Epiphany 3 Matthew 8:1-13

The text for today reveals to us the account of Jesus doing two healings. One is for a paralytic and the other for a man with leprosy. All of the miraculous healings throughout the Gospels serve to underline the purpose for which Christ came. They show that he has come to deliver us from the curse of sin, from frailty and from death. Christ cures blindness, deafness, lameness and, of course, paralysis and leprosy.

All of these show the reality of the curse of sin, but perhaps none so graphically as does leprosy. Common in the ancient world, and even remaining in some regions today, the word leprosy describes several terrible diseases of the skin. God’s original plan for mankind was for all his creation to live in perfect health and wholeness. It was our fall into sin that brought all measure of infirmity into the world. Since that time, all man has inherited the curse of sin from their parents. Along with this comes propensity to develop all sorts of diseases.

Isaiah, in the very opening of his great book of prophecy, uses leprosy to describe our human condition. We have rebelled against our master, he says. We have provoked the Holy One to anger and soour whole head is sick. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness. Our wounds have not been closed or bound up, or soothed by ointment. We are covered with wounds and bruises and putrefying sores. Yes, putrefying. In some cases of leprosy, parts of the body actually die off and begin to rot. They necrotize. It is sad but true.

Even if some of us can boast physical health at the moment, sin still lurks within us soon to thrash us to the grave. Only some develop leprosy of the skin, but all are infected with leprosy of the soul. Jesus condemns those who believe they have rights to the Kingdom based on their descendancy from Abraham. They look for salvation by the keeping of the law, as children of promise. But in truth they deny the faith of Abraham, and remain as bastards and rebels.

We too today can fall into this trap if we expect to woo and impress God by our moral qualities. If we think that it is because of our faithfulness and our Christian living that God has blessed us, we are like those cast into outer darkness. Jesus praises the great faith of the Centurion. But this is not because of some internal “faith-power” from within him, one that wells up in the heart. Similarly, when Jesus praised Peter for the great confession of faith, You are the Christ the Son of the Living God, our Lord makes it clear that this confession comes not from man, but was given from above.

Aside from what is given to us by grace, we are worthless. Apart from me, Jesus says, you are nothing. The centurion in our text was aware of his own sinfulness before a Holy God. He knew that God could not tolerate being in the presence of the damned. When he beheld the perfect righteousness of Jesus, he was shamed by his own internal filth and guilt. I am not worthy that you come under my roof, he says. That would be like a scrubbed down brain surgeon rolling around in a hog-barn before an operation. A bride on her way to the wedding should not stop to suck out a septic tank.

Nonetheless Jesus effectively says to the Centurion, as well as the leper, I am willing. I don’t mind infecting myself. I could, in perfect justice, remain on high in heaven while mankind melts away. But he chooses not to. He could easily bring each and every one of us to a swift death. Instead he chooses to come and bring us life. He is willing to take on human life, that the Son of Man may serve us and give his life as a ransom for many.

The Lord and giver of life first took on life himself. He began this as a baby in a feeding bin. It was necessary that he be like us in every way. His world, like ours, was one of stink and maggots, of flies and decay. All men live in bodies suffering under the leprosy of sin. But his love for man is so great that he took on the same corruptible flesh. He did in no way endeavor to distance himself from the repulsiveness of life in this dying world.

In order to be like us, it was fully necessary for him to take on our frail human nature. For only as a man could he suffer and die truly in our place. It was him instead of us. Though he himself had no sin, he was still exposed to the full curse of sin. He gladly undertook all the sickness and leprosy connected with fallen man.

Thus it is no surprise that Jesus ignores the ceremonial law and social taboos, which strictly forbid touching lepers. Lepers must legally be shunned. But all the same, Jesus gives a gesture of pure tender compassion, reaching out and laying his hand on the decomposing flesh of the poor leper. It was probably gangrenous and as foul smelling as a corpse, but this was a lamb for whom Christ would die. He would cradle him in his arms like a mother with a precious infant. Like a hen gathers her chicks, our Lord laments over Jerusalem, so have I longed to wrap my wings around you, but you were unwilling.

This he says to the same ones who would soon torture and crucify him. So let us take comfort that none of us can rebelled against our Lord more than his grace abounds. All filth and unholiness in man rises as vomitous stink before the throne of the most high. Still he chooses to lower himself into the sewer and take our nature into himself. Touching a leper should disgust a Holy God more than anybody, yet his love is too great.

In love he made himself unclean. He allowed the guilt of all the world’s sin to be gouged onto his forehead. He submitted himself to have his back torn to shreds by shrapnel laden leather cords. Why? So that by his stripes we are healed. He let all punishment be laid upon him that we may be at peace. He was smitten by the Father…saying My God My God, why have you forsaken me?…that he might carry away our sorrows. He took our iniquity onto himself, that his righteousness may be given to us in exchange

In the body of this man Christ Jesus is the hope of the world. His words of law convict fallen man that this world and its pleasures are passing away. All of creation groans in travail as it is being choked by the cancer of sin. Yet into this creation comes God from on high to make all things new. That is his great gospel message. His resurrection from the dead publicly proclaims him to be the first fruit of a new creation, a world where there is no more crying, pain, or death.

This same Jesus was there when time began. With a word, he called all the universe into existence.For he spake, says the psalmist, and it came to be. He commanded and it stood firm. Now the Son of God is back in the world, recreating his perfect realm and fashioning a new eternal Kingdom, one ransomed soul at a time. Let there be light, he said on the first day. Be cleansed, he says to the leper in our Gospel reading.

In both cases, the words spoken by the Lord of Life bear in themselves the power to perform what they say. If the Son of Man declares you to be clean, you are. If he sets you free, you are free indeed. Each miraculous healing in scripture is a testimony to the fact that Jesus Christ has power over the forces of nature and the hordes of the evil one.

By his perfect life, horrible death, and glorious resurrection, he proclaims victory over sin, death, and the devil. He gives this victory, this new immortal nature, to each of us. United with Christ, we no longer “stink” to God. We are holy children in his sight whose prayers, purified by the Holy Spirit, rise before him as sweet incense.

In the same way, Jesus cleanses the leper… with a word. “Thy strong word,” says a modern Lutheran hymnist, “bespeaks us righteous”. Remember the second person healed in our text today was the servant of the centurion. He was paralyzed and helpless. He wasn’t even there. He did nothing to merit Jesus’ healing. So likewise, recall how powerless and weak is a quivering infant held over the Baptismal font. Through the conduit of a Pastor’s vocal cords, Jesus speaks the words, which make us clean and righteous.

“You are washed,” he says, “covered by my blood.” This is now my child to live beside me forever. “Only speak the word,” cries the Centurion, “and my servant will be healed.” What amazing insight this man has been given! He obviously knew that same Jesus Christ in whose presence we are served today. Jesus is here speaking words of life and deliverance through the pages of Holy Scripture.

