Dec 272012
 

imagesI get emails…

“I don’t know what you believe anymore”.

I used to upset folks because I was a a Calvinist, now the Calvinists think I’m not Calvinistic enough.

I don’t fully subscribe to any groups doctrinal statement …though I wish I could for the sake of company and companionship.

On the other hand, I treasure the freedom to learn from and commune with any who will have me at their table.

At this point in my journey this is the best I can do.

I believe in justification by faith through grace alone.

I also believe God willingly saves and loves those whose confessions call that doctrine a damnable heresy.

I am equally convinced of both propositions.

I’m not really a five point Calvinist.

Calvin would have despised having his thought and theology boiled down to five points without nuance or qualification…and so do I.

I believe that God is spiritually present in the elements of communion and that those elements are a means of grace…a sacrament .

It’s ok with me if you don’t, but I think you’re missing something wondrous….but, you’ll get home anyway.

I believe in the pre-wrath rapture of the church.

However, the amills have a lot of truth we need to hear…and I’m more worried about His work, than His itinerary.

The kingdom has come, though not in it’s fullness.

I still believe that Calvin and Packer are the last word in theology.

However, N.T. Wright, some liberals and some pagans have taught me a lot in the last two years.

I believe the Bible is true…the Word of God.

I’m just not sure I know what those terms mean anymore…

I believe in the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement.

But that isn’t all that Christ accomplished on the cross.

I believe God created the heavens and the earth and all that dwells in them.

How He did that and how long it took is beyond me.  He spoke, it happened, I’m done.

I believe in a historical Adam and Eve.

Jesus did, so who am I to argue?

I’m pretty theologically conservative.

But “liberals” like Brueggemann, Berry, and Buechner have opened up visions of God for me that doctrinal propositions alone cannot give.

I believe in the historic creeds and confessions of the church as the test for orthodoxy.

Much of the rest is like God’s buffet table…He’s too big to be contained in one set of propositions.

I believe in mystery.

I know much less than I used to…and I’m ok with that. Some things don’t have answers on this side.

I believe in unity.

We can disagree without damning each other.

I want to be right, but I’m not afraid to be wrong…let’s talk.

I believe in the birth, death, resurrection, ascension, and future return of Christ.

Completely and without reservation.

 

Now you know what I believe…

 

  85 Responses to “What I Believe”

  1. I don’t know what this says about me, but I believe everything you just wrote, having reached much of these conclusions thru my journey of one step forward, two steps back. You have an uncanny abibilty to clearly articulate spiritual insights, and I have grown so much because of your musings on this blog–never stop!

  2. yep, what catherine said … i pretty much agree with those thoughts here, too

  3. I see that I grow ever closer to my friend in confession

  4. “I believe in justification by faith through grace alone.” AMEN. take that Stellman! 🙂

    “I’m not really a five point Calvinist.” FOUR points here, but maybe three… 😉

    “I believe that God is spiritually present in the elements of communion and that those elements are a means of grace…a sacrament.” There’s more to it than meets the eye, no doubt.

    “I believe in the pre-wrath rapture of the church.” Me as well.
    “However, the amills have a lot of truth we need to hear…and I’m more worried about His work, than His itinerary.” Love this! 🙂

    “I still believe that Calvin and Packer are the last word in theology.” mmmmmmm…..Cum Si, cum saw.

    “I believe the Bible is true…the Word of God.” YES AND AMEN. What else is there really? If you don’t believe this, then good luck….

    “I believe in the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement. But that isn’t all that Christ accomplished on the cross.” AMEN. I may still have the lilst of 15 things accomplished by Jesus’ deeath on the cross somewhere….I’m sure there’s more. 😉

    “I believe God created the heavens and the earth and all that dwells in them. I believe in a historical Adam and Eve.”

    “I’m pretty theologically conservative.” Not far away from there either.
    “I believe in the historic creeds and confessions of the church as the test for orthodoxy.” I’m so glad you said this. not that I had any doubts about you, but I do think we overlook creeds at the expense of being “cool”.

    “Much of the rest is like God’s buffet table…He’s too big to be contained in one set of propositions.
    I believe in mystery.
    I believe in unity.
    I believe in the birth, death, resurrection, ascension, and future return of Christ.”

    ((embrace))

    I believe that we cannot set down our theology in bullet points and expect that even then people will understand the reasons behind each statement. We believe in a God incarnate who took our sin upon Himself(!) so that we might live together with Him! Amazing!

  5. I’m soooo glad you wrote this!!!

    I really don’t know what I am any more(I know I’m a Christian, that much I’m sure of).

    I think I’m a Lutheran right up to the point of Baptismal Regeneration which might make me not even close to a Lutheran :).

