My chat with the Luther-Reformed group.

Around mid October of 2006 I posted the following to the Luther-reformed group:

Do you think you know what Genuine Historical Calvinism is? You might be surprised.

Chris Duncan

http://www.calvinism.us/

Chris: I did get some responses to the above post. I also responded to some of these responses. I did not get booted from the list but they did eventually start to ignore me. Anyways, here are the responses I received:

I very much doubt if any of the Calvinists on this forum will be in the least surprised to know what genuine historical Calvinism is. It is certainly very different from what you stand for. But since you obviously reject it completely, what are you doing as a member of this forum?

Gilbert McAdam

My response:

“And he came to Ephesus, and he left those there. But he going into
the synagogue, he reasoned with the Jews” (Acts 18:19).

What am I doing here? Reasoning with unbelievers who deny that the
death of Christ ensures and demands the salvation of all whom He represented at the cross. I reason with those who, like their founder Luther, prove themselves to be heretics by asserting the blasphemy that Christ died in any sense whatsoever for those who perish:

“This is an extraordinarily fine and comforting sermon on Christ our Savior. Neither our thoughts nor our words can do the subject full justice, but in the life beyond it will redound to our eternal joy and bliss that the Son of God abased Himself so and burdened him Himself with my sins. Yet, He assumes not only my sins but also those of the whole world, from Adam down to the very last mortal” (Martin Luther, Works, 22, pp., 162-163).

Chris: What diabolical blasphemy from the damnable heretic Martin Luther.

I must ask you to tone down your language if you wish to continue on this forum. It is perfectly acceptable for you to debate the topic of universal vs limited atonement–and to do so as strongly, if you wish–however, such broadside villification of one of the fathers of the Lutheran or Reformed church is outside the acceptable behaviour of this forum, and does not show the respect and courtesy which is to be shown here toward one another. It would be more helpful if you would simply and calmly put forth the arguments for your position, show interest in listening to replies, and respond in a civil courteous manner.

Paul R. Williams
Lutheran Moderator

The Reformed Moderator agrees with the Lutheran moderator. This forum has been characterised by a very healthy respect between Lutherans and Reformed without ever leading them to compromise their beliefs. Let us try to keep that tradition going. For my own part, I think that calling Luther a “damnable heretic” is grossly overstepping the bounds of Christian debate. It seems to arise from a view that belief in universal atonement consigns one to hell. I suspect Calvin will be there too, in that case, since he often expressed that view, although maybe we’d better not get into one….! But where in Scripture does it say that belief in universal atonement is of itself sufficient to damn someone, or that it constitutes “diabolical blasphemy”? It’s a mighty assertion, requiring some mighty biblical demonstration.

Sincerely in Christ
Dr Nick Needham, Reformed Moderator

(Further to my earlier question to Chris Duncan.)

It is clear that your web-site intends to go through a long list of ‘Historical Calvinists’ to show that in one respect or another they were too broad-minded to be true followers of the Lord Jesus. Could you please tell us in advance who will NOT be included in your list. In other words, which figures of church history do you regard as authentic believers?

Gilbert McAdam

Chris: Hello Gilbert- [This particular response was originally a response Marc had given to the heretic Winnen Russ. I made a couple of small changes in it in order to specifically address the objections made by Gilbert McAdam.]

By “figures of church history” I assume you mean “theologians”? If so, then the next question to ask is “What is a theologian”? According to my dictionary, it is “a person well-versed in theology.” According to that definition, there have been a ton of theologians (or figures of church history if you prefer) since the world began. Every true preacher down through history has been a theologian.

Now I know what the you are thinking in asking this question, Gilbert — you’re thinking of those “great theologians”, those “towering church figures” whose writings have been preserved down through history. And you’re thinking that if I can’t think of ten of them (just for example) who I consider to be authentic believers, then I’ve just put myself outside of the true Christian church or something like that.

So let’s consider this question in light of what you are obviously implying. Think about the true church down through history, especially since the closing of the canon. Up until very modern times, when anybody can publish anything, what did it take to be “well-known,” especially published and distributed? It took two things:

(1) You had to be popular, and/or (2) You had to have a lot of money. Think about those who preached the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ, uncompromisingly called all who confessed a false gospel and spoke peace to those who confessed a false gospel to be unregenerate, and did not fellowship with or endorse any of these people.

Question 1: Were they popular? Question 2: Did they have a lot of money? We know that the answer to #1 was, in all cases, NO. They were the ones who were marginalized by the popular “church” of the time. They were called cultic, mean-spirited, judgmental, exclusivist, etc., etc. They were not part of the mainstream. They were outside the camp of self-righteous religion. Now just think of a theologian during this time — a true preacher of the true gospel who was well-versed in theology. How would be become well-known if he were marginalized? How would he become well-known if he called the mainstream “church” a whore and a synagogue of Satan? How would anything he wrote be widely published and distributed? If he did write something and put it into print, would it get widely distributed? Of course not. The writings would die. How about reprinted over and over again like the works of the well-known writers? Of course not. Only the popular things got reprinted.

