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55 Responses

  1. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    1.) Why are you trying to get people to doubt what they believe?
    2.) The nature of blogging is to bicker. The host sets up and draws his lines in the sand and that provides the setting for bickering.
    3.) Like I told bob1 last night, just agree with me and the bickering will end and we can all be one like Jesus and the Father are one.

    This is not rocket science.

  2. Michael says:

    Every theological question has excellent ,Holy Spirit filled ,scholars on both sides of the division.
    We choose sides, but have no empirical way to know we’re right or wrong.
    I hold any dogma outside the creed with a loose grip…

  3. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    But you use the term bicker. So why do you bicker?
    I consider such discussions worthy study and debate.

  4. Michael says:

    I didn’t leave myself out of the issue.
    However, nether do I think my preferences were engraved in stone by the finger of God…

  5. Jean says:

    Michael, I have a thought that I don’t think you will hear from anyone else. Would you entertain my comment from a loyal reader?

  6. Michael says:

    Have at it…

  7. Jean says:

    Thank you, Michael.

    I think what we have here:

    “What if…God gives the sacramental blessings to people who don’t believe in sacraments?”

    is a non sequitur.

    The sacramental blessing is received by faith. In particular, the sacramental blessing has its affect on the conscience which is unburdened, cleansed, and sanctified. What I’m trying to say is that the sacramental blessings are known and experienced temporally. If you don’t believe them, then you can’t receive sacramental blessings. In fact you may just receive judgement, in the case of the Lord’s Supper, in accordance with 1 Cor 11.

  8. Michael says:

    I understand your position.
    You may be right.
    I don’t think so.
    I find your constructions mechanical and dry.
    You may choose your own adjectives for mine.

  9. Jean says:

    Maybe I didn’t communicate well, but if a church doesn’t distribute sacraments and if people don’t believe in them, then how in the world can one receive the blessing of the sacrament? I don’t get it.

  10. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – you are being a bit cryptic. So are you saying that you believe (without holding too tightly to any belief as you say) that sacramental blessings do flow outside of such faith?

  11. Michael says:

    This is not rocket science.
    God is in charge of gift distribution.
    He can bestow them on the memorialist and the sacramentalist as He sees fit.

  12. Jean says:

    Please tell me when you’ve had enough of me.

    How does the tragedy of Nadab and Abihu fit into your theology?

  13. Michael says:

    Please note that if one is “In Christ” one has every spiritual blessing…

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christas a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
    (Ephesians 1:3–10 ESV)

  14. Michael says:


    The story doesn’t occupy a significant place in my theology as scholars dispute what their sin was and so far I’ve yet to see any of the rat bastards that I know occupy pulpits be consumed with fire.
    I still have hope, however.
    We can discern that the place of the priest is a place of awesome responsibility before God and that gives me pause every time i serve.

  15. Jean says:

    That’s a good text, Michael. I guess we could look into who is included in the “us.” Did Paul’s churches in good standing include memorialists and those who don’t believe in the promises given in Baptism?

  16. Michael says:


    I have no doubt (and Scripture attests to this) that there was doctrinal division in the early church.
    Those included in the us are those who have believed in Christ for salvation, then and now.
    Error does not preclude one from blessings or belonging.

    Now, if you wish to argue that only those who hold to your doctrines are in Christ, that’s another discussion…

  17. Jean says:

    Thanks Michael. I have said my piece and appreciate your willingness to respond. At the end of the day, what you are saying, if I am reading you right, is that the sacraments are meaningless, because all Christ’s blessing are received by other means. Thus, it’s probably fruitless to continue. Peace to you.

  18. Michael says:

    I think doctrine is important.
    As an example, I think dispensationalism is rife with myriad errors.
    I also think that when we get home Josh will be so much closer to the throne than me that it’ll be a long distance call to say “hi”.
    We all end up in the same place and we’ll get corrected by the One who has the answers…

  19. Michael says:


    Is it a Lutheran distinctive to twist and contort words written on a blog?
    I said nothing of the sort…

  20. Josh says:

    Michael, I’ll make a statment, rather than a question:

    We are all wrong! We are! There is no doubt about it. Anyone who has perfectly figured out the character and mysteries of God on this side of eternity…well, it’s impossible. We are all “fumbling towards the light”. We will all need 100% grace if we hope to make it.

    And no, Michael…I’m getting in heaven by the skin of my teeth, but I appreciate your kind words.

  21. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, that may sound humble but it reveals a theology with an almost non existent Holy Spirit who guides, directs and illuminates what the scriptures teach.
    I don’t know about you, but I am not getting in by the skin of my teeth. My “getting in” has been fully obtained by the death of Jesus on the cross and constantly reassured to me by his word and sacraments through the Holy Spirit. Does your pastor finish his sermon by closing his Bible saying, “however people, I could be wrong on all this, amen.”

