November 26, 2020

Some Thoughts on Lutheranism and Evangelicalism + A Brief Review of the Lutheran Study Bible


Let me begin by saying that I did not receive a review copy of The Lutheran Study Bible, though I probably could have. Like the ESV Study Bible, I bought my own copy from the publisher. I’m open to bribes, kickbacks and rental, but in this instance, it didn’t happen.

Concordia Publishing has now completed what I think is a rather extraordinary collection of books for those interested in historic, orthodox Lutheran spirituality: The Reader’s Edition of the Lutheran Confessions, The Treasury of Daily Prayer, The Lutheran Service Book (I’d love to have someone donate ten of these to our ministry) and now The Lutheran Study Bible. I know of no other tradition that has accomplished anything remotely like this in such a usable form and in a way that can introduce anyone- clergy or layperson- to the riches of the Lutheran version of the Reformation and the Lutheran approach to spirituality.

It is ironic then, that I have to say at the outset that outside of existing Lutheranism, it’s doubtful that large numbers of evangelicals will ever seen these resources without asking for them on special order. I am sure that large bookstores will have the occasional volume here and there, but unless one is within Lutheranism, on a Lutheran campus, visits a Concordia store, listens to Lutheran radio or friendly confessional internet programming, these resources will never be known.

It would be interesting if any non-Lutherans on the web will even be given the opportunity to review these resources by receiving review copies? Will Concordia buy advertising on any non-Lutheran blogs? How about larger Christian media like Relevant magazine, Modern Reformation or even the White Horse Inn?

Which goes to the heart of a growing frustration I have Lutheranism: With the dominance of the reformed camp in the Christian blogosphere and much of conservative evangelicalism public voice, there has never been a time the Gospel-centric, church-formed-around-the-Gospel/Sacraments, focused, classical, catholic, reformational, law and Gospel voice of Lutheranism was needed more.

The imbalances of the current versions of resurgent Calvinism are more and more obvious all the time. The beating heart of our life and message is Jesus and justification, not sovereignty and election. It is the free offer to all, not the efficient offer to the elect, that needs to be clearly heard now. It is all of scripture as law and Gospel that needs to be filling the church. Reformed Baptists are ascending at just the time that Lutheranism’s view of the Christian life is most needed. If you do not know the difference, then make that a project.

How many Calvinists cite Bondage of the Will as virtually a Calvinist text, having no idea that Luther rejected the rest of the TULIP?

Lutheranism is attracting more and more evangelical converts who do not struggle with issues of Lutheran ethnic identity or denominational purity. (If I hear one more prideful Lutheran denominationalist say they alone have “the pure Gospel,” I’m going to break things.) When an evangelical hears Rod Rosenbladt or Craig Parton or the God Whisperers they realize they are hearing something substantial, but those same evangelicals are by and large convinced that the “Lutheran” label means an insurmountable accumulation of the very things most evangelicals want to avoid or leave behind.

I am not talking about evangelicals who want Lutherans to go ablaze with megachurch tactics. No, I am talking evangelicals who…

1) Need and want to be taught the significance of liturgy.
2) Are not attracted to denominationalism as a primary label. (Secondary is another matter.) Show me your Nicene Creed first please.
3) Want their attraction to the eucharist to be met with an affirmation of their own Christian profession, not a denouncement of their evangelical journey and ignorance. In other words, while someone is on the way, be kind.
4) Want to have worship with intentional depth and seriousness in worship, not just something old and familiar to the regular residents. They like what they see, maybe more than some Lutherans (and Anglicans, etc) like it themselves.
5) Want leaders committed to missional outreach and evangelical, Gospel-centered ecumenism. Evangelicals aren’t attracted to your tradition to become less interested in evangelism and missions.

So whether you are talking about incredibly useful books or the entire tradition, there is a point at which Lutherans have to say, “We want to get this out to evangelicals. We want to build the bridge. We want to say we have something worthy reading and looking into…and we are willing to go the extra mile to get it to you.”

lsbSo what about The Lutheran Study Bible?

It’s not your ESV Study Bible and I can say that if you own both, there’s little overlap past the text, maps, concordance and very basic materials.

The LSB is full of things that aren’t in the ESVSB. Fewer essays and articles. More material scattered throughout the text, but not the “usual” study Bible kinds of “helps.” Trust me, they are quite unique.

Most impressive? The notes contain extensive theological reflections on Law and Gospel, the sacraments, the church and the Trinity. These are much more devotional and less purely technical. There are extensive quotes and references from the Church Fathers, Luther, Lutheran reformers, classic works of church history and contemporary Lutheran works, including excellent recent commentaries. It’s a wealth in information and a much greater variety in intention and kind than any other study Bible.

This is a preacher’s Bible at more levels than the exegetical. It’s theological, practical, devotional and historical, as well as exegetical.

The helps are sometimes similar to the ESVSB, but others, like the essay on Law and Gospel, are quite unique. The maps and illustrations are not done as well as the ESVSB.

The hardback I have is similar in size to the Treasury of Daily Prayer. IOWs, it’s more of a square book. Very solid 2,000 pages.

The ESV text seems to be in slightly larger, more readable print than my other study Bibles. Those awful red letters are there, of course. The references are extensive, but not overwhelming. The introductions are….Lutheran, and very well done. Again, not duplicating other study Bibles. They are keyed to Lutheran and reformation interest in the Bible, especially thematically. There’s a constant focus on how all of scripture stresses Justification, Law/Gospel and salvation of God’s people by grace.

I’m enjoying getting to know my LSB a great deal, but why does it have “Lutheran” Study Bible on the cover? Why not “The Holy Scriptures: Lutheran Study edition” or something that doesn’t imply “For Lutherans only?” (Oh I know, but tell it to the people seeing it on the shelf who aren’t Lutheran. Why would they pick it up? Do you pick up “The Charismatic Study Bible?”

I’m sure I’ve made everyone mad, but this study Bible is a fine achievement alongside the other amazing pieces of the “Lutheran Spirituality and Worship Toolbox.”

Thanks to New Reformation Press, Pirate Christian Radio, Issues, Etc and others who are doing a great job changing the Lutheran presence in the wider evangelical culture. May they have every success. If NRP get the LSB in soon, buy it from them.

Anyone listening?


  1. It sounds like a great resource, Michael. If it’s as useful as the Daily Prayer book it will be well worth the investment.
    I’m curious about the introduction to James. Does it reflect Dr. Luther’s views about canonicity, that it is an “epistle of straw”, etc.

