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What’s Up with the Evangelicals and Reformed?

December 28th, 2011
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Last June, an Evangelical/Reformed blogger, Kevin DeYoung, wrote an article on his blog asking what’s up with the Lutherans? In it he expressed concern that Lutherans don’t seem to be very active or present in his blogging and theological circles. I think Kevin was attempting to offer a gentle criticism and somewhat laying the blame for this on Lutherans.

The response to his post by a number of pretty well known blogging Lutherans was very vigorous and positive, with offers to be more involved in whatever forum, or conferences, or gatherings, or organizations Evangelicals have where they would welcome Lutheran input.

Despite some polite expressions of thanks for this offer, including even an interview with yours truly featured on Kevin’s blog, the response now sounds like chirping crickets, for, you see, I honestly do not believe Evangelicals or Calvinists or Reformed, or whatever term they wish to use to describe themselves, actually really do want Lutheran input nor are they really interested in the Lutheran Church. What they actually like is Martin Luther, or, frankly, the version of Luther that Evangelicals/Reformed/Calvinists have created, a Luther that does not challenge many of the core presuppositions about things like the nature of original sin, the nature of grace, faith, the sacraments. Reading many Evangelical/Reformed blogs out there I remain convince there is a deep amnesia in these circles about Church History and a very low view of and understanding of the Church as being, one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

This reality is no different than the one Hermann Sasse experienced in his many contacts across Christendom, both East and West, Reformed or Roman. He termed the path of the Lutheran Church to be the “lonely way” precisely because in spite of polite expressions of interest, and expressions of love for Martin Luther, the reality is that Lutheranism is not compatible with, nor supportive of, Calvinism and all its various offshoots, up to and including various forms of Evangelicalism.

But, of course, this does not mean we Lutherans won’t stop doing our best to be a positive influence in Evangelical and Calvinist circles, but we will still keep being Lutheran. And that’s probably going to continue to be a problem for those who wonder where the Lutherans are. We are right where we have always been, and we will continue to be here and eager to contribute to your conversations. We are still waiting and asking ourselves “What’s up with the Evangelicals?”

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  1. Jennifer
    December 28th, 2011 at 20:00 | #1

    I’ll have to admit, that I do not see as many Lutheran blogs or bloggers as I do Evangelical or Catholic. I agree with what you said above about the amnesia of many of the Evangelical/Reformed circles. I would add many Catholic circles also. The blogosphere is filled with commentary that is devoid of any Scripture, doctrine, truth or substance. Lutherans just aren’t interested. I’m thankful for your blog.

  2. Karen Keil
    December 28th, 2011 at 20:16 | #2

    Agreed on Lutheranism being “not compatible with, nor supportive of, Calvinism and all its various offshoots, up to and including various forms of Evangelicalism.” I found this out from my high school years, realizing that I did not agree with or share common understanding in certain areas with many Protestants. Also, I had to deal with Protestants trying to categorize Lutheranism and their being puzzled by this oddball “Protestant” group.

    Very recently I came across some material (don’t remember where) on Christianity in which it divided Christianity into four major groups: Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Reformed/Evangelical, and Lutheran. That truly says it all.

  3. December 28th, 2011 at 22:38 | #3

    Lutherans have got to engage in fact and remain engaged to ascertain extent with these folks. There is a subtle shift in the language the Reformed/Evangelicals are using in their discourses that sounds remarkably Lutheran, but without the understanding of what a Christ Centered, Cross Focused theology really is and really entails. They talk about Law and Gospel, and preaching of the Cross, but don’t quite get it. Some of the popular preachers and speakers come close, but in the end dance around it and shadow box with it, content to keep the naked God at arms length.

    Take the Bonhoeffer book that is so wildly popular these days amongst them. They love the idea of being fully devoted Christ followers and living together as Christians. Bonhoeffer is haled as the premier exemplar and teacher. But they do scoff at Lutheran theology. Not one iota of Bonhoeffer’s Lutheran heritage is examined in that book. Rather, his contacts with Barth and the ecumenical movement are praised and emphasized. Luther is dismissed in that book with an extremely crass, and unflattering portrait of his physical ailments. Lutheran theology is dismissed also as inadequate.