All you lepers are cleansed in Baptism. He has forgiven your sins and taken your cursed guilt away from you as far as East is from West. To God, you are innocent, absolved.

+ Amen +

Salvation for Non-Lutherans

"Does the Lutheran church believe that non-Lutherans will NOT be allowed into heaven - Say for example Methodists who are follows and believers in Jesus Christ?"


No! Thankfully salvation does not rest upon a church membership, logo, or title, but upon Christ and Him crucified. Those who know and believe this good news about who Jesus is and what he has done are equally forgiven, declared righteous and covered by the blood of Jesus.

In fact, the Lutheran understanding of salvation makes this point abundantly clear. We understand faith and new life in Christ as a completely free gift miraculously worked by God himself, the Holy Spirit, through means. Simply put, "God does it all".

How does he give us this grace? Through the "means of grace", that is, the Word and Sacraments. The Gospel is the "power of God unto salvation" whether this gospel in poured into our ears, projected into our eyes, trickled over our head and so forth. Simply put, "God does it through his word."

Now human beings all have a sinful nature which constantly distorts the promises of God and seeks all sorts of lies and idolatry. Wherever sinners get together, whether they wear a Lutheran, Methodist, or any other hat, there will be errors, rivalries, and schism. That is why we can be thankful that "God does it all, through the word, in spite of us".

Though on earth there are many denominations, creeds and splinter groups, ultimately there is still "one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism". Church unity is not a goal to be pursued, but a mystery to be confessed. A person may be sitting in a church hearing all sorts of false teachings and errors, but as long as the word of God is heard, read, and so forth, the Holy Spirit will be there working faith, life, and salvation.

Think of it in terms of input and output. The input of salvation is the same everywhere. God puts the Gospel into the hearts of all Christians by his means of grace. Spiritually, in the new man, everybody knows and trusts this truth perfectly.

The output varies from person to person, church to church. As long as we are alive on this earth, our sinful flesh and mind, the old man, will not be able to understand and confess the mystery of faith perfectly. Some outward public confessions of faith are very in line with Scripture. Some are less so. It is certainly a noble goal to try to formally align oneself with the most outwardly faithful creed. It is also good to avoid false teaching. But salvation does not hinge upon this. Salvation is built of the rock of Christ. Nothing in this world, not even our own selves, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Harris


We're All Sacramental. Kind Of. Unless We're Not.

Pretty much every Christian church has Sacraments. And if a church has no sacraments, it rejects means of grace. That usually leads to a false dichotomy between spiritual and physical (*cough* Gnosticism *cough*).

33 year LCMS veteran Pr. Peters wrote an excellent piece on made up sacraments, and I would like to piggyback his thoughts and hit it from a different angle a bit. The blog is found here:

Made Up Sacraments  <<< READ THIS!!!

sac-ra-ment (noun)

Ecclesiastical . a visible sign of an inward grace, especially one of the solemn Christian rites considered to have been instituted by Jesus Christ to symbolize or confer grace: the sacraments of the Protestant churches are baptism and the Lord's Supper; the sacraments of the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, matrimony, penance, holy orders, and extreme unction.
That's the definition we get from dictionary.com. According to that site, a sacrament either symbolizes grace or is a means of grace (confers it). I would argue strongly for the latter; that a sacrament is a means of grace, and that is why mainline evangelicalism will not call baptism and the Lord's Supper sacraments. Rather, they are termed as ordinances. An ordinance carries the force of a ceremony or rite, in a purely symbolic sense. No grace is conferred.
However, even in these mainline churches, they still have sacraments. They're just not the ones that Christ gave to us. So if baptism and the Lord's Supper aren't sacraments, but rather ordinances...what are the sacraments? More specifically, what are the means of grace in mainstream churches? Well, here are a few.
1. Prayer
Prayer becomes a form of transaction with God rather than an act of worship and thanksgiving. Prayer is a vital part of Christian life, but it's not something we do to get God to do our will.
2. Altar Calls
How many times have you seen an evangelical altar call where people walk the aisle and make a decision for Christ? This heterodox practice traces it's roots back to the Second Great Awakening and Pelagian teachers such as Charles Grandison Finney.
One big altar call
The altar call, sometimes referred to as the invitation, has become a staple of American Evangelicalism, especially in Baptist and Methodist churches. Sadly, nothing even remotely close to this is ever found in Scripture.
Know what else came out of the Second Great Awakening? Seventh-Day Adventism, The Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and the Jehovah's Witnesses. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.
3. The Sinner's Prayer
How often have you heard a pastor or evangelist lead people in the sinner's prayer? As someone who was a baptist for years, I heard it a lot. It was almost a given. We took it for granted. That is how one gets saved. You admit that you're a sinner and that you need a Savior, then ask Jesus into your heart. Or, as I have heard stated repeatedly lately (I don't know why, but I have), you "pray" Jesus into your heart.
The Sinner's Prayer: An Example
This is the big one. The evangelical sacrament if there ever was one.
The problem is, this is unbiblical at best. Where did any of the Apostle's ever lead a congregation in an altar call or the sinner's prayer in Scripture? You'll search in vain for it, because none of that is in there.
Yeah. It's sort of like this in some circles.

I could go on and on and perhaps name some more. I won't. The point is this: None of these things (well, prayer is) are Christian practices. People don't "get saved" by walking an aisle, coming forward to the altar, or praying a prayer asking Jesus into their heart. Only God's creative Word gives us grace that creates faith. Not our choice and not a memorized sinner's prayer that puts Christ in our heart.
Here is where someone will interject and say that the methods can change. No, you don't use an argument from methodology to justify unbiblical practices and pragmatism.
God did however give us His Word and Sacraments. According to Scripture, they are Baptism and the Lord's Supper. In these, the Word is given to us. In preaching, the Word is given to us. In public reading of Scripture (or private), the Word is given to us.
Why did early American Evangelicalism decide to introduce these new methods into their churches? We could probably write a book on that (Such as Michael Horton's Made in America) but we'll keep it simple: Early 19th century American ideals revolved around the sovereignty of the individual and the power of the will (like the self-made man). Those ideals got imported right into faith and practice in Baptist and Methodist churches, and voila.

What is even more appalling is that generally these folks tend to say they stick to Scripture alone, then turn around and reject the sacraments and insert their own.

Now it was not about God giving Himself to us as a gift in Word and Sacrament, it was all about us appropriating it by an act of our will.
And sadly, this stuff is still going strong.



Baptism Wars! Response to Pr. J.D. Hall - Part 3

I continue my response to Pr. Jordan (J.D.) Hall today. I am replying to a blog post he wrote over at the Pulpit and Pen site that was very condemning of paedobaptism and baptismal regeneration. The blog was written in response to my friend Tamara Blickhan's article that was published at The Examiner.

