Luther's Warning of Decision Theology

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by JFox1, May 6, 2007.

  1. JFox1

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  2. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: Luther is not a part of this discussion group. If you feel that there is a danger in something, please, by all means state what you see is the meaning of 'decision theology' and inform us as to why you feel it is dangerous.
     
  3. donnA

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    People frequently quote others here, or give links.
     
  4. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: I agree. None the less, the owners have entitled this a ‘debate section’, and it is hard to debate one that is deceased. We have them as examples of the past, but now is the time to discuss beliefs we hold to in the ‘here and now’…..at least that is where my interests are.

    Tell the list what you know about the issue in the OP and how you feel. Then we can have meaningful discussion. :thumbs:
     
  5. DQuixote

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    Luther warned about lots of things. I won't be saddled with a definition coined by him. I'll just pray and read the Word.

    :jesus:
     
  6. BobRyan

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    If the argument is that Luther agrees with you on something -please make your statement - give a brief quote showing that Luther agrees with you and then provide the link for those who want more of Luther on that point.

    Simply leaving the entire discussion up to a posted link misses the whole point of having this discussion group here.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  7. Chemnitz

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    The greatest flaw in decision theology is that ultimately it places man in charge of salvation. No longer is it God alone who works salvation through grace but it is man who brings about his salvation on the basis of a decision he made. This idea presupposes that man is even free to do so, which is patently false. The Bible makes clear we are all in bondage to sin, being in bondage we can by no means do anything worthy of salvation including making a decision to follow Christ or as it is sometimes put making Jesus Lord of your life. Luther rightly maintains that salvation is solely the work of God and that man plays no active role in salvation.

    There are two primary dangers in confessing decision theology. One is doubt. If salvation is based upon a decision that you made it opens the door to doubt. Did I really decide to follow Christ? Or did I just think I decided? There are many permutations but they all boil down to the same thing doubt created by a false teaching that man can somehow influence his salvation through an action of his own. I have seen this played out many times and I have heard numerous Arminean preachers take advantage of this doubt by talking about playing at be Christian and then inviting people to accept Jesus and come up to the altar, rather than pointing people to the true source of salvation God alone. Luther rightly pointed all who doubted to the promises of Christ and did not encourage them in thinking they could do something.

    The second danger of decision theology is self righteousness. By believing that you have worked out your salvation on the basis of your decision a person is engaging in an act of self righteousness. Because, they are in essence saying that it is because of myself that I am saved. I did something worthy of salvation.
     
  8. Eric B

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    Actually, there is a loophole in unconditional election type theologies that poses the same two problems constantly huled at decision theology; and that is the issue of "Perseverance".
    Even though on the surface it speaks of God's securing (keeping) the elect, the way is described in practice, it is the individual who himself must "persevere" in order to prove himself being "elect" after all; regardless of whether he once "professed" Christ. And it is often not so much even perseverance in faith, but rather in "holiness" (works)! (This is one reason many Calvinist groups could be just as legalistic and intolerant as any Arminian fundamentalist, and even moreso. The Arminian will condemn many things people, including Christians do, and "preach hellfire" at the unsaved, but at least they are less likely to assume a professing Christian is unsaved!). Once again, the ball is placed in the individual's corner, so after all the insistance that we cannot even choose to be saved, let alone be elected by "works" we end up earning the final realization or "proof" of salvation by works! Calvinists and Lutherans would probably deny this, but this is how their leaders have expressed it, and Calvinists here along ago said that our belief that we are elect is "fallible"— any one of us may have "believed in vain", and fall away, proving we were not elect at all. Calvin himself went on to say that God strings such people along in the belief that they are saved. Is that what you call "eternal security"? This is connected with them warning people about Hell when it is supposedly already decided, as was mentioned earlier.

