Theological differences

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Scott Shahan

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have been having a disscussion with a friend of mine that goes to Concordia Theological Seminary (LCMS). I have shared the WCF with him, and here is his answers to me concerning this. How do I respond to my friend? He is so anti-Tulip especially the "L" word. He answers begining with (Note). Any insight would be helpful.... Thank you


WCF Chapter 10. Of Effectual Calling.
1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only
NOTE: "those only" is not scriptural. John 3:16 is sufficient for this. This is limited atonement, which is trash and anti-Scripture. See also Rom 5:18 (verse 19 allows that some will reject the offer of grace). Mark 16:16 speaks of faith, not election. Election is true, but it is mysterious, and a part of the hidden will of God. Much surer is to trust in the promise of Christ that He has saved you by His death and resurrection.
, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call,a by his Word and Spirit,b
NOTE: dividing Word and Spirit is not a good practice. The Word is always attached to the Spirit, and vice versa. Calling occurs by God's Word, which has the promise that the Holy Spirit will work through it, and the visible word, the sacraments as well.
out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ;c enlightening their minds, spiritually and savingly, to understand the things of God;d
NOTE: this is somewhat true, but it must be understood that knowledge is not salvation. Faith is unto salvation and faith is simple trust in God and His promises. Otherwise, we fall into the error of the gnostics who strove for enlightenment and understanding for salvation.
taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh;e renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good,f
NOTE: "by his almighty power" is very "robotic" sounding. Doesn't God act towards us by his mercy for Christ's sake. I wouldn't want to receive God by his almighty power. I would find myself quickly dead, much the same as Isaiah in chapter 6.
and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ;g yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.h
a. Rom 8:30; 11:7; Eph 1:10-11. • b. 2 Cor 3:3, 6; 2 Thes 2:13-14. • c. Rom 8:2; Eph 2:1-5; 2 Tim 1:9-10. • d. Acts 26:18; 1 Cor 2:10, 12; Eph 1:17-18. • e. Ezek 36:26. • f. Deut 30:6; Ezek 11:19; 36:27; Phil 2:13. • g. John 6:44-45; Eph 1:19. • h. Psa 110:3; Song 1:4; John 6:37; Rom 6:16-18.
2. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man;a who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit,b he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.c
a. Rom 9:11; Eph 2:4-5, 8-9; 2 Tim 1:9; Titus 3:4-5. • b. Rom 8:7; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:5. • c. Ezek 36:27; John 5:25; 6:37.
NOTE: What do they mean by grace? It almost seems as though they are saying it is a substance to be grapsed...
3. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit,a who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth.b So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.c
a. Luke 18:15-16 and John 3:3, 5 and Acts 2:38-39 and Rom 8:9 and 1 John 5:12 compared together. • b. John 3:8. • c. Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:12.
NOTE: The Spirit works through the Word and the Sacraments, outside these means there is not any bit of comfort to be found. He does work where and when he pleases. The second portion of this would seem to make ignorance of the Gospel (as a native on a tropical island in 200 A.D. for example) a reason for salvation. Infants are saved by faith, but since salvation has already been attributed to knowledge above, there has to be another cause for salvation for those who don't have the mental capacity for knowledge yet... So there opens a second way to salvation. FAITH alone saves. Faith is bestowed by the working of the Spirit through Word and Sacraments (which are merely extensions of the Word). Many words of warning should be given to parents who refuse to baptize their children out of some sort of gnostic form of heresy. Who is at work in baptism? Is it man or God? Who works through the Word? I am NOT saying that unbaptized infants go to hell, because while in the womb and in early childhood they have the opportunity to hear the Word, which can create faith through the workings of the Holy Spirit. Parents who refuse the great blessing of baptizing their children are guilty of grievous sin, and should repent. Consider this... He also says that of children is the kingdom of God (Mt 19:14, Mk 10:14). Jesus says in John 3 that man must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. This regeneration happens through water and spirit (John 3:5). Baptism is this renewal and regeneration (Titus 3:5). Take note also of circumcision and Col 2:1-12. If infants were circumcised in the Old Testament, then why not Baptism for infants? It is more comforting to trust in the promise of God, than some rationalistic, gnostic, wishful thinking.
4. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word,a and may have some common operations of the Spirit,b yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved:c much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever,be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess;d and to assert and maintain that they may is very pernicious, and to be detested.e
a. Mat 22:14. • b. Mat 7:22; 13:20-21; Heb 6:4-5. • c. John 6:64-66; 8:24. • d. John 4:22; 14:6; 17:3; Acts 4:12; Eph 2:12. • e. 1 Cor 16:22; Gal 1:6-8; 2 John 1:9-11.