Now for the answer to #2. It is possible that a true preacher had a lot of money — certainly not through preaching but through money that was left to him, for example. Then he could use his own money (or the money of a wealthy Christian in his congregation) to publish and distribute. So I am not ruling out the possibility that a true Christian’s works have been widely published. But this would have been a rarity. So my conclusion is that from the closing of the canon to the time when there was cheap printing and mass distribution, we don’t know who the “great theologians” were. And how do we measure which theologian was “greater” than another? Each theologian was “great” to his own congregation and to any congregation near enough so he could travel to preach or so he could write them letters. So to think that we have to have a list of “great theologians” whose books are now still in print is ridiculous. In fact, if they have remained popular down through history, then it puts up a red flag for me.

The fact that you even asked the question shows that you are a respecter of persons. You wouldn’t dare call the “church fathers” unregenerate, because, after all, they were the “great theologians” whose shoes you are unworthy to untie. You bow down to them. You serve them. It matters not if what they said was heterodox. You do not judge by God’s standard alone, no matter how famous or how respected these people are by religionists. This tells a lot about you. It matters not whether the heretic is John Calvin or John Doe. If that person promotes damnable heresy, then that person is unregenerate.

Having said that, I actually *do* have a list of the greatest theologians that I know about. I do not have a “top ten” list, because this implies that #2 is greater than #5, #1 is greater than #4, etc. So here’s a list of 31 of the greatest figures in church history who are authentic believers that I know about, in alphabetical order:

Amos, Asaph, Daniel, David, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Haggai, Hosea, Isaiah, James, Jeremiah, Job, Joel, John, Jonah, Jude, Luke, Malachi, Mark, Matthew, Micah, Moses, Nahum, Nehemiah, Obadiah, Paul, Peter, Samuel, Zechariah, Zephaniah.

Gilbert, I dare you to come up with a “top ten” list greater than this
one.

With respect, that is perverse. The fact that I asked the question means that I believe that our Lord Jesus spoke the truth when He said, ‘I will build my church.’ What I am asking you is, Who, according to your estimation, have been the members of that church? Who in past centuries has held what you and your friends believe? That does NOT prove that I am a respecter of persons or an idolater, and if that is the kind of absurd conclusion you are going to draw from my question I see no point in further discussion.

Gilbert

Chris: Hello Gilbert-

According to the estimation of the Bible, only those who believe that Christ’s death makes the ultimate difference between salvation and damnation are members of the Church of Christ. For their boast is in the cross of Christ alone (Galatians 6:14). For whatever one believes makes the difference between heaven and hell, that is what one boasts in. Luther believed in universal atonement, and thus he believed that the sinner’s work made the ultimate difference. He and all those who believe like him are self-righteous boasters in self. All those who do not make their boast per Galatians 6:14 are members of the Great Whore who defiles the earth with her abominations.

Does that mean that you are at a loss to name those who in the last two thousand years of history who held your views? You keep telling us the names of the historically damned. When are you going to tell us about those in history who have been saved?

Gilbert

If Luther believed that there was something in people that caused their salvation, then what did he mean by “I believe that I cannot by my own reason for strengthen believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with His gifts…”

Doug

Duncan,

Luther also taught non conditional election/predestination. So how could you say “thus he believed that the sinner’s work made the ultimate difference”?

Richard

Chris: Hello Richard-

Luther believed that the work of Christ on the cross was done for everyone without exception. He believed that Christ did the same work for Judas as for Peter. Now whose work makes the ultimate difference here if the same work of Christ is done for Judas and Peter, with Judas perishing? Of course Peter’s work would make the difference in this scenario.

“Everyone transgressing and not abiding in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. The one abiding in the doctrine of Christ, this one has the Father and the Son” (2 John 9).

Despite any apparent orthodoxy on Luther’s part he did not abide in the doctrine of Christ. And thus, Luther did not have God (unless God caused him to repent and believe the gospel at the 11th hour).

-Chris Duncan

P.S. Here is something by Curt Daniel, reputed by many to be the foremost authority on “Historical Calvinism”:

“By common consent and history, this [so-called, ‘Third Point’–CD] is the hardest of the Five Points to understand and is almost always the last to be accepted. There were occasional debates about the issue long before the days of John Calvin.

*Virtually, every Christian, including heretics, believed that Christ died for every human being. Even Augustine believed this.*

…During the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic “Schoolmen” debated the question [‘for whom did Christ die?’–CD]…Then came the Reformation. Martin Luther did not substantially depart from the accepted teaching on the subject. For example, he wrote:

“He bore the sins of the entire world…He has and bears all the sins of all men in His body…The sins of the whole world, which are committed from the first man to the last day thereof, lie upon the back of that one man who was born of Mary” (Works, vol. 26, pp. 285, 277).

Consequently, all succeeding Lutherans believed in Universal Atonement. This continued in other branches of the Reformation as well. For example, all the English Reformers believed in Universal Atonement, as expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles:

“The offering of Christ once made, is the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual” (Article 31).

When we come to the Swiss Reformation, we find the same views. Ulrich Zwingli, Heinrich Bullinger and Wolfgang Musculus all believed that Christ died for every man. There has been debate whether Calvin believed in Universal or Particular Atonement, but the evidence is overwhelming that John Calvin agreed with all the other Reformers that Christ died for all. In this he was followed by Peter Martyr Vermigli, Zacharius Ursinus, and other Reformers. *Universal Atonement was clearly the accepted viewpoint of Reformed Theology up to about the year 1600.* For example, the most important Reformed statement of doctrine at that time, the Heidelberg Catechism, said:

“That all the time He lived on the earth, but especially at the end of His life, He bore, in body and soul, the wrath of God against the whole human race…” (Question 37)”

(Dr. Curt Daniel, “The History and Theology Of Calvinism”, p. 360, Good Books, Springfield, 2003).

