World Wide Wolfmueller

Law and Gospel in Joyful Clarity

Who Baptizes?

Is baptism a work of God or a work of man?

Evangelicals, Baptists, and just about everyone who denies baptist to children say: Baptism is a work of man. Here’s how the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) gives it to us:

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper. (Baptist Faith and Message)

We should be on to this when the Baptists start calling baptism an “ordinance” instead of a “sacrament.” Baptism “is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour.”

(We’ll skip, for now, the silliness of baptism as a symbol. We’ll also skip, for now, the fact that the Faith and Message uses the British spelling of Saviour. That’s just strange. I have never heard a Southern Baptist with an English accent. In fact, I suspect that they teach you how to talk with a Texas accent in the Southern Baptist Bible College preaching classes. You know what I’m talking about. “And the Lawd said to Mos-sis, git yerself down to the people…” I have this picture in my head, 20 young men sitting at desks. “God,” they all say. “No, no, no,” says the professor, “it’s not ‘God,’ it’s ‘Ga-wd.’ Repeat after me, ‘Ga-wd'” “Ga-wd.” I think Texas accents are a matter of adiaphora.)

Ask your nearest Baptist (or Evangelical, if that’s the best you can do): “Is baptism a work of God or a work of man?” They will tell you: “Are you kidding? Baptism is a work of man, the first act of Christian obedience.”

For those of you keeping track of law and Gospel, this makes baptism law. This helps answer so many questions. For example, why are children forbidden baptism? And, why baptism can have absolutely nothing to do with salvation. Or why no baptists have ever purchased my fancy baptismal certificates. Baptism is a work of man, so it can have nothing to do with our forgiveness or salvation. Don’t you know that we’re saved by grace through faith?

The Lutherans, on the other hand, trust that baptism is a work of God. Why? Because that’s what the Bible says.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

This also explains how the Bible can talk about so many miraculous benefits of Baptism. Our Lord Jesus says, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved,” (Mark 16:16), so we know, at the very least, that baptism has something to do with salvation. But the Bible says so much more about the saving benefits of Baptism. Baptism is “new birth” (John 3:5), the “washing of regeneration,” (Titus 3:5), the “remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 2:38), a “washing away of sins, (Acts 22:16), being “buried with Christ,” (Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12), “putting on Christ,” (Galatians 3:27), and, last but not least, “salvation,” (1 Pete3r 3:21). This, if you’re keeping track of law and Gospel, is all Gospel.

Baptism, then, must be a work of God, a gift to us. And in this we greatly rejoice.

But there is still an unsolved mystery: Why does the American Evangelical understand baptism as a work of man, even in light of all the Scriptural evidence that baptism is God’s work to save us?

Two related theological axioms:

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1. They have no means of grace. (Neither, by the way, do the Calvinists. I’m talking to you, Ben. That’s probably where the Baptists learned it. And the Evangelicals learned it from the Baptists.) This has lead to a second problem:

2. They have embraced a light gnosticism (that I like to call mysticism, that we called “enthusiasm” in the old days) that says that all spiritual action or motions are internal. God’s grace comes directly, unmediated (no means), into my heart. The Holy Spirit works on the inside. So the bad logic goes: if it’s on the outside, it’s not the Holy Spirit. The distinction between law and Gospel is, for the Evangelical, the distinction between internal and external. If there is something outside of me, it can’t have anything to do with the Gospel or my salvation.

This is bad, but very important to understand. The Evangelical operates with this basic theological distinction:

Internal = Work of the Spirit = Gospel (perhaps), Gospelish, Gospelly
External = Work of Man = Law

Because baptism is external it must be a work of man, and can have nothing to do with our salvation. The same logic [sic] applies to the Lord’s Supper: “External, work of man, we remember. Remembrance, remembrance, remembrance, never mind the other things Jesus says.” And on the other side, if you apply this logic to, say, worship, the result is Contemporary Mystical Praise Music with the explicit goal of producing internal motions, an emotional experience of the immediate presence of the Holy Spirit.

Mystery solved, Evangelicals are mystics (and mysticism is bad). But this is nothing new. Our friend Luther had to discuss these same theological misconceptions about baptism. (You’re not thinking about skipping the Luther quotation, are you?)

For it is of the greatest importance that we esteem Baptism excellent, glorious, and exalted, for which we contend and fight chiefly, because the world is now so full of sects clamoring that Baptism is an external thing, and that external things are of no benefit. But let it be ever so much an external thing, here stand God’s Word and command which institute, establish, and confirm Baptism. But what God institutes and commands cannot be a vain, but must be a most precious thing, though in appearance it were of less value than a straw. (Large Catechism, IV.7-8)

Let baptism be a purely external thing, that does not mean it cannot forgive sins and rescue from death and the devil. The Word of God, the Gospel, is an external thing, and it forgives sins. Indeed the blood of Jesus is an external thing, and through it the Lord has blessed us with every spiritualΒ  blessing in this life and the life to come. God always works through external things to deliver us from sin, death and the devil, and if that’s how the Lord wants to save us, so be it. We rejoice in these purely external things now and forever.

So remember: Baptism is a work of God.

64 Comments

  1. Speaking of fancy baptismal certificates, I spotted an interesting comment on the website of LifeWay. One of their customers was furious that they had chosen to put Acts 2:38 on the certificate! I mean, that would give people the wrong idea about Baptism, don’t you know! Seriously, this customer considered the verse to be really “controversial,” and compared it to using the verse about “baptism for the dead” on a baptismal certificate. I knew that this kind of embarrassment at the language of the Bible concerning Baptism was common in my former circles, but really…

  2. Speaking of fancy baptismal certificates, I spotted an interesting comment on the website of LifeWay. One of their customers was furious that they had chosen to put Acts 2:38 on the certificate! I mean, that would give people the wrong idea about Baptism, don’t you know! Seriously, this customer considered the verse to be really “controversial,” and compared it to using the verse about “baptism for the dead” on a baptismal certificate. I knew that this kind of embarrassment at the language of the Bible concerning Baptism was common in my former circles, but really…

  3. I am currently in a study with members of the Church of Christ. They believe that members of the LCMS are not Christians in part due to our belief in Baptism as a sacrament. My original goal was to illustrate our Christianity. With them Baptism is a combination of the work of man and the hand of God. In the Church of Christ all children are born pure and not in need of salvation. Our current topic therefore is the validity of original sin. It has been interesting having them defend and define the age of accountability and the age of corruption. Eph. still discusses one God, one faith and one baptism. I am interested to here that other Lutherans are still defending Baptism. I believe it is important to understand their point of view and still be able to defend our beliefs. Often we simply agree to disagree and not “win” the argument. Easy on the Texas accent we all know that the word “God” has two syllables!