    Then, Luther goes into the old "intellectual suicide" copout standby of not being able to know "the
    dreadful hidden will of God, Who according to His own
    counsel, ordains such persons as He wills to receive and
    partake of the mercy preached and offered. This will is
    not to be inquired into, but to be reverently adored, as by
    far the most awesome secret of the Divine Majesty", admitting that it is nit discussed in the scriptures.

    First of all, he is so worried about people "burden[ing] man with a load he is totally incapable of carrying", yet agrees with Calvin that in scriptures like Deut. 30: 19 God is deliberately commanding man what He knows they cannot do, implying of course that He grants only some the abolity, withholds others, yet still "hold them responsible" as if they WERE able to do it. Isn't that a WORSE "burden" than anything choice theology places on man.
    But in hypothesizing all of this, with deliberate acts of reprobation or preterition as a neccesary corrollary for God to receive all the credit of the salvation of the elect, we have already inquired into the unknowable.
    (How God can be responsible for salvation when not all are saved). Why do all that, and only THEN try to plead ignorance when people question why? That is the danger of the Unconditional election theology.
     
  9. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: I completely agree. It is pointless on a discussion group to speak much concerning views of deceased writers, or any other writers not available to discuss with on this list for that matter, that we cannot query them as to the meaning of their words. As we have seen on other threads, when we do query others concerning the words of the deceased or other writers not on the list, we have some that believe they are the only ones able to discern the real meanings of their writings. You might as well go out and try to debate a brick wall or fight a windmill.

    Until an individual is ready to state their position clearly for the list, meaningful debate or discussion, if it happens, is more often than not, in spite of the means taken, not because of it.
     
  10. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: A very well thought out and insightful post. You have given any serious seeker of truth fodder for at least a few thousand years. Thank you!:thumbs: :thumbs:
     
  11. Chemnitz

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    Yeah, you're right we, Lutherans would object to your statement. Don't lump us in with the Calvinists. Acts of righteousness are sign of faith but not the means of preserving faith.
    "On the other hand, we dare not say that good works preserve faith. True, Good works, being effected through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit, assure Christians of their faith, their state of grace, and for this reason Christians should show all diligence in good works. But to say that good works preserve faith and thereby assure Christians of the final salvation, turns everything that Scripture says of the relation of fiath to good works upside down. Good works do not sustain faith, but, conversely, faith sustains good works. It cannot be otherwise, since good works according to Scripture, are in every case the effect, fruit, and consequence of faith." (Pieper, Christian Dogmatics)

    Rather in Lutheran teaching the assurance of salvation comes strictly from the Gospel. "The assurance of our election, however, we can and should gain from the Gospel. For the substance of the Gospel is that the Grace of God in Christ is for all sinners without exception. and that this grace is actually grace, contingent on nothing whatever in man. When a man hears and believes this blessed truth, he cannot but be assured that for Christ's sake there dwells in God's heart not wrath, but only ardent love for him, the sinner." (Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 483). Our assurance does not come from how we feel or by some decision that we may or may not have made, but comes from the promises of the Eternal God who has repeatedly displayed that He is the God of Salvation.

    Luther's statement is not as you say intellectual suicide. It is in fact, intellectual honesty. Luther does not pretend to speak with false assurance on that which God is silent about. God did not reveal the totality of all his plans, thoughts, and being. He revealed only that which is needed. Though I do not know the context of the statement since you neglected to cite your reference, I would hazard a guess that he is responding to Calvin's idea of predestination. I assume this is the case because in other Lutheran writings I have seen similar statements in response to Calvin.


    It wouldn't be the first time that God commanded something he knew that we could not do. Have you looked at the ten commandments lately? The Law is harsh and God is very open about the fact that it only kills. The Gospel, however, brings life.
     
