Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The hearts of theology

When it all boils down, what are the basic things you have to "buy" in order to be Lutheran? What are the fundamentals that we run by? Let's have a go - and I want this to be as simple and short as possible.

1. Scripture is the Inspired, True, Word of God, which Christians are to believe and are to understand as the basis of any doctrine.
2. Scripture says that you are sinful through and through, and that even your own attempts at being good are full of wickedness and failure.
3. Scripture says that Christ Jesus, True God and True Man, wins Salvation and Forgiveness and Life for you through His death and resurrection.
4. This Salvation, Forgiveness, and Life is given to you by God through the Word (and the Sacraments, which are simply the Word made tangible).

If you buy these ideas, you have the ground work for the Lutheran approach to the Scripture.

Point 1 eliminates circumventing Scripture, either by denying it or setting it against itself (as those who are liberal tend to) or by allowing other traditions to be elevated to an equal par or placed above it. Scripture and what it says is "TRUE".

Point 2 is the Law. Point 3 is the Gospel. You stink on ice - God dies for you and gives you heaven.

Point 4 eliminates subjective approaches to faith by placing the working of God in concrete things (i.e. Word and Sacraments) that are outside of ourselves. This keeps us from moving in on God's turf of being the Author and Perfector of Salvation.

If you buy these four points. . . you should be able to be Lutheran -- or at least it will come down to a matter of interpreting the Scriptures on a specific point. If you don't buy any of these 4, Lutheranism will never make sense.


Doug P. Baker said...

Righty-oh! And all of your Reformed friends are with you on these four. Absolutely! (Though some Reformed circles stress the audible and legible Word above the sacramental Word, still few of them would disagree.)

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

And that disagreement over the Sacramental word is the heart of the disagreement -- and Luther and Zwingli point out in 1529. How does God work in His Church - that ends up being the question -- and that is a rather large disagreement.

Doug P. Baker said...

Yes, yes, but some of us reformed Christians are more sacramental than others. To some extent I follow Douglas Wilson and Peter Leithart who (as Calvinists go) are quite sacramental. But even less sacramental reformed Christians are not likely to argue against God speaking through the sacraments as well as the Scripture. We reformed all do, however, emphasize the spoken word, preaching, more than the Lutherans I know. But it is all in matters of degree between us.

As for Luther and Zwingli, I have never met a Lutheran who quite lines up with Luther, nor a reformed Christian who quite follows either Calvin or Zwingli. For that matter, I don't meet many Arminians who are as reformed as Arminius. To them the real Arminius seems almost a Calvinist! And Weslyans. . . well let's not even begin!

Paul McCain said...

What are the basic things you have to "buy" in order to be Lutheran?

Easy to answer, just go here: