12/16/20

Response to the Ken Wilson interview done by Leighton Flowers Part 1: Tertullian

 The whole irony of using Tertullian (as if his early opposition to infant baptism, ignoring everything else he said, spoke for the early church) to attack Augustine’s supposed novelties was that on different issues, the Montanist himself held to views that Ken Wilson attributed to be Manichaean Gnostic novelties of Augustine.

In an interview given him by Leighton Flowers, he claimed that Tertullian opposed infant baptism because a person needed to be old enough to make free choice (at 7:30 minute mark) and infant baptism was practiced early on for reasons no one knew (7:42), not even Augustine around 400 AD (7:45). And since according to Wilson, Pelagius initially opposed infant baptism as reason why he debated Augustine (7:50, 9:38), Augustine needed to come up with a theological reason for infant baptism, and that reason was baptismal regeneration and salvation which according to Wilson didn’t exist prior to Augustine (9:59-10:04). And that along with Augustine’s “novel” reason of guilt of sin at birth (10:22, 11:46), whereas before Augustine, everyone prior to him, held to deceased infants all automatically went to heaven, baptized or not. To try to claim such “novel” doctrines of Augustine (infant baptismal regeneration and original sin) were Manichaean, he said only Manichaeans used the same verses as Augustine did for his “novelties.” Wilson used Tertullian (18:36) as an example who combatted Gnostics, Stoics, and Manichaeans (ironic since Tertullian died when Mani, founder of the Manichaeans, was just an infant, and he opposed Gnostics for among others things rejecting baptismal regeneration and salvation, one of the supposed novelties of Augustine).

The interview can be found here:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?fbclid=IwAR1I-UmNN4EzAD6_r0x7j0bmnB-BPUrXfSgA81BTV7-S9lCVYPl6qHiEStw&feature=youtu.be&v=BnOMORGM2Qw

Keep in mind that he said all this to argue that the so-called Manichaean Gnostic novelty of infant baptismal salvation was the critical foundation of Augustine’s “Calvinist” novelties (see page 78 of Wilson’s The Foundation of Augustinianism-Calvinism)

In regards to Tertullian’s opposition to infant baptism, it came in an early writing of his, 197 AD On Baptism (his attitude on infant baptism would change later on in life). And his argument was not about free choice as Wilson would have it but about the possibility of falling away after baptism (a view of infant baptism of being invalid and hence adult baptism later after that to take away sins did not even occurred to him). He wrote in chapter 18 (note, he didn’t suggest delayed baptisms just for infants):

“And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children. For why is it necessary — if (baptism itself) is not so necessary — that the sponsors likewise should be thrust into danger? Who both themselves, by reason of mortality, may fail to fulfil their promises, and may be disappointed by the development of an evil disposition, in those for whom they stood?”

In the same chapter, Tertullian suggested delayed baptisms even for unmarried folks:

“For no less cause must the unwedded also be deferred — in whom the ground of temptation is prepared, alike in such as never were wedded by means of their maturity, and in the widowed by means of their freedom — until they either marry, or else be more fully strengthened for continence.”

Also contrary to what Wilson claimed, infant baptism wasn’t practiced for unknown reasons in the 200s AD. In raising his objections to infant baptism, Tertullian himself knew why it was practiced: for the remission of sins (and note, he didn’t denied infant baptism itself remit sins). In that same chapter, he said:

“The Lord does indeed say, ‘Forbid them not to come unto me.’  Let them ‘come,’ then, while they are growing up; let them ‘come’  while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ. Why does the innocent period of life hasten to the ‘remission of sins?’ More caution will be exercised in worldly matters: so that one who is not trusted with earthly substance is trusted with divine!”

Note that, besides saying he was objecting to infants being given forgiveness of sins right away in baptism on grounds of possibility of apostasy later on in life (which goes against Wilson’s Free Grace theology), Tertullian already encountered Matthew 19:14 as prooftext for infant baptismal salvation (Wilson in his dissertation book page 158 claimed “Augustine allegorizes” that text into infant baptism for salvation).

The one thing Wilson didn’t mentioned was that Tertullian in the rest of On Baptism was arguing for baptismal salvation and regeneration against Cainite Gnostics (allowing only for baptism of martyrdom/blood exceptions in chapter 16). That alone refutes his claim that Augustine invented baptismal regeneration and salvation in the early church as a result of Manichaean Gnosticism. (And by Wilson’s guilt by association logic, he  would fall into Gnosticism for rejecting baptismal regeneration and salvation.)

In fact, in the opening chapter of On Baptism, Tertullian stated:

“Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life! A treatise on this matter will not be superfluous; instructing not only such as are just becoming formed (in the faith), but them who, content with having simply believed, without full examination of the grounds of the traditions, carry (in mind), through ignorance, an untried though probable faith. The consequence is, that a viper of the Cainite heresy, lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism.”

Furthermore, in chapter 12, Tertullian cited texts like John 3:5 (since in his dissertation book as well as his shorter book, Wilson claimed Augustine invented baptismal view of John 3:5 to replace physical birth out of Manichaean Gnosticism) to argue for  baptismal regeneration and salvation against Cainite Gnostics:

“When, however, the prescript is laid down that ‘without baptism, salvation is attainable by none’ (chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says, ‘Unless one be born of water, he has not life’), there arise immediately scrupulous, nay rather audacious, doubts on the part of some,’ how, in accordance with that prescript, salvation is attainable by the apostles, whom — Paul excepted — we do not find baptized in the Lord? Nay, since Paul is the only one of them who has put on the garment of Christ's baptism, either the peril of all the others who lack the water of Christ is prejudged, that the prescript may be maintained, or else the prescript is rescinded if salvation has been ordained even for the unbaptized.’  I have heard — the Lord is my witness — doubts of that kind: that none may imagine me so abandoned as to excogitate, unprovoked, in the licence of my pen, ideas which would inspire others with scruple.”

Nor was Tertullian the only one prior to Augustine in regards to affirming John 3:5 as reference to baptismal regeneration and salvation, not physical birth. In fact such a view of John 3:5 was unanimously held to by church fathers as baptismal rebirth and salvation. Augustine didn’t “alter” John 3:5 from physical birth to “novel” view of baptismal salvation and regeneration. If anything Wilson’s denials of baptismal salvation and regeneration were novel and came first well after Augustine, outside of Gnostics so condemned by Tertullian (and others such as Irenaeus) for that. See this article on pre-Augustine church fathers on John 3:5 here:

https://g2witt.blogspot.com/2020/06/lead-augustine-scholar-ken-wilson-using.html

And guess who uses prooftexts like 1 Corinthians 1:17 against baptismal regeneration and salvation then? According to Tertullian, Cainite Gnostics (since Wilson want to play Manichaean Gnostic card on  Augustine via guilt by association with how they supposedly use certain Scriptures in common). He responded to them in chapter 14:

“But they roll back an objection from that apostle himself, in that he said, ‘For Christ sent me not to baptize;’ 1 Corinthians 1:17 as if by this argument baptism were done away! For if so, why did he baptize Gaius, and Crispus, and the house of Stephanas? However, even if Christ had not sent him to baptize, yet He had given other apostles the precept to baptize. But these words were written to the Corinthians in regard of the circumstances of that particular time; seeing that schisms and dissensions were agitated among them, while one attributes everything to Paul, another to Apollos. For which reason the ‘peace-making’ apostle, for fear he should seem to claim all gifts for himself, says that he had been sent ‘not to baptize, but to preach.’ For preaching is the prior thing, baptizing the posterior. Therefore the preaching came first : but I think baptizing withal was lawful to him to whom preaching was.”

Nor would Tertullian’s On Baptism be his only writing affirming baptismal regeneration and salvation and condemning Gnostics for rejecting that, as in Against Marcion, Book 1, Chapter 28:

“And what will happen to him after he is cast away? He will, they say, be thrown into the Creator's fire. Then has no remedial provision been made (by their god) for the purpose of banishing those that sin against him, without resorting to the cruel measure of delivering them over to the Creator? And what will the Creator then do? I suppose He will prepare for them a hell doubly charged with brimstone, as for blasphemers against Himself; except indeed their god in his zeal, as perhaps might happen, should show clemency to his rival's revolted subjects. Oh, what a god is this! everywhere perverse; nowhere rational; in all cases vain; and therefore a nonentity! — in whose state, and condition, and nature, and every appointment, I see no coherence and consistency; no, not even in the very sacrament of his faith! For what end does baptism serve, according to him? If the remission of sins, how will he make it evident that he remits sins, when he affords no evidence that he retains them? Because he would retain them, if he performed the functions of a judge. If deliverance from death, how could he deliver from death, who has not delivered to death? For he must have delivered the sinner to death, if he had from the beginning condemned sin. If the regeneration of man, how can he regenerate, who has never generated? For the repetition of an act is impossible to him, by whom nothing any time has been ever done. If the bestowal of the Holy Ghost, how will he bestow the Spirit, who did not at first impart the life? For the life is in a sense the supplement of the Spirit. He therefore seals man, who had never been unsealed in respect of him; washes man, who had never been defiled so far as he was concerned; and into this sacrament of salvation wholly plunges that flesh which is beyond the pale of salvation! No farmer will irrigate ground that will yield him no fruit in return, except he be as stupid as Marcion's god. Why then impose sanctity upon our most infirm and most unworthy flesh, either as a burden or as a glory? What shall I say, too, of the uselessness of a discipline which sanctifies what is already sanctified? Why burden the infirm, or glorify the unworthy? Why not remunerate with salvation what it burdens or else glorifies? Why keep back from a work its due reward, by not recompensing the flesh with salvation? Why even permit the honour of sanctity in it to die?”

So in two writings by Tertullian, if we go by guilt by association employed by Wilson and Flowers, they (and not Augustine) would land on the side of Gnostics in regards to their rejection of baptismal regeneration view.

And in A Treatise on the Soul, Tertullian argued even for infant baptismal salvation with John 3:5 as prooftext for it (refuting Wilson’s claims in his dissertation book that Augustine originated not only baptismal view of John 3:5, in place of physical birth, but also infant baptism view of it). In chapter 39, we read:

“All these endowments of the soul which are bestowed on it at birth are still obscured and depraved by the malignant being who, in the beginning, regarded them with envious eye, so that they are never seen in their spontaneous action, nor are they administered as they ought to be. For to what individual of the human race will not the evil spirit cleave, ready to entrap their souls from the very portal of their birth, at which he is invited to be present in all those superstitious processes which accompany childbearing? Thus it comes to pass that all men are brought to the birth with idolatry for the midwife, while the very wombs that bear them, still bound with the fillets that have been wreathed before the idols, declare their offspring to be consecrated to demons: for in parturition they invoke the aid of Lucina and Diana; for a whole week a table is spread in honour of Juno; on the last day the fates of the horoscope are invoked; and then the infant's first step on the ground is sacred to the goddess Statina. After this does any one fail to devote to idolatrous service the entire head of his son, or to take out a hair, or to shave off the whole with a razor, or to bind it up for an offering, or seal it for sacred use — in behalf of the clan, of the ancestry, or for public devotion? On this principle of early possession it was that Socrates, while yet a boy, was found by the spirit of the demon. Thus, too, is it that to all persons their genii are assigned, which is only another name for demons. Hence in no case (I mean of the heathen, of course) is there any nativity which is pure of idolatrous superstition. It was from this circumstance that the apostle said, that when either of the parents was sanctified, the children were holy; 1 Corinthians 7:14 and this as much by the prerogative of the (Christian) seed as by the discipline of the institution (by baptism, and Christian education). Else, says he, were the children unclean by birth: 1 Corinthians 7:14 as if he meant us to understand that the children of believers were designed for holiness, and thereby for salvation; in order that he might by the pledge of such a hope give his support to matrimony, which he had determined to maintain in its integrity. Besides, he had certainly not forgotten what the Lord had so definitively stated: Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God; John 3:5 in other words, he cannot be holy.”

