LCMS - Baptismal Regeneration

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Puritan Board Freshman
Since the LCMS believes and teaches baptismal regeneration, could it
be considered a church that teaches heresy? It seems to me that
baptismal regeneration adds to the atonement:
LCMS: Justification = Faith + Baptism
Biblical: Justification = Faith alone (Romans 5:1)
Luther clearly teaches this baptismal regeneration in the Small Catechism. So how could this be called a Christian church?
Thus, it appears that they are teaching another gospel in the LCMS.
The gospel is still the same: we share that absolutely in common with our Lutheran brothers and sisters. Faith is still the sole instrument of justification for Lutherans: they teach that this faith is infused in baptism. So, while we do hold their teaching on baptism to be incorrect, that does not change the gospel itself.

We do, indeed, have many substantial and important differences with the Lutherans, but the gospel isn't one of them.
Whoops, deleted my own post by editing it. :^O I'll try to type it again, but basically Prufrock already said the same thing above...

While teaching baptismal regeneration is incompatible with ministry as an elder in confessional Reformed churches, that doesn't mean we should regard proponents of the doctrine as non-Christians. One angle we have to contend with is that this has been the common doctrine of the church until the time of Zwingli, and since then on the Lutheran side of the fence. Reformed theologians I've read have strongly emphasized the Lutheran teaching that faith is necessary to baptism's efficacy. No faith, no efficacy. This is frequently regarded as a saving grace of the Lutheran position, as opposed to the Catholic for example.

Here's Charles Hodge's Systematic Theology, Volume III, 1.20.13:

The Condition on which the Efficacy of Baptism is suspended.
That condition is faith. It is the clearly pronounced doctrine of the Lutheran Church that baptism is altogether useless or void of any saving effect, unless the recipient be a believer. And by faith is not meant mere speculative assent, such as Simon Magus bad, but true, living, and saving faith. On these points the Lutheran standards are explicit.
From this it follows that in the case of adults, faith and therefore regeneration, must precede baptism. And consequently in their case the design and effect of baptism cannot be to convey the remission of sin and renovation of the heart, but simply to confirm and strengthen a faith already possessed.
With regard to infants Lutherans teach that they have true faith.​


mere speculative assent, such as Simon Magus bad

Is OCR software capable of Freudian slips? :^)
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Has anybody consulted the LCMS' website? What do they say about baptismal regeneration? Do they cite biblical reference to uphold their doctrinal view? I am going to do a little research here.

Here is from

Baptismal Regeneration

Q. You teach, as did Martin Luther, that man is justified by grace alone, through faith alone. Yet I also read your position on baptism and it seems to me that you also teach baptismal regeneration. You clearly state that a person (infant) comes into the blessings of grace (salvation) through their baptism. How can this be if the scripture teaches that faith is the means of apprehending salvation? I may simply be misunderstanding what you are saying in the section on baptism, I hope I am. If not, then I must insist that there would then be no difference between the LCMS and the Roman Church on its view of justification and salvation. Please help me understand where I am misunderstanding you.

A. Lutherans believe that the Bible teaches that a person is saved by God's grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ. Baptism, we believe, is one of the miraculous means of grace (together with God's written and spoken Word) through which God creates and/or strengthens the gift of faith in a person's heart (see Matt. 28:18-20; Act. 2:38; John 3:5-7; Act. 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Titus 3:5-6; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:1-4; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12:13).

Although we do not claim to understand how this happens or how it is possible, we believe (because of what the Bible says about baptism) that when an infant is baptized God creates faith in the heart of that infant. This faith cannot yet, of course, be expressed or articulated, yet it is real and present all the same (see e.g., 1 Peter 2:21; Acts 2:38-39; Titus 3:5-6; Matt. 18:6; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim. 3:15; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12:13). This faith needs to be fed and nurtured by God's Word (Matt. 28:18-20), or it will die. Those who have been baptized, but who no longer believe, will not be saved. (By the same token, those who truly believe and yet have not had opportunity to be baptized [like, for example, the thief on the cross] will be saved.)
Hodge spends some time discussing this in the wider section I quoted from. Apparently the Lutherans say that an infant doesn't yet resist the grace bestowed in baptism, therefore it is efficacious for them; whereas an adult has to have prior faith or the baptism will be of no (at least instantaneous) effect.

Hodge also notes that at least later Lutheran theologians softened the rhetoric a bit about unbaptized infants being automatically lost. They use the analogy of food -- if a parent withholds food from his children, his normal expectation is that they will die; but God can still work miraculously.

Regardless, the Reformed and/or Baptistic understanding is something we can be thankful for:

WCF 28.5
V. Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance,[13] yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it:[14] or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.[15]​

Just speaking as a parent, what a burden of superstition and fear lifted! Can you imagine having a newborn die unbaptized, and having your pastor tell you the baby is in hell, having not experienced a ceremonial rite?
Since the LCMS believes and teaches baptismal regeneration, could it
be considered a church that teaches heresy? It seems to me that
baptismal regeneration adds to the atonement:

To call it a heresy or not should differ from the way the doctrine is

detailed and applied.

A link to a very interesting article concerning some Westminster Divines

and other Theologians on the Baptismal Regeneration of Elect Infants.


God, who works when and by what means He pleases, may regenerate by His Spirit the soul of the infant, while in His sacred name, water is applied to the body.

Archibald Alexander

The Language of Reformed Worship: The Baptismal Regeneration of Elect Infants: One Reformed Perspective

Hope it will be helpful
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Lutherans believe in baptismal regeneration, but that does not mean that they believe that something else besides Jesus can save us from sin.

Lutherans believe that baptism is God's work, not man's work. They believe that baptism is the medium through which God's word is communicated to the person being baptized. When God's word comes to a person through baptism, God Himself gives that person faith. Water itself does not have the properties to give someone faith.
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