There is something healthy about returning to one’s roots. When it comes to evangelical Christianity, its roots are found in the soil of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation.

Why Lutheran Predestination isn’t Calvinist Predestination

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    Why Lutheran Predestination isn’t Calvinist Predestination

    James R. Rogers’ recent essay “Credit the Calvinists” asks why Calvinists and not Lutherans have become the public faces of the doctrine of predestination. “For whatever reason,” he writes, “Lutherans are not widely identified with predestinarian doctrine.” And this, he notes, is “despite Luther counting his book-length rejection of free will, On the Bondage of the Will , as the only thing he wrote that he would rank with his Small Catechism.” As a Lutheran, I feel I should make a brief attempt—however imperfect its execution may be—at answering this question, for the benefit of the readers of First Things . First off, it must be noted that Luther’s opinions are not necessarily the opinions of his spiritual descendants. The fact that Luther called The Bondage of the Will his favourite book would by no means mean any other Lutherans were required to agree. 1 Nor should the 1932 doctrinal statement of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, however good and proper it is (and it is good, I hasten to add), be considered the voice of all worldwide confessional Lutherans. Instead, the text confessional Lutherans for centuries have acknowledged as the standard of their faith is The Book of Concord (an authoritative explanation of Christian doctrine based on the Scriptures, supported by reference to the church fathers). Other works may act as supplemental explanations of the Confessions, but these supplements aren’t necessarily binding for all confessional Lutherans around the world.

    That all said, Rogers certainly isn’t wrong to say that Lutherans teach predestination. As he notes, it’s in our confessions (see Article XI of the Formula of Concord ). The trouble instead with Rogers’ essay is that it implies the Lutheran doctrine is more-or-less the same as the Calvinist one. To be sure, Rogers lists some of the differences between the Lutheran doctrine and the Calvinist; he notes rightly that Lutherans affirm neither “double predestination” nor “limited atonement,” while Calvinists do. But while he recognizes these differences, Rogers doesn’t seem to think they alone explain why Calvinists and not Lutherans are associated in the public mind with “predestination.”

    I disagree: the doctrinal differences between the two are the key to the whole thing. Indeed, the disparity between the identification of Calvinists with predestinarian doctrine vis à vis Lutherans is precisely because the concept of predestination that exists in the public mind is Calvinist, not Lutheran. People hear the word “predestination” and think of the Calvinist doctrine of double-predestination—the idea that God has chosen some to be saved and chosen others to be damned (or, put in less inflammatory language, that God has chosen some to be saved and others he has not so chosen). Either way it amounts to the same thing: those who are damned are damned because of God’s (lack of) choice. Calvin himself writes, “We assert that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined both whom he would admit to salvation and whom he would condemn to destruction” ( Institutes 3.21.7).

    Such a doctrine is abhorrent to Lutherans. And, indeed, contemplation of such a doctrine was abhorrent also to Luther. In his Lectures on Genesis , given in the last decade of his life, Luther speaks at length on the subject of predestination once more (I will quote only bits of it in what follows, but you can read the whole thing in LW 5:43-50): “I hear that here and there among the nobles and persons of importance vicious statements are being spread abroad concerning predestination or God’s foreknowledge. For this is what they say: ‘If I am predestined, I shall be saved, whether I do good or evil. If I am not predestined, I shall be condemned regardless of my works.’ . . . If the statements are true, as they, of course, think, then the incarnation of the Son of God, His suffering and resurrection, and all that He did for the salvation of the world are done away with completely. What will the prophets and all Holy Scripture help? What will the sacraments help?”

    A fair point, indeed. If salvation is dependent solely upon God’s predestining us—His sovereign will—then what is the point of the Sacraments or the Word, or even the Sacrifice of Christ? Luther defines for us here the problem which arises when Christians fixate on predestination—namely, that we begin to consider the subject apart from the actual salvific act of Christ at the cross. We move away from Scripture’s teachings and substitute our own reason and logic (resulting in thoughts like those listed above, eg, “If I am already predestined one way or the other, then nothing I do or believe can change that.”)

    Luther here warns us that the subject of predestination cannot be properly (or safely) considered except in the context of the means of grace: God’s Word and His Sacraments. These are the things by which faith is given. These are the things by which Christians are kept in that faith and prevented from falling away. These are the things by which God’s predestination is made manifest in the world. As such, predestination cannot be rightly considered apart from them. Here Luther is urging us to thrust aside contemplation of predestination in favour of contemplation of Christ. 2

    Lutherans eschew in particular the doctrine of double-predestination—the conclusion that God’s predestinary grace (which Lutherans affirm) should logically necessitate His also having chosen others to be damned (which Lutherans deny). It certainly sounds reasonable: if God has predestined His people to salvation from before the beginning of time, than surely He must also have “unselected” the rest. It’s perfectly logical.