Then he followed that by this to start chapter 40: “Every soul, then, by reason of its birth, has its nature in Adam until it is born again in Christ; moreover, it is unclean all the while that it remains without this regeneration; Romans 6:4 and because unclean, it is actively sinful, and suffuses even the flesh (by reason of their conjunction) with its own shame.”

And in chapter 41, he wrote, “Therefore, when the soul embraces the faith, being renewed in its second birth by water and the power from above, then the veil of its former corruption being taken away, it beholds the light in all its brightness. It is also taken up (in its second birth) by the Holy Spirit, just as in its first birth it is embraced by the unholy spirit.”

Note, that Tertullian argued for infant baptismal salvation not only from John 3:5 (and 1 Corinthians 7:14), but also from the view of infants are born having an unclean nature in Adam needing rebirth given in baptism. Saying one is embraced at birth by the unholy spirit would seem to suggest he held to we were born lost at birth unless baptized.

This writing refutes several things all at once: that prior to Augustine in 412 AD, no one knew why infant baptism was practiced, no one held to infants need salvation given in baptism, no one affirmed baptismal salvation and regeneration (and John 3:5 view of it), and no one thought of the “Manichaean” idea of being born in sin in Adam.

In regards to the last point, consider the fact that Tertullian wrote this in chapter 3 of The Soul’s Testimony (note the part of the whole human race transmitting Adam’s condemnation by virtue of being tainted in their descent from him and given over to death on account of Adam’s sin:

“In expressing vexation, contempt, or abhorrence, you have Satan constantly upon your lips; the very same we hold to be the angel of evil, the source of error, the corrupter of the whole world, by whom in the beginning man was entrapped into breaking the commandment of God. And (the man) being given over to death on account of his sin, the entire human race, tainted in their descent from him, were made a channel for transmitting his condemnation.”

Bear in mind, that such a view of original sin could not have possibly existed prior to 412, according to Wilson since he would have us believe prior to that date, no one affirmed baptismal salvation and no one knew why infant baptism was practiced, not even Augustine on either point. He made such veritably debunked claims (as shown by Tertullian quotes affirming baptismal regeneration and salvation, including even of infants, in one of his later writings) not only in his interview, but in writings as well, including his Foundation page 97:

“The following three factors figure most prominently in explaining Augustine's later conversion to determinism: infant baptism, Stoicism, and Manichaeism. Augustine's deterministic conversion would not have occurred without the infant baptismal tradition in his local North Africa. Only in North Africa and nearby Rome do we have the earliest proofs for infant baptism, and only with Augustine does a newborn's salvation from inherited eternal damnation come by proxy through parental faith. This claim was challenged by a contemporary local bishop. Prior to 412 CE, even Augustine had viewed baptism as unnecessary for salvation and infant baptism had no explanation. Therefore, as Sage concluded, speculating an apostolic origin for infant baptism to forgive damnable guilt inherited from Adam appears unlikely.”

Besides the fact infant baptism existed early on outside of Rome and North Africa (affirmations of infant baptismal regeneration by Irenaeus’ Fragment 34 and Against Heresies Book 2, Chapter 22 at Lyons, Ambrose’s On Abraham, 2.81,84, at Milan, Gregory Nazianzen’s Oration 40.23 at Constantinople- the latter holding to unbaptized infants are neither saved or damned- attested to that), not even Tertullian would ultimately agreed with Wilson in regards to the latter’s rejection of infant baptismal salvation (even earlier Tertullian’s opposition to infant baptism had little to do with Wilson’s Baptist beliefs and everything to do with his own version of baptismal regeneration that affirmed baptism forgives sins only before baptism, but not afterwards). Early church father views of infant baptismal regeneration and salvation are discussed here:

https://g2witt.blogspot.com/2020/07/lead-augustine-scholar-using-and.html

The fact that Wilson had to push completely false and wholesale revisionist claims that no one knew why infant baptism was practiced and no one held to baptismal salvation and regeneration prior to Augustine inventing the latter as reason for the former is telling when he used both as his talking points as why original sin as understood by Augustine could not possibly existed prior to then.

That’s on top of using such claims (as if Tertullian was on his side on baptism) to push other false claims such as Augustine even as of 400 AD didn’t know why infant baptism was practiced or Pelagius rejected infant baptism as reason he and Augustine first debated (ironically, Wilson said Pelagius and Julian approved of infant baptism in his dissertation when it suited him to do so). And comically, as pointed out above, the false claim that Tertullian refuted Manichaeans who didn’t even existed when he died (its founder Mani was an infant at the time).

All so he can grind his axe against Augustine.

Here we stand.

12/6/20

THOSE WHO LEAVE LUTHERANISM LEAVE THE PURE GOSPEL.

 It has become rather trendy for some folks to leave Lutheranism, usually for Eastern Orthodoxy. Few have gone either to Rome or to Canterbury. But those who do rather rarely look at themselves as sinners constantly in need of forgiveness, at all times. And this is especially displayed in the liturgies of the various "churches" that these folks end up converting to. None of these assemblies in their liturgies have Confession and Absolution the way Lutherans do. Put simply, the East does not have it at all, except for their "Forgiveness Sunday" once a year. Rome and Canterbury place doubt upon it because in their "absolution" they have the word "may." They say "May God forgive you, bring you to eternal life," etc. For these assemblies, the Word of God is not sure. The Word of God's forgiveness is not sure. It is always dependent on something. 

These assemblies have the same doubt that the reformed do when it comes to the Word of God. It is always contingent upon something else, usually something we do.

In fact, only Lutheranism does not take away from, or add to, the Word of God in the pure Gospel of sure forgiveness in Christ.+

Yes, things are messed up in the Missouri Synod (and Wisconsin too for that matter). But things aren't perfect anywhere you go if you look to people.

Look instead to the sure Word of Christ in forgiveness always for you and before you. 

Those who leave Wittenberg for Constantinople, Rome, or Canterbury are trading pure gold for fool's gold; pure diamonds for shards of glass.

O Lord, keep us in the true faith of Your pure Gospel. Amen.

12/1/20

THE SIGHT OF THE CRUCIFIX

 The Crucifix is beautiful, as it is the Answer to everything. Lately I have been struggling with anxiety disorder, and overanalyzing everything. Even objects around me. Sometimes all the overanalyzing is overwhelming and it makes me feel almost like I'm going insane. Then my thoughts spin and I think about death. And I get overwhelmed some more. However....

Then I think about Christ on the Cross. He conquered death. He conquered our sin. He conquered our overanalyzing and overthinking. Besides, overanalyzing is leftover probably from my days under the heavy burden of Calvinism. God does not want us to find Him in a hidden fashion. He does not want to be found through philosophical proofs, or analysis, etc. He does not want to be "figured out." 

God wants to be found on the Cross. Dying for the sins of the world. 

The Crucifix is a beautiful reminder to me that *there* is my God. The God I do not need to figure out. The God Who came down. The God Who is Man. The Man Who is God.

The God Who conquered my sinful need to always try and figure everything out. The God Who conquered even my messed up brain, and sickness, and death. 

This God conquered my anxiety through His anxiousness in the garden of Gethsemane, sweating drops of blood. 

This God took my pain with every lash of the whip, with His Crown of Thorns, with His precious Blood that flowed down His head and face. 

This God took my sin, my fears, and everything that feels like a heavy mental burden. 

Where is God? He is here, on the Cross, dying for you and for me. 

So etch the sight of the Crucifix in your mind. Luther even says it is good to give one to a dying person to clutch in their hands as comfort. 

This is your God. 

The sight of the Crucifix conquered all. This God Who made Himself vulnerable and continues to as He comes down to us through Words of forgiveness, and Water, and Bread, and Wine. 

We don't just have a cross. We have the Crucifix. We proclaim the Savior Who died for the sins of the world. 

The Crucifix is precious, and is sheer comfort. 

Amen and Amen.

11/9/20

Lutheran baptismal regeneration as solas biblically vindicated

 This is my response to Lauran’s blog attacks on our baptismal views as “false gospel,” that is filled with misrepresentations. It can be found here:


https://lauranlou.wordpress.com/2020/11/06/baptismal-regeneration-life-or-death/?preview=true&fbclid=IwAR1AQY75aeE6x92U0C_AfnQ9MNjy_978FOJ5aozygI9X03DUvv1XQo0fm18



Let me put the blogger’s words in quotes with my response that follows each time.


“The burden I felt as I researched this doctrine was overwhelming. I began to see there was just so much error and contradiction to the gospel. I now feel so compelled to write on this topic as to not allow the gospel of Christ to be distorted in this way. I will begin to lay out my argument using Scripture as my only guide and Authority. ‘ But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.’ Galatians 1:8”


So ironic in wanting to throw anathemas at Lutherans, she quotes from the very same epistle that also states we are joined to Christ, through faith in baptism. Last I check Galatians 3:27 reads: For as many of you as haue bene baptized into Christ, haue put on Christ.




“This blog will be pertaining to the teaching of Baptismal Regeneration, which is not only a Lutheran doctrinal error, but is found among many denominations including Church of Christ, Anglican churches, Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventist’s, United Pentecostalism, and Eastern Orthodoxy.”


Here is an attempt to try to poison the well by lumping the Lutheran position with other variations of baptismal regeneration, to the point of throwing out anti-Trinity groups in the mix. But let’s deal first with this attempt at guilt by association with the Roman Catholicism. Its Council of Trent Session VII: condemned the Lutheran view of baptismal regeneration as anathema.


“CANON VII.-If any one saith, that the baptized are, by baptism itself, made debtors but to faith alone, and not to the observance of the whole law of Christ; let him be anathema.


“CANON X.-If any one saith, that by the sole remembrance and the faith of the baptism which has been received, all sins committed after baptism are either remitted, or made venial; let him be anathema.”


So Rome’s own council was in agreement with Lauren’s anathema at the Confessional Lutherans for affirming baptism not only saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but continues to save by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the entire Christian life thereafter.


“I’m aware that many of the early church fathers held to and taught a form of baptismal regeneration.”


Not just many, but unanimously held.


“Even though many of these teachers were spot on, in the end, these were fallible men. They are not above the Scripture. The Word must be our ultimate authority over all matters.”


The problem is according to you, they are all lost heretics. That mean only Gnostics early on would qualified as saved to you since they were the ones who rejected baptismal regeneration.


“Creeds and confessions can not be our authority. There is only one, the Written Word of God.”


To deny creeds and confessions for rule of faith is a complete perversion of sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura means Scriptures alone infallibly informs our views. But that isn’t a denial of creeds and confessions as truthful expressions of sola Scriptura.


It is also self-defeating as well since we would have to reject her blog post since it isn’t the Bible. Claiming to be biblical or saying she cite Scriptures isn’t a defense here since creeds and confessions both claim to be biblical and cite Scriptures, and she dismiss them as not God’s word. So her blog post must be dismissed then by her logic.



“So with that said, the first error within the Lutheran doctrine is the belief that baptism is a necessary component for salvation. Otherwise known as, baptismal regeneration. To quote Charles Spurgeon- ‘We ourselves are not dubious on this point, we protest that persons are not saved by being baptized. In such an audience as this, I am almost ashamed to go into the matter, because you surely know better than to be misled. Nevertheless, for the good of others we will drive at it. We hold that persons are not saved by baptism, for we think, first of all that it seems out of character with the spiritual religion which Christ came to teach, that he should make salvation depend upon mere ceremony.’ “


First off, Lauran quotes Spurgeon as if against Lutherans when Luther and Lutherans don’t make salvation dependent on “mere ceremony” but on God’s word that works through means. While baptism is a means by which God sends forth His word, it isn’t the only means.


Secondly, Christianity isn’t a spiritual only religion. The Incarnation was physical. Christ’s death for our sins and resurrection were physical. His ascension was physical. Even preaching of the word (which Spurgeon was famous for, deservingly so) was physical. Hearing of the word is also physical as well.