    Yet I also hold many Calvinistic views as well.

    I think I was born a few centuries late 🙂 but then I would have missed skateboards, so…..

  6. Thank’s Michael.

    I’ve just finished reading “Mere Churchianity” again. Between this thread and that book, I’ve been given much to think about.

    I haven’t been to church in a couple of months. Certain leaders badly hurt my wife’s feelings. During my hiatus, I haven’t been contacted by any of my “friends.”

    One of the sad aspects of this is that if I were to discuss my concerns with a pastor, I would be told a series of trite phrases – “you must be in sin,” “we know what’s best,” and then summarily brushed aside. “Nothing to see here, move along.” I guess this is what the “left foot of dis-fellowship” feels like.

    It’s a difficult time. I just need prayer for me and my family. Where do we fit?

    Again, thank you, Michael, for your thought provoking perspective.

  7. So blessed by this post. Every word of it. Thank you!!

  8. Patrick, you and I are in a similar place. I’m calling myself a Calvinist-Lutheran anymore if there can be such a thing.

    Studying Lutheran theology the most lately, I think I’m beginning to understand that the topic of baptismal regeneration is much like that of communion with different teachers or church bodies within the same denomination having different perspectives just like it is in pretty much every other denomination that has been around for awhile.

    I love the new perspective I’m developing of baptism compared to what I’ve been taught about the subject in evangelical circles. I thought infant baptism would be the most difficult thing for me to understand but now I believe it to be one of the most perfect and beautiful pictures of our justification in Christ I have ever known. Infant baptism has now become for me a sacrament that teaches more about the sovereignty of God and theology of the cross than any other word or study ever could and these subjects fill me with joy.

    Michael’s wisdom in this post is as solid as it gets. Filtering what we learn through our creeds and confessions while remaining open to learning other perspectives is one of the most wonderful freedoms we could ever have in Christ Jesus.

  9. I like Packer, but then again, I like Stott, M. Lloyd- Jones. N.T. Wright (even when he is wrong), and C. Wright (another Anglican), and Hunter. Could become an Anglican, except some of their views on baptism and a common cup…. its not happening. But then again, I like MacArthur.

    I can’t resist, so here it goes.
    I don’t see what difference the “spiritual presence” in the bread and cup make. God’s spiritual presence is with us all the time and in all things. Why the distinction? Same with the ideal of sacraments. My next breath is due to God’s grace. In a very real sense, I got all the grace I needed when I said yes to Jesus, or if you prefer, I got all the grace I needed before the foundation of the world ……. why should I need to take communion or participate in some othe sacrament to “get” more grace? Is it like a filling station? The ideal of election and sacramental grace seem contradictory to me. The early church did place great emphasis on the Lord’s Supper, but I don’t see it being practiced in a sacramental sense.

    I believe that snowbirding is actually starting to make more sense. This is the second winter in a row that I found myself wishing I did so…….and its only December. Maybe I’ll mvoe to a place that the winters are much milder, like New Mexico… but I suspect it not the time…

  10. Great post Michael. Looks like God is leading us all towards the same Truth!

  11. Ixtlan,
    I understand why “spiritual” presence leaves you cold – it does the same for me. I believe in the real presence bodily in the bread and the wine.

    But when you ask about participation in the sacraments, as you see no gain, may I ask what you get out of reading the word or listening to the preached word? Is anything delivered to you through those 2 or are they just an exercise that you can accept?

  12. MLD – Do you think “real” and “spiritual” are opposites?

  13. CrucifiED,
    You have the baptism thing just right – it’s about God, not the infant. Where else do we see the sovereignty of God in salvation, than God working alone with a baby that is helplessly brought into God’s kingdom.

    The term baptism regeneration, although accurate, has become a pejorative kind of work. It’s not the “act” of baptism itself that saves – it’s not just dunking kids in water – but it is God delivering salvation through the water and his word.

  14. Josh – no, and that is why I made the clarification. Bodily is different than spiritual.
    The reformed believe in the real presence also – just spiritual, and not bodily.

    So, you have these 3 options when it comes to the element
    1.) There is nothing there with the bread and wine (probably your position)
    2.) God’s spirit is joined with the bread and wine. The way that is best described is that during communion your spirit is joined with Christ’s spirit in heaven during communion.(I probably butchered Michael’s position a little.
    3.) The body and blood of Jesus Christ is in, with and under the bread and wine at communion (the “this is my body” stuff)

  15. Itlxlan,

    “The early church did place great emphasis on the Lord’s Supper, but I don’t see it being practiced in a sacramental sense.”

    Seriously? You couldn’t be more wrong.

