This is My Body (Pt. 2 1/2)

I have been writing a series of entries dealing with the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord’s supper. You can find parts 1&2 here and here respectively. I told a reader named Nathan that I would be doing a third installment dealing with the actual idea of eating Jesus for the forgiveness of sins instead of just dealing with the language and semantic issues with which the first two articles were mainly concerned. By way of catching any interested person up to speed, I have been a confirmed LCMS Lutheran for a little more than 2 years, and my issues with this doctrine are fairly recent.

But I digress. My pastor has suggested that I read Herman Sasse’s “This is My Body”. I have taken that as a challenge and so this series is about to get longer by quite a bit and assume the form of reviews and interaction with the material in that book(although probably not exclusively).

Will Sasse save me, drag me kicking and screaming back from the brink of apostasy? We shall see. 

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97 Responses to This is My Body (Pt. 2 1/2)

  1. truthunites says:

    Are you still a Lutheran?

  2. Andrew says:

    I haven’t left the LCMS, but it has more to do with not having anyplace else to go.

  3. infanttheology says:

    Andrew,

    I didn’t know you were currently in an lcms congregation. Now I’m at the edge of my seat. : )

    Seriously, hope to get back to you at part II when I can. Blessings and prayers to you.

    +Nathan

  4. truthunites says:

    Andrew,

    I have engaged in well-intentioned polemical debate with Confessional Lutherans on this particular topic. There are several perspectives that I ask them to consider as they make the case for their claims of Sacramental Union and/or Consubstantiation (terms which I shall use synonymously and interchangeably although I’m aware of their objection to the term Consubstantiation.)

    The first perspective is an internal critique. Which is simply taking their claims and evaluating them on the grounds that they themselves have established. Let’s just take a look at “The Blood.” And the claims of Christ’s Blood being “In, With, and Under” the Communion Wine.

    I ask Lutherans this: “Have you ever had a nosebleed? (Yes) Have you ever unintentionally tasted the blood from your nosebleed? If someone were to put a small cup of blood and a small cup of red wine before you, do you think you can distinguish between the two in terms of taste, texture, and thickness?

    After this preamble, I ask them: “Have you ever tasted blood when you drank Communion Wine?”

    Not one Lutheran has ever said “Yes.” Not one. One Confessional Lutheran said she has only tasted wine. No blood.

    Objections are raised to my questions. They say it’s still a Sacramental Union. They can still tell it’s Christ’s actual Blood.

    I proceed further with the internal critique of their Lutheran claims (a critique which is just as applicable to Transubstantiation).

    I’ll say something like: “I’ll make you a substantial wager. Let’s take 20 cups of Communion Wine. 10 of them will be consecrated by your Lutheran pastor. 10 of them will not be. It’s just regular red wine in those 10 cups. I will bet you that you cannot correctly identify all 10 of the cups that are consecrated by your Lutheran Pastor and have the Sacramental Union of Christ’s Blood and which ones are just regular red wine. After all, you claim that you can still tell. Let’s find out.”

    More hue-and-outcry. Objections about a blindfold Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola taste test. How crude! I simply say that I’m evaluating your claims on your own grounds. I.e., an internal critique. More name-calling from angry Lutherans.

    I simply reply that I ask them to respect other Christians who don’t accept their sacramental doctrine, and to not force their dogma on others.

    Let me know your thoughts Andrew, and I’ll provide you another perspective to consider.

  5. Andrew says:

    What is your response when a Lutheran claims that you are confusing physical eating and drinking (sometimes designated by the term “Capernaitic”) with sacramental eating and drinking?

    Also, out of curiosity, have you read the first two articles in this series? I would appreciate any thoughts you want to share in the comment threads.

  6. truthunites says:

    Artificial distinction without a difference.

    I glanced at the first two articles and threads. Nathan’s a nice fellow, and I’ve run into him before, but his arguments have been amply rebutted elsewhere.

  7. truthunites says:

    “My pastor has suggested that I read Herman Sasse’s “This is My Body.”

    I haven’t read Sasse’s work, but I would be happily surprised if his book addressed the internal critiques I gave above.

  8. Andrew says:

    So how about that other perspective to consider? I am quite interested.

  9. truthunites says:

    The other perspective is this. I’ve read/skimmed a lot of stuff about the Early Church Fathers and the “Real Presence.” Nearly ad infinitum. Lots of stuff about Apostle Paul and 1 Corinthians too.

    So let’s just short-circuit all those arguments. (Which to your credit, you actually kinda did in one of your earlier posts.)

    Let’s examine the very first Lord’s Supper (or the Last Supper, if you will).

    Here’s my question to my Lutheran/Catholic interlocutors: When the Disciples heard Jesus say “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood” at the very first Lord’s Supper, did they think they were literally eating and drinking the actual, physical body and blood of Jesus Christ? Or did they understand Jesus to be speaking metaphorically or symbolically?

    Sometimes I’ll ask my Lutheran interlocutors to give me their best speculation as to what and how the Disciples understood and interpreted Jesus’s words “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood” when they ate the bread and drank the wine/juice.

    I might ask, “If you were a disciple back then with Jesus, and you heard those words, and you didn’t taste blood or flesh when you drank the wine/juice or ate the bread, would you understand those words literally or symbolically?”

    At this point they’re stymied, but they still have more names to call people who don’t accept Consubstantiation or Sacramental Union.

    They’ll tell me what the text says. (Herman Sasse will have lots of exegetical support, I’m sure.)

    I then ask, “Have you ever heard a Lutheran pastor preach from those NT Gospel accounts of the Last Supper that the Disciples drank and ate the actual, physical, literal Blood and Body of Jesus?”

    They’ll say “No.” I ask them why. Since they have all this exegetical support, why doesn’t the Lutheran pastor preach it?

    At some point I’ll get accused of accusing them of being cannibals. I emphatically say that this is not the case. Or the vacuous accusation of being a Rationalist. Whatever that means. To me, it just seems like excusing incoherence, and then excusing it and covering it up with an appeal to Divine Mystery, and to baldly claim that they’re the only ones faithful to Scripture.

    At which point, you simply love them as erring brethren.

    P.S. They love to shift the argument to 1 Corinthians. I simply and adamantly refuse by staying on the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper. Eg., Mark.

  10. truthunites says:

    Andrew: “So my question is: Is the definition “Present in, with, and under in an illocal, supernatural, yet real way” really just a plain understanding of the word “is”? No, rather the allegedly literal, or plain reading as they are want to call it, ends up defining “is” as “is present with” and then redefining “is present with” as “is not physically present with”. Whatever this interpretation of the words of institution is, it isn’t a literal one. It may be non-literal in a different way than the memorialist view; but it is non-literal all the same.”

    Andrew: “Will Sasse save me, drag me kicking and screaming back from the brink of apostasy?

    If you stop asking such reasonable questions, Herman Sasse might be able to save you from the brink of horrible apostasy. ;-)

    P.S. Guarding the Communion Rail. Closed Communion. If I was a Catholic Priest I would deny Holy Communion to anyone who didn’t affirm Transubstantiation. It’s a core, vital, essential doctrine to the Catholic Faith.

    If I was a Lutheran layperson, I would ask the pastor if I should still take Holy Communion if I was unsure about the doctrine of Sacramental Communion. It’s up to him.

  11. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    I have always believed – and I have always got this from all the pastors I’ve listened to as well, that I am actually eating the physical body and blood of Jesus. How I don’t know, but we not only do not live by faith and not sight, but we do not live by taste either (and thank God that we don’t actually taste it – I don’t think that would be very appetizing). And I suppose I have always assumed that that is exactly how the disciples took it as well.

    +Nathan

  12. truthunites says:

    Nathan: “I have always assumed that that is exactly how the disciples took it as well.”

    I’m challenging that assumption. Look at Mark 14:22-25. Have you ever heard a Lutheran pastor, in his exposition of that passage, make the claim in his sermon that the disciples believed that they were eating and drinking the actual, physical, literal body and blood of Jesus Christ?