  2. To avoid confusion, I’ll point out that there are TWO recently released Lutheran Study Bibles: the one published by Concordia Publishing House (LCMS) and the one published by Augsburg Fortress (ELCA). Someone looking for the former might be disappointed with the latter. 🙂

    re “there has never been a time the Gospel-centric, church-formed-around-the-Gospel/Sacraments, focused, classical, catholic, reformational, law and Gospel voice of Lutheranism was needed more.” This comment could not be more correct, speaking as a lifelong Southern Baptist (40 yrs) that started attending a Lutheran church (ELCA) at the beginning of this year.

  3. I haven’t studied this in depth (yet), but Luther “came around” to James later on. In fact, when he called it an epistle of straw, it’s worth noting that in Luther’s day straw was not worthless: Luther stuffed his bed with straw (they didn’t have the Sleep Number bed by Select Comfort back then). There are other quotes from Luther years after the “epistle of straw” comment where he speaks much more positively about it. But I don’t want to give too much away…

  4. Glad you are enjoying the Lutheran Study Bible. I’ll have to get around to buying one when I actually have money.

    As for why it is called the Lutheran Study Bible, here is an article from Pastor Paul McCain’s (who is the Publisher and Executive Director of the Editorial Department at CPH) blog Cyberbrethen-

    “But I don’t want to give too much away…”
    Grrr! I hate cliff hangers! 😉

  5. Yes,

    We will be getting the LSB soon. You and your readers will be the first to know.

  6. Can’t wait to get mine.

  7. Michael-
    Regarding Lutheran missional activities the link below may offer more incite.

  8. Tapani Simojoki says

    … why does it have “Lutheran” Study Bible on the cover? Why not “The Holy Scriptures: Lutheran Study edition” or something that doesn’t imply “For Lutherans only?”

    This is a very good point (and I’m a Lutheran). Here is one answer, though it will no doubt not satisfy you.

    We do have a tendency to be insular on account of being right [some would say that with irony, others not]. That’s why I love projects like the White Horse Inn. One key problem is that confessional Lutheranism has the same kind of ecumenical asymmetry built into it as, say, Roman Catholicism: the doctrinal/ecumenical standard is such that other confessions (esp. Reformed/reformed) will always be left looking and feeling the more ecumenically open party. This is particularly true of the sacraments, but not exclusively. And that can’t be fixed without changing the doctrinal/ecumenical standard, which will then leave Lutheranism a little less Lutheran.

    As for the question about the preface to James (and I haven’t got my copy of TLSB yet, so haven’t seen it), one must always distinguish between Lutheranism and Lutherism. The two overlap, but only coincidentally. Whether or not Luther had a problem with James is, I hope, a mute point. The trouble is, there are a lot of Lutherans who more than dabble with Lutherism. We should be happy to say, “Luther misunderstood James.” I do.

    • confessional Lutheranism has the same kind of ecumenical asymmetry built into it as, say, Roman Catholicism: the doctrinal/ecumenical standard is such that other confessions (esp. Reformed/reformed) will always be left looking and feeling the more ecumenically open party. … And that can’t be fixed without changing the doctrinal/ecumenical standard …

      I beg to differ: much of it has to do with the tone, the manner in which one asserts one’s doctrinal rightness.

      To use one of Michael’s points above: if someone coming around to an appreciation of the Eucharist and the Real Presence is slapped down because he comes from a tradition that “doesn’t have it right” rather than being encouraged and affirmed for being on the right path, that has nothing to do with maintaining doctrinal standards but everything with spiritual arrogance.

      And I have seen that from Roman Catholics as well as from Lutherans …

      • Tapani Simojoki says

        I agree with you entirely! This is a simple question of pastoral care, and there are plenty of people out there who are very bad at it. I have also seen this from Baptists…

        The point remains: the ecumenical threshold is higher from the Lutheran perspective than the R/reformed one. This goes right back to Marburg 1529 and the debate between Luther and Zwingli. They didn’t agree, which was a shame from Zwingli’s point of view, but went to the heart of the Gospel from Luther’s.

        This is no excuse for isolationism; I wholeheartedly agree with Michael’s post. However, when we do come together, spades must carry the name of spade, however gently they are wielded.

    It was interesting reading the history of how this study BIble came to be.

    Does this Bible include the “apocryphal” books? I ask because on that page above it says, “This tradition came to an end somewhat abruptly in the first few decades of the twentieth century when the Missouri Synod moved from being primarily a German-speaking church to an English-speaking church. Interestingly, also at this time the apocryphal books that had been in every edition of the Bible since the time of Luther no longer appeared in English editions of the Bible published by Concordia Publishing House.”


    • From the FAQ at Concordia’s page on the LSB:

      Does The Lutheran Study Bible include the Apocrypha?

      No, it does not, though it does contain an explanation of the history between the two Testaments and an explanation of the books that were written during this time and traditionally included in Lutheran Bibles since the first edition of Luther’s Bible in 1534, continuing up the time that The Missouri Synod moved from German to English, at which time, the Apocrypha was no longer included. We did not feel it was wise to try to reintroduce these books to the English speaking Lutheran Church by including them in The Lutheran Study Bible since the vast majority of Lutherans are entirely unfamiliar with them. Rather, we are considering producing a separate volume detailing what these books are, offering more extensive history and background for them and including the books themselves. This will be a better way to introduce Lutherans to the heritage of including these books, which Luther said in his Bible that thought they are not canonical like the other books of the Bible, they are certainly good for reading.

  10. Okay,

    Here is my Lutheran question. Let me say right up front, that in my area Lutherans are very very rare. Only one church in about six counties. I have not read much Luther until recently and have not listened to much modern day Lutheran preaching till recently online, and I have only personally spoken with one Lutheran pastor.

    Here is my question. Does modern day Lutheranism have a higher view of the sacraments than perhaps Luther himself did? I mean I’m not asking the question as an antogonist, but one thing I got from the little reading of Luther I have done is that the eucharist if not recieved in faith doesn’t do anything, that in fact all sacraments have to be recieved with faith. (Someone tell me if I totally to that wrong). But the Lutheran sermons I have listened to, albeit just one guy online, seem much more like what I would excpect to hear from a Roman Catholic (again my experience there is limited.)

    The LCMS pastor I personaly spoke with in this area seemed more “low church” on the sacraments.

    Is there low church Lutheranism?

    • Austin: Luther described the Lord’s Supper as “the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink” (Small Catechism). So Luther’s view was the same as the Lutheran church’s today: the bread and wine are (by virtue of Christ’s words spoken through his minister) the body and blood of Jesus. (This is sometimes described as the body and blood being “in, with and under” the bread and wine, though what really matters is Jesus’ “is”, not Luther’s explanatory “in, with and under”.)

