The Confessing Lutheran blog is a resource for Lutheran apologetics and historic theology from a Lutheran perspective. Its goal is to bring Lutheran doctrine to the Protestant layman in a thorough, yet digestible manner. Blog posts emphasize the authority of scripture, the church fathers, and the Lutheran confessions.

Coming in the future…

Introduction to Soteriology: Single Predestination – A Scriptural and Patristic Apology

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On Identifying and Choosing Denominations: Church Bodies, Traditions, and Movements

I’ve wanted to write a blog post on the numbering of denominations for awhile. When I was a non-denominational evangelical looking into denominations, I struggled to find good resources outlining the exact beliefs of each denomination. Part of my struggle was that I did not have a good understanding of that which I needed to … Continue reading On Identifying and Choosing Denominations: Church Bodies, Traditions, and Movements

A Brief Argument Against the Epistemological Primacy of the Church with Respect to Scripture

A common argument raised against Protestantism is that Scripture is somehow dependent on the Church, and thus, the Church must be causally prior to Scripture, so the authority of Scripture is derived from the authority of the Church, making the Church infallible, which is a violation of the principle of sola scriptura. This argument can … Continue reading A Brief Argument Against the Epistemological Primacy of the Church with Respect to Scripture

Another Blog Update

I haven’t posted since June of 2021. It has been a busy time. I’ve spent a lot of time reading, plenty of theology. This is where much of my time has gone, hence the lack of blog posts. I did revise some of the old blog posts slightly, as I mentioned in the last post, … Continue reading Another Blog Update

On the Differences Between the Continental (Dutch) and Presbyterian (Scottish) Reformed Traditions

The nomenclature among the Reformed tradition is often confusing. “Presbyterian” refers to a sub-tradition of the broader Reformed tradition and a church polity (structure). “Reformed” refers to the broad theological tradition as well as the Continental Reformed churches, most often the Dutch Reformed. This post clarifies the use of these terms and explains the differences … Continue reading On the Differences Between the Continental (Dutch) and Presbyterian (Scottish) Reformed Traditions

Introduction to Soteriology: Universal Atonement – a Scriptural and Patristic Apology

A key pin in soteriology debates is atonement doctrine. Atonement theories address the question of how Christ’s life, death, and resurrection play into the salvation of men (or perhaps the entirety of creation). There are a number of popular atonement theories. Some include Christus Victor, Penal Substitutionary Atonement, Satisfaction Theory, and Governmental Theory. Lutherans often borrow from more than one atonement theory but see Christus Victor and Penal Substitutionary Atonement as particularly important. Explaining these theories is beyond the scope of this post, but is helpful to know for those familiar with atonement theories that haven’t looked into Lutheranism and are wondering from which approach Lutherans consider the question of the extent of the atonement. For the sake of clarity, we will be primarily considering Penal Substitutionary Atonement.

Introduction to Soteriology: Resistible Grace – a Scriptural Apology

Among Protestants, debate surrounding Calvinism and Arminianism is generally focused on a presumed monergistic, irresistible, and final election until salvation vs a synergistic (though Arminians disagree with this term), prevenient, and contingent election. Lutheranism, rejects this paradigm. While Lutherans agree with Calvin, loosely speaking, on monergistic election and agree with Arminius on apostasy being possible, Lutherans take a middle-ground on the function of grace. More rightly speaking, since Luther (and the Lutherans with him) formulated their doctrine prior to the Arminian and Calvinist debates at the Synod of Dordt, Calvin (and the Reformed with him) took a more extreme stance than Luther, relative to the Roman Catholic Church, while Arminius (and the Remonstrants with him) took a more moderate stance than Luther.

Introduction to Sacramentology: The Office of the Keys – a Scriptural and Patristic Apology

The practice of confession and absolution is absent, if not rejected outright, in much of the protestant tradition. Coming out of Roman Catholicism in the 1500s, this is understandable in some respects. Reformers spoke against the medieval practice of confession many times, criticizing it for it’s absuses: the requirement of the enumeration of all sins, hefty penance (good works) after the absolution, and binding all sins that go unconfessed prior to death. While the church in Rome has seemingly changed doctrine with regard to enumeration of all sins and has lightened penance requirements, the binding of all sins that go unconfessed prior to death has remained. In two branches of the reformation, confession and absolution were retained— Anglicanism and Lutheranism. The Anglican doctrine of this practice will not be discussed in this post.

