Monday, March 12, 2012

The Reformed Understanding of Baptism in Lutheranism

I've mentioned this article before, but I just skimmed through it again and find it very useful in at least laying out the issues between the Reformed and the Lutherans on baptism:

Sola Fide Compromised? Martin Luther and the Doctrine of Baptism

Generally speaking, the Reformed are typically clueless in understanding the Lutheran position on baptism. This article presents a helpful overview of the issues involved.


Steve Martin said...

I skimmed the article and found it lacking in understanding.

Infants cannot have faith? Says who?

Does not the Holy Spirit speak to us in sighs too deep for words? Are not infants capable of trust? They seem to trust their parents when they are in their arms.

Luther was right about infant Baptism for it gets the order right; God's grace before our faith.

You are right. So many of these Reformed guys don't have a clue as to what and why Lutherans believe what they believe.

Thanks, very much.

Steve Martin said...

Luther himself would tell Pastor Ramsey that the doctrine of justification by faith alone, while very important, was not the key doctrine of the Reformation...but the doctrine of the Bondage of the Will (book by the same title).

It is believeing that we have some little bit of will to exercise and choose God, that is the source of many of these objections to infant Baptism, and the Sacraments in general.

Pastor Ramsey would do well to listen to this short mp3 audio class, taught by a well informed confessional Lutheran pastor:

Thanks, again.

Unknown said...

This article is decent in explaining what Luther said and what the basics of Lutheran theology are, but not that great at the nuance of the theology the author is dealing with.

He does not seem to have a good grasp of what Lutherans mean when they say Baptism or any other Sacraments are "means of" fill in the blank.

Also the idea that us coming to God for something or God using a Pastor as a means to do this or that means that man's action has any causal activity is not accurate. You have to take into account the sovereign nature of God in the matter. My coming before a ruler for something accomplishes nothing but me asking for his good graces, something that is His prerogative to give or deny. If I receive it, it is because he acts in giving it to me, not the other way around. My asking only shows my desire, one that if I am asking for salvation in the first place shows He has already acted upon me in some way because otherwise I would not have even the desire to ask for in the first place due to my corrupt and fallen will and nature.


James Swan said...

Infants cannot have faith? Says who?

You'll notice Steve, in my previous blog post, in commenting back to your comment, I stated: would have no problem in understanding Lutherans to believe that indeed, certain children have faith present in their baptism (prooftext: John the Baptist kicking in the womb).

Before you get busy over here, I would appreciate you first tying up the loose ends in my other blog entry. I did ask you a few direct questions, not for debate, but simply for clarification.

You are right. So many of these Reformed guys don't have a clue as to what and why Lutherans believe what they believe.

Perhaps one of the reasons the Reformed misunderstand Lutherans on baptism is you folks don't take the opportunity to clearly explain the position.

You brought it up that the gift of faith is given in baptism.

Once again, I'm not looking for a debate, nor do I have time for one. A simple proof text probably won't do it either. Find those parts of the Scripture you believe contain the Word of God and explain your position.


Steve Martin said...

Will do, James.

Sometimes I make comments, then get busy and forget to go back and chech in again.

steelikat said...

"How then does performing the rite of baptism in obedience to God’s command not become a work that God rewards with justification?"

...since, you know, babies crawl to the water to baptize themselves, believing God will reward them for their good work.


Seriously, though, I've read those arguments and assertions many times and what seems so obvious to the people saying those things utterly escapes me. I so far have not been able to comprehend how anyone could think that a person who believes simultaneously in infant baptism and baptismal regeneration is thereby embracing salvation by works.

It seems to me that only in cases of adult baptism is there a danger that some recipients will be trying to justify themselves by their work (of going to the church to seek baptism). Of course adult converts who have not already been baptized should be baptized, but it is really adult baptism, in making baptism conditional on things that the recipient does (exhibiting conversion and making a profession of faith), that is in tension with sola fide. Baptism is God's work, not man's.

OK, you theologians can tell me how I'm getting it wrong and I will quietly take it.

Steve Martin said...


I'm with you on this one.

And I still don't understand how people can say that baptism is a work that we do, because Christ told us to baptize.

If there is any should go to Him. It was all His idea to begin with.