      You’re right that Luther said that the Lord’s Supper received without faith has no benefit to the recipient. But (for Luther as for the Lutheran church) it’s still the body and blood of Christ that are being eaten and drunk.

      So what you’ve heard from this Lutheran preacher is probably someone focusing on the objective nature of the Lord’s Supper: that, following the words of institution, the body and blood of Jesus are truly present in the bread and wine. In other pastoral circumstances, it may be appropriate to focus on the subjective aspect, namely the fact that it is by faith in Jesus’ promise that we receive the benefits of the Supper: “forgiveness, life and salvation”, as Luther summarised them.

  11. Thank you for challenging Lutherans to cease from hiding their light under a bushel or basket.

    I too have found Lutheranism to be the most opaque expression of the faith that exists in all of Christendom. I’ve found it to be a hermetically sealed community even more separate from the world than the Amish. Although I’ve made it my business to study every tradition of the faith I could find, I somehow know less about Lutherans than I do anyone else. I’m deeply impressed by the depth and breadth of Lutherans I’ve come to know, as well as the richness of their vibrant faith communities. But I’ve had to work hard to get just a glimpse of the treasure they have kept so well hidden.

    I’ve also found Lutherans to be almost totally uninterested in my interest in them. They seem perfectly happy to keep the life to themselves. They know what they have is valuable, and are zealous to keep it for their own. It’s very odd. And the sad thing about it is that I have not grown more interested in what they might have as a result of such self-satisfied disinterest, but less.

    • They know what they have is valuable, and are zealous to keep it for their own.

      That has something to do with the zeal of the Reformed to destroy what we have every time they manage to find where we’re hiding. Or the zeal of other Lutherans to destroy what we have every time they get enamored with some other variant of Protestantism.

      Keeping Lutheranism Lutheran in a hostile environment is a pretty demanding task, to the point that we often forget there’s a world out there.

      • With regard to “keeping Lutheranism Lutheran”, an analogy has been given to me that I find helpful. A pastor friend described lutheran doctrine/practice (an essential coupling of elements, BTW) as being balanced on a ball. If it slips one way, it becomes RC. Another, it becomes Reformed. Etc. I suspect that other traditions’ gatekeepers may feel the same way about their respective traditions.

        If, OTOH, you are referring to the opaqueness of Lutheran social life, well. That is another animal altogether, and attention needs to be placed on the Germanic/Norwegian/Midwestern nature of the culture. My wife, raised in SoCal as a well-catechized Presbyterian, and now a faithful, committed confessional Lutheran these 20 years and more, no longer has any time for Lutherans. She, too, has found the culture exasperating, shallow, and cloying. Try fixing that if you can.

        Sorry if these last comments veer the discussion off kilter.

        • The culture depends in large part on the congregation. The central KY church I go to now is completely different from the church I was confirmed in–much warmer and friendlier.

  12. Great post, Michael. Contemporary Lutheranism needs to hear your criticisms, wake up, and preach the Gospel to _all_ those clamoring to hear it, not only those who happen to stumble through their church entrances.

    • Lutherans have not hidden the pure Gospel from anyone. For centuries they have made public confessions as to what they believe, teach and confess. They have sent missionaires into the world–there are millions of Lutherans in Africa for example. The RCC, the Orthodox and Protestants alike have been well aware of the Lutheran Confessions for sometime and have rejected, even anathematized them.

      Now if you wish to say that Lutherans have not recently used technology or marketing very well, then that would be a valid criticism. But this problem is slowly being arrested with the use of the new media. Programs such as Issues Etc. are getting the word out.

    • I believe I said in the article that if I heard the phrase “pure Gospel” I was going to break things. Congratulations.

  13. Michael: you’re right about the unavailability and inaccessibility of these resources for non-Lutherans. I can remember all-too well the experience of trying to get hold of Lutheran materials before I became a Lutheran (and indeed afterwards). At the time, very few of these books were available on Amazon (a search now suggests that situation has improved), and CPH’s own international shipping rates were eye-wateringly expensive.

    Equally, as Tapani Simojoki points out above, Reformed Christians tend not to realise that (as Tapani puts it) the “ecumenical threshold” is higher for Lutherans than for the Reformed, particularly on the Lord’s Supper. The Reformed can in principle accept that “we all agree that Jesus is present, we just disagree as to how” (though many Reformed Christians, including me before 2003, are in practice vehemently opposed to the Lutheran view). For Lutherans, the how is fundamental and central to our conception of the Supper: either the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ, or they’re not. It’s hard for us to turn that into an “optional extra”.

    • John, that seems a lot more “what” than “how.” I think that’s part of the appeal of Lutheranism. You actually can say that Christ’s body and blood is present, but it’s a mystery. You don’t have to listen to Lutherans explain transubstantiation or hear the essential role of the priest in terms of “reaching up to heaven and bringing Christ down” or “sending the spirits of Christians up to heaven and having ccommunion with Christ.” You can just say “He’s here, in body and blood, in the bread and wine” and do you believe it? And stop there. The language of the small confession is a wonder compared to the RCC and Calvin.

      • iMonk, you’d better not ever become a Lutheran, because I have no desire to eat my hat.

      • Tapani Simojoki says

        I don’t want to put words in John’s mouth, but this is what I guess he means:

        Almost everybody nowadays will confess that “Christ is present in the Supper”, be they RC or Baptist, Lutheran or Calvinist. So Claude Calvinist comes to Larry Lutheran and says, “Hey, how come you guys continue to excommunicate us when both agree that Christ is really present? We only disagree on how he is present – spiritually/bodily – and that’s not a good enough reason to excommunicate us.”

        Of course, you are right, it is really a “what”. But it’s this “what”: What do we eat and drink with the mouth in the Supper? No denial of the presence; no separating of one kind of eating (mouth) from the other (spirit). Yes, Luther doesn’t speculate “how” Christ comes to the Supper with his body and blood, but it’s absolutely clear that he does. And historically in ecumenical discussions/disputes, that’s tended to have been called a “how” rather than a “what” by the R/reformed.

        I reiterate, though: the conversation must continue. It infuriates me when Lutherans come to these forums and simply shout “hoc est” till they are blue in the face and then cuss the others for not believing them. It must drive you guys to distraction.

        And so the ecumenical asymmetry remains: the Lutheran side is unable to be flexible on any “hows”, because the real “what” remains under dispute.

      • ‘for where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among you’. …

  14. Sam Steinmann says

    Maybe the insularity/inaccessibility is a German thing. Anabaptist resources are also extremely hard to find unless you know where to look.

