Get the Babies Wet - It Saves

For many years, I took a Baptist stance on Baptism. First of all, I was raised with that belief. Second of all, I never really questioned it since I was taught it from childhood. Third of all, even when I started digging into various theological authors as well as Scripture, I never bothered with Baptism, because I had always thought that infant baptism was just a Romanist carryover. Thus, no need to question the topic of Baptism. I thought it was a non-issue and that Christian churches following Scripture only dunked believers after a credible question of faith.

Then I read some guys I shouldn't have. The Reformed authors I read made some sense, but no more than the Baptist authors that I read. This is mainly due to the continuity of the covenant idea that Reformed authors import in order to justify paedobaptism. I don't think that argument is necessarily bad, but it's not a slam dunk case for paedobaptism either. I think that is why there are Classic Calvinists who baptize infants and there are also Calvinistic Baptists, who hold to the sovereignty of God in salvation and the TULIP and all that stuff, but will only Baptize professing believers.

Thus, whereas I was still firmly a Baptist, I now at least understood that some evangelicals can make a case for paedobaptism and at the very least stopped seeing the doctrine as nothing more than a Romanist error that carried over into the Reformers.

But what about all those churches that held to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration? After all, the doctrine is a huge heresy in Reformed as well as Baptist circles. It's considered heretical because in their theology, it adds to faith alone, hence mingling works into justification and thus salvation by extension.

So how did I ever end up Lutheran? I was an unlikely candidate to jump to Wittenberg, that is for certain.

To put it simply, I re-examined all of the passages in the New Testament that spoke of water and baptism and simply read them and compared them to what different churches believe. By different churches, I mean the big ones like Rome and the East, and the Lutherans, and the Reformed, and the Baptists. I wanted to have a clear understanding of Baptism and what it is.

To begin with, the Baptist understanding of Baptism has holes in it. Every passage in Scripture that links Baptism directly to salvation must be interpreted in a manner that is different than what the text plainly reads. Usually this is done by saying that the Baptism spoken of in those passages is a reference to "Baptism of the Holy Spirit." Essentially, this "Baptism" is accomplished by God at the moment of belief. In other words, this Baptism of the Holy Spirit in Baptist theology is nothing more than when the Holy Spirit indwells a person and they are saved. Hence, in an instance like Romans 6:3-4, the passage could be read as those who believe. They are the ones baptized into Christ. That interpretation certainly fits their theology. Hence, all the Scriptures that speak of Baptism and link it to salvation end up speaking of Baptism of the Holy Spirit and not "Water Baptism."

To prove this doctrine, the Baptists will go to passages that speak about faith and say that because of the faith passages, the Baptism passages can't be speaking about water Baptism. I am not going to rehash that interpretation as to why it is wrong, because I already did. It can be found here: Faith - Baptism Likewise, how do these interpretations that there are multiple baptisms jive with St. Paul in Ephesians 4:5? Not to mention, how do they connect with passages that link water and the Word, or water and Spirit? Normally, the pat Baptist answer here is to eliminate Water Baptism from the passage altogether, thereby making water nothing more than a symbolic reference to something else. Sometimes it refers to being cleansed figuratively by the Spirit and other times it can even refer to the amniotic fluid that a baby is born from.

Thus, suffice it to say, my Baptist presuppositions were rocked to the core. Eventually I came to realize that the Holy Scriptures, nor the early church and the Fathers, do not teach the Baptist doctrine of Baptism.

Yet, I was still stuck in Reformed world. So, I embraced the Reformed Covenantal view of paedobaptism. But this has holes that might be even bigger. It's much easier to simply say that Baptism (and the Eucharist for that matter) is just a picture and deny all efficacy altogether of the ordinance (what we call a Sacrament). Reformed Theology wants to have the cake and eat it too. They want to affirm, along with St. Peter, that Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (1 Pe 3:21). They want to say that Baptism does something for the infant. And they answer that it makes the infant part of the Covenant Community and then subsequently works into the assurance and sanctification of the infant later in life. Not to mention, the Reformed simply cannot affirm what the Scriptures plainly say about Baptism simply because to do so would annihilate the precious L and P in the TULIP. In my mind, however, if it does not do something in a salvific manner, what is the point? So I stayed Baptist, despite agreeing to an extent with the Reformed Covenant stance on paedobaptism.