That is correct–Luther believed in non-conditional election AND also universal atonement. You may not agree with him in believing the latter, but don’t use his belief in the latter to say that he did not believe in the former, let alone to make the ridiculous assertion that “he believed that the sinners work made the ultimate difference.” You simply have no idea what you are talking about.

In Christ,
Paul

Hi Richard,

Good to hear from you again. The problem is that people like Chris cannot stand the kind of paradox Luther and Lutherans held and hold. He cannot rationalize Christ dying for the sins of the whole world and God bringing the elect to faith unconditionally. He could say that Lutherans don’t make sense in this area, but that they still believe that there is nothing a person does to be elect and come to faith in Christ. However, he and others like him have chosen simply to write us off as damned. But, then again, he writes off the rest of this board as well, many who would not agree with the Lutheran view of universal atonement.

In Christ,

Doug

Oh, what rubbish! Calvin himself did not think this about Luther — so I suppose you would consider Calvin also to be outside of “genuine historical Calvinism?”

In Christ,
Paul R. Williams

Chris: On the contrary, Calvin and Luther are both INSIDE of Genuine Historical Calvinism. Genuine Historical Calvinists, from the time of Luther and Calvin up until the present day, did not and do not believe all of the doctrines of grace. They did not and do not believe all essential gospel doctrine. They did not and do not believe the gospel of salvation conditioned conditioned on the atoning (propitiating) blood and imputed righteousness of Christ ALONE.

Different Calvinists believed different things down through history. They even fought one another over certain doctrines. But they all had this in common:

They denied at least one essential gospel doctrine. This means they were all unsaved. My website is dedicated to exposing Genuine Historical Calvinism for what it is –- a lie of the devil.

-Chris Duncan

It is interesting (but not surprising) that Mr Duncan has given no response to my twice asked question about who the genuine Christians were throughout history. He appears to hold essentially the same view of history as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons and (here in the Philippines) the Iglesia ni Cristo – to wit, that authentic Christianity disappeared from the earth shortly after apostles and only re-emerged with the arrival of Pasor Russell/ Joseph Smith / Felix Manalo. In the case of Mr Duncan, it appears to have re-emerged only with the arrival of himself and a few of his friends. If Mr Duncan regards this as an unfair interpretation, then I ask for the third time: Who in previous ages has held to your teaching and therefore been part of the true church?

I note also that Mr Duncan has not responded either to Richard’s very pertinent question about Luther’s belief in unconditional election. How can a man who believes in unconditional election be charged with believing that it is his own works which determine his salvation?

It appears to me to be inescapable that Mr Duncan and those who share his views are guilty of believing in justification by correct doctrine. The smallest deviation from what Mr Duncan believes will damn you – even if what you believe is entirely consistent with the entire abandonment of self-trust, and entire dependence upon the free and saving grace of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is in fact the very legalism which they profess to abhor.

Yours,
Gilbert

Chris: I am borrowing some words from a certain church figure whom I do not endorse in the following response. I say this in order to avoid the charge of plagiarism. Some of the following is his and very little of it is mine:

“Since those doctrines which are commonly called Christian are charged with novelty by the likes of Gilbert, and are represented as running directly contrary to the whole stream of antiquity (contrary to those towering “church” figures), and the sentiments of the ancient fathers, and as entirely unknown to the Christian before the time of Austin (or even earlier); when on the other hand, the doctrines of the universal scheme are said to be confirmed by the concurrent suffrage of all antiquity, and the express and frequent declarations of the ancient fathers and *highly revered* Reformers and Lutherans…

That the writings of the best of men, of the most early antiquity, and of the greatest learning and piety, cannot be admitted by me (Chris Duncan) as the rule and standard of my (true Christian’s) faith. The standard is only the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament: to these I appeal, and by these only can the truth be determined.

The oracles of God are on our (i.e., all true Christians) side; we have the concurrent suffrage and the frequent express declarations of the holy prophets, of Christ and His apostles, we have the best and earliest antiquity for us, and are free, and far enough from the charge of novelty. It is of no great moment with us, what such who lived nearest to the times of the apostles say, unless what they say agrees with their words and doctrines. [Did you get that Gilbert?]

It is indeed a matter of concern to us, that no footsteps, no traces of the doctrines we contend for, appear in the works of the first writers (Prosper and/or Augustine for instance), and obliges us to lament their early departure from the faith once delivered to the saints.”

Yes, that is a very easy legalism into which a person can fall. It really is a type of legalism which goes above and beyond salvation through Christ alone. It also means that you constantly end up damning people who once you thought were your friends. For instance, I think Arthur W. Pink used to be “in good” with this group, but fell out of their graces when they discovered things in which they disagreed.

In Christ Alone,
Doug

Dear Friends,

Historically, we Reformed have drawn a distinction between the sufficiency of Christ’s work (universal) and its efficacy (particular). Does this help forward the dicussion on the atonement?