The original article that began this discussion, written by Tamara Blickhan, can be found here:

Baptism for the Christian: Rebaptism is not biblical

And Pr. Jordan (J.D.) Hall's response can be viewed here:

It's not "Re-Baptism": It's Baptism

Pr. J.D. Hall. Sweet hat.
I got a sweet hat too, yo! Plus Aviators. I win.

I responded to Pr. Jordan Hall's blog post yesterday, which is found here:

Baptism Wars! Response to Pr. J.D. Hall - Part 1

And I responded again in part 2 here:

Baptism Wars! Response to Pr. J.D. Hall - Part 2

Let's get to it.

Tamara Blickhan stated: "There is no recorded instance in the Bible where someone was rebaptized in the Trinitarian formula: in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Baptist must form the conclusion that rebaptism is biblical from a source other than the Bible or from the misunderstanding that a person must be saved by Jesus Christ first and that if they realize later that they were not truly saved, they should be rebaptized to obey what they consider to be a work to be done after regeneration."

Pr. J.D. Hall responded: "This is a hilarious claim for the paedobaptist to make, considering there’s no recorded instance in the Bible of babies, dogs, or aliens being baptized (and baptism does all of the above three the same good). The idolatry of ritual, in the author’s view, is so pervasive that even if the ordinance is not conducted in the name of the Thrice-Holy God it still counts as legitimate. Here, they separate the ordinance from the ordinance-maker, giving baptism the status of idolatry."

Bearing False Witness is in there.
This accusation actually makes no sense at all and should be retracted. As someone who was a Baptist for many years, I can attest to the fact that Tamara is correct. I know numerous people who have had multiple believer's baptisms, because they weren't really saved the first couple times.

Regarding Pr. Hall's response, it's flat out untrue. It's bullcrap. More seriously, it's bearing false witness. The author, Tamara Blickhan, does not accept Baptisms that are made in another manner than in the Name of the Triune God. I have no idea what is prompting these statements. A non-Trinitarian Baptism is not legitimate. Period. Lutherans universally believe that.

The final statement here is not true either. I would hope that a pastor would know the stance of Lutheranism before going off on an online rant "refuting" it. I sort of see what he is trying to say here when he states "Here, they separate the ordinance from the ordinance-maker, giving baptism the status of idolatry." But in reality, the opposite is the truth. Baptism is only effacious precisely because it delivers the Word of God objectively to a person. This is why we are baptised in the Name of the Triune God. It's water that has power and it's not empty ritual. It's the Word of God being directly given by means of water. It's the Word that gives Baptism its power, not the water.

His non-Sacramental theology rears its ugly head throughout his blog post, but here it is paramount. As a friend of mine stated,

"It's amazing how people can reject the efficacy of the sacraments due to human involvement in administration. This thinking would reject the office of preaching and violate Romans 10. Jesus' baptism by John would be rejected and God sending the Holy Spirit would be a mistake on His part. The Crucifixion would be rejected because the Jews by "wicked hands" took and slew Him.

The aforementioned instances were Divine works in spite of human agency, and even the Crucifixion was done by man according to God's eternal foreknowledge and decree, and it is this very act which takes away the sin of the world. The anti-sacrament logic actually nullifies the Atonement." ~Steven E. Anderson

Pr. Hall continues, "Once again, the Baptist does not believe in rebaptism, because this water-pouring ritual perpetrated upon unwilling recipients isn’t baptism."

As I argued in Part 2, this is attacking a strawman. On what basis does he assert that infants are  unwilling? The only thing I can think of is that his theology, despite being Calvinistic, comes back around to positive choice for Christ as opposed to Christ giving Himself to us via objective means.

Pr. Hall continues, "To be clear, the Bible’s stance against so-called “infant baptism” has nothing to do with the age of the recipient. The prohibition against baptizing infants is because they happen to be in the same number as many of the lost, unconverted, unwilling heathen of the world that need to first hear, receive and embrace the Gospel before following Christ into discipleship and being called “Christian.”"

Which is why we baptise infants. He has pointed out the major crux of the issue within this statement. Infants are sinners that need to be saved as well. The problem is, he also argues that infants can't believe, repent, or have faith. Where does this leave Pr. Hall? I posit that it leaves him at one of two places.

A. Universal infant damnation, or

B. Pelagian doctrine of Age of Accountability that rejects Original Sin.

He correctly points out that infants are born sinners and are in the same state as the heathen. He has no solution beyond this. I am sure at this juncture he will fall back on the doctrine of election and God's infinite wisdom and assert that perhaps all infants who die in infancy are elect or that at least some of them are.

However, Scripture never tells us these things. In fact, the only way of salvation that Scripture gives us is by grace through faith. If another one is inserted, one is adding to the words of Holy Scripture. Once you deny that infants can have faith, you have shut the Kingdom of Heaven to them.

Praise be to God, He gives faith as a gift to whomever He will. Also, He does this objectively through specific means of grace. Baptism is clearly one of these means of grace, especially if St. Paul and St. Peter in the didactic epistles have their say. Baptism saves (1Pe 3:21), it buries us and unites us to Christ (Rom 6:3-4), it raises us in faith (Col 2:11-12). Only grace can do this. Baptism must be gracious. It's Gospel for you. Objectively.

It's really pretty simple. Why do we baptise infants? They need it. They're part of Adam's condemned race and are sinful and need to be saved.

He continues, "How terrible it is to tell so many lost people that they’ve been born again because water has touched the tip of their head!"

What's not terrible is telling people that God objectively claimed them via His Word of promise given specifically to them in their Baptism. They are, after all, baptised into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mat 28:18-20). It bears repeating: It's the Word of God that gives Baptism power.

And finally, "This is why, at my Baptist church, we rejoice when folks whose parents forced them against their unconverted will to take part in a water ritual, make the decision to, for the first time in their life, be baptized."

He wraps up the blog with the same old strawman. And then in doing so, violates clear Scripture. One baptism. To re-baptise a person is to question the promise of God given to that person in their first, and only legitimate, baptism. And that is not a place any Christian wants to be, for God's Word is light and truth.

There are a lot more comments to be responded to regarding things Pr. Hall has said in the comments section on his blog. I don't think I will be dealing with them. There are very able Lutheran participants in that discussion right now. Hence, I shall be finished.


Baptism Wars! Response to Pr. J.D. Hall - Part 2

I continue my response to Pr. Jordan (J.D.) Hall today. I am replying to a blog post he wrote over at the Pulpit and Pen site that was very condemning of paedobaptism and baptismal regeneration. The blog was written in response to my friend Tamara Blickhan's article that was published at The Examiner.

The original article that began this discussion, written by Tamara Blickhan, can be found here:

Baptism for the Christian: Rebaptism is not biblical

And Pr. Jordan (J.D.) Hall's response can be viewed here:

It's not "Re-Baptism": It's Baptism

I responded to Pr. Jordan Hall's blog post yesterday, which is found here:

Baptism Wars! Response to Pr. J.D. Hall - Part 1

I didn't get too far into Pr. J.D. Hall's post yesterday. So, here comes part 2!