Enter Lutheranism. (Yes, I looked at Rome and the East too, but this is already getting too long, so I will forego those two. Suffice it to say that I rejected those churches for other reasons.) Lutheranism gave me a clear and concise answer to Baptism, all the while upholding sola fide. (See the link above) Lutheran Theology gives us a clear and plain reason to Baptize infants that is completely biblical and does not need to extrapolate from Genesis 12-17 and the Abrahamic Covenant. I'm not saying there are no correlations there, of course. Certainly St. Paul makes this link in Colossians 2:11-12. Not to mention, Lutheranism affirms another doctrine that I was 100% convinced is taught clearly in the Scriptures: Election. Yet, in passing from Reformed Theology to Lutheranism, I did have to relinquish the Calvinist doctrine of reprobation or double predestination. That one was also difficult, but in the end, I have come to realize that this too is what Scripture teaches on the topic: single predestination, precisely as the Lutheran Confessions hold (See: Solid Declaration - Election)

That dirty heresy of baptismal regeneration (as I was always told), I was coming to realize, is true. Why? Because the Bible clearly teaches it. It is plain as day. One has to read a presupposed theology into the Bible in order to deny it.

The explanation is so simple that many people reject it because it's just far too simple. All you need to know are two very important theological truths. The easy argument goes like this.

1. All people, including infants, are sinful. Therefore, even our infants need to be saved.(Rom 5, Ps 51) This is called the doctrine of original sin. Denying this doctrine leads to numerous other enormous errors. Ultimately, the Gospel itself is undermined.

2. Baptism buries us and raises us with Christ (Rom 6, Col 2), and saves us (1 Pe 3).

3. Conclusion. Baptize infants. They need it. It's pure Gospel promise for them. The work of God given to them through the means of grace that Christ instituted.

That's it. Simple and to the point. We do not need a long extrapolated argument of covenant continuity (Calvinist Covenant Theology). Likewise, we err when we reinterpret clear and plain didactic teachings to be symbolic or figurative (Baptists, Dispensationalism). Ironically, the Dispensational Baptists interpret the book of Revelation literally and clear didactic teachings symbolically or figuratively. Seems backwards to me.

Done. Your kids need it. It saves them. Not only is this argument simple and almost too easy, it's 100% biblical. Not to mention, it's what the Church has always believed. For instance, the Council of Carthage in 253 AD took infant Baptism for granted and instead debated if the Baptism should take place on the 8th day like circumcision. There was no debate over Baptism in the early church. Certainly with a core doctrine like Baptism, you would expect to see all sorts of theologians and pastors protesting paedobaptism. Nobody did.

Likewise, if this clear and plain reading of Baptism is correct and the Scriptures are not a big puzzle on this topic, then it is the gravest of sins for a Christian parent to withhold Baptism from their children. Such is equivalent to withholding Jesus and His pure Gospel from them.

If there are Baptist readers here, one objection might be that getting an infant wet does nothing. This objection is empty and vain. To answer that, I will leave a link to Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism below. Read and enjoy!

Small Catechism - Baptism



JW/Watchtower. Christian or Not?

Are the Jehovah's Witnesses, or Watchtower, a Christian church? This is a topic worth looking into considering the Watchtower is getting to be a fairly big organization in the United States. And after all, they are awfully good at going door to door and pitching their church to people. They are also a very educated body in what they believe. Likewise, the Watchtower has produced their own translation of the Scriptures, replete with their theology written into it - but that is another topic for another day.

To answer this question, we simply must look at what the Watchtower believes about the person and work of Jesus Christ. So, what do they believe? From their own site (http://www.jw.org) they state the following:

We follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and honor him as our Savior and as the Son of God. (Matthew 20:28; Acts 5:31) Thus, we are Christians. (Acts 11:26) However, we have learned from the Bible that Jesus is not Almighty God and that there is no Scriptural basis for the Trinity doctrine.—John 14:28.

Thus, in their own words, the Watchtower believes that Jesus is not God but rather only the Son of God. They also reject the Trinity, claiming there is no Scriptural basis for the belief. They also claim to be Christians, as their own words indicate.

