January 9, 2008

On Making Reflective Faith a Requirement

I recently discovered Confessing Evangelical, and from what little I've read, it's quite good. Lunch time is for blog reading, and today I read his "Why Justification by Faith is 'Not Quite Protestant.'" I like how the post draws out the distinctions between Lutheran and Reformed approaches to faith. For example:

Cary summarises the usual Protestant approach to the promises of the gospel with what he terms “the Standard Protestant Syllogism”:

The Standard Protestant Syllogism
Major Premise: Whoever believes in Christ is saved.
Minor Premise: I believe in Christ.
Conclusion: I am saved.

What this leads to is a requirement for “reflective faith”. This syllogism requires us not only to believe, but to know we believe. The conditionality of the major premise means that “I am in no position to say the Gospel promise is about me until I can say, ‘I believe’”. Hence for most Protestants, being able to profess conscious belief is “a really big deal”.

Luther’s syllogism, as identified by Cary, is strikingly different:

Luther’s Syllogism
Major premise: Christ told me, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
Minor premise: Christ never lies but only tells the truth.
Conclusion: I am baptized (i.e., I have new life in Christ).

The major premise is not only a word of Scripture, but is also “a sacramental word”, spoken to each of us personally by Christ, through the pastor, at our baptism. Hence it is not only a word of Christ in general, but “the word of Christ spoken to me in particular”, as an external word spoken at a particular time and in a particular place.

Read the whole thing here.

1 comment:

Lutheran Lucciola said...

Oo, I like this stuff. Thanks for posting.