    Still, the Reformed/Evangelicals do embrace Luther and their reformation heritage (and Luther in the context of their reformation heritage), and, in fact, claim the reformation as their own. If we do not lead with the fullness and beauty of the Gospel God has entrusted to us, we risk our theology being fully subsumed into this American religiosity. Watch what happens with the 500th anniversary of The Reformation when the Reformed/Evangelicals claim Luther as their own. And they will.

    For us Lutherans, we have to speak. We have to have a voice that unabashedly proclaims the Gospel in Word and Sacrament — Christ crucified for our sins, raised for our justification — one that gently yet with authority corrects error, and also that shakes the dust off of those conversations that devolve into a CNN or Fox News shouting match. It is a lonely way, but it is Christ’s Way. We should be ashamed of ourselves for embracing the silliness in American religiosity and pursuing it in some cases with open arms because we do not want to be alone on this lonely path. Rather we want to be popular like everybody else, because more bigger is always better. No, we Lutherans ought to be THE example, living up to our heritage rather than running from it. It is time for Billy Graham’s sleeping giant to stop the hand wringing, get out of bed and lead. It is time the Gospel is heard in the land again from Lutherans.

    • December 28th, 2011 at 22:50 | #4

      For what it is worth, Billy Graham never said that, it is a silly Lutheran urban legend.

  4. December 28th, 2011 at 22:39 | #5

    As a Reformation Evangelical, I very much want to hear more from Luther and Lutherans. You have much to offer, in terms of worship, prayer, Christ-centered theology, law and gospel thinking, historical rootedness, and sacraments that actually mean something. But for whatever reason there is a barrier between Lutheranism and the rest of us. I can go to one of the better Christian bookstores—one that doesn’t carry Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyers—and still find next to nothing by Lutheran authors. Perhaps there will be something by Bonhoeffer and a book on culture by Veith, but no Lutheran Study Bible, no Lutheran devotionals or prayer books; no Lutheran books on how it is Jesus, not us, who lives the victorious Christian life.

    Why is this? Are the Lutherans too inward-looking? Not savvy enough in marketing? Or is it that most of us Evangelicals are truly not interested?

    • December 28th, 2011 at 22:48 | #6

      Kevin, thanks for your remarks. The “barrier” is simply that Evangelicalism/Calvinism is a system that is not compatible with Lutheranism. It is facile to say that is some fault of Lutherans. All those bookstores you mention, and I’ve yet to see one of them that does not sell mostly “Church merch” — gifts — along with Osteen and Meyers — are easily able to buy any Lutheran book they want. Most of Evangelicals are truly not interested. Sad, no?

  5. Terry Maher (Past Elder)
    December 29th, 2011 at 01:20 | #7

    I got a gift card to the local “Christian” bookstore on joining my current parish. When I went to use it, I couldn’t find a bleeding thing of Lutheran origin except TLSB among the Bibles. (I already have two copies and the card wasn’t enough for TLSB anyway!) Actually, replace church merch with rosaries etc and Lucado, Osteen, Meyers et al with lives of and books by “saints” and priests and popes and Vatican II stuff and it would be a Catholic book store. I got my first Lutheran books (the Small Catechism and a volume with Luther’s 1520 essays) in a Mennonite bookstore — along with a copy of the Clementine Vulgate! Everything else has been mostly direct from CPH and some from a parish book table, who got them from CPH. Anecdotes, yes, but quite in line with the Reformed (by whatever name) penchant for liking Luther as long as he isn’t Lutheran, just one who opened the way but couldn’t quite make the full break with “catholic” — as if he ever meant to, but rather stand up for it contra what Catholic had made of it.