Thus, the Watchtower is a group worth looking at. It's also quite nice that the Watchtower clearly lays their beliefs on the table and are not sketchy about them. For that, we can be thankful.

The Watchtower has spilled tons of ink trying to point out that the Trinity is not a correct belief, and in fact is a lie. They state on their website: "Neither the word “Trinity” nor the concept is found in God’s Word." Then they proceed to defend this belief with some Scriptures such as Colossians 1:15.

The first part of this argument is a non-argument. Yes, we know the word Trinity is not in the Bible. So what? Does that falsify it? The word "eschatology" is not in the Bible either, but the Watchtower has a decided eschatology revolving the Kingdom of God, and so on. The second argument regarding the concept is their real argument. In short, they are simply arguing that the Trinity is not taught in the Holy Scriptures.

Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason has given a rock solid answer to this and can be found here:

In essence, Koukl points out that based on John 1:3, Jesus is either fully God or He is not God at all. He cannot be what the Watchtower wants Him to be.

The Witnesses' belief of course, is nothing more than a rehashing of the ancient heresy of Arianism. The bigger problem with the Witnesses' belief here is that it completely trashes the atonement of Christ and as such, turns the Watchtower into a religion of works.

The argument simply goes like this: If Christ is not God, the atonement is insufficient in itself, because only God can forgive sin. And since God forgives sin based on the work of Jesus Christ, Jesus must be fully God, since only God can make an atonement that is worthy of forgiveness of sin. In other words, the atonement must be absolutely perfect and only God is perfect. If it is anything less than perfect, it's worthless, since then God could not forgive sin on its basis. Hence, for the atonement to be the basis of our Christian faith, Jesus must be God.

I'm not going to get into all the texts that show the Deity of Christ or ones where Jesus Himself says He is God, or ones where the Apostle Paul or Thomas say He is God. The Witnesses' have snappy pat answers for those. Not good ones mind you - and they're all ripped from context, misinterpreted, or re-translated to fit their theology, but they do have answers.

In summary, the Watchtower has an atonement that is useless, leaving the individual Watchtower believer to simply do their best, and then maybe God will save them for their following of Jesus. But if God is perfect, and the atonement was made by someone other than Almighty God, the atonement is not perfect. Hence, based on Watchtower theology, nobody will be saved - if they flesh their theology out to its conclusion.

The Watchtower is not a Christian theology or a Christian Church. In fact, it is really not very different from all other World Religions that deny the Deity of Christ. Historically, it is a product of the Second Great Awakening in the United States. The Latter Day Saints, or Mormons, were founded in the same era. We see historically, that all of the major new branches of Christianity so-called that began in the Second Great Awakening have a decided tendency to elevate man to a level where the Bible does not put him. The Enlightenment and Rational Humanism are partly to blame here. When these things sneak in, humanist theology and the power of the human will and works are the end result. In this manner, the Watchtower fits the bill, right along with the Mormons and the adherents of the abhorrent doctrines of Charles G. Finney.

The Jehovah's Witnesses may be a religion and a church, but they are not a Christian one.



Is God omnipresent, or His right hand isn't?

One of the arguments used against Eucharistic real presence is that the right hand of God is in some local place in heaven (away from us) and Christ's humanity is now there so He can't possibly be with us in His body and blood in the Eucharist.

Let me address here the issue of the right hand of God. Those who make these assertions do indeed affirm the omnipresence of God. They affirm Christ being God is omnipresent in His divine nature.

So what is the problem?

The problem lies in saying the right hand of God is at some local place. Why? Assuming right hand of God is "a part of God" we have the problem now of saying the right hand isn't omnipresent. And if we go by that then not all of God is omnipresent. And if God isn't fully omnipresent, then how can Christ according to His divine nature be as such?

So such arguments, though aim to undercut the presence of Christ's humanity with us in means of grace, actually undercut the presence of Christ's divinity with us as well.

And ultimately, it undercuts the divinity of God overall. The major attribute of God is His omnipresence.

That includes His "right hand."


Limited atonement functionally isn't Monergism

Saying Christ died for you if you believe in Him is problematic and is actually what drove me away from the limited atonement view (even when I used that argument back in the days I used to affirm such a view).