    But this is precisely the sort of reliance on reason Luther so often lambasts . Such attempts to, through our own reason and strength, peer into things God has not revealed in Scripture are sins. He says the same in his Lectures on Genesis : “This is how I have taught in my book On the Bondage of the Will and elsewhere, namely, that a distinction must be made when one deals with the knowledge, or rather with the subject, of the divinity. For one must debate either about the hidden God or about the revealed God [ie, God as we know Him through Christ, a God of mercy]. With regard to God, insofar as He has not been revealed, there is no faith, no knowledge, and no understanding. And here one must hold to the statement that what is above us is none of our concern. For thoughts of this kind, which investigate something more sublime above or outside the revelation of God, are altogether hellish. With them nothing more is achieved than that we plunge ourselves into destruction.”

    Doctrines such as double-predestination, built on reason but not Scripture, do nothing except increase doubt among faithful Christians. They lead us away from contemplation of Christ’s mercy at the cross (where God has demonstrated visibly and powerfully that He desires all sinners to be saved) towards the contemplation of things not revealed in Scripture. “These are delusions of the devil,” Luther says in his Lectures on Genesis , “with which he tries to cause us to doubt and disbelieve, although Christ came into this world to make us completely certain. For eventually either despair must follow or contempt for God, for the Holy Bible, for Baptism, and for all the blessings of God through which He wanted us to be strengthened over against uncertainty and doubt . . . . After the manner of the Turks, they will rush rashly into the sword and fire, since the hour in which you either die or escape has been predetermined.”

    Lutherans look to God as revealed in Christ; they do not speculate about unrevealed aspects of God’s will. Consequently, Lutherans affirm only that which they see affirmed in Scripture. Scripture tells us that Christ died for the whole world (John 3:16-17). So we believe it. Scripture also tells us that God desires all people to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). So we believe it. It further tells us that God has predestined those who will be saved (Ephesians 1:3-6). We believe this too. And yet, Scripture tells us that not all people will be saved (Matthew 25:41). This we also believe. We are willing to accept the seeming paradox, that an almighty God who predestines believers to be saved and who earnestly desires the salvation of all nevertheless will see some not saved.

    The Scriptures do not teach that God has predestined to be damned those who will be damned. Indeed, as the Formula of Concord warns, “this would be to ascribe to God contradictory wills” (SD 11:35). God tells us in His Word that He wills the salvation of all; He cannot simultaneously have willed that some not be saved. It is clear then that, insofar as Lutherans teach predestination, we do not teach it in the way which the world understands the word. It should not be surprising, therefore, that since Lutherans teach a doctrine different than that which the world calls “predestination,” we have not been associated with the term. The reason why is as simple as answering why Lutherans aren’t associated with the term “Calvinist” in public discourse: it’s because the word doesn’t describe who we are.
    ——————————-
    1 I also feel the need to note that The Bondage is often misread as if it’s teachings were identical to Calvinist teachings on predestination; I am hardly the first to suggest it is not. At any event, we must not read this one book as if it were the only or last thing Luther wrote on the subject of predestination.

    2 Luther recalls: “Staupitz used to comfort me with these words: ‘Why do you torture yourself with these speculations? Look at the wounds of Christ and at the blood that was shed for you. From these predestination will shine.’”

    Source: Why Lutheran Predestination isn’t Calvinist Predestination | Mathew Block | First Things

    #2
    Then how do some ultimately end up unsaved?
    [I am not asking Calvinists, I know our answer.]

    I can appreciate and respect the unwillingness of my Lutheran brothers and sisters to make claims beyond what God has claimed in scripture, but leaving the question hanging, unanswered, seems an unsatisfactory solution.
    How is it that God commands all to obey, desires all men to be saved, and elects some?
    Does it bother no Lutheran that God's will (that all men be saved) appears to be thwarted (most men are not saved)? Such a thought would bother me and drive me to scripture and prayer for answers.
    Comment>

      #3
      Wiliam,


      On January 6, 2017 in the thread, "What is Reformed Theology" you posted in #8, " I have never known any Lutheran to actually reject the Five Points of Calvinism." Of course, one of those 5 is the Reformed view of Predestination.

      QUESTION: Do Lutherans accept (not reject) the Reformed view of Predestination and Reformed agree (not reject) the Lutheran position? Or are there rather, instead, two different positions?


      Thanks!


      Pax Christi


      - Josiah
      Last edited by Josiah; 02-03-2017, 08:36 AM. Reason: spiling and gramer
      Comment>

        #4
        Originally posted by William View Post
        James R. Rogers’ recent essay “Credit the Calvinists” asks why Calvinists and not Lutherans have become the public faces of the doctrine of predestination. “For whatever reason,” he writes, “Lutherans are not widely identified with predestinarian doctrine.”

