Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lutheran and Baptist Common Ground


What do conservative Lutherans and Southern Baptists have in common?

1.       Both denominations believe that Christ died for all mankind.  Both reject the Calvinist doctrine of Limited Atonement.

2.      Lutherans and Southern Baptists believe that good works merit nothing when it comes to our salvation.  We are saved by faith alone.

3.      Both denominations believe that Scripture is the final authority on doctrine and that the Bible must be read and believed literally.

So if we agree on these three fundamental principles, what is it that separates us?

The doctrine of Free Will!

If Baptists could only see that Scripture does not support their doctrine of Free Will, then the issue of when God saves us could be resolved.   If our salvation is totally dependent on God and not on our free will “decision”, then hopefully Baptists would see that God can save when and where he chooses:  in baptism as a child or at the moment that an adult hears the Gospel and believes.

This is the issue that separates Lutherans and most Baptists from sharing a common doctrine.  After this issue is agreed upon, issues like the Real Presence in the Lord’s Supper should be much easier to resolve.  After all, both conservative Lutherans and conservative Baptists believe in reading the Bible literally.  What can be more literal an interpretation of “This is my body.  This is my blood.” than the belief in the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Communion?

2 comments:

  1. This is how I believe St. Augustine and other Catholics as well as Lutherans can be and are saved. They take literally a different part of the Bible. They by faith partake of the body and the blood of Christ . When Jesus said Unless you eat my body and drink my blood you have no life in you." Whereas the Baptists preach until you hear enough until you believe it . Faith cometh by hearing. When i asked Jesus to come into my heart and to be Lord of my life in a Baptist Church as a Lutheran background I believed that He was Lord of my life already. I did follow the Lord's command to be water baptized afterwards too. However when I got filled with the Holy Spirit neither the Baptists nor the Lutherans wanted me very long. Amazing Luther wrote the Spirit and the gifts are ours in our battle against Satan.

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  2. [quote] 1. Both denominations believe that Christ died for all mankind. Both reject the Calvinist doctrine of Limited Atonement. [end quote]

    While it is true that a lot (very likely the majority) of sbc folks don’t hold to limited atonement (particular redemption),it is also the case a lot do. In fact, when the first Southern Baptist Convention was held in Augusta, Georgia in 1845 nearly every representative (if not all) came from churches that held to the 1689 Baptist Confession or Philadelphia confession, both of which are Reformed in their understanding of soteriology. Many of the early leaders (SBC presidents, seminary professors, etc.) where staunch “5 pointers”.

    Again, I am *NOT* saying that all Southern Baptists hold to particular redemption, but many have, and earlier in its history, a lot more did. F .H. Kerfoot, who was the corresponding secretary of what was then the home mission board and who took the place of Boyce as theology professor at The Southern Baptist theological Seminary wrote in the late 1800’s “and, in common with a large body of evangelical Christians, nearly all Baptists believe what are usually termed ‘the doctrines of grace.’ ” [“Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election” Robert Selph, pg.73]

    All of this to say, your above statement is true for a lot (probably most) Southern Baptists, but not all.

    [quote] 2. Lutherans and Southern Baptists believe that good works merit nothing when it comes to our salvation. We are saved by faith alone. [end quote]

    Agreed. We are saved apart from works for good works prepared for us from before the foundation of the world. Our good deeds will never save us, but absence of them raises legitimate doubt over the genuine-ness of our profession to be redeemed.

    [quote] 3. Both denominations believe that Scripture is the final authority on doctrine and that the Bible must be read and believed literally. [end quote]

    Again, agreed. Although I will say again that to say “the Bible must be read and believed literally” must include the understanding that reading literally does not throw rules of grammar and literature out of the window. Metaphor, simile, hyperbole, etc. are all devices meant to communicate truth, but usually are not meant to be forced into being taken literally. The Chicago statement on Biblical Inerrancy is a good summary of all that this entails.(easily found w/ google)

    [end quote]So if we agree on these three fundamental principles, what is it that separates us? The doctrine of Free Will! [end quote]

    While I agree that it is an issue, I think that is an oversimplification. Matters of ecclesiology, the ordiances, and soteriology are so intricately entwined and related, I don’t think we can reduce it down to that one thing and say “That is the biggest difference between Lutherans & Baptists”. But I am all for celebrating what we have in common!


    Pastor Stephen Cavness
    Cave City Baptist Church
    Southern Baptist Convention

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