    Also, if we are all just stumbling towards the light, are others who claim Jesus as their Lord such as the Mormons, JWs and Oneness Pentecostals also just “stumbling towards the light”?
    I need to check the hymn book to see if there is a song, “I hope, I make it, I hope I make it.” 🙂

  22. Michael says:

    There is something north of 20,000 different expressions of Christianity practiced in this country.
    None of the Protestant denominations existed until 1500 years into the Christian age.
    I simply don’t have the hubris to be certain mine is the one that nailed it, while the rest were deaf to the Holy Spirit.

    My conclusion is that the job of the Spirit and the Scriptures He uses is to show us Christ and to do so in way that we can receive Him.

    Thus, my faith is grounded in Him and not in how we interpret the witness to Him.

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    “For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God.”
    Martin Luther, 1527

  24. Josh the Baptist says:

    It is not humble, it is honest. The one who thinks he has arrived is in grave danger.

  25. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    All Michael, Duane and Josh have said is that they live in insecurity, no assurance and are working hard on their own to add “skin to their teeth.”
    Although I may not have everything right, I do have it right that I do not get into heaven by the work of my teeth, but solely by the work of Jesus.
    A show of hands please, which of you teach this uncertainty from your pulpit? I would gather that none of you do, but teach as “thus safety the Lord.”
    All what I hear here is blog posturing.

  26. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, are you saying that one who lives in the assurance of their salvation is in grave danger? I am learning a lot.

  27. Michael says:

    So much bluster and bs…
    Let’s get down to it.
    I walk around with two aneurysms, a failing valve, and one and a half damaged lungs.
    I’m not guaranteed this afternoon, let alone tomorrow.
    I have no insecurity about my salvation and complete assurance that my life is wrapped up in Christ.
    I don’t require assurance that I have every doctrinal issue utterly pegged because my faith is in Jesus, not my ability to parse an ancient set of books.
    I do teach my people that there is great diversity of opinion about doctrine and my focus for assurance is on the simple Gospel and the person of Christ.
    They seem to be holding up well…

  28. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    So why do you always talk as if you’re barely going to get into heaven but you’re really striving and also why do you talk as if there’s a merit-based seating chart around the Throne of God. You need to be careful how you word things. That my friend is what I called Blog bluster.

  29. Michael says:

    I don’t talk as if I’m barely getting to heaven.
    What Josh was saying (and I concur) is that we do have a keen sense of our own sin and are amazed at the grace of God.
    I think heaven will have a much greater population than many think…

    Merit based rewards is another subject for another day…

  30. Duane Arnold says:

    “All Michael, Duane and Josh have said is that they live in insecurity, no assurance and are working hard on their own to add “skin to their teeth.”

    My only post on this thread was a 1527 quote from Luther… Argue with him, not me ?

  31. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well I tell people I teach there are many varied theological opinions. I do not hold them up as equally true or valid nor do I let these same folks walk away thinking they are.

    In turn, I appreciate my pastor who does not waver by various opinions. When he proclaims God’s word it is a truth we can take to the bank – not his opinion among others.
    When he baptized some and proclaims salvation and the reception of the Holy Spirit, this is a gospel promise we can take to the bank and not his opinion among many.
    When he delivers the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness of our sins per the words of scripture, we can take that gospel promise to the bank and not be concerned that it is his opinion.
    When we confess our sins and he delivers the absolution in the stead and by the command of Jesus, we can take that gospel promise to the bank and not be concerned that it is one man’s opinion.

    So yes, there may be a wide variey of opinions – so what?

  32. Michael says:

    “Surely, while we teach that faith ought to be certain and assured, we cannot imagine any certainty that is not tinged with doubt, or any assurance that is not assailed by some anxiety.”

    John Calvin

  33. Michael says:


    I’m assured that God has graciously placed you in a place where you can flourish and find what you need.
    He’s done the same with Josh, Duane, Xenia, and myself.
    They’re different places that lead to one place.
    I would have set things up differently, but I wasn’t invited to that meeting…

  34. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, you kind of do this theological fade. So when you go through the things as a pastor in the liturgy as I listed above, you don’t give your congregation that gospel promise assurance? and I am talking about that “take it to the bank assurance.”

    I think you believe exactly what I stated above, but you are just trying to avoid sounding hard ass like me.

  35. Michael says:

    Let me be clear.
    When I “proclaim” the Gospel or the truths that make up the creeds, I do not waiver.
    It’s the rest of the stuff I hold loosely…

  36. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I am not pointing this at anyone here (truly believe me), and I don’t know about others here – but this is what I see on the “christian” landscape everyday. This is what I fight. This is the outgrowth of “varied opinions”.

  37. Jean says:


    The Calvin quote is his opinion of the human condition; the frailty of faith. He is not teaching the uncertainty of the Gospel, as far as I can tell.