Pr. J.D. Hall states: "There’s a reason that credobaptists believe that baptism is only applicable (IE should only be applied) to those who understand the Gospel. It is because only those who have heard, understood, and received (their is no receiving without understanding) the Gospel to the point of repentance should be baptized."

This is of course the standard Baptist position on baptism. The problem with this interpretation is that it runs headlong into the Didactic Epistles of St. Paul and St. Peter. Pr. Hall and all other Baptist believers assert that baptism is a sign of something that already has occurred within a person. St. Paul gives us numerous Baptism passages in the New Testament. We can start with Romans 6:3-4 and then move on to passages such as Galatians 3:27 and Colossians 2:11-12. The problem that Baptists have here is that all of these passages say plainly that Baptism actually does something. In Romans 6, it buries us with Christ and unites us to Him. In Colossians 2:11-12, St. Paul repeats the same thing and then goes even further, claiming that Baptism raises us in faith.

My Daughter! Water and the Spirit!
Of course, then we go back to the whole bifurcation of Baptism that Baptist theology erects; creating two Baptisms instead of one, as St. Paul says in Ephesians 4:5. This might sound silly, but what is to stop a person from claiming two Lords and two faiths as well? The truth of the matter is, there is one Baptism and that one Baptism has both water and the Spirit. They're not two separate Baptisms.

We respond of course that Baptism actually gives what Scripture says it gives, and actually does what Scripture says it does. To say that it is just an outward act of worship or discipleship flies in the face of the Didactic epistles.

Pr. Hall continues: "It is for this reasons that paedobaptists must resort to hermeneutic absurdities to claim the command to coerce unwilling recipients to receive the ordinance by force (for that is precisely what infant baptism is) is biblical. As they turn to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), for example, to insist that our command to disciple and then baptize the nations is a command to baptize infants, they fall squarely away from reason. Unconverted heathen are in the nations. Are we to baptize them against their will and prior to their conversion? Muslims are in the nations. Are we to baptize them against their will and prior to their conversion? Or clearly, are we to preach the Gospel, disciple, and baptize those who have placed their trust in Christ?"

This is a very sloppy argument. In effect, Pr. Hall is attacking a strawman here to refute infant baptism. When he states that we logically should be baptising unconverted heathen against their will we respond that no, of course we should not be baptising unconverted heathen. But here is precisely where his argument breaks down. Are we actually baptising newborn infants against their will? No, we are not. We're baptising a sinner who needs grace. Infants are naturally more "givable to" than adults. This is another place where his thought falls apart. Pr. Hall infers that cognitive ability and the human will are actually helps to the person and not hinderances. This is a brutal mistake. The more developed the intellect gets, the more of an obstacle it is. Why? It's sinful, that's why.

To say that an infant is unwilling is a strawman at best. And once again we see here that in Baptist theology it's all about positive choice and proclamation and not about God giving through His means of grace. I can already hear the howls of protest, and indeed Pr. Hall himself takes umbrage with this train of thought, but how far off is it? I mean, am I missing something?

Tamara Blickhan writes: "The article from the Southern Baptist Convention website, How to Become a Christian, states: “As soon as you have decided to receive Christ into your life, you can and should be baptized.” This statement explains the position: you decide to become a Christian (not monergistic) and you then are allowed to be baptized."

Pastor J.D. Hall responds: "Here’s where I take real exception. The Baptist believes (at least, let me speak for my Reformed Baptist brethren who hold to our confessions) that when one “decides” to become a Christian (a terrible way to phrase it, granted) it has been a work done in them solely by the Holy Spirit. That is very, very Monergistic. We believe that God works in us both to will and to do (Philippians 2:13). Sadly, some in the SBC have become decisional-regenerationists, which is as much a damnable teaching as baptismal-regeneration."

Tamara Blickhan's photo.
Baptismal Regeneration? Say it aint so!

I am truly glad that Pr. Hall rejects the foolish doctrine of decisional regeneration. Here we run into differences in theology, plain and simple. The Baptist of the Calvinistic stripe ultimately rejects means of grace altogether and asserts that if God uses the natural world to save the natural world (baptism, preaching, etc.) then it's not monergism. That is to say, the Holy Spirit must operate apart from those means and not through those means.

I'm happy they want to uphold monergistic regeneration here, but really, this is a completely different form of monergism that Scripture teaches and actually trends towards Gnostic thought in the separation of the spiritual reality from the natural means. At the very least, it's heavily influenced by Platonism. The irony of the whole thing is, infant baptism is actually the quintessential example of monergism. The flesh hates infant baptism because it violates the infant's right to choose. It boggles my mind how any monergist would have a problem with baptismal regeneration.

Pastor Hall then says: "Let me throw this back at the paedobaptist author of the aforementioned paragraph…one who believes people are saved (to be technical, made regenerate) by pouring water on the head (which, of course, is so not baptism anyway) without their consent and at the hands of priest, pastor or parent has to suffer from cognitive dissonance to call that position “Monergistic.” While it is true that the child him or herself didn’t have anything to do with their own salvation (or to be technical, regeneration), certainly God had Synergistic partners in the whole endeavor, chiefly the hands that pour water upon the head of the unwilling participant. Of all things, that is not Monergistic."

No, Pr. Hall, you reject means of grace and the office of the ministry. That's what causes you to make these claims. The root issue that Pr. Hall has here is that to him, monergism means completely random regeneration via an effectual inward call apart from natural means through which God does this. Christ instituted an office of the ministry. It began with the Apostles and goes right on through the ages up to pastors today. They do Christ's work through means.

"The article then goes on to assert that even if one had water poured or sprinkled upon them (once again, that’s not baptism) in the pagan Roman Catholic church they need not be “baptized” again."

Well, no, they don't need to be baptised again. Think with me for a second here. Does the Roman Catholic Church affirm the Trinity and baptise in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit? The answer is clearly yes, they do.

Likewise, does a Baptism depend on the personal piety of the priest or pastor administering it? I really hope not. What if Pr. Hall is unregenerate? Wouldn't that mean that every person he has baptised were illegitimate baptisms based on Pr. Hall being a heathen?

Hence, baptism cannot possibly depend on personal piety. It depends solely on God's Word and promise. You know, like the Gospel does. It's GOD'S Word. It's GOD'S promise. The regenerate state of the person administering matters not.

And come to think of it, how many Baptist pastors can claim that they know with certainty that every person they have ever baptised is saved? I assert that none can. The pastor can hear an outward profession and make a judgment call, but he cannot say with certainty the person is saved, especially if everything depends on inward condition and not on Christ and His objective works given to us in time.