Introduction to Sacramentology: Real Presence in the Eucharist – a Scriptural Apology

In modern Christianity, a variety of Eucharistic traditions are seen. The Roman Catholic and Eastern churches hold to a doctrine of Transubstantiation/Metoousios, in which Aristotelian metaphysics are use to explain that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ in substance, but the accidents of bread and wine remain. The Reformed tradition (including the Remonstrants) holds that Christ is partaken in a spiritual, but not corporeal manner. Lutherans affirm a doctrine known as “mystical union,” which states that Christ is essentially and corporeally present in the Eucharist, yet the bread and wine also remain. The Wesleyan tradition affirms a middle ground of real, yet not corporeal presence. “Real presence” generally refers to the doctrine held be Lutherans, Rome, and the East, though the doctrine of some Wesleyans and Anglicans could also fall under this category.

Introduction to Soteriology: Apostasy and Perseverance – a Scriptural and Patristic Apology

Debate surrounding apostasy and perseverance has been around since the early days of Protestantism. As the magisterial reformation came about, the Reformed tradition came to embrace a doctrine known as Perseverance of the Saints, which teaches that those whom God elects cannot fall away from the faith, IE the saints will persevere. The Lutheran tradition (alongside all non-Reformed Christians at the time, IE Rome, the Eastern churches, Moravians, Anabaptists, and later, the Remonstrants/Arminians and Wesleyans) denied this, holding that those who are truly Christians can fall away from the faith if they later reject God (apostasy). There are now two extant groups that believe that believe that Christians cannot apostatize: Calvinists and Once-Saved-Always-Saved (OSAS) Arminians.

Prayers with, for, and to the Faithful Departed – a Historical and Scriptural Introduction

Within the Protestant tradition, prayers related to the departed are largely a rejected practice. This has not always been the case, however, and the Lutheran tradition explicitly affirms prayers with and for the faithful departed in the Book of Concord while condemning the Roman Catholic practice of prayers to the faithful departed. In the Moravian tradition, prayers for the faithful departed are in the Easter liturgy. In the Anglican tradition, the 1549 and 1979 Book of Common Prayer have prayers for the faithful departed in the communion liturgy and catechism respectively. In the Methodist tradition, John Wesley approved prayers with and for the departed in John Wesley and Highchurchmen (Ch. 13), and a short manuscript he wrote on liturgy cited in Chapters on the Early Registers of Halifax Parish Church. Whitley & Booth. (pg. 20). The exception to this practice is found in the Reformed tradition. John Calvin writes against prayers to and with the faithful departed in his Institutes (Ch. 20.20-27), arguing that the faithful departed neither hear us nor pray for us.

Introduction to Sacramentology: Baptismal Regeneration – a Scriptural Apology

It would be a surprise to many Protestants today that Luther and the Lutheran tradition as a whole affirm that baptism brings salvation to the recipient. This should not, however, be a shocking statement to Protestants. Rather, they should look no further than their own fathers in the faith to see that many of them affirmed similarly. The efficacy of baptism unto salvation can be found in Wycliffe, Hus, Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, Calvin, Bullinger, Cranmer, Knox, Arminius, and others. Christians from the magisterial reformation (Congregationalists, Continental Reformed, Presbyterians, Classical Arminians, Anglicans, Hussites, and Lutherans) should not be averse to saying “baptism saves” or similar statements, and this should be seen as true orthodox (small “o”) Christianity. Unfortunately, many Protestant traditions have watered down this belief or rejected it all together despite their own theologians and confessions affirming this doctrine.

Introduction to Soteriology: Monergistic Election – a Scriptural Apology

The doctrine of election is usually associated with Calvinism in protestant circles and often Augustine or even Aquinas at times in studies of historical theology. On the Protestant side of theology, two broad umbrellas are generally cast onto people, that of “Calvinism” AKA “Reformed” theology or that of “Arminianism*” AKA “Remonstrant” theology. Further subcategories are seen on both sides with variants seen in Wesley on the Arminian side and Amyrhaut on the Calvinist side, among others in both camps. Lutherans, being neither Calvinist nor Arminian fall in a middle-ground in some ways, but are significantly closer to the Reformed on this specific matter.

Introduction to Soteriology: Entire Depravity and Original Sin – a Scriptural and Patristic Apology

Many New Wesleyan Arminians (including many evangelicals) and Eastern churches deny the doctrine of entire depravity and original sin, either in degree or in their entirety. This doctrine has been present, however, since the scriptures and has been maintained through the entire history of the church. Notable reformers and spearheads of Protestant theology Luther, Calvin, and Arminius held strongly to the doctrine (with nuanced differences), and even later English reformers such as Wesley believed in original sin (albeit somewhat modified). This entry attempts to make the case for both entire depravity and original sin simultaneously through scripture and demonstrate the continued teaching in the church fathers.