  6. wyclif
    December 29th, 2011 at 02:17 | #8

    As an Anglican who has always had a Reformational and evangelical emphasis, as well as being a fan of Luther, I’d also like to say that I too would like to hear more from our Lutheran brethren.

    However, I find the way matters stand as described in this post problematic. The assumption among many Lutherans I’ve talked to is that there was a Reformation in Germany but nowhere else in Europe– not in Switzerland and certainly not in England. There’s no interest in engaging with Luther’s early and devoted followers in England, for example: the infamous White Horse Inn scholars like Barnes and Bilney.

    As for “Calvinism and all its various offshoots”, well, that prejudices the case, doesn’t it? It is to speak as if Lutheranism is a monolith and composed of various denominational churches. Which Lutheranism? becomes a valid question: LCMS, WELS, ELCA, ALC, etc, etc. I would suggest that Lutheranism just as often presents a fragmented face to the Reformed as vice-versa.

    Where is the interaction with Reformed writers who actually *do* have a high view of the Church as one, holy, catholic and apostolic as well as Church History? Where is the interaction with conservative Reformed scholars such as Peter Leithart, for example?

    Why, my library here is lined with the original writings of Luther, which I have studied intensely. The problem is not one of lack of knowledge of the original theologians like Luther, Melanchthon, and Chemnitz, the problem is Lutheran offence at deviation from hard-shell Lutheran theological contructs such as the Law/Gospel dichotomy by Reformed theologians.

  7. Steve Newell
    December 29th, 2011 at 06:24 | #9

    I have found that the Internetmonk is a good site for the discussion of Lutheran theology. While Chaplin Mike is not LC-MS but ELCA, he does take about important issues as Law & Gospel, the sacraments, and worship forms. The White Horse Inn is good discussion of issues with Lutheran and Calvinist panel members.

    The original Internetmonk, Michael Spensor, while not Lutheran, praised the Lutheran Service Book as the best hymnal he had ever seen along the the Book of Daily Prayer, and the Lutheran Confessions. I don’t know if he had a chance to review the Lutheran Study Bible.

    I have found that it is every difficult to have discussions of theology with many Christians since many really cannot articulate what they believe & why or that they get very defensive when you question what they believe and why.

    • December 29th, 2011 at 07:08 | #10

      Steve, thanks for your comments, but I think upon further analysis we can dispense with some of your criticisms.

      (1) I’ve noticed that Calvinism often refers to “The Reformation” and “The Reformers” and while they give a polite nod to Luther and talk about his Romans commentary and nailing the 95 these on the church door, that’s just about as far as they go with Luther.

      (2) Which Lutheran church? The same could be said about Evangelicalism and Calvinism or Anglicanism.

      (3) Where is the intersection with Lutheran writers in Evangelical/Reformed circles?

      (4) The last comment is illustrative of the dismissive attitude among Evangelicals/Reformed.

      I think your post typifies and illustrates the very problem I’ve identified, and all the more reason for Reformed/Evangelical to involve Lutherans in their conferences, groups, associations, etc.

  8. December 29th, 2011 at 09:18 | #11

    @ptmccain Thank you. What is that saying about falsehood: “If you repeat it often enough it becomes truth?” After a bit of digging, Graham’s quote on Lutherans, which never surfaced, is said to have been made 40+ years ago. There are a number of other “sleeping giant” quotes attributed to Graham for the United Methodists, the Native American Church.

    I found one quote apropos for this discussion made at a conference hosted by Graham in 2004: “We need to waken the sleeping giant,” he said, “which is lay evangelism.” That was archbishop Terrence Prendergast speaking on the importance of a conference held in December 2004 in Nova Scotia for Graham’s Institute of “Emerging” Evangelists at which Graham was present. http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?ArticleID=495

