Where I come from and what I hold…

Posted: July 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

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I was asked recently the following question, “If you had to doctrinally and denominationally classify yourself for someone to get a grasp of where you come from and what you hold, what would you say?” The following is my answer:

First, I confess the consensus of the five first centuries of the church.

  1. Classic theism: One omnipotent, benevolent God, distinct from creation.
  2. Nicene and Chalcedonian Trinitarianism: one God in three eternally existent persons, equal in power and glory.
  3. Christ, the God-Man, the one mediator between God & the human race, incarnate, crucified, resurrected, ascended, & coming again.
  4. Humanity created in the image of God, yet tragically fallen & profoundly in need of restoration to God through Christ.
  5. The Visible Church: the community of the redeemed, indwelt by the Holy Spirit; the mystical body of Christ on earth.
  6. The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.
  7. The Sacraments: visible signs and seals of the grace of God, ministering Christ’s love to us in our deep need.
  8. The Christian life: characterized by the prime theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.

Secondly, I confess the five solas, the principles that drove the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century and separated it from the Roman Catholic Church.

  1. The authority of Scripture: sola scriptura (Scripture alone)
  2. the basis of salvation: Sola Gratia (Grace alone)
  3. the means of salvation: Sola Fide (Faith alone)
  4. the merit of salvation: Solus Christus (Christ alone)
  5. In everything, Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the glory in all things)

Lastly, I confess that salvation is completely of God alone:

In salvation: monergism not synergism. Martin Luther was monergistic, see his book “Bondage of the Will.” After he died, Luther’s teachings were subtly changed.

Monergism is the view that the Holy Spirit is the only agent who effects regeneration of Christians. It is in contrast with synergism, the view that there is cooperation between the divine and the human in the regeneration process. Monergism is a redemptive blessing purchased by Christ for those the Father has given Him (1 Pet 1:3, John 3:5, 6, 6:37, 39). This grace works independently of any human cooperation and conveys that power into the fallen soul whereby the person who is to be saved is effectually enabled to respond to the gospel call (John 1:13; Acts 2:39, 13:48; Rom 9:16; Titus 3:4-5).

God alone saves. Such monergism flowed from the pen of Martin Luther.

In conclusion:

How would I label myself? My label would be “Historic Evangelical Lutheran Charismatic.”

Why?

First, my theology is “Historic Evangelical” because it affirms with historic Christianity that the Bible, as the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God, is the sole written revelation that rules the faith and practice of the Christian community and alone can bind the conscience. This faith refers to the doctrine of justification by faith alone whereby the believer is justified before God by the free grace of God by which he is declared righteous and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer (Rom. 5:18-19). The sole ground of my justification is the merit of Jesus, imputed to all who put their trust in Him. However, good works flow necessarily and immediately from all justified persons, these works are not the meritorious grounds of my justification (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Secondly, for me, to be Lutheran is to adhere to the purist teachings of the Bible – to affirm the doctrine taught by Jesus, Paul and the apostles. Scripture is considered the ultimate authority in matters of life and faith and all Reformed doctrine is founded on the Bible. I am convinced that Lutheran doctrine is nothing more than the teachings of Jesus, the Apostles and the totality of the Scriptures. Were it not for human sin we would not have to make a distinction between biblical Christianity and the faith spawned by the Reformation.

Lastly, my theology is charismatic because I believe in being filled with the Holy Spirit, according to the Scriptures. This was the normal experience of the entire early Christian Church. I believe that being filled with the Holy Spirit is the clothing of power for life and service.  The Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts for their use in the work of ministry. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is NOT distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth; it occurs simultaneously with the new birth. Speaking in tongues is NOT the ONLY evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:9, Luke 3:16; 24:49; Acts 1:8, 2:4, 8:12-17, 10:44-46, 11:14-16, 15:7-9; 1 Corinthians 12:4-13 &28, 14:1-19.)

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