). In this way nothing is more loving than the wrath of God excepting of course the mercy of God to which the former is subservient and finds its roots. God hardens men to save and have mercy upon them, a point double predestination misses. Closed communion, and membership, both operate this way. They are alien works of God through ministers in order to later do his proper work.

    Your “method” will continual to leave men in there error, which is already proving to be true as we speak.

  105. I have news for you, Larry…God can use everything… when His Word is attached to it.

    He even uses your poor efforts (and mine) to evangelize others.

    Pardon me if I was wrong, but I thought S. Baptist doctrine included an inerrant text of Scripture. And I thought that was Missouri’s stand as well. It seems that is what you are arguing for.

    I just hate to see people work to keep others away from the pure gospel in the Sacrament, when they want to receive it. I would be wiling to bet that a goodly majority of LCMS members have a lousy understanding of the Sacraments, as do many people in my own denomination. Let’s run after them and snatch the body of Christ right out of their hands…as the R. Catholic priest did at my father’s funeral mass.

    “Let the little ones come to me and do not hinder them.”

    A little bit of theology there, might lead one to believe that Christ will actually work in the person what He desires to work.

  106. PS- Many in your denomination would deny Gerhard Forde the Supper. I think that just shows how ridiculous that doctrine is.

    • PS: No it does not. Because its yet another false argument to argue “X doctrine is wrong because Y person (whom I like) would be excluded”. Paul shoots that down in Gal.

      • You like Forde. You know he was an excellent theologian. You know he was a Christian. But yet you think it would be alright to keep the Lord’s Supper from him because he does not agree with you on every jot and tittle of doctrine?

        You may disagree, but I do think it is ridiculous.

  107. I’m not divorcing the Word from the external Word. How in the world do you come up with that?

    I’m arguing for God’s grace, to us, from outside of us, and you are arguing…I really don’t know what you are arguing…you make no sense with your desire to protect doctrine OVER handing over Christ to people who need Him.

    (I know how you love to capitize for emphasis…so I’m jumping on that bandwagon) 😀

    • It’s simple to undrestand, pure doctrine IS protected so that there is an actual Christ to give to the needy. As an ex-baptist and reformed I suppose I see that a bit easier than you do, I had Christ spoken of to me as “christ” yet withheld from me. And Suzan understands that very well too.

      Perhaps you would see it better if you realized or hypothetically walk a mile in baptist shoes. That a SB church would not commune you, laying aside you would not commune in their churc, (since baptism is a prerequisite) nor consider you baptized, assuming you were baptized as an infant with sprinkling (per SB Faith and Message).

      Furthermore, the LS is not an evangelism tool its for the confessing Christian. You are arguing against Paul and Christ on this not me.

      You must realize that communion IS to confess unity in doctrine, “…you proclaim the Lord’s death”. That means every connected doctrine to that, that means eschewing “double predestination ” which is to NOT proclaim the Lord’s death, that means not aligning with believers baptism which is another form of “NOT proclaiming the Lord’s death”, etc…

      Unity in confession required before communion as Paul says, “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.” Which is to say as there is one loaf (the real and true body of Christ we partake), THEN because of that which we eat (and drink) we are one body. Not vice versa.

      Also, when a Reformed person (or other) comes to your communion, they in no way are affirming your confession. You are forcing them to be hypocrits. That’s how dangerous what you are doing is. Because communion is the most intimate link of ONE faith, ONE confession in all things that are articles of faith. It’s public, not private, they are by communion saying “we believe in this”, but then by remaining in another communion, e.g. Reformed, they are saying “we believe in this communion” and its public and before God. They must necessarily be hypocrits in one or the other. They are NOT confessing your communion simply by participating, they are hypocritically coming to the table.

      There are more than just one text in which closed communion is necessitated and indicated that are not often today put together today by the far too many dull and lazy pastor/theologians who refuse to bear the offense of the Cross which is the very Gospel itself offending, not polemics:

      For example we find that in Matthew 5:23-24 reconciliation (also doctrinal reconciliation) must take place before two people worship together.

      In Matthew 26:18-20 (and other such passages) Jesus distributed the first Lord’s Supper to those who had been THOROUGHLY instructed in His doctrine. Verse 18, “And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.” Again, this is why Judas was there, he was IN orthodoxy.

      In Acts 2:42 we find that doctrine, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, and the prayers all go together. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

      In Romans 16:17 it says to “Avoid” and this of course means to not join at the Altar. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”

      In 1 Corinthians 5:11 we find false doctrine is idolatry, a sin against the First Commandment. “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. In fact all idolatry, whether it be believers baptism or Calvin’s supper is worse sin than the second table sins against the neighbor we more often think of as “sin”. False doctrine = idolatry, the highest sin of all.

      In 1 Corinthians 10:16-21 it shows that we must agree in doctrine (1 Corinthians 1:10) before communing together since the very act of eating and drinking involves unity with one another. How can we eat the indivisible body of Christ together if we are doctrinally divided? All false doctrine is demonic (John 8:44; 1 Timothy 4:1) so we may not eat at altars which teach false doctrine. 1 Corinthians 1:10, “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be PERFECTLY UNITED IN MIND AND THOUGHT.”

      Later in 1 Corinthians 11:26 we see that those who partake of the elements of the Lord’s Supper join together in proclaiming the Lord’s death, that is, they “preach” the gospel together. “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

      In 1 Corinthians again in chapter 11 verses 27-29 the Apostle warns against eating and drinking “unworthily” which would include, among other things, not “discerning” the real presence of Christ’s very and true body and blood. A point you miss here is that surely they need the LS, you say that a lot but yet we find the Apostle Paul himself saying and warning AGAINST eating and drinking unworthily, not “adjective” unworthy but “adverb” unworthy, we are not “worthy” EVER of it (adjective) but the MANNER in which it is eaten and drank can be unworthy and that goes DIRECTLY to confession, which is the ENTIRE POINT AGAIN.

      Yea caps are a good way to do it because some systems won’t let you bold or italics for emphasis. So I started using that method. Not to “shout” but to stress emphasis.

      I’m not sure what else I’d say or explain at this point, and since this is your blog I concede the last word on this to you if you wish, if not that’s fine too.



  108. “Eating and drinking unworthily” was not sharing their lunch with others, and getting drunk. That is the specific context to which the Apostle was referring.
    I don’t believe that means everyone at the table should have all their doctrine lined up exactly right in order to receive. If that were the meaning then each person should meet with the pastor before each Holy Communion (they used to do it that way).

    Larry, I love you like a brother. But on this score, we will not agree.

    I think you are right, neither of us are gaining any ground here, so let’s put this topic to rest for awhile and talk about other aspects of the Christian faith.

    Your pal,


  109. Steve this will be my last reply on this because you so entirely misconstrue everything. I could not just let yet another false accusation stand. This will be quite short.