    Hermeneutics looks at Authorial Intent and the (likely) understanding of the original audience.

    When Jesus says things like “This is my Body,” “This is my Blood,” “I am the Vine,” and “I am the Door,” does He intend his audience (the disciples) to understand Him literally or metaphorically or symbolically?

    Unless you say Jesus having a nosebleed into the wine, or cutting himself and bleeding into the wine, you would understand him to be speaking metaphorically when he distributed the cup of wine.

    Likewise, only if you saw Jesus cut off his flesh and smear it onto the bread, would you then understand Him literally when He says, “This is my Body.” Otherwise, you’d understand him to be speaking symbolically, or metaphorically.

    Intellectual honesty coheres with moral, biblical integrity.

  13. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    “Have you ever heard a Lutheran pastor, in his exposition of that passage, make the claim in his sermon that the disciples believed that they were eating and drinking the actual, physical, literal body and blood of Jesus Christ?”

    If the pastor and his flock believe that they are eating the body of Christ – somehow – why would he assume otherwise of the disciples and preach about it?

    ““I am the Vine,” and “I am the Door,” does He intend his audience (the disciples) to understand Him literally or metaphorically or symbolically?”

    Literally. Jesus is the true vine. We have and will have no life apart from Him. Jesus is the true door. It is only through Him by which we may enter heaven.

    +Nathan

  14. truthunites says:

    Nathan: “If the pastor and his flock believe that they are eating the body of Christ – somehow – why would he assume otherwise of the disciples and preach about it?”

    Your answer is “No” to the question posed, eh?

    To answer your question above, the Lutheran pastor would preach on the eating and drinking of the actual, physical, literal body and blood of Christ at the very first Lord’s Supper to his parish members to reinforce the belief that the Lutheran doctrine of Sacramental Union had its origins at and from the very first Lord’s Supper.

    “Literally. Jesus is the true vine. We have and will have no life apart from Him. Jesus is the true door. It is only through Him by which we may enter heaven.”

    A blatant resort to equivocation does not help your argument, Nathan. Try again.

  15. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    “To answer your question above, the Lutheran pastor would preach on the eating and drinking of the actual, physical, literal body and blood of Christ at the very first Lord’s Supper to his parish members to reinforce the belief that the Lutheran doctrine of Sacramental Union had its origins at and from the very first Lord’s Supper.”

    Sure – but Lutherans don’t feel the need to prove this using anything more than the words of the text.

    “A blatant resort to equivocation does not help your argument, Nathan. Try again.”

    What do you mean? I honestly don’t know what to say to this. By faith, I trust that Jesus is literally the door, the vine, the bread etc. Why is there a problem with this? Real doors, vines, and bread might as well find their meaning in Him, not vice-versa.

    +Nathan

  16. infanttheology says:

    Sorry – “Real doors, etc” – those physical things we see on earth.

    +Nathan

  17. truthunites says:

    Nathan,

    You, and many other Lutherans, are simply erring brethren.

    God bless,

    Truth Unites… and Divides

  18. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    Thought about this more last night.

    What would Jesus have told us had he really wanted to communicate to us the Lutheran position?

    As for the “I am” stuff, my point is that He is the Logos, the Rationality that holds all things together and in whom all things derive their sense and meaning. If we want to talk about what it is that makes branches live, it is Him, the Vine. Vines and branches point to Him because they derive from Him. If we want to talk about what it is that sustains us in this bodily life (and remember we will have spiritual bodies as well), it is He, the Bread of Life and Living Water. Food and drink point to Him because they derive from Him. If we want to talk about how something must pass from one distinct region to another it is through Him, the Door or Gate. And yes, we must literally go through Him – be in Him (as He is in us) and have our soul and bodies changed – so that we will enter eternal life. These things to point to Him because they derive from Him.

    +Nathan

  19. Andrew says:

    One of the problems I see with the Lutheran flavor of sacramentalism is that it makes a hash out of what scripture says about faith and salvation.

    Does faith in Christ come through the sacraments or do the sacraments assume the faith of the recipients? If salvation comes through the sacraments then how can a baptized person live his entire life without faith? It does happen. It happens all the time.

    How can one approach the “sacrament of the altar” countless times and still end up in Hell? In Lutheran theology, it is at the very least a theoretical possibility. So do the sacraments save? It seems to me that the honest answer would have to be “maybe” or “sometimes”.

    But according to scripture:

    “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    and:

    “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me,a is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

  20. truthunites says:

    Andrew: So my question is: Is the definition “Present in, with, and under in an illocal, supernatural, yet real way” really just a plain understanding of the word “is”? No, rather the allegedly literal, or plain reading as they are want to call it, ends up defining “is” as “is present with” and then redefining “is present with” as “is not physically present with”. Whatever this interpretation of the words of institution is, it isn’t a literal one. It may be non-literal in a different way than the memorialist view; but it is non-literal all the same.””

    Hi Andrew (and Nathan),

    Please take a look at the following article which makes a convincing argument that the Lutheran dogma of the Eucharist contradicts and violates the orthodox formulation of Christology as prescribed in the Creed of Chalcedon:

    Lutherans’ Consubstantiation: Trampling Under Foot All Reason, Sense, and Understanding.

  21. infanttheology says:

    truth unites,

    I think if you read this post I did it should help you to figure out the supposed contradiction you talk about on your blog: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/the-real-reason-there-are-no-lutheran-baptists-martin-luthers-500-year-battle-vs-protestant-liberalism-part-iii-of-iii/

    Andrew,

    Your questions are good, but it seems to me we have the same issue with the word. If salvation comes through the word, then how can those who here it throughout their lives end up not having faith? This to occurs.

    And here, we face the mystery of the crux theologorum, as it is called.

    +Nathan

  22. Andrew says:

    I think it was pretty well argued. I especially like the clarification re: logic. Too often Lutherans are too quick to accuse others of rationalism and placing the word underneath logic. Of course this does happen, but it gets treated as a given as soon as somebody denies a Lutheran distinctive.

  23. Andrew says:

    I don’t think your comparison works. We are not told in scripture that all who hear the word receive faith and the Holy Spirit. We are told that some do and those who call on His name will be saved. But Lutheran theology teaches that a baby does receive the Spirit and the gift of faith at his baptism.

    The “crux theologorum” or the problem of “why some and not others” is one example of a valid but misused concept and it really has nothing to do with the issue I raised in my last comment.

  24. truthunites says:

    “I think it was pretty well argued.”

    Thanks Andrew. I thought Kevin Stephenson’s claim was well-argued too.

  25. infanttheology says:

    truthunites,

    I’m sorry – I thought that was your blog.

    Andrew,

    Actually, you are not rightly informed about the Lutheran position on baptism: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/do-lutherans-baptize-infants-apart-from-faith/

    truth unites & Andrew,

    I’m not sure why you find the post so compelling. It clearly does not put forth the Lutheran position. It is a straw-man. What am I missing?

    +Nathan

  26. truthunites says:

    “It clearly does not put forth the Lutheran position. It is a straw-man. What am I missing?”

    Hi Nathan, it does put forth the Lutheran position. In fact, he quotes from the Epitome quite a bit. And interacts with it honestly. Sorry, I don’t see a straw-man at all.

  27. infanttheology says:

    truthunites,

    OK, since I do not have time to re-read the Formula right now, I will choose my words very carefully. I am quite confident that the piece is selectively quoting from the FOC. Keep in mind that the Epitome is a summary as well.

    As I say in my post: Lutherans would say that the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, can indeed suffer and die (and even be omnipresent), because the divine and human natures share, or communicate, attributes in the one person without either nature possessing them.

    That is our position, which I believe will become clear if anyone reads Article VIII of the FOC.

