Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Koons on Lutheran 'Inconsistency'

A Merely Carnal Thinker?
(Image from Wikipedia)

One learns something new every day. Robert Koons reports (pdf) on what he calls "three mutually inconsistent theses":
Lutherans affirm what seem to be three mutually inconsistent theses: (1) that we can lose our faith, and thereby our salvation, (2) that our faith is strengthened through the external means of grace (Word and sacrament), which require our diligent use, and (3) that our works have absolutely no role in securing our final salvation. (page 31)
I presume that Koons will elaborate further on this point about inconsistency, but I'll confess that I didn't know enough about Lutheranism to realize that it teaches that a Christian can lose the state of grace. As Koons notes, Lutherans differ here from Calvinists and many of those evangelicals whose denominations stem from the Calvinist tradition:
Calvinists and modern evangelicals who embrace the theory of "once saved, always saved", have the virtue of logical consistency. On their view, once we have received the free gift of salvation through faith, there is absolutely nothing we can do or fail to do that would entail the loss of our salvation. The Lutheran Confessions (the Apology of the Augsburg Confession and the Formula of Concord) rightly rejects this position as offering a merely "carnal assurance". (page 31)
Koons then quotes from the Apology and the Formula on the necessity of works and deeds and also cites -- without quoting -- I Corinthians 6:9, Galatians 5:21, Ephesians 5:4, Romans 8:13, and Colossians 3:6 as indicating that salvation can be forfeited.

I wonder, however, what is meant by "carnal assurance." Assurance of salvation in the formula "once saved, always saved" would seem to be about spiritual things, so I have to guess that the Lutheran dismissal of this assurance as 'carnal' would have to mean that such a (mis)understanding about salvation stems from lack of spiritual insight on the part of those who believe such a thing.

Hmmm, speaking of ad hominem...

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