    • Steve Newell says

      One of the “treasures” of the Reformation, is that Reformers when through the process are clearly articulating the doctrinal position to which they confess. This resulted in the Book of Concord, which contains the Lutheran confessions. The Reformed portion of the Church has a similar history with the Westminster Confessions and various documents. Many of the issues facing the Church today, are the sames ones that faced the Church in the 1500’s, just with different names. We can learn a lot from reading church history.

  15. K Bryan is right! This bible needs to be renamed to make the distinction between Concordia Publishing House and Augsburg Fortress. I know several people who have purchased the ELCA edition.

    • Steve Newell says

      The CPH product was named prior to the ELCA version but the ELCA got theirs out to press first. The ELCA has many theological issues with it, starting with their understanding of the authority of Holy Scripture.

  16. Without being pushy, LCMS Lutherans have an explicitly stated evangelism goal that is aggressive and producing fruit. The church I attend has been a recipient of this goal. This is described well in the following website:

    I agree that it is not as vocal, but I beginning to believe that media vocality and actual boots on the ground activity are not necessarily related.

  17. Like I said earlier I have only personally met with one Lutheran pastor. A LCMS guy.

    I asked him if I came to church sometime would it be okay to come forward for communion. He said that for him as pastor he was willing to give communion to anyone who was baptized in a trinitarian formula.

    that was basically his only stipulation, we talked a little about Lutheran understanding of the sacrament and he implied he wasn’t willing to deny the table to folks who might not have the exact same understanding of it as he does

    As a LCMS pastor was he right to address it that way? I”m not looking to get him in trouble, I’m just pointing out that there seems to be a little more “ecumenical” sentiment with folks on the ground and not at the denominational headquarters or in the seminaries

    I see the same thing in my own ministry as a baptist pastor, technically one could make an argument that we too should be at the least close communionist if not closed communionist, but in practice I would feel very out of place denying the table to any who have been baptized either as an infant or believer

    • Based on what you’ve said, that particular LCMS pastor is in disagreement with the official stance of the church body. The Missouri Synod formally practices closed communion, that is to say: As a pastor of the Missouri Synod I will only commune those who are in *full doctrinal agreement* with us. That means all articles, not just the Lord’s Supper.

      The reason that we practice the Lord’s Supper in that way is that we believe it’s the only practice that’s faithful to Paul’s teaching on the supper in 1st Corinthians.

      It would be very helpful if pastors like you describe would quit pretending to hold to the teachings of the Scriptures as they are confessed in the Missouri Synod and go their own way.

      • Scott Miller says

        So does that mean if I go to a LCMS church on Christmas Eve I can’t partake in Communion? Nowhere else to go. Amazing how churches don’t celebrate Christmas with a service.

        • Scott,

          The LCMS is not a monolithic organization. Ever since Luther’s death in 1546 the church has been assailed constantly from within and without. The classic Lutheran position is that the “body of doctrine” should be believed and confessed if any church or individual is to have altar fellowship with the church as a whole. However, this is in many cases not the case. There are many LCMS pastors and churches who practice some form of open communion. We are constantly striving for unity in doctrine and practice–in fact we believe that true unity is unity of doctrine–which will lead to unity in practice.

          I don’t know about the churches in your area, but if you are interested in what the Confessional Lutheran position is on the Sacrament of the Altar, then I would recommend reading the Book of Concord. As far as a Christmas service goes, again I would ask the local pastor. Every church usually has some differences in these things. Blessings as you dilligently search the Scriptures.

        • Yes, that’s what it means. We’re not saying that you’re not a Christian. And it’s not an effort to make you feel unwelcome. We simply believe that when you partake of the Sacrament you are saying that you believe all that we believe, teach, and confess regarding the Christian faith.

          If you were to partake of the Sacrament while not being in full agreement with us, it would, on the basis of our teaching, present a false confession.

          I’m very sorry that your church does not offer a service on Christmas Eve. That is truly tragic. But you are very welcome to attend an LCMS service whenever you’d like. We would just ask that you respect our teaching on the Sacrament by not receiving it until you’re in full agreement with us.

          • butterflymom says

            I was a Lutheran for 35 years and I am sure that when the members of the churches we attended took communion, they all SAID they believed everything that the Lutheran church believes, teaches and confesses, but I think that is truly impossible. And if you were to talk to people, even life-long Lutherans, you would hear a variety of what they thought the Lutheran church teaches, believes and confesses.

    • Lutherans practice closed communion. If an LCMS pastor offered you communion then he was not following the doctrine and practice of the Lutheran Confessions.

  18. As a thirty-year Evangelical (Conservative & SBC churches) that is almost doctrinely converted to confessional Lutheranism, I am thankful for those ministries within Lutheranism that are intentionally engaging, though there aren’t many (and most of them come only out of the relatively small LCMS).

    iMonk has some very important points: Lutheranism is needed right now and Lutheranism obscures itself. Finding Lutheranism in the Evangelical landscape requires a map and a guide. Of course, once the hidden country is discovered, the riches of the tradition are everywhere.I think many Evangelicals converting to Orthodoxy would find greater comfort in Lutheranism and it is unfortunate that confessional Lutherans spend so much time being right and so little being present where they’re needed (yes, this is a gross generalization). Thank God for Issues, Etc (and people like the iMonk who are willing to drag Lutherans out of their enclaves).

  19. Most appreciated your saying, “The beating heart of our life and message is Jesus and justification, not sovereignty and election. It is the free offer to all, not the efficient offer to the elect, that needs to be clearly heard now. It is all of scripture as law and Gospel that needs to be filling the church.”

    However, I am curious about your statement “How many Calvinists cite Bondage of the Will as virtually a Calvinist text, having no idea that Luther rejected the rest of the TULIP?” I was unaware he rejected the rest of the acronym (although, wasn’t it after Luther had left the scene that the acronym was coined?)… not to say he couldn’t have rejected the doctrines it stands for. I’d say you can believe in unconditional election or predestination (or whatever you want to label it) on varying levels but to say Luther rejected 4 of 5 (assuming you are saying he agreed with total depravity?) seems a bit strong to me… but I am open to learning what might be behind your saying so, is there a book or paper you can point me to that addresses this specifically? I will admit I am not the sharpest crayon in the box on issues such as these and its one reason I really like your blog (for its depth and generosity in dealing with others who disagree with and even challenge your positions–and even your firm beliefs). Luther is said to have said (I don’t have a reference so maybe it’s just rumor)…”Do you doubt if you are chosen? Then say your prayers and you may conclude that you are.” Luther wasn’t a Calvinist to be sure, but I think he had much more in common with Calvin than not (but I’m certainly open to correction).