        Perhaps because while Lutherans are equally monergists (and ARE equally identified with Reformed on that), the issue in the Reformed position that tends to get the focus is the negative side, the predestination to damnation. Since Lutherans don't teach that, ergo..... Could that be?




        And this, he notes, is “despite Luther counting his book-length rejection of free will, On the Bondage of the Will , as the only thing he wrote that he would rank with his Small Catechism.”

        It's been awhile since I read Luther's book, but it should be noted it is not a part of our Confessions or our doctrine. It only gives insight into Luther's very early "evangelical" thinking. Yes, it reveals that already he has a deep embrace of monergism, and yes the "absolute free will" crowd will disagree with it - as much as they would some of Calvin's writings, I'm sure. Again, IMO, it seems the Reformed - Lutheran difference here is not in the matter of monergism or even positive election. It's the equal, proactive, willing damnation of most that is the point of disagreement.




        That all said, Rogers certainly isn’t wrong to say that Lutherans teach predestination. As he notes, it’s in our confessions (see Article XI of the Formula of Concord ). The trouble instead with Rogers’ essay is that it implies the Lutheran doctrine is more-or-less the same as the Calvinist one.

        To be sure, Rogers lists some of the differences between the Lutheran doctrine and the Calvinist; he notes rightly that Lutherans affirm neither “double predestination” nor “limited atonement,”

        I think he's right there.

        I have a post elsewhere, William, where I'm asking you to please clarify your point that, " I have never known any Lutheran to actually reject the Five Points of Calvinism." It seems to ME that the author of this is saying that Lutherans do not hold to the same position on predestination, he notes "the TROUBLE is the implication that the Lutheran doctrine is more or less the same as the Calvinist one." Do you disagree with this article?





        the concept of predestination that exists in the public mind is Calvinist, not Lutheran. People hear the word “predestination” and think of the Calvinist doctrine of double-predestination—the idea that God has chosen some to be saved and chosen others to be damned (or, put in less inflammatory language, that God has chosen some to be saved and others he has not so chosen). Either way it amounts to the same thing: those who are damned are damned because of God’s (lack of) choice. Calvin himself writes, “We assert that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined both whom he would admit to salvation and whom he would condemn to destruction” ( Institutes 3.21.7).

        I completely agree.

        Thus my response above: Folks don't debate double predestination with Lutherans because it's not our position - we don't teach it so people don't identify it with us.

        Again, note the words here:

        Calvin himself writes, “We assert that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined BOTH whom he would admit to salvation and whom he would condemn to destruction” ( Institutes 3.21.7).
        Note the equality of this, how both are active. Sorry, I'm just not seeing the "purely passive" view - that Calvin actually did NOT teach that God predestines some to damnation as he predestines some to heaven but rather - it's PURELY passive, namely, God elects some (and therefore, not all). I don't see Calvin teaching something purely "passive" in the negative case but a completely, entirely, wholly different issue - an entirely different kind of thing - in the positive sense.




        Such a doctrine is abhorrent to Lutherans. And, indeed, contemplation of such a doctrine was abhorrent also to Luther. In his Lectures on Genesis , given in the last decade of his life, Luther speaks at length on the subject of predestination once more (I will quote only bits of it in what follows, but you can read the whole thing in LW 5:43-50): “I hear that here and there among the nobles and persons of importance vicious statements are being spread abroad concerning predestination or God’s foreknowledge. For this is what they say: ‘If I am predestined, I shall be saved, whether I do good or evil. If I am not predestined, I shall be condemned regardless of my works.’ . . . If the statements are true, as they, of course, think, then the incarnation of the Son of God, His suffering and resurrection, and all that He did for the salvation of the world are done away with completely. What will the prophets and all Holy Scripture help? What will the sacraments help?”

        So again, I'm wondering about your earlier post that Lutherans don't reject any of the 5 points of TULIP.... Or are you disagreeing with this author, simply presenting a counterpoint to your view?




        A fair point, indeed. If salvation is dependent solely upon God’s predestining us—His sovereign will—then what is the point of the Sacraments or the Word, or even the Sacrifice of Christ? Luther defines for us here the problem which arises when Christians fixate on predestination—namely, that we begin to consider the subject apart from the actual salvific act of Christ at the cross. We move away from Scripture’s teachings and substitute our own reason and logic (resulting in thoughts like those listed above, eg, “If I am already predestined one way or the other, then nothing I do or believe can change that.”)

        I see this as part of as a Lutheran perspective: I think Luther (and Lutherans) of course embrace Scripture (as do the Reformed) but there's a strong PASTORAL perspective, this isn't pure academics, not pure theory - Luther thinks of what this means to the pastor counseling souls, what this means to the life of God's children, what this means for preaching, Luther being above all else, a pastor. It seems to ME Calvin was more theoretical, more academic, more focused on what seemed "logical" to him. And whereas Lutherans love that word "mystical" (leaving things where they are), it seems to ME (a largely ignorant, stupid bloat) in Reformed thought, there alsways seems to be playing in the foreground the issue of logic, connecting the dots in a way that seems logical. A different perspective there, it seems to ME, in my opinion. Ain't saying that's saying much. But just saying....




        Lutherans eschew in particular the doctrine of double-predestination—the conclusion that God’s predestinary grace (which Lutherans affirm) should logically necessitate His also having chosen others to be damned (which Lutherans deny). It certainly sounds reasonable: if God has predestined His people to salvation from before the beginning of time, than surely He must also have “unselected” the rest. It’s perfectly logical.

        But this is precisely the sort of reliance on reason Luther so often lambasts. Such attempts to, through our own reason and strength, peer into things God has not revealed in Scripture are sins. He says the same in his Lectures on Genesis : “This is how I have taught in my book On the Bondage of the Will and elsewhere, namely, that a distinction must be made when one deals with the knowledge, or rather with the subject, of the divinity. For one must debate either about the hidden God or about the revealed God [ie, God as we know Him through Christ, a God of mercy]. With regard to God, insofar as He has not been revealed, there is no faith, no knowledge, and no understanding. And here one must hold to the statement that what is above us is none of our concern. For thoughts of this kind, which investigate something more sublime above or outside the revelation of God, are altogether hellish. With them nothing more is achieved than that we plunge ourselves into destruction.”

        .... I find this insightful on the part of this author....

        And underlining MY pov that Lutherans DO tend to reject some of TULIP.






        Doctrines such as double-predestination, built on reason but not Scripture, do nothing except increase doubt among faithful Christians. They lead us away from contemplation of Christ’s mercy at the cross (where God has demonstrated visibly and powerfully that He desires all sinners to be saved) towards the contemplation of things not revealed in Scripture. “These are delusions of the devil,” Luther says in his Lectures on Genesis , “with which he tries to cause us to doubt and disbelieve, although Christ came into this world to make us completely certain. For eventually either despair must follow or contempt for God, for the Holy Bible, for Baptism, and for all the blessings of God through which He wanted us to be strengthened over against uncertainty and doubt . . . . After the manner of the Turks, they will rush rashly into the sword and fire, since the hour in which you either die or escape has been predetermined.”

        Lutherans look to God as revealed in Christ; they do not speculate about unrevealed aspects of God’s will. Consequently, Lutherans affirm only that which they see affirmed in Scripture. Scripture tells us that Christ died for the whole world (John 3:16-17). So we believe it. Scripture also tells us that God desires all people to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). So we believe it. It further tells us that God has predestined those who will be saved (Ephesians 1:3-6). We believe this too. And yet, Scripture tells us that not all people will be saved (Matthew 25:41). This we also believe. We are willing to accept the seeming paradox, that an almighty God who predestines believers to be saved and who earnestly desires the salvation of all nevertheless will see some not saved.

        The Scriptures do not teach that God has predestined to be damned those who will be damned. Indeed, as the Formula of Concord warns, “this would be to ascribe to God contradictory wills” (SD 11:35). God tells us in His Word that He wills the salvation of all; He cannot simultaneously have willed that some not be saved. It is clear then that, insofar as Lutherans teach predestination, we do not teach it in the way which the world understands the word. It should not be surprising, therefore, that since Lutherans teach a doctrine different than that which the world calls “predestination,” we have not been associated with the term. The reason why is as simple as answering why Lutherans aren’t associated with the term “Calvinist” in public discourse: it’s because the word doesn’t describe who we are.

        Yup. lol



        1 I also feel the need to note that The Bondage is often misread as if it’s teachings were identical to Calvinist teachings on predestination; I am hardly the first to suggest it is not. At any event, we must not read this one book as if it were the only or last thing Luther wrote on the subject of predestination.

        AND remember: it was NOT made a part of the Lutheran Confessions.





        Thanks, William! Very helpful and insightful....



        Pax Christi


        - Josiah

        Comment>

          #5
          I posted this on another thread.....



          Originally posted by Josiah


          William -


          It seems to ME that Reformed folks seem to speak of this central doctrine in their system in various ways. To ME, the classic Reformed view is this (to quote another post here): Calvin defines predestination as “God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each [person]. For … eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others.” So predestination is an act of God’s will through which God elects or chooses those whom God calls to faith and thus to eternal life, and through which God chooses those who will not receive faith." That's what I'd call double predestination - it applies fully and equally to both heaven and hell, to the saved and the damned, to those who believe and those that don't. The reason is equally and fully and in all implications the same - just opposite.


          I think this is what Lutheranism doesn't affirm. The first part - what we are apt to call Election - IS fully affirmed by Lutherans. Election is seen as PURE Gospel (ONLY to comfort and assure) and it applies ONLY to believers, the saved. It is functionally pretty much an outgrowth of monergism (a point that Lutherans and Reformed Christians equally stress). And I think this is solidly biblical. It's the EQUAL position.... the FULL position that "eternal damnation is foreordained for most.... God's will is that some do not receive faith" that Lutherans don't affirm. As equally and fully the case. That, I as a Lutheran believe, seems to be twisting Gospel upside down into Law..... and I question the biblical teaching of such.


          In any case, that is a far cry from saying, "God doesn't choose all." That statement, lthough I think it's saying more than God in Scripture does, is one I'd not debate - if God doesn't choose all then He doesn't choose ALL. I wouldn't debate that. But that doesn't mean He DOES choose all - just some to be blessed in heaven (to His good pleasure and to give Him glory) and equally and just as proactively some to fry eternally in hell (equally to his good pleasure and glory). Both as equal actions.


          Of course, Lutherans don't accept most of TULIP (and I think this view comes out of TULIP, not Scripture). While it's been awhile since I've read Luther's very early "Bondage of the Will", I have read the Lutheran Confessions and a few Lutheran doctrine books. The way Election gets conveyed in Lutheranism is as the Gospel it is, Gospel directed to Christians. To Christians who fear if God loves them (because they wrongly thinks God loves only SOME).... to Christians who think Christ didn't die for them (because He only died for some - leaving no list who those are)... who therefore fear if they are justified, loved, forgiven.... we have the Gospel of Election: God's love for us is not dependent on us.... God's unconditional love is (well) unconditional - and flows from HIS heart: he loving us not because we are loveable but because He is loving.


          I think of it like this, William. My mother's pregnancy with me was very troubled (she lost 3 children in pregnancy before me). Now, I was but not much in her womb - earning, deserving, seeking, meriting NOTHING. But my parents (even my older siblings) LOVED me. My parents went through MUCH (including money) in hopes that I'd not be #4 to die before I was born. My older sister use to tell me how she sang "Jesus songs" to me, over and over, when I was in my mother's womb. How she'd tell me to be strong, how Jesus was taking care of me. My brother told me how every night, he got down on his knees and prayed for me (my sister is 6 years older than me, my brother 4). My mother was hospitalized for the last few weeks..... then they discovered I had a heart defect and lung problems - and likely would soon die. Finally, the doctors said I had to be taken - immediately - by C Section and an emergency surgery done. The "odds" weren't so good. My whole family was there.... my priest was there (he baptized me in that BRIEF time between being born and the surgery begun; they allowed him in the surgery suite)... hundreds of people were praying for me. I was loved.... embraced as son..... before I was born. William.... God gave me an uber "Jimminy Cricket" and I often struggled with guilt (good Catholic boy, I was) .... and Mom or Dad (even older sis or brother) would remind me of those days I was in the womb. My Mom would forgive me, and when I struggled, she'd remind me she loved me more than life itself even before I was born - before I did a thing good or bad. And that love embraced me STILL. William, I think that's the Lutheran understanding of Election, how I've heard it preached and taught. Gospel. For Christians. Who need to hear - deep - God's love, mercy, forgiveness. Now - does that mean that Mom equally, fully HATED some other boy? Equally and fully wanted some other child dead? That Mom desired 3 children before me to burn eternally in hell because she gets off on that? Does love HAVE to have a full and opposite equal? With death and damnnation being more common, more desired?


          .

          Pax Christi


          - Josiah




          Comment>

            #6
            Calvin himself writes, “We assert that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined BOTH whom he would admit to salvation and whom he would condemn to destruction” ( Institutes 3.21.7).
            Originally posted by Josiah View Post
            Note the equality of this, how both are active. Sorry, I'm just not seeing the "purely passive" view - that Calvin actually did NOT teach that God predestines some to damnation as he predestines some to heaven but rather - it's PURELY passive, namely, God elects some (and therefore, not all). I don't see Calvin teaching something purely "passive" in the negative case but a completely, entirely, wholly different issue - an entirely different kind of thing - in the positive sense.

            Just for the record, Institutes 3.21.7 in its totality (to provide context for the quoted line):