Pastor Hall then fires off a typical evangelical whopper. When in doubt, call them Catholics! "As I’ve said for some time, the move to confessional Lutheranism, for many, is just a rest stop on the way to Rome. How far Lutheranism has come, that some consider a rite administered in what they’ve confessed to be an unchristian church now accounts for Christian baptism. When Lutherans feels themselves closer with pagan Catholicism than evangelicalism, this unfortunate papal slide continues."

I mean, do I even need to answer this? And yeah, we are Catholic, just not Roman.

I guess I'm going to have to go three blogs deep on this one. Until then...



Baptism Wars! Response to Pr. J.D. Hall - Part 1

Recently there was a scathing response written to an article one of my friends wrote that I thought was sloppily done at best. Hopefully, I can show why some of the author's arguments and statements fall short of making any actual headway in this discussion.

Pastor Jonathan Fisk Baptizes Infant
Pr. Jonathan Fisk of Worldview Everlasting
The article that my good friend, Tamara Blickhan, wrote can be found over at the Examiner site. Here is the link:

Baptism for the Christian: Rebaptism is not biblical

The response, coming from Baptist pastor, Jordan Hall (from here on referred to as Pr. J.D. Hall – a contributing writer of Pulpit & Pen), can be found here:

It's Not “Rebaptism,”: it's Baptism

Let it be said from the outset that the differences between Lutherans and every stripe of Baptists are too great to put the two groups in communion together this side of heaven. Therefore, these discussions, debates, and disagreements will continue to carry on through the ages. But, they're important to have because baptism is quite a large topic in the Christian faith.

The other thing that can be said is that this topic is far more touchy and important for Lutherans than it is for Baptists. Please don't misunderstand me here. I am not saying that baptism is not important to Baptists. What I am saying is that in Lutheranism, Baptism actually accomplishes a salvific role, whereas in Baptist theology, it is a memorial of an already inward condition. So, this is not a case of me sticking my Lutheran “triumphal nose in the air” at all. It's an acknowledgement of what the theologies teach and to show how diametrically opposed they are to one another.

Lutherans have a "higher" view of baptism that Baptists, for lack of a better term. It's more important and does something for you in Lutheranism. The correlation here is simple: if a topic is higher up on the list, it's bound to be more important. We say (as does the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 3:21) that baptism saves. That's a huge deal. Baptists say it's an act of obedience or an act of worship done by the already regenerate believer. That's less of a big deal, therefore, a lower view of the doctrine.

So, the reader has to understand from the outset that we, as Lutherans, will go after the Baptist stance on baptism quite often. Why? Because we believe that Baptist parents are denying an objective means of grace to their children. In short, they refuse to administer the Word of God to the child via Baptism. This is denying the Gospel to their kids. That's a big deal. A massively huge deal.

Baptists are far less likely to go after the Lutheran stance on Baptism because, to them, everything revolves around a converted will which involves a certain cognitive ability. The Bible is clear that we don’t make a decision to be saved; it is all of grace. John 1 explains: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

So they scoff at us baptizing our infants, but in the end, it's really not a big deal since the child is either covered under grace due to the Baptist doctrine of the Age of Accountability (Pelagian doctrine) or the child simply needs to be brought to faith later in life by God's hidden monergistic grace alone (Reformed Baptist). In either case, everything in Baptist theology regarding Baptism revolves around an advanced cognitive ability which an infant does not have (or the mentally infirm for that matter) and a converted will.

I will follow the order of Pr. J.D. Hall's blog as I respond.

Pastor J.D. Hall (JDH) began his article responding to a comment on the article Tamara Blickhan (TB) wrote.

Tamara Blickhan says: "The controversy over whether a Christian should be rebaptized if the person has already been baptized in one church or another denomination is cleared up using Christian creeds and confessions that explain the Bible about this doctrine of Baptism." (TB)

Hall responds: "A broad generalization, indeed. First, the Christian creeds commonly used to define orthodoxy (the Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed) are silent on the issue." (JDH)

OK, let's get started. If Pr. J.D. Hall wants to call the first statement a "broad generalization," fine. I can live with that. That being said, when Lutherans speak of the "Creeds," we are speaking specifically about the three major ecumenical creeds that Pr. J.D. Hall has rightly identified. However, what he says about them and baptism is unfortunately incorrect.

He may want to read the Nicene Creed again. Near the conclusion of it, the creed states: "I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins." The wording of the Nicene Creed is quite clear. There is one baptism for the remission of sins.

Here is the Baptist's problem with that statement: first, they reject that baptism remits sin. Secondly, if baptism does remit sin and the Baptist definition of what baptism is errs, then the Baptist, against his will, actually teaches works righteousness. To be clear: If baptism is an act of the believer done as worship or obedience to God, and baptism actually remits (or forgives which is the same thing) sin, then the conclusion is inescapable. Sin is remitted by us doing something for God. That's quite a problem for the Baptist since they reject all forms of works-righteousness and rightly so.

Ah! But what about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? That's generally the Baptist response here. They simply (re) interpret the Nicene Creed to be talking about Spirit baptism. Well, that's not entirely incorrect, to be honest, since it is only the Spirit of God who regenerates.

So, their problem lies not in claiming Spirit baptism, but in separating Spirit and water into two baptisms. Scripture is replete with references to water and the Holy Spirit being together in one baptism.

First, can we all at least acknowledge that there is one baptism? St. Paul says there is in Ephesians 4:5, which reads: "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism." There are not two baptisms any more than there are two Lords or two faiths. And per the Nicene Creed, it is this one Baptism that remits sins. It's fallacious to separate into multiple baptisms. Scripture never does. A Baptism is a washing with water that contains water and the Spirit. Without water and the Spirit together, it is not a baptism at all.

I'm not going to put all the Scriptures word-for-word on here, but I will give references where water and Spirit are linked, and inextricably so. John 3:5, Acts 2:38, Matthew 3:13-17 (Mark 1:10), Titus 3:5, 1John 5:6-8. That's a short list, not exhaustive.

Tamara Blickhan continues: "The question only comes to us from Baptists because of their belief about what baptism is. The Lutherans, Presbyterians, and other paedobaptist Christian bodies believe that baptism is the work of God and should only be done once in a lifetime." (TB)

To which Pr. J.D. Hall responds: "One must wonder why this ‘work of God’ has to be done by the hands of men upon unwilling and unregenerate recipients, which is what every infant who receives this libation ritual is." (JBH)

Pr. Hall has really dug himself deep here. I see two major theological problems with his statement.

First, I have to wonder if Pr. J.D. Hall is a Gnostic. I am sure he denies such a thing, but hear me out on this. The beginning of his statement is an outright denial of any means of grace whatsoever. This is to say, in essence, the pastor is rejecting that God uses the natural world to save the natural world. I mean, he would turn right around and say that God uses Gospel preaching as a vehicle to save the unregenerate right? I think he probably would. Or else, if he is a Hyper Calvinist, perhaps he would argue that the Spirit works completely apart from means and regenerates people sovereignly and independently with no means whatsoever.

