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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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On the Differences Between Lutheranism and Calvinism -- Audio from "Issues, Etc."

Here's the link to the audio from my discussion with Todd Wilken (Tuesday, February 3, 2009) about the differences between Lutheranism and Calvinism. As always, Todd did a great job and asked some great (and key) questions. 

We discussed our differences regarding the "five points" and the sacraments.

Note:  The link has been updated


Reader Comments (22)

Can anyone suggest some further reading on this subject? This short discussion obviously could only scratch the surface. I was especially intrigued by the Christological differences which Kim and Todd were not able to go into. Also, it seems to me that the Reformed have a much more thought through Apologetical branch in their tradition. Are their any differences in how the Lutheran and Reformed treat natural revelation and natural theology? And are their doctrine of creation similar? Also, I have heard some Lutherans argue that Calvin emphasized the sovereignty of God while Lutherans emphasize the cross of Christ. Lutherans do not call their theology covenant theology either and see the Calvinistic emphasis on this as an error. I do not get that at all.

I would appreciate any insightful comments here or suggestions for further reading.
February 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Yeazel
The differences in emphasis (sovereignty of God vrs. cross of Christ) would lead me to believe that there would be severe differences in how the sanctification of believers takes place. I have never heard a good explanation for this one. Obedience to the law then becomes much more of a emphasis in Calvinism then in the Lutheran approach. It seems to me it would follow that discipline would then be much more of a issue in the Refomed Church's then in the Lutheran Church's if both approaches were being true to their doctrinal positions.
February 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Yeazel
I keep thinking of things to say here. I know Rod Rosenbladt is very leery of Church discipline. Now I do not want to put words in his mouth and do not know his thorough position on the matter but I have listened to his rant on those who have been bruised and injured by the Church. The Lutheran approach to those who have been severely disobedient and rebellious seems to be more Gospel oriented then the Reformed. The Reformed seem to me to be quick to use the law as a disciplinary measure and seem to have no problem using punishment as a means of getting a person to repent. Both approaches are looking for repentance but approach it in a very different manner. Is that an accurate assessment of the matter?
February 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Yeazel
Hi John:

First of all, I listened to the program, and I thought that both sides did a great job in presenting their viewpoints.

There are no quick reads, or short cuts in studying the two theologies. You must read the entire Book of Concord, to get a summary of Lutheran theology. Plus, there are many other great books -- and of course, the writing's and commentaries of Luther, and others.

I have read every single word in Calvin's Institutes. Also, the book by Louis Berkhof, "Systematic Theology." I used to teach the "Three forms of Unity" (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort) to Jr. high students. I have read many other Reformed books, as well.

I came out of the Reformed camp, and I am now a Lutheran. I'll just sum it up this way....That if you go to the Bible, with an analogy of faith, that the Bible is true in everything that it says, you will come away a Lutheran!

Also, Pastor Kim Riddlebarger knows more about the Reformed side than anyone -- including Calvin!!

The Reformed, have different viewpoints on creation. Some hold to the original 24 hours of creation. While other's (like Pastor Riddlebarger hold to a framework hypothesis).

Lutherans hold to the 24 hour, six literal days of creation. The Bible makes absolutely no mention, about the age of the universe. It only makes a case for the historicity of Adam.

How old is the universe? If you look at Biblical genealogies, non Biblical genealogies, accurate archaelogy, and recorded history, it would appear that the universe is 7,000 to 10,000 years old. Anything beyond this, is just a guess. It should be noted, that if there were large gaps of years between the days, during the periods of darkness, the vegetation would die.

Could the universe be much older than 10,000 years old? Maybe. But you can't use the Bible to prove it. Personally, I believe that God created the stars, galaxies, etc, fully mature.

The fact is, none of us were there during creation. We should never fear science -- just bad science.

My pastor and I discussed the Reformed covenants of works and grace. We are not nearly as opposed to this concept as you state. In some respects, it is somewhat, slightly compatible, within the "law-Gospel" hermeneutic. Although, not entirely.

One interesting thing about both the Lutheran and Reformed theologies, is that neither side leads to boredom!!!
February 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLloyd

Thanks for the response. To give you a bit more of my backround- I have not read all of Calvin's institutes but much of it. I have also read portions of Berkoff's Systematic theology and lots of B.B. Warfield. I became a Lutheran because after reading Michael Horton's Putting Amazing Back into Grace in 1994 or 1995 I started reading many of the books he had referenced by Luther. But it was not until last year that I joined a Lutheran Churchl. Luther's Bondage of the Will and Commentary on Galatians had a profound effect on my life. I have also read lots of his other writtings along with Luther's biography Here I Stand. I am working through the book of Concord as we speak. Much on my own but I also attend a weekly reading group and a once a month reading group on the Book of Concord. I have been an avid reader of Modern Reformation magazine since 1994 and listen quite regularly to Issues, etc. and the many fine guests they have on the program. Of course, the Riddleblog is one of my favorite spots to go to on the internet and have learned alot about the Reformed faith on it. So, there it is.