There is no if in Christ dying for you. Regardless that it is affirmed here by those who affirm Christ died only for the elect that faith is gift of God, not of ourselves, the moment you make Christ died for only those who believe, you attach faith as a condition for Him dying for you. And that is a real problem since the gospel invitation is itself believe He died for you to be saved.

More, it is a problem since it makes faith looks like it earns Christ's death for you, though no one of this view holds to faith does that. But having the if condition on Christ dying for you creates a real problem there.

Can't believe a gospel that is merely hypothetical for you either. We are told to believe the gospel preached to us. Paul said the gospel he preached that was first heard and received unto salvation is indeed Christ crucified for you. He didn't say Christ died for only if you believe. Nor did Christ and His other apostles.

Putting the if condition ironically is in its own way synergism with a vengeance. And folks, who affirm limited atonement, hold to it to avoid any form of synergism. But can't avoid it in practice if you make Christ's death for you only if you believe.

It puts the assurance back on you rather than in Christ crucified. And worse, it is simply not biblical. Better to let Scriptures speak: Christ died for all, all men, world, whole world, those who denied Him,  etc.



Very recently Pope Francis (Frank the Hippie Pope) has been at it again, seemingly questioning the possibility of (certain) Lutherans being permitted to partake of the Eucharist with Roman Catholics. Given that this idea is severe error, I wanted to address the seriousness of this error.


Recently the Hippie Pope visited a Lutheran church in Rome and was asked questions after his visit. A distraught Lutheran woman asked him if it is possible for her, a Lutheran, to partake of Holy Communion with her husband, who is a Roman Catholic. Francis correctly said it was not his authority to permit it, but nonetheless seemed to open the door to the possibility, quoting friends who had said "we both believe in the Real Presence," and saying that it could help sustain us on the way.

Now, I do not wish to make light of this Lutheran woman's sadness and concern. For almost a year I had felt the pain of not being able to partake of the Holy Supper with my wife. I am thankful and give praise to God that she embraced the Lutheran faith and now she, with my whole family, partakes with me together.

But the thing to do, instead of making light of our serious differences with the Roman Catholics--and other heterodox bodies within Christianity--is to set an example for the articles of the Gospel by continuing to commune only with those Lutherans that we are in fellowship with.

In fact, the Pope's words have caused great alarm within the borders of his own Vatican City. Many Roman Catholics are concerned that this could change the very meaning of the Eucharist. So, not only is Rome concerned, but as a Lutheran I am concerned as well that my fellow Lutherans do not succumb to this temptation to partake with Roman Catholics.


There is a common error that is currently present in many churches within the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod when it comes to our understanding of Holy Communion. Some well-meaning pastors have taken their understanding of pastoral discretion on the Eucharist, but have run with it, even though the very nature of pastoral discretion should be rare exceptions. A recent survey showed that close to 50% of our parishes allow anyone who believes in the Real Presence to partake with us. Not only is this a problem because it goes against the Missouri Synod's official position on the Supper, but these folks also are going against their own denomination.

For example, Rome officially does not allow its parishioners to partake anywhere other than a Catholic parish--although they allow them to partake at an Orthodox church if there is not a Catholic church nearby. However, I do not know of *any* situations where an Orthodox bishop has allowed a Catholic to commune at an Orthodox church. And likewise, although Rome offers the Orthodox Eucharistic hospitality, the Orthodox church does not permit its faithful to partake anywhere else other than an Orthodox church.

So, all around, even when Eucharistic hospitality is offered, *all* those churches that practice closed Communion--Lutherans, Catholics, and Orthodox--end up being only permitted or accepted to partake of Holy Communion at their own churches.

But why is this so?


On the surface, the idea of inter-communion sounds nice and loving. After all, being excluded from Communion makes someone feel like they are "out" or not part of the "group." Closed Communion sounds so unloving, right?

But I dare say that those churches who allow inter-communion, or the folks that desire it, do not understand the meaning of Holy Communion.