    Arn Anderson

    • Arn, I’ve had several discussions with Church of Christ folks. I love the “age of accountability” discussion, because there’s no mention of it in Scripture. They ask, “How old was Jesus when he went to the temple?” They expect me to say “12” but of course the answer is one week. He went to the temple when he was BROUGHT BY HIS PARENTS on the 8th day to be circumcised. And, glory be to Jesus, baptism replaces circumcision. And, as is stated in Matthew 28, we are to baptize ALL nations–not “all nations who choose it” or “all nations over the fabricated age of accountability.” Baptism is for all.

      • Yes we are to “baptize all nations” but isnt it in context”disciples of all peoples or nations” then baptize and teach those disciples. Seems to be how it fleshed out in Acts as well.

    • Church of Christ is a curious anomaly. I was under the impression that they believed Baptism to be necessary for salvation, and also held that it was at least in part a work of man– in other words, they might actively deny Sola Fide (don’t quote) and other things that would otherwise put them in a “Protestant” camp. They’re a unique bird, and it must be very difficult to dialog with Restoration-type churches, considering their rejection of so much of historic Christianity.

    • @Arn

      ….hmm, then I guess the early church was not Christian because they described baptism the way Pastor Wolfmeuller does as early as the first and second centuries (a few decades after the Resurrection of Christ!) …and the Christians who came together in church councils and codified which books were Scripture were also not Christians. Even St. Nick! πŸ˜›

      Come to think of it, I guess the evangelists like Mark and Luke and the apostles Peter, Paul, and John were not Christians either given the “sacramental” sounding scripture verses that were quoted in the article.

  4. I am currently in a study with members of the Church of Christ. They believe that members of the LCMS are not Christians in part due to our belief in Baptism as a sacrament. My original goal was to illustrate our Christianity. With them Baptism is a combination of the work of man and the hand of God. In the Church of Christ all children are born pure and not in need of salvation. Our current topic therefore is the validity of original sin. It has been interesting having them defend and define the age of accountability and the age of corruption. Eph. still discusses one God, one faith and one baptism. I am interested to here that other Lutherans are still defending Baptism. I believe it is important to understand their point of view and still be able to defend our beliefs. Often we simply agree to disagree and not “win” the argument. Easy on the Texas accent we all know that the word “God” has two syllables!

    Arn Anderson

    • Arn, I’ve had several discussions with Church of Christ folks. I love the “age of accountability” discussion, because there’s no mention of it in Scripture. They ask, “How old was Jesus when he went to the temple?” They expect me to say “12” but of course the answer is one week. He went to the temple when he was BROUGHT BY HIS PARENTS on the 8th day to be circumcised. And, glory be to Jesus, baptism replaces circumcision. And, as is stated in Matthew 28, we are to baptize ALL nations–not “all nations who choose it” or “all nations over the fabricated age of accountability.” Baptism is for all.

      • Yes we are to “baptize all nations” but isnt it in context”disciples of all peoples or nations” then baptize and teach those disciples. Seems to be how it fleshed out in Acts as well.

    • Church of Christ is a curious anomaly. I was under the impression that they believed Baptism to be necessary for salvation, and also held that it was at least in part a work of man– in other words, they might actively deny Sola Fide (don’t quote) and other things that would otherwise put them in a “Protestant” camp. They’re a unique bird, and it must be very difficult to dialog with Restoration-type churches, considering their rejection of so much of historic Christianity.

    • @Arn

      ….hmm, then I guess the early church was not Christian because they described baptism the way Pastor Wolfmeuller does as early as the first and second centuries (a few decades after the Resurrection of Christ!) …and the Christians who came together in church councils and codified which books were Scripture were also not Christians. Even St. Nick! πŸ˜›

      Come to think of it, I guess the evangelists like Mark and Luke and the apostles Peter, Paul, and John were not Christians either given the “sacramental” sounding scripture verses that were quoted in the article.

  5. Pr. Wolfmueller,

    No matter what a Christian’s view of baptism is, he boasts in it and looks to it as a source of assurance and pride. No matter what you think is going on at a baptism, it is a public sign and a monumental moment in the life of the Christian which he will recall and derive strength of faith in times of trial and doubt. Even anabaptists bring up their baptisms when they talk about their personal testimonies. Now, if baptism is God’s work, then the Christian is boasting in the Lord and is doing right. Amen!

    …but if baptism is just man’s work, then the Christian is boasting in himself and his work of the law of God (or ordinance) has run afoul of more than a few passages of Scripture. Is our confidence in God and what He has done for us? Or is our confidence in ourselves and what we are doing to prove ourselves obedient and worthy? If baptism is man’s work of obdience, then one shouldn’t draw attention to it or rely on it for any kind of assurance… that would be pride and boasting in his deeds.

    “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” -Romans 3:27-28

    “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9

    “‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” -2 Corinthians 10:17-18

    “May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
    the tongue that makes great boasts,
    those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
    our lips are with us; who is master over us?” -Psalm 12:3-4

    “On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain.” -Zephaniah 3:11

    “You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.” -Romans 2:23

    “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” -Galatians 6:14

    • I agree wholeheartedly regarding not boasting in anything other than the cross of Christ. That is why I have so much problems with 1 Cor 1:10ff
      10 I appeal to you, brothers, [1] by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, β€œI follow Paul,” or β€œI follow Apollos,” or β€œI follow Cephas,” or β€œI follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

      Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
      18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

      β€œI will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
      and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

      20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

      Here Paul seems to equate the delivery of the cross via preaching the gospel, not with baptism. I’ve heard some say Paul was only saying he was glad he didnt baptize because the corinthians were somehow attributing bonus points as it were to the sacrament because of the prominence of the Christian adminsitering it. Sure I agree, but he still goes on to thank God he baptized few, and that God did not send him. Sure he was itinerate and set up elders to do the local church work, but he goes on to say he was not called to baptize but preach the gospel. It sounds as though the preaching of the cross IS the gospel, not baptism. He never said I am glad I never preached the gospel lest some boast in who declared the good news because faith comes by hearing and the hearing the word of Christ, the gospel.