The reason I am kind of miffed and interested by this Church discipline issue is that I went through a very difficult divorce back in 1995 and during the process I was hurt very deeply by many members of the charismatic Church I was attending at the time. It was a very close knit Church and I was good friends with the pastor (and many others in the Church) because of my love of theology. I could keep up with him theologically and he loved talking with me. I went through two years of marriage counseling with him before the divorce. The marriage probably could have been salvaged if I had gotten some good Lutheran or Reformed pastoral care. Instead the whole thing became quite confusing and blown out of proportion. It turned out to be a huge mess which I am still 13 years later recovering from. I would not have made it through if it had not been for the good folks at Modern Reformation and the White Horse Inn. I am just now coming out from under the rubble of the whole mess. Anyways, the Church discipline issue was involved but not handled very well. It was quite a fiasco probably because the theology at work during the process was more Anabaptist then anything else. I had come to the conclusion during this time that I was going to leave the Church I was attending because my theological convictions were moving towards Reformational theology but the dilemma of the divorce I was going through made it a difficult transition.
February 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Y
After waking up this morning I decided that I have probably revealed to much of myself and my struggles here. I have found that to be a very dangerous thing to do and it still mystifies me a bit considering the fact that we all know here that we are deeply fallen creatures. Even knowing this we are still very much paranoid of each other- which perhaps is a rational reaction from our experiences in life.

Lloyd, you made the following remark but did not elaborate on it:
"My pastor and I discussed the Reformed covenants of works and grace. We are not nearly as opposed to this concept as you state. In some respects, it is somewhat, slightly compatible, within the "law-Gospel" hermeneutic. Although, not entirely."

I am not so sure we are not as opposed as you state. Please fill in the gaps here and convince me of this. With some of the things I have heard Rod Rosenbladt say I am not sure he would agree with you either. The way Rod raised his kids was also quite different than I think you would find in a Reformed home. I am conjecturing here so I am treading on dangerous ground. I have seen a lot of damage done in people's lives when they approach others on the basis of their strength and the others weakness. The santification process is almost a mystery to me and it gets very confusing. To me it is highly connected to the pursuit of the truth in God's word- beyond that I am miffed.
February 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Yeazel
One last point Lloyd, the question about the doctrine of creation was more pointed towards the order of creation before the fall rather than God creating the world and the time frame involved. I did not make that clear though. Then after the fall two separate cultural spheres began developing in the scriptures. The order of creation has relevance to this issues also which I am not clear on and which I was wondering if Lutherans and Calvinists thought differently about it.
February 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Yeazel
In regards to reading reformed literature I failed to mention that I was also highly indoctrinated by R.C. Sproul and much of the material coming out of ligonier ministries. I still subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and used to follow the year long bible studies he had in the magazine. I think I have probably read all the books he has written except some of his recent ones. So, he has had a significant influence on my thinking.

I should probably also mention David Wells books- especially his four books dealing with our engagement with the surrounding culture. I spent lots of time trying to get these books- some of the content was quite difficult to grasp but I think I have come to a good understand of the main points he was trying to get across- mainly that the surrounding culture influences us much more than we are aware of. It is a difficult and subtle battle we are fighting and trying to resist. The zeitgeist of the age we are living in is a powerful force that only the Church working in the way it is supposed to work can overcome.
February 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Yeazel

Sorry. I guess that I didn't explain myself clear enough regarding the Reformed covenants of works and grace.

We wouldn't agree with any part of dispensationalism at all. However, I have a quote from our WELS website, which says this, "Many of the ideas of covenant theology are acceptable and may be useful in describing how God dealt with people, especially in his providing our redemption through Christ."

Lutherans would never be able to make a statement like that regarding any of the facets of dispensationlism.

When I stated, "although not entirely", I meant to say that we do have some problems with it.

It would be way, way too lengthy to give an entire critique of the Reformed concept of the covenants of works and grace.

I am in full agreement with what Rosenbladt has said on this issue, because it is the view of all Lutherans on this particular subject matter.

However, the Reformed do get in their concept of law and gospel in their covenant theology, where the dispensationalists do not. (They teach that God had seven different dispensations of His plan of redemption, where He works His plan of redemption in different ways with different groups.)

I will email you my feelings on this subject matter, as outlined on the Q & A website of WELS. It will summerize my position, and the problems that I have with Reformed covenant theology.