You see, Holy Communion is much more than simply the Real Presence. Indeed, it is union with Christ's Body and Blood, vertically speaking--***but it is also union with the Church, the Body of Christ.***

***This includes unity in doctrine.***

In other words, for a Lutheran to commune at a Catholic church would be to say that we accept that the Pope is the vicar of Christ; to say that justification is a process; to say we accept purgatory; to say we accept the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary; to say we believe the Mass is a sacrifice we offer to God for the sins of the living and the dead; and a whole host of other doctrines we absolutely REJECT as Lutherans.

We cannot pretend that these doctrines do not matter.

It is for this reason that our Confessions have made clear that we do not have fellowship with Rome. Solid Declaration Rule and Norm 7 clearly states:

" . . . we have abandoned the papistical errors and idolatries, and can have no fellowship [communion] with them, and also . . . we know, and can think of, no way for coming to any agreement with the Pope concerning them."

 Likewise, the Missouri Synod has stated several times in its Synodical documents from the CTCR that pastors should only ordinarily commune those from Lutheran churches with which we have fellowship. It has likewise stated that since the very meaning of Communion is "agreement in the Gospel and all its articles, [that] it is inappropriate to commune at non-Lutheran altars."


Jesus Christ instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist as the Most Blessed Sacrament of comfort for those who partake of it. It is faith in the Words "given for you, for the forgiveness of sins" that receives the benefits of this Most Blessed Sacrament.

Jesus nowhere instituted the Sacrament to give us benefits by simply gazing at it, or applying its benefits to those who do not partake by mouth, or who have already died.

The Sacrament is not something we do for God.

The Sacrament is the Most Blessed Gift that God gives to us.

In this sense, it is vital that we partake with only those churches that have preserved the Sacrament as Christ instituted it, rather than with those that have perverted it.

Whether Rome has the Sacrament or not (there are some Lutherans who differ on this question), *all* Lutherans agree that Rome has perverted the Sacrament.

In this sense, they do not have the Sacrament with the pure institution of Christ. Christ never instituted a Sacrament that we can offer for the sins of the dead.

Christ instituted the Sacrament for those who are alive and who know they are sinners who need forgiveness. For those who have faith in His Words that this is His Body and Blood given for forgiveness.


I encourage my fellow Lutheran brethren to respect the care of our Missouri Synod (or WELS or the AALC) when it comes to our Eucharistic discipline. As we can see in the above, we give witness to the Gospel by doing so.

The Gospel is all that matters. And all of its articles matter.

Please don't give in to the temptation of unionism. There can be no unity without unity in the doctrines of the Gospel.

I am thankful to our Savior† for the Most Blessed Sacrament as He instituted it for us!


Starbucks. Who Cares?

American Christians love to perpetuate on all sorts of irrelevant felt needs and causes that are completely silly. The whole Starbucks fiasco is just the latest of these.

In case you haven't heard, Starbucks has decided to use plain red cups this holiday season.

Starbucks Holiday Cups

There are a few vocal Christians out there who are protesting this and claiming that Starbucks is waging a war on Christmas. First of all, they're not. Second of all, if they were, they have a right to do so. Third of all, who cares?

This is yet another example of Christians engaging in conspiracy theory nonsense. Granted, it's not a big conspiracy theory like the Illuminati is taking over the world or something like that, but in the end, it's the same sort of idea.

Why should we expect Starbucks to patronize Christianity? Is Starbucks a Christian enterprise? Last I checked, it's not. Even more so, why should we expect any business in the public realm to be forced to patronize Christianity?

Not to mention, it's not like Starbucks is making cups that say "Jesus sucks" or something like that. Come on, it's a plain red cup. If you don't want to buy Starbucks, then don't buy it.

We have no right to go off on Starbucks for plain red cups any more than Starbucks can tell us that we can't say Merry Christmas to them while buying their product.

As much as the far left agenda is going completely bonkers these days; the far right conspiracy theorists are just as bad.

The moral of the story is that this very vocal small minority of Christians are pretty clueless when it comes to public policy and the rights of businesses.

But what is even worse is that this very small vocal minority is clueless when it comes to what Christianity is all about.

It's about Christ crucified for the forgiveness of your sins, given to you objectively in Word and Sacrament. Not about red cups and not about some grand conspiracy.

Ignore these silly people. Their thought process and causes are about as valid as the far left.

Yeah, I said it. Same coin, different side.