  6. Pr. Wolfmueller,

    No matter what a Christian’s view of baptism is, he boasts in it and looks to it as a source of assurance and pride. No matter what you think is going on at a baptism, it is a public sign and a monumental moment in the life of the Christian which he will recall and derive strength of faith in times of trial and doubt. Even anabaptists bring up their baptisms when they talk about their personal testimonies. Now, if baptism is God’s work, then the Christian is boasting in the Lord and is doing right. Amen!

    …but if baptism is just man’s work, then the Christian is boasting in himself and his work of the law of God (or ordinance) has run afoul of more than a few passages of Scripture. Is our confidence in God and what He has done for us? Or is our confidence in ourselves and what we are doing to prove ourselves obedient and worthy? If baptism is man’s work of obdience, then one shouldn’t draw attention to it or rely on it for any kind of assurance… that would be pride and boasting in his deeds.

    “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” -Romans 3:27-28

    “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9

    “‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” -2 Corinthians 10:17-18

    “May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
    the tongue that makes great boasts,
    those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
    our lips are with us; who is master over us?” -Psalm 12:3-4

    “On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain.” -Zephaniah 3:11

    “You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.” -Romans 2:23

    “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” -Galatians 6:14

    • I agree wholeheartedly regarding not boasting in anything other than the cross of Christ. That is why I have so much problems with 1 Cor 1:10ff
      10 I appeal to you, brothers, [1] by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, β€œI follow Paul,” or β€œI follow Apollos,” or β€œI follow Cephas,” or β€œI follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

      Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
      18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

      β€œI will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
      and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

      20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

      Here Paul seems to equate the delivery of the cross via preaching the gospel, not with baptism. I’ve heard some say Paul was only saying he was glad he didnt baptize because the corinthians were somehow attributing bonus points as it were to the sacrament because of the prominence of the Christian adminsitering it. Sure I agree, but he still goes on to thank God he baptized few, and that God did not send him. Sure he was itinerate and set up elders to do the local church work, but he goes on to say he was not called to baptize but preach the gospel. It sounds as though the preaching of the cross IS the gospel, not baptism. He never said I am glad I never preached the gospel lest some boast in who declared the good news because faith comes by hearing and the hearing the word of Christ, the gospel.

  7. I’m a Texan, sir. And your brother in Christ. And I’m-a callin’ you out.

    “Saviour” is how it’s spelled in the King James Version — the standard for the majority of American Christian history and the translation used when the Faith and Message was first drafted. Strange that a Lutheran so concerned with historicity and tradition would miss that glaring fact.

    But it’s not strange for a Yankee like yourself to make fun of Texan accents. Ridicule our pronunciation of “Ga-wd” if you will, but you never hear us mocking anyone calling the Lord “Goad” or “Gad.” Your little routine reeks of the sectarianism St. Paul warns us against (Galatians 5:20), so with that in mind I would ask you to repent of this post. Even though your intent was humorous, you’re sowing the seed of dissention against both Southerners and Evangelicals, and I believe you should offer we Christians in the South and in Texas who also respect our Christian traditions (whether Evangelical, Mainline, or what have you) a MAJOR apology.

    Oh, and it takes THREE to baptize: The person making “an appeal of a good conscience toward God” (the baptismal candidate, a la I Peter 3:21), the baptist (the one baptizing — you know, like John the Baptist?), and the Holy Spirit. Otherwise we’d just wait until it rains. Don’t deny man’s role in this, please. Thank you.

    Waiting on that apology …

    • Andy,
      Thanks for jumping into the conversation.

      I need to make a couple of corrections. First, I’m no Yankee. I was born in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, Kerrville, the county seat of Kerr County. When I was 12 my family moved to Albuquerque. We even did our vicarage in Waco, TX. So, not a Yankee, but, in fact, a Texan. (I don’t know why I don’t have the accent. Both my parents to, my youngest brother does. Somehow it missed me.)

      Second, it would not be strange that a Texas Baptist preacher preached with a Texas accent; the oddity is that no matter where the preacher is from, stepping into the pulpit (or on to the stage, or whatever) and their voice is instantly transformed to a deep drawl. The guy could be from New York or Minnesota, and you could swear that he’s from Dallas.

      Third, while I’ve got no animosity towards Southerners, I intend to “sow the seed of dissension” with Evangelicals, or, as St Paul says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” (Romans 16:17) Evangelical’s doctrine is wrong, unbiblical.

      Fourth, it makes sense that the King James reads “Saviour”; it’s British.

      Thanks again, Andy, for jumping in here. I hope you stick around. I’ll put 1 Peter 3:21 on the list of verses to give a fuller treatment in the future. Blessed New Year!

      • Growing up in a Southern Baptist church since I was 3 days old, I will take issue with the Texas accent remark. There are some people who will try to fake an accent, but there are 43,669+ congregations that are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. I live in the Greater Cincinnati area on the KY side and every pastor there speaks with a Ohio-Midwestern accent. However, I agree with you that Southern Baptist theology is wrong concerning Baptism.

        • Joshua,

          What were you on days 1 and 2?

          And, I suppose my theory that a Southern Baptists is trained to preach with a Texas accent could be disproved fairly easily. You will need to provide the name of a Southern Baptists preacher (or congregation) with no Texas accent. I’ll find his website, listen to a sermon, and determine if the drawl-less-ness is sufficient to overrule my ridiculous assertion. If the evidence stands, I’ll gladly recant of my previous position.

          Thanks for jumping into the conversation, Joshua!

      • I don’t know if I’m replying to the right thing, but here is some links (unfortunately, Northern Kentucky Baptists within the SBC don’t know how to podcast, but I found one across the river): http://christthekingcincinnati.com/ (Christ the King Church: Cincinnati, OH; #http://sbc.net/churchsearch/church.asp?ID=2009090887). Note: This propagates Baptist theology. Although there is some good to Baptist theology, some of Baptist theology is Biblically in error.