    Of course the Early Church practiced the Eucharist as a sacrament and as a mystery. At the point in their Divine Service where they would receive the Lord’s Supper, anyone who had not been catechized was shown the door.Read some of the documents of that era and it’s easy to discern that they believed in the Real Presence of Christ’s body and blood.

    As just one example, Ignatius of Antioch called the Eucharist the “medicine of immortality.”

  16. Here’s an article I found from of all sources, an Adventist publication.

    Money quote:

    “In the earliest Christian centuries, extremely respectful treatment was shown toward the bread and wine, which many denominations regard as the body and blood of Christ. The reason for this reverence appears in Justin, a Christian writer in the mid-second century who was later martyred for the Faith:

    “Not as common bread and common drink do we receive these. . .we have been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.”

    Half a century earlier another martyr, Bishop Ignatius of Antioch, described the Eucharist as “the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying but which causes that we should live forever in Jesus Christ.” This was not the better-known Ignatius Loyola but his namesake fifteen centuries earlier, who legend has it was the little child whom Jesus said we must be like in order to see the kingdom of heaven.

    http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2677

  17. @14 – No, I believe God is real and everywhere. He doesn’t disappear when the elements of communion…but bread and wine are not His temple. He lives somewhere else, He has a body.

    @15 – You are correct, but the one thing that shocked me about the early church was how far they went off the rails, and how quickly.

  18. David Said:

    “I haven’t been to church in a couple of months. Certain leaders badly hurt my wife’s feelings. During my hiatus, I haven’t been contacted by any of my “friends.”

    David,

    The church is not a building but the Ekklesia ‘called out ones”, where two or more are gathered. I haven’t been to an institutional church in two years but guess what I haven’t left the Church because I am the Church. When me and my friend meet at Denny’s for bible study and fellowship or at either one of our houses for bible study, worship , fellowship and communion we are having Church. There are no more temples as we are the Temple of God.

  19. MLD,

    You missed the 4th option — the Roman Catholic view, that the body and blood become Christ’s body and blood.

  20. MLD:

    “CrucifiED,
    You have the baptism thing just right – it’s about God, not the infant. Where else do we see the sovereignty of God in salvation, than God working alone with a baby that is helplessly brought into God’s kingdom.

    The term baptism regeneration, although accurate, has become a pejorative kind of work. It’s not the “act” of baptism itself that saves – it’s not just dunking kids in water – but it is God delivering salvation through the water and his word.”

    Romans 6;3-6- “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”

    Tell me how any of this can make sense to a baby. Infant Baptism is not biblical point blank. You can go ahead and do it but threre is no point, each person must make his own decision in uniting with Christ in his Death and Resurrection. An infant can never make a decision like that.

  21. Sol ROd: Honest question in reaction to your comment:
    “An infant can never make a decision like that”

    Then do all babies who die go to Hell?

  22. Gee. Seems to me that if babies can’t come into Christ’s Kingdom…

    Then I guess they go to hell.

  23. SolRod,
    I am unclear – which part of that Romans 6 passage are you saying that God cannot apply to an infant?

  24. Yet we are told in the gospel, that you can only come into the kingdom if you have the faith like a baby? If a baby can have no faith, then is anyone here making the case that the way to come into God’s kingdom is to have no faith?

  25. Except wait…maybe there’s an escape hatch.

    You know…the “Age of Accountability.” Children get a “free pass”.

    Except…if you’ve ever raised a child, you know from experience that they’re little sinners.

    Much more important is God’s Word. It nowhere says infants get a free pass. In fact, just the opposite.

    Ezek 18:20 The soul that sins shall die

    Rom. 5:12 Sin spread to ALL men

    Ps. 51:5 In sin did my mother conceive me (pretty clear)

    James 4:17 For whoever knows the right thing to do and fails, it is sin.

    Etc. Etc.

  26. Except wait…maybe there’s an escape hatch.

    You know…the “Age of Accountability.” Children get a “free pass until they can intellectually mull over the Gospel.

    Except…if you’ve ever raised a child, you know from experience that they’re little sinners.

    Much more important is God’s Word. It nowhere says infants get a free pass. In fact, just the opposite.

    Ezek 18:20 The soul that sins shall die

    Rom. 5:12 Sin spread to ALL men

    Ps. 51:5 In sin did my mother conceive me (pretty clear)

    James 4:17 For whoever knows the right thing to do and fails, it is sin.

    Etc. Etc.

  27. “Then do all babies who die go to Hell?”

    Of course not but Infant Baptism is clearly not biblical, it’s something that is made after a decision to believe.