Only Gnostics historically denied physical means God uses, as extension of their denials of the Incarnation.


(Quoting Spurgeon) “The false religions of the heathen might inculcate salvation by a physical process, but Jesus Christ claims for his faith that it is purely spiritual, and how could he connect regeneration with a peculiar application of aqueous fluid?”


The irony. The heathen Gnostics were the ones who denied physical means God uses.


And how could Christ connect regeneration to fluid? 


How could He connect regeneration to the word preached when it is a human preacher speaking physically?


Because He is God, and He can. And He does many times in the New Testament by His own word spoken or through those He had write His word (Mark 16:16, John 3:5, Romans 6:3-4, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Romans 6:3-4, Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 5:25-27, Colossians 2:11-13, Hebrews 10:22, 1 Peter 3:21, 1 John 5:7, and Revelation 22:17.


(Again quoting Spurgeon) “I cannot see how it would be a spiritual gospel, but I can see how it would be mechanical, if I were sent forth to teach that the mere dropping of so many drops upon the brow, or even the plunging a person in water could save the soul.”



Except that Lutherans don’t hold to it is the water itself that goes the saving in baptism. What’s affirmed is that water is there as visible means of God’s word of gospel

promise of Christ’s forgiveness proclaimed to us, by which God gives us faith and rebirth. 



(Again Spurgeon) “This seems to me to be the most mechanical religion now existing, and to be on a par with the praying windmills of Thibet, or the climbing up and down of Pilate’s staircase to which Luther subjected himself in the days of his darkness.”


Except that the Lutheran is the exact opposite. Baptismal regeneration in the Lutheran view holds to salvation lies outside ourselves, not dependent on anything in us. It is gospel-centered based salvation in Christ alone given unto us from outside ourselves through such means as baptism, by which faith alone receives Christ alone. 


So ironic to appeal to what Luther went through in his pre-Reformation days.


Luther’s baptismal regeneration theology was a reaction to those days. In fact, his Babylonian Captivity of the Church criticized Rome for in effect destroying baptismal salvation assurance by its denials of sola fide: 3.3 It was the duty of the pontiffs to abate this evil, and with all diligence to lead Christians to the true understanding of baptism, so that they might know what manner of men they are and how Christians ought to live. But instead of this, their work is now to lead the people as far astray as possible from their baptism, to immerse all men in the flood of their oppression, and to cause the people of Christ, as the prophet says, to forget Him days without number.


“When speaking to those who hold to this view of baptismal regeneration they have several Scriptures they will refer to that supposedly support this, one of them being John 3:5. 5 ‘’Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ Let’s take a look at this passage. To assume that a water baptism itself is in mind because of a reference is made to water is unwarranted. The entire passage is talking about the spiritual aspect of being born again.”


First off, we as Lutherans don’t deny born again is spiritual, given we affirm the unconverted human wills are bound to sin unless regenerated solely by the Holy Spirit through means of Word and Sacrament.


Secondly, to argue as if we hold to water baptism saves as apart from Spirit baptism shows how unfamiliar she is with what we believe. We don’t hold to those two are different baptisms. Nor do we hold to a water baptism as if Spirit-less. We hold to it’s baptism, period where there’s water, but the work is fully done by the Holy Spirit. Period.


Thirdly, what’s unwarranted is to assume God can’t use physical means to convert us then force Scriptures to fit her own man-made tradition. Ephesians 5:26 does say Christ washes us with water through the Word.


“So it goes to reason that he was not referring to literal water (in either baptism or physical birth referring amniotic fluid) but the need for spiritual cleansing.”


Question begging isn’t reason.


Acts 22:16 reads “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”


Scriptures do give such examples of God using physical means to give spiritual cleansing.


“So let’s look at other passages. For example, Psalm 51:2 asks God to, ‘Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!’ Even in the New Testament, water is sometimes used in reference to the idea of spiritual cleansing or purifying. Titus 3:5, for example, says, ‘he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.’ Here both washing and the Spirit are paired together just as Jesus does in John 3:5.”


And did Paul say waterless means or non-physical means God ideas to give us regeneration? No. It must be assumed into the text.


“Staying in that same chapter vs 8 tells us how the Spirit regenerates a person. ‘The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ Just as wind cannot be controlled or predicted, neither can a person control or predict a persons regeneration.”


First off, even Lauran holds to God uses preaching of the word as means He gives rebirth. So away with preaching of the word by her logic?

 

Secondly, Lutherans do not hold to God is bound to baptism to give regeneration. In fact, the Augsburg Confession affirmed God gives faith to us when and where He wills using both means of Word AND Sacrament, not just sacrament: That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is gven, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, justifies those who believe that they are receved into grace for Christ’s sake.


“And going further in that same passage vs 16 tells us again how one is saved, no baptism mentioned. ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’ “


Except, that as we pointed out, baptism is mentioned in John 3:5. And that was the view of all Christianity for most of its history, too. It is taking a text at face value that rebirth involves water and Holy Spirit, which we define baptism as. We don’t define baptism as water only.


And going by this logic, since John 3:16 doesn’t mention born of water and Spirit, then being saved by her logic, means we need no rebirth or “Spirit baptism”? Two can play that game.




“Romans 6:3-5 is another passage that is used to back up this view.  ‘Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection,’ The phrase ‘baptized into’ occurs five times in the NT in four different verses. To be baptized ‘into Christ,’is to be publicly identified with the thing you are being baptized into. The focus is not the baptism itself but on the thing the baptism represents. In the case of Rom. 6:3-5, being baptized into Christ is a public identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection which is clearly laid out in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4”


What Lauren did here is corrected what Paul wrote in Romans 6:3-4. He didn’t say to be baptized into Christ is to as our work public identify with Him. No. Paul wrote that we were baptized into His death, and since His death is saving, we are baptized into His salvation. He wrote that we are buried with Christ in baptism and raised with Him to newness of life. The union with Christ itself is stated as occurring in baptism. Galatians 3:27 states that those who are baptized into Christ, through faith, are also clothed with Him. Being clothed with Him isn’t merely public identification with Him. It isn’t our work to be clothed with Christ.



“One who is baptized is not made dead to sin by baptism or even cleansed from sin by the physical water itself.”


More strawman. We as Lutherans reject physical water itself cleanses us from sin. What we affirm is that water provides the visible means of Christ’s blood cleansing us from sins, through faith that receives Him there. And we affirm all there persons of the Trinity are present: the Father to show us mercy, the Son to wash away our sins with His forgiveness won at the cross for us, and the Holy Spirit to give us faith in the gospel word of promise in Christ attached to the water.


“The Scripture is clear. With blood. What gives remission of sin? The blood. So if one adds any kind of physical or external component, such as water, and makes that necessary for cleansing or remission of sins it alters the entire gospel.”


Still more strawman. Lutherans don’t assert baptism adds to the Cross or is another atonement.


What we affirm is Christ won forgiveness of sins for us at the Cross and uses means of grace (such as baptism) by which by faith alone we receive what He did for us 2000 years ago


If that is “adding a physical or external component” then by her logic, she would have to accuse Spurgeon as well. Spurgeon as human preacher was that physical and external component using her logic since what Christ did needs to be preached. And preaching is done by a human preacher who is flesh and blood. In other words, physical. Hearing the word is physical as well.


It isn’t adding an external or physical component to the Cross. Word preached and sacraments are external and physical means by which the Cross is delivered to us. It’s objective and outward salvation that doesn’t depend on anything in us. Exact opposite of works salvation.


“The waters of baptism itself do not do the saving!”


More strawman. Lutherans reject the waters of baptism are what do the saving.


We confess with Luther’s Small Catechism that it isn’t water in baptism that saves us, but the gospel word of promise proclaimed through it that saves: It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.


“So here we have direct quotes from within the Lutheran doctrine linking baptism with delivering us from the jaws of the devil, making us God’s own, suppressing and taking away sin, remaining efficacious until the end, it works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and evil, gives eternal salvation to all who believe ‘this.’ And then guess what they use to back up that entire view? Only one verse appears- Mark 16:16. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” That verse clearly does not teach that baptism saves because looking at the back half of that verse, the lost are not condemned for their ‘lack of baptism’ but for their unbelief.”


First off, if Lauran had read the Small Catechism, she would have known that her claim that Lutherans hold to water itself saves is false, but continually beats down that strawman.


Secondly, her claim that Luther only cited Mark 16:16 for his views in the catechism article on baptism is a lie. Luther quoted Matthew 28:19-20: Answer: Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Matthew: Go ye into all the world and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.


Luther also quoted Titus 3:5 as seen above and quoted already from the catechism.


And finally, her argument strawman the Lutheran view as if we hold to a person having faith is still lost if he died before he gets a chance to be baptized, a view we reject.


Mark 16:16 says those who believe and are baptized will be saved. We affirm. The same text also says only unbelief condemns. We affirm that as well.


We hold to baptism saves because it is a means of grace through faith that receives Christ. In fact, we hold to God uses baptism as means to give saving faith and rebirth. What we don’t hold to is God is limited to baptism to give faith and rebirth.


“What is a glaring issue with the very idea of baptismal regeneration is the idea that a person passes from being a ‘natural man’ to a ‘spiritual man’ through baptism; yet, from where does this desire to be baptized come?!”


What’s really glaring is all the strawman and made up arguments she make about our views.


First off, Lutherans hold to the bound will can in no, way, shape or form cooperate in own conversion. The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord reads: Thirdly, in this manner, too, the Holy Scriptures ascribe conversion, faith in Christ, regeneration, renewal, and all that belongs to their efficacious beginning and completion, not to the human powers of the natural free will, neither entirely nor half, nor in any, even the least or most inconsiderable part, but in solidum, that is, entirely, solely, to the divine working and the Holy Ghost, as also the Apology teaches.



Secondly, given that in the Lutheran view, baptismal regeneration primarily takes place in infant baptism, where God gives faith and rebirth, how is that the work or choice of the infant towards conversion? That is as monergistic as it gets.


“I was told by one in the Lutheran church that ‘baptism completes salvation.’This is at odds with the teaching of total depravity. If such a person is the enemy of God, enslaved to sin, how is it that he is able to do such a spiritual thing as to desire to be baptized? “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,’ Ephesians 2:1 Obviously, this is impossible. You would have to be regenerated or justified before you got in the water in which case baptism is no longer necessary to salvation. Let me state this clearly- To believe that water baptism saves is no minor error, but a spiritually fatal one.”


Again, more strawman on Lauran’s part.


Lutherans hold to God uses Word AND Sacrament, as noted before, as means by which He gives us faith. That means, especially for the adult, He can and does faith to the adult to

justify that adult prior to baptism.


Lauran continues to harp on as if Lutherans hold to baptism only regeneration. But baptismal regeneration as historically defined doesn’t mean only baptism regenerates.


Thirdly, salvation isn’t a one time thing. We were saved, being saved and will be saved. We hold to even conversion, God continually saves us by not only giving faith but preserving that faith in Word and Sacrament.


None of that goes against the total depravity.


In fact, Lauran would have to accuse not only Lutherans but also early Calvinists, even Baptist ones, of denying total depravity for affirming baptism is means of grace to save through faith (granted not the same as regeneration at baptism but a view she would despise since that has baptism as salvation after conversion). Reformed Baptist Keach’s Catechism, for example said: Baptism and the Lord's Supper become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them or in him that administers them, but only by the blessing of Christ and the working of His Spirit in them that by faith receive them. 


So why just Lutherans? Anathematize all the Calvinists then as well, Lauran.


“Acts 2:38 is probably the most quoted of passages in the baptismal regeneration camp.”And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ So how do we interpret this passage? The word ‘eis’ in the passage translated for is sometimes translated in the Bible against, among, at, unto, upon, etc. It might properly be translated here ‘baptized upon the remission of your sins’ or ‘baptized referring to, or pointing toward the remission of your sins,’ or ‘baptized in the remission of your sins.’ When one repents, he receives the remission of his sins.”