        • Okay, I recant. This guy does not have a Texas accent; but he does have an Evangelical accent. Do you know what I’m talking about? Can you hear it? It’s a super-casual sort of thing.

          Apparently he didn’t do well in the “Preaching with a Texas Accent Class” that every Southern Baptist Preacher is required to take!

      • A former Texan who defected and became a Yankee, huh? (Just kidding — once a Texan, always a Texan!)

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply, brother, and I suppose if you consider Evangelicalism to be wrong and divisive then you have some standing to continue status quo without apologizing. But I would present the following points for further thought on how you engage the people of my particular appendage of the Body of Christ:

        1) Your indignation against Evangelicalism-as-heresy should be marked with sorrow and a sincere desire to see us come back to the fold — not with a mockery that seeks to rile up the flesh and engage in the same carnal warfare that Satan himself would use in his strategy-making sessions. At least, this is the example St. Paul set for us in his epistles. You didn’t see him making fun of “those wacky Corinthians,” did you? No, he was brought to tears and moved with great compassion. Texas Baptists are human, too.

        2) Evangelicalism is far from being heretical, as most Evangelicals are cooperative and are more than willing to share their pulpits, participate in multi-denominational missions outreaches, co-found non-denominational Bible colleges and seminaries, etc. You might even find a willingness to share an Easter sunrise service (or something) with the Evangelicals in your neighborhood … if you dared to ask. If the basic definition of heresy is to break off and form a new group, then Evangelicalism is reversing this trend and seeking Christian consensus on the fundamentals of our faith and in fulfilling the Great Commission. Who (all historical divisions and concurrent denominational developments aside) are putting up the walls of division today?

        3) Some Christian historians would argue that Christ’s Church is constantly in a mode of restoring itself to God’s ideal. If that’s the case, then one may argue that Evangelicalism is not a heresy but a march toward that same idea Luther had when he nailed the Theses to the Wittenburg Church (building)’s door. Perhaps the Evangelicals you mock today are indeed imperfect but partakers of that same revolutionary spirit the early Lutherans had.

        If everything I wrote is somehow stereotypical Evangelical thought, then please accept my apology for sounding cliche. I’m what you call “a layman,” and my thinking is often on the surface regarding a variety of issues. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that what I say doesn’t have some truth to it. And I ask you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to please consider being kinder toward us.

        • Andy,
          Thanks again for jumping in here.

          First, I think you’re mixing up heresy with “schismatic.” Heresy is a public embracing faith-destroying false-doctrine; schismatic is a breaking of fellowship for non-doctrinal reasons. (These are my loose definitions.)

          I would certainly never claim that Evangelicals are schismatic. Unlike their Fundamentalist fathers, Evangelicals are much looser on teaching, and, as you mentioned, much more willing to join with other confessions.

          But, I don’t think I ever accused Evangelicals of heresy (and looking quickly over this post, it seems confirmed). I accused them of being wrong, and specifically wrong about the doctrine of baptism.

          Second, regarding tone, this is difficult to tell. Reading, for example, Paul’s letter to the Galatians, or Elijah’s preaching, or our Lord’s own words to the false teachers of His day, we would be hard pressed to find an irenic attitude.

          Horsing around about Texas accents, though, should not be mistaken with horsing around with the Lord’s Word. The solution, here, is to read what the Lord says about baptism, and then ask if our church teaches the same thing.

          Finally, regarding the constant restoration of the church, you raise a very interesting topic, one that I’ll put on the list of “things to be discussed in the future.” But, for now, it is true that the church must be constantly called to repentance by the Lord’s Word. False teaching and false living are always being brought into the light of the Scriptures and there repented of. But, the Lord’s doctrine never changes. The church never has “new” understanding or insight. The Lord loved His people in previous generations to hold back His truth from them. (So there is no “growth in doctrine.”)

          Thanks again, Andy.
          PrBW

  8. I’m a Texan, sir. And your brother in Christ. And I’m-a callin’ you out.

    “Saviour” is how it’s spelled in the King James Version — the standard for the majority of American Christian history and the translation used when the Faith and Message was first drafted. Strange that a Lutheran so concerned with historicity and tradition would miss that glaring fact.

    But it’s not strange for a Yankee like yourself to make fun of Texan accents. Ridicule our pronunciation of “Ga-wd” if you will, but you never hear us mocking anyone calling the Lord “Goad” or “Gad.” Your little routine reeks of the sectarianism St. Paul warns us against (Galatians 5:20), so with that in mind I would ask you to repent of this post. Even though your intent was humorous, you’re sowing the seed of dissention against both Southerners and Evangelicals, and I believe you should offer we Christians in the South and in Texas who also respect our Christian traditions (whether Evangelical, Mainline, or what have you) a MAJOR apology.

    Oh, and it takes THREE to baptize: The person making “an appeal of a good conscience toward God” (the baptismal candidate, a la I Peter 3:21), the baptist (the one baptizing — you know, like John the Baptist?), and the Holy Spirit. Otherwise we’d just wait until it rains. Don’t deny man’s role in this, please. Thank you.

    Waiting on that apology …

    • Andy,
      Thanks for jumping into the conversation.

      I need to make a couple of corrections. First, I’m no Yankee. I was born in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, Kerrville, the county seat of Kerr County. When I was 12 my family moved to Albuquerque. We even did our vicarage in Waco, TX. So, not a Yankee, but, in fact, a Texan. (I don’t know why I don’t have the accent. Both my parents to, my youngest brother does. Somehow it missed me.)

      Second, it would not be strange that a Texas Baptist preacher preached with a Texas accent; the oddity is that no matter where the preacher is from, stepping into the pulpit (or on to the stage, or whatever) and their voice is instantly transformed to a deep drawl. The guy could be from New York or Minnesota, and you could swear that he’s from Dallas.

      Third, while I’ve got no animosity towards Southerners, I intend to “sow the seed of dissension” with Evangelicals, or, as St Paul says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” (Romans 16:17) Evangelical’s doctrine is wrong, unbiblical.

