"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tradition Envy

When I look to other traditions, there are certain traditions I have little or no envy over. I don't read many Methodists. I'm not impressed with their theology or homiletics. Sorry. No offense, but I'm just not interested. There are some traditions that I can enjoy certain theologians and persons, such as Anglicanism. I love many Anglican theologians and hymn writers (like John Newton, William Cowper, C.S. Lewis, etc.) I enjoy the occassional Episcopal Euchraist or liturgy. But, ultimately, I what I like about Anglicanism is where it has commonalities with the Reformed Tradition.

Then, there is the one tradition I truly have tradition envy over. The Lutherans. Not usually their theology. I'm a 5-point Calvinist. I think the Lutheran approach to Free Will is 10-fold better than Arminians, but still too weak...still, not Luther-like enough. But I will tell you where I do envy Lutherans:

1) Homiletics. Conservative Lutherans know Law and Gospel. They distinguish the two to the point of predictable regularity in their sermons. And that's great. We could learn from their homiletics.

2)Devotional material. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has released seven resources that has made me ask: Why don't we have this?! Sure, the book of Concord is a book of confessions like the Westminster Standards. No envy there. Our theology is better anyway :)

But also see:

The Lutheran Study Bible – Yeah, there is a “Reformation Study Bible” and the new ESV Study Bible, that some say is covenantal. But the Reformation Study Bible was made to be so broad that it should be called Reformish or Reformesque rather than Reformed. Sacramental Theology and Ecclesiology are both weak in key passages to accomidate Reformed Baptists and other possible customers. The ESV Study Bible's notes are New Covenantal rather than covenantal. So, ironically, the notes on the sacraments and Law and Gospel in the Lutheran Study Bible are closer to true Reformed ideas than in the Reformation or ESV Study Bible.

Lutheran Service Book – A book of liturgies. The CRC (Dutch Reformed) have produced practical works like this (see Worship Sourcebook). But the conservative Presbyterians have only produced a hymnal. A good hymnal, but it needs more liturgy.

Treasury of Daily Prayer – Wonderful daily readings from Scripture, OT, Psalms, and NT. Also includes songs to sing, prayers to pray and quotes from figures in Church History, from the Apostolic Fathers up to the 20th Century. But 90% of the reading is Scripture, to get one in the Bible daily. How great is that?

Lutheran Book of Prayer – Daily prayers to aid morning and nightly prayers and gets one started when praying on other topics when one