    My argument on Forde was not “I like him, he’s a great theologian, we disagree here and here…therefore exclude him (or anyone else)”. That is as dull as the rest of your mischaracterizations on nearly everything I’ve said. You insist on this line ignorant and blind argumentation.

    My point was this: NO man, not even Luther himself, is so above the Word that the Word is compromised and Luther and Forde would agree with that. That was Paul’s point, even if an apostle or an angel from heaven come and give…

    So I don’t measure the Scriptures against even the finest of men whom I love in a number of ways. To this Luther and Forde would agree. Thus your assertion of inserting Forde to support your argument was yet another red herring.

    If you are going to argue, then argue without these obvious and various ad homenim set ups that are basically of the form, “Oh so you are so mean on your doctrine that you’d let even little baby kittens go to hell”.

    You’ve never relinquished your #1 false accusation of “we don’t have to pass a test”. Same argumentation form, emotional appeal over the Gospel. NO one I know says that, no one. And it is about as ignorant an observation as I’ve heard in a long time. It precisely of the form of argumentation that Baptist give over the use of emergency infant baptism, “Oh then you mean babies are not saved if you mean Lutherans don’t baptize them.” Exact same argument.

    Finely, Paul meant first and foremost doctrine, not just some trifling quibbling in 1 Cor. The entire passage is about that and only blind person could miss it. And no it’s not about “getting” your personal doctrinal ducks in a row, but confessional unity of the one body, a point you are entirely confusing. i.e. NOT perfect per person doctrine but YES doctrinal purity as to confession.

  110. Ok, Larry. You be doctrinally pure (you think you are, anyway)…and we’ll just keep handing Christ to people who do not quite understand Him, and to many who do yet fully understand the Christian faith. In our congregation that is just about everybody.

    If at the Last Supper Jesus did not withold His body and blood from the disciples, who did not have a good understanding of what was going on, why would He expect us to withold it from those whom He has baptized?

    • Steve,

      The irony of your false accusation that “I think I’m doctrinally pure” is so rich one can cut it with a knife. On the hand you are for “impurity of doctrine” but then you demand forcefully “believe what I STEVE say”, i.e. “my doctrine of impure doctrine. “Believe Steve’s orthodoxy which is ‘no one is orthodox’. You are stuck in this line of argument, “the truth is there is no truth”, so listen to my (Steve’s) personal truth. Secondly, this pagan, seriously. To make the Word of God unsure is certainly not Luther nor is it Christian at all. I (Larry) am not pure, but we do have a pure confession derived (not superior to) from sure and pure Scripture.

      You are confusing personal doctrines we all wrestle with – with orthodoxy versus heterodoxy as to church bodies and adherence there unto. It’s a serious issue and not one of neutrality to join ANY church, true or false. One cannot use the excuse, “well I’m just uniformed” and leave it at that. Because then one’s confession and faith is a sham. It’s a deadly serious issue which church/confession one joins. And I mean the whole of the confession.

      You actually prove my point, now we are getting somewhere. That’s what I’ve been trying, poorly apparently, to get you to see. He, Jesus, DID hand the sacrament to them with all their personal unbelief as he does us. IT’S NOT ABOUT THAT, that’s both your false dilemma and false accusation toward me and others.

      Jesus ONLY gave it to His disciples, that which was within orthodoxy by definition HIS DISCIPLES, even in the very face of Judas who was a hypocrite at the time. We don’t turn down hypocrites within our own confession, we have too turn away those that openly confess another confession. You are confusing personal unbelief with confession to a confession (orthodox or heterodox) and you don’t see the danger in that, not toward law (pass a test), but at length the loss of the Gospel (the gift).

      His disciples were not utterly clueless and uninstructed, they did not understand the fulfillment unfolding before their eyes (BIG difference) but they were under pure orthodoxy. They knew somethings even if through a fog and those somethings were from orthodoxy (Christ); e.g. they didn’t rebel when he said, “drink this…My blood” which is explicitly forbidden in the OT, blood drinking, of which they were well aware. Jesus did not invite those who were not His disciples, which is the point, not of the orthodox confession, even though true hypocrites (e.g. Judas) are among them.

      You miss the ENTIRE point that the sacraments are, yes, the gifts of Christ to be given, and this primarily, but also to confess (Paul’s point in 1 Cor.) in unity the very TRUTH that IS the gift. You fail to see and understand that God established and maintains a true orthodoxy, external expression, of His church here on earth. And yes that is the Lutheran confessions/church, even though named within and among them there are and will always be: personal hypocrites, false localized churches, false localized pastors/theologians/teachers, false synods, etc… If the devil can procure for himself the name “Christian” under false heterodoxy and call it “Christian”, then he can EASILY do so with the name “Lutheran”. But that does not conclude that there is not true orthodox confession in existence today, which would be against ALL of Scripture. And it is EVERY baptized Christians duty to find that church/confession and join it in as much as they are not providentially prevented from doing so and not ignorant of that fact.

      It’s about confession and the Scriptures a clear on that matter. At length if you do not protect the confession to “supposedly” continue to give the gifts, you will loose the very gift you are pretending to give, and that’s the insidious irony, at length you WILL (its just a matter of time, maybe a generation or two) loose the very gift (the Gospel/sacrament) you wish to give. It’s not a matter of “if” this will happen but “when” this will happen. That’s what Luther saw rather prophetically with Zwingli (and Later Lutherans with Calvin), and it has in fact come to about as much fruition today as it can. Which is why even the Reformed and baptist, in some circles, are looking back into Luther for the Gospel all over again.

      That’s why I gave you the example of our former PCA church allowing Baptist to be members (Reformed see this erosion in their ranks). It tells those baptized in their ranks, reformed, as infants that it’s “really not that big of a deal”, baptism. That action, opening membership without confession there unto, speaks more counter confession to (infant) baptism than the rather blithe nod of the head and lip service such reformed give to their own written confessions (WCF) on the matter. And their youth manifest it rather quickly as they begin to speak at length of what baptism is not in order to appease the encroaching Baptist in their ranks, avoid pissing them doctrinally off and “include” them by appeasing their heresy.

      Thus, what little gospel they had in the sacrament of Baptist (Reformed/PCA) is increasingly lost. It’s the same kind of syncretism that basically allows a little “Yes Jesus, but how about other religions that get to grace”.

      That’s how false doctrine operates, insidiously, and thus robs the GIFT. It first “begs” tolerance. Once established as a mode of operation within then it “requests” more forcefully equal time with the truth. Then at last once thoroughly entrenched it “DEMANDS” sole conscription.