      Fourth, it makes sense that the King James reads “Saviour”; it’s British.

      Thanks again, Andy, for jumping in here. I hope you stick around. I’ll put 1 Peter 3:21 on the list of verses to give a fuller treatment in the future. Blessed New Year!

      • Growing up in a Southern Baptist church since I was 3 days old, I will take issue with the Texas accent remark. There are some people who will try to fake an accent, but there are 43,669+ congregations that are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. I live in the Greater Cincinnati area on the KY side and every pastor there speaks with a Ohio-Midwestern accent. However, I agree with you that Southern Baptist theology is wrong concerning Baptism.

        • Joshua,

          What were you on days 1 and 2?

          And, I suppose my theory that a Southern Baptists is trained to preach with a Texas accent could be disproved fairly easily. You will need to provide the name of a Southern Baptists preacher (or congregation) with no Texas accent. I’ll find his website, listen to a sermon, and determine if the drawl-less-ness is sufficient to overrule my ridiculous assertion. If the evidence stands, I’ll gladly recant of my previous position.

          Thanks for jumping into the conversation, Joshua!

      • I don’t know if I’m replying to the right thing, but here is some links (unfortunately, Northern Kentucky Baptists within the SBC don’t know how to podcast, but I found one across the river): http://christthekingcincinnati.com/ (Christ the King Church: Cincinnati, OH; #http://sbc.net/churchsearch/church.asp?ID=2009090887). Note: This propagates Baptist theology. Although there is some good to Baptist theology, some of Baptist theology is Biblically in error.

        • Okay, I recant. This guy does not have a Texas accent; but he does have an Evangelical accent. Do you know what I’m talking about? Can you hear it? It’s a super-casual sort of thing.

          Apparently he didn’t do well in the “Preaching with a Texas Accent Class” that every Southern Baptist Preacher is required to take!

      • A former Texan who defected and became a Yankee, huh? (Just kidding — once a Texan, always a Texan!)

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply, brother, and I suppose if you consider Evangelicalism to be wrong and divisive then you have some standing to continue status quo without apologizing. But I would present the following points for further thought on how you engage the people of my particular appendage of the Body of Christ:

        1) Your indignation against Evangelicalism-as-heresy should be marked with sorrow and a sincere desire to see us come back to the fold — not with a mockery that seeks to rile up the flesh and engage in the same carnal warfare that Satan himself would use in his strategy-making sessions. At least, this is the example St. Paul set for us in his epistles. You didn’t see him making fun of “those wacky Corinthians,” did you? No, he was brought to tears and moved with great compassion. Texas Baptists are human, too.

        2) Evangelicalism is far from being heretical, as most Evangelicals are cooperative and are more than willing to share their pulpits, participate in multi-denominational missions outreaches, co-found non-denominational Bible colleges and seminaries, etc. You might even find a willingness to share an Easter sunrise service (or something) with the Evangelicals in your neighborhood … if you dared to ask. If the basic definition of heresy is to break off and form a new group, then Evangelicalism is reversing this trend and seeking Christian consensus on the fundamentals of our faith and in fulfilling the Great Commission. Who (all historical divisions and concurrent denominational developments aside) are putting up the walls of division today?

        3) Some Christian historians would argue that Christ’s Church is constantly in a mode of restoring itself to God’s ideal. If that’s the case, then one may argue that Evangelicalism is not a heresy but a march toward that same idea Luther had when he nailed the Theses to the Wittenburg Church (building)’s door. Perhaps the Evangelicals you mock today are indeed imperfect but partakers of that same revolutionary spirit the early Lutherans had.

        If everything I wrote is somehow stereotypical Evangelical thought, then please accept my apology for sounding cliche. I’m what you call “a layman,” and my thinking is often on the surface regarding a variety of issues. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that what I say doesn’t have some truth to it. And I ask you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to please consider being kinder toward us.

        • Andy,
          Thanks again for jumping in here.

          First, I think you’re mixing up heresy with “schismatic.” Heresy is a public embracing faith-destroying false-doctrine; schismatic is a breaking of fellowship for non-doctrinal reasons. (These are my loose definitions.)

          I would certainly never claim that Evangelicals are schismatic. Unlike their Fundamentalist fathers, Evangelicals are much looser on teaching, and, as you mentioned, much more willing to join with other confessions.

          But, I don’t think I ever accused Evangelicals of heresy (and looking quickly over this post, it seems confirmed). I accused them of being wrong, and specifically wrong about the doctrine of baptism.

          Second, regarding tone, this is difficult to tell. Reading, for example, Paul’s letter to the Galatians, or Elijah’s preaching, or our Lord’s own words to the false teachers of His day, we would be hard pressed to find an irenic attitude.

          Horsing around about Texas accents, though, should not be mistaken with horsing around with the Lord’s Word. The solution, here, is to read what the Lord says about baptism, and then ask if our church teaches the same thing.

          Finally, regarding the constant restoration of the church, you raise a very interesting topic, one that I’ll put on the list of “things to be discussed in the future.” But, for now, it is true that the church must be constantly called to repentance by the Lord’s Word. False teaching and false living are always being brought into the light of the Scriptures and there repented of. But, the Lord’s doctrine never changes. The church never has “new” understanding or insight. The Lord loved His people in previous generations to hold back His truth from them. (So there is no “growth in doctrine.”)

          Thanks again, Andy.
          PrBW

  9. @ Andy– good example of how that thinking goes. I don’t know how many times I heard how I as Lutheran wasn’t really a Christian (or, if they know that I used to be a Baptist/neo-evangelical, how I lost my salvation); once I discuss the Scriptures and how infant baptism is appropriate or issues regarding Communion or the errors of decisional regeneration, then I’m told that we’re all Christians and that it doesn’t really matter and I should stop being divisive.
    Andy, you’ve summed up neo-evangelical thinking pretty well with your parody. What? You were serious? Oh…

  10. @ Andy– good example of how that thinking goes. I don’t know how many times I heard how I as Lutheran wasn’t really a Christian (or, if they know that I used to be a Baptist/neo-evangelical, how I lost my salvation); once I discuss the Scriptures and how infant baptism is appropriate or issues regarding Communion or the errors of decisional regeneration, then I’m told that we’re all Christians and that it doesn’t really matter and I should stop being divisive.
    Andy, you’ve summed up neo-evangelical thinking pretty well with your parody. What? You were serious? Oh…

  11. Since there is one baptism, which is it? The baptism of John to repentance? Or the baptism of Jesus with the Holy Spirit and fire? Or maybe washing with the water of the word means the transforming nature of the Gospel preached? If salvation is through baptism, what of Simon Magus? And where does this end? Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live…”. So, is crucifixion required for salvation as well? (Gal. 2:20)

    As for the “age of accountability” how about Ezekiel 16:4-14? A very nice passage that demonstrates the salvation process, including the age of accountability.