  12. JFox1

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    Thank you for your excellent input, Chemnitz! :thumbs:
     
  13. Eric B

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    Still. wouldn't Lutheranism face the same problem that if a person appears to fall away, he would have to make it fit unconditional election by saying that God gave this "reprobate" a false faith?
    My point was, this whole notion of people remaining lost because God passed them over for grace is already going beyond what God has spoken. Going that far, and then claiming we can't know anymore is inconsistent.
    That was my own page on the issue, and yes it was aimed primarily at Calvinism

    Still, that does not give us the license to calim that God does that to trap people in a state of condemnation.
     
  14. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: Pardon me while I choke. How is not this statement going further than Scripture goes, telling us that God commands something that He knew we could not do???? Where is your ignorance of 'God's ways' noted in this statement? Could you give us Scriptural verification of your knowledge of God's knowledge, in which you state that God commands us to do what He knows we cannot do? I would call your ‘God’s ways are higher than our ways’ very self-serving, a kind of arbitrary convenience. It is sort of like political amnesia.
     
  15. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: Luther clearly kicked against more than one prick. Free will was still another.
     
  16. Gerhard Ebersoehn

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    Chemnitz:

    "Yeah, you're right we, Lutherans would object to your statement. Don't lump us in with the Calvinists. Acts of righteousness are sign of faith but not the means of preserving faith.
    "On the other hand, we dare not say that good works preserve faith. True, Good works, being effected through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit, assure Christians of their faith, their state of grace, and for this reason Christians should show all diligence in good works. But to say that good works preserve faith and thereby assure Christians of the final salvation, turns everything that Scripture says of the relation of fiath to good works upside down. Good works do not sustain faith, but, conversely, faith sustains good works. It cannot be otherwise, since good works according to Scripture, are in every case the effect, fruit, and consequence of faith." (Pieper, Christian Dogmatics)"

    GE:

    Why must it be 'hurled against the Calvinists that this is not what they believe? Calvinism will just stress things a little (significantly) different. It will say:

    Acts of righteousness are a sign of faith but not the means of preserving faith. Acts though, can easily be hypocritical acts of righteousness and be the sign of ungodliness.

    We dare not say that good works preserve faith, or even indicate saving faith. Good works while being effected by the power of the Holy Spirit, is not what assures the Christian even of their own faith or of their status in grace. Grace itself does that -- the Spirit being the sole gaurantee and Comforter. And for this reason Christians should show all diligence in good works.

    To say therefore that good works preserve faith and thereby assure Christians of the final salvation, turns everything that Scripture says of the relation of faith to grace, and grace to faith, upside down. Good works do not sustain faith; and faith does not even sustain good works. It cannot be otherwise, since good works according to Scripture, are in every case the effect, fruit, and consequence of the work of the Holy Spirit working in us. As much as God is the Finisher of our faith, so much is He the Author and Sustainer of it. Therefore faith itself may never be reckoned a work of man -- it is the gift of God and from His Grace.

    Perspective is the only difference between 'Lutherism' and 'Calvinism' -- IN THIS CASE.
     
  17. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: There is not an Arminian out there to my knowledge that believes that anything outside of the grace of God, saves, sustains and keeps us within the family of God. Who would refute that? Not I , am I am not a Calvinist nor Arminian. Just the same, neither will we be saved, sustained or kept without our willing obedience. It is NOT the obedience that sustains the relationship any more than one being granted a pardon could say that his good works merited or sustains his pardon. Just the same, apart from his good works and a refusal to return to ones old lifestyle of crime, a pardon will never be sustained.

    Works are NEVER thought of in the sense of 'that for the sake of,' but rather are thought of in the sense of 'not without which.' We are not saved or kept saved 'for the sake of' our works, just the same neither will we be saved 'apart from' good works, i.e. thought of in the sense of ‘not without which.’ Why does this appear to be so hard for some to grasp?

    Why the continued drumbeat of salvation by works when in fact neither Calvinist nor Arminian nor myself believe any such thing?
     