Regards,

Alan

Christ has promised to preserve his Church. And you claim that only those who hold your views belong to Christ’s Church. Therefore I am asking you to show that there have been those throughout history who have held your views. It has nothing whatever to do with fame or popularity. However, since you clearly can’t answer a simple question without grossly distorting it, there seems little point in discussing the matter further. I am sorry about that.

Gilbert

Chris: Every believer throughout history–from the Old Testament to the last person to believe before Christ comes again — has believed that Christ’s work demanded and ensured the salvation of all whom He represented. This of course, narrows it down to a small remnant that has been preserved. The Church throughout history is His “little flock.” All of the aforementioned believers from O.T. times to the present are on the narrow and constricted path to eternal life. The rest are on the broad road that leads to eternal destruction. Repent of your belief of salvation conditioned on the sinner and believe the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the work of Christ alone.

-Chris Duncan

Chris,

Please note that this IS a `Lutheran-Reformed’ Dialogue Group — it is a group FOR professed members and believers of either the Lutheran or Reformed churches to discuss with one another matters and topics pertaining directly to the doctrine and life of these two communions — and this normally presupposes that they are confessors of the doctrine of one of these churches. Your repeated comments make it appear that you consider yourself to be neither Lutheran nor Reformed in the historical use of those terms. While we have allowed in the past those who are neither Lutheran nor Reformed to take part in the discussions of this forum, it is ONLY because — and when — they have expressed a desire to learn about the Lutheran and Reformed churches, their theology, and the discussions between them.

One is permitted on this forum to take issue with either Reformed or Lutheran theology and doctrine, but ONLY from the perspective of one or other of these two communions–it is outside the purpose of this forum to take issue with BOTH of them–or to advocate and argue for–some other third theological position. If you wish to remain on this forum as a non-Lutheran and non-Reformed believer, please note and respect these guidelines.

Rev. Paul R. Williams
LUTHERAN MODERATOR

The Reformed Moderator seconds what the Lutheran Moderator just said. If this thread is going to become an attack on both Lutherans and Reformed, it’s getting pretty daft. The guidelines clearly say who the “Reformed” or “Calvinists” are in terms of this forum. A debate that challenges this definition is really for some other forum. We’re here to discuss issues between Lutherans and Reformed.

In Christ
Nick Needham
Reformed Moderator

I can only conclude that Chris believes no one was saved from the time of the end of the Apostles until now with the coming of the group to which he belongs. If I am wrong Chris, please set me straight.

Saved by Christ Alone, and truly by Christ Alone,

Doug

Me (Chris Duncan) now: You are wrong, and thus I will set you straight.

Every believer from the beginning of the world till now has believed the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.

So, from the time of the end of the Apostles until now a remnant from all succeeding generations have been and will be saved. So Doug, you are absolutely wrong. For God has not thrust away His people for whom Jesus Christ died. He has and will save ONLY those for whom Jesus Christ died. And those for whom Christ did NOT die God will cause them to believe (among other things) such lies as universal atonement that He may justly punish them forever.

Doug, your fallacious reasoning is like unto this:

Chris is saying that none of those who died bowing the knee to Baal in past history are saved. Thus, I can only conclude that Chris is saying that *no one* was saved before blah, blah, blah. Clearly a non sequitur. For while it is true than *no one* who died in their bowing the knee to Baal was saved, YET there has ALWAYS been a remnant according to the election of grace. A remnant has always been saved. Doug just wants the worshippers of Baal to be saved otherwise he will just conclude that Paul is saying that no one is saved. Doug refuses to take into consideration the fact that the remnant was saved during the time that his theological idols were showing themselves to be worshippers of Baal (i.e., a false christ who cannot save without the sinner’s help) :

“‘God did not thrust away His people’ whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture said in Elijah, how he pleaded with God against Israel, saying, Lord, ‘they killed Your prophets,’ ‘and they dug down Your altars,’ ‘and only I am left, and they seek my life.’ But what does the Divine answer say to him, ‘I reserved to Myself seven thousand men who did not bow a knee to Baal.’ So then, also in the *present time a remnant according to election of grace* has come into being” (Romans 11:2-5).

Given that Luther, Melancthon, Oecolampadius, Zwingli, Bullinger, Musculus, Vermigli, and Calvin, down to Ursinus, Paraeus, and many others, all held to an unlimited expiation, with a limited application (in one form or another), along with all the Medieval Scholastics, starting with Augustine (along with men like Ignatius, Jerome, John of Chrystostem, Cyprian, Ambrose et al), and including many pre and post-WCF puritans like Howe, Charnock, Bunyan, including the founding fathers of American Calvinism, that means the entire “church age” are those who have “bowed the knee to Baal.” [I got all that information from a Genuine Historical Calvinist by the way–CD]

But from Elijah to the Apostle Paul, to those post-Apostolic Christians, all the way to the present with myself and those like-minded with me throughout the world, are the remnant that is and has been preserved according to the election of grace.

-Chris Duncan

Doug writes:

Ten thousand apologies for my last post. I used an electronic version of J. T. Mueller’s *Christian Dogmatics* and somehow portions of the text got all messed up. I will try again. This time I took the text and put it into WordPerfect format. I am hoping it gives the complete text. So, here I go again!