    As for the historic view, believers in consensual adult baptism have always been there alongside what became the Roman Catholic Church. Just because the Lutherans adopted most of the traditions of the RCC, does not make them any more historic. This battle has been raging since the first century, to claim historic precedent is, at the least, dishonest, and verging on intentionally misleading.

    I am glad to get a better understanding of the Lutheran position, but I had hoped for more.

    God bless and keep you,
    Leon

    • I’ll bite on the “age of accountability” in Ez. 16:4-14. Let’s see what the person is “accountable” for here:
      6″And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ 7 I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.

      So this person (who has not had the cord cut, remember) has been made to live by a word from outside himself, namely, “LIVE”! This person (Israel-believers) is made to flourish and grow and become tale and mature by this very same word. Further:

      8″When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became mine. 9Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. 10 I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. 11And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. 12And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.

      This same one, then, receives (note: receives) the following from the Lord in these verses:
      -A covering garment
      -A great promise (covenant)
      -A washing with water
      -An anointing of oil
      -Clothes of leather, silk, linen
      -Ornaments, bracelets, chains for the neck, ring for nose, crown for head
      -Food of honey, oil, and flour

      Finally, and most beautifully, the prophet says, “And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord GOD.”

      I would say these line up quite nicely with all of the gifts, including the life and salvation found in baptism, we receive from God through His Holy Word.

      Most Sincerely,
      Weslie Odom
      Former Southern Baptist, now Vicar for Concordia Theological Seminary

      • Hi Weslie,

        Thank you for the response. I am glad you saw the beauty of the passage. I really enjoy it.

        Verses 4 and 5 give a picture of us being born in sin. I am only adding that because you didn’t mention it above.

        While verse 9 could be taken to mean baptism, there are a couple of points that I think worth mentioning. First, in this picture, the woman has reached adolescence, thus indicating the passage of several years, at least. Second, the covenant was already made before she was washed.

        Once again, thank you for taking the time to address my post.

        God bless you,
        Leon Martin
        Just a servant

    • Leon,
      Thanks for your comment.
      It matters not to me which practice is older, only which is Biblical. The Bible teaches that baptism is the work of God. Baptists do not. That’s the interesting point to me.
      I’ll be posting more about baptism, but if you’re interested, here are a few more things I’ve written: http://www.hope-aurora.org/pages/BeliefsArticles (then scroll down to “BAPTISM”).
      Thanks again,
      PrBW

      • Thank you for the response. However, without answering which baptism it is that saves, I see no point in moving forward. It is important to know if we are discussing John’s baptism, or Christ’s. Depending on your answer, we can then discuss the scriptures, as they are different for each one.
        The fly in the ointment to salvation by baptism, remains the thief on the cross. Jesus was God, if water baptism was required, He could have made it rain and blessed it, to fulfill the requirement. I can’t seem to find a scripture saying there are exceptions to the requirements of salvation.
        I look forward to our discussion. You are the only one I have found that is willing to discuss all the scriptures. Most will not even post my questions, much less attempt to answer any of them. For that, I applaud your honesty.

        Thank you for your time,
        Leon
        (Texan and Southern Baptist)

        • Leon,
          I’ve just published an article that I wrote a few years back, looking at the two baptisms in the book of Acts. Take a look (http://wolfmueller.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/baptism-and-the-holy-spirit-in-the-book-of-acts/). I’m interested in your thoughts.

          Second, regarding the thief on the cross, he dies before our Lord Jesus instituted the baptism of all nations. Remember that Matthew 28:18-20 was spoken after our Lord’s resurrection. No one, under the Old Covenant, had the gift of baptism (at least until John the Baptist). And, make no mistake, salvation is possible apart from the gift of baptism. Baptism, like the preaching of the Gospel, like the distribution of the Lord’s Supper, is nothing other than the distribution of the forgiveness of sins.

          Thanks, as always, for the conversation.

      • I do have to say that your article is one of the best that I have read. Very informative. I am not convinced, but I think you have remained faithful to the doctrine you believe. You did present some points that I had never heard before.

        I think our differences start at total depravity. The Holy Spirit has to draw you to Christ. I taught a study on this subject recently that showed the similarities between unregenerate man and Satan. I find it interesting that, before sin entered the world, Satan and Eve were plotting the overthrow of God. I had never really considered that conversation prior to writing that study. My point is, God chooses who His elect will be. Not by baptism, or acts that we have done, but by His will. (Romans 9) Our depravity is such that, God Almighty looked down from heaven to find someone who was seeking Him, and could find none. Paul tells us later that this is still true. (Romans 3:10-12)
        If God has already decided who to draw, nothing is required other than our acceptance. It is like a man dying of thirst sitting down at a table with a glass of cool water on it. It is there, offered, but he still has to drink it to live. Looking at it does no good, thinking about it, even less.
        It is the acceptance of the fact that he cannot do it without that water. He can try all he wants, but unless he drinks, he will die. Now, if after he drinks, he decides to refill the glass out of gratitude, that is great. But if he doesn’t, he will still live.
        Anyway, I have enjoyed our discussion. We may not agree, but I respect your right to your opinion. May God continue to bless you, and others through you.

        Leon

        • Thanks, Leon. I’m not sure total depravity is the point of our leave-taking, but that our biggest difference rests on the so-called “means of grace”, namely that the Lord uses means to call and convert totally depraved men. So we have Romans 8 before Romans 9, “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” So we find proof of election in our call, that is, in our hearing the Gospel. And, more, we know that faith in the Gospel is itself a gift (Ephesians 2:8).