    The so called emerging, missional movement that is intellectually attractive for some, because it plays into the question question authority mantra that our 60s and 70s forbears foisted upon American culture, and evangelicals in their quest to transform culture through creation of sub-culture absorbed it into the church — one can appear intellectual without actually being challenged intellectually — is the wave that is driving the dialogue. There is an underlying presupposition in this movement that your church is not growing unless your people are fully committed lay evangelists (missional). And if your church is not growing, your church is useless, outmoded, dead. Church Unique progenitor, Will Mancini, at whose feet many of our young pastors are falling, teaches this. http://www.willmancini.com/2009/01/questions-for-our-existence.html They misuse Christ’s words to His apostles as the impetus for lay evangelism. Many in the Reformed/Evangelical tradition have a hard time arguing with this interpretation for a variety of reasons and lean toward this conversation rather than engaging Lutherans. This, I think, primarily has to do with as PT McCain said because Lutheran and Calvinist theologies are incompatible, the basic reason being that, for those in the Calvinist/Evangelical camp, reason cannot wrap its head around the real physical and spiritual presence of Christ in the Sacraments and in the power of the Word.

  9. December 29th, 2011 at 09:46 | #12

    @wyclif I am a Lutheran by birth and education. However, I spent some time in a reformed/catholic congregation of the Episcopal Missionary Church. I enjoyed the fellowship very much and they were faithful in worship and faithful to the Anglican tradition (1928 BCP was used). They sounded very Lutheran to me and I was assured that they believed and taught the real presence of Christ in the sacraments. Still, the longer I went, the more I realized there were things missing that I needed such as the actual pronouncement of the forgiveness of sins by the pastor in the service, truly Christ centered, law and Gospel preaching, and the real physical and spiritual presence of Christ in the divine service — not a feeding in my heart or a spiritual ascension. For me, I found there to be in the 39 Articles and Anglican theology too much hedging of bets, an attempt to cover all the bases and take all positions in Christianity, rather than stating firmly and holding fast to what they believed.

    I have many reformed friends and have found that “reason” is the main stumbling block, not Lutheran constructs. Lutheran theology is drawn from Christ and Christ alone. There is a point at which faith — faith created and formed by Christ — must of necessity overtake reason for Christians. Reason too often leads and drives so called faith, when faith created and formed by Christ should be served by reason. Lutheran theology, while it may seem simplistic and built upon artificial constructs, is really much more difficult to grasp.

  10. Matt
    December 29th, 2011 at 10:28 | #13

    Paul, first, real quickly, I think you meant post number 10 to be in response to “wyclif” rather than “Steve.”

    As too why the evangelical/reformed like Luther but not Lutheranism, I think the reason is very simple. They like Luther because they have a common, false view of what happened in the reformation. Yet they can not accept Lutheran doctrine because the reality of reformation is radically opposed to their foundational doctrine. Here is how I often explain it to my congregation:

    The common and false view of the reformation is that Luther broke with the Roman Catholic Church over the issue of salvation by faith alone and the reformed took the reformation of Luther to its logical conclusion. They honor Luther for taking, in their view, “the first steps,” but believe he should have gone further. In this paradigm the Roman Catholic Church and the evangelical/reformed churches are the two ends of the spectrum with Lutheranism being in between. We can see this view in many of the comments I often hear people make. “Lutherans are kind of Catholic, aren’t they?” or “are you Lutheran Catholic or Christian?” (as if somehow Catholic and “Christian” were two opposite and incompatible extremes). Because of this mistaken paradigm, I think evangelicals see us as being a compromise between themselves and Catholicism.

    In reality, what happened in the reformation was very different. Lutheranism and the evangelical/reformed both separated from the Roman Catholic Church but in OPPOSITE directions. Lutheran doctrine accepts communion, baptism and the Bible as pure means of grace and sees faith and all human actions of will or works as flowing from grace rather than preceding it. The Roman Catholic doctrine maintains the sacraments but adds to them human works and will playing a part in obtaining grace. Evangelical/reformed doctrine completely removes the sacraments as means of grace and replaces them with human will as essentially the sole means of obtaining grace. In reality, therefore, it is Lutheranism and the evangelical/reformed who are the opposite ends of the spectrum and Roman Catholicism which is the compromise.