Second Try!

Dear brethren, both Reformed and Lutheran,

In the 1930s, John Theodore Mueller, wrote the following in his *Christian Dogmatics*, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934:

“According to Holy Scripture, God has not elected all men (error of Samuel Huber, † 1624) nor the steadfast believers (finaliter credentes) together with the temporary believers (error of the Tuebingen school and some modern theologians, J. A. Osiander, † 1697; Frank), but only those who are actually saved (praedestinatio est particularis). This follows from the clear teaching of Scripture that all the elect shall surely be saved (praedestinatio est immutabilis et infallibilis), Matt. 24:24; Rom. 8:28–30. The Formula of Concord writes (Thor. Decl., XI, 23): “God has in grace considered and chosen to salvation each and every person of the elect who are to be saved.”(p. 593)

Since, then, God has chosen the elect unto faith in Christ, we regard the faith which the elect receive in time, just as their whole state of grace, which follows such faith, also as the effect, or result, of their eternal election (2 Tim. 1:9: “who hath called us according to His own purpose and grace”; Acts 13:48: “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed”). Faith, then, according to Scripture is rightly viewed both as the effect of election and as the means by which its purpose is accomplished. Chemnitz writes (Enchiridion, p. 109): “The election of God does not follow after our faith and righteousness, but precedes it as a cause of all this.” And the Formula of Concord says (Thor. Decl., XI, 8): “The eternal election of God … is also, from the gracious will and pleasure of God in Christ Jesus, a cause which procures, works, helps, and promotes our salvation and what pertains thereto.” (p. 599)

Mueller was a Lutheran Theologian. From statements such as these, one can see he did not believe a person’s salvation rested on anything he or she did, but only upon the eternal election of God, where God ordained to bring the elect to faith in the Christ Who lived, suffered, died, and rose for them. This is totally the work of God, and God alone gets the glory. However, in reading “The Christian Confession of Faith” on the outsidethecamp.org website, I come to believe this website would classify Mueller as damned and as one who thought he contributed something to his salvation above and beyond the shed blood of Christ and the eternal election of God.

Any comments from anyone in this discussion group? I simply wonder how Mueller (and others like him in both the Reformed and Lutheran groups) could be represented as lost and as giving glory to themselves rather than God for salvation.

In Christ Alone,
Doug

Yes, indeed!–and C. F. W. Walther made comments much the same:

“God has even from eternity chosen a certain number of persons to salvation; He has determined that these shall and must be saved, and as God is God, so surely will they be saved, and besides them none others” (Synodal-Bericht, Western Disterict, Missouti Synod, 1877, p. 24).

In Christ,
Paul R. Williams

Brethren,

I think I see the “logic” in Chris’ argument. I have been reading
outsidethecamp.org which is the website of the group to which he belongs. The argument goes something like this (Remember, this is how I interpret what this group says):

1. Anyone who believes in universal atonement must somehow believe there is something in a person that separates him from those who don’t believe. Thus, he cannot believe one is saved purely by Christ alone, no matter how much he may affirm he does. Thus, he is unregenerate and lost.

2. Anyone who says he believes the atonement was only for those elected to salvation, yet at the same time believes those who hold to a universal atonement may also be saved by Christ, do not really believe the gospel of an atonement for the saved elect only and thus are also unregenerate and lost.

3. This means, my dear Reformed brethren, that even though you hold to a limited atonement, you still allow the chance of salvation for us reprobate Lutherans who believe in a universal atonement. (Even though we believe in a limited and unconditional election.) Thus, you prove you don’t really believe in the gospel that a person is saved by Christ and Christ alone because you allow us to be Christian believers.

4. This means you Reformed are lost along side us Lutherans.

The “logic” is simple, however tortured and unscriptural it may be.

In Christ,

Doug

Doug writes:

One of the problems we face in Christianity is that one false teaching easily leads to another, particularly when it comes to salvation. There is an *unfortunate consistency* in many people. It is easy for a person who holds one error to go on to holding more errors. I think some of the recent posts by Chris have shown us that there are people who believe if you hold to one error in the doctrine of salvation, you will logically hold to other errors because of the *unfortunate consistency* in people. However, I came across an internet article by Theo. Hoyer, entitled *When Do We Use the Doctrine of the Church Properly?* In this article, after talking about
people who mess up on certain important doctrines, he writes:

“If you hold one error, logically the whole Bible will fall. I do not say that all who hold one or a few errors draw all these conclusions; by the grace of God there is a fortunate inconsistency among the simple Christians among their number, so that they do not deny all the truth.”

This has been a Lutheran position, that while there is a very *unfortunate consistency* in many people in that they allow the false doctrine they hold to affect other areas of doctrine, there is also a *fortunate inconsistency*, where people who mess up in one area of doctrine, do not draw the logical false conclusions for another area. I do not think groups such as outsidethecamp.org allow for any type of *fortunate inconsistency* in anyone. Thus, they end of in denying salvation to many in Christianity who mess up their doctrine in certain areas.

What do others in this group think?

Yes, Pieper had a phrase which he repeatedly used to express this very thing–‘felicitous inconsistancy’

In Christ,

Paul R. Williams

Chris: Hey Doug-

You wrote:

2. Anyone who says he believes the atonement was only for those elected to salvation, yet at the same time believes those who hold to a universal atonement may also be saved by Christ, do not really believe the gospel of an atonement for the saved elect only and thus are also unregenerate and lost.