And also this:

Chapter 13. Of Sanctification.
1. They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection,a by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them;b the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed,c and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified,d and they more and more quickened and strengthened, in all saving graces,e to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.f
a. Acts 20:32; Rom 6:5-6; 1 Cor 6:11; Phil 3:10. • b. John 17:17; Eph 5:26; 2 Thes 2:13. • c. Rom 6:6, 14. • d. Rom 8:13; Gal 5:24. • e. Eph 3:16-19; Col 1:11. • f. 2 Cor 7:1; Heb 12:14.
NOTE: So when does this absolute holiness occur. My holiness is Christ's, which God reckons to me for Christ sake through faith. Even my righteousness is as dirty rags. Romans 7 is avoided here, but why? It is the ultimate of statements regarding Christian living. The flesh is powerful, and even our best works in this life, done in faith, are still tainted by the sins of our flesh.
2. This sanctification is throughout in the whole man,a yet imperfect in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part,b whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh.c
a. 1 Thes 5:23. • b. Rom 7:18, 23; Phil 3:12; 1 John 1:10. • c. Gal 5:17; 1 Pet 2:11.
NOTE: this is good. It is imperfect until the Last Day
3. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail,a yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome;b and so the saints grow in grace,c perfecting holiness in the fear of God.d
a. Rom 7:23. • b. Rom 6:14; Eph 4:15-16; 1 John 5:4. • c. 2 Cor 3:18; 2 Pet 3:18. • d. 2 Cor 7:1.
NOTE: this is ambiguous language. When does this perfect holiness occur? I am assuming this is not to be taken the way Methodists would take it, with the temporal earthly perfection of man.
And also this:

Chapter 18. Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.
1. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God and estate of salvation,a which hope of theirs shall perish:b yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in a state of grace,c and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.d
a. Deut 29:19; Job 8:13-14; Micah 3:11; John 8:41. • b. Mat 7:22-23. • c. 1 John 2:3; 3:14, 18-19, 21, 24; 5:13. • d. Rom 5:2, 5.
NOTE: Faith saves. Love is a fruit of this faith and does not contribute to my salvation. Nor does my desire to walk in a good conscience before him. Faith alone saves. To attribute otherwise is to give heed to works, which will lead to the religion of the law, which can only condemn. These things of love and endeavors, and even the rejoicing are fruits of justification by faith alone. They in no way contribute to it. Sanctification does not save.
2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion, grounded upon a fallible hope;a but an infallible assurance of faith, founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation,b the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made,c the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God:d which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.e
a. Heb 6:11, 19. • b. Heb 6:17-18. • c. 2 Cor 1:12; 2 Pet 1:4-5, 10-11; 1 John 2:3; 3:14. • d. Rom 8:15-16. • e. Eph 1:13-14; 4:30; 2 Cor 1:21-22.
In the first part, "faith, founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation" is good. But then it goes too far. Suddenly it becomes subjective again. Faith alone saves. The other things are fine fruits of faith, but they are not salvific. How do you know that you have inward evidence of those graces? I know that this has been used to point people to "experiences of the grace of God". This turns then into experience-righteousness, which is purely works-righteousness' ugly cousin. The truth is external to us, and that is why it is trustworthy. Funny that "we are sealed to the day of redemption" is actually a baptismal verse. Baptism is a sealing.