    Is it not the pastor’s role towards the doubting conscience to apply the Gospel and means of the Spirit to deliver him or her from doubt and into assurance?

  38. Michael says:

    I think those questions can be answered in any orthodox communion.

  39. Michael says:


    You probably don’t want to argue with me on anything Calvin related…and there is no suggestion whatsoever in that quote that he is speaking of the uncertainty of the Gospel.
    Any ‘deliverance’ from all doubt is usually temporary…we proclaim the Gospel regularly in the congregation and to ourselves to head off bouts of spiritual anxiety.
    While I am a sacramental Christian I know many who have entered heaven with joy and peace who were not.

  40. Jean says:

    Are you responding to me, Michael? If so, how do you answer?

  41. Michael says:


    I answered you.
    You have not answered my question on the other thread…what blessings and gifts does God withhold from non sacramental Christians?

  42. Jean says:

    Thanks. Apparently the trust level is so low that you think I’m arguing where there is no argument. “there is no suggestion whatsoever in that quote that he is speaking of the uncertainty of the Gospel.” Isn’t that precisely what I wrote?

  43. Jean says:

    Michael, the sacraments are blessings. They are unique blessings.

    For example, at the Lord’s Supper, Jesus feeds me His life giving body and blood. Where else can I receive that blessing.

    In Absolution, Jesus forgives me all my sins. Where else, other than the Sacraments, is that blessing communicated audibly to me? And happily so, because faith comes by hearing.

    I am glad you’re a sacramental Christian. I hope you avail yourself of them abundantly, and lavishly distribute them to your parishioners.

  44. Josh says:

    I am certain of my salvation. And anyone who believes in Jesus can be too.

    I guess where Baptist churches and Lutherans differ, is that we believe in life-long discipleship. I’m 20+ years in and have a LONG way to go. SO much that I don’t understand, even more that I’ve never heard. But that’s what we expect, a long process of growth. We learn, we grow, we get things wrong and learn from that. Apparently, upon finishing membership classes at an LCMS, you are done. Congrats! You’ve got it figured out and can coast for the rest of your life. I’m not interested in that, but good for you.

  45. Jean says:

    “Apparently, upon finishing membership classes at an LCMS, you are done. Congrats! You’ve got it figured out and can coast for the rest of your life. I’m not interested in that, but good for you.”

    I honestly have no idea where that came from.

  46. Josh says:

    Mld, at least, has no, and will tolerate no uncertainty.

    I’ve still got a long way to go.

    MLD is zealously LCMS, That’s why I made the connection.

  47. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    See Josh no one said we are done learning or we don’t have things to figure out.
    The question I have presented from the very beginning is this – the things you believe, teach and confess – do you hold back in that belief and what you teach as perhaps not true since their are other positions out there?
    You and I had some long conversations off blog about dispensationalism – you sounded pretty sure of your position, you never gave me an inch (which I admire) – you never acknowledged that your position could be wrong and you defended yourself admirably (both of which I admire). From that we had great discussions.
    So how are you not just as narrow as I am?
    As I said, you will not bend and perform infant baptism, not because you are not sure, but you hold a position that says it is wrong or better, not biblical – again my admiration to you hold steadfast. Again, how are we different?

  48. Duane Arnold says:


    I’ve always thought it was something like this… “This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”

  49. Josh says:

    MLD – I think I’ve always said I’m not much of a dispensationalist. Dispensationalism would be one of the ideas that I hold very lightly. And yes, when the bible brings me to a place that I think the Dispy view is helpful, I teach it with a disclaimer and the admonition that the hearer checks it out for himself. I was probably being staunch in our conversation in order to have a good fight with you 🙂

    Where are we different? I don’t know. Look back at my post that you opposed. I still say it’s true. We are all wrong about stuff. We are all completely in need of God’s grace.

  50. Josh says:

    Duane – Yeah, Marty hit on some good stuff here and there 🙂

  51. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    For the sake of peace as Holy Week begins, I will concede we are all woefully wrong, stumbling in the dark, hoping to get in by the skin of our teeth and that we should celebrate that commonality.

  52. Josh says:

    I accept your concession 🙂

  53. Jean says:

    One thing I really like about this site is that we rarely find hypocritical, presumptuous or fake saints.

    I think we here are all on the same page in the acknowledgement that our only hope is in the righteousness of Jesus, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross for us, despising the shame that we deserve, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God interceding for us.

  54. Steve says:

    Although independent churches get a bad wrap on this church, the beauty of them is that it’s possible for different traditions to worship under the same roof. Our church allows Presbyterian and Baptist brethren to worship together. I’m not here to say we have it right either but we don’t divide over infant baptism like a typical CC church would; ironically being the non denominational church they have claimed to be.

  55. Reuben says:

    Michael, you heretic. 😉

    Seriously, I love that the stalwart comes out with swords, and the whole point is lost…

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