Chris: I believe that, “those who hold to a universal atonement may also be saved by Christ.” They MAY be saved in time if God peradventure causes them to repent and believe the gospel. But they are *not saved presently.* Do you see the difference there? The issue is NOT about whether those who believe in universal atonement “may also be saved by Christ.” Muslims “may also be saved by Christ.” But Muslims are *not saved presently.* Muslims believe that if they shed their own blood and die as martyrs (jihad) then that is a guarantee of heaven. Universal atonement is essentially the same tenet as the Muslim tenet of shedding their own blood for salvation:

They BOTH believe that their own works make the ultimate difference between salvation and damnation. BOTH Muslim and universal atonement advocate treat the blood of Christ as nothing — the Muslim by shedding his own, the universal atonement advocate by denying the efficacy of the blood of Christ.

-Chris Duncan

Please note that Lutherans, for one, believe that one can believe in universal atonement while at the same time believing that there is nothing in man which is the basis for our eternal election by God. Please note the quote I made of Walther (who DID most certainly believe in both universal atonement) and and another quote from Walther:

“God foresaw noting, absoluely nothing, in those whom he resolved to save, which might be worthy of salvation, and even if it be admitted that he foresaw some good in them, this nevertheless, could not have determined Him to elect them for that reason; for as the Scriptures teach, all good in man originates with Him. (quoted in Ebenezer, ed. by W. H. T. Dau, p. 408)

Can Walther be any clearer than this?–You may not agree with Walther’s (and Lutheranism’s) belief in Universal atonement, but you may NOT say that all those who do are necessarily saying that there is something in man which is the basis for salvation, and use that as a basis for saying that they are damned–you are simply ignoring what they are saying, and reading your own opinions into them–and your basis for saying that they are damned is itself untrue.

This is a dialogue group–(and remember a LUTHERAN and REFORMED one at that) — and that means listening and dialoguing with others about Lutheran and Reformed topics. Therefore, I will ask you to no longer speak about, defend and argue for the particular beliefs of your group on this forum unless you can demonstrate how they are the beliefs and theology of the Lutheran or Reformed churches. (and I would encourage the Lutherans and Reformed of this forum to ignore Chris if and when he does so)

Paul R. Williams
LUTHERAN MODERATOR

Chris: If salvation were the work of God alone, then ALL for whom Christ died would be saved. You do NOT believe that ALL for whom Christ died are saved. Thus, you do NOT believe that salvation is the work of God alone.

What, for example, made the ultimate difference between Peter and Judas? Was it the work of God alone? Not according to your view. For according to your view, the EXACT SAME WORK OF GOD was done for Peter as well as for Judas. Who but a fool cannot see that it is NOT the work of God alone if God does the SAME work for both Peter and Judas and yet Judas perishes notwithstanding this same work.

Shaking my head in utter amazement at the manifest blindness of
unregenerate men,

-Chris

I think you miss the big picture of free-will here. Yes, all who are willing to accept the Christ, truely believe and are baptised will be saved, but the key is, who accept. Just because someone hands you a million dollar check, you are not a millionaire, unless you cash that check. This is the same principle.

Larry

One thing which both Lutherans and the Reformed would be agreed upon is that before conversion, man does NOT have the free will to accept Christ (“I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him.” — Luther’s Small Catechism)–our fallen will is in bondage to sin, and can ONLY reject Christ, and we can only have a will which will accept the Gospel when it is given to us and created in us in conversion by the Gospel. The difference between the saved and the damned cannot be explained because the saved chose to accept what the damned chose not to accept — that would be Arminianism, and is rejected by both Lutheranism and Reformed.

Paul

Doug writes:

Yes, Paul has said it well. Below are several quotes from 16th century Lutheran documents on the problem of the mystery involved in “Why are some save and others lost.” These quotes are taken from Francis Pieper’s *Conversion and Election*, St. Louis: CPH, 1913:

“[Martin] Chemnitz: “What is the reason why Judas is not received, and does not obtain forgiveness of sin when he repents of what he has done? What is there lacking in his contrition and repentance that shuts him out from grace? He had not faith in Christ, he did not believe that God is gracious and forgives sin. That is the damaging fault in him. For where there is no faith, there is no grace of God nor forgiveness of sin. Now, our Catechism says in the Third Article of our Christian Creed that no man can by his own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ or come to Him, but the Holy Ghost must induce him to believe; for faith is a gift of God. How, then, does it come that God does not implant such faith in the heart of Judas, so as to enable him also to believe that Christ could help him? At this point we must turn back with our questioning and say (Rom. 11): `O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!’ We cannot and may not search out this matter, and we must not stray too far in such musings, but engage in all these matters in such a way as not to rush headlong into the sin of tempting God, lest God withdraw His hand from us and suffer us to sink and perish. For if we do this, we shall fall into sin upon sin, and shall become merged in sin so deeply, that it becomes impossible for us to return, and we cannot regain our former standing, as happened to Judas.” (Sermons on the Lord’s Passion, IV, pp. 17 f.)