    I just read your post “Photoshopping Luther” and it was helpful. I don’t pretend to be a Luther expert, although I am interested to learn more about the heart of what he was really getting at in his teachings instead of merely picking and choosing a handy quote here and there to “prove” my particular bent or theories about what Luther was saying or not saying.

    Thanks for the brief review.

    • If you read any competent recent bio of Luther, you’ll learn that he was utterly shaken, if not terrified, by the implications of predestination. He eventiually developed a quite nuanced pastoral response to it: LEAVE THE SUBJECT ALONE.

      Luther was no Calvinist, and that’s not news to Lutherans, but it is news to a lot of the recently acquired young, restless and reformed.

      • I’m still going through Paulson’s book (and I realize it’s not a bio, but it has been helpful in better understanding Luther and his theology).

        And yes, I agree, the fact Luther was no Calvinist might be–or is–news to those you mention. However, I am not “young” (by several accounts anyways), nor am I restless. Reformed?… that’s a big term Michael–I’d have to say I am. But as Ray Ortlund and Michael Horton so helpfully point out… my reformed thinking or any so mentioned affiliations are dwarfed by my connection to Jesus (as our anyone else’s if they consider him the Messiah… and not Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Edwards, Spurgeon–or Augustine for that matter).

    • Lutherans do (as would Luther) reject 4 of the 5 points of Calvinism.

      Total depravity we obviously agree with.

      Unconditional election=double predestination. We would reject this. Lutherans believe, as Scripture says, that we are indeed elected by God, but we reject the idea that God predestines some for hell and some for heaven because Scripture does not say this. For more see the Formula of Concord, article XI

      Limited Atonement: Lutherans believe that Jesus suffered and died for all people, not just for the elect, but it only becomes beneficial for those who believe. See Hebrews 7:27, 9:26, and 10:10.

      Irresistible Grace: Lutherans reject this as God’s grace is offered freely to all, but people can reject it. We cannot accept Jesus “by our own reason or strength” but we are “Holy Spirit has called us” to faith through the means of grace. So God gets the credit when we are saved, but we get the blame if we are not for having rejected Christ.

      Perseverance of faith: Without getting into detail, Lutherans reject this as well.

      You might check out this article that details some of the major differences.

      Hope this helps.

      • Ben you skipped over the only one I was really interested in:(

        • Ok. Sorry. Here we go.

          Lutherans believe that Scripture teaches that you can fall away

          Galatians 5:4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

          Luke 8:13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.

          Also see John 15. We are to abide in Jesus and only in Him is true security to be found. We constantly look to Jesus for our security and receive from Him the ability to abide in Him as He abides in us.
          Jesus abides in us first when we are joined with him in baptism (Romans 6:3-5). We continue to abide in Jesus through His Word. He abides in us and we in Him also through Holy Communion (see John 6:53-56). He abides in us as we gather to worship Him (Matthew 18:20).

          Hope this helps.

          • I know this is off the initial post but, out of curiosity, can a person return to Christ if they have “fallen away” in LCMS?

          • “can a person return to Christ if they have “fallen away” in LCMS?”

            Of course! Peter denied Christ and was forgiven. And think of the parable of the prodigal son.

      • TULIP? What’s left?

      • I think the last one is “perseverance of the saints” if what I have read is correct… but I could be wrong.

        Thanks for the note Ben, I will visit the link.

    • Rod Rosenbladt likes to say we are one and a half point calvinists. He means that we believe in total depravity and a single election of grace (no reprobation) As to the other points there is a difference between young luther and mature luther. The luther of say his commentary on Romans when he was still an augustinian monk and not yet a reformer seems to me to have believed in limmited atonement. This was not an unusual opinion among Roman Catholic Augustinians. It was not invented by j. calvin. The later luther, the luther of the reformation was a big universal grace, universal atonement man. He did however his whole life have a very strong belief in predestginagtion but he saw it dialectically as a truth of the hidden God that he must flee from the the embrace of the revealed God of Universal Grace/Universal atonement. The Luther of the Smalcfald articles rejected the perseverance of the saints. Read the smalcald articles closely and you will see that no calvinist could write in this manner. If your point is though that Luther had more in common with Calvin then Rome or more in common with calvin then with contemporary megachurchinity I agree.

      • Greg,

        thanks for the Smalcald link. I got to tell you other than the typical credo-baptist objections on baptism, I find very little there to dispute, and I must say that Lutheran arguments on infant baptism are some of the best articulated I have read, and that is one area I have read on heavily

        • Austin,

          have you had the opportunity to read “Scriptural Baptism” by Uuras Saarnivaara? If not, it is a really great (in my opinion, and I’m saying this as a former baptism) defense of infant baptism. If you haven’t read it, you can purchase it at The bummer is that it is $6 shipping on a $12 book, but I’m telling you that it is totally worth it.

  20. Fantastic take. As a recovering evangelical, I have had many of these very same thoughts about Lutheranism and its relationship to other denominations. I particularly agree with your statement about wanting “to have worship with intentional depth and seriousness in worship, not just something old and familiar to the regular residents. They like what they see, maybe more than some Lutherans (and Anglicans, etc) like it themselves.”
    Having been outside (and altogether unfamiliar with) Lutheranism in general, and confessional/liturgical Lutheranism in particular, and having now moved as enthusiastically as possible into it, I can certainly agree that Lutherans and Lutheranism is far too tribal. I agree that the name of the Bible is ridiculous. Concern for doctrinal purity is, in my estimation, fundamentally important. Yet there must be a proclamation of that doctrine to those outside the tradition! If even a small percentage of evangelicals were to respond to the liturgy, the high view of the Sacraments, the theology of the Cross, and the Law/Gospel message as I did, and as I see others doing, the effort would be rewarded. Having studied under Rosenbladt and Parton in Strasbourg this summer, I know there are spokespersons for Lutheranism who are capable of surmounting the insurmountable barriers. Hearing sermons from someone like Pr. Cwirla for even two or three weeks chipped away more of my resistance than I thought possible. It was the very fact that he did not try to “meet me where I was” and attempt to gently coax me over the line. I was absolutely broken – killed! – by the Law in a way my evangelical pastor would never even consider, much less attempt. And I heard the Gospel preached in a way I had NEVER heard it and in a way most megachurches only talk about but never come close to achieving.
    I, for one, will be sharing the LSB with as many of my family and friends as possible. I may just have to scratch out the title first.

    • “I agree that the name of the Bible is ridiculous. Concern for doctrinal purity is, in my estimation, fundamentally important.”