    +Nathan

  28. infanttheology says:

    Of course the Lutherans also claim that this is the right way to interpret Chalcedon. Hence the “Catalog of testimonies” in the back of the FOC, many also shared in Chemnitz’s magisterial work, the Two Natures in Christ.

    +Nathan

  29. truthunites says:

    “TUAD,

    I have always believed – and I have always got this from all the pastors I’ve listened to as well, that I am actually eating the physical body and blood of Jesus.”

    Nathan,

    Take a look at the following post which was written today: Literally Taking the Bible Literally.

    If you look at the thread’s comments, you’ll see that the author, Pastor Unger, points out that the true dichotomy is “Naturally Literal” versus “Woodenly Literal.” And the clear implication or conclusion is that the Lutheran exegesis of Jesus’s Words are “Woodenly Literal.” I.e., a bad thing and an unhelpful misinterpretation.

    Furthermore, he writes: “I’d dare suggest that “This is my body” is CLEARLY MEANT to mean “this is a representation of my body”, NOT “this bread is actually meat”.

    (All caps mine).

  30. Andrew says:

    Nathan, if you are saying that baptism creates faith in an infant, then I understand the position fine and my criticism stands.

    You said: “I’m not sure why you find the post so compelling. It clearly does not put forth the Lutheran position. It is a straw-man. What am I missing?”

    That goes back to the main contention in my first and second articles. The Lutheran position is what exactly? Can Christ’s flesh be everywhere? According to the FoC, it can…and it can’t. You’ll have to show us what is wrong with that assessment.
    Is Christ’s flesh substantially present with the bread or is the bread Christ’s flesh? Those two statements are not propositionally equal. So what is the Lutheran position? So back to the main point of my original writing. The contention I made, and that others have made, is that the Lutheran position is internally inconsistent. To my mind it is so to the point that I really couldn’t tell you what the position is, and with all due respect, I haven’t interacted with a Lutheran who can tell me either.

  31. infanttheology says:

    Andrew,

    ” if you are saying that baptism creates faith in an infant.”

    I am not saying that. Truth be told though, I used to think that and it is hard for me to get out of the habit. I caused confusion by conflating the sacraments and the word above, and so I apologize. Actually, I believe the infants of Christian parents are already believers when they are baptized.

    “Can Christ’s flesh be everywhere? According to the FoC, it can…and it can’t.”

    No, it can. Not because it possesses the qualities of the divine nature. Because it *shares* the qualities of the divine nature. The post I linked to above explains why we need to talk this way, as opposed to the Reformed way.

    “I really couldn’t tell you what the position is, and with all due respect, I haven’t interacted with a Lutheran who can tell me either.”

    I’m sorry to hear that. I’d like to think the post I linked to above could clear it up. Feel free to ask me more questions about it.

    TUAD,

    Again, curious: What would Jesus have told us had he really wanted to communicate to us the Lutheran position?

    +Nathan

  32. Andrew says:

    Nathan,
    Although it is a subject change from the article, I want to stay with the baptism thing, if that’s okay by you. Why is it you believe the infants of believers are already themselves believers?

  33. infanttheology says:

    Andrew,

    Ultimately, because Christian parents will be talking to the infant or around the infant about Christ and His tender mercies. And we know from the Scriptures that infants are said to trust in the Lord.

    You can get into a lot more depth about this in this conversation I had with a man named Rhology, whom TUAD will be familiar with: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/you-know-you-are-in-the-end-times-when/

    +Nathan

  34. truthunites says:

    Nathan: “Actually, I believe the infants of Christian parents are already believers when they are baptized.”

    Does your belief come from the Lutheran Confessions, such as the Book of Concord?

  35. truthunites says:

    Nathan,

    I’m looking at your linked conversation with Rhology now.

    Several things you wrote that I’d like to ask you about:

    “I don’t think you understand the importance of this, saying my child might not have faith in seventy years… yes, I know. But we certainly do believe in general that baptism gives children something – namely forgiveness, life and salvation (which passive faith, which is the gift of God that regenerates receives – again, I thought my babies had faith before their baptisms, but baptism gave me solidity here). The serious Lutheran parent needs or wants to be confident that were their child – who is entirely passive and does not make conscious and rational decisions – to die now, they *definitely* would be in heaven.” (12/5/12, 3:55pm)

    #1. Does the Lutheran Confessions, eg., the Book of Concord, teach that babies have faith before their baptisms?

    ““He chose me in baptism” means that there he forgave my sins, and gave me eternal life and salvation.” (12/6/12, 1:52pm)

    #2. So are you claiming that baptism gives eternal salvation to the one baptized?

  36. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    It was not disputed by the Lutherans – nor did others openly attack them on this view – so it is not covered in the Confessions.

    As a sacrament baptism delivers salvation just like the bare word does. It is a special concrete marker of the word though, being a sacrament. One who is baptized without faith will not be saved, just as one who partakes of the Supper without faith will not be saved just as one who hears the Word without faith will not be saved.

    If the significance of baptism confuses you, just listen to this 1.5 minute clip and it might help a bit: http://issuesetc.org/podcast/sbotwbaker01-18-13.mp3 If it doesn’t help, you should read the rest of the conversation with Rho.

    +Nathan

  37. truthunites says:

    Hi Nathan,

    How do these two statements of yours cohere together?

    (A) “He chose me in baptism” means that there he forgave my sins, and gave me eternal life and salvation.”

    (B) “One who is baptized without faith will not be saved,”

  38. Andrew says:

    Nathan, I asked how you know that the children of believers have faith. You responded “Ultimately, because Christian parents will be talking to the infant or around the infant about Christ and His tender mercies. And we know from the Scriptures that infants are said to trust in the Lord.”

    Where does scripture guarantee that all children of believers will have faith because their parents talk about Christ around them?

  39. infanttheology says:

    TU,

    One can always reject what God gives. If you do not want forgiveness for your sin or sins, it is not yours. Your baptism is valid, but not efficacious.

    Andrew,

    All I can do is direct you back to the post about baptism (do Lutherans baptize apart from faith?). Why would we assume that children of Chrisitans, whom Jesus gives us as our model, would not have faith? (please see the post on infant faith linked there as well for all the Scriptural support). In any case we are told to baptize, as the post explains, not on the basis of their faith (which again, we assume they have) but the command (which is something I think even Reformed of the non-Baptist variety believe).

    +Nathan

  40. truthunites says:

    “Where does scripture guarantee that all children of believers will have faith because their parents talk about Christ around them?”

    Andrew, does your “all” mean “All” or “Some”?

    And this word “guarantee” I take it to mean, “for sure,” “you can bank on it,” and “iron-clad and no doubt.”

    If there’s a proof-text verse, I’d like to see it too.

  41. Andrew says:

    Yes, TUAD, my all means “absolutely all of them”. Nathan, I am well aware of the proof texts for the possibility of infant faith. I’m not arguing whether infants CAN have faith. I will grant it. But I could marshal plenty of proof texts to the effect that infants can also have no faith.

    What I am asking for is a text that states plainly that all the children of believers can be assumed to have faith.

    You asked: “Why would we assume that children of Christians, whom Jesus gives us as our model, would not have faith?”

    Because scripture states that we are born depraved and I cannot find a verse that guarantees the children of believers have faith.

    The article makes it pretty clear that the baptism of infants is done on the assumption that they believe. I asked how that can be known? The article says that we shouldn’t baptize people we know don’t believe.

    The article says “it would be very bad if we were to baptize people that we knew did not believe”.

    Why is that?

    Please answer me these two questions. Where does scripture guarantee that all the children of believers have faith? and Why would it be bad to baptize someone whom we know doesn’t believe?

    By the way, this is by far the most polite polemical, theological interaction I have ever had with a Lutheran about the sacraments. I truly appreciate your patience and irenic tone. I hope that I am returning the favor.

  42. infanttheology says:

    Andrew,

    “But I could marshal plenty of proof texts to the effect that infants can also have no faith.”