            7. Although it is now sufficiently plain that God by his secret counsel chooses whom he will while he rejects others, his gratuitous election has only been partially explained until we come to the case of single individuals, to whom God not only offers salvation, but so assigns it, that the certainty of the result remains not dubious or suspended.495 These are considered as belonging to that one seed of which Paul makes mention (Rom. 9:8; Gal. 3:16, &c). For although adoption was deposited in the hand of Abraham, yet as many of his posterity were cut off as rotten members, in order that election may stand and be effectual, it is necessary to ascend to the head in whom the heavenly Father has connected his elect with each other, and bound them to himself by an indissoluble tie. Thus in the adoption of the family of Abraham, God gave them a liberal display of favor which he has denied to others; but in the members of Christ there is a far more excellent display of grace, because those ingrafted into him as their head never fail to obtain salvation. Hence Paul skillfully argues from the passage of Malachi which I quoted (Rom. 9:13; Mal. 1:2), that when God, after making a covenant of eternal life, invites any people to himself, a special mode of election is in part understood, so that he does not with promiscuous grace effectually elect all of them. The words, “Jacob have I loved,” refer to the whole progeny of the patriarch, which the prophet there opposes to the posterity of Esau. But there is nothing in this repugnant to the fact, that in the person of one man is set before us a specimen of election, which cannot fail of accomplishing its object. It is not without cause Paul observes, that these are called a remnant (Rom. 9:27; 11:5); because experience shows that of the general body many fall away and are lost, so that often a small portion only remains. The reason why the general election of the people is not always firmly ratified, readily presents itself—viz. that on those with whom God makes the covenant, he does not immediately bestow the Spirit of regeneration, by whose power they persevere in the covenant even to the end. The external invitation, without the internal efficacy of grace which would have the effect of retaining them, holds a kind of middle place between the rejection of the human race and the election of a small number of believers. The whole people of Israel are called the Lord’s inheritance, and yet there were many foreigners among them. Still, because the covenant which God had made to be their Father and Redeemer was not altogether null, he has respect to that free favor rather than to the perfidious defection of many; even by them his truth was not abolished, since by preserving some residue to himself, it appeared that his calling was without repentance. When God ever and anon gathered his Church from among the sons of Abraham rather than from profane nations, he had respect to his covenant, which, when violated by the great body, he restricted to a few, that it might not entirely fail. In short, that common adoption of the seed of Abraham was a kind of visible image of a greater benefit which God deigned to bestow on some out of many. This is the reason why Paul so carefully distinguishes between the sons of Abraham according to the flesh and the spiritual sons who are called after the example of Isaac. Not that simply to be a son of Abraham was a vain or useless privilege (this could not be said without insult to the covenant), but that the immutable counsel of God, by which he predestinated to himself whomsoever he would, was alone effectual for their salvation. But until the proper view is made clear by the production of passages of Scripture, I advise my readers not to prejudge the question. We say, then, that Scripture clearly proves this much, that God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to destruction. We maintain that this counsel, as regards the elect, is founded on his free mercy, without any respect to human worth, while those whom he dooms to destruction are excluded from access to life by a just and blameless, but at the same time incomprehensible judgment. In regard to the elect, we regard calling as the evidence of election, and justification as another symbol of its manifestation, until it is fully accomplished by the attainment of glory. But as the Lord seals his elect by calling and justification, so by excluding the reprobate either from the knowledge of his name or the sanctification of his Spirit, he by these marks in a manner discloses the judgment which awaits them. I will here omit many of the fictions which foolish men have devised to overthrow predestination. There is no need of refuting objections which the moment they are produced abundantly betray their hollowness. I will dwell only on those points which either form the subject of dispute among the learned, or may occasion any difficulty to the simple, or may be employed by impiety as specious pretexts for assailing the justice of God.
            Comment>

              #7
              Originally posted by William View Post
              Lutherans affirm only that which they see affirmed in Scripture. Scripture tells us that Christ died for the whole world (John 3:16-17). So we believe it.
              Scripture also tells us that God desires all people to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). So we believe it.
              Question, why did the author leave John 3:18 out of the context? And if Christ died for the "whole" world (which changes the meaning), then why is there an exception in John 3:18? And lastly, in 2 Peter 3:9 who is the "you" being addressed? Who are the "all people" God is long-suffering towards? In 2 Peter 3:15 there is the reference from Paul to "you", and an address made from 1 Peter 1:1.
              • John 3:16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
              • John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
              • John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

              Obviously, the world doesn't mean everyone without exception. But it does mean Jew and Gentile, the Elect from every tribe tongue and nation Revelation 7:9. Taking into account John 3:17 we can see the result of unbelief and the positive-negative schema.
              • 2 Peter 3:9 not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.[a]The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,9
              • 2 Peter 3:15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,15
              • 1 Peter 1:1 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

              The context and address speaks for itself. God would have all, who had been before wandering and scattered, to be gathered or come together to repentance. The any and all is defined by the context.
              • 2 Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

              If the "any" or "all" refers to everyone in human history, the verse would prove far more than anyone would want to prove - it would prove universalism rather than Christianity. The context indicates that Peter is writing to a specific group and not to all of mankind.