      Andrew, a slight, but important, correction. I had the same reaction as you but then I reread what iMonk said, “Lutheranism is attracting more and more evangelical converts who do not struggle with issues of Lutheran ethnic identity or denominational purity.” Big difference between doctrinal purity and denominational purity. Fighting for the former means combating all the squishy, I’m-right-you’re-right-let’s-all-be-right-togetherness I left evangelicalism for. Denominational purity is entirely different (although I suppose the two bleed into each other occasionally).

  21. Too many study bibles…. not enough rooom on the bookshelf. It sounds as if this one may be similar in commentary to the orthodox study bible. Anyone here read that one yet? I got the TDP but don’t use it a whole lot because I just don’t like the lectionary as much as the daily office one in the BCP. The psalms are awesome though. My wife’s about ready to kill me for chanting them out loud so early in the morning 😛 Honestly I doubt I’ll ever acquire this study bible though… Love that it gotz a fresh perspective an all, but having already purchased an ESV study bible, if I ever get another it would have to be a different perspective and a different translation. Do you think there is any chance that they’ll ever release this in a different translation? I’ve heard that some LCMS’ers are a little less than happy with the ESV as their denominational choice. But for my money I think I’d rather purchase the hymnal, I’ve heard some really great music out of it.

  22. Though I know study bibles are a popular format, a part of me kind of wishes that the text of scripture would be kept separate from study information. For example, instead of a massive Study Bible, there would a copy of plain scripture sans notes and in-text reference systems and then various study companions, such as the Reformed Study Guide, the Lutheran Study Guide or the ESV Study Guide, etc.

    Sometimes, I like to simply read scripture without a thousand notes and cross-references.

  23. Commenting as a lifelong Lutheran and LC-MS pastor…
    Two issues that Lutherans have in getting our beliefs out there and engaging in meaningful discussion:
    1. The self loathing Lutheran
    2. The arrogant Lutheran

    The self loathing Lutheran would just as soon be rid of the liturgy and confessions, because they are envious of evangelicalism and want to imitate what they see as “more successful.” The self loathing Lutheran hates the practice of close communion and/or anything else that might give offense to anyone. They want Lutherans to lose any distinctiveness in order to fit in with the mainstream.

    The arrogant Lutheran thinks that if people would just get a clue they would all be in confessional Lutheran churches and can’t seem to have a conversation without offending someone. The arrogant Lutheran doesn’t much care if people are offended by Lutheran doctrine and practice and doesn’t seem to think that those outside of Lutheranism are worth talking to. My friend calls this group the middle finger Lutherans.

    Now, this certainly isn’t all of Lutheranism, but we Lutherans must find be able to be proud of who we are and what we believe without being prideful. We must find ways to take on the missional mindset of many evangelicals, while not lessening the depth of belief, teaching, and practice that we have.

    I praise God for the liturgy. Because we used basically the same order just about every Sunday, I was able to learn the liturgy by heart long before I could read. I could participate in worship without picking up a hymnal. I hardly ever opened the hymnal for the liturgy, because I could sing it by heart. I learned God’s Word in this way and it sticks with me even today.

    I think there is a tension between trying to have worship that “makes sense” to visitors and is easily joined into by visitors with highly liturgical worship.

    Trying to bridge the gap with non-Lutherans can be a challenge and I think I-Monk’s “conversations” help us think through these issues.

    • Pastor Ben-
      you pretty much summed up the issue that Lutherans have with engaging in discussion.
      And you are absolutely right- iMonk’s conversations are a benefit to us all.

    • While I find your assessment true, also as a LCMS pastor who, though raised Lutheran – wandered out of the ghetto for several years, the arrogance charge is sometimes overblown. I spent time in evangelicalism and Charismatic circles and nowadays if I stand on a point of doctrine or truth no matter how meekly, I’m suddenly arrogant – “well thats your opinion”, “your interpretation”, “oh lets not talk about doctrine, it divides” or “Well, I just believe in Jesus as my savior, the rest doesn’t really matter.”

      Lutherans actually have confessions and we believe them to be true. This does not sit well.

      These kind of discussions frustrate me, because everyone says that Lutherans need to get their theology out there. I want to be out there, but I don’t know how or at least what I am doing does not work.

      I’m in a heavily baptist influenced town of 9000 (with a strong Roman Catholic presence also). Here is what I have tried, and as Paul says please put up with my foolishness here:

      -Open Bible studies, advertised community wide in the paper/website on topics like Archaeology and the Bible (my background) -[no response],
      -Member of the local ministerial group,
      -We have a preschool and childcare center (100 children strong) [little to no interest from this towards church, usually the Liturgy in this area causes people to turn tail],
      -Weekly Bible Study on local owned Christian station where I take all comers and calls [they love hearing the Gospel and the Bible study, but listeners are ready to kick me off the air if I talk about Sacraments or Liturgy].
      -Advent and Lent Devotions in the Local paper
      -Members involved in Community Charities [several charities, one member founded the clothing ministry in town, the director of the Crisis Pregnancy Center, (she is pentecostal), doesn’t know what to do with all her Lutheran (and R.C.) volunteers and has said would not send a girl our way for church]
      -Making sure the Library has copies of the Lutheran confessions and other Lutheran books

      Please, when you tell Lutherans to be “out there” give me some specific stuff to do and to avoid or specifically what we are doing wrong, the above I have tried (imperfectly of course) and not met with any interest or wider recognition, well except “Hey, your Lutheran you ordain homosexuals now right” …sigh…

      Thank you, sorry if this sounded like a bit ranting.

      • It’s hard for any liturgical church to break down preconceptions as you’ve described. Sounds like you’ve done a wonderful job.

        I like to try to do things that 1) let me build relationships with people and 2) focus on people in crisis who – humanly speaking – are likely to sense the need for Christ’s help. I’m biased here – my mom ran a 28 day program for alcoholics!

        But I digress… I think by “Getting the message out there” I think this post meant advertising in venues like “World” magazine or even Christianity Today possibly.

      • I understand where you are coming from, having served 3 years in an area where people truly wondered if Lutheranism was a cult.
        Keep up the good work! I know it is discouraging, especially when people don’t even give you the chance to engage in meaningful conversation about religion.

        The arrogant Lutheran generally resides only where there are huge numbers of Lutheran churches, not where Lutheran churches are few and far between. When you are out on the edge like that you learn what is most important and must be held on to. You also are humbled very quickly and learn to give God the glory.

        I’ve upset more than a few members by not allowing their relatives to commune. I’ve upset people by not participating in “community worship services.” I’m okay with that, but I will always lovingly explain why I do what I do.

        Seriously, keep up the good work. Seek out your brother pastors for encouragement and encourage them as well. It is very tough to do faithful Lutheran ministry in a non-Lutheran area, but I thank God that you are doing it and doing your best to reach out to and welcome people into Christ’s church.