3. This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it:a yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto.b And therefore it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure;c that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience,d the proper fruits of this assurance: so far is it from inclining men to looseness.e
a. Psa 88 throughout; Psa 77:1-12; Isa 50:10; Mark 9:24; 1 John 5:13. • b. 1 Cor 2:12; Eph 3:17-19; Heb 6:11-12; 1 John 4:13. • c. 2 Pet 1:10. • d. Rom 5:1-2, 5; 14:17; 15:13; Eph 1:3-4; Psa 4:6-7; 119:32. • e. Psa 130:4; Rom 6:1-2; 8:1, 12; 2 Cor 7:1; Titus 2:11-12, 14; 1 John 1:6-7; 2:1-2; 3:2-3.
NOTE: Here is the problem... when wanting assurance, this points a man to his waiting long and conflictin with many difficulties before he be a partaker of assurance. This is the law at full work. Jews also believe this part. The Gospel is the only assurance needed. Christ died for you. On that you can be sure. He forgives you all of your sins.
4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it; by falling into some special sin, which woundeth the conscience, and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation; by God's withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light:a yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived,b and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.c
a. Psa 31:22; 51:8, 12, 14; 77:1-10; 88 throughout; Song 5:2-3, 6; Isa 50:10; Mat 26:69-72; Eph 4:30-31. • b. Job 13:15; Psa 51:8, 12; 73:15; Isa 50:10; Luke 22:32; 1 John 3:9. • c. Psa 22:1; 88 throughout; Isa 54:7-10; Jer 32:40; Micah 7:7-9.
NOTE: This is just plain wrong. Faith can die (see James). What about all the perseverance talk? If I was once saved and always saved, then what is the use in doing anything. If I know I am elect, then why bother. If I am not elect, then why bother as well. In the end this logic leads to indifference and apathy (Hyper-Calvinism). See James 5:19-20. Beside that, why all the exhortations against ungodly living if salvation cannot be lost? See HEBREWS 10:26-31... What about all the exhortations to the seven churches by Christ in Revelation 1-3?

Scott Shahan
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Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
Sadly, your friend sounds like a full blown Pelagian who is wholly trusting in his own goodness for salvation. Lost as a golf ball in high weeds. All you can do is try and instruct from the scripture and stress the sovereignty of God. If you can, try and get him to read A.W. Pinks "Sovereignty of God".


Puritan Board Graduate
How can you say he is a "full blown Pelagian" when he sees grace as necessary for salvation?

Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
How can you say he is a "full blown Pelagian" when he sees grace as necessary for salvation?

Even a cambellite says grace is need for salvation but they still believe in works salvation through free will. He may not be full blown but he's real close to it. He denies the perseverance of the saints which shows he's trusting in his own good works to get him through. No offence intended to anyone here.


I wouldn't call him a Pelagian, certainly not full-blown, even Arminians are only semi-Pelagian. Also, he seems to think the WCF is legalistic and perfectionistic at times. He's a Lutheran, Melancthon-style. Make him read Bondage of the Will by Luther.

Scott Shahan

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sadly, your friend sounds like a full blown Pelagian who is wholly trusting in his own goodness for salvation. Lost as a golf ball in high weeds. All you can do is try and instruct from the scripture and stress the sovereignty of God. If you can, try and get him to read A.W. Pinks "Sovereignty of God".

A Most excellent read! My friend soon to be pastor in the LCMS hates the idea of limited Atonement. The argument continues.........................


Puritan Board Freshman
Maybe it's just my experience, but Pink doesn't give the most convincing arguements sometimes. He's probably right, usually, but he's also probably going to provoke rebellion at times. I know I struggled with his arguements for LA in TSOG. He's more inclined to show that with the foundation he's laid, you're simply "pressed" to accept the truth of LA, which really grated with me, since he didn't even give a very convincing statement about "world" not actually meaning "world", but rather seemed to me to have painted himself into a corner that I wasn't sure I wanted to follow him with. Perhaps it's just my experience..


Puritan Board Sophomore
A Most excellent read! My friend soon to be pastor in the LCMS hates the idea of limited Atonement. The argument continues.........................

There was a time when I was a solid LCMS-type myself. The first two points - the TU are completely acceptable. But the final LIP is not. However, time, prayer, honest Bible study and a refusal to pre-judge the WCF led me to embrace the full Doctrines of Grace. Limited atonement was the most difficult for me to surrender to but it truly is Gospel doctrine upholds God's sovereignty that triumphs over man's sin.

One must wonder if your LCMS friend, in regards to the Book of Concord (BoC), holds it to be "quia" or "quaetnus." This is an inter-Lutheran debate that swirls around whether the BoC is to be defended "because" (quia) it is faithful to the Word of God, or "insofar" (quaetnus) as it is faithful to the Bible. My guess is that he holds to the former (as I once did) which makes it that much more difficult to look honestly at what the Word teaches.
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