If the first case is true, then he affirms natural means of grace and his argument is specifically with baptism and he worded his argument very poorly. Baptism in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is no more a work done by the hands of men than preaching the Gospel is. Now I might be stupid, but I know a little bit about Physics (I have a B.A. in Physics).

When the preacher preaches, what we are hearing audibly is sound waves. That's natural. So, if God can give us sound waves to save the natural world, why can't He use water as well? How about bread and wine? If he rejects natural means altogether, he’s got a bigger problem: namely, Jesus. Jesus is a man, right? He was crucified in the flesh, right? I know with certainty that the pastor would not reject the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ. That belief would be utterly Gnostic and far outside of the Christian faith.

Second, Pr. J.D. Hall just condemned every infant to hell. I don't think anybody believes that. He plainly states that every infant who receives this "libation ritual" (baptism) is unwilling and unregenerate.

Well, let's be clear: unregenerate people are not saved people. Grace saves us and grace regenerates us. I hope the man would at least agree on that. He plainly states that infants are unwilling and unregenerate. I assume that due to his Baptist theology, this is precisely because they are incapable of such.

The standard Baptist doctrine here to get around this is called the Age of Accountability, which ultimately denies Original Sin. Pr. J.D. Hall is not Pelagian, so it's completely inconsistent and silly to embrace the unbiblical dogma of the Age of Accountability. I won't say much more about that, because once upon a time, I said a lot about it. The blog can be found here:

Age of Accountability

As much as the pastor wants to label himself a Reformed Baptist, he's actually defaulting to conversion of the will here (which is against Scripture – see the first chapter of the book of John) and spoken profession, which can only be made by those who have developed their cognitive ability to a certain point. He robs from Peter to pay Paul, so to speak.

As a Reformed Baptist, Pr. J.D. Hall is a Calvinistic man. He would affirm, with the Lutherans, that it is the Spirit who regenerates and that faith itself is God's gift, and no matter how much cognitive ability a person has, nobody is capable of faith in Christ barring a regeneration wrought by God alone.

Do pray tell, why are infants excluded from this? The only answer is that they cannot understand it. They cannot use their brains like this pastor has in order to respond to the gospel, yet faith doesn’t equate perfectly to understanding, but rather to trust in Christ. And that is given by God. Thus, in his theology, he has actually inserted a salvation by knowledge scheme to an extent where God only gives faith to those who have the necessary cognitive ability to receive the gift. In other words, there has to be a clear decision made by the person, or at the very least, a clear ability to understand before God gives His gift. This is synergistic. We'll call it a happy inconsistency.

Look for part 2, I'll have it up soon!



Christians are Hypocrites

Darn right we are. We're no better than anyone else.

Wait a second. What did that just say? OK, allow me to spell it out for you. Christians are hypocrites. Yes, yes, yes we are. One of the most common accusations thrown at Christians is that we are hypocrites. And it's true. We are.

You Church People...
The problems are many in this discussion, but I suppose, since I decided to write a blog on it, I'll give some reasoning.

Yeah, like...everyone there.

First, Christianity is not a self-help program. Jesus is not something we add on to our life to improve ourselves. Much less, He is not an addition so that we can stand in the judgment seat and let everyone know how much better we are than them.

Second, Christianity is not moralism. This one is closely correlated to the previous one, but it needs to be said. Christianity is not about us being morally better. Does this mean that we do not desire to please God? Well, no. Does this mean that we accept sin as acceptable behavior? Well, no again. But then,we're every bit as sinful as anyone and everyone else.

Yep, all the time.
Thirdly, those outside the church see right through us. They should though, right? I mean, it's not like non-Christians are stupid. Lots of brilliant people in history have been non-Christians. So, being a Christian or not has nothing to do with intelligence. The problem here is that the world, just like many within the church, think church is about being better and improving yourself. So then when we aren't better, we get labeled as hypocrites, and the non-church people, who are just as sinful, get labeled as being more open, honest, and real. Sometimes it's because they reject that their sin is actually sin. That is most common. Other times it's simply because they're not "religious."

So then, what is the problem? Well, people have a completely incorrect view of what church is. Church people aren't better. And if they claim to be, they too have missed the point. We need the church precisely because we are not better and God judges by a perfect standard. More precisely, we need Jesus Christ. Not just church people, but everyone. He is also love and would have all people to be saved (1Tim 2:1-7).

Church is not a place to go to make yourself better. It's actually quite the opposite. It's a place to go to receive forgiveness of sins because you are not better and you know it. Because you ARE a hypocrite, you need to be forgiven. What we need is the Gospel! Self-improvement is not the good news if the standard is perfection and we cannot ever live up to that.

The world has missed the point too, or else they would be there as well. Many people within the church, as well as our culture at-large, don't know what the church is for.

It's not a self-help institution. It's not a place to get morally better.

It's a hospital for you, precisely because you're not morally perfect and never can be. We need grace and so does everyone else in this world.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +


Lame Baptismal Humor. No Really, This is Lame

Welcome to the Eighth Council of Geneva. Many elders, bishops, priests, and pastors are present.

John Calvin: Welcome everybody. You're all on my turf now for this much needed discussion on baptism.

John Wesley: Servetus!

John Calvin: What?

John Wesley: Sorry, that just slipped out. My bad. Carry on John. By the way, I'm so happy your parents used their libertarian freewill and gave you such a wonderful name!

John Calvin: OK, OK. Let's get started before I roast Wesley.

JESUS: "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

Peter Ruckman: That's not in MY bible Jesus.

St. Paul: Did you just rebuke Jesus, Ruckman?

Jack Schaap: NO! No little children to come to Jesus! I get them all!

James White: Didn't that get you in trouble Schaap?

Peter Ruckman: JAMES WHITE!!!! Heretic!

Brian McLaren: Let's all just love each other and get along. For the sake of unity!

Buddha: Yes. Brian and I have unity and peace with nature.

John Calvin: Bye Brian. Bye Buddha.

Martin Luther: I bring little children to Jesus all the time in Holy Baptism.

John Calvin: Me too Marty.

Benny Hinn: You don't bring children to Christ in Holy Baptism. You bring them...HADOUKEN!

Mark Driscoll: Whoa. Dude. Benny. I almost fell down. Almost. By the way, did you see my awesome Twitter quote? It said: "I have a dream...that all men are created equal."

Todd Bentley: I just kick people in the groin Benny. Works much better.

Martin Luther: What is this? The heretic convention?

John MacArthur: Bet you do have dreams Mark.

St. Thomas: Why are you writing in green, Jesus?

St.Paul: I see you have a thorn in the flesh too, eh Aquinas?

John Calvin: Baptism is a sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace!

Martin Luther: Is not, Johnny.