        • Thanks for the encouragement – I’m not a outgoing/evangelist type by nature and I sometimes bang my head against the wall trying to figure out how to get the Gospel and the Lutheran distinctiveness in relation to the Gospel out there.

    • I’ve come to think of the “arrogant Lutheran” as the “Muslim Lutheran.”

      Muslims believe that any reasonable human being who is presented with Muslim doctrine will accept it. No exceptions. If you don’t, then you are mentally defective.

      I’ve heard a lot of confessional Lutherans talk the same way (and when I’m not careful, I’m one of them).

  24. Why the hate for the red letters?

  25. Might I recommend a book that lays out in an accessible fashion some of the key themes of Lutheran theology, “The Spirituality of the Cross: The Way of the First Evangelicals” by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. Published by Concordia Publishing House, it (and other books by Veith) are also available on

  26. What a fine review! And I couldn’t agree more with getting out of the Lutheran ghetto. CPH has produced resources that are simply out of this world great, and they – like the precious heritage that is ours as Lutheran Christians – are too good to keep to ourselves. I’m so glad to see you reviewing them! Hope you don’t mind that I linked your review on my blog.

  27. I have a question. Is there any Lutheran theologian who is engaging the NT in tandem with what we know of the history and culture of first century Judaism, like N.T. Wright has done as an Anglican? Another way to ask this is, Are there any Lutheran “new perspective on Paul” thinkers out there? This inquiring mind would like to know.


    • No, in the sense of supporting N.T. Wright – his criticism in the realm of justification hits exactly at the heart of Luther’s insights and the Reformation. To accept Wright’s conclusions would be the end of the Lutheran church since the theology of Justification Wright attacks is the very core doctrine of the Lutheran church. Their are Lutherans who engage the debate against N.T. Wright’s “new perspective on Paul”

      For example the article on page 140 of the Concordia Journal (Lutheran Seminary in St. Louis Publication)

      That being said his other writings are good, like on the resurrection, and read at Lutheran seminaries.

      • Ryan, the “new perspective” is not only about taking issue with Luther’s insights. It is actually more about engaging with the culture and history of first century Judaism. There’s no Lutheran who is doing this?


        • While it is more than simply about the definition of “works” (thus tying to justification) in Paul’s writings – the “new perspective” is a reaction against the “old perspective” which is Reformation reading, especially Lutheran reading, of Paul’s epistles.

          That is if all the “New Perspective” scholars are right then Luther, and Calvin, were dead wrong. Actually it could be argued then that Roman Catholics were correct in the Reformation debate.

          So are any Lutherans working, as E.P. Sanders (the real founder of new perspective) says approaching “Judaism on its own terms, not in the context of the Protestant-Catholic debates of the sixteenth century” The answer would be none that I know of, because the underlying assumption is to redefine views of Justification and Christianity as a whole because the Reformers (actually Augustine) were wrong.

          Now this is not saying that Lutheran commentators don’t study or engage first century culture in studying Scripture, doing exegesis, and writing commentaries – they just are not going about it with the goals that Wright and Co. have.

          In addition, all our sources for this first century Judaism are based on writing that come after the NT is written following the assumption that the later writings actually reflect the Judaism of the first century. Its like the seder meals that are so popular in Christian churches around Easter, while interesting – the practices reflected in those meals comes from a later time period than the Gospels and may reflect some of what was going on, and in other ways may not. In other words its hard to take first century Judaism on its own terms when we cannot be sure we know what it was outside of documents from that period (ie the NT).

          I hope that helps. The short answer is no, we are on the defensive here.

          • Ok, thanks for the reply, Ryan.

          • If NT Wright is right, then everyone in the Reformation was wrong. In fact, everyone’s been wrong on nearly everything for 2000 years. Catholics read it as a validation because they think the only two options in Christian thought on justification are Wittenberg and Rome. Since they understand Wright to be saying “No, Wittenberg,” they think he must be saying “Yes, Rome.”

            Nothing could be further from the truth.

    • Brian Thomas says

      Two Lutheran NT scholars engaged in this that have written excellent works on this matter are:

      1. Stephen Westerholm – “Perspectives Old and New: The “Lutheran” Paul and his Critics”
      2. A. Andrew Das – “Paul and the Jews”

      One thing that must be emphasized on this, and Reformed scholar Michael Horton has pointed this out, is that when NT Wright paints Lutheranism or the Reformation tradition with very broad strokes, he is often looking at the tradition through the lens of Rudolf Bultmann or post-Enlightenment Lutheranism, which is both very skewed and just not very good historical scholarship on Wright’s part.

      • Isn’t Westerholm a Methodist?

        • Brian Thomas says

          Rev. Lehmann,
          I don’t beleive so, but I am not certain. I’ll have to check w/ some friends up in Canada at Concordia St. Catherines, because Westerholm is a professor of Biblical Studies at the nearby McMaster University.

          I guess I assumed as much, since much of his work defends Luther(anism) and he has spoke at numerous Lutheran conferences over the years as well as contributing to Lutheran journals. Likewise, his doctorate is from the University of Lund, which is at least “culturally” Lutheran in some respects.

          And from what I’ve read on his very Lutheran “Law/Gospel” distinction and sola fide, he does not come across like any Methodist I’ve read.

          • When I read his book on the New Perspective it seemed to me that he was more affirming of Wesley’s position. He was certainly kind to Luther, but it seemed to me that he wasn’t 100% onboard with him.

      • Thanks Brian, I did not know about Das’ work, and there seems to be more – I will have to check it out!

  28. Bob Sacamento says

    The beating heart of our life and message is Jesus and justification, not sovereignty and election.

    Thank you thank you thank you!

    The LSB sounds intriguing.

  29. I’m glad to hear your review. I have a large print version of TLSB on order and I can’t wait to get it. When travelling I routinely visit LCMS churches for their liturgy – I too like the LSB though we don’t sing liturgy here. I tell my family we cannot observe communion with them because we’re not “Lutheran” but otherwise I enjoy the service… I know it will have the Word, Creed, and Lord’s Prayer.

    But I think many are on the path you describe. They have been experienced to the inch deep Calvinism of our day and found it wanting and as they go back to the reformation they are seeing in Lutheranism and Mercersburg something deeper and more profound and they are hungry for it.

    But many LCMS people have made me wonder if the next thing out of their mouths would be to shout “Unclean! Unclean!” because I can’t affirm every jot and tittle of their confessions.

    • How much of that “unclear, unclean” is our human nature, defensiveness, rather than an subversive attempt to divide people by the lutheran church body.