Apology of the Book of Concord (Chemnitz, Selnecker, Kirchner): “Nor does the Christian Book of Concord deny that there is in God reprobation, or that God casts some away. Hence the Book of Concord does not go counter to the dictum of Luther, in his treatise De Servo Arbitrio against Erasmus, that this is the acme of faith, to believe that this same God who saves so few persons is nevertheless the most gracious God, and to be careful not to ascribe to God the real cause of such casting away and condemnation of men, which is the purport of the teaching of our adversaries, and to hold that, when this question is mooted, all men must put their finger on their lips, and, first, say with the Apostle Paul (Rom. 11): Propter incredulitatem defracti sunt; and, Rom. 6: `The wages of sin is death.’ In the second place, when this question is raised, why our Lord God does not convert all men by His Holy Spirit, and make them believers, which He could easily do, we must again say with the Apostle: Quam incomprehensibilia sunt judica ejus et impervestigabiles viae ejus! But we must by no means charge God with having willfully and really caused the casting away and damnation of those who do not repent. However, if they urge this point, viz.: If you accept the choosing of the elect, you must also accept this other fact, viz., that in God Himself there is from eternity a cause why men are cast away, even regardless of their sin, etc., we reply that we are in no wise minded to make God the cause of reprobation (which really has its origin, not in God, but in sin), nor shall we ascribe to God the real cause of the damnation of the wicked, but we shall take our stand on the saying of the Prophet Hosea, chap. 13, where God says: `O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.’ Nor shall we try – as we heard Luther saying above – to search out our heavenly Father as far as He is a hidden God and has not revealed Himself. For, though we try, the matter exceeds our ability, and we cannot comprehend it; the more we engage in such questioning, the further we get away from God, and the more we begin to doubt His gracious will regarding ourselves. Thus, the Book of Concord does not deny either that God does not operate in all men alike; for in all ages there have been many whom He did not call publicly through the office of the ministry. But our adversaries shall never succeed in convincing us that for this reason we must conclude, as they do, that God is the real cause of the casting away of these people, and that in His bare counsel He has decreed to reprobate and cast them away eternally, even regardless of sin. For when we approach this depth of the mysteries of God, it is sufficient if with the Apostle Paul in Rom. 11 we say: `His judgments are unsearchable,’ and,
I Cor. 15: `Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ All that is beyond this will be revealed to us by our Savior Christ Himself in the life everlasting.” (Apol. of the Book of Conc. Dresden, 1584, fol. 206 f.)”

Doug:The above shows that Lutherans are concerned about giving all glory to God when it comes to the salvation of the elect. However, we are willing to live with mystery and not try to “logically” answer the question “Why are some saved and others lost?” In our mind, both Reformed and Arminians try to “logically” answer this question. Arminians see that Scripture teaches that those who are lost are lost by their own fault. Thus, they make the assumption that those who are saved are saved by something in themselves (free will, less resistence, etc.) Many Reformed see that it is God alone who elects us to salvation and we contribute nothing to our salvation. Thus, the lost must have God as the reason for their being lost or reprobate. This is has been one of the great divides between Lutherans and Reformed and Lutherans and Arminians for many years.

In Christ,

Doug

Hello Larry,

Since we are nearing Reformation, I thought it may be good to post Martin Luther’s hymn “Dear Christians One and All Rejoice”. It has ten verses. Please note in particular verse 3.

1. Dear Christians, one and all, rejoice,
With exultation springing,
And, with united heart and voice,
And holy rapture singing,
Proclaim the wonders God hath done,
How His right arm the victory won;
Right dearly it hath cost him.

2. Fast bound in Satan’s chains I lay.
Death brooded darkly o’er me.
Sin was my torment night and day.
In sin my mother bore me.
Yea, deep and deeper still I fell.
Life had become a living hell,
So firmly sin possessed me.

3. My own good works availed me naught,
No merit they attaining.
Free will against God’s judgment fought,
Dead to all good remaining.
My fears increased till sheer despair
Left naught but death to be my share.
The pains of hell I suffered.

4. But God beheld my wretched state
Before the world’s foundation.
And, mindful of His mercies great,
He planned my soul’s salvation.
A father’s heart He turned to me,
Sought my redemption fervently.
He gave His dearest Treasure.

5. He spoke to His beloved Son:
‘Tis time to have compassion.
Then go, bright Jewel of My crown,
And bring to man salvation;
From sin and sorrow set him free.
Slay bitter death for him that he
May live with Thee forever.

6. This Son obeyed His Father’s will,
Was born of virgin mother.
And God’s good pleasure to fulfil,
He came to be my Brother.
No garb of pomp or power He wore,
A servant’s form, like mine, He bore,
To lead the devil captive.

7. To me He spake: Hold fast to Me,
I am thy Rock and Castle;
Thy ransom I Myself will be,
For thee I strive and wrestle;
For I am with thess, I am thine,
And evermore thou shalt be mine.
The foe shall not divide us.

8. The foe shall shed my precious blood,
Me of My life bereaving.
All this I suffer for thy good
Be steadfast and believing.
Life shall from death the victory win.
My innocence shall bear thy sin;
So art thou blest forever.

9. Now to My Father I depart,
The Holy Spirit sending
And heavenly wisdom to impart
My help to thee extending.
He shall in trouble comfort thee,
Teach thee to know and follow Me,
And in all truth shall guide thee.