    The fact is that Lutheranism is alien to the foundations of evangelicalism and I am not sure there can be much intersection between Lutheranism and evangelicalism except on a fairly surface level. In my experience evangelicals find it very very difficult to make the paradigm shift necessary to understand Lutheran doctrine and so they discount much of what we say. We simply don’t fit their memes. And perhaps this accounts for the seeming silence of Lutherans – it’s not that we don’t speak, it’s that when we speak to evangelicals we are shouting into a wind that is blowing the other direction.

    On a positive note, however, I am noticing an understanding among my evangelical/reformed friends that if you want to deal with a subject from a deep theological perspective you should go ask a Lutheran. In fact many of them express this attitude in such a way that you can see their hunger, almost starvation, for serious consideration of the Scriptures. So we are having an influence. But our influence is not one that fits well within the limited space the blogosphere typically provides for discussion.

  11. Willie Grills
    December 29th, 2011 at 15:37 | #14

    You mention Reformed disagree on the nature of original sin. Are you using “reformed” in this context as Reformed (Calvinistic) churches or in a more general sense?

    • December 29th, 2011 at 15:41 | #15

      Thanks for making my point…because the “Reformed” Church has no one standard of doctrine, basically, nearly anything goes. That’s why I love me my Book of Concord… http://www.bookofconcord.org[

  12. December 29th, 2011 at 15:48 | #16

    I agree with Matt’s third paragraph tremendously. The view of Lutherans as “soft Roman Catholics” is something I’ve encountered time and again as espoused by folks from Baptists to Pentecostals to Messianic Jews (actually not much difference in that list, but I digress). Since I’ve actually started asking those who say this to explain themselves, the response is usually to the effect of, “well, you have a liturgy, believe the Lord’s Supper is more than a Divinely instituted string-around-the-finger to remind you ‘oh, yeah, Jesus’, and have a Pastor who’s actually been trained for that vocation by other Pastors.”

    I get the strong sense that these people have no idea what it means to be a Roman Catholic, and what the distinctions are between RC and Lutheranism. I get an even stronger sense that a lot of Evangelical identity comes from “not being Catholic”. That is, I do see some Evangelicals making “not being Catholic” a central element in their, ah, creeds, shall we say. As a constituent element (and more to the point of the post), Lutherans are seen as being traitors to both sides – RC and Reformed. To RC because we are perceived as the radicals (Luther et al challenged the powers that be) and the Reformed because we are not radical enough (and did not join the radical reformation, which saw among other things the practical dismissal of the liturgy and a vibrant sacramentology). We are seen as sell-outs; and who wants to hang with the sell-out?

    But to bear down on the point even more, I do think we have had quite a bit of interaction with the greater Christian scene through the years. Trouble is, it is the bad things that have been many of our main exports (pietism?) and imports (Church-growth theology?). Maybe we should be asking: how do we better place ourselves to be a good influence, while not letting our garbage affect others, and how do we better absorb what are the good things out there, while not embracing the destructive, false elements? At the end of the day, I think that as Lutherans we are the best placed out of all traditions to do this well, as long as we stay true to the confession that has been ours for centuries… Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to [His] Cross [we] cling.

    • December 29th, 2011 at 15:52 | #17

      My operating thesis has been, for years, that Calvinists love Lutherans, just as long as they don’t get “all Lutheran.”

  13. Jennifer
    December 29th, 2011 at 16:05 | #18

    I think if Lutherans stick to Scripture, keep Christ at the forefront, defend our beliefs, and avoid mindless chatter, gossip and slander on these blogs, the Evangelicals, Reformed, Orthodox and Roman Catholics will eventually take notice. The Holy Spirit works through the Word, right?