  28. Baptism and communion service, of the two, i believe that the taking of communion is the more essential and both are for the benefit of the mortal component of the Church – baptism expresses humility and obedience, but in and of itself has no saving properties, but is an outward expression of many truths of regeneration – was most definitely regenerated months before the Presbyterian Church had instructed and found me worthy of sprinkling and membership in the denomination … baptism, while not salvific, should not be shunned, IMV it is an act of submission that portrays the reality of the new birth
    SO, can it be applied vicariously to an infant? i would see that in two aspects: the parent who does so thinking that they’ve locked their child into the Kingdom come hell or high water has short-changed the child … and God, too, perhaps … on the other hand, can the child grow to understand what the intentions of the application were on the part of their parents and their church? perhaps their affirmation of that long previous act will be acceptable as obedience … perhaps – dunno … if i had been sprinkled or soaked as a newborn, i would not be content to let that stand as my obedience to a very humbling affirmation of following Christ (raised to walk in newness of life)
    Communion table carries some very heavy weight of accountability and needs to be presented as a serious transaction involving the horizontal function of the members of the Body every bit as much as the spiritual – what it cost our Lord to provide LIFE and what our duty is to the resulting precious Body … 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 is about much more than table manners, i think … but is there any sort of transubstantiation going on? since i don’t see that standing out at all clearly in Scripture, God knows – i don’t

    just FWIW and i speak experientially, not theologically – not doctrinally, but not exactly purely human viewpoint either

  29. “Then do all babies who die go to Hell?”

    Of course not’

    Then show from God’s Word if you want anyone to believe your point of view.

  30. I even think the whole baby dedication thing is uneccesary as well. The whole thing feels like a Lion King movie where you hold up the baby like Simba

  31. SolRod,Can you show me a passage in the Bible that forbids babies being baptized. Are they not a part of “go into all the world”? are they not part of “all generations”?

    Whatever you give me, I will turn on you and say that we have no command nor example to allow women to the Lord’s Table.

  32. If a child dies before he can hear, understand and respond to the gospel(assuming that its been preached to him/her), that child goes to hell?

    If thats true, then how can the gospel be good news to the mourning parent? Sounds like cold comfort or one of Job’s friends.

  33. I’m obviously not for infant baptism, but I also don’t think baptism is necessary for salvation.

  34. Mt 18:14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

    Mark 10:14 Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

    Children are His. Baptism or no baptism. When that “age” of accountability is, I don’t know. But I do know that that the little ones belong to Jesus.

  35. the small child consigned to hell is antithetical to what i’ve discovered of God, but then i also am convinced that God only holds us accountable for what we do with what we know – accountable is the operative word IMHO … for the destiny of the unreached of the world there is much to ponder in Romans 1 … baby or adult, are all those who never hear the Gospel of Redemption, who are never told of the purpose of the incarnation lost? for my part an honest, humble heart seeking after God will not be condemned by Him as that makes no sense … dunno – God knows

  36. I remember hearing a story about Helen Keller ( deaf and blind from 18 months and then learns to “hear and speak” through touch) When she was given the gospel for the first time, she said, something to the effect of, ” I never knew His name until now, but I always knew He was there.”

  37. I know this sounds harsh to our modern day ears, but… are we not separated from God because of who we are and not because of what we have done?
    Didn’t Jesus say in John 3 that he did not come to condemn the world, because we are already condemned.

    The problem with the Age of Accountability is that we do not find it in the NT.

  38. Right on all accounts @ 36, MLD.

  39. MLD, you have always said that it is what God has done, not man. So even if a “parent” has not brought a baby to God for baptism, then is God limited and not able to save that baby…that “little one,” who Jesus says to let them come to Him?
    I agree that the term “age of accountability” is not in the Bible, but I believe that is the term that we mere humans have come up with to try and describe the grace of God in a “little one’s” life.

  40. @15

    What I meant was I don’t see any clear, definitive statements that taking the bread and cup are a means of grace in early church writings. No doubt, a strong emphasis, but the reason for that emphasis is not altogether clear.

    Some of the language used by Ignatius has gnostic influence and embellishments. In his letter to the Ephesians (20:2) he tells them to “… break one loaf, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote which wards off death but yields continuous life in union with Jesus Christ”.

    (No mention of the cup BTW…..)

    What this means is not exactly clear. So I would not consider this a good example of the belief that grace is received through taking of communion, or if you will, the Eucharist. While Ignatius refuted Gnosticism, he used few phrases and ideals that were more in line with Hellenistic religion that would be alien from Biblical thought. The phrase “medicine of immortality” would be an example of such. What he is talking about is not clear, and he is using a Hellenistic construct to describe.

    What I find interesting is that the next sentence (21:1) Ignatius says “I am giving my life for you and for those whom you, to God’s honor, sent me to Smyrna.” I found that a bit odd in concept, but somewhat consistent with his other vague expressions, although not without consideration of a man being transported to Rome to be executed.

