Monday, February 1, 2010

Triablogue says Lutherans are on the run....

I have been particiapting in a couple of threads on "TRIABLOGUE". Things seemed pretty cordial in the first thread, Lutherans on the Run. Then a new thread was created, Witness of the Spirit where things became heated. A poster claimed he was worried that he had comitted an unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit, which he knows would mean damnation. After the Reformed offered their confort I stated he should look to Christ:

The best thing I can say to you is that Jesus Christ died for you, and I can say that unreservedly.

In fact, it is on this issue that the argument turnes.

It is the second statement which apparently set Steve off--that the argument I was having with Steve (and others) turns on whether or not Christ died for all. Steve interpreted this as my using Rach's tormented conscience as "canon fodder" in my argument--which was not my purpose at all.

After some discussion as to whether or not we can know if someone is reprobate--to which Stece answered in the affirmative--a lot of chest thumping and accusations followed, including that I behaved despicably, that Lutheranism is callous and that somehow Lutheran theology made me sociopathic. This was stated after I pointed out "My remarks to RACH were to comfort him/her. If he/she believes I was using him/her, I apologize." Apparently this clarification/apology is not enough to sate the anger of Steve Hays who has been spitting bile for a few posts. Now there is a new post on Triablogue dedicated to Steve's misunderstanding of my point, at least as far as I can see.

UPDATE

Steve from Triablogue responds here:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2010/02/upstart-lutheran.html

I will leave it to the reader to decide if I lie about Calvinism.

21 comments:

theoldadam said...

Thanks, Ed.

I went over there and threw in my two cents.

I wouldn't expect too much, though.

I have dealt with these hardened Calvinists before.

Often the clay is baked and is so hard that they WILL NOT hear a Word.

Edward Reiss said...

Thanks Theoldadam. The last salvo was that I don't believe in sanctification. :-)

Steve Martin said...

I believe in sanctification...as long as the Lord is the One who is doing it.

I don't think they will hear anything we say over there. They are as dry as dead bones.

best to dust off the sandals and move on (me thinks).

Edward Reiss said...

Steve,

I agree. While while shaking off the dust may be a little harsh, it seems they are not interested in any discussion but argument by vigorous assertion. For that reason alone it is best not to put more logs on the fire. BTW, Theoldadam's site looks pretty good. Have you checked it out?

Brett said...

Gentlemen, we have:
1) Distinguished between how we have eternal life from how we know we have eternal life.
2) Provided scriptural support for examining yourself and looking to the fruit of the Spirit.
3) Distinguished between first and second party knowledge.
4) Demonstrated that "There is NO guarantee in the Sacraments."

And yet it seems you are content to mocking dismiss those verses with phrases like looking to your navel and not trusting in Christ. You then retreat from the conversation and call us hard baked clay and dry as dead bones. What gives?

Lvka said...

...a lot of accusations followed, including that I behaved despicably...


I think he stole that one from me... I called Jason or his behaviour "despicable" before being banned from their blog for good... just like the grey guy from my avatar :) -- he used to get banned a lot too... :)

Edward Reiss said...

Brett,

1) There is no promise we will know we have eternal life. We are told that we may deceive ourselves that we are elect when we are not. This means looking for fruit runs the serious risk of us deceiving ourselves into thinking we are elect when we are not. The spiritual danger of this should be readily apparent.

2) Examining ourselves for our fidelity and obedience is different from examining ourselves to "prove" we are elect, which we cannot know anyway. We can know that when we hear the Gospel in e.g. baptism or communion that we are truly receiving what God promises because God does not lie--as opposed to our looking into our own lives for proof.

3) No one has second party knowledge of my eternal state, and I don't think I even have first party knowledge (see 1 above). Given this, and the theological commitments of TULIP Calvinists, a TULIP Calvinist cannot say Christ died for him, or anyone else. I do however have first hand knowledge of receiving communion, being absolved and I have proof I am baptized.