  111. False accusation and a false dilemma.

  112. This might help:

    Walther actually addresses this very point concerning it as gift (primary purpose) versus confession (secondary purpose) to address this very issue being raised here:

    “The main purpose of the Holy Sacrament is to be a tool and a means through which the promises of
    grace are offered, communicated, and appropriated, as with a seal, guarantee, and pledge through which these promises are confirmed. However, within this major purpose, as a secondary goal, the Sacrament is to be a distinguishing sign of confession and a bond of fellowship in worship. Therefore Communion fellowship is Church fellowship.”

    “This thesis is particularly important because our opponents contend that if you Lutherans acknowledge that there are also Christians in other churches, then you must admit that they also should have a part in your Sacraments which are signs and seals of the gracious goodwill of God which belongs to all Christians. Against this we now say: It is true that the Sacraments are this and indeed primarily and principally this, and it would have also been proper, if they had been nothing other than this. But they are also distinguishing marks of confession and bonds of fellowship in divine service.”

    Luther concerning the matter:

    “That Christ added to the first phrase, he who believes and speaks of baptism involves the command of the external office in Christendom. He also combines both together in Matthew 8:10, “Teach all nations and baptize them…’. And this shows first of all that the faith of which this Gospel speaks must not remain secret and
    hidden, as if it were enough that each one would return when he had heard the Gospel and believe for himself alone, and did not have the authority to confess his faith before others; but so that he might be revealed not only where the Gospel had been preached, but also be believed and received wherever the church and the kingdom of
    Christ exist in the world. He wants to bring us together and hold us through the divine
    sign of baptism. Then if we were without this and we were to be scattered without outward gatherings and signs, Christendom could not have spread nor have been preserved until the end. But now through such divine gatherings he wants to
    bind us together that the Gospel may always go further and farther and by our confession
    others might also be brought to it. Baptism is also a public testimony to the doctrine of the Gospel and our faith before all the world through which one can see where and in whom the Lord rules.”

    And Luther again:

    “To promote and use such doctrine among Christians he has ordained that they should come together and hold to two ceremonies, that is baptism and the Sacrament of his body and blood: and this has been sufficiently revealed in the gospels and the epistles of St. Paul; so that such doctrine, faith, and grace may not only be
    received and daily increased but also so that it may be known publicly before the world, as with an action, who is a Christian and who is not and whether he will freely and fearlessly confess such doctrine and honor God and provide his neighbor
    with an encouraging example; as he himself says: ‘Do this in memory of me.’ (I Corinthians 11:24, 25) which is nothing other than publicly to remember, confess, praise and thank; as St. Paul interprets and says, ‘Do this that you may proclaim the death of our Lord.’ (I Corinthians 11:26) Than is all a part of that which we should do for God, namely preach his word and believe and receive the Sacraments as distinctive marks and confession. Hence it follows that the cross is over those who confess such doctrine.”


    “The Sacrament is a public confession, and should have public servants because thereby it happens, as Christ said, that one should do in remembrance of him; that is, as St. Paul says, to proclaim or preach the Lord’s death until he comes.” (Luther)


    “Now we shall speak of the proper manner of communicating the people…Here one should follow the same usage as with Baptism, namely, that the bishop be informed of those who want to commune. They should request in person to receive the Lord’s supper so that he maybe able to know both their names and manner of life.
    And let him not admit the applicants unless they can give a reason for their faith, and can answer questions about what the Lord’s Supper is, what its benefits are, and what they expect to derive from it… Those, therefore, who are not able to answer
    in the manner described above should be excluded and banished from the communion of the Supper since they are without the wedding garment (Matthew 22:11, 12).. .For participation in the Supper is part of the confession by which they
    confess before God, angels, and men that they are Christians. Care must therefore be taken lest any, as it were, take the Supper on the sly and disappear in the crowd…” (Luther)


    “Third, God’s people, or Christian holy people, are recognized by the holy Sacrament of the altar, whenever it is rightly administered, believed, and received, according to Christ’s institution This too is a public sign and a precious holy possession
    left behind by Christ by which his people are sanctified so that they also exercise
    themselves in faith and openly confess that they are Christian, just as they do with the word and with baptism.”

  113. We publicly confess that the Sacrament is the true body and blood of Christ and invite baptized Christians to come forth and receive it, if they believe what we have confessed.

    That’s enough to preserve our confession and proper doctrine.

    If you don’t believe so, then fine. Do it the way you want. We want to hand Christ over to people in need of Him.

    Christ handed the Sacrament to His betrayers, without a test on what they believed. We know what they believed, and it wasn’t pretty.

  114. But don’t you see Steve, they are not confessing your sacraments even by taking them. You miss that point. Judas didn’t come as a Gnostic confessor but as a disciple of Christ’s. That’s Luther’s point, and not just “my point”.

    See, if you invite a Baptist, who is baptized, or a Calvinist who denies the body and blood in your mouth you invite them, rather set them up (even in their innocence to the contrary) to be public hypocrites, which the uniformed surely do not desire to be. In doing so you are more at fault than many of them may be and irresponsible. It’s the same thing if I went to their communion and by doing so “implied” I confess their sacramentalism or ordinances when in fact I don’t, it would be an act of hypocrisy, now, for me to attend their church and by partaking, imply I’m confessing when I’m not really. A point, ironically, Piper’s elders had to correct him on just a few years ago when he could not reconcile most of his “Christian heros” (like Luther and Calvin or RC Sproul) could not commune at his church because from their confessional stand point none of them were even baptized. Piper was ready to open the communion doors until his elders helped him see the error. Even though in content they were wrong (their confession on the sacraments/ordinances), in principle they at least held correctly.

    The worse thing you can do is be open ended like that on the Word of God. E.g. down here once a year they have “Together For the Gospel”, a mixture of Reformed and baptist gathering for worship. Yet nothing could be more abominable. Two spirits one confessing baptize infants the other not, etc… If either of them at least in principle holds, ‘we hold the real orthodoxy (even if in reality they don’t, but as a matter of principle), they should know out of the gate they commune and worship together. One has to say of the other, “your’s is false and heresy and all heresy whatever it is is from and sourced in hell itself.” I mean a baptist has to say that of Lutherans if he’s at least principally correct concerning the Word of God and his confession (even if its wrong, the principle stands). I.e. there’s no offense to me or you or another confession other than their own if they turn us away, THEY SHOULD.

    It’s not a “law” thing, but a Gospel thing.

    You keep setting up this false dichotomy about “you handing them Christ” and “I’m not”, and you continue to ignore that its not “my position invented by me”, I hold to it, but Luther actually very clear on this too. I’m not ashamed of confessing with Luther on this, but It’s not “my invention” as you are implying. You really are falsely accusing on this, as I’ve brought forth the clearest quotations I can find on the matter.

  115. I love a quote of Luther’s, “If they use the Bible against Christ, we will use Christ against the Bible.”

    Do you agree with everything Luther said?

    When people come and receive what you are telling them they are going to get, your confession IS PRESERVED.

    If they really believe it or not, is a whole nuther story. I choose to work with the model that God has set for this meal Himself, by giving it to those who may not (and did not) understand it, and also to those who were about to betray Him (as we all do)

    Larry, we are chasing our tails here.

    Let’s agree to disagree on this.

  116. I really believe that the Lord works His will in the Supper.

    I really do believe that (certain) Lutherans are NOT the only TRUE Christians. We believe we know the Truth. We believe that we are not the only one’s, though…in spite of some areas of doctrine that may or may not be just so.

  117. Larry,

    I’m not “for impurity of doctrine”. Why do you insist on putting words in my mouth?

    I am just saying that the state of the Church is that many of His own, do not have a good grasp of all doctrine, including the L.S.. And that goes for people in your own denomination who regularly receive the L.S..

    Are you telling me that the Baptized are not considered His disciples? Maybe not in the same way that the 12 were, but they were giving the promises, were they not? They received the forgiveness of their sins and the Holy Spirit, did they not? Baptism does save, does it not?
    Are you able to look into the hearts of men? Even if you get the answers you want from someone, how can you be sure these answers are not just rote? Did not Jesus tell us that “all men are liars?”

    Have a little humility and grace for the baptized who want to receive His body and blood.
    You could always resort to the way the Lutherans used to do it, and have each person meet with the pastor privately before each L.S..

    You do it your way. We’ll do it our way. When we get There…maybe we’ll find out which was more pleasing to the Lord.

    G’nite! Early start…yet once again.

  118. You are using Luther out of his context, ““If they use the Bible against Christ, we will use Christ against the Bible.”

    Great quote. He saying nothing more or less than what Christ did, “you search the Scriptures and think by them you have life, but it are these that bear witness of Me.”

    No, if they don’t believe your confession you are not preserving it by having them partake. The logic of that would be this: By forcing baptism upon a person who resists it by their unbelieving confession, you preserve your confession. Which is what Rome, for example, did and lo and behold they hardly preserved their confession and at lenght lost the Gospel. Which is what always happens. Plus you refuse and ignore, or at best fail to grasp that Judas was within the orthodox church, a disciple of Christ’s, and not some other mingled confession. Though he was a hypocrite it did not effect the true confession Christ instituted. That’s altogether different communing another confession, like the Reformed or Baptist. You are not being kind or loving them by doing, not one bit.

    You are leaving them under the guise of kindness and “giving them gospel” in their deception. I know that’s a hard item for a life long Lutheran to grasp, but I know it first hand and many who have come from the “outside” “in” understand this. Closed communion, though shocking at first to even me, was one of the most loving and Gospel things Lutherans did for me. It caused me to examine what I was confessing as a Reformed person at the time.

    When you blur that line, you leave men in their darkness (that appears to be light to them), and that is neither loving nor giving the gift of the Gospel freely to them, its a “round about way” of refusing it to them by confirming them IN their hidden works righteousness. Thus, by giving it so openly as you say, you are actually withholding it from them and leaving them in the bitter bondage of the hidden works righteousness of their own confessions.

    Closed communion is in fact really open communion, for its arms are free to receive, so free it will not let you remain in your bondage in coming to it. It says, “Don’t bring your bondage chains with you”. The reality is this, the only thing withholding people from this Gospel, communion with the true body and blood is really themselves. Do you REALLY want the REAL and TRUE blood of Christ given to you IN REAL TIME IN YOUR MOUTH, for the FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS…God/Christ putting it their on/to/for you so that you can be sure…Christian…is that not what you say you want? Then why are you withholding yourself from it!

    I have not found this discussion without fruit. It’s forced me to dig deeper than I normally would and its been fruitful.

    Do know there is no anger or bitterness between us, very fruitful discussion. Much better than just discussing, “how’s the weather”. Which by the way is freezing cold down here.



    • I apologize, I went back on my word of “this being the last word”, one of a billion reason I/we need this sacrament!

  119. I know there is no anger or bitterness between us.

    As you are having a hard time trying to figure me out on this, I am also with you.

    I look at the Sacrament as a free gift of God’s doing to those who don’t understand it, or have different degrees of understanding it (each week). They certainly do not deserve it. That they agree (by coming and taking) that it IS Christ’s body and blood, for unity and confession’s sake is not a problem for me. We’ve never (in our congregation) had anyone receive it and then publicly pour acid on it by denying it. That someone’s Christian doctrine in another area (such as 3rd use, inerrant Bible, free will, gay clergy…whatever) would be a disqualifier for almost everyone, in every church.

    That we do things a bit differently than our Lutheran forerunners does not bother me as long as Christ and His promises are kept central, and His forgiveness to sinners is offered without strings attached.

    I really do think we are at an impasse here, and I do believe it is because of our fundamental differences in the doctrine of the Word, which I believe stems from the inerrancy question.

    So…you guys are getting a touch of global warming over there, huh? Stay warm and enjoy the family during this wonderful time of year!

    I’ll let you have the last word, tonight.

    G’nite, Larry.

  120. FWIW, this conversation has been really interesting for me, though I’ve refrained from jumping in. I had no idea that there were Lutheran churches that practiced open communion.

    The bit about “using LS as an evangelization tool” reminded me of the book by Sara Miles titled “Take This Bread”. It’s a powerful emotional story of her work feeding the poor in San Francisco, and her efforts to get her church to use LS as an evangelization tool. Even though my church doesn’t practice closed communion, the Sara Miles book startled me — it seemed like a major and novel departure from historical Christian practice to actually use LS as an outreach tool.

  121. JS Allen,

    We don’t offer the LS to non Christians. Only to baptized Christians who believe that the body and blood of Christ Jesus is actually in the bread and the wine.

    When they come after that invitation, we give them what the Lord commanded… His body and blood.

  122. But its more than just that, a RC can confess that as can the Greek Orthodox. That’s Paul’s point in 1 Cor. on unity.

    These forms of more or less open communion are in fact great sins. It’s not an evangelistic tool neither to the unbeliever nor to baptized Christians. Lutherans that wish to go this route ought seriously look at what the Reformed have come to realize as they more and more opened their communion doors, they loose at length their very own confessions to the Baptist. One’s confession becomes a farce and those coming to it are either hypocrites (not truly believing what they publically are confessing by this) or unbelieving epicureans or Christian agnostics, “what is truth”. Slowly, then, the Word begins to dissipate like a dying echo. Then, one, two, maybe three generations down the road, that church, that heterodoxy dies and there is no longer anything Christian left just the husk of religion.

    Because it is in fact a proclamation of the Lord’s death, how, why all that it was in pure truth unmingled, all the confession that goes behind that is “built” into it.
    Most “Calvinist” are not even really “Calvinist” anymore. Even Calvin wrote in his IoCR, “And here also we must preserve the order of the Lord’s Supper that it may not be profaned by being administered indiscriminately. For it is very true that he to whom its distribution has been committed, if he knowingly and willingly admits an unworthy person whom he could rightfully turn away, is as guilty of sacrilege as if he had cast the Lord’s body to the dogs.. .Therefore lest this most hallowed mystery be disgraced, discretion is very much needed in its distribution.”

    Luther writes, “For it is not our intention to admit to it and to administer it to those who know not
    what they seek or why they come.”

    Luther also clearly states, “It is very well true that where preachers administer mere bread and wine as the Sacrament there is no more concern about to whom it is administered; or what they understand or believe; or how they perceive it…But we intend to educate Christians and to leave some behind us; for in the Sacrament we administer the body and blood of Christ. We cannot and will not give such a Sacrament to anyone who has not been previously examined as to what he has learned from the Catechism and whether he is willing to abandon the sins which he has done to the contrary.”

    Much of this “open communion” to baptized believers and such stems from unbelief that refuses to call “false teaching” false teaching. This sacrament is not meant to “convert” but to increase faith. This presupposes, the truth in purity whereby faith is faith and against unbelief. Thus, such a faith cannot increase where unbelief is left in place in what the sacrament itself is, and ALL the other articles of faith which Luther likened to a tapestry of which one cannot alter least it be ruined entirely.

    Look at it from the other end: A Baptist in a clear conscience who confesses his articles of “what and why he/she believes” cannot take communion from a Lutheran pastor on multiple accounts. 1. He must believe it to be idolatry per his own confessions (e.g. LBCF, SB F&M). 2. He would be receiving communion from someone he confesses to be unbaptized since most Lutheran pastors where likely baptized as infants (not all though) and likely via immersion. He would be receiving communion from one not even, according to his own confessions, able to gain admittance to their own supper service.

    To see the LS as ONLY a gift that MUST be distributed to all baptized Christians is in direct violation of Christ’s own institution and Paul’s admonition that proclaims the Lord’s death until He comes.

    Lutheran George Koenig writes, “Can an acknowledged Papist or Calvinist be admitted to communion in good conscience by a minister of the Lutheran Church? Some believe that these certainly ought to be admitted for two basic reasons. First because the church and its spiritual blessings should be open to all and closed to no one. And here perhaps the word of Christ also applies: ‘Come to me…all you weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Matthew,” 11:28. Secondly, because the true and proper Sacraments are found in the Lutheran Church which they are missing in their own fellowships
    However, in their desire to accomplish such a great blessing they reveal a foolish envy. But these are fables. We then put no one off of the way to the church and its blessings, but we do encourage this, that everyone follow the right way. If then a shaking reed seeks a street which is ridden with invisible barriers and proceeds in the wrong way, is it any wonder that they then wander about, lost in the open fields
    and can positively not find the door. The voice of Holy Scripture itself acknowledges: ‘Such people leave the right paths and walk along dark roads.’ Proverbs 2:13. Also Christ does not call everyone with no distinctions to himself, and does not promise the unworthy rest as well as the worthy, but those who are weary and heavy laden, that is, as it is interpreted by Theophylakt, those who are weary from
    the working of the law and heavy laden with the burden of their sins. These he calls to come to himself, not with their bodies but with their hearts, and if they do so he promises to them, and not to the others, his willing aid, namely spiritual and eternal rest. As regards the other reason we neither can nor want to deny that everyone receives the true supper from our people. Therefore, because we are the true church which correctly believes in the Sacrament of Holy Communion according to Christ’s institution, they also administer it according to Christ’s will in his place. It does not therefore follow that whoever knows where the true celebration of communion is should at once therefore be admitted to it. In this regard it is also important that he be a true member of the true church and wear the wedding garment.
    The guest of Matthew 22:11 is an example of this. This one desired the heavenly wedding, in fact he appeared at it, and what’s more, he took his place among the guests; nevertheless he was thrown out and in fact by his own fault because he lacked the wedding garment. Therefore also that one who does not wish to be refused admittance should previously provide himself with a wedding garment
    namely preparing himself through conversion and joining our church through a genuine recognition and confession of sin, through true trust in Christ and his servants, and therefore properly examining himself, etc. Then he will be accepted at this heavenly meal with joy as a person who hurries after the blessings of the church.”

    It at length destroys the witness of a church in which the truth cannot be found but at length men group around blindly saying, “what is the truth” and at length one ends up with a heathen religion calling itself Christian of which whose members are nothing more than baptized agnostics, “who can know, God can use anything…”, which is the cry we hear of many gross false teachers naming themselves Christians to other religions, “God can use anything…including Buddha”.

    It is a “sign” of our times of the apostasy occurring.

    It’s a failure to recognize that at a minimum that at least in principle one must agree that ALL false doctrine is sourced from Satan and hell and thus damned (even if we don’t identify at first the specifics, the principle stands). Thus, one has to wonder, “how long” said Christians stay on the fence between two confessions. Because THAT position is the position between Christ and Baal as we saw in the OT in which the prophets warned everywhere similarly to Joshua’s warning, “Choose this day whom you will serve…” (paraphrased). This gets into Paul’s point in 1 Cor. Regarding the Lord’s Supper and not mingling the table of demons (false gods, false religions, false heterodoxy – remember all that is false is from Satan and hell no matter how it names itself) with the body and blood of Christ, the LS is the culmination of the CONFESSION of the truth, and not the occurrence of the bringing together of the baptized (which is Zwinglian).

    Calvinist and baptist wishing to commune at a more or less open communion of the baptized must SERIOUSLY THEMSELVES reflect what they are doing, they should even desire such a communion and appreciate closed communion of the Luther churches:

    As George Dedekenn writes, “As little as an orthodox Christian who confesses Luther’s doctrine with mouth and heart can desire communion with a clear conscience from a Zwinglian and suspicious
    teacher; (according to Luther’s advice one would withdraw from such throughout his life), just as little can also a Reformed who understands the word and is properly serious about his religion even desire our communion without the highest burden on his conscience.”

    As all false doctrine is sourced in hell and from Satan it is too idolatry, thus, these more or less open communions to the baptized stem from not realizing or recalcitrantly in unbelief refusing that at the end of the day idolatry is infinitely worse a sin than is the worse immorality of which one can conceive. Yet, such communions of the baptized would not admit an open sinner openly sinning and refusing to cease, like adultery, and however, they would admit those who by their other confessions are in false doctrine and thus open idolatry to their communions. Again, in principle at least, EVEN a Calvinist or Baptist MUST close the supper communions else they make a mockery of God and say by such, “idolatry is such a tiny thing”. No Calvinist or Baptist (at least non one might take seriously) would admit a man in open adultery would they?