Can’t have it both ways. Can’t say usage of eis means Acts 2:38 say  “be baptized after receiving (how she defines “upon”) the remission of your sins,” then turn around and say repentance is to receive the remission of sins. The word “eis” or “for” is in regards to both “repent and be baptized,” not just “be baptized.” And one can say point out “upon forgiveness of sins” means coming unto forgiveness of sins rather than what she claims.


What’s more, regardless, Peter said the gift of the Holy Spirit follows repent and be baptized regardless of the word eis means in regards to remission of sins.


Also, saying be baptized towards or in remission of sins actually refutes her claim of being baptized has nothing to do with remission of sins.


“If you use the exact same reasoning as Acts 2:38 and applied it to Matthew 12:41 it would make no sense. It would read “the people of Nineveh repented in order to receive the preaching of Jonah.’ We know Jonahs preaching occurred first and THEN the people repented.”


What the blogger doesn’t tell you if we use her “upon” being baptized for eis argument, then every other texts would sound silly.


And if Lauran really believes that on

Acts 2:38, she would have to say repent because of already or after been forgiven. Convenient to argue eis applies to “be baptized” but not “repent” when it is used for both. And convenient to ignore the text says the gift of the Holy Spirit is promised as a result of repent and be baptized, regardless of what eis means.


“Yet it seems so many have literally formed their doctrine from this one verse without taking into account that holding to the view that a water baptism unites us to Christ would have to contradict the entire rest of the Scripture that tells us otherwise.”


The fact that the blogger spent time trying to explain away other baptismal salvation texts show she knows that the claim that we form our doctrine on this one verse is false.


Acts 22:16 does say, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”


 And we got Galatians 3:27 that say “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”


Not to mention texts like Romans 6:3-4, 1 Peter 3:21, and John 3:5, that she try to explain away.


Hardly an appeal to one text on our part. And she knows that.



“This was a believers baptism. They were believers who upon repentance were baptized. So the teaching in Acts 2:38 cannot be teaching that we are baptized for the cleansing of our sins.”


Except there is no substantiation there. Just an assertions what eis must mean but no proof. And goes against like every translation to do so.


“We are brought near and united to Christ by one thing- ‘But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.’ Ephesians 2:13”


We hold to Word and Sacrament are outward, objective means we are brought near by the blood of Christ, through faith.


“The last part of the concerning doctrine pertaining to baptism is the belief that the water combined with the Word, somehow mysteriously turns into ‘divine water’ and therefore baptism itself becomes a Work of God. Notice the following statements from the Book of a Concord- ‘to answer the question what baptism is, namely this, that it is not mere ordinary water, but water comprehended in God’s Word and command and sanctified thereby; so that it is nothing else than a divine water; not that not that the water itself is nobler than other water, but that God’s Word and command are added.’ ‘Baptism is quite another thing than all other water, for God Himself stakes His honor, His power, His might upon it. Therefore it is not only natural water, but a divine, heavenly, holy, and blessed water.’ So there in front of you is the Lutheran view of baptism. But what saith the Scripture? There were no Scripture references given to back up this view, that the water when combined with the Word become ‘divine.’”


First off, if Lauran knows that us Lutherans hold to baptism isn’t just water, but also the word, then why claim over and over again falsely that we hold to water is what saves us?


Secondly, isn’t truthful to claim Luther’s Large Catechism didn’t quote Scriptures to argue baptism is means of salvation through faith alone.


In fact, right at the start of his catechism article on baptism, Luther directly referenced not one, but two Scriptural passages:


3In the first place, we must above all things know well the words upon which Baptism is founded, and to which everything refers that is to be said on the subject, namely, where the Lord Christ speaks in Matthew 28:19


4 Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Likewise in St. Mark 16:16


5 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.


Then Luther repeated his Matthew 28:19 reference:  9 If hitherto people could consider it a great thing when the Pope with his letters and bulls dispensed indulgences and confirmed altars and churches, solely because of the letters and seals, we ought to esteem Baptism much more highly and more precious, because God has commanded it, and, besides, it is performed in His name. For these are the words, Go ye, baptize; however, not in your name, but in the name of God. 10 For to be baptized in the name of God is to be baptized not by men, but by God Himself.



On top of that, he referenced Christ’s own baptism before referencing Mark 16:16 again: 


21 Thus, and much more even, you must honor Baptism and esteem it glorious on account of the Word, since He Himself has honored it both by words and deeds; moreover, confirmed it with miracles from heaven. For do you think it was a jest that, when Christ was baptized, the heavens were opened and the Holy Ghost descended visibly, and everything was divine glory and majesty? 22 Therefore I exhort again that these two, the water and the Word, by no means be separated from one another and parted. For if the Word is separated from it, the water is the same as that with which the servant cooks, and may indeed be called a bath-keeper’s baptism. But when it is added, as God has ordained, it is a Sacrament, and is called Christ-baptism. Let this be the first part, regarding the essence and dignity of the holy Sacrament. 23 In the second place, since we know now what Baptism is, and how it is to be regarded, we must also learn why and for what purpose it is instituted; that is, what it profits, gives, and works. And this also we cannot discern better than from the words of Christ above quoted: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.


Moreover, he also cited Titus 3:5 as well to argue for sola fide view of baptismal regeneration: 


27 But where the name of God is, there must be also life and salvation, that it may indeed be called a divine, blessed, fruitful, and gracious water; for by the Word such power is imparted to Baptism that it is a laver of regeneration, as St. Paul also calls it, Titus 3:5

28 But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer: It is true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall hear still further.29 But these blind guides are unwilling to see this, namely, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests. Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it. Now, if I believe this, what else is it than believing in God as in Him who has given and planted His Word into this ordinance, and proposes to us this external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?


And he argued for sola fide view of baptismal regeneration citing Mark 16:16 again: 33 This is again most beautifully and clearly expressed in the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. That is, faith alone makes the person worthy to receive profitably the saving, divine water. For, since these blessings are here presented and promised in the words in and with the water, they cannot be received in any other way than by believing them with the heart.


That isn’t to mentioned the fact that washed with water through the Word is straight from Ephesians 5:26.


“There is power in one place- the righteousness of Christ and His gospel and is revealed by faith. The gospel is in the power of God to salvation and it tells us what is necessary in order to be saved. Paul leaves baptism out of this passage because he clearly did not consider baptism necessary to salvation. “


Newsflash: Lutherans affirm imputed righteousness and justification by faith alone. 


And Paul didn’t leave out baptism as means of us being joined to the righteousness of Christ, through faith, in Romans 6:3-4.


“The gospel reveals that on the basis of faith and faith alone, God will impute His righteousness to ungodly sinners. We are justified without a water baptism according to Scripture.”


More strawman. Lutherans do not hold to baptism is work we do to add to faith alone, but means God uses to bring us to faith alone in Christ alone.


“Any teaching that implies our sins are not cleansed until we are baptized is a teaching that is NOT according to the Scripture. “


Except that the claim that Lutherans hold to we are not cleansed of sins, even if we have saving faith, is an utter lie. The blogger has been corrected many times by Lutherans on that yet insists on wanting to repeat that lie.


Lutherans do not hold to baptism only regeneration. We hold to baptismal regeneration which means baptism is one of the means God uses to give us faith and regeneration but not the only means. We hold to God can and does give faith, forgiveness of sins and rebirth to especially adults prior to baptism.


“29 Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, (B)that you believe in him whom (C)he has sent.’ Did Jesus just forget to mention baptism in there? No. Scripture lays out time and time again why saving faith looks like apart from a water baptism”


That is because Christ was present there seen by folks He was speaking to. We have the objective baptismal promise that Christ is present with us to give us His word as well. Scriptures that speak of baptism as means of saving faith do exist time and time again: Acts 22:16, Galatians 3:27, etc


“We cannot make the claim that God stakes any power whatsoever in the water. That is an absolute clear contradiction to Scripture.”


You mean like all the Scriptures passages you try to explain away by throwing strawman after strawman at your Lutheran opponents?


“To make the claim that one such as an infant, who has no understanding of the gospel can be baptized into Christ and regenerated is absolute contradiction to the Scripture which teaches us that we will be given understanding according to the gospel and experience sorrow over sin and trust in Christ.”


Actually to deny God can’t give infants faith is to contradict Scriptures that say God can and does give faith to infants (Psalm 22:9-10, Luke 18:15-17, 2 Timothy 3:15, and Matthew 21:15-16). And note none of those passages are even the unborn John the Baptist example.


Furthermore, it isn’t monergism to say God can only convert you only if you old enough to reason. Monergism is as Luther put in his Small Catechism, I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.

 

And finally, it isn’t justification by faith alone to posit another way of justification or salvation for infants.


“Lastly, to address the claim that baptism is ‘God’s work.’ The definition of a work is this- ‘Any physical, religious, ceremonial or moral activity that would be required for a believer to gain salvation, or to be justified.’l


Newsflash: what you give isn’t Scriptures.


“So in order for baptism to fall into the category of ‘God’s work’ as our faith and salvation, it would have to be monergistic in nature ( the doctrine that the Holy Ghost acts independently of the human will) and it would have to be a “gift” from God. Nowhere in the Scripture is baptism referred to as a ‘gift’ like our faith is in Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” 


Except that being buried with Christ in and raised with Him is stated as means God made us alive with Christ when we were dead in our sins, to save us through faith in Colossians 2:11-13 (compare with Ephesians 2:1-8), showing that baptism is itself a means God gives faith as a gift.


“Also we know baptism is a work the Bible because the Scripture considers circumcision a work.”


Circumcision was treated as a work by the Judaizers. Paul said don’t get circumcised. If you want to equivocate, don’t get baptized.


Still zero Scriptures that say baptism is our work.


“Among those works of the law was circumcision! We are commanded to be baptized in the Scripture, but we are not told baptism is a gift nor are we told it is ‘God’s work.’”


Still no Scriptures that say baptism is a work of the law. 


There are Scriptures that say baptism saves (1 Peter 3:21, Mark 16:16). Who saves us in baptism but God? There are Scriptures that say those baptized into Christ, through faith are clothed with Him, and those buried with Christ and are raised with Him to new life. Who clothes us with Christ? God. Who buried us with Christ in baptism and raised us with Him to new life? God.


“Baptism requires participation and cooperation on the part of man.”


Lauran in the forums argued that in regards to infant baptism when infants are not the ones choosing to be baptized, reborn or given faith. Somehow that is synergistic since it requires pastor baptizing and parents bringing the infant to be baptized.


Way to twist terms there.


By that logic, anytime one preaches the gospel to adults, one is  a Synergist since that requires participation of both that preacher and the adult listener!


“The following verses demonstrate baptism is a work of the one who is doing the baptizing.”


None of the texts you quote remotely say baptism is our work. That is her own tradition adding to the text.


If Acts 10:47 is the prooftext that salvation takes place prior to baptism (which we don’t even deny can take place), on grounds the Holy Spirit is received prior to baptism, by that logic, salvation takes place once  baptism occurs in Acts 8:15-17 and 19:5-6 since it took place prior to people receiving the Holy Spirit.


And since she  insisted that baptism is our work, then by your logic, human work saves or takes place prior to salvation (or receiving the Holy Spirit) in those texts!


In regards to the abuse of 1 Corinthians 1:14, to claim baptism is our work, Paul was saying he was glad he didn’t baptize so that no one can say salvation is in Paul. Context matters. Verse 15 states the reason why he said that: so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. And verse 13 provides more context: Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 


In other words, in drawing a paralleling between those name we are baptized under and who was crucified for our sins, Paul was saying that here’s proof that salvation isn’t of Paul. Baptism not being God’s work to save would have done nothing for his point that salvation isn’t of Paul when he said he was glad he didn’t baptized so no one can say baptism is in in Paul’s name.


