Friday, April 28, 2006

What is it for? As Lutherans, we believe that salvation is wholly an act of God, from the moment of conversion to the first resurrection (which is baptism) to the second resurrection in Glory (the Second Coming). To use the $20 word: we are monergists. We bear some similarities to Calvinists, in that we insist that salvation is not the result of any action on part. That is, never in all of history has there ever been a person who "made a decision for Jesus." Never happened. Never will. In the Person and work of Christ, God made a decision for us, and for us. That is, God is both the decision maker, and the bestower of Grace. No prayer, no Hail Mary, no decision, no walk down the aisle to endless repititions of "Just as I am" has done ONE. SINGLE. THING.


So, if God makes all the decisions, why doesn't everyone go to heaven? Contra the Calvinists, the Lutherans agree with Scripture which places the blame squarely on the shoulders of humanity. Some will rightly observe that this creates a conundrum: why are some saved and not others? Lutherans do not answer that question, because the Scriptures do not answer that question. If you start trying to answer that question, you'll end up and Arminian or a Calvinist.

But also, some ask, if God makes all the decisions, why bother evangelizing? What use is apologetics?

Let's leave aside for the moment the fact that we're told to evangelize.

Lutherans believe that God delivers His promises to us through means, i.e., through physical things. His Spirit comes to us in our Baptisms, and we are made one body through partaking in the Lord's Supper, where we receive Christ's True body and blood. God has a long history of working "through" physical things to accomplish his purposes. He brought water forth from a rock, he healed people through a snake on a stick, spoke through a burning bush, resided in a big golden box…

And just so, Lutherans believe that dead souls are converted and brought to new life in Christ by the preaching of the Word. They are not converted by responding to the Word. They are converted by the Holy Spirit through the Word.

Well, that solves the “why evangelize?” question: the Good News doesn’t travel through a vacuum. But what about apologetics? Clearly, the Lutheran position rules out any part that human reason may play in conversion, right?

So, should we or shouldn’t we?

Related post over at John H's blog.

posted by Kepler at 14:06 |


At 4/28/2006 05:39:00 PM, Blogger Maria

"His Spirit comes to us in our Baptists"

Southern or Reformed? ;)


At 4/28/2006 06:04:00 PM, Blogger Kepler

Well, certainly not the "Free-Will" kind.


At 4/28/2006 08:07:00 PM, Anonymous John Z

There's a little booklet that I have that answers the question of apologetics from the confessional Lutheran position. It came out of CPH, but it's nearly impossible to find. I don't remember the name of it and I'm not at home so I can't go grab it.

The upshot of the argument contained in the booklet is that apologetics properly belongs in the dominion of the "left-hand kingdom," where reason has its proper place. Not that the reason is not fallen, it's just that in the left-hand kingdom there reside the things to which reason is accessible. The most common application of this is of course the government, in which reason and the rule of law are supposed to reign. So here's an example: the bare historical fact of the empty tomb is accessible to reason as it encounters historical evidence, inductive arguments, etc.. What the resurrection of Christ accomplishes for our salvation, however, is not, and must come to us by the means of grace through faith.

So the implication of this is that apologetics has mostly to do with debunking alternative explanations of the claims that Christianity makes about the world that is accessible to our reason and our senses. Apologetics will never get us to the cross itself, because in the end all it leads us to is the fact that we aren't able to explain the world and the circumstances surrounding the historical person of Jesus Christ from a strictly naturalistic perspective. This will be helpful for someone who is using that as an excuse not to believe, but the Gospel is still needed to bring them to salvation.

Of course, I never believed that apologetics really worked without the Holy Spirit moving behind it, also.

Sorry, that was kind of long-winded.


At 4/28/2006 08:35:00 PM, Blogger Kepler

Not long winded at all, and thanks for dropping by TTL.

Good stuff, that. Let me know that name when you find it. I like the distinction between the kingdoms.


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