              God bless,
              William
              Comment>

                #8
                Originally posted by Josiah View Post
                QUESTION: Do Lutherans accept (not reject) the Reformed view of Predestination and Reformed agree (not reject) the Lutheran position? Or are there rather, instead, two different positions?
                From the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod "Christian Cyclopedia":

                Predestination.
                I. Acc. to the Bible, all that God does in time for our conversion, justification, and final glorification is based on, and flows from, an eternal decree of election or predestination, acc. to which God, before the foundation of the world, chose us in His Son Jesus Christ out of the mass of sinful mankind unto faith, the adoption of sons, and everlasting life; this election is not based on any good quality or act of the elect, nor is it intuitu* fidei, but is based solely on God's grace, the good pleasure of His will in Christ Jesus. The Bible does not teach reprobation, i. e., an election of wrath for those who are lost; God earnestly desires the salvation of all; the lost are lost by their own fault. The Bible does not solve the problem that exists for the human mind that tries to harmonize the doctrine of universal grace and the doctrines of election and salvation by grace alone. The doctrine of election by grace, properly used, will not foster carnal security, but will make the believer conscious of the matchless glory of the grace of God, serve as a constant incentive to sanctification, comfort him in the ills and tribulations of this life, and give him the blessed assurance of final salvation. Since the doctrine of election by grace is clearly taught in the Bible, it is written for all Christians to learn. FK

                II. The decree of predestination is an eternal act of God (Eph 1:4; 3:11; 2 Th 2:13; 2 Ti 1:9), who, for His goodness' sake (Ro 9:11; 11:5; 2 Ti 1:9), and because of the merit of the foreordained Redeemer of all mankind (Eph 1:4; 3:11; 2 Ti 1:9), proposed to lead into everlasting life (Acts 13:48; Ro 8:28–29; 2 Ti 1:9; 2:10), by the way and means of salvation designated for all mankind (Ro 8:29–30; Eph 1:4–5; 1 Ptr 1:2), a certain number (Mt 20:16; 22:14; Acts 13:48) of certain persons (Jn 13:18; 2 Ti 2:19; 1 Ptr 1:2), and to procure, work, and promote what would pertain to their final salvation (Mk 13:20, 22; Ro 8:30; Eph 1:11; 3:10–11). Cf. A. L. Graebner, Outlines of Doctrinal Theology par. 51.

                III. FC Ep XI 5–7: “Predestination or the eternal election of God … is concerned only with the pious children of God in whom He is well pleased. It is a cause of their salvation, for He alone brings it about and ordains everything that belongs to it. Our salvation is so firmly established upon it that the 'gates of Hades cannot prevail against' it (John 10:28; Matt. 16:18).
                “We are not to investigate this predestination in the secret counsel of God, but it is to be looked for in His Word, where He has revealed it.
                “The Word of God, however, leads us to Christ, who is 'the book of life' in which all who are to be eternally saved are inscribed and elected, as it is written, 'He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world' (Eph. 1:4).”

                FC SD XI 14–23: “This means that we must always take as one unit the entire doctrine of God's purpose, counsel, will, and ordinance concerning our redemption, call, justification, and salvation, as Paul treats and explains this article (Rom. 8:28 ff.; Eph. 1:4 ff.) and as Christ likewise does in the parable (Matt. 20:2–14), namely, that in his purpose and counsel God has ordained the following:

                “1. That through Christ the human race has truly been redeemed and reconciled with God and that by His innocent obedience, suffering, and death Christ has earned for us 'the righteousness which avails before God' and eternal life.
                “2. That his merit and these benefits of Christ are to be offered, given, and distributed to us through His Word and sacraments.
                “3. That He would be effective and active in us by His Holy Spirit through the Word when it is preached, heard, and meditated on, would convert hearts to true repentance, and would enlighten them in the true faith.
                “4. That He would justify and graciously accept into the adoption of children and into the inheritance of eternal life all who in sincere repentance and true faith accept Christ.
                “5. That He also would sanctify in love all who are thus justified, as St. Paul says (Eph. 1:4).
                “6. That He also would protect them in their great weakness against the devil, the world, and the flesh, guide and lead them in His ways, raise them up when they stumble, and comfort and preserve them in tribulation and temptation.
                “7. That He would also strengthen and increase in them the good work which He has begun, and preserve them unto the end, if they cling to God's Word, pray diligently, persevere in the grace of God, and use faithfully the gifts that they have received.
                “8. That, finally, He would eternally save and glorify in eternal life those whom He has elected, called, and justified.

                “In this His eternal counsel, purpose, and ordinance God has not only prepared salvation in general, but He has also graciously considered and elected to salvation each and every individual among the elect who are to be saved through Christ, and also ordained that in the manner just recounted He wills by His grace, gifts, and effective working to bring them to salvation and to help, further, strengthen, and preserve them to this end.”
                In my opinion ...
                They are closer to two different positions, but not for the reasons you have articulated.

                Both Calvinists and Lutherans reject that God is the author of sin and acts to damn those who are lost in exactly the same manner that he acts to save those who are elect.
                Both Calvinists and Lutherans embrace the foreknew, predestined, chose of the elect/saved based on God's will and not human merit.