“Baptism is a work of man. Baptism is not a monergistic act. A monergistic act is our spiritual circumcision of the heart that regenerates us according to Colossians 2:11-12 ‘ In whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:’ We do not cooperate or participate in this ‘ spiritual circumcision’ made ‘ without hands’ which indicates it’s a divine, heavenly act of God.”


Again, strawman. Lutherans reject the bound will can cooperate with saving  grace  towards conversion.


What Lauran left out of the passage is this: having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God.


The text says being buried with Christ in baptism and raised with Him to newness of life is means of monergistic conversions. That refutes her claim that Romans 6:3-4, saying we are buried with Christ in baptism etc. means baptism is our work to publicly identified with Christ.



“To believe that water baptism saves is no minor error, but a spiritually fatal one. Baptism does not save the souls of men and I fear many are being deceived. Please understand how crucial this error is. It is the difference between life and death. The difference between the gospel according to Scripture and a gospel that damns.”


Then according to Lauran,not only the entire church for most of its history is damned, but early Calvinists, not just Lutherans as well. After all, Calvin, Westminster Large Catechism, even Reformed Baptist Keach’s Catechism etc. all affirmed in some form  baptism (and supper) are effectual means of salvation through faith that receives Christ in them.


Here we stand.

9/12/20

The ever changing story of Augustine and other fathers according to Ken Wilson on infant baptism

 Regardless of the recent spins by Leighton Flowers and Soteriology101 that baptism issue has little to do with Ken Wilson’s thesis, here’s what Ken Wilson’s book The Foundation of Augustinianism-Calvinism, page 78 said of what Augustine’s “novel” theology of predestination, grace and freewill were based on:


“The critical foundation of infant baptism for salvation in Augustine's novel theology cannot be overstated.”


What were Wilson’s arguments on this? Augustine, according to him, ended up holding to “Calvinistic” views because he needed to find justification in the Pelagian debate for infant baptism practice that he and all other fathers, according to Wilson, had no idea why it was done prior to 412 AD. Augustine was stated as inventing original sin guilt and infant baptismal salvation (which in turn bred “Calvinist” views like faith is a gift of God”) out of reverting back to his former views of Manichaeanism, Gnosticism and other forms of “paganism.”


On page 56, he wrote: “About 405 CE, Augustine admitted that he did not know why infant baptism was practiced.” 


In the footnote for that, Wilson said,  


“Augustine, an.quant.80: "In this context, also, how much benefit is there in the consecration of infant children? It is a most difficult (obscure) question. However, that some benefit exists is to be believed. Reason will discover this when it should be asked.’”


The writing Wilson quoted from Augustine was an.quant. which was written in 386/7 AD, a year after Augustine coming to faith, not almost two decades after that. So right off the bat, Wilson is presenting false information. And he knew it, too, since his dissertation book Augustine’s Conversion from Traditional Free Choice to “Non-free Free Will” page 96 referred to that writing as in 386/7 AD.


And that is besides the fact the quote he have from Augustine does not say what Wilson wanted him to say. The church father didn’t even use the word baptism. But if Wilson wants to claim consecrate referred to in the quote meant baptism, then he defeated his own claim that Augustine had no explanation for infant baptism, since that explanation would be to consecrate (or save) the infant.


Wilson used this false claim to push these ideas on page 97:


“Prior to 412 CE, even Augustine had viewed baptism as unnecessary for salvation and infant baptism had no explanation.”


(By the way, he pushed the same false claim in page 304 in his longer dissertation book that in 400 AD, Augustine didn’t know why infant baptism was practiced.)


Both the claim that 1) Augustine (and prior fathers) rejected baptism is necessary to salvation and 2) had no explanation for infant baptism are false. As a side note, Wilson claimed to Flowers in his interview that until 412, no one, not even Augustine, knew why infant baptism was practiced at the 7:40 minute mark of this video:


https://youtu.be/BnOMORGM2Qw


The same book he pushed this lie actually refuted that lie. On page 42, Wilson wrote, “About 404 CE, Augustine praised the faith of the thief on the cross as sufficient for salvation without water baptism (Bapt.4.29–30). Baptism only avails for infants' dedication to God and a first step toward salvation, not the forgiveness of guilt from original sin (Bapt.4.32).”


Granted, though what Wilson claimed was a distortion there (Augustine didn’t treat infant baptism as baby dedication like many modern evangelicals do baby waterless dedications), but for the sake of the argument, let’s assume he was right (ignoring early Augustine’s salvation theme on it). That meant Augustine nevertheless prior to 412 AD had at least one explanation for infant baptism. That’s not to mention, 404 AD is prior to 405 AD (if we go by that bogus date Wilson gave for a 386/7 AD writing by Augustine).


So which is it, Wilson? Augustine had no explanation for infant baptism prior to 412 AD? Or he had an explanation for infant baptism in 404 AD which was prior to 412 AD (or 405 AD false dating of a writing that did not say what Wilson wanted it to say)?


For the sake of accuracy, let’s show what Augustine actually said in 404 AD writing.


Augustine in On Baptism 4:32 saw baptism first as parallel with circumcision in terms of even infants counted for righteousness when given the sacrament:


“Why, therefore, was it commanded him that he should circumcise every male child in order on the eighth day, Genesis 17:9-14 though it could not yet believe with the heart, that it should be counted unto it for righteousness, because the sacrament in itself was of great avail?”


He then cited the example of Moses’ son facing death if not circumcised (as analogy in regards to infants needing baptism):


“And this was made manifest by the message of an angel in the case of Moses' son; for when he was carried by his mother, being yet uncircumcised, it was required, by manifest present peril, that he should be circumcised, Exodus 4:24-26 and when this was done, the danger of death was removed.”


He added then that infants were given via “the sacrament of regeneration” the seal of the righteousness of faith:


“And as in Isaac, who was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth, the seal of this righteousness of faith was given first, and afterwards, as he imitated the faith of his father, the righteousness itself followed as he grew up, of which the seal had been given before when he was an infant; so in infants, who are baptized, the sacrament of regeneration is given first, and if they maintain a Christian piety, conversion also in the heart will follow, of which the mysterious sign had gone before in the outward body.”


So when Augustine used the term dedication in regards to baptism it was in regards to infants being saved by baptism, that covers them should they die (Augustine offered no such hope for the unbaptized infants even here), not by own faith but faith of own parents:


“So in infants who die baptized, we must believe that the same grace of the Almighty supplies the want, that, not from perversity of will, but from insufficiency of age, they can neither believe with the heart unto righteousness, nor make confession with the mouth unto salvation. Therefore, when others take the vows for them, that the celebration of the sacrament may be complete in their behalf, it is unquestionably of avail for their dedication to God, because they cannot answer for themselves.”



There’s more. On page 76, Wilson wrote,


“Before 412 CE, Augustine cited it similarly (e.g., Conf.1.7; Enar. Ps.51.10). His early use follows the Jewish and early Christian interpretation that "(Ps.51:7; 50:7), merely means that everyone born of a woman becomes a sinner in this world, without fail."[147] Augustine's more Manichaean interpretation (babies are born damned from Adam's sin) first appears in 412 CE in Pecc. merit.1.34 and 3.13 (alongside Job 14:4 supporting infant baptism and infant participation in the Eucharist).”


Take note that by Wilson’s own admission, Augustine’s Psalm 51.10 exposition was prior to 412 AD. What Wilson didn’t tell you was Augustine giving an explanation for why infant baptism was practiced, saying infants are born guilty of sin from Adam and need baptism for their forgiveness. So in other words, the very views Wilson claimed were Manichaean novelties from 412 AD onwards out of Augustine, appeared in Augustine’s writing that by his own admission was prior to 412 AD (and his debate with the Pelagians). That’s not to mention Augustine not only had an explanation for infant baptism prior to 412 AD, but contrary to what Wilson claimed, treated baptism as necessary to salvation prior to 412 AD as well.


Here’s what pre-412 AD Augustine wrote in that writing:



“10. For, behold, in iniquities I was conceived Psalm 50:5. As though he were saying, They are conquered that have done what thou, David, hast done: for this is not a little evil and little sin, to wit, adultery and man-slaying. What of them that from the day that they were born of their mother's womb, have done no such thing? Even to them do you ascribe some sins, in order that He may conquer all men when He begins to be judged. David has taken upon him the person of mankind, and has heeded the bonds of all men, has considered the offspring of death, has adverted to the origin of iniquity, and he says, For, behold, in iniquities I was conceived. Was David born of adultery; being born of Jesse, 1 Samuel 16:18 a righteous man, and his own wife? What is it that he says himself to have been in iniquity conceived, except that iniquity is drawn from Adam? Even the very bond of death, with iniquity itself is engrained? No man is born without bringing punishment, bringing desert of punishment. A Prophet says also in another place, No one is clean in Your sight, not even an infant, whose life is of one day upon earth. For we know both by the Baptism of Christ that sins are loosed, and that the Baptism of Christ avails the remission of sins. If infants are every way innocent, why do mothers run with them when sick to the Church? What by that Baptism, what by that remission is put away? An innocent one I see that rather weeps than is angry. What does Baptism wash off? What does that Grace loose? There is loosed the offspring of sin. For if that infant could speak to you, it would say, and if it had the understanding which David had, it would answer you, Why do you heed me, an infant? Thou dost not indeed see my actions: but I in iniquity have been conceived, And in sins has my mother nourished me in the womb.”


So Augustine well even before his 412 AD knew why infant baptism was being practiced and was not shy in saying it was done to save and forgive the infant. Yet Wilson in his interview with Flowers claimed that Augustine made such ideas up in 412 AD to justify infant baptism against Pelagius since 1) Pelagius was essentially Baptist who held to believer’s baptism and one needs to be old enough to make choice to be reborn and 2) Augustine didn’t know until then why infant baptism was practiced.


As pointed out above, the latter claim is totally untrue, and Wilson knew it was untrue. The first claim (on Pelagius being essentially Southern Baptist) was also untrue, and Wilson knew that as well.  On page 210 of his longer dissertation book, Wilson wrote that Pelagius and Julian approved of infant baptism.


So as in regards to whether Augustine had an explanation for infant baptism prior to 412 AD or not, Wilson’s story in regards to whether or not Pelagius and his allies affirmed infant baptism changes when convenient.


Augustine even acknowledged the Pelagians affirmed infant baptism for entrance into the kingdom of God (per John 3:5 refuting the lie that post-411 AD Augustine originated baptismal view of it) in his On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants (Book I) while pointing they were being inconsistent with their denials of original sin in doing so:



“Chapter 58 [XXX.]— In What Respect the Pelagians Regarded Baptism as Necessary for Infants.


“Let us now examine more carefully, so far as the Lord enables us, that very chapter of the Gospel where He says, Unless a man be born again — of water and the Spirit — he shall not enter into the kingdom of God. If it were not for the authority which this sentence has with them, they would not be of opinion that infants ought to be baptized at all. This is their comment on the passage: Because He does not say, 'Unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he shall not have salvation or eternal life,' but He merely said, 'he shall not enter into the kingdom of God,' therefore infants are to be baptized, in order that they may be with Christ in the kingdom of God, where they will not be unless they are baptized. Should infants die, however, even without baptism, they will have salvation and eternal life, seeing that they are bound with no fetter of sin. Now in such a statement as this, the first thing that strikes one is, that they never explain where the justice is of separating from the kingdom of God that image of God which has no sin. Next, we ought to see whether the Lord Jesus, the one only good Teacher, has not in this very passage of the Gospel intimated, and indeed shown us, that it only comes to pass through the remission of their sins that baptized persons reach the kingdom of God; although to persons of a right understanding, the words, as they stand in the passage, ought to be sufficiently explicit: Unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God; John 3:3 and: Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5 For why should he be born again, unless to be renewed? From what is he to be renewed, if not from some old condition? From what old condition, but that in which our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed? Romans 6:6 Or whence comes it to pass that the image of God enters not into the kingdom of God, unless it be that the impediment of sin prevents it? However, let us (as we said before) see, as earnestly and diligently as we are able, what is the entire context of this passage of the Gospel, on the point in question.”