    As Josh mentioned, some of the early church got off track quite quickly….. although no doubt in various degrees…. kinda like today.

    Would like to chat more on this, but I’ve got to run…….

  41. “The problem with the Age of Accountability is that we do not find it in the NT.”

    Nor do we find the practice of infant baptism.

    “I believe in mystery.

    I know much less than I used to…and I’m ok with that. Some things don’t have answers on this side.”

    I am OK with not knowing for sure if a child is in heaven without knowing if they “made a decision.”

    That’s where I have to fall back on what I know of God and go with from there. But I have to believe that God is Good and Righteous and Holy.

    If I am talking with grieving parents, I will tell thme this and that there is the hope of heaven for them and their child.

  42. Ixtlan
    “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

    Forget the Fathers – I don’t know how you can get more sacramental with the delivery of forgiveness than Jesus’ own words who says that if you eat the bread and drink the wine, you have forgiveness of sin.

  43. I could be wrong but I don’t think anyone ever said that babies (whether baptized or not) go to hell

  44. Wonderfully thought-provoking “What I Believe.”

    Another definition of “mystery” is “any truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation.”

    The direction of your theological migration however is troubling. If the trend continues, in 2-3 years you will be living the bliss and toking the Ghost.

  45. Paps,
    “Nor do we find the practice of infant baptism.”

    The fact that they are not excluded should speak volumes. Reread my #30 and tell me how babies are excluded from that list.

    Also, as I said earlier, we have no command, nor do we have any examples of women being allowed to participate at the Lord’s Table. Why would you sanction this practice from silence.

  46. “SolRod,Can you show me a passage in the Bible that forbids babies being baptized. Are they not a part of “go into all the world”? are they not part of “all generations”?”

    So tell me how an infant can even begin to understand Romas 6:3-6?

  47. So did the children that Jesus bless understand Romans 6:3-6?

  48. SolRod, I don’t know that I fully understand that passage and how it actually works – and i do know this, I understood it even less when I was baptized 30 some years ago. Why can’t an infant “walk in newness of life.”? (besides the fact that he can’t walk)

    But let me ask you this – what about adult Christians who are not baptized? you seem to agree with my position that they are not “buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,”

    Also, are you saying that the unbaptized adult is not clothed with Christ? Gal 3.

  49. This is from a friend. I like to trot it out when I get into discussion about my part and God’s part in salvation – here it goes.

    “I have this instruction manual about how to get saved when drowning… It includes some principles of pleading, splashing and giving your heart to the life guard, because the life guard WANTS to save you, but you have to pray the drowners prayer before he’ll save you. It’s in the book I tell you…” 🙂

  50. “But let me ask you this – what about adult Christians who are not baptized? you seem to agree with my position that they are not “buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,”

    MLD,

    Mark 16:15-16

    “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

    If an adult Christian refuses to be baptized then that would make me wonder if he is indeed Saved. Ulitmately only God knows that. If someone receives the Lord in their life and is never taught properly the importance of baptism then I don’t think that nullifies his salvation just because he never got baptized. There is example after example in the NT of those who come to Christ being baptized either immedialtley or almost immediatley. Now do you want to go by how the early church did it or today’s institutions that wait until a summer bbq to hold all their baptisms? This is why when i’m preaching out in the streets and someone wants to receive the Lord I offer baptism almost right away. I say almost because it would be hard to baptize in downtown L.A. but we take them to Santa Monica that nite. I don’t think baptism is a throw away practice, seems pretty important in the bible.

  51. I agree that baptism is important – even as your Mark reference says those who are baptized are saved.

    My point about those who are not baptized – I didn’t bring up refusing to be baptized – I just brought up those not baptized yet. Would you not agree that if you are not baptized (for any reason) that you are not buried nor raised with Christ and you are not clothed with Christ as stated in Gal 3?

    Doesn’t that seem odd that their are 2 kinds of Christians – those buried and raised and those not?

  52. I do think there is grace for Christians (however rare they may be) that come to believe but perih before the oppurtunity to get baptized.

  53. MLD,
    Your response to me @ 2:21 is perplexing. Arguments from silence are just that: they prove nothing. And the comment about women and communion seems like a red herring.

    I don’t expect an answer to my earlier q about children who make no verbaL profession of faith or to change your mind @ baptismal regeneration.

    Peace.

  54. A book I recommend – you may not agree, but you will longer be able to say that the NT does not include infants.

    http://online.nph.net/p-1403-baptized-into-gods-family.aspx

  55. “I am OK with not knowing for sure if a child is in heaven without knowing if they “made a decision.” ”

    I’m OK with you being OK with not knowing.

    We can talk in circles about this for hours, and I know some people consider it a type of entertainment, so by all means, please continue.