  14. Willie Grills
    December 29th, 2011 at 17:06 | #19

    Thank you for your quick response.
    As a former Reformed Presbyterian (OPC) and present LCMS member. I agree with your critique of the lack of consensus among Reformed church confessions. When you have Baptist filling in the pulpit in one of the supposedly more confessional Presbyterian denominations there is a serious doctrinal problem. There is a certain tendency to play fast and loose with theological principles for the sake of ecumenism and what appears to be Gospel reductionism.
    It has been a long road for me from Geneva to Wittenburg. Yet it is a journey that I do not regret. In fact the spark that started the journey was a link to this blog from a certain Calvinistic forum.

  15. December 30th, 2011 at 05:31 | #20

    One of the problems I see from “your side” (for lack of a better phrase) is the sending of mixed messages from some of the Lutherans involved with the Reformed on a popular level. The wildly popular White Horse Inn radio show features Lutherans and Calvinists holding hands (as does Modern Reformation magazine, and even Sproul’s Table Talk at times). That’s some of the popular stuff we hear and read, so if Lutherans continue to present such brotherhood with us, don’t be surprised if on a popular level we embrace Luther and Lutherans as fellow servants of the Lord. My own gut tells me though that if Luther were around today, our view of the sacraments would not please him at all.

    As to the Reformed understanding of Luther, I think Rev. McCain should agree with me that simply because someone is Reformed, this doesn’t necessarily mean an incorrect understanding of Luther must then be present. If it does, then I simply have to wonder why Concordia published a book by a Roman Catholic on Luther. Certainly, if the Reformed can’t figure out Luther, a Roman Catholic can’t either.

    I would agree that on a popular level, the Reformed often have an incomplete or incorrect understanding of Luther. I’ve written on my own blog numerous times that Luther was not a Calvinist (recently including a lengthy treatment of this subject). But, I’m just an inconsequential blogger, so what I write really doesn’t matter.

    Recently a Lutheran (one quite hostile to Calvinists) wanted to know what influenced my opinion on Luther. I responded in part as follows:

    Originally, the first real presentation of Luther that I heard was from R.C. Sproul (his lecture, “Love God? Sometimes I Hate Him). Sproul is Reformed. Sometime later I took classes via Westminster Seminary, a bastion of Reformed thought. I took a class specific to Martin Luther’s theology. This class formed the basis of my view on Luther. This class used materials from Robert Kolb (a Lutheran) extensively. The required readings were Gerhard O. Forde’s On Being a Theologian of the Cross, Bainton’s Here I Stand, Paul Athaus’s the Theology of Martin Luther and Oberman’s Luther Man Between God and the Devil.

    So, early on I was exposed primarily to scholarly Lutheran materials because of Westminster Seminary. It would be hard for me to pick any one of the above sources as most influential, but I’d say for Luther’s overall theology I owe a debt of gratitude to Robert Kolb. For Luther’s theology of the cross, I owe a debt of gratitude to Forde. For understanding polemics surrounding Luther, I owe a debt of gratitude to Bainton and Oberman.

    On a popular level, the Reformed typically revere Luther but rarely go below the surface. Even Sproul, a man whom I deeply admire sometimes doesn’t go too deep below the surface. I recall reading one of his books in which he cited Luther extensively. Upon checking his footnotes, I discovered almost the entirety of the references were taken from Ewald Plass, What Luther Says. Not that that is bad source, but I was surprised that Sproul did not take his citations from the actual treatises but rather pulled from an anthology.

  16. Steve Newell
    December 30th, 2011 at 06:06 | #21


    Historic Lutheranism is defined by doctrine as laid out in the various Lutheran Confessions. To my knowledge, the “Evangelicals” do not have a clear set of doctrines that they can point to as the basis of discussion. “Evangelicals” are more defined by their social positions and their politics than their doctrine.

    There is a post-modern view of theology is that everyone can have their own theology and that everyone interprets Holy Scripture based of their own experience and feelings. That is way you find very few works on theology in “Christian” bookstores. Also, there is a lack of historic perceptive as well since there is very little understanding of the Church Fathers and what we have to learn from them. If one looks at many of the “independent” and “nondenominational” churches today, they define themselves in terms of programs and activities and not on doctrine. The doctrine is subject to the personal interpretation of the pastor.