Wilson did the same thing with pre-Augustine fathers as well. Remember, Wilson on page 97 (and even more explicitly in his interview with Flowers) claimed Augustine and other fathers had no idea why infant baptism was practiced and denied baptismal salvation. My previous article refuted the latter claim by citing fathers on John 3:5 and pointing out they to the man saw it as baptismal salvation requirement. For the sake of space, I refer people to that here:


https://g2witt.blogspot.com/2020/06/lead-augustine-scholar-ken-wilson-using.html?m=1


Here, we will deal with his claim that no one prior to 412 AD knew why infant baptism was done. Besides the pre-412 AD Augustine writings mentioned above, take Cyprian, for example. On page 90 of his longer dissertation book, Wilson listed Cyprian’s ten different reasons for infant baptism. While omitting statements from Cyprian on Adam’s sins, as to what sins infants are forgiven for in baptism and on baptizing infants as soon as possible after birth  to see that none are lost (to accuse Augustine of originating such views out of Manichaeanism and Gnosticism), just mention of these showed Wilson knew that the claim no one prior to 412 AD knew why infant baptism was practiced was a lie he told in his shorter book and in his interview with Flowers. (Ironically one of the reasons he did list from Cyprian for infant baptism- receiving forgiveness of sins- refuted his claim on page 167 that Augustine originated the idea of infants receiving forgiveness of sins in baptism.)


On page 248 of his longer dissertation book, he wrote of earlier Augustine and earlier fathers on infant baptism: 


“This follows Origen and Ambrose in traditional paedobaptism for an unclean (blood?) stain at birth (Enar. Ps. 51.10).” 


Taking aside the fact as the quotes posted earlier in the article from early Augustine’s Psalm 51.10 exposition showed Wilson’s claim was false in denying he held to prior 412 AD the forgiveness of sins inherited from Adam for infants in baptism, even assuming these statements are true showed that Wilson was not telling the truth when he claimed nobody, not even Augustine, prior to 412 AD knew why infant baptism was practiced.


The fact of the matter is that contrary to Wilson’s distortions, all three held to infant baptism remits sins that infants were born with.


In the Homily on Leviticus 8.3, Origen said,


“But if it pleases you to hear what other saints also might think about this birthday, hear David speaking, ‘In iniquity I was conceived and in my sins my mother brought me forth,’ showing every soul which is born in flesh is polluted by the filth ‘of iniquity of sin’; and for this reason we can say what we already have recalled above, ‘No one is pure from uncleanness even if his life is only one day long.’ To these things can be added the reason why it is required, since the baptism is given for the forgiveness of sins, that, according, to the observance of the Church, that baptism also be given to infants; since, certainly, if there were nothing in infants that ought to pertain to forgiveness and indulgence, then the grace of baptism would appear superflous.”



Augustine’s mentor and bishop of Milan, Ambrose, wrote in On Abraham, 2.84: 


“Unless a man be born of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. Surely, He exempts none, not the infant, not one hindered by any necessity: but although they may have a hidden immunity to punishments, I know not whether they have the honour  of the Kingdom.”



Ambrose made his statement of even infants needing baptismal rebirth after spending several pages building his case for that. In On Abraham 2.79, he stated, 


“Let both the household slave and foreign-born, the righteous and the sinner, be circumcised with the remission of sins, so sin will have no more have effect, because none has ascended to the Kingdom of the Heavens save through the Sacrament of Baptism.”


Besides seeing John 3:5 as prooftext for baptismal saving necessity, even for infants (contrary to Wilson claiming that originated with Augustine), he argued the following page in 2.81 linking circumcision to baptism and showing infants have sin guilt that baptism needs to forgive and call them from:


“No age should be devoid of tutelage, because none is devoid of guilt. Even a baby is to be called back from sin, lest he be stained by the infection of idolatry, and lest he become accustomed to worship an idol and fondly kiss an image, to disobey his father’s will, to offend against piety. At the same time, lest anyone be haughty, in that he seems to himself to be righteous, Abraham is ordered to be circumcised. Therefore, neither an old proselyte nor a home-born baby, because every age is subject to sin, and therefore every age is fit to receive the Sacrament.”


As stated though, even if we disregard all these statements and go by what Wilson said on Origen, Ambrose and early Augustine in his longer dissertation book, his claim in Foundation and to Flowers that no one knew why infant baptism was done prior to 412 AD is debunked by his own words in his dissertation. 


Another case of Wilson changing his story when it suits him.


But with these quotes from these fathers, it debunked his claim that original sin guilt and infant baptismal salvation to forgive them originated from Augustine out of Manichaeanism and Gnosticism.


And if Wilson wanted to argue, the foundations of Calvinism are these views, then going by true facts of history, Calvinism would be rooted deep in church history from fathers long before Augustine.


Obviously, we aren’t Calvinists here but the smears against Augustine go far beyond them since Augustine’s views on infant baptismal salvation and losable regeneration after baptism were far closer to us Lutherans than Calvinists.


Here we stand.

9/7/20

Post Tenebras Lux - a Short Story

Post Tenebras Lux is a Latin phrase. It means, After Darkness, Light. It was one of the rallying cries of the Protestant Reformation. But this short story isn't about the Reformation. It's about a man. Well, not one man, but three.

The man violently erupted, like a volcano hell bent on destruction. He blew up over something God knows he should not have. His love was being attacked, in a way. Someone was trying to move in, seeing in his love what the man saw. And who can blame him? For she is a rare gem.

The story of the man starts years before. The man has a history of failing. He finds ways to give in to the Darkness and lose. In fact, the Darkness beats him every time. The man has a history, and his history is failure.

The Darkness spews forth. He tells the man; you have failed repeatedly, and you will fail again. Every time in the past that I have challenged you, I have won. You will surely lose again.

The Darkness reminds the man that he himself has failed. The Darkness admits that he has brought temptation and chaos, but it is the man who has failed. The Darkness tells the man that he has failed twice in the eyes of the Lord.

I have brought you spite, and I have brought you abuse, and I have brought you terror and strife. I've even driven you to the point of suicide. I'm pretty good at this, and you are not, says the Darkness. I've even tried to destroy your children! And I think I've done pretty well!

The man cannot disagree. Life has been tough. The Darkness has wreaked havoc on him, and his children. The Darkness is a force to be reckoned with. The man submits. He cannot beat the Darkness. The Darkness is much more seasoned and smarter than he is.

The Darkness taunts the man. Where is your resolve? Where is your Savior? You are an unworthy servant! Your Christ cannot do anything! You, man, are weak! I own you! everything I have thrown at you; I have beaten you. I am undefeated. You have destroyed your life. You have desecrated everything Christ says is Holy. What makes you think that this beautiful gift of love that you have been given won't fail? Everything else in your life has failed. You, O man, will destroy this love. For I, the Darkness, will make sure of it.

The man despairs. The Darkness has won. The man is afraid. For the man sees that God has given him a wonderful gift. But the man also sees that the Darkness is right there every step of the way, trying to assert himself to destroy the gift.

The man cries. He falls asleep, despairing that he has lost to the Darkness yet again, and that by his eruption his love is gone.

The man awakes. This time he finds himself in the sanctuary of the saints. The gentle morning light refracts through the stained glass windows. It is beautiful. The man has his children with him. In the sanctuary, there are many saints, from very young to very old.

Another man appears. This is the second man. He is dressed in a white robe and a green chasuble, to mark the time of the church. This man is not the Christ, but he is sent by Christ himself.

The second man is the called and ordained servant of Christ, standing on his behalf.

Light emanates from the mouth of the second man in radiant glory. He proclaims: As a called and ordained servant of Christ, I forgive you all of your sins in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Darkness cowers. The Darkness has no power against this. The Light has driven out the Darkness.

The second man only acts as a servant. He acts on behalf of the third man. The third man is the Son of God, who was delivered up for our transgressions and raised for our justification. The third man is the God of the Universe, Jesus Christ. It is the third man, who is the second Adam, who gives the power to the second man. Yet the second man doesn't have any power in himself. It is only by the authority and power of the third man, Christ, that he is authorized to forgive.

More light comes forth. The second man teaches us about Christ. He tells us that only Christ can love perfectly, and that as a result, we are to love our neighbors. Christ is the Good shepherd. He is also the Good Samaritan. Only Christ can love perfectly. We fail. We need him. He gives himself to us.

The Darkness flees, once again.

The second man continues to act on behalf of the third man. He repeats the strong words of Christ, consecrating ordinary bread and wine to be the body and blood of Christ.

The man comes forward. Here is the true body of Christ, given into death. For you. The second man feeds the first, giving him Christ's body.

This is the true blood of Jesus Christ, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. And the man drinks. 

The man is satisfied. The Light has driven out the Darkness. The Light has forgiven all of his sins; and his sins are too numerous to count. They are grievous and deserving of hell. The man has failed repeatedly. The Darkness reminds him of that, all too often.

Yet, the Light has forgiven him. His sins are driven away. The Darkness recedes.

Today, the Darkness cannot win. He is impotent against the Light. The Light has driven him out. The Light did so 2000 years ago on the cross and then was vindicated by rising from the dead. The Light continues to drive away the Darkness with his strong Word, given in word and Sacrament.

For today, the man may rest in peace and worry about nothing. Yes, the man has failed in the past. He has failed grievously. But today, the Light has driven away the Darkness. He has forgiven the man, and the man may rest in peace. His love knows this too.

All is well. Christ has won, is winning, and will win.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. -St. John 1:5

9/3/20

Response to Leighton Flowers video on Luther vs Calvin, part 5: Rejection of decision theology from Lutheran perspective on law and gospel distinction

This is the fifth part of the response to Leighton Flowers video in regards to Luther vs Calvin (two Reformers who carried forth two different stream of Augustinian predestination thoughts).

Flowers’ video can be found here:

https://youtu.be/pZrTO88WmDg

Leighton Flowers claimed that only Calvinists say to hold to things like we don’t save ourselves (see 15:21 minute mark), unmerited grace (see 19:22 minute mark), and faith doesn’t do anything to earn  salvation (see 21:27 minute mark) must be dependent on us rejecting decision theology (see 25:21 minute mark)- or the idea we can have faith on our own (see 1 hour and 30 minute mark)- and affirming the unregenerate nature is by nature bound to sin (see 1 hour and 8 minute mark. Unknowingly, he refuted himself at the 1 hour and 27 minute mark when he complained that Luther conflated holding to the bound will and works of the flesh as doing nothing towards salvation. Regardless of his attempts to paint Luther as a Calvinist, he was not a a Calvinist but in line with confessional Lutheran beliefs of salvation is all of God (elective unto salvation, faith is a monergistic or effectual gift of God) and damnation is all of man (God wants all to be saved, Christ died for all, God’s work to give faith to all can be resisted, salvation can be lost).

That goes into the point here that it is not just Calvinists that Flowers object to here (regardless of his claim that only Calvinists would say such things), but also Lutherans. At the heart of why Lutherans would say all the above things, that Flowers claimed only Calvinists would say, without actually being Calvinists, is the strict distinction between law and gospel. Such a distinction that is so central to Lutheran theology.

Luther in fact raised this strict law and gospel distinction throughout his famous Bondage of the Will response to the Catholic humanist Erasmus’ Diatribe Concerning Freewill. Indeed, the Reformer bluntly stated, 

“Sect. 60.—IN these passages, our friend Diatribe makes no distinction whatever, between the voice of the Law and the voice of the Gospel: because, forsooth, it is so blind and so ignorant, that it knows not what is the Law and what is the Gospel. For out of all the passages from Isaiah, it produces no one word of the law, save this, 'If thou wilt;' all the rest is Gospel, by which, as the word of offered grace, the bruised and afflicted are called unto consolation. Whereas, the Diatribe makes them the words of the law. But, I pray thee, tell me, what can that man do in theological matters, and the Sacred Writings, who has not even gone so far as to know what is Law and what is Gospel, or, who, if he does know, condemns the observance of the distinction between them? Such an one must confound all things, heaven with hell, and life with death; and will never labour to know any thing of Christ. Concerning which, I shall put my friend Diatribe a little in remembrance, in what follows.”