    But in the end, I agree with Papias. Nobody really knows. Just like dogs. Do all dogs go to heaven? Do dogs have a soul?

  56. Fly,
    It’s not a matter of know – it’s a matter of doing what the Bible says – go into all the world and make disciples – how? by baptizing and teaching. No one is left out.

  57. “I believe in unity.

    We can disagree without damning each other.

    I want to be right, but I’m not afraid to be wrong…let’s talk.”

    I tried that. Unity is fiction. Nobody is interested in unity. Why does ecumenicism become the devil? Why is it such a bad word? Because nobody is interested in unity. Maybe it is just American Christianity, but the church is far more interested in finding reasons to kick you out of the faith, rather than include you. Hell, the Gospel Coalition has condemned half the church. Nothing, so far as mainstream denominations are concerned, are “all about Jesus”. More so the superstars who trumpet “its all about Jesus”… as they spend more time beating you senseless with doctrine and earning your way than exemplifying Jesus.

    I still love the concept, but the church is far too apostate… and not for Jackie reasons either.

  58. Here is my one issue with infant baptism from a Lutheran perspective, if baptism gives the new birth and all the benefits of salvation i.e. justifies the one being baptized, then how does a Lutheran square Romans 8:32 where the Apostle Paul states that those who are justified are also glorified?

    I know that Lutherans believe that a person can lose their salvation(not believe or live in their baptism) after being baptized, but this seems to go against that verse.

    Other than that, I have no issue with infant baptism or baptism being salvific as Scripture does indeed point to that in multiple places.

  59. Reuben, you’re on to something, but i’m not sure if it is apostasy … it does seem to involve contrived formulas – kind of a “mother, may i? yes, you may; take two giant steps” game… anyone ever play that game? i never got it and hated the stupidity of that old game when i was a kid and yet it seems as if the churches today want to make life in Christ something similar to a game of ‘rules’ that we get to make up to make the Body perform … like a poorly devised computer program … Christ is just a figurehead – a distant star

    dunno … dunno what i’m saying actually – just pondering your ponder 🙂

  60. Patrick,
    Can you clarify your question a little? I am trying to find the distinction between what happens to someone at 2 months vs someone at 15 yrs as far as your concern of justified & glorified.

  61. I will ask anyone this question – at the time of your salvation experience, what percentage of it was God’s work and what percentage was your own?

    I will bet a million dollars that you will give the same answer that a baby would – so what’s the issue?

  62. Reuben,
    Why do you give the Gospel Coalition any credence at all – they are not even the size of a pimple on an elephant’s ass. Outside of this blog – I never hear of them?

    Since you don’t post here often lately – how are things going at your Anglican Church – hopefully they don’t exhibit the bad you often speak of – insulate yourself there.

  63. MLD,
    I guess what I am wondering is how someone can be justified but not glorified when Paul says they are. Is that a state that a person can go in and out of?

    I’m trying to get a better grasp on the Lutheran perspective of how a person can go from God’s child to not God’s child when it’s Him who gives the gifts of salvation and adoption through baptism/faith.

    Just so you know, I’m 90% Lutheran already, absolutely love the Augsburg Confession, Book of Concord etc. I even got a Lutheran Study Bible for Christmas 🙂

  64. Just as an aside, the Reformed practice infant baptism because they believe it correlates with the OT practice of circumcision…which was entrance of an infant into the covenant community.

  65. Patrick,
    You do have it correct and it looks like you corrected yourself a bit. One does not lose their salvation, but they can give up their salvation or as you said – not live in their baptism. I don’t think that has anything to do with infant baptism – just baptism in general. Your question could apply to anyone who does not believe in once saved always saved.

    You do now possess the master of all study bibles. 😉

  66. Michael, the Reformed are close on the issue, and I do think it is a huge case for infant baptism. Why would God provide for children to be a part of the covenant in the OT and not the NT?

    Also, I think this is why it was so natural for the early church to baptize the babies – they had 3,000 yrs of including their babies in the same act they themselves would do.

  67. MLD,

    I find that to be the most compelling case for infant baptism…

  68. MLD,
    Let me see if I have it right. So a person is baptized as an infant and is baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection as Romans 6 describes. They put on Christ like Galatians says about baptism and are now a child of God.

    But then, they grow up and do not believe in the death and resurrection of Christ thus they are “unbelievers”. How then are brought back in? By repentance and faith? Since re-baptism is not an option as they were already “birthed” before.

  69. (Exiting lurker mode)
    Hey, on the whole baptism as a covenantal thing. Just wondering, but couldn’t the same arguments that Paul uses against the circumcision group be used there?
    Interesting discussion btw!

  70. Patrick,
    I think my answer would be yes. Their baptism is still valid, but they have allowed their faith to whither and die.