    I’d like to know about those. What I am saying does not deny original sin and our depravity – we uphold those passages to.

    Again, from our perspective, there is no reason to assume they would not have faith. That is why the command to baptize them – “all nations” and in Acts 2: “for you and your children” – makes sense.

    And baptism is said to save us, and so this gives the Christian parent great certainty. Speaking personally, this is gigantic, huge for me. I cannot imagine not having certainty of my children’s relationship with God – and when they are too young to profess faith or talk about faith, this is a great, great comfort.

    ““it would be very bad if we were to baptize people that we knew did not believe”.

    Yes, because Scripture says that we are to baptize those who believe, who come to faith. We would not want to do something if God has not given it to us to do.

    “Where does scripture guarantee that all the children of believers have faith?”

    Well, I guess I’d like to see one Scripture passage that says children of believers do not believe, you know? Our default is that they do, since the Bible talks about babies trusting from early on and Jesus holds them up as our model.

    “By the way, this is by far the most polite polemical, theological interaction I have ever had with a Lutheran about the sacraments. I truly appreciate your patience and irenic tone. I hope that I am returning the favor.”

    Glad to hear it! I was a little bit concerned that perhaps I was being a bit too terse in this discussion. No, I appreciate your tone as well Andrew. Thanks much.

    +Nathan

  43. Andrew says:

    “I’d like to know about those.” Psalm 51, Genesis 8

    “Again, from our perspective, there is no reason to assume they would not have faith.”

    That’s not good enough. It’s an argument from silence.

    “That is why the command to baptize them – “all nations” and in Acts 2: “for you and your children” – makes sense.”

    You are arguing that the children of believers can be assumed to have faith because it makes Acts 2 make sense? Really?

    “Well, I guess I’d like to see one Scripture passage that says children of believers do not believe, you know?

    Nathan, the burden of proof is on you. You are justifying the baptismal theology and practice of Lutherans with an assertion that all the children of believers have faith. You must demonstrate it from scripture. Showing passages that teach the possibility of infant faith is not enough.

    “Our default is that they do, since the Bible talks about babies trusting from early on and Jesus holds them up as our model.”

    I know that is your default. But you haven’t justified it with scripture. Jesus’ admonition to have a childlike faith does not fulfill the burden. He didn’t say “all children of believers have faith”. He said that faith, if it exists in the first place, should be like that of a child.

    I’m sorry Nathan, but that argumentation is really weak.

  44. infanttheology says:

    Andrew,

    “You are arguing that the children of believers can be assumed to have faith because it makes Acts 2 make sense? Really?”

    Acts 2 tells believers it baptism for their children. That’s reason enough for us to baptize our children and Galatians tells us baptism unites us to Christ and I Peter tells us baptism saves. In addition to this other passages say that only believers should be baptized. And yet this does not give us trouble because other passages indicate babies – at least those mentioned within the Scriptures given to the church – do trust God.

    In light of all of this, I cannot justify in my conscience thinking that the burden of proof is on me here.

    I said: “Again, from our perspective, there is no reason to assume they would not have faith.”

    You said: “That’s not good enough. It’s an argument from silence…. You must demonstrate it from scripture. Showing passages that teach the possibility of infant faith is not enough.”

    And there is no way I can go along with this your judgment, which I consider to be a very deadly one.

    “I know that is your default. But you haven’t justified it with scripture. Jesus’ admonition to have a childlike faith does not fulfill the burden. He didn’t say “all children of believers have faith”. He said that faith, if it exists in the first place, should be like that of a child.”

    When Jesus held up babies as a model for faith, I assume that you think there must have been a practical reason for that. What outward characteristics do believing infants present that you think we should imitate?

    +Nathan

  45. truthunites says:

    A. “And baptism is said to save us, and so this gives the Christian parent great certainty. Speaking personally, this is gigantic, huge for me. I cannot imagine not having certainty of my children’s relationship with God – and when they are too young to profess faith or talk about faith, this is a great, great comfort.”

    B. “One can always reject what God gives. If you do not want forgiveness for your sin or sins, it is not yours. Your baptism is valid, but not efficacious.”

    Nathan, you have made both statements A and B. While I hope this turns out not to be the case, do you grant the possibility of your own children having option B whereby they die at the end rejecting what God gives, grieving you with blatant willful apostasy and antinomianism whereby your statement of their baptism is valid, but not efficacious ingrains itself upon your soul?

  46. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    Of course – like every devout Lutheran who has ever lived. But may it never be.

    That is my prayer. And, may I say without guile and naivete what Paul says in Romans 9:1-5. For the heart of God is clear, as is that of His apostle. He would desire none to perish, so again, may it never be Lord.

    Hosannah. Save now – and forevermore. In Christ and His mercy alone.

    +Nathan

  47. infanttheology says:

    Men,

    To see a conversation where I think the deepest parts of Lutheranism vis a vis Calvinism are laid bare, check out this conversation: http://oldlife.org/2013/11/now-lutherans-tightening-jaws/

    I invested a lot of time there – as I did with Andrew Preslar on Called to Communion when discussing the assurance of salvation and Rhology when it came to infant faith – because it seemed like a very worthwhile conversation to have.

    +Nathan

  48. Andrew says:

    Nathan,
    I don’t grant your conclusions or the interpretations of the various biblical texts upon which you reached those conclusions, but I think I have your point. So let me move on to a different question. If your children, in fact all children of believers already believe, then what becomes of baptismal regeneration? Aren’t we all just credo-baptists at this point?

  49. infanttheology says:

    Andrew,

    OK – great question. I’ll try to answer that tomorrow.

    +Nathan

  50. Andrew says:

    Fair enough. I look forward to it.

  51. infanttheology says:

    Andrew,

    I had a lengthy reply ready to go this morning and lost it on my computer somehow. I’ll try to rewrite it tomorrow.

    +Nathan

    On Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 6:02 PM, Reformation500 wrote:

    > Andrew commented: “Fair enough. I look forward to it. ” >

  52. infanttheology says:

    Andrew,

    Good news! I found the post I had written.

    OK – I am learning a lot through this conversation. I should have known a lot of this and apologize for wasting your guys’ time

    I did a bit more digging with some help from a friend and learned that, in that quote from the Luther sermon I shared with you (on my blog) Luther was contending against the Catholic notion of baptizing children on the basis of the faith *of the church*, which is what Rome taught (as my friend pointed out to me, Rome said that infants *did not have faith* and the parents and sponsors were instead called upon to believe that what the church teaches is true – and there seems to be more “rational” activity involved here than when it comes to trusting God’s promise of forgiveness – this view of infant baptism actually appears to still be common in Rome today)

    So, we do not baptize on the basis of the infant’s own faith – in reality, I was right before I posted that blog post and started talking on this blog (sorry): they don’t necessarily need to have faith already – this could be generated also by means of the word in the waters of baptism. As Luther said elsewhere: “”An infant … comes to Christ in baptism, as John the Baptist came to him, and as the little children were brought to him, that his word and work might come upon them, touch them, and make them holy.” I know that this means that there are chicken and egg questions here as regards faith and baptism (how many babies have faith before they are baptized?), but I don’t think this should bother us so much because if one thinks about it, this problem also does exist for the preached word as well: what is preached must be believed, but how can it be believed unless faith is present, and from where does faith come but the Holy Spirit who comes to us through…preaching?

    In any case, here is the main point that I need to stick with: baptism must be based on its divine institution in God’s Word. This means it really is not *based on faith*, but is administered based on *outward confession* – even as we would not baptize a person who said they did not believe (on our part, the person administering baptism cannot *know with absolute certainty* whether or not a living faith is present).

    As my pastor friend said: “This is also why adults speak for the speechless (infans = speechless, in Latin), by renouncing the devil and confessing the Christian faith — again, not because baptism can’t create faith in the infants, or because we baptize the little ones on the basis of the faith of the big ones, or because the parents’ faith flows automatically into the children, but because baptism is*also* a public confession of the faith.”

