Friday, February 10, 2006

A Page for the Reformed

As a young Christian I joined a conservative Presbyterian church (PCA). In it, I received many gifts, particularly the gift of examining everything by Scripture, and also a gift of valuing church history. In the end these two things led me away from Reformed ("Calvinist") Christianity to the Evangelical ("Lutheran") Church. Like many converts from one church to another, I still retain the background, thoughts, and library of my old confession. One of my big themes in this blog has been to define how Evangelical Christianity differs from Reformed Christianity, to sort out what is simply a misunderstanding and what is real disagreement. Of course, I will also argue why I believe the Augsburg Evangelicals are right, but often my aim is to identify areas in which Evangelicals in their desire to be "different" have over-emphasized our differences.

I hope that Reformed readers might read this and be stimulated to reconsider Luther's theology and reject some of their mistaken ideas about what Luther's Evangelical theology really is about, and at the very least, understand Augsburg Evangelical theology better.

Here I am listing the various posts I have written on this topic, in subheadings arranged in chronological order:

The Doctrinal Distinctives

Lutheranism Between Calvinism and Arminianism: defines the Lutheran position on the so-called "TULIP" issues or "Five-Point Calvinism," that is the Calvinist/Reformed definition of why some are saved and others not.

"Perseverance of the Saints": We're Right, They're Wrong: Compares Luther's Smalcald Articles and the C.F.W. Walther with the Westminster Standards on the issue of whether those truly converted can fall away, and the resulting differences in the understanding of faith.

Tulip and God's Salvific Will -- Again: This reconsiders the whole set of "TULIP issues" and sets out Luther's position on these questions.

Luther Did Not Believe in Limited Atonement: Argues that the universal atonement is central to Luther's promise theology, which is completely incoherent without it.

Against Shane Rosenthal's Attack on the Lutheran Teaching about Holy Communion: A response to a Reformed article saying our view of the Real Presence is incoherent and harmful.

Series on Luther's Babylonian Captivity of the Church: Introduction, Standing on the Promises, and The Promise, Ex Opere Operato, and "Performative Word" in Luther's Thought are particular relevant to Reformed vs. Evangelical concerns. In this series, I argue that the supposed opposition between justification by faith alone and the efficacy of the sacraments is the root of the Reformed and revivalist rejection of Luther's Evangelical theology, and introduces the Babylonian Captivity of the Church as the great work showing the compatability of these two teachings.

Pastor Fridfeldt on Infant Baptism and Faith: A passage from Swedish bishop and contender for the confessional faith Bo Giertz on why and how infants can have faith and hence be saved.

Reformed and Roman Catholic Doctrine as Compromise Platforms: I argue here that just as Calvin's doctrine of the Lord's Supper is an attempt to approach Lutheran doctrine while still preserving fellowship with Zwinglians, so the traditional Tridentine doctrine of faith is an attempt to allow Reformation style fiduciary faith while still preserving the hope for salvation of those with a purely historical faith.

An Outsider's Thoughts on the Federal Vision Thing: I argue here that the Federal Vision theology is an attempt to gain some of the "benefits" of Augsburg Evangelicalism while still adhering to TULIP.

The Reformation

Why the Law/Gospel Hermeneutic: Explains the origin of Luther's Evangelical hermeneutic and how it differs from both Catholic views and Reformed and Anabaptist hermeneutics.

What Must Always Be Remembered in Studying, Discussing, and Applying the History of the New Testament and Early Church Ages: Cites Hermann Sasse on how the Lutheran Reformation differed from all other plans of Reformation.

Luther Between East and West: Explains the Eastern Orthodox elements in Luther's thought, elements that are implicit in the Evangelical disagreement with Reformed thought.

McGrath's Intellectual Origins (intro), Part I, Part II: Summarizes Alistair McGrath's study of the Intellectual Origins of the Reformation. His main theme is that the Lutheran and the Zwinglian-Calvinist reformations were fundamentally different from the beginning.


Charles Porterfield Krauth on Christian Ecumenism: cites the words of a famous Augsburg Evangelical theologian on the "genuine glory of Puritanism."

A Darker Shade of Red: Discusses Allen C. Guelzo's viewpoint that the colonial Reformed churches in America were incapable of sustaining Christian life over the long run.

Confucian Puritans: Parallels between the great strength of Puritan morality with that of Confucianism.

Puritanism vs. Fundamentalism: Two Types of Religious Movements: Discusses "Puritanism" not as a doctrine, but as an attitude toward the world.

Moral Issues, Moral Reform, and Revival

Moses, Luther, and Natural Law: argues that while "theonomy" is definitely un-Lutheran, the differences here with the Reformed are smaller than is generally believed.

That's What I Love About Sunday (continued in More on Sunday): A Biblical and patristic argument against Reformed (or Catholic)-style Sabbatarianism.

Lutheran Hymn-Mutilators Censor Evangelical Theology!: Argues against the over-zealous alterations made to Reformed hymns in modern Lutheran hymnals.

Revival: An Augsburg Evangelical View: Presents the importance of real Spirit-empowered revival in the theology of Swedish Evangelical bishop, Bo Giertz.

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