    They can come back to the faith in the same manner as he first time – through the work of God through his preached and written word.and have no need to be rebaptized.

    Think of it this way – if they no longer believe in Jesus Christ (not just a doubting phase) and still go to heaven, then you have unbelievers in heaven

    We Lutherans are really the antithesis of evangelicals who have believers baptism – we practice unbelievers baptism… and turn them into believers. 🙂

  71. Hmmm an “I believe…”

    I believe God “is”…the Uncaused Cause…the Eternal Being…the Singularity from which all things were created and caused.

    I believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah.

    I don’t understand the Trinity. Neither do any of you. Those who claim to are either too stupid to realize they don’t understand it fully or they are lying.

    I believe that Salvation is through Faith/belief in Jesus Christ as Messiah. How that works itself out in Works vs. Grace etc, dunno for sure…neither does anyone.

    I believe Salvation is a Supernatural work. I “think” at its core, Salvation in the context of Regeneration is Monergistic and then the process or “a” process of Sanctification is Synergistic. Dunno for sure.

    I believe that the bible contains Truth. I believe there is much Truth outside of the bible….much Truth that is extra-biblical.

    I believe that most of our “truth” in practical terms is actually “interpretation” of what we think the bible says…largely based on Gurus, Teachers, Leaders, Traditions’ interpretations that we agree with or grew up with, etc. I believe many folks are quite a mix of Boxes…gleaning from a variety of other Boxes to create their Box (Philosophical Positions, Belief System, Interpretation, etc).

    I believe most folks don’t know a micron of what they think they do and very few have the ability to approach the bible and Theology etc from an informed and acute Philosophical Logic perspective…though most claim “Reason!” and “Logic!”…when in reality, much of their Position is completely contradictory, illogical and unreasonable.

    I believe that the bible is illogical, unreasonable and contradictory. I believe that Spiritual is by definition not reasonable or logical…and that it is what it is. I also believe that doesn’t make it “not truth”…it makes it illogical and unreasonable…and “foolish” at times…as the bible also asserts.

    I believe that much of our Truth is Relative/Subjective and largely based on individual Conscience and the Holy Spirit interacting with individuals…with different sets of circumstances, different personalities, different challenges, different temptations, etc.

    I believe that if a Church Denom/Association is going to claim a literal/fundamentalist interpretation of the bible…they should start with the Qualifications of Pastors/Elders and work their way down from there.

    I believe that Genesis is not a Science book and I believe that Revelation is not a Horoscope.

    I believe there are many very “good” Atheists…and many very “bad” Christians. I believe this is a major Problem for the “Transformation Gospel” and “False Piety Gospel”.

    I believe that Truth is both Absolute/Objective and Relative/Subjective. I believe this is shown throughout history and throughout the bible. Slavery was good then bad. Concubines and multiple wives was OK, then sin and wrong. Stoning/killing rebellious children was righteous and commanded then sin and wrong. I believe there are a lot of intellectually slippery explanations around these facts…but they don’t hold water. Truth “changes”. It has changed in my lifetime as Consensus changes…though there are underlying Absolutes that don’t change…like God “is” and Jesus Christ is Messiah, etc.

    I believe that the bible is Inspired and Truth. I believe that the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy actually supports the Position that the bible is not “inerrant” as is the common universal meaning of the word. The lawyering in the Statement is actually quite amusing. I believe that Truth, as Absolute “and” Relative allows for the contradictory nature and the often seemingly errant portions of the bible.

    I believe that most folks should sing “Jesus loves me this I know…” and have Child-like Faith.

    I believe that I wish, at times, that I could have my mind erased and regain that Child-like Faith.

    I believe that the best thing I’ve ever done and probably will ever do…is be a good Dad to my kids.

    I believe that there’s not much else that I’ve been consistently “good” at…”good” from a moral/spiritual perspective…I’m “good” at a lot of stuff in terms of proficiency/ability.

    I believe this post is getting very long…and that some of you are probably irritated with that.

    I believe some other stuff…like Observational Science, man’s depravity, the cessation of real supernatural miracles in this era (though I hope to be shown that Position is wrong) and in Priesthood of the Believers (no, there is no such thing as a “special anointing” of man pastors today. They aren’t special, they aren’t anointed. They are sinners just like you and me and they don’t hear directly from God in some special manner any more than you or I).

    I believe if you believe you are “specially anointed”…that is a big Red Flag and if you would engage in a discussion with me, it would become clear that you aren’t specially anointed. I believe Chuck Smith is not specially anointed and I believe he is just as much an a-hole as the rest of us.