    A person needs to be willing to renounce the devil and confess the faith prior to baptism in words and deeds, otherwise we cannot baptize them. So, there should be “closed baptism” just like there should be “closed communion” – at least, this is what Luther taught. Admittedly, this does not seem to be the practice in many LC-MS churches today – at the very least, pastors ought to be making careful judgments regarding the persons who simply come to them to “get the kid done”.

    But we want to baptize because it is such a great gift that gives comfort – both to the baptized, and especially, to Christian parents. Baptism is an “objective marker” of sorts to which we may cling in times of temptation. That it *should* be connected to a real new birth here – baptismal regeneration – is seen in Titus 3 (that’s also in the Small Catechism) and John 3 in particular. Subjectively, we focus on how we *are* baptized and not *were* baptized, even as, like a marriage, there is an objective moment in history that started the whole process.

    On the LC-MS website it says the following:

    “Lutherans believe that the Bible teaches that a person is saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ. Baptism, we believe, is one of the miraculous means of grace (together with God’s written and spoken Word) through which God creates and/or strengthens the gift of faith in a person’s heart (see Matt. 28:18-20; Act. 2:38; John 3:5-7; Act. 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Titus 3:5-6; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:1-4; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12:13).

    Although we do not claim to understand how this happens or how it is possible, we believe (because of what the Bible says about baptism) that when an infant is baptized God creates faith in the heart of that infant. This faith cannot yet, of course, be expressed or articulated, yet it is real and present all the same (see e.g., 1 Peter 2:21; Acts 2:38-39; Titus 3:5-6; Matt. 18:6; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim. 3:15; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12:13). This faith needs to be fed and nurtured by God’s Word (Matt. 28:18-20), or it will die. Those who have been baptized, but who no longer believe, will not be saved. (By the same token, those who truly believe and yet have not had opportunity to be baptized [like, for example, the thief on the cross] will be saved.)”

    +Nathan

  53. infanttheology says:

    So the sermon where Luther said this was actually vs Rome (I did not realize this):

    “…it is a mockery of holy baptism, when they go on and baptize little children, although they teach that they have no faith of their own. They thus sin against the second commandment, in that they consciously and deliberately take the name and Word of God in vain. Nor does the excuse help them which they plead, that children are baptized upon their future faith, when they come to the age of reason. For the faith must be present before or at least in the baptism; otherwise the child will not be delivered from the devil and sins.”

    “…if their opinion were correct, all that is done with the child in baptism is necessarily falsehood and mockery. For the baptizer asks whether the child believes, and the answer for the child is: Yes. And he asks whether it desires to be baptized, and the answer for the child is again: Yes, Now nobody is baptized for the child, but it is baptized itself. Therefore it must also believe itself, or the sponsors must speak a falsehood, when for it they say: I believe. Furthermore, the baptizer declares that it is born anew, has forgiveness of sins, is freed from the devil, and as a sign of this he puts on it a white garment, and deals with it in every way as with a new, holy child of God: all of which would necessarily be untrue, if the child had not its own faith. Indeed, it would be better never to baptize a child, than to trifle and juggle with God’s Word and sacrament, as if he were an idol or a fool.”

    “…31. If now we cannot give a better answer to this question and prove that the little children themselves believe and have their own faith, my sincere counsel and judgment is, that we abstain altogether and the sooner the better, and never baptize a child, so that we may not mock and blaspheme the adorable majesty of God by such trifling and juggling with nothing in it. Therefore we here conclude and declare that in baptism the children themselves believe and have their own faith, which God effects in them through the sponsors, when in the faith of the Christian church they intercede for them and bring them to baptism.”

    The rest of the sermon is here:

    http://lutherdansk.dk/Web-Fastepostillen%20AM/index.htm

  54. truthunites says:

    Nathan: “But we want to baptize because it is such a great gift that gives comfort – both to the baptized, and especially, to Christian parents.”

    Hi Nathan,

    Here’s a counterpoint article for you to consider:

    I’d Rather Err with the Baptists.

    Excerpts:

    “The Baptist “error” is perhaps more in the area of spiritual psychology – the parents don’t have as much confidence, hope, and optimism (notice I’m not talking of cast-iron-guarantee) that God will bless these appointed means for the conversion of their children.

    The children don’t suffer loss. But the parents sometimes do – in that they do not enjoy so much peace from God’s covenant assurances.

    If Baptists sometimes suffer from a lack of confidence, paedo-Baptists can suffer from over-confidence, or more accurately, false confidence. They often presume their children are already Christians and raise them as such.

    But what if these baptized children are still “in the flesh” and “of their father the devil?” The parents have great confidence (though it’s often more in their parenting skills than in the grace and power of Christ), but the children are unregenerate and going to hell.

    That’s why I’d rather err with the Baptists. During my parenting years, I may not enjoy the same degree of confidence in God’s promises, but at least my children don’t suffer eternal torments through my false confidence in my parenting skills giving them false confidence that they are saved.”

    Read it all.

  55. Andrew says:

    If there is one baptized person in Hell then baptism is not a source of assurance.

  56. infanttheology says:

    Andrew,

    Well – I have no idea what to say to that other than baptism can be used wrongly. Likewise confession of faith – no matter how orthodox – does not mean one will be saved, for faith only lives in repentance.

    TUAD,

    “But what if these baptized children are still “in the flesh” and “of their father the devil?” The parents have great confidence (though it’s often more in their parenting skills than in the grace and power of Christ), but the children are unregenerate and going to hell.”

    At what age might a baptized infant be susceptible to losing faith? I think that is an important question. I’d say right away – for to trust in the grace of God is not mutually exclusive from regular feeding of the word of God. But any parent who baptizes their infants should understand this – this is not an “either-or” kind of thing, which I find to be particularly prevalent in Reformed understandings of the faith, but a “both-and”.

    “….but at least my children don’t suffer eternal torments through my false confidence in my parenting skills giving them false confidence that they are saved.”

    I would call that a very insidious lie this person has fallen captive to. These are the kinds of thoughts that need absolute obliteration in Christ. See above.

    As a Christian parent – particularly of older children – I am well aware of the potential for us to lose faith (something that Baptists and Reformed do not believe can occur). This is why we as a family talk about the importance of daily repentance even as I daily cry out for mercy and help that I may not trust in myself, my own efforts, my own strength.

    +Nathan

  57. Andrew says:

    I wouldn’t call a confession of faith a source of assurance though, so the comparison is not particularly meaningful.

  58. infanttheology says:

    Andrew,

    I was thinking of Romans 10:10, which I actually do see as a passage meant to give comfort and assurance: “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

    This is what the context suggest to me.

    In any case, all I can do here is say that your assertion that “if there is one baptized person in Hell then baptism is not a source of assurance” is incorrect. Baptism grounds our certainty in something that God has done, not ourselves. The Lord’s Supper and absolution are similar. We need these words that give us faith and strengthen faith.

    That said, faith only lives in repentance, as our confessions say. Sin is doubt-inducing and faith-destroying. No dependence on these things mentioned above apart from their true meaning will save anyone.

    +Nathan

  59. Andrew says:

    “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’”
    A confession is not a source of assurance. Assurance is the source of a true confession One must believe in the heart before the saving confession is made.

    As to my comment about baptized people in Hell, it is inescapable. If baptism is a source of assurance then it better be assured. If a baptized person can go to Hell then something else was needed.

    Let me ask you this: In Luther’s Large Catechism he says that baptism creates faith.

    1. Are those with faith Christ’s sheep?
    2. Does Christ lose any sheep or does He actually say that they will hear His voice and receive eternal life?
    3. Does the golden chain in Romans 8 apply to all baptized people? Are baptized people foreknown and predestined? Given Lutheran doctrine you would have to say yes, since it is the foreknown and predestined that are called, justified and glorified. But then how does a baptized person end up not glorified? Are they justified without being foreknown and predestined? Which of the things in the golden chain of redemption only apply to some Christians and not others?
    4. If baptism doesn’t necessarily result in the things that the apostle says God’s saving acts of foreknowing, predestining, calling, and justifying result in i.e. being finally glorified, then what assurance is there in it?