          This whole conversation is sliding toward that deadly question “Why are some saved and not others?” The temptation is to find the difference in God (ala Calvinism) or in man (ala Arninianism), but both are wrong. We have this great mystery that salvation is completely the work of man, and damnation is completely our own fault.

      • Ahh yes. That all important question. But, can we truly know the answer? Salvation is all of God, and none of me. So the reasons are beyond my scope of understanding. I can guess, but that is all it would be, a guess.

        Being Baptist, it might surprise you that I am not a Calvinist. I think he got much of it right, but even that has been distorted into something he never intended. I think the bible is clear that we have choices that we make outside of God’s urgings. He will let us know which way we should go, but we can rebel against Him.

        I have a great friend who is a Lutheran, and we have debated our differences many times. I do find it encouraging that we agree on most doctrines. I have enjoyed our conversation. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I will listen for you on Issues, etc.

        Leon

  12. Since there is one baptism, which is it? The baptism of John to repentance? Or the baptism of Jesus with the Holy Spirit and fire? Or maybe washing with the water of the word means the transforming nature of the Gospel preached? If salvation is through baptism, what of Simon Magus? And where does this end? Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live…”. So, is crucifixion required for salvation as well? (Gal. 2:20)

    As for the “age of accountability” how about Ezekiel 16:4-14? A very nice passage that demonstrates the salvation process, including the age of accountability.

    As for the historic view, believers in consensual adult baptism have always been there alongside what became the Roman Catholic Church. Just because the Lutherans adopted most of the traditions of the RCC, does not make them any more historic. This battle has been raging since the first century, to claim historic precedent is, at the least, dishonest, and verging on intentionally misleading.

    I am glad to get a better understanding of the Lutheran position, but I had hoped for more.

    God bless and keep you,
    Leon

    • I’ll bite on the “age of accountability” in Ez. 16:4-14. Let’s see what the person is “accountable” for here:
      6″And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ 7 I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.

      So this person (who has not had the cord cut, remember) has been made to live by a word from outside himself, namely, “LIVE”! This person (Israel-believers) is made to flourish and grow and become tale and mature by this very same word. Further:

      8″When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became mine. 9Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. 10 I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. 11And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. 12And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.

      This same one, then, receives (note: receives) the following from the Lord in these verses:
      -A covering garment
      -A great promise (covenant)
      -A washing with water
      -An anointing of oil
      -Clothes of leather, silk, linen
      -Ornaments, bracelets, chains for the neck, ring for nose, crown for head
      -Food of honey, oil, and flour

      Finally, and most beautifully, the prophet says, “And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord GOD.”

      I would say these line up quite nicely with all of the gifts, including the life and salvation found in baptism, we receive from God through His Holy Word.

      Most Sincerely,
      Weslie Odom
      Former Southern Baptist, now Vicar for Concordia Theological Seminary

      • Hi Weslie,

        Thank you for the response. I am glad you saw the beauty of the passage. I really enjoy it.

        Verses 4 and 5 give a picture of us being born in sin. I am only adding that because you didn’t mention it above.

        While verse 9 could be taken to mean baptism, there are a couple of points that I think worth mentioning. First, in this picture, the woman has reached adolescence, thus indicating the passage of several years, at least. Second, the covenant was already made before she was washed.

        Once again, thank you for taking the time to address my post.

        God bless you,
        Leon Martin
        Just a servant

    • Leon,
      Thanks for your comment.
      It matters not to me which practice is older, only which is Biblical. The Bible teaches that baptism is the work of God. Baptists do not. That’s the interesting point to me.
      I’ll be posting more about baptism, but if you’re interested, here are a few more things I’ve written: http://www.hope-aurora.org/pages/BeliefsArticles (then scroll down to “BAPTISM”).
      Thanks again,
      PrBW

      • Thank you for the response. However, without answering which baptism it is that saves, I see no point in moving forward. It is important to know if we are discussing John’s baptism, or Christ’s. Depending on your answer, we can then discuss the scriptures, as they are different for each one.
        The fly in the ointment to salvation by baptism, remains the thief on the cross. Jesus was God, if water baptism was required, He could have made it rain and blessed it, to fulfill the requirement. I can’t seem to find a scripture saying there are exceptions to the requirements of salvation.
        I look forward to our discussion. You are the only one I have found that is willing to discuss all the scriptures. Most will not even post my questions, much less attempt to answer any of them. For that, I applaud your honesty.

        Thank you for your time,
        Leon
        (Texan and Southern Baptist)

        • Leon,
          I’ve just published an article that I wrote a few years back, looking at the two baptisms in the book of Acts. Take a look (http://wolfmueller.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/baptism-and-the-holy-spirit-in-the-book-of-acts/). I’m interested in your thoughts.

          Second, regarding the thief on the cross, he dies before our Lord Jesus instituted the baptism of all nations. Remember that Matthew 28:18-20 was spoken after our Lord’s resurrection. No one, under the Old Covenant, had the gift of baptism (at least until John the Baptist). And, make no mistake, salvation is possible apart from the gift of baptism. Baptism, like the preaching of the Gospel, like the distribution of the Lord’s Supper, is nothing other than the distribution of the forgiveness of sins.

          Thanks, as always, for the conversation.

      • I do have to say that your article is one of the best that I have read. Very informative. I am not convinced, but I think you have remained faithful to the doctrine you believe. You did present some points that I had never heard before.

        I think our differences start at total depravity. The Holy Spirit has to draw you to Christ. I taught a study on this subject recently that showed the similarities between unregenerate man and Satan. I find it interesting that, before sin entered the world, Satan and Eve were plotting the overthrow of God. I had never really considered that conversation prior to writing that study. My point is, God chooses who His elect will be. Not by baptism, or acts that we have done, but by His will. (Romans 9) Our depravity is such that, God Almighty looked down from heaven to find someone who was seeking Him, and could find none. Paul tells us later that this is still true. (Romans 3:10-12)
        If God has already decided who to draw, nothing is required other than our acceptance. It is like a man dying of thirst sitting down at a table with a glass of cool water on it. It is there, offered, but he still has to drink it to live. Looking at it does no good, thinking about it, even less.
        It is the acceptance of the fact that he cannot do it without that water. He can try all he wants, but unless he drinks, he will die. Now, if after he drinks, he decides to refill the glass out of gratitude, that is great. But if he doesn’t, he will still live.
        Anyway, I have enjoyed our discussion. We may not agree, but I respect your right to your opinion. May God continue to bless you, and others through you.