Luther further admonished Erasmus to learn that distinction:

“But, to away with vanities, the word TURN is used in the Scriptures in a twofold sense, the one legal, the other evangelical. In the legal sense, it is the voice of the exactor and commander, which requires, not an endeavour, but a change in the whole life. In this sense Jeremiah frequently uses it, saying, ‘Turn ye now every one of you from his evil way:’ and, ‘Turn ye unto the Lord:’ in which, he involves the requirement of all the commandments; as is sufficiently evident. In the evangelical sense, it is the voice of the divine consolation and promise, by which nothing is demanded of us, but in which the grace of God is offered unto us. Of this kind is that of Psalm cxxvi. 1, ‘When the Lord shall turn again the captivity of Zion;’  and that of Psalm cxvi. 7, ‘Turn again into thy rest, O my soul.’  Hence, Malachi, in a very brief compendium, has set forth the preaching both of the law and of grace. It is the whole sum of the law, where he saith, ‘Turn ye unto me;’ and it is grace, where he saith, ‘I will turn unto you.’ Wherefore, as much as "Free-will" is proved from this word, ‘Love the Lord,’ or from any other word of particular law, just so much is it proved from this word of summary law,

"'TURN YE.’ It becomes a wise reader of the Scriptures, therefore, to observe what are words of the law and what are words of grace, that he might not be involved in confusion like the unclean Sophists, and like this sleepily-yawning Diatribe.”

Note that while Luther continually to pushed his point of law and gospel distinction as central to his theme of why freewill of man profits nothing towards salvation, he also took the viewpoint of God’s universal desire and will to save as the gospel promise:

“It is the Gospel voice, and the sweetest consolation to miserable sinners, where Ezekiel saith, "I desire not the death of a sinner, but rather, that he should be converted and live," and it is in all respects like unto that of Psalm xxx. 5.; "For His wrath is but for a moment, in His willingness is life." And that of Psalm xxxvi. 7., ‘How sweet is thy loving-kindness, O God.’ Also, ‘For I am merciful,’ And that of Christ, (Matt. xi. 28.) ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ And also that of Exodus xx. 6, ‘I will shew mercy unto thousands of them that love me.’

“And what is more than half of the Holy Scripture, but mere promises of grace, by which, mercy, life, peace, and salvation, are extended from God unto men? And what else is the whole word of promise but this:—‘I desire not the death of a sinner?’ Is not His saying, ‘I am merciful,’ the same as saying, I am not angry, I am unwilling to punish, I desire not your death, My will is to pardon, My will is to spare? And if there were not these divine promises standing, by which consciences, afflicted with a sense of sin and terrified at the fear of death and judgment might be raised up, what place would there be for pardon or for hope! What sinner would not sink in despair! But as ‘Free-will’ is not proved from any of the other words of mercy, of promise, and of comfort, so neither is it from this:—"I desire not the death of a sinner," &c.

“But our friend Diatribe, again making no distinction between the words of the law, and the words of the promise, makes this passage of Ezekiel the voice of the law, and expounds it thus:—‘I desire not the death of a sinner:’ that is, I desire not that he should sin unto death, or should become a sinner guilty of death; but rather, that he should be converted from sin, if he have committed any, and thus live. For if it do not expound the passage thus, it will make nothing to its purpose. But this is utterly to destroy and take away that most sweet place of Ezekiel, ‘I desire not the death.’ If we in our blindness will read and understand the Scriptures thus, what wonder if they be 'obscure and ambiguous.' Whereas God does not say, ‘I desire not the sin of man, but, I desire not the death of a sinner,’ which manifestly shews that He is speaking of the punishment of sin, of which the sinner has a sense on account of his sin, that is, of the fear of death; and that He is raising up and comforting the sinner lying under this affliction and desperation, that He might not ‘break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax,’ but raise him to the hope of pardon and salvation, in order that he might be further converted, that is, by the conversion unto salvation from the fear of death, and that he might live, that is, might be in peace and rejoice in a good conscience.

“And this is also to be observed, that as the voice of the law is not pronounced but upon those who neither feel nor know their sins, as Paul saith, ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin;’ (Rom. iii. 20,) so, the word of grace does not come but unto those, who, feeling their sins, are distressed and exercised with desperation. Therefore, in all the words of the law, you will find sin to be implied while it shews what we ought to do; as on the contrary, in all the words of the promise, you will find the evil to be implied under which the sinners, or those who are raised up, labour: as here, ‘I desire not the death of a sinner,’ clearly points out the death and the sinner, both the evil itself which is felt, and the sinner himself who feels it. But by this, 'Love God with all thine heart,' is shewn what good we ought to do, not what evil we feel, in order that we might know, how far we are from doing good.”

Luther affirmed God’s desire to save all bound to sin and helpless to save themselves here as well  

“Sect. 63.—NOTHING, therefore, could be more absurdly adduced in support of "Free-will" than this passage of Ezekiel, nay, it makes with all possible force directly against ‘Free-will.’ For it is here shewn, in what state "Free-will" is, and what it can do under the knowledge of sin, and in turning itself from it:—that is, that it can only go on to worse, and add to its sins desperation and impenitency, unless God soon come in to help, and to call back, and raise up by the word of promise. For the concern of God in promising grace to recall and raise up the sinner, is itself an argument sufficiently great and conclusive, that ‘Free-will,’ of itself, cannot but go on to worse, and (as the Scripture saith) 'fall down to hell:' unless, indeed, you imagine that God is such a trifler, that He pours forth so great an abundance of the words of promise, not from any necessity of them unto our salvation, but from a mere delight in loquacity! Wherefore, you see, that not only all the words of law stand against ‘Free-will,’ but also, that all the words of the promise utterly confute it; that is, that, the whole Scripture makes directly against it.

“Hence, you see, this word, ‘I desire not the death of a sinner,’  does nothing else but preach and offer divine mercy to the world, which none receive with joy and gratitude but those who are distressed and exercised with the fears of death, for they are they in whom the law has now done its office, that is, in bringing them to the knowledge of sin. But they who have not yet experienced the office of the law, who do not yet know their sin nor feel the fears of death, despise the mercy promised in that word.”

And further down, he made it clear in regards to 1 Timothy 2:4, Matthew 23:37, and Ezekiel 18:23, he took the view of God desiring to save all earnestly while not compromising on his stance that the bound will can do nothing towards salvation:

“Therefore it is rightly said, 'if God does not desire our death, it is to be laid to the charge of our own will, if we perish:' this, I say, is right, if you speak of GOD PREACHED. For He desires that all men should be saved, seeing that, He comes unto all by the word of salvation, and it is the fault of the will which does not receive Him: as He saith. (Matt. xxiii. 37.) "How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldest not!" But WHY that Majesty does not take away or change this fault of the will IN ALL, seeing that, it is not in the power of man to do it; or why He lays that to the charge of the will, which the man cannot avoid, it becomes us not to inquire, and though you should inquire much, yet you will never find out: as Paul saith, (Rom. ix, 20,) ‘Who art thou that repliest against God!’- Suffice it to have spoken thus upon this passage of Ezekiel.”

The point in all this is the command for us to do is law and the promise of salvation and forgiveness to us is gospel. His point was if God’s command can be done, then there would be no need for gospel as God’s word of promise to rescue us from our sins. If it is in our power to exert faith, just because it is treated as something in us to do, then us “doing” our faith would be law, not gospel. And the law brings wrath since no one can keep God’s commands as required.

And as shown here, Luther wasn’t a Calvinist in regards to his view of universal grace and atonement that can be resisted (though he rejected the synergistic view of conversion).

So it isn’t just Calvinists that Flowers was objecting to. As seen later in this article, Luther did indeed speak for Lutherans. 

Luther hammered that law and gospel distinction point home as to why the will bound to sin is useless towards conversion to Erasmus;

 “Sect. 65.—THE Diatribe next argues—‘If what is commanded be not in the power of every one, all the numberless exhortations in the Scriptures, and also all the promises, threatenings, expostulations, reproofs, asseverations, benedictions and maledictions, together with all the forms of precepts, must of necessity stand coldly useless.’

“The Diatribe is perpetually forgetting the subject point, and going on with that which is contrary to its professed design: and it does not see, that all these things make with greater force against itself than against us. For from all these passages, it proves the liberty and ability to fulfil all things, as the very words of the conclusion which it draws necessarily declare: whereas, its design was, to prove 'that ‘Free-will’ is that, which cannot will any thing good without grace, and is a certain endeavour that is not to be ascribed to its own powers.' But I do not see that such an endeavour is proved by any of these passages, but that as I have repeatedly said already, that only is required which ought to be done' unless it be needful to repeat it again, as often as the Diatribe harps upon the same string, putting off its readers with a useless profusion of words.

“About the last passage which it brings forward out of the Old Testament, is that of Deut. xxx. 11-14. ‘This commandment which I command thee this day, is not above thee, neither is it far off. Neither is it in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who of us shall ascend up into heaven and bring it down unto us, that we may hear it and do it. But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.’ The Diatribe contends—'that it is declared by this passage, that what is commanded is not only placed in us, but is down-hill work, that is, easy to be done, or at least, not difficult.'

“I thank the Diatribe for such wonderful erudition! For if Moses so plainly declare, that there is in us, not only an ability, but also a power to keep all the commandments with ease, why have I been toiling all this time! Why did I not at once produce this passage and assert ‘Free-will’ before the whole world! What need now of Christ! What need of the Spirit! We have now found a passage which stops the mouths of all, and, which not only plainly asserts the liberty of the will, but teaches that the observance of all the commandments is easy!—What need was there for Christ to purchase for us, even with His own blood, the Spirit, as though necessary, in order that He might make the keeping of the commandments easy unto us, when we were already thus qualified by nature! Nay, here, the Diatribe itself recants its own assertions, where it affirmed, that '’Freewill’ cannot will any thing good without grace,' and now affirms, that ‘Free-will’ is of such power, that it can, not only will good, but keep the greatest, nay, all the commandments, with ease.”

The gospel, which is Christ crucified to obtain forgiveness for our sins, must be kept central:

“But we have here to speak upon two things. First, upon the precepts of the New Testament. And next, upon merit. We shall touch upon each briefly, having already spoken upon them more fully elsewhere.

“The New Testament, properly, consists of promises and exhortations, even as the Old, properly, consists of laws and threatenings. For in the New Testament, the Gospel is preached; which is nothing else than the word, by which, are offered unto us the Spirit, grace; and the remission of sins obtained for us by Christ crucified; and all entirely free, through the mere mercy of God the Father, thus favouring us unworthy creatures, who deserve damnation rather than any thing else.”

Exhortations to good works are given to those whose wills are already freed by the power of God to give faith, through the gospel word of promise,  not for those whose wills are still in bondage to sin and need regeneration by the Holy Spirit:

“And then follow exhortations, in order to animate those who are already justified, and who have obtained mercy, to be diligent in the fruits of the Spirit and of righteousness received, to exercise themselves in charity and good works, and to bear courageously the cross and all the other tribulations of this world. This is the whole sum of the New Testament. But how little Erasmus understands of this matter is manifest from this:—it knows not how to make any distinction between the Old Testament and the New, for it can see nothing any where but precepts, by which, men are formed to good manners only. But what the new-birth is, the new-creature, regeneration, and the whole work of the Spirit, of all this it sees nothing whatever. So that, I am struck with wonder and astonishment, that the man, who has spent so much time and study upon these things, should know so little about them.