  17. wyclif
    December 30th, 2011 at 08:14 | #22

    I’m afraid statements such as:

    “…the “Reformed” Church has no one standard of doctrine, basically, nearly anything goes.”

    rather prejudice the case severely, making any progress here difficult. It’s manifestly untrue, you know. The Presbyterian confessions, for example, is the Westminster Confession of Faith. It is very clearly *the* standard of doctrine in Presbyterianism– there is no other. The German Reformed have the Heidelberg Catechism. Again, there is no other standard in that church.

    I’m afraid statements like the above sadden me, because they make me realise that dialogue with many Lutherans is a dead end. It’s a very “my way or the highway” kind of dialogue: the only legitimate Reformation confession is The Book of Concord, and the only legit Church of the Reformation is Lutheranism.

    Do you not see that on the basis of what you are suggesting, one could make the same claims about Lutheranism, e.g. “oh, the ELCA doesn’t teach the Book of Concord anymore, and aren’t really Lutheran, so…they have no standard of doctrine and ‘anything goes’.” See how easy that was?

    I remain unimpressed. If the result of Lutheran-Reformed discussion cannot be sharing the great doctrines of sola fide and the other symbols of Reformation theology, but must end in Reformed conversion to Lutheranism, then I think we’re at a stalemate. It’s just another version of “my confession is better than yours.”

    • December 30th, 2011 at 15:25 | #23

      Wycliff, yes, the Lutheran Confessions are true and correct expositions of Holy Scripture, in all they asssert. The Reformed Confessions are not, and yes, you most certainly can, and should, say that about the ELCA.

  18. wyclif
    December 30th, 2011 at 08:36 | #24

    Hi Andrew, sorry it took so long to reply, I was out of town. In #12 above, in reference to the 1928 BCP you say:

    “…there were things missing that I needed such as the actual pronouncement of the forgiveness of sins by the pastor in the service”

    As it so happens, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer is the book of worship in my Anglican parish. I’m puzzled by your comment that there’s no pronouncement of forgiveness. In the service of Holy Communion, at the top of page 76, the pronouncement by the priest is printed for all to see:

    “Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all those who with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

    This is the firm, clear, and historic pronouncement that has always been in the BCP before the liberals in the Episcopal Church tinkered with it in 1977-79. It’s just not true that there is no pronouncement of forgiveness in the 1928 BCP.

  19. Jeff K
    December 30th, 2011 at 12:45 | #25

    @ptmccain Wow, this posting touched a nerve! I’d like Pastor McCain to do a separate posting on his statement that “The “barrier” is simply that Evangelicalism/Calvinism is a system that is not compatible with Lutheranism.” Please explain all the aspects of why the two are not compatible. (By the way, some hard core Calvinists may object to being lumped together with evangelicals.)

  20. Jennifer
    December 30th, 2011 at 14:44 | #26

    I agree with what Steve just said. I think it is disturbing when pastors start making decisions and making statements based on their social/political positions and own personal interpretations rather than basing them on true knowledge of Scripture and church teachings. I think this is encouraged in Evangelical circles. I once asked a pastor why he encouraged many different interpretations on Scripture and doctrine. He said that he believes the Holy Spirit is working through these differing points of view to embellish the issues and lead Christians closer to the truth. I told him I think it does just the opposite. It leads people astray.

  21. matt v.
    December 30th, 2011 at 18:41 | #27

    Hey Matt, I think your comment #13 is describing American arminian evangelicalism, not reformed christianity. The reformed churches confess the three standards of unity( Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Cannons of Dort) Take a look at the link to Cannons of Dort 3rd and 4th main points, especially articles 10, 14, &17.