                Lutherans claim (from the above) that a "universal grace" exists ... which is in keeping with the teaching of Wesleyan Arminianism ... and that "election and salvation by grace alone" are true and this is a mystery that cannot be solved or harmonized by the human mind (bold text above).

                Calvinists would disagree with the statement that they cannot be harmonized. Those people whom God chooses to NOT ELECT will be drawn by their will and nature to their inevitable judgement. There is no injustice in God granting them Justice. However, what can God's foreknowledge and predestination to save others and not save them be, but a form of passive predestination. God must have chosen to leave them to the fate dictated by their fallen nature. If God had chosen to save them, to give them the faith necessary, then both Lutherans and Calvinists agree that they would have been saved. God does not try, and fail.
                In the words of John Calvin himself [Institutes 3.21.7]:
                "We maintain that this counsel, as regards the elect, is founded on his free mercy, without any respect to human worth, while those whom he dooms to destruction are excluded from access to life by a just and blameless, but at the same time incomprehensible judgment. In regard to the elect, we regard calling as the evidence of election, and justification as another symbol of its manifestation, until it is fully accomplished by the attainment of glory. But as the Lord seals his elect by calling and justification, so by excluding the reprobate either from the knowledge of his name or the sanctification of his Spirit, he by these marks in a manner discloses the judgment which awaits them."


                What does a Lutheran call someone whom God has not chosen/elected/predestined?
                Do they have any chance to enter heaven?
                Comment>

                  #9
                  Originally posted by atpollard View Post

                  Both Calvinists and Lutherans reject that God is the author of sin and acts to damn those who are lost in exactly the same manner that he acts to save those who are elect.
                  Both Calvinists and Lutherans embrace the foreknew, predestined, chose of the elect/saved based on God's will and not human merit.

                  ... precisely as I have very consistently stated. The difference is not in positive election, the difference regards negative damnation.




                  Lutherans claim (from the above) that this is a mystery that cannot be solved or harmonized by the human mind (bold text above).

                  IMO, HUMAN theories can probably address anything and everything (although I'd disagree ergo all such are True). I think it was another poster here who posted that the Lutheran position and what the Bible says are quite in harmony - but that Calvinist go on to.... I think what we see are Lutherans affirming a biblical position (where we agree here) but leaving the rest to mystery. I've written several posts now on this - what I perceive as a difference in our variant approaches to dogma.



                  but a form of passive predestination.

                  That seems to be a curious distinction.

                  One I've not seen in Calvinism but some (who distance themselves from "hyper" or "hard" or "strict" Calvinism allude to, variously and curiously). SO FAR, I've not seen this clearly PASSIVE idea. The Reformed position SEEMS to be NOT: "God elected some.... PERIOD, end of discussion, no more will or can be said." Or even "God elected some but not others." The position seems to be that God - equally, fully, proactively, according to his foreordained will, in every sense both actively - chose some for heaven, some for hell."

                  IF the "real" position is: God elected some. Stop. End of discussion, end of teaching. Then I agree, the Lutheran and Reformed positions are essentially the same. Is it?



                  In the words of John Calvin himself [Institutes 3.21.7]:
                  "... those whom he dooms to destruction ,,,,

                  I think that's saying something. "Whom he dooms to destruction" does not seem to ME to indicate something purely passive, something entirely outside his will or foreordaining or desiring, something ENTIRELY outside his ordaining - simply and only a matter of "left to their OWN - without anything from God." He said, "whom HE DOOMS TO DESTRUCTION." See my point?



                  What does a Lutheran call someone whom God has not chosen/elected/predestined?
                  Do they have any chance to enter heaven?



                  God chose some. He did not chose all.

                  What justifies is: Sola Gratia - Solus Christus - Sola Fide (as ONE undivided doctrine). Where such is not, such is not justified.

                  That's unrelated to God EQUALLY and proactively, according to his foreordained will, some for heave and some for hell.

                  I'm not arguing which is right, which is clearly stated in Scripture - and which is wrong, which is not stated in Scripture - only that they are not the same view.


                  Again, I'm agreeing with the point HERE that the Lutheran and Reformed views on TULIP (including predestination) are NOT the same, and disagreeing with Williams' earlier seeming point that Lutherans don't reject TULIP. I'm not arguing which is true or false (if either), only that they are not the same. And I'm admitting I'm struggling to see the purely PASSIVE neo-Reformed "take" on this as "non=hyper" position. IT seems to ME (sinful, limited, often wrong bloat that I am), the traditional Reform position DOES seem to hold to some ACTIVE role of God in the damnation of some (although this may not be wholly consistent and may now be not always affirmed). Again, my point is not to debate the various pov's here, but to note they do not seem to be the same. THIS thread seems to agree, others do not.



                  Thank you.


                  Pax Christi


                  - Josiah
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