  60. infanttheology says:

    Andrew,

    I definitely think confession is a source of comfort and assurance. What could be more comforting to know that anyone who confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes this in His heart will be justified/saved? – and that I, a poor sinful being, am included in this number?

    1) yes
    2) they do hear His voice and those who continue to seek His voice cannot be snatched out of His Father’s hand (this is the Gospel word – the Law Word is that we are free to jump out of the hand)
    3 The Romans 8 chain applies to all who believe, all Christians. A baptized person is glorified – as it says in the 20th c. Lutheran hymn: “glorious now, we press towards glory”. A baptized person is rightly given the comfort that they are foreknown and predestined, but as Scripture says, we can lose faith. As for more on how this can all be said, I suggest you take a look at the conversation I refer to above from Hart’s blog post about Lutherans – maybe also see this to start: http://jackkilcrease.blogspot.com/2012/01/eleonore-stump-lecture-no.html
    4) Again, for the person broken in sin, there is no greater comfort. If you believe Christ’s words of Gospel, you will be saved. Baptism is a more intense form of this same Gospel, because it is a tangible and physical reminder of the believer that God put His Name on that person, and means to stick with us, and continually claim us. Yes if we disown Him, He will us. But if we are faithless, He is faithful.

    You should also make sure you are aware of this before you jump on the Calvinist ship (also referenced in the Hart conversation): http://upstatelutheran.blogspot.com/2010/02/calvin-on-temporary-deep-in-heart-faith.html

    I really recommend the whole of that Hart conversation. Again, I think it lays things quite bare and is a good educational opportunity for everyone: http://oldlife.org/2013/11/now-lutherans-tightening-jaws/

    +Nathan

  61. truthunites says:

    Q by Andrew: “Does Christ lose any sheep or does He actually say that they will hear His voice and receive eternal life?”

    A by Nathan: “they do hear His voice and those who continue to seek His voice cannot be snatched out of His Father’s hand (this is the Gospel word – the Law Word is that we are free to jump out of the hand).”

    Q for Nathan: “What happens to the baptized Lutheran “sheep” who do NOT continue to seek His voice; are they then snatched out of His Hand and put into Hell for their antinomianism or apostasy or apathy or atheism or some combination thereof?”

  62. infanttheology says:

    That person is not snatched out of the Father’s hand, but has made a conscious decision to leave the hand, and for this they are culpable and should be warned by the law. The words given to believers in John about not being snatched out of the Father’s hand are there to give comfort and strength to those who actually are concerned about remaining in the truth and avoiding the evil one.

    +Nathan

  63. truthunites says:

    “That person is not snatched out of the Father’s hand, but has made a conscious decision to leave the hand, and for this they are culpable and should be warned by the law.

    So the baptized Lutheran who’s in Hell, or has a trajectory heading toward Hell, is culpable for going to Hell?

  64. infanttheology says:

    Yes, if a person is a Lutheran who was baptized and yet no longer has faith they are culpable for not continuing to seek and hear His voice. In this case, warnings about hell, stated in this or that fashion, would be appropriate.

    +Nathan

  65. Andrew says:

    So then there are some sheep who don’t hear the shepherd’s voice and then do follow another?

  66. truthunites says:

    Thank you, Nathan, for affirming that a baptized Lutheran in Hell is personally culpable for such a miserable outcome by “not continuing to seek and hear His voice.”

    So this baptized Lutheran in Hell could forlornly wave around his baptismal certificate, and tell Satan, “Please let me tell all the baptized Lutherans to not put their assurances of eternal salvation in the objective fact of their baptism. I did, and look at what good it did me.”

    Satan would probably laugh, saying “No, no. Let the fools up their put their full and complete assurances in their baptism, and then let them blithely live their lives with no regards to eternity because they foolishly believe they can play the “Get out of Hell because I’ve been baptized” card when death comes for them. I love it! I love Lutheran infant baptismal regeneration doctrine! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

  67. infanttheology says:

    Andrew,

    Lutherans point out the Scriptures that say you can lose faith and take them very seriously. We walk in danger all the way. It is either that or something akin to what Reiss points out: http://upstatelutheran.blogspot.com/2010/02/calvin-on-temporary-deep-in-heart-faith.html

    But while aware, we fear not, for we have a Good Shepherd whose voice offers us words that are spirit and life.

    Words that really can rebuke the devil, TUAD, even if yes, he fools some into thinking that because they “got the kid done”, or “said the sinner’s prayer at one point in my life sincerely”, or “I can articulate the doctrine of justification rightly” that assurance of salvation could be had.

    Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!

    Drop your ugly accusation; I am not so soon enticed.

    Now that to the font I’ve traveled, all your might has come unraveled,

    And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me!

    These are indeed beautiful words the believer may speak that slay the lies of the evil one and those who follow in his train.

    +Nathan

  68. infanttheology says:

    Again, baptism is to be taught and used rightly, and how this is done may well vary from person to person, depending on where a pastor discerns that person is. I again recommend this short 1.5 minute clip, which rather concisely and powerfully summarizes what we teach: http://issuesetc.org/podcast/sbotwbaker01-18-13.mp3

    +Nathan

  69. truthunites says:

    Nathan: ‘Words that really can rebuke the devil, TUAD, even if yes, he fools some into thinking that because they “got the kid done”

    You misunderstand. The devil only wants to hear useless rebukes like that when the baptized Lutheran is in Hell already. He doesn’t have to accuse.

    Satan delights in the antinomian, apostate, or apathetic baptized Lutheran who hears that proclamation, and then who say to themselves, “Yep, I’ve been baptized, and so I claim the promise of assurance too,” and then they go on living an antinomian, apostate, or apathetic life with no good visible or invisible spiritual fruit all the way until the day they die.

  70. truthunites says:

    Nathan,

    Here’s a link for you to read fully and absorb:

    Upstart Lutheran.

    Beginning excerpt:

    “Edward Reiss said…

    “There is no promise we will know we have eternal life.”

    Is he speaking for Lutheranism or Calvinism? In Calvinism, there are such promises.

    “We are told that we may deceive ourselves that we are elect when we are not”

    Of course, that’s equivocal. Who may be deceived? May the elect be deceived about their election–or the reprobate?

    Those are hardly equivalent claims. A man on acid may well be self-deluded. Does this mean a sober man is in the same condition?

    Since Reiss is fairly intelligent, it’s striking that he continues to raise such unintelligent objections to Calvinism. There’s a willful refusal on his part to acknowledge and address basic distinctions.

    “This means looking for fruit runs the serious risk of us deceiving ourselves into thinking we are elect when we are not.”

    Runs the risk for whom–the elect or the reprobate? Since the elect are the elect, how can they be deceived about their elect status?

    And if the reprobate can be mistaken, so what? Lots of folks can be self-deluded for various reason. Does this mean we should all doubt our sanity?”

    Read the rest of this convincing rebuttal to Ed Reiss. Thanks.

  71. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    Yes, I have read that. I’m not sure why you think it has much relevance to our debate here. Perhaps you could explain more. It also would be helpful if Steve would link back to where Ed had originally posted those words. Why not simply deal with the blog post I linked you to?

    I have found myself to be in sharp disagreement with Steve about this or that over the years. When I wrote about “serious Calvinists (i.e. vs Arminianism) who do not think it is a big deal whether or not Christians know they have eternal life and peace with God”, on my blog (http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/you-know-you-are-in-the-end-times-when/) I believe it was this same Steve I was responding to (as this is the post my blog post links to: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/11/faith-ians.html ).