    You see it is an issue that cannot be escaped. Even if we just remove for the sake of revealing the principle the details of which confession is true and orthodox, and simply look to the principle, “one cannot mix false with true else one is mingling Baal with God, Satan with Christ and a table of demons with the Lord’s body and blood”. Because at least in principle, again, all false doctrine is of Satan and hell. The force of those words must be understood. For the Reformed MUST confess from their own confessions that the Lutherans are not orthodox but heterodox, like wise the Baptist of both the Reformed and Lutheran, else their very OWN confessions are a mockery and nothing that pagans don’t confess, “what is truth”.

    Luther, “They desired from us the brotherhood which we had refused them in Marburg and
    could not accept. For if we had received them as brothers and sisters we would also
    have had to consent to their doctrine. Although they did not gladly accept this refusal
    they asserted that one should nurture love over against them until God brings
    us together again, because we should also love our enemies. Now whoever wants to
    construe this badly, let him do so.”

    One can look at it from the reverse, if a Lutheran where to visit a Baptist or Reformed church they would not want that person to pretend to be confessing the Baptist faith. What is such a fence rider really confessing? Is the Baptist faith, the Reformed faith, the Lutheran confessions? Which is it. Do they confess that infants are to be baptized or only adults for such disunity is forbidden by the LS (Paul), rather ONE faith, Spirit, baptism. Such a one is either a hypocrite to one or the other creed he holds to as he communes in a different communion or an agnostic (what is truth). He is thus publically the same to all who witness it and speaks to them either both are false or there is no truth.

    Even an atheist can see this even if only in the hypothetical: A famous atheist was once asked, “What if Jesus really did rise from the dead…what then of your beliefs”. He answered honestly, “Well that would change EVERYTHING.” He saw the clarity of the “truth, way and life” if only in the hypothetical and understood well that “what is the truth” is really simply utterly foolish. One cannot say of articles of faith, “what IS the truth, who can know it”. One cannot say, “who can know the truth baptize or not baptize infants”, “who can know the truth is it the body and blood of Christ or not” and still have a Christian confession that is basically “what is the truth who can know it”.

  123. Steve,

    Yea, we’re getting a lot of global warming down here in the south too. I just shoveled and salted several inches of global warming off of my walk way and spent nearly 30 minutes chipping over a half inch of solid frozen global warming off of my to work. The global warming is so bad its slowing the drive speed on major highways down to about 35 to 45 mph. There was so much global warming on my trees yesterday they were nearly hanging touching the ground. In fact I bought an emergency heat supply yesterday just in case the global warming gets worse this January.

  124. “These forms of more or less open communion are in fact great sins. It’s not an evangelistic tool neither to the unbeliever nor to baptized Christians.”

    Show mw in Holy Scripture, where we are to keep the Sacrament from Baptized Christians who want it?

    And please, don’t rehash that verse where Paul is admonishing the brethren who won’t share their food and who are getting drunk. Show me where the Supper is withheld until someone can prove they have a certain understanding of it.

    I know you won’t be able to. Otherwise we would not be offering the visable Word (Christ Himself) to those who really are in need of Him.

    And…that is it for me. We have been round and round, and round again. I have nothing more to say about it.

    As I have said before, we believe that what we are doing is pleasing to Christ, who commanded that we receive His body and blood.

    You have another take on it. So be it.

    Stay warm, Larry! See you on the next topic! (hopefully)

    – Steve

  125. Steve,

    Now you are arguing precisely like a baptist does on infant baptism, “show me one verse of an example of babies being baptized”. I’ve already shown you NUMEROUS verses on the subject, quoted Luther and Lutherans at great length on the subject, could easily quote the church fathers on the subject including those early church fathers who were directly under John the Apostle on the subject. I have not come at you with my own ideas or something novel, that’s why I quote at length as much as I can.

    Look at it from the reverse, they cannot commune you either even if YOU or I wanted it. Oh, they CAN but the SHOULD NOT lest their confession become a joke. Put heterodox protestant aside for a moment, you have to ask yourself why we cannot commune with the RCs? They have the sacrament, the true body and blood of Christ. Recall Luther, “I’d rather drink blood with the Pope than mere wine with the sacramentarians”. Transubstantiation was a much smaller issue for Luther. As Sasse points out it is at best a very poor and clunky attempt to explain a divine mystery we have no business attempting to do, but it was not in and of itself the problem. Because Rome retains the confession of the true body and blood of Christ being present, YET, we find that we cannot communion with them nor they with us. So one can easily see in the RC comparison the issue goes not greater than but more than just the real and true presence.

    I think you are missing the whole point of the Gospel regarding the sacrament and men wanting to be saved, yes, but not the way God has set forth. One sees in the OT and NT in numerous places what appears to be men coming to God for salvation but in there own way (e.g. John the baptist rebukes the Pharisees when they come to the baptism he is giving). It’s hidden very craftily today within “Christian terms”. Look at the principle at hand.

    You say they “if they want the sacrament”. Well what DO they want? Remember Luther on this matter: Quoting both Luther who references THIS scripture concerning closed communion (you as for Scripture, here is one, and Luther quotes it and it is not one Larry just picked out of a hat and it’s not as you say, “please, don’t rehash that verse where Paul is admonishing the brethren…”. Which by the way I have never quoted for you in this argument so you are falsely accusing me yet AGAIN and setting up AGAIN another straw man to knock down.)
    Martin Luther, “And let him not admit the applicants unless they can give a reason for their faith,
    and can answer questions about what the Lord’s Supper is, what its benefits are, and what they expect to derive from it… Those, therefore, who are not able to answer in the manner described above should be excluded and banished from the communion of the Supper since they are without the wedding garment (Matthew 22:11, 12).”

    It’s not like we (I) don’t want communion with such, ALL of my family and friends are in heterodox communions, my heart desires deeply and prays daily concerning the matter. It is a GREAT temptation to give up on this. Of course when I’m saying “heterodox” I am meaning utterly no Lutheran confession or connection. What we would term the “reformed” (big tent, Reformed/PCA, Baptist, Methodist, etc…). I would love nothing more than unity.

    One may want to “be a Christian” for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with salvation. But we instruct, this is part and parcel with Matthew 28. Being a life long Lutheran (which I assume you are) you probably won’t intuitively see this issue. Rather you will see it as an obstacle as you do here. A sad reality exist, I’ve unfortunately discovered, among some Lutherans (life long ones), they have forgotten the rich treasures of their catechisms and have become de facto Baptist and Reformed on the matter.

    Let me give you personal examples to maybe help, which is one of the reasons I battle for this. Because you are trying to tell me, one who has come from the outside completely in and knows many such who have done the same, why this should be so open, while I’m trying to say to you, “Your heart is in the right place, no doubt, but let me tell you how the journey really is because I actually walked the road from heterodoxy to orthodoxy formerly”. It’s why I see, on multiple levels, that closed communion is very loving and actually brings men to the sacrament, to the Gospel and opening it actually pushes them away leaving them in danger. It’s the same reason Paul had in 1 Cor. the man in adultery with his mother-in-law cast out to let Satan destroy his flesh, SO THAT, in 2 Cor. he could be immediately restored. Same issue here on communion and other confessions.