10. What I have done and taught, teach thou,
My ways forsake thou never.
So shall My kingdom flourish now
And God be praised forever.
Take heed lest men with base alloy
The heavenly treasure should destroy.
This counsel I bequeath thee.

In verse 3 Luther writes:

“My own good works availed me naught,
No merit they attaining.
Free will against God’s judgment fought,
Dead to all good remaining.”

Doug: For Luther, mankind after the Fall freely sins against God (God does not force man to sin). Thus, “free will against God’s judgment fought.” However, while fallen man freely fights against God, his will is bound in that it cannot make itself believe and embrace God. “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him.” (I always have liked what Luther says here: “I believe that … I cannot believe.”) It takes an act of God to make a spiritually dead person alive through faith in Jesus. So, if a pastor has told you that fallen man has the power to believe because of “free will”, that pastor is wrong (I hope it was not a Lutheran pastor who told you this).

As for Lutheran Witness articles, I remember years ago (back in the 80s) there were some very good doctrinal articles in the Lutheran Witness that dealt with topics such as this. You are right, it would be good for the Lutheran Witness to print something on the subject.

In Christ,

Doug

Doug writes:

One of the problems we face in Christianity is that one false teaching easily leads to another, particularly when it comes to salvation. There is an *unfortunate consistency* in many people. It is easy for a person who holds one error to go on to holding more errors.
I think some of the recent posts by Chris have shown us that there are people who believe if you hold to one error in the doctrine of salvation, you will logically hold to other errors because of the *unfortunate consistency* in people.

C-Dunc: I wasn’t talking about one false teaching *leading to another*. Rather, I was talking about one false teaching (namely universal atonement) that is an EXPLICIT DENIAL of Christ as propitiation: “…whom God set forth as a propitiation through faith in His blood…(Romans 3:25). This is no small aberation regarding a non-essential doctrine. This is a not abiding in the doctrine of Christ:

“Everyone transgressing and not abiding in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. The one abiding in the doctrine of Christ, this one has the Father and the Son” (2 John 1:9).

Obviously, the doctrine of Christ includes the teaching that Christ is indeed a propitiation (Romans 3:25). But those who believe that Christ is at least in some sense a “propitiation” for those who endure God’s eternal wrath deny this. Thus, they do not abide. And since they do not abide in this precious *doctrine of Christ’s* propitiatory blood they do NOT have God. Pretty simple, eh?

And someone else (?) writes:

However, I came across an internet article by Theo. Hoyer, entitled *When Do We Use the Doctrine of the Church Properly?* In this article, after talking about people who mess up on certain important doctrines, he writes:

“If you hold one error, logically the whole Bible will fall. I do not say that all who hold one or a few errors draw all these conclusions; by the grace of God there is a fortunate inconsistency among the simple Christians among their number, so that they do not deny all the truth.”

This has been a Lutheran position, that while there is a very *unfortunate consistency* in many people in that they allow the false doctrine they hold to affect other areas of doctrine, there is also a *fortunate inconsistency*, where people who mess up in one area of doctrine, do not draw the logical false conclusions for another area. I do not think groups such as outsidethecamp.org allow for any type of *fortunate inconsistency* in anyone. Thus, they end of in denying salvation to many in Christianity who mess up their doctrine in certain areas.

C-Dunc: What about the Marioloters (specifically those who believe that Mary is co-redemptrix/mediatrix) who PROFESS to believe the doctrine of Christ’s deity? Is this just another instance of “unfortunate consistency”/ fortunate inconsistency”? Apparently, they are *wonderfully confused* about Christ’s exclusive claims. It’s a good thing Luther (is Luther THE originator of this phrase?) coined a phrase to cloak this blatant idolatry.

Check out what I found on a Creationist web site (http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/feedbac /2005/0715.asp):

“As you can see, we state that one can be an evolutionist and still be a Christian, but that the two are logically incompatible. I.e. that theistic evolution is both scientifically and biblically untenable. But many people are saved despite ‘blessed inconsistency’ — there is no hint in the Bible that the ability to hold mutually contrary thoughts in the same skull is an unforgivable sin.”

C-Dunc: There it is again! The “blessed** inconsistency!” And this time it’s talking about evolutionists being Christians! Man, Luther opened a flood gate with all this “unfortunate consistency/ fortunate inconsistency” stuff to cloak Satanic doctrines.

**Or “felicitous inconsistency.”

Doug wrote:

Hello Larry,

Since we are nearing Reformation, I thought it may be good to post
Martin Luther’s hymn “Dear Christians One and All Rejoice”. It has ten verses. Please note in particular verse 3:

3. My own good works availed me naught,
No merit they attaining.
Free will against God’s judgment fought,
Dead to all good remaining.
My fears increased till sheer despair
Left naught but death to be my share.
The pains of hell I suffered.

C-Dunc: Luther believed that Christ’s work availed Judas naught — and apparently it for him (Luther)salvation wrought. Luther made himself to differ from Judas and so in heresy is he caught. What makes the difference is not the blood that bought. Thus, Luther is a wicked sot**.

**Figuratively speaking of course: Luther was drunk with the heresy of universal atonement which denies the simple fact that Christ is Savior because He actually saves. Wow! What a concept!

-Chris Duncan