John Calvin: Is TOO Marty!

Martin Luther: I am tired of the pestilent voice of your sirens, Calvin.

John Wesley: Servetus!

St. Peter: OK Wesley, you can leave now.

St. Paul: So...let's get back to baptism. I once wrote:  "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4)

Peter Ruckman: You did not, Paul. What it really says, in the inspired text is: Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4: KJV!!!)

St. Paul: Oh yeah, I did write all those books in Elizabethan English. Thanks for reminding me Peter. So, do you agree with it? I mean, I said that we are buried with Christ by baptism. Do you believe that?

Peter Ruckman: Heretic! Baptism is my own pledge of obedience to God! It does nothing! You're unsavedand need to repent, Paul!

John Calvin: Did you just rebuke St. Paul, Ruckman?

Martin Luther: You are an abominable arch-heretic, Ruckman.

John Calvin: You can leave now Ruckmeister.

Peter Ruckman: You're all going to burn! If the KJV was good enough for Moses, it's good enough for me!

John Calvin: I'll decide who burns, thank you very much.

JESUS: No you won't John.

John Calvin: Sorry Jesus. You're right. I only decide which HERETICS will burn.

JESUS: OK. You can stop now John.

Martin Luther: Yeah, Calvin. You don't believe Romans 6 either.

John Calvin: Servetus said he did too.

Martin Luther: It is presumptuous for people who are as ignorant as you are not to take up the work of a herdsman, Calvin.

St. Paul: Come on guys, I wrote more on this. I said once: "In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead." (Colossians 2:11-12)

Joel Osteen: This is mah bah-bull...

Pope Francis: Atheists are more Christian than you Osteen.

Martin Luther: You boast of possessing the Spirit, more than the apostles, and yet for years now have secretly prowled about and flung around your dung. Were you a true spirit you would at once have come forward and given proof of you call by sings and words. But you are a treacherous, secret devil who sneaks around in corners until you have done your damage and spread your poison, Osteen.

Charles Spurgeon: Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Osteen.

St. Paul: Bye Joel, you weren't invited.

Joel Osteen: This is mah bah-bull!!!

St. Peter: And you don't believe any of it, Chump. You should read the second chapter of my second epistle, Joel. I had you in mind.

John Calvin: Someone get the fire going, please.

JESUS: Calvin! I already told you...

John Calvin: Oh yeah, sorry again Jesus. I repent.

Rob Bell: It doesn't matter what you believe, we all end up in heaven anyways.

RJ Rushdoony: Except you Rob. Christianity is going to take over the world, except for you Robbie.

James White: Postmillennialists...*smh

Martin Luther: Baptists...*smh

James White: But Marty, I play "A Mighty Fortress" on the Dividing Line.

Martin Luther: You are a little pious prancer, James. What light can there be in heads that hold such tangible darkness?

Scott Hahn: Is this the conference on birth control?

Pope Francis: No Scott, but thanks for coming. Have you met my new brother in Christ, Richard Dawkins?

Pope Benedict XVI: Why did I quit again?

St. Paul: Sooooo...I did say that we are raised in faith in baptism. (Colossians 2:12)

Jack Schaap: I only baptise 14-18 year old girls who have made a personal decision to follow me.

Martin Luther: Still got that fire, John?

JESUS: Marty, Marty...

Martin Luther: Yes. St. Paul tells us that baptism raises us in faith.

St. Peter: Hey, I said that baptism brings the forgiveness of sins at Pentecost and gives us the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

JESUS: I told Nicodemus that too. (John 3:5)

St. Paul: I tried to make it pretty obvious in my letter to Titus too. (Titus 3:5)

Charles Spurgeon: I contemplated over a cigar one day that all of you chaps are wrong about that.

Martin Luther: Did you just rebuke Jesus, St. Paul,and St. Peter, Spurgeon? You should not write a book before you have heard an old sow fart; and then you should open your jaws with awe, saying, "Thank you, lovely nightingale, that is just the text for me!"

St. Thomas: When is Jesus going to use green font again?

St. Paul: Green. Hehe.

JESUS: Never, Thomas.

St. Thomas: Why did you say never, Jesus? You just used it.

Joel Osteen: This is mah bah-bull!

John Calvin: Osteen!!! We booted you awhile back! How did you get back in? Hey Spurge, can I borrow that stogie for a minute?

JESUS: One more time and I'm booting you out of Geneva, John.

St. Thomas: Nice red font, Jesus.

Martin Chemnitz: Is Aquinas using the scholastic method again?

Martin Luther: He's color-blind, Marty. And by the way, thanks for finishing up the Book of Concord.

Joel Osteen: I am what it says I am...I can do what it says I can do. I boldly confess...

Martin Luther: That you're a wretched sinner, Osteen!

John Calvin: Hey Spurgeon...

Charles Spurgeon: I just finished John, sorry old chap.

St. Peter: OK guys, I said that baptism now saves you once. That's in 1 Peter 3:21.

Martin Luther: Amen!!!

RC Sproul: Does not. Sign and seal. That's it.

St. Peter: But RC, I said...

RC Sproul: You're wrong, St. Peter.

JESUS: No he isn't RC.

RC Sproul: Ummm.

Dr. Mike Murdock: Sow a seed, just $273!!!

Kenneth Copeland: I only charge $158 and guarantee 100-fold profit!!!

Martin Luther: Which one of you is the left cheek and which one is the right cheek?

John Calvin: Dr? How the heck did you get a doctorate Murdock?

St. Paul: There are special places for people like you Murdock. You too Dopeland.

Martin Luther: Hey Calvin!

John Calvin: What? Sorry, I fell asleep while pondering the thought of being predestined to hell.

Martin Luther: Your boy Mike Murdock is here!

John Calvin: Oh. Well, you know what I think, but I can't say it or Jesus will boot me from Geneva.

JESUS: I know your thoughts Calvin. Bye.

Origen: I brought a machete if anyone wants the half-off special!

Martin Luther: How did that work out for you Origen? By the way, baptism now saves you. St. Peter said so. Not castration. Can I keep one and ditch the other Origen?

St. Peter: I did say that, didn't I Marty?

JESUS: Indeed.


No One Wants to be a Hyper Calvinist.

OK, so this blog post is just a plea for sanity amongst the Calvinists. The phrase "Hyper Calvinism"  or "Hyper Calvinist"is thrown around a lot in both Calvinist and non-Calvinist circles. The term itself is terribly subjective, but one thing is for sure: nobody actually is one. I say that with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek.