    In my family and circle of friends there is nothing but Baptist and Methodist, and many of them directly in the ministry, gone to Southern, etc… My wife and I just discussed this issue last night on yet another issue that’s driving her family away from the faith, ironically through their churches. Many in my family have been baptized and would not darken the doors of the church again. Why? They never were instructed in the faith, what all that is for them. Rather, so lazy ass worthless false preaching heterodox preacher preached some moral message or who the hell knows what else to them for years. So they assumed, “this must be Christianity…that I was baptized into”, and left. Why not, they can get that religion from any religion. And so now they are “assumed Christians”, never attending the church, growing old and will die one day. I’m not speaking about “reading their hearts” “are they Christians” the way the enthused do, rather that they are confessionally outside of the church and have none of the gifts of Christ before them. They were baptized indeed, but it is dark to them as to what that is. So they might pass away without Christ yet the treasure was in their hands all along. There’s nothing “pushing them” to realize, “you are in great danger…you must realize you are not in the church externally”. But nobody wants to sound those warning bells, lazy belly feeding pastors to cowardly to warn people. And so one day I’ll face, unless something changes, more than one funeral of family members, like my wife did just weeks ago, which is little more than pagan funeral with the façade of the name “Christian on it”, IF it gets that much. Now days the baptist circuit and majority report for funerals is basically some asinine power point presentation about how wonderful “so and so’s’ rich life was” (even if the reality was the opposite) with garbage “gospel” music that has nothing to do with the faith while some utterly blind fool calling himself a pastor gives some fluffy vain and utterly empty saccharine Hallmark card presentation.

    People need to know they are outside the truth so they can be quickened TO the truth. To confirm them in their falsehood really is just plain evil disguised as “love”. As Walther observes in this light, “Our tenth thesis is also directed against the union, that grave of the Lutheran Church, and specifically also against its adherents and defenders within our church. It is directed against unionistic, syncretistic preachers. We label them all as shameful, unscrupulous belly-servers, who abandon the consciences of their Communion guests, whether and what they believe in and confess on the Sacrament, falsely calling thereby the words, “Let a man then examine himself,” etc., as if this text applied only to the laymen but not, also, to the preacher.* “Then let everyone think of us as … stewards of God’s mysteries. Now then nothing more is demanded of a steward but that he be found faithful.” (I Corinthians 4:1).

    And Luther, sparing no verbage, writes concerning this issue:

    The significance or effect of this Sacrament is fellowship of all the saints. From this it derives its common name ‘synaxis’ (Greek) or ‘communicare’ (commune or communicate), or, as we say in German, ‘zum Sacrament gehen’ (go to the Sacrament), means to take part in this fellowship. Hence it is that Christ and all the saints are one spiritual body… On the other hand, ‘excommunicare* (excommunicate)
    means to put out of the community and to sever a member from this body…To receive the Sacrament in bread and wine then is nothing else than to receive a sure sign of this fellowship and incorporation with Christ and all the saints. It is as if a citizen were given a sign, a document, or some other token, to assure him that he is a citizen of the city, a member of that particular community. St. Paul says this very
    thing in I Corinthians 10:17, ‘We are all one bread and one body, for we all partake of one bread and of one cup.’ If we were to allow ourselves to take such unity then we would have to consent to both parts, namely that where our people would perhaps come to them and desire to receive the Sacrament, or, on the other hand, their people would come to us, and this would involve the intolerable error, that our people would receive mere bread and wine and still believe that it was the body and blood of Christ and their people with us would receive the body and blood of Christ and still believe that it was
    mere bread and wine, and the outrage much more.

    And, in summary, I come to this matter. It is horrible for me to hear that in some churches or at some altars both parts may get and receive the same Sacrament and one part believes that they are receiving the true body and blood of Christ. And I often wonder whether it can be believed that such a preacher or pastor could be so impenitent and spiteful, and in addition to this be silent, and allow both parts to
    come in, each in their own delusion, that they are receiving one and the same Sacrament, each according to their own belief. If perhaps there is such a one he must have a heart that is harder than any stone, or steel, or even a diamond, who must certainly be an apostle of wrath. Then Turks and Jews are much better for they openly confess that they deny our Sacrament and we therefore remain separate from them and do not fall into apostasy. But these comrades must be the true high arch devils, who give to me mere bread and wine and allow me to consider it the body and blood of Christ, and so I am wretchedly cheated. That would be too devilish and too difficult; then God will shortly break all that in pieces. Therefore he who has such a preacher, or who would be inclined to excuse such a thing, let him
    be warned this as against the devil incarnate himself.”

    —End Luther quote

    Of course I’ll stay on board and next topic. Again, I’m not one wit angry about all this. I’ve found it both affirming and helpful.

    Have bless Christmas!


  126. “Now you are arguing precisely like a baptist does on infant baptism, “show me one verse of an example of babies being baptized”.”

    The difference, Larry, is that the Baptist wants to TAKE Christ away from you. Set up fences around the gospel.

    I am trying to hand Christ over to them. Free of charge.

    I am so glad that out Lord did not set up fences around the gospel. Otherwise, real sinners (like me) who often are just plain faithless, wouldn’t have a chance of getting to it.

    The Sacrament is the Gospel.

    Me angry? No. But I am getting tired of this. You keep buildind fences and I keep tearing them down. It is tiring.

    If only I had the clean, fresh air that is way up there on Mt. Missouri. Then I would understand all of this and be able to rightly receive the Sacrament.

    It’s not Christmas, yet, is it?

    (you see what I mean about doctrine?) We can go overboard with it in our desire to get EVERYTHING JUST SO.

    Merry Christmas, Larry ! 😀

  127. “The difference, Larry, is that the Baptist wants to TAKE Christ away from you. Set up fences around the gospel. I am trying to hand Christ over to them. Free of charge.”

    No Steve, that’s precisely the point you are so badly missing. You are setting up the fence and keeping Christ from them by letting them remain away from Christ doctrinally.

    You are both arguing in style, show me a Scripture that says baptize infants, as a baptist and as to content RC. And you are not doing any of it from Scripture or from the confessions not even matching the requirement you require of me.

    This is completely false; “You keep buildind fences and I keep tearing them down. It is tiring.”

    By opening the communion (what you perceive to be as freely giving Christ) you are in reality closing communion utterly (at length) and by doing so withholding from them Christ (the one you wish to give freely). In short if I or a number of others had come to your concept of the communion X years ago, I would have never left the PCA. You would have left me in bondage, albeit due to a lack of understanding of the issue not your heart on the matter.