      For me when I attend a charismatic service, rather than our lutheran service, I feel a reaction of “they’ll think I’m not spirit filled” but no church member implies or explicitly states that with words or actions.

  30. I have put two commenters in moderation and I am closing this thread for a few hours.

    Someone is about to hear that non-Lutheran = eating/drinking judgment and I am not going to listen to that.

    If you get the point of this post, then great. If not, go back to the boards and discussions that rejoice to hear your point of view. I’m not patient with the rejection of other believers, no matter what the issue regarding communion. We aren’t having a communion debate not are we going to have one. Discussion? OK. But I know the difference.

    Take a breather.

    • I would hope that no one would argue that “non-Lutheran=eating/drinking judgment.” I am no more interested in hearing that than you are.

      Thanks for a great post. I’ve enjoyed reading the discussion, and I agree with my friend Will Weedon’s comments above.

      It is important for Lutherans (and others too, I suppose, but I’m only going to speak for myself) to not make the error of thinking that those who disagree with our interpretation of Scripture are simply “denying the word of God” or unintelligent, or the like.

      Very few Christians wake up in the morning and say, “How am I going to deny God’s Word today?” Though I might disagree with many (indeed most) Christians on a great many things, it’s important to not paint with a broad brush.

      There were, for example, about 1500 years of Christians who received the Lord’s Supper to their benefit before we “Lutherans” existed.

  31. Comments are open again.

    • I love this post of yours. On a personal level, I’m getting the biggest kick out of watching you light a fire under some Lutheran butts, to reach your peeps. It’s the same way I feel, even though I am from a COMPLETELY different background.

      Love it.

      (Watch out for the Norwegians)

  32. Bad preaching puts ’em to sleep; but good preaching has been known to awaken the dead.

  33. jim_claybourn says

    As a Methodist turned LCMS Lutheran, the simplicity of Lutheran teaching is what is so reassuring to me. Just believe. That’s it, just believe that I’m a sinner, I need a savior, God sent Christ and Jesus paid the price for my Sin, I am forgiven.

    So many other teachings try to appeal to our pride by adding or taking away from that simple message.

    Just believe, AND . . . , or just believe, BUT . . .

    Every time you add a condition you chip away at the comfort and assurance of leaving it all up to Christ’s work for me.

  34. Casual Observer says

    The Lutheran Study Bible annotation for John 1:29-34 says, in part, “To regard Baptism as a symbolic act is to despise a precious treasure.” (The annotation can be found in the sampler at .)

    As a lifelong Lutheran (LCMS) with devout Christian friends who regard baptism as richly symbolic but not sacramental, I have concerns about a remark that seems to portray this aspect of their faith as contemptuous in some way.

    • Casual Observer,

      Baptismal regeneration is a precious treasure. It is God’s work alone– a saving flood. Salvation is Christ’s righteousness and holiness as a gift–whether men confess it or not. Christians baptized in the name of the Triune God recieve the benefits of Christ’s perfect life and atoning sacrifice. The word in the water saves. It kills and makes alive. It drowns hard hearted Pharoah in the depths of the sea and delivers Christ’s people within the ark of the Church. Let us pray that all Christians confess God’s saving work distributed to sinners in baptism and not human choice or will in the matters of God. For we are not born of the will of man or of the flesh, but of God.

      • Chill out Lutherans.

        • Casual Observer says

          Drat. That’s not ringing endorsement that I and my ego were evidently hoping for. (You know, “Hear, hear!” and such.) Apologies for my lack of perspective.

          Well then, I think maybe I’ll go listen to some pure Gospel music now.

          Chilled-Again Lutheran

          P.S. Great forum, seriously.

    • Well, I would say that since the study notes are not pretending to be anything other than Lutheran study notes that this sort of thing is inevitable. Lutherans disagree with other confessions about certain things. If the Lutheran Study Bible didn’t take the Lutheran approach and at times contrast it to other approaches, it would not be illustrating the point as well as it could.

      If we believe that there is a correct biblical approach, then alternate approaches will be condemned (explicitly or implicitly). That’s not a weakness. It’s just a reality.

      Having said that, it is certainly a good idea to correct those whom you think are erring (whatever your confession) with gentleness and respect. But sometimes space considerations, etc. come into play. A Study Bible may not be the best forum for that sort of thing since the goal of TLSB is simply to say what the text means.

  35. “Very few Christians wake up in the morning and say, “How am I going to deny God’s Word today?””

    Charlie, you’ve found me out!

    I have observed that confessional Presbyterians have a much different attitude toward evangelicals. Of course, they would optimally prefer that evangelicals swallow the whole Westminster Standards ball of wax, but that doesn’t stop them from talking about predestination, promoting their own “covenant renewal” theology of worship, and so on. And I think that’s what iMonk is really getting at–there’s no similar impetus among Lutherans to communicate outside our own circles.

    And I think what’s frustrating iMonk is not really what Ryan is talking about–the fact is that people who think Roman Catholics are unsaved will be scared spitless of us and not care what we say–it’s that there is within evangelicalism a growing segment that actually would be interested in the kinds of things we have to say, but we’re not there. True, a lot of these people wouldn’t become Lutheran, and they would indeed reject chunks of what we teach, but I think iMonk’s discovering what we’ve got and is just kind of sad that he has to go so far out of his way to find it, and the number of Lutherans that tell him to just buzz off when he says, “Hey, this stuff is cool, but I’m not into this other stuff.”

    From my own perspective, I have met way, way too many Lutherans who discovered Luther via Calvinists and only discovered that Lutherans are still around after much research on their own. Often, they end up Presbyterians.

    We’re a light under a bushel, at least in this country. Can’t think of any other way to describe it.

    • I agree with your post. What is frustrating for me and what I can’t figure out, as a Lutheran, is how to get out from under the proverbial bushel. Though I am personally in an area of scared spit-less fundamentalists when they walk into our church.

  36. There are a lot of good things out there that many evangelicals could make use of. They won’t be found at your average protestant bookstore. And they basically aren’t published by Augsburg Fortress (ELCA). They would come from Concordia Publishing House, Northwestern Publishing House, Repristination Press, Logia books, etc.

  37. I grew up Lutheran and many aspects of the denomination appeal to me -the worship, the honoring of God. What I can’t get past is the doctrine of transubstantiation. If I could I might have become a Lutheran pastor in Finland, from where I have just returned. I grew up as a Lutheran and became a Christian at the age of 17 outside of the church. I guess you could say I am an evangelical, but there is a lot to be desired in that realm these days. How would you feel about someone being a member of a Lutheran church but not agreeing with the doctrine of real presence? I am looking for a church.