If you ask Phil Johnson, who runs closely with John MacArthur, there are a ton of things that makes one a Hyper Calvinist. Also to be clear, Johnson is a dispensational 5 point Baptist. That's not a Calvinist if you ask most people, because he is not Confessional and doesn't hold to Covenant Theology. At the very least, he's definitely not Reformed. He does hold to the famous TULIP acrostic however. Johnson fired this popular article off in 1998:

Primer on Hyper Calvinism

I was a Calvinist for years. No one wants to be a Hyper Calvinist. Historically, I tend to think Phil Johnson is pretty close to what the term means. That being said, Calvinists who fall into some of these things that Phil Johnson labels Hyper, object to being called Hyper Calvinists. Who wants to be one? It's a derogatory term.

So now there are attempts to define the term sharply. And guess who is doing the defining? Yep. Not hard to figure out.

Anyways, those who fall into the "higher than Calvinism" category, which is labelled Hyper by Phil Johnson, have come up with other definitions.

Is it any shock that the very top of the ladder is "Hyper Calvinism"and it is definied so narrowly that pretty much nobody ever qualifies for it? After all, who wants to be a Hyper Calvinist? It's like a swear word in Calvinist circles.

Here is an example:

6 Levels of Calvinism

There are a few things I find funny about this list. Here they are:

1. Almost no one is a Hyper Calvinist. Pretty much as long as you believe in evangelism, that God is not the author of sin, and human responsibility doesn't exist, you're not a Hyper Calvinist. Well, almost no one believes these things. This redefinition of Hyper Calvinism takes the derogatory term and limits it to 3 or 4 crazy wackos. Really.

2. Lutherans are really just super-low Calvinists. After all, Lutheranism is the 6th and lowest tier on this list. That's nonsense. Lutherans aren't Calvinists, like, at all. Monergists, yeah, we are that. And we're objective in our monergism too.

3. Look at the levels in between what is traditionally called Classical Calvinism (#4 on this list) and Hyper Calvinism. Now instead of being an Orthodox Calvinist (like the CRC, URCNA, maybe the PCA), now you can be a high or ultra-high Calvinist! You don't have to be labeled Hyper anymore! Screw Phil Johnson and traditional Calvinism! We're not Hyper, we're just high.

(Yes, labels are important and usefuland necessary in theology...I'm not denying that)

So really...I think we can explain it like this.

If you smoke one joint, you're a High Calvinist. And by the way, O reprobate, God created you for the sole purpose of damning you for His glory.

If you smoke two joints, you're an Ultra High Calvinist. Now God has nothing but hate for you,O reprobate. And by the way, us elect folks are justified for all eternity.

If you smoke 2 joints and then drink a pot of coffee, only then are you a Hyper Calvinist.

What's next? Can we insert a few more levels please? Hey, he's higher than Ultra-High, but he preaches the Gospel! We can call him a Super-Duper-Ultra-High Calvinist! Yes!

I have a solution to all of this. But of course, I'm a Lutheran and my opinion here is quite irrelevant. But really, how about this: If you're not a traditional Calvinist, just stop using the term. That's not so hard is it? I mean, just eliminate the #1, 2, and 3 categories from this list and call it something else completely, because, you know what? It's not Calvinism. It's something else entirely. Or, just use Phil Johnson's list. He's a Baptist and seems to grasp traditional Calvinism (minus the Covenant Theology and the Confessions) well enough.

And for cryin' out loud, get Lutheranism off this list. We're not part of your theological belief system. And be honest, we're heretics according to Reformed Theology. We believe in baptismal regeneration and the true body and blood of Christ in the Lord's Supper. You know, objective monergism.

Sanity, Calvinists, sanity!!!


So...It's 2014.

New Year's resolutions are all the rage. Tons of people talk about them this time of year. Well, to put it quite bluntly, I've never been one to make them. And I'm not planning on changing that this year. I know, someone is going to point out that resolving not to make a resolution is actually making a resolution. Well, you got me there, smarty pants.

We also had a poll open to vote in for about 3 months. It simply asked: What church/theology best represents you. I gave four options: Reformed/Calvinist, Lutheran, Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox, and Baptist. Apparently, roughly 75% of viewers of this blog are Lutheran. That's good, since we're Lutheran guys who are blogging. We are also happy to have the other 25% of viewers as well. Per the poll, most of the viewers who are not Lutheran are Reformed. The Baptist and Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox categories only received 3 votes each out of 87 total votes cast.

A new poll is up regarding baptism. Be sure to vote!

However, I would love to review my turbulent 2013 and then talk about the books I would like to read and dig into in the very near future.

2013 was a year of difficult decisions that I had to make. I became convinced of Lutheran theology very early in the year but waited for a few months before pursuing a Lutheran (LCMS) congregation. I was formerly a member at a Baptist church but was Reformed in my thought. I wanted to make sure it was not a phase. I eventually began making the jump in the late Spring.

All 4 of my daughters were baptised in my LCMS congregation this year. What joyful moments for a father! I was also confirmed in the LCMS and in time resurrected this blog after a good Reformed friend found it online. I thought I had deleted it!

Here are 10 books (not including Holy Scripture) I want to read through and digest this year...

1. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Lutheran Church.

I've read through most of the Book of Concord already and I am very familiar with it. That being said, the Book of Concord is a staple for me. I return to it often to be taught from great theologians of the past.

2. The Lutheran Difference: An Explanation and Comparison of Christian Beliefs

I just got this puppy in the mail and have already skimmed some of it. I'm looking forward to just sitting down and reading through it. It appears to be an outstanding resource on comparing Lutheranism to many other Christian churches.

3. The Self-Donation of God, by Dr. Jack Kilcrease (http://jackkilcrease.blogspot.com/)

I started this one and read the first chapter. So far, so good. Christology is a Lutheran strong point, and I am looking forward to reading Dr. Kilcrease's writings.

4. The Hammer of God, by Bo Giertz

I just got this one in the mail as well. I've heard nothing but good things about this book from fellow Lutherans and am looking forward to devouring this one.

5. The Righteousness of One, by Jordan Cooper (http://justandsinner.blogspot.com)

I read 2 chapters of Pr. Cooper's book a couple months ago. The New Perspective on Paul is interesting to me, but it's not at the top of my list. So far what I read was interesting. I look forward to completing it.

6. This Is My Body, by Hermann Sasse

I started this one as well. This is a Lutheran classic. Finish it, Taylor, finish it.

7. Sex and the Marriage Covenant, by John Kippley

This book is a full-scale treatment of the marriage covenant by John Kippley, a Roman Catholic. I'm very interested in his treatment of the topic. $5 says someone crucifies me for wanting to read this.

8. We Confess Anthology, by Hermann Sasse

I don't have this book, but, Deo Volente, I will get it soon!

9. Law and Gospel: How to read and apply the Bible, by C.F.W. Walther

This is another LCMS classic put out by Concordia Publishing House that I still need to get. I am hoping to have it soon!

10. The Fire and the Staff: Lutheran Theology in Practice, by Klemet Preus

Another one I am excited to eventually get. This book has been recommended to me by a few different people whom I respect.

And there is my list. I hope to get to these books in 2014. No, it's not a resolution. :P