  72. Patrick,

    If you call yourself 90% Lutheran, you more than qualify to take this survey. Don’t know if you’ve seen it or not. This pastor has almost 300 replies so far and needs more.

    http://www.pastormattrichard.com/2012/10/attention-all-former-evangelicals.html

  73. Wow! It looks like Alex posted his winning entry in the “Tell Us What You Believe in 5,000 Words or Less” contest.

  74. I do take offense that Alex’s final statement is “I Believe the Phoenix Preacher family is a bunch of A Holes.” – read it for yourself – the last line.

    So my question is this – is this the Unity Reuben is looking to see more of?

  75. On the Unity issue – I think that the problem begins with a wrong expectation of Unity. In this post-modern culture which has washed over even the most modern of us, unless you concede that you might be wrong or that an opposing view could be equally true, you’re viewed theologically and intellectually as barbaric.

    This even bleeds into the “can’t we just agree to disagree?” mantra – the obvious answer is NO! When we agree to disagree, we are denying the clarity of scripture, and if you do that, well… you have rocks in your head.

    Now, none of the above means that we have to hate or cast people into hell. I have a wide variety of Christian friends and co workers who I enjoy very much, we have a great relationship and get along fine. People from CCs, Saddleback Church and i even have 3 co workers who attend Mariners Church (how’s that for open minded?) and a variety of other places.

    I can do everything and anything in life with these folks and do so happily – the only thing I cannot do with them is participate in the Lord’s Table. So 1,000 things to do together and one that must remain separate – so, do I lack Unity? Do I cause division? Am I theologically barbaric?

  76. MLD, if the shoe fits… 😉

  77. I really wish Reuben was around more often. He left the most thought provoking comment, but isn’t around to help us flush it out. Shame.

    Unity. Hmmm. Yeah. That’s a tough one. I think the unity is in the love for our brothers. We can, or should be able to discuss, disagree, and refine our positions without condemning one another to Hell. We all have lines of where that unity stops though, and I guess these conversations help us define those lines.

  78. @41
    “Forget the Fathers – I don’t know how you can get more sacramental with the delivery of forgiveness than Jesus’ own words who says that if you eat the bread and drink the wine, you have forgiveness of sin.”

    Really? Don’t see it that way. When Jesus is addressing the issue of eternal life, He doesn’t mention communion as a remedy. You could agrue that John 6 does, but I see that Jesus is speaking in metaphor. Paul’s great chapters of justifcation don’t address it either.

  79. “We Lutherans are really the antithesis of evangelicals who have believers baptism – we practice unbelievers baptism… and turn them into believers.”

    taking nothing away from beauty of baptism – i categorically (dunno what that means exactly), emphatically and totally disagree – only a believer can receive the efficacy of submission to baptism – period … that person may be a wobbly, insecure and confused participant, but it is a voluntary response to the love of God that submits – using the little child justification makes no sense … Solomon modeled the little child principle that our Lord was instructing in the N.T. 1Kings 3:7-10 IMNSHO 🙂

  80. 1 Kings 3:7-10 “And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in.

    “And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude.
    Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
    It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.”

  81. MLD,” Am I theologically barbaric?” yes … 🙂

  82. post script … i am aware that there really is such a thing as a generation gap and it has to do with the climate that each generation spent our formative years in … from where i am in this journey as i look at what’s coming along behind me (and i may be wrong 🙄 ) Unity today seems to convey commonality – almost a barricaded communal conformity
    i think that unity is not so much a virtue to be strived for as is grace – being gracious to one another (not the same a prissy or phony) … MLD gave a pretty good definition in his #75

  83. Em,
    ” only a believer can receive the efficacy of submission to baptism – period …”

    May I ask what that “efficacy” is for a person who has received everything God has to offer by “accepting Jesus”? What is left that this baptism delivers.?

  84. MLD, what effect upon the Believer does submission to baptism have? IMX – i would have to say none that i noticed at the time of my own Presbyterian sprinkle… except that is not the sum of it – since i believe that baptism into Christ is not a water baptism, rather that water baptism is symbolic of it – it involves volitional confession and repentance from the status quo of the condemned, old, dead and dying self justification … it follows by this logic that it is an act that pleases God – the only clue that i have regarding the efficacy is what Peter said to his fellow Jews in Acts 2:38-47 and those Scriptures raises the question again, was it their water baptism that brought the promise of redemption to their household or was it the ongoing walk in the H.Sp.’s directives?

    i have a hunch that i am skating past tomes and tomes examining this subject, so, while i am happy where i am … i wouldn’t expect my words to carry any theological weight

  85. Thank you, Michael!

    “I know much less than I used to…and I’m ok with that. Some things don’t have answers on this side.”

    Amen. Reminds me of Steve Brown’s book, “Some Things I’ve Learned Since I Knew it All.”

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