4) You have "demonstrated" something we have not claimed: that Sacraments guarantee everyone who receives the sacrament eternal salvation. What we have claimed is that the grace offered in Sacraments is real grace and not actually a withholding of grace, as is the case in the Calvinist system where grace is only offered to the elect, because offered grace must be 100% "effective" for it to be real. That is a philosophical commitment more than a Scriptural one.

Finally, it is not the Lutherans who look at their navel, but the TULIP Calvinists looking within themselves to prove they are really elect. Because if they aren't it doesn't matter how sorry they are for their sins or where they are at any particular time in their life; it is all for naught because God has not granted them perseverance.

Regarding mockery, please see the several threads on Triablogue, and comments such as Lutherans worship the Pillsbury Dough-boy. I don't mind that such comments are made, but the mockery was not from the Lutheran side.

Brett said...

Lets start with your first point.
"There is no promise we will know we have eternal life. "
What do you do with this verse "And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him."
"We are told that we may deceive ourselves that we are elect when we are not."
Agreed
"This means looking for fruit runs the serious risk of us deceiving ourselves into thinking we are elect when we are not."
As can baptism or taking communion. The difference is that baptism and communion are not found in the "how can you know" verses like the one above.

Edward Reiss said...

Brett,

"What do you do with this verse "And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

If you sin, you *don't* keep his commandments. So which sins are bad enough for us to lose our salvation? I suppose once again we will have to look for an internal testimony.

And that is just from a cursory examination of the text. However, the context of 1 John 2 is not one of a promise of perseverance or that we know we are saved because we keep his commandments, for John also says if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

"As can baptism or taking communion. The difference is that baptism and communion are not found in the "how can you know" verses like the one above."

If we can be deceived into believing we are elect even if we are not, where is the assurance in that? Which is easier to say: I have faith in CHrist or God does not lie?

But baptism and communion go one better--they promise the forgiveness of sons. And since God does not lie that is exactly what they do. In fact St. John said as much:

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

Baptism, communion, absolution etc. are this promise of redemption from sin. And we know it is true and it works because God does not lie, when he says "for you" he means "for you". When he baptizes he actually baptizes, when we by faith appropriate the benefits of his work, they really work. And we know this not because of the goodness of our deeds, but because of his promises. In fact, isn't the Calvinist position something like "I know I am elect because I believe and I have the works to prove it!" Is that really assurance, or is more like introspection.

Brett said...

If you don't mind, I am only taking a snippet of your replies at a time since it seems that something is getting lost in the massive replies.
"So which sins are bad enough for us to lose our salvation?"
I don't think that the text says anything about losing our salvation. I think it addresses how we know that we know God.
"I suppose once again we will have to look for an internal testimony."
Explain this a bit.

Edward Reiss said...

Brett,

I said: "I suppose once again we will have to look for an internal testimony."

You replied: "Explain this a bit."

The question I was dealing with is not whether or not we should look at our behavior and change it when necessary. It is not whether or not a believer can see the working of the HS within himself. Is whether looking into one's self for assurance on is one of the elect is any comfort at all. Steve Hays answered this in the affirmative. And the reason I disagree is that looking into ourselves for assurance has things backwards. We look to Christ and objective events. And by objective I mean they are true no matter how we feel at a given time.

I am not sure you followed the discussions on Triablogue, but the difference between Lutheranism and the rest of protestantism boils down to two syllogisms from Dr. Phil Cary.

The standard "Protestant" syllogism works like this:

All those who have faith in Christ are saved

I have faith in Christ

Therefore I am saved

The "Lutheran" Syllogism works like this:

Christ said "I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit"

Christ never lies and always tells the truth

Therefore I am baptized

If you object to a sacramental view of baptism feel free to insert "Christ said I died for you..." in lieu of baptism.

The point is that there is no "if" embedded in the Lutheran syllogism, where the Protestant syllogism has an "if" embedded into it--do I really have faith?

And that is where things bagan.

Brett said...

That's interesting, and in my view a bit orchestrated. But the question I asked was what you think of this verse "And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments." So according to this passage, how do we know that we have come to know him?

Edward Reiss said...