    However, by closing communion to me as I pursued the issue and matter forced me to learn and dig into so that I actually received it for what it is and was not left in my former way of thinking of it (which was withholding me from it EVEN IF I had taken it at a Lutheran church while still PCA).

    Same thing with baptism, it was via Luther and his confession of what Scripture says baptism is that it became the Gospel treasure to me. But that was due to in part condemning for example Baptist believers baptism and the reformed view as well. I was already actually baptized, via immersion and the SB church, but it was for YEARS locked up to me due to the bondage of the doctrine I was in (which included believers baptism, Calvinism, etc…). I was baptized but via the doctrine, false, it was literally hell to me. To the point of near suicide more times than I can count and working myself to death in the church. Had not Luther/Lutheran doctrine clearly and distinctly seperated on this issue I would have remained in that bondage. It causes one to ask, “Why am I not sure, why the terror” and most importantly, “am I in the truth truly?” Whitewashing over that by practicing the more or less open communion leaves men in bondage. Thus, seeking to GIVE Christ in a way not prescribed, to other confessions, removes him from them even if they partake.

    The logical extension of your method would be this: Don’t bother even getting baptized, you’ll get there anyway. In fact the logical extension of your method is this: Why bother communing in a Lutheran church, since you remain in your other confession anyway, sign only, real presence, true body and blood are six one way, half a dozen another.

    You leave a man bound in his conscience by that, Luther’s point and its not loving at all.

    So you can call it “giving Christ freely” all you want, but is not so, its the opposite. By miss applying the sacrament in this way you are leaving men in their bondage. It is here on this point it leans more Roman Catholic in which at length they have the sacrament but because they don’t teach it or much they hide.

    The Gospel is always lost in one of two ways, having a sacrament without the Word (Rome) or having the Word without the Sacrament (Protestantism). Luther and Lutheran confessions, not to mention the liturgy, balances these necessary two.

    You keep kicking up this straw man of “YOU” wish to freely give the sacrament, while “I evil Larry” wish to keep men from it. NOTHING could be further from the truth on this.

    You asked this question, “Show me in Holy Scripture, where we are to keep the Sacrament from Baptized Christians who want it?” Which is a kind of “have you stopped beating your wife” false dilemma form of argument. Yet still there are plenty of which I’ve given several posts above.

    The real question is this, Show me in Holy Scripture, where we are to open communion to other confessions?

    The ONLY thing withholding some baptized Christians from the sacrament is themselves not me, not the LCMS or other Lutherans.

    You fail to see, for example, why Christ did not chase after the rich young ruler stuck in his doctrine (distilled from Scripture by the way, distilled from the what was the pre-cursor church religion of that day) and left him at the Law (which states, “He loved Him”). Same thing. Had Christ, which He would have never done nor did, absolved him (Gospel) locked within his works righteousness thinking at the time, it would have merely confirmed him in the Law and hence wrath. The Law must do its work to drive us to Christ, same thing with closed communion. Else we ALL will LOCK ourselves up in works righteousness, death, wrath and hell. Or as Paul says, “I would not have known about coveting had the Law said, “thou shall not covet”. Similarly, “I would not have known to eschew the false doctrine that was killing me, thinking that by it I had life, though it was killing me in reality, least closed communion said, ‘what you believe is false'”. Same thing.

    It may not look like love as to the way the world views love, but it is love of the highest kind. And it is not easy, in fact I’m constantly tempted internally to “cave in”, I like people liking just as much as the next man does.

  128. Sorry Larry. Language gymnastics cannot conceal the fact that you are not allowing them to receive the body and blood until after they have passed some sort of human understanding test.

    We are TELLING THEM, the baptized, that it is the body and blood of Christ Jesus that they are about to receive. And that if they, too believe that…then come and receive Him.

    If that’s not good enough for you, if the fence is not quite high enough for you, then so be it. But don’t try and pawn that pious rigidity off on us, those that would give Him away.

    You keep it.

    Not only am I done with this now, I will not respond to anymore that you write on it, because it will never end.

    You see it your way, and I see it my way.

  129. I’m sorry you see it that way Steve and you again falsely accuse me of verbal gymnastics when nothing could be further from the truth. That’s a cute and ignorant way of confusing the issue but it won’t work.

    You continue to accuse me of having this as if it is “my invention” and novel way, when I have proven with the facts, not delusional conjecture, that this is not so. I have quoted at length the scriptures concerning this (which you demanded). When I ask you to do so your silence is defening on the matter. I’ve quoted no less than Luther himself and other sound Lutherans (though I did not quote the church fathers but could muster them up too). This you conveniently ignore.

    I’ve explained how this does deny US who come from outside in the sacrament in my own experience and many others. An experience you know NOTHING about. Though experience does not prove nor disprove an argument it does bear witness to the effects and you conveniently ignore this as well.

    You sling ONLY ad homenems, straw men, and red herrings not one single time proving your argument from the confession or Scripture , a requirement you seem to require of me yet conveniently not yourself.

    Your doctrine boils down to this: “There is no objective truth except that which I Steve assert”. And your arguments boil down to this: “Your are LCMS therefore you are wrong.” “Your words are gymnastics, therefore you are wrong”. “You are an ex-SB so you are wrong”. Etc…

    “you see it your way, I see it my way”. Actually not true, Scripture speaks objectively one way on this thus it is not “your truth is your truth and mine is mine but rather one of us is entirely wrong, and secondly, that objective truth is Scripture’s, neither mine nor yours, we only confess it or deny it.

    Furthermore, if Lutherans have closed their communions for no essential reason, there is then no greater argument that such is PURE sectarianism and a GREAT sin. Furthermore, if what you say is true the Reformed and Baptist should give up their comunions too because it is likewise purely sectarian. If its not essential, one’s confession, then why seperate because that would be a terrible and GREAT sin of ALL denominations including Rome herself.

    Put the shoe on the other foot, if all of one’s adhered to confession is really not that important, then we should give up infant baptism and baptist should give up believers baptism and the baptist should give up their pure symbolic supper and the high Calvinist their spiritual presence supper, and the Lutheran’s their real body and blood communions.

    That’s of course if what you say is true, but it is not.

    Though the argument is entirely false, you’ve made the greatest argument in this entire discussion for Baptist and Reformed to stay in their own communions and removed entirely any sense of danger or urgency to the contrary. Really, there’s no need for a Calvinist to come to your communion since he/she can believe in the real presence within their own communion.

    Once again, I think these discussion are very good and very revealing as to doctrine on the matters at hand.

  130. Struggling with your salvation is a good sign that your spending too much time hanging out in the wrong theological campground and spending too much time around someone else’s campfire that sees the Gospel through a works based righteous lens cap.

    At the same time I find it odd that the calvinists actually believe that their theology actually makes you more secure salvationally… very odd and twisted that is indeed.

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