I will also email this to Pastor Kim, although, he has undoubtedly, heard all of this before.
February 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLloyd

I am not a dispensationalist and know a lot about dispensationalism. Even when going to the charismatic Church I went to. The Pastor was in transition theologically himself (he was attending Calvin Theological Seminary but committed to a Anabaptist group of churches which I do not think he fully understand at the time- when I think about it I am not sure why the Seminary accepted him into the program). I do not know why you went off on that tangent. I was never content in the charismatic Churches I belonged to but because my family had many close friends their and my ex-wife was not very theologically literate (nor did she have much of a desire to be so) I stayed at the Church for those reasons. It would have made a bad situation much worse then it already was if I had chosen to take my family elsewhere. Anyways, we probably should not be discussing this on Kim's website so I will refrain and continue our dialog on my email site.
February 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Yeazel

I know that you are not a dispensationalist. I was just making a statement that Reformed covenant theology has a lot of good in it, where dispensationalism does not. (It makes God a failure in seven different dispensations, in his attempt at redemption.)
February 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLloyd

You're right. I do go off on some tangents.

(My son always tells me that I remind him of Bill O'Reilly of Fox News!)

Please don't ask me what I think of O'bama....
February 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLloyd

I woulkd love to hear your thoughts on Obama- you want to hear mine? Well, I will tell you- 1) He does not know the realities of politics yet and therefore does not know what he is talking about, 2) He is a pushover- the speaker of the House and Senate majority leader will walk all over him; 3) I am very leery of his foreign policy and how he will do leading the military- I think he believes he can bend these foreign leaders to his way of thinking or change them, 4) He has nerves of jello- He is a people pleaser and I am not sure he will have the decisiveness to make critical and tough decisions. I took these from an article I read and posted them in my office to see how true they turn out to be.

Dorothy Robinowitz also wrote an excellent article about him wondering if his moralizing will wear thin on people after a while. She also was leery of his military prowess and wisdom.

To turn to more important matters- are you going to watch the Celtics and Lakers tonight? I will refrain from asking you about that.

Thanks for all your help Lloyd- you seem like a great guy and you know a lot of doctrine. We should stay in contact with each other.
February 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Y

Right on, on O'bama.

Could it be, that in a couple of years, people might be calling the Bush years, the good 'ol days?

Yes, go Celts!

And you're a great guy also!
February 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLloyd

I appreciate that- especially after revealing the biggest failure in my life and one which gnaws at me all the time.
February 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Y

The devil keeps bringing up your situation to you. Take advice from Luther, when the devil keeps tormenting us. He says thus, "When the devil keeps harassing us, pull out your baptismal certificate, and shake it under his nose, and say, aha, away from me satan, I'm saved by the blood."

We should flee to our baptism, and remind ourselves of it continuously. It is not just a one time deal. It is God's grace, and forgiveness of our sins.

Just like the four elements; body, blood, bread and wine in the Lord's supper. Go in peace, sins forgiven.
February 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLloyd
It's interesting to hear the listener email follow-up on Issues Etc at weeks end. Apparently Dr. Riddlebarger's interview was among the top two shows to illicit listener mail (2/6).

Pastor Wilken, in his response to a Lutheran listener, again brings out a caraicature of Reformed theology on double predestination that was a part of the earlier caricature in the interview with Pastor Rotmann - that the Reformed are speculative, whereas Lutherans only go where scripture goes. Of course, the Reformed HAVE texts on this subject (Jacob I have loved, etc, which Dr Riddlebarger mentioned).

So what DOES the Lutheran do with a text like that, other than to say it is law?
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Rowe
Lutheranism that I have heard (a Lutheran Pastor, LCMS, explained once to me) say the election in Rom 9 referring to Jacob and Esau refers to God chosing between nations to bring forth the lineage to the Seed (Christ) and the hated is interpreted as loved less and not chosen as a nation to bring forth Christ, but nothing about individual damning. Whether the Lutheran Pastor is representative of creedal Lutheranism I dont know.
February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike
My biggest issue (the one thing that keeps me from going Lutheran) is their view on baptism. It seems "to me" a denial of sola fide. The Bible everywhere says "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" Not believe plus this or believe plus that,etc. But believe only. Justification by faith was heralded by Luther so it is very confusing to me. I visited Lutheran churches and very rarely did they talk about faith but every sunday were told to look back to their baptism. I would think they would say look to Christ on the cross-there is your justification, not your baptism. The cross was a true historical fact of what Christ did for me. Any explanantions by Lutherans would be appreciated, and no offense by the way.
February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike
I am new to the Issues, etc. broadcasts, but I did just finish listening to this particular discussion. My take on it is that the Lutheran commentator was far too congenial with this Reformed errorist. I was once in the Reformed camp myself (even a pastor for 6 years), and by God's grace I came upon Luther's Works. Fifteen years later I had read all 55 volumes and Luther had set me straight on every issue and had led me right into the true orthodox Christian faith. Luther regarded the universal atonement of Christ as "the foundation of all Christian theology", and said that anyone who denies it "will get what he deserves". Francis Pieper, Lutheranism's finest systematic theologian, said that the "Reformed doctrine that limits the atonement of Christ is a soul-murdering doctrine". All of these quotes and more can be found in a short paper I wrote called "Taking the Mask off Calvinism". All sincere Christians would do well to read that. It can be accessed at:

God's blessings,

Pastor Stuart Wood
February 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStuart

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