“This passage therefore, ‘Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven,’ agrees as well with "Free-will" as light does with darkness. For Christ is there exhorting, not ‘Free-will,’ but His apostles, (who were not only raised above ‘Free-will’ in grace, and justified, but were stationed in the ministry of the Word, that is, in the highest degree of grace,) to endure the tribulations of the world. But we are now disputing about ‘Free-will,’ and that particularly, as it is without Grace; which, by laws and threats, or the Old Testament, is instructed in the knowledge of itself only, that it might flee to the promises presented to it in the New Testament.”

The Lutheran Confessions affirmed Luther’s view of law and gospel distinction taught in Bondage of the Will. The Solid Declaration of the  Formula of Concord (written by the “second Martin” Chemnitz three decades after Luther’s death) said in article V (on law and gospel):

“1] As the distinction between the Law and the Gospel is a special brilliant light, which serves to the end that God's Word may be rightly divided, and the Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles may be properly explained and understood, we must guard it with especial care, in order that these two doctrines may not be mingled with one another, or a law be made out of the Gospel, whereby the merit of Christ is obscured and troubled consciences are robbed of their comfort, which they otherwise have in the holy Gospel when it is preached genuinely and in its purity, and by which they can support themselves in their most grievous trials against the terrors of the Law.”

It summarized Luther’s distinction between law and gospel:

“12] Anything that preaches concerning our sins and God's wrath, let it be done how or when it will, that is all a preaching of the Law. Again, the Gospel is such a preaching as shows and gives nothing else than grace and forgiveness in Christ, although it is true and right that the apostles and preachers of the Gospel (as Christ Himself also did) confirm the preaching of the Law, and begin it with those who do not yet acknowledge their sins nor are terrified at [by the sense of] God's wrath; as He says, John 16:8: 13] ‘The Holy Ghost will reprove the world of sin because they believe not on Me.’ Yea, what more forcible, more terrible declaration and preaching of God's wrath against sin is there than just the suffering and death of Christ, His Son? But as long as all this preaches God's wrath and terrifies men, it is not yet the preaching of the Gospel nor Christ's own preaching, but that of Moses and the Law against the impenitent. For the Gospel and Christ were never ordained and given for the purpose of terrifying and condemning, but of comforting and cheering those who are terrified and timid. And again: Christ says, John 16:8: ‘The Holy Ghost will reprove the world of sin’; which cannot be done except through the explanation of the Law.”

As did Luther, the Formula highlighted the futility of man’s corrupt human nature in regards to keeping the law which it is hostile and opposed to:

“20] However, now that man has not kept the Law of God, but transgressed it, his corrupt nature, thoughts, words, and works fighting against it, for which reason he is under God's wrath, death, all temporal calamities, and the punishment of hell-fire, the Gospel is properly a doctrine which teaches what man should believe, that he may obtain forgiveness of sins with God, namely, that the Son of God, our Lord Christ, has taken upon Himself and borne the curse of the Law, has expiated and paid for all our sins, through whom alone we again enter into favor with God, obtain forgiveness of sins by faith, are delivered from death and all the punishments of sins, and eternally saved.”

Article II of the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord (on freewill) affirmed Luther’s view of the bound will cannot cooperate towards conversion:

 “17] Secondly, God's Word testifies that the intellect, heart, and will of the natural, unregenerate man in divine things are not only turned entirely away from God, but also turned and perverted against God to every evil; also, that he is not only weak, incapable, unfit, and dead to good, but also is so lamentably perverted, infected, and corrupted by original sin that he is entirely evil, perverse, and hostile to God by his disposition and nature, and that he is exceedingly strong, alive, and active with respect to everything that is displeasing and contrary to God. Gen. 8:22: The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth. Jer. 17:9: The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked, or perverted and full of misery, so that it is unfathomable. This passage St. Paul explains Rom. 8: The carnal mind is enmity against God. Gal. 5:17: The flesh lusteth against the spirit; and these are contrary the one to the other. Rom. 7:14: We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. And soon after, 18:23: I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. For I delight in the Law of God after the inward man, which is regenerate by the Holy Ghost; but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin.

“18] Now, if in St. Paul and in other regenerate men the natural or carnal free will even after regeneration strives against God's Law, it will be much more obstinate and hostile to God's Law and will before regeneration. Hence it is manifest (as it is further declared in the article concerning original sin, to which we now refer for the sake of brevity) that the free will from its own natural powers, not only cannot work or concur in working anything for its own conversion, righteousness, and salvation, nor follow [obey], believe, or assent to the Holy Ghost, who through the Gospel offers him grace and salvation, but from its innate, wicked, rebellious nature it resists God and His will hostilely, unless it be enlightened and controlled by God's Spirit.”

And as it did Luther, it highlighted the distinction between those under law (by which they are under wrath, bound to their sins) and under the gospel (that freed them from their slavery to sin and forgave them their sins, for Christ’s sake):

“63] But when man has been converted, and is thus enlightened, and his will is renewed, it is then that man wills what is good (so far as he is regenerate or a new man), and delights in the Law of God after the inward man, Rom. 7:22, and henceforth does good to such an extent and as long as he is impelled by God's Spirit, as Paul says, Rom. 8:14: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 64] And this impulse of the Holy Ghost is not a coactio, or coercion, but the converted man does good spontaneously, as David says, Ps. 110:4: Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power. And nevertheless that also [the strife of the flesh and spirit] remains in the regenerate of which St. Paul wrote, Rom. 7:22f : For I delight in the Law of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Also, v. 25: So, then, with my mind I myself serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. Also, Gal. 5:17: For the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

And here as well:

“67] Therefore there is a great difference between baptized and unbaptized men. For since, according to the doctrine of St. Paul, Gal. 3:27, all who have been baptized have put on Christ, and thus are truly regenerate, they have now arbitrium liberatum (a liberated will), that is, as Christ says, they have been made free again, John 8:36; whence they are able not only to hear the Word, but also to assent to it and accept it, although in great weakness.

“68] For since we receive in this life only the first-fruits of the Spirit, and the new birth is not complete, but only begun in us, the combat and struggle of the flesh against the spirit remains even in the elect and truly regenerate men; for there is a great difference perceptible among Christians not only in this, that one is weak and another strong in the spirit, but each Christian, moreover, experiences in himself that at one time he is joyful in spirit, and at another fearful and alarmed; at one time ardent in love, strong in faith and hope, and at another cold and weak.”

Yet, as did Luther, it affirmed universal grace and desire of God to save all that can be resisted by men who are by nature opposed to the things of God in the first place:

“57] But if a man will not hear preaching nor read God's Word, but despises the Word and congregation of God, and thus dies and perishes in his sins, he neither can comfort himself with God's eternal election nor obtain His mercy; for Christ, in whom we are chosen, offers to all men His grace in the Word and holy Sacraments, and wishes earnestly that it be heard, and has promised that where two or three are gathered together in His name and are occupied with His holy Word, He will be in their midst.”

58] But when such a person despises the instrument of the Holy Ghost, and will not hear, no injustice is done to him if the Holy Ghost does not enlighten him, but allows him to remain in the darkness of his unbelief and to perish; for regarding this matter it is written: How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings; and ye would not! Matt. 23:37.”

And:

“70] For this is certainly true that in genuine conversion a change, new emotion [renewal], and movement in the intellect, will, and heart must take place, namely, that the heart perceive sin, dread God's wrath, turn from sin, perceive and accept the promise of grace in Christ, have good spiritual thoughts, a Christian purpose and diligence, and strive against the flesh. For where none of these occurs or is present, there is also no true conversion. 71] But since the question is de causa efficiente (concerning the efficient cause), that is, who works this in us, and whence man has this, and how he attains it, this doctrine informs us that, since the natural powers of man cannot do anything or help towards it, 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 3:5, God, out of His infinite goodness and mercy, comes first to us [precedes us], and causes His holy Gospel to be preached, whereby the Holy Ghost desires to work and accomplish in us this conversion and renewal, and through preaching and meditation upon His Word kindles in us faith and other godly virtues, so that they are gifts and operations of the Holy Ghost alone. 72] This doctrine, therefore, directs us to the means whereby the Holy Ghost desires to begin and work this [which we have mentioned], also instructs us how those gifts are preserved, strengthened, and increased, and admonishes us that we should not let this grace of God be bestowed on us in vain, but diligently exercise it [those gifts], and ponder how grievous a sin it is to hinder and resist such operations of the Holy Ghost.”

Lutheran theologian John Theodore Mueller summarized why Luther and the Lutheran Confessions, as affirmed by all Confessional Lutherans then and now, took such a strong stance against the decision theology that Erasmus and now Leighton Flowers so espoused:

“Synergism derives its doctrines ‘not from any clear statements of the Bible, but by a process of anti-Scriptural and fallacious reasoning’ (ibid.); and it is all the more dangerous and pernicious since ‘it reduces man’s cooperation to a seemingly harmless minimum and clothes itself in ambiguous phrases and apparently pious and plausible formulas’ (ibid). Its line of reasoning is: ‘Since all who are not converted or finally saved must blame, not God, but themselves for rejecting grace, those, too, who are converted must be credited with at least a small share in the work of their salvation, that is to say, with a better conduct toward grace than the conduct of those who are lost.’ This, however, in its final effect, overthrows the entire Gospel of free grace. It was for this reason that Luther and all confessional Lutherans so inculcated the monergism of divine grace”(Christian Dogmatics, pages 361-2).

Fellow Lutheran theologian (and founder of the Lutheran seminary Concordia Theological Semimary) CFW Walther in his twenty-forth lecture on law and gospel distinction put it this way on why decision theology violates law and gospel distinction, since it turned faith into law as something we do unbiblically:

“Thesis XIII.

“In the ninth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when one makes an appeal to believe or at least help towards that end, instead of preaching faith into a person’s heart by laying the Gospel promises before him.

“This thesis does not score as an error the demand on the part of the pastor, be it ever so urgent, that his hearers believe the Gospel. That demand has been made by all the prophets, all the apostles, yea, by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. When demanding faith, we do not lay down a demand of the Law, but issue the sweetest invitation, practically saying to our hearers: ‘Come; for all things are now ready.’ Luke 14, 17. When I invite a halfstarved person to sit down to a well-furnished board and to help himself to anything he likes, I do not expect him to tell me that he will take no orders from me. Even so the demand to believe is to be understood not as an order of the Law, but as an invitation of the Gospel.

“The error against which this thesis is directed is this, that man can produce faith in himself. Such a demand would be an order of the Law and turn faith into a work of man. That would be plainly mingling Law and Gospel. A preacher must be able to preach a sermon on faith without ever using the term faith. It is not important that he din the word faith into the ears of his audience, but it is necessary for him to frame his address so as to arouse in every poor sinner the desire to lay the burden of his sins at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ and say to Him:  ‘Thou art mine, and I am Thine.’”

In his second lecture on law and gospel distinction, he reminded us of why we must safeguard this distinction between law and gospel:

“The difference, then, between the Law and the Gospel is this: The Law makes demands of things that we are to do; it insists on works that we are to perform in the service of God and our fellow-men. In the Gospel, however, we are summoned to a distribution of rich alms which we are to receive and take: the loving-kindness of God and eternal salvation. Here is an easy way of illustrating the difference between the two: In offering us help and salvation as a gift and donation of God, the Gospel bids us hold the sack open and have something given us. The Law, however, gives nothing, but only takes and demands things from us. Now, these two, giving and taking, are surely far apart. For when something is given me, I am not doing anything towards that: I only receive and take; I have something given me. Again, when in my profession I carry out commands, likewise when I advise and assist my fellow-man, I receive nothing, but give to another whom I am serving. Thus the Law and the Gospel are distinguished as to their formal statements (in causa formali): the one promises, the other commands. The Gospel gives and bids us take; the Law demands and says, This you are to do.”

Here we stand.