    +Nathan

  72. truthunites says:

    “TUAD,

    Yes, I have read that. I’m not sure why you think it has much relevance to our debate here. Perhaps you could explain more.”

    The relevance of the Triablogue post “Upstart Lutheran” was twofold. One, you first brought up Reiss’s arguments in your 2/28/14 comment at 5:08pm. I just wanted to show you a rebuttal to Reiss’s arguments about assurance. Two, the rebuttal by Steve Hays shows the weakness of Lutheran arguments.

    IMHO, both Steve Hays and Rhology have made better arguments than yours when they’ve engaged you.

    Lastly, I’ve seen apologists for Gay “Christianity” explain Scripture’s teachings to their advantage because that’s how they want Scripture to support what they want support for. When I read Lutheran explanations for Infant Baptismal Regeneration, it reminds me of the same thing: They want Scripture to support what they want support.

    To wit: “But we want to baptize because it is such a great gift that gives comfort – both to the baptized, and especially, to Christian parents.”

    Revisionist: “I want what I want, therefore I will bend Scripture so that it says what I want so I can claim Scriptural support.”

  73. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    Again, it would have been helpful if Steve Hays had given some context in his post. I found the whole post really confusing – I did not really recognize him talking about Lutheran doctrine there.

    As for the quote about wanting to baptize, would you be so kind to let me know which post that was from again? I’d like to answer you with the original context in mind but could not find where I had said that after some looking.

    +Nathan

  74. truthunites says:

    Hi Nathan,

    It was earlier on this thread: “infanttheology says:
    February 20, 2014 at 9:20 am

    “But we want to baptize because it is such a great gift that gives comfort – both to the baptized, and especially, to Christian parents.”

  75. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    Thanks. So below is more relevant context…. I find it extremely frustrating that you isolated that one statement that certainly seems like I am some subjective enthusiast from the rest of the content of my post, which painstakingly demonstrated the Scriptural nature and objective nature of our view of baptism. Instead you isolated it and compared us with gay rights advocates. Perhaps you think that that was a good, right and salutary thing to do, but I do not.

    +Nathan

    “….the main point that I need to stick with: baptism must be based on its divine institution in God’s Word. This means it really is not *based on faith*, but is administered based on *outward confession* – even as we would not baptize a person who said they did not believe (on our part, the person administering baptism cannot *know with absolute certainty* whether or not a living faith is present).

    As my pastor friend said: “This is also why adults speak for the speechless (infans = speechless, in Latin), by renouncing the devil and confessing the Christian faith — again, not because baptism can’t create faith in the infants, or because we baptize the little ones on the basis of the faith of the big ones, or because the parents’ faith flows automatically into the children, but because baptism is*also* a public confession of the faith.”

    A person needs to be willing to renounce the devil and confess the faith prior to baptism in words and deeds, otherwise we cannot baptize them. So, there should be “closed baptism” just like there should be “closed communion” – at least, this is what Luther taught. Admittedly, this does not seem to be the practice in many LC-MS churches today – at the very least, pastors ought to be making careful judgments regarding the persons who simply come to them to “get the kid done”.

    But we want to baptize because it is such a great gift that gives comfort – both to the baptized, and especially, to Christian parents. Baptism is an “objective marker” of sorts to which we may cling in times of temptation. That it *should* be connected to a real new birth here – baptismal regeneration – is seen in Titus 3 (that’s also in the Small Catechism) and John 3 in particular. Subjectively, we focus on how we *are* baptized and not *were* baptized, even as, like a marriage, there is an objective moment in history that started the whole process.

    On the LC-MS website it says the following:

    “Lutherans believe that the Bible teaches that a person is saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ. Baptism, we believe, is one of the miraculous means of grace (together with God’s written and spoken Word) through which God creates and/or strengthens the gift of faith in a person’s heart (see Matt. 28:18-20; Act. 2:38; John 3:5-7; Act. 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Titus 3:5-6; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:1-4; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12:13).

    Although we do not claim to understand how this happens or how it is possible, we believe (because of what the Bible says about baptism) that when an infant is baptized God creates faith in the heart of that infant. This faith cannot yet, of course, be expressed or articulated, yet it is real and present all the same (see e.g., 1 Peter 2:21; Acts 2:38-39; Titus 3:5-6; Matt. 18:6; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim. 3:15; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12:13). This faith needs to be fed and nurtured by God’s Word (Matt. 28:18-20), or it will die. Those who have been baptized, but who no longer believe, will not be saved. (By the same token, those who truly believe and yet have not had opportunity to be baptized [like, for example, the thief on the cross] will be saved.)”

    ….

  76. truthunites says:

    Nathan: “I find it extremely frustrating that you isolated that one statement that certainly seems like I am some subjective enthusiast from the rest of the content of my post, which painstakingly demonstrated the Scriptural nature and objective nature of our view of baptism.”

    Here’s what’s happening. I suspect you’re blissfully unaware of this, and so I’ll charitably give you the benefit of the doubt, but what you’re presenting is blabbering incoherence. So to try and discern the motivation for your inexplicable nonsense, I simply locate the gist: “But we want to baptize because it is such a great gift that gives comfort – both to the baptized, and especially, to Christian parents.”

    Example of blabbering incoherence:

    (A). On the LC-MS website it says the following: “Although we do not claim to understand how this happens or how it is possible, we believe (because of what the Bible says about baptism) that when an infant is baptized God creates faith in the heart of that infant. This faith cannot yet, of course, be expressed or articulated, yet it is real and present all the same.”

    (B). Yet earlier, you wrote this: “A person needs to be willing to renounce the devil and confess the faith prior to baptism in words and deeds, otherwise we cannot baptize them.”

  77. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    Oh, I’d say its all very coherent. And the motivation is the Word of God.

    Again, let’s look at the context:

    As my pastor friend said: “This is also why adults speak for the speechless (infans = speechless, in Latin), by renouncing the devil and confessing the Christian faith — again, not because baptism can’t create faith in the infants, or because we baptize the little ones on the basis of the faith of the big ones, or because the parents’ faith flows automatically into the children, but because baptism is*also* a public confession of the faith.”

    A person needs to be willing to renounce the devil and confess the faith prior to baptism in words and deeds, otherwise we cannot baptize them. So, there should be “closed baptism” just like there should be “closed communion” – at least, this is what Luther taught. Admittedly, this does not seem to be the practice in many LC-MS churches today – at the very least, pastors ought to be making careful judgments regarding the persons who simply come to them to “get the kid done”….

    +Nathan

  78. truthunites says:

    Nathan,

    You’re overly simplistic about “context.” It’s not the context that’s lacking. It’s the explanation itself within your entire context that is incoherent.

    It’s blubbering nonsense posing as something erudite, when it’s actually just blubbering nonsense. You keep insisting that the Lutheran emperor is wearing clothes, while everytime I give a serious and fair look, and see nothing, all I can conclude is that you are deluding yourself.

    If you’re still having a hard time acknowledging your self-induced blindness, let me ask you a simple question to start the process of trying to get you to see things clearly:

    When a Lutheran minister administers baptism to an infant, who makes the public confession of faith?

    P.S. I’ll take things slowly for you. We’ll go step by step so that you can see your incoherence.

  79. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    That’s OK. I think I see where you are going and don’t think I’m in the dark to the degree you seem to think I am. I just disagree with you in your assessment of our views, that’s all. I’ll leave it to others to determine whether or not what I have put forth here is blubbering nonsense – I would say they make good sense and are faithful biblically, even if all are not able to say the same.

    Baptism now saves us, praise be to God, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    +Nathan

  80. truthunites says:

    Nathan: “I think I see where you are going”

    If you don’t mind, please humor me, and lay out what you think I’m going to say is an example of the contradiction or incoherence of your argument for Lutheran Infant Baptismal Regeneration.

  81. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    Sir, I’d prefer you just tell me and get to the point. Frankly, I don’t see the point of answering questions that I already have clearly answered above.