        Leon

        • Thanks, Leon. I’m not sure total depravity is the point of our leave-taking, but that our biggest difference rests on the so-called “means of grace”, namely that the Lord uses means to call and convert totally depraved men. So we have Romans 8 before Romans 9, “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” So we find proof of election in our call, that is, in our hearing the Gospel. And, more, we know that faith in the Gospel is itself a gift (Ephesians 2:8).

          This whole conversation is sliding toward that deadly question “Why are some saved and not others?” The temptation is to find the difference in God (ala Calvinism) or in man (ala Arninianism), but both are wrong. We have this great mystery that salvation is completely the work of man, and damnation is completely our own fault.

      • Ahh yes. That all important question. But, can we truly know the answer? Salvation is all of God, and none of me. So the reasons are beyond my scope of understanding. I can guess, but that is all it would be, a guess.

        Being Baptist, it might surprise you that I am not a Calvinist. I think he got much of it right, but even that has been distorted into something he never intended. I think the bible is clear that we have choices that we make outside of God’s urgings. He will let us know which way we should go, but we can rebel against Him.

        I have a great friend who is a Lutheran, and we have debated our differences many times. I do find it encouraging that we agree on most doctrines. I have enjoyed our conversation. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I will listen for you on Issues, etc.

        Leon

  13. Rock on, Bryan. Great connection between Bapti-Evangelical baptismal theology and their musical liturgical practice. Now if we can only get more Lutherans to appreciate and take joy in the external magnification of the Word of God through the art of music rather than seeking songs and sounds that “move them”!

    It really is an internal vs. external thing. Thanks for hitting the nail on the head.

    • Does God save every single believers child when they are baptized? Salvation is also called eternal life. Lutherans also stress monergism is say it is exhibited all the more in paedobaptism. Granted. If it is eternal wouldnt it mean it is eternal and not temporal.I mean if all these baptized children of believers were saved but then fell away is it really eternal and monergistic? If decision theology to “receive” salvation is unbiblical, isnt tacking on “Decision apostasy” just as errant? Salvation isnt just the giving of the gift but it is gift encompassing Gods monergism in the past, present, and future. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If salvation is monergistically given at baptism and then the “simul justus et peccator” prone to wander christian is left with the responsibility to continue to hopefully not apostasize is a frightening thought. I know myself how wicked and sinful I am and my only comfort isnt in my synergistic cooperation to “retain” the gift, but to rest in Gods promise of monergism from start to finish-“He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it” A little off topic but the monergism claimed at the beginning doesnt seem so monergistic.

      • Mike,

        Lutherans do not teach “irresistible grace.” Because of this, the Calvinist will insist that Lutherans deny monergism. But the Calvinists, about this anyhow, are wrong.

        When God acts according to the law He is irresistible. When God acts to save us, that is, when He acts according to the Gospel, He is always resistible. God’s grace and promises are always resistible, in baptism, in the Gospel, in the Word of God, even when Jesus comes in the flesh to save us.

        Is this helpful?
        Thanks.

  14. Rock on, Bryan. Great connection between Bapti-Evangelical baptismal theology and their musical liturgical practice. Now if we can only get more Lutherans to appreciate and take joy in the external magnification of the Word of God through the art of music rather than seeking songs and sounds that “move them”!

    It really is an internal vs. external thing. Thanks for hitting the nail on the head.

    • Does God save every single believers child when they are baptized? Salvation is also called eternal life. Lutherans also stress monergism is say it is exhibited all the more in paedobaptism. Granted. If it is eternal wouldnt it mean it is eternal and not temporal.I mean if all these baptized children of believers were saved but then fell away is it really eternal and monergistic? If decision theology to “receive” salvation is unbiblical, isnt tacking on “Decision apostasy” just as errant? Salvation isnt just the giving of the gift but it is gift encompassing Gods monergism in the past, present, and future. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If salvation is monergistically given at baptism and then the “simul justus et peccator” prone to wander christian is left with the responsibility to continue to hopefully not apostasize is a frightening thought. I know myself how wicked and sinful I am and my only comfort isnt in my synergistic cooperation to “retain” the gift, but to rest in Gods promise of monergism from start to finish-“He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it” A little off topic but the monergism claimed at the beginning doesnt seem so monergistic.

      • Mike,

        Lutherans do not teach “irresistible grace.” Because of this, the Calvinist will insist that Lutherans deny monergism. But the Calvinists, about this anyhow, are wrong.

        When God acts according to the law He is irresistible. When God acts to save us, that is, when He acts according to the Gospel, He is always resistible. God’s grace and promises are always resistible, in baptism, in the Gospel, in the Word of God, even when Jesus comes in the flesh to save us.

        Is this helpful?
        Thanks.

  15. Mike"THE unpardonable

    January 20, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Bryan,
    I do understand that. I guess knowing how unfaithful I can be and how I sin, if the whole continuing thing is left to me, and how faithfully I receive the means of grace it doesnt seem like a great future. The whole reason I am a christian is because I am a whacked out unreliable sinner,coram deo.
    SO on an unrelated note do Lutherans teach you apostasize by commiting sin or by

  16. Mike"THE unpardonable

    January 20, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Bryan,
    I do understand that. I guess knowing how unfaithful I can be and how I sin, if the whole continuing thing is left to me, and how faithfully I receive the means of grace it doesnt seem like a great future. The whole reason I am a christian is because I am a whacked out unreliable sinner,coram deo.
    SO on an unrelated note do Lutherans teach you apostasize by commiting sin or by

  17. Mike"THE unpardonable

    January 20, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    sorry, my post was interrupted. Do we lose our salvation by falling into moral lapses of sin, or by the unpardonable sim of outright rejecting Christ and his cross?

  18. Mike"THE unpardonable

    January 20, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    sorry, my post was interrupted. Do we lose our salvation by falling into moral lapses of sin, or by the unpardonable sim of outright rejecting Christ and his cross?

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