Brett,

Do we ever keep his commandments? St. John himself allows for the forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake which presupposes disobedience. I certainly don't see how we can get some sort of assurance of perseverance from our obedience as there is always the possibility we will not be obedient. In other words, it does not cut against the Lutheran position.

Getting back to the larger issue, no one has really said I got the Reformed position wrong. Instead I got a lot of side issues and misrepresentations of the Lutheran POV. Instead they try and say Lutherans have the same issues. But we don't, which is why I don't see Dr. Cary's syllogisms as orchestrated. They cut to the issue and they show a key difference between Lutheranism and other protestants.

Steve Martin said...

Ed,

Steve Martin here. The Old Adam is my blog site.

I often use different profiles when leaving comments (not purposely, or for any sinister motive).

Thanks for the compliment. I started a new job recently, so I don't have a lot of time or energy to put into it.

Anyway, take care and keep proclaiming Christ, my friend.

- Steve (aka-the Old Adam)

Edward Reiss said...

Steve,

"I often use different profiles when leaving comments (not purposely, or for any sinister motive)."

Sock puppetry!

Just kidding.

"Thanks for the compliment. I started a new job recently, so I don't have a lot of time or energy to put into it. "

my job allows only intermittent posting too.

"Anyway, take care and keep proclaiming Christ, my friend."

I try.

And you too!

Brett said...

You keep evading the question. I am happy to return to the dozens of other things we have on the table, but it seems pointless if we can't make progress on this one point that seems so clear. I'm not asking you to recant of your view of baptism and such, I'm just asking for admission that scripture does indeed teach that one way "we know that we have come to know him, [is] if we keep his commandments."

Edward Reiss said...

Brett,

I think there is a mismatch in how we use terms. Please see my latest post.

Craig said...

Edward,
I commend you for taking on Steve at Traiblogue. I stopped commenting over at Triablogue a long time ago, although I still read it.

Edward Reiss said...

Craig,

I think it is a useful site, except when Steve gets off his meds. :-) So I will read it still from time to time too.

L P said...

Brett,

If I may answer as well . You asked I asked was what you think of this verse "And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments."

Firstly, there is some circumstantial subjective evidence that Scripture speaks of regarding assurance, but as a whole, from the Lutheran standpoint, we look at the objective promises of God found in Word and Sacrament as the very prima facie evidence of our assurance.

That passage you quoted there is interpreted in the law/gospel paradigm. The passage speaks of our knowing God if we keep his commandments.

But we don't, in reality on our own, we do not keep his commandments strictly speaking - for in Psalms , it says, If God should mark our iniquities who can stand? It says - but there is forgiveness with you so that you may be feared. So the passage you cited is meant to drive us back to the Gospel to the Cross. St. John by that passage was dumping the law down to us.

Christian life is like a cycle, we get sanctified when we first believed, life starts getting more in line with God, then we get cocky thinking we are making it, thinking our flesh is doing it , so God comes down again to us, hitting us with the Law so we may always be in the state of repentance and cleave to the Gospel.

This law/gospel paradigm is something affirmed by some Calvinists but in practice, it gets put on the shelves, with the Law predominating.

Also Edward was charged with not believing in sanctification and here the calvinist and the lutherans do not have the same view!

For a Lutheran, the more the Christian believes he is a wretched sinner, a worm, but only clings to Christ for God's mercy, the more he is sanctified.

Our view of progressive sanctification is different, for the Calvinist, this means the believer sins less and less and gets to be happy with his progress. For the Lutheran, this means, he gets to know how rotten a sinner he is as the days go by and how worthy of hell he is, so in humility he clings to Christ - to the Lutheran , this is sanctification. It is a totally different paradigm.

LPC

soerenoe said...

Hi!
How is it that the Lutheran doesn't have the same problem of assurance as the reformed?
Luther said that you don't benefit from your baptism if you don't recive the promises of baptism in faith. What comfort is it then to know that ”I am baptized”? Doesn't one in in adition to that, have to ask if the one lacking assurance recieve or believes these promises of forgiveness? If this is so, the lutheran is no better than the reformed in this matter.
Am I misrepressenting the lutheran view?

Yours sincerly

Søren

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