    +Nathan

  82. truthunites says:

    Nathan,

    Just answer the following question as simply and honestly as possible, even a one or two word answer would suffice:

    When a Lutheran minister administers baptism to an infant, who makes the public confession of faith?

  83. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    Ah, I think I see your point.

    The answer is that in these days, the sponsors of the child say it, and these are also to be godly persons who can be depended on to serve as the child’s spiritual back-ups. Although this was not the way it was with the Lutherans in the 16th c., now most orders of service fall into this pattern. I will check on the reasons for that and get back to you – my guess is that this has largely to do with the idea that the church is not foremost about blood ties and biology about the body of Christ and the Holy Spirit’s work in the congregation.

    So this does not, it seems to me, make much of a difference, as the sponsors simply say what the parents would say – offering a public confession and proclamation of the faith for all to hear. In truth, *no such public confession is necessary to have a valid baptism.*

    As I said above:

    Of course if a person is being baptized in the church after coming to faith later in life, that is a different story. In regards to the yet-to-be-baptized adult, we know we are called to urge them to be formally recognized with assemblies that we see recognize the Shepherd’s voice – those we have every reason to believe recognize that Christ has tenderly and lovingly reconciled them to God through His Word! Unlike our own persons, we may not know with surety if the yet-to-be-baptized person is already “truly Church” here on earth (although, if they truly believe, they would be members of the Church triumphant were they to die now), but we do know that such a person, confessing Christ rightly with their lips, is to be baptized by those who do the same – that is, to be formally recognized as a member of His Church! Ecclesiology is simply Christology (Kurt Marquart), and so trusting in Christ is necessarily “baked in with” trusting the visible Church’s wisdom in this matter (despite understandable pastoral-evangelistic concerns to separate faith in Christ from a connection with the visible Church). And baptism – which can both create (via the “liquid word” heard) and nurture faith – is the Church’s glorious and beautiful “official adoption ceremony”. This rightly proclaims to everyone all that God does in Christ – before, during, and after this moment.

    So as you can see, like I mentioned above, proclamation plays a big role in the way that we choose to do things. And this is good, right and salutary, because confession of the pure truth of God is a fruit – or good work – of faith. In this way, those hearing in the congregation can be edified by words that proclaim who God is, who we are, and what He has done on our behalf.

    +Nathan

  84. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    “As I said above:”

    This should be taken out. I did not say what follows this phrase above anywhere, I was planning on saying something else but took that part out and accidently left the above phrase.

    My apologies for any confusion.

    +Nathan

  85. truthunites says:

    Here’s something which was posted today in another blog about the early church:

    ” We are pretty good about reserving the Lord’s Supper for only regenerate persons, but what about this baptism issue? In fact, the early church displayed long periods of training and waiting before baptism. The individual, known as a catechumen, was instructed for up to three years before baptism. The Didache gives unique early interpretations of the baptismal procedure. So much so it might raise eyebrows of folks today.

    Baptism in the early church was not a simple decision. It was a lengthy process of training and growth. A catechumen went through an extensive process to show longevity in genuine evidence of Christ. Some evidence exists that leads us to think they did a mass baptism on Easter Sunday morning for all those who had gone through the catechism. Again, the Didache shows a varied approach to baptism. Based upon certain availabilities, baptism could be performed in various methods. What was always sure was meaning. Baptism was a serious event in the life of a young believer. Identifying with the church in a Trinitarian baptism meant exposure to the Roman authorities. In Ignatius’ letter to Polycarp he said, “. . . let your baptism serve as a shield . . .” reflecting a strong sense of the meaning behind baptism. The church today has dwindled the purpose of baptism to such a symbolic measure that it no longer holds its identifying character. Why not put individuals through a catechism class and make sure they are truly repentant and ready to identify with Christ? Would that help solve some of the church related issues we have today?”

    Excerpted from What Was It Like Back In The Day?

  86. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    That’s right. Longer catechesis for adult converts is what we should be working towards.

    +Nathan

  87. truthunites says:

    Jesus didn’t get baptized as an infant.

  88. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    Jesus was circumcised on the 8th day, and water baptism replaces circumcision (the circumcision without hands) as that official adoption ceremony heralding entrance into the Kingdom of God.

    +Nathan

  89. truthunites says:

    Nathan: “water baptism replaces circumcision (the circumcision without hands) as that official adoption ceremony heralding entrance into the Kingdom of God.”

    Uh, no.

    Read and absorb the following: Does Baptism Replace Circumcision?

  90. truthunites says:

    Andrew,

    Getting back to the original post, here’s a substantive blogpost that compares the Lutheran and Reformed doctrinal approaches to Holy Communion:

    Finitum Non Capax Infiniti

    Opening Paragraph (Do read it all): “This Latin dictum means “the finite does not (or cannot) comprehend the infinite.” The phrase originated in the Lutheran-Reformed debates about the Lord’s Supper as it related to Christology. The Reformed typically accused the Lutherans of transferring divine qualities to Jesus’ humanity such that Christ could be everywhere, including the Lord’s Supper. Sometimes this resulted in the charge of Eutychianism (mixing Christ’s human and divine natures). The Lutherans typically accused the Reformed of rationalism as well as Nestorianism. The former was thrown at the Reformed because they thought the Reformed depended too heavily on philosophical pre-commitments. There was also the problem of supposedly separating Christ’s human from His divine nature (Nestorianism).”

  91. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    I’ll take a look – although I do not expect to be surprised. In the meantime, would you be willing to look at this?:

    http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/more-on-why-baptists-and-the-reformed-in-general-deny-baptismal-regeneration/

    Hopefully will be back soon.

    +Nathan

  92. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    I took a look. This is no surprise really. Arguments pretty much stay the same over the years – I notice that in the blog post I linked you to (which talks about Mark Surberg’s points) he specifically mentions the Colossians passage as well.

    For another post I did talking about the Platonism that is there in a lot of the non-Lutheran Protestant movements, also see this post: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/on-with-the-reformation-circa-1567-the-under-appreciated-matthias-flacius-illyricus-part-ii-of-iii/

    +Nathan

  93. Nathan: “The Reformed dictum “the finite cannot contain the infinite” is a principle derived from Platonic philosophy.”

    Pastor Lane’s Point-Blank Rebuttal: “[T]he dictum can be derived from Scripture. I highly doubt that Calvin got it from Platonic sources. Passages that teach this distinction include Isaiah 55 and Romans 11. What’s true of epistemology works for ontology as well. If God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, it follows that His being is higher than our being. The Bible teaches also, quite clearly, that God is everywhere, and a human being cannot be. See especially Psalm 139 in this respect.”

    Sorry Nathan, but the rebuttal rebuffs your errant claim.

  94. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    Lutherans treasure Isaiah 55 and Romans 11 as well. They are important passages. We also would agree that God’s being is higher than ours. Therefore, if we try to become God that will result in failure, but if God desires to become man for our salvation, this is no problem for Him. So, no – those passages support our position, and not yours (again, I point you and others back to part III of my “The Real reason there are no Lutheran Baptists” series – thusfar, no one has challenged the evidence and claims I put forward in that series of posts, particularly part III, where I get into the real meat of the issue).

    +Nathan

  95. truthunites says:

    Sorry Nathan, but your claim “The Reformed dictum “the finite cannot contain the infinite” is a principle derived from Platonic philosophy” has been shown to be false. It is derived from Scripture.

    A polite retraction of a wrongful, erroneous claim is usually proffered by the contrite and humble.

  96. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    As will not surprise anyone familiar with this 500 year old controversy, I fail to see your point.

    Clearly I cannot be humble in this if it means failing to boast in the crucified Lord, whose true human body and blood are present for all the penitent in His wondrous Supper.

    +Nathan

  97. infanttheology says:

    TUAD,

    Perhaps you would be so kind to help me to understand your point as related to Pslam 139? I am not sure what you are trying to say.

    +Nathan

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