  18. Chemnitz

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    Do you not see the contradiction in your own statements

    This last statement is a statement of salvation by works. You have placed the person in control of their salvation by means of their obediance. By saying that salvation is predicated on our willing obediance means that it is predicated on human works, because obediance is work by its very definition. Obediance is the act of caring out anothers desires or commands. It is a work. Until you drop the condition of obediance you will be confessing salvation by works.
     
  19. Chemnitz

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    Have you ever been able to carry out the ten commandments perfectly?
    Have you actually loved your neighbor more than yourself all the time and without hesitation?
    In otherwords, are you perfect? If you are not then God has given you commands that he knows that you cannot keep because God being omniscent would know that you cannot keep these commands.
    We know that God has given us commands he knew we couldn't keep, because He is quite plain when he says, "That all have fallen short of the Glory of God"Rms 3:23
    If the commands of God are with in our grasp to obey then why sacrifice himself? Why not rely on our ability to obey him? Obviously, Christ came because of our inability to obey.
     
  20. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: I do not mean to be disrespectful, but this is far from any semblance of reason or logic, is contrary to the admonition of Scripture, and shows a clear mischaracterization and or misunderstanding of God’s character and His commands.

    What does it matter how I have lived my life,or how anyone else has for that matter? There is only one thing proved if I answered that I was not perfect or that I have not kept God’s commands, i.e., that I am a sinner and an unrepentant one if in fact I had not repented and turned from my sin. If there is not a man or women alive that is righteous before the Lord, would that prove an impossibility to live righteous? If there was a mountain out there that no one had ever climbed, would that be proof that no one could? We need to start to consider the remarks we make.

    Scriptue admonishes, " 2Co 10:12 ¶ For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

    If I said that my heart was indeed perfect before the Lord, in that all my sins are under the blood and I currently possess a clear conscience before God and man and have an inner witness that I please God, what would be your reaction to that? Would you rejoice with me that I have a right heart before God and a sure hope of eternal life? Let me guess. I bet you would start name calling and calling me a liar, and tell me that I am self-righteous among other things. If I were in a condition such as I have spoken of, I would sure seek other places and other times to start cating my pearls about.


    For you to state that a Fair and Just God is such a taskmaster, that He reaps were He does not sow, and that He requires, upon pain of eternal torment, something out of man that He knows full well is impossible for them to accomplish, you have said despite the clear teachings of Scripture, and might be guilty of listening to the same spirit the one that had been given one talent listened to. God requires nothing that He has not already granted you the ability to do. His commands are not grievous, and they are not far from that you cannot do them. You are painting a picture of God and His commands that is nowhere painted in Scripture or reason.




    De 30:11 ¶ For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
    12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
    13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
    14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
    Mic 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

    HP: Who are you to tell us the mind of God? I thought God’s ways are higher than our ways? Here you seem to be able to tell us what God is thinking when Scripture is silent. Scriptures only tell us that all have sinned, not that all had to sin, or that they could not help but sin. You are clearly taking the Word of God farther than what it clearly expounds to us.





    HP: Why not rely on our ability to obey Him? First because all have sinned, and apart from the sacrifice of Christ, we would all be doomed. God loves us, and poured out His grace upon a sinful and dying world. He died to accomplish purposes only He fully knows. Whatever those purposes are, besides redeeming man to Himself, we do not know. Without His sacrifice we would all have no hope. Regardless of our abilities, or the fact that we all have done despite those abilities, there is no hope outside of Christ. Possessing abilities does not delineate the fact of our need, and denying that man has any abilities only makes God out to be a taskmaster. Scripture states nowhere that Christ came because of our lack of ability to obey His commands.

    Scripture calls men rebels, willing sinners, not victims of their circumstances. Scripture states we are blameworthy, and as such the just recipients of our wicked deeds. No man is the victim of the sins of our fathers or anyone else, nor will God punish us for their sins or they for our sins. Everyman is accountable to God for their own sins. ALL WE like sheep have GONE, not were ‘born astray,’ but have ‘GONE’ astray.
     

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