  22. matt v.
    December 30th, 2011 at 18:49 | #28


    I think if you get time to read some of the confessional standards of the reformed churches, you will see that the reformed believe regeneration precedes faith. The reformed confessions also teach that faith is given and nurtured by God’s “ordinary means of grace, ” administered by the church. The confessions name these means as the preaching of the Word, and the sacraments of baptism and the Lords supper.

  23. December 30th, 2011 at 23:39 | #29

    @wyclif #24 “Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all those who with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” BCP 1928.

    “Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” LSB

    This is the one I grew up hearing:

    “Upon this your confession, I, by virtue of my office, as a called and ordained servant of the Word announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

    The — in the BCP rubric, the Pastor does not state, “I forgive you all your sins.” What I heard when that absolution was pronounced was “May God have mercy on you, pardon your sins, and strengthen you.” There is a certain comfort that is given when the Pastor, standing in the place of Christ, tells you your sins are forgiven.

    Faithful Lutherans do tend to be a little overprotective and uncompromising. That is something that has been learned over time when yielding has given way to heterodox strands of the faith in either of the Lutheran or Reformed traditions. Don’t give up on us Wycliffe, I suspect you are much like the ones with whom I worshiped, and still retain as dear friends!

  24. December 31st, 2011 at 07:48 | #30

    This is a very interesting discussion. As a long-time Anglican influenced by Lutheran theology (not just Luther, the father of the Reformation), I have often encountered the lack of appreciation or even comprehension of Lutheran theology. Regardless of the Anglican sub-group- Anglo-Calvinist/Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, or vague Anglican centrists- most Anglicans seem to view Lutheranism as a German cultural expression. And after meeting enough uncomprehending stares, those of us who really value Lutheran views either keep quiet within Anglicanism or quietly move into the Lutheran Church.

  25. Clint Hoff
    December 31st, 2011 at 10:34 | #31

    Great post.

  26. Mark Janke
    January 1st, 2012 at 22:21 | #32

    I think that one of the reasons you don’t find many Lutheran books in the local Christian bookstore is that we’ve been admonished to be beware of non-Lutheran writings and encouraged to buy from CPH and Nothwestern , either directly or through the congregation. Christian bookstores are businesses, and they’re not going to stock material that they have no demand for. If Lutherans are not buying Lutheran material from those bookstores, it’s unrealistic to think the bookstores will see a demand.

    I don’t see this changing anytime soon. Perhaps it will have to be driven by CPH offering terms for a basic set of Lutheran books to bookstores that make it worth their while to carry them.

    • January 2nd, 2012 at 10:56 | #33

      Mark, your explanation may certainly explain, perhaps, why Lutherans do not shop in Christian book stores. But…fact of the matter otherwise is that every single bookstore in the country, or world, has very easy access to any book published by Concordia Publishing House and can stock and sell them at a profit. The reason you may not see Lutheran-specific books in bookstores is simply that there are not nearly as many Lutherans shopping in these stores as there are Evangelicals, non-denoms, shopping there. And, anymore, most “book” stores are really Christian gift shops, with books as a sideline business.

  27. Karen Keil
    January 2nd, 2012 at 19:13 | #34

    Guess I’m an oddball Lutheran shopping in Christian bookstores. I shop at Lifeway and Family Christian and occasionally Bible Discount. (Another store was Berean until it closed due to owner retiring.) There is no Lutheran bookstore in town so my Lutheran materials come mostly from CPH (LCMS) and occasionally from Northwestern Publishing House (WELS).

    Some observations:
    Lifeway is Southern Baptist stocking Baptist and general Reformed materials. This store introduced the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation which is my preferred replacement for the NIV (if a replacement is needed). I have not seen any materials from CPH/other Lutheran sources to my knowledge or memory in the store since first visiting it in 1994.

    Family Christian (general Christian) does stock some CPH materials here and there and I have bought some of them at this store.

    I have not yet seen any bookstore in town I’ve visited in my home area (a large metropolitan area with over 1 million or so people) carry the The Lutheran Study Bible, but I’ve considered bringing a copy of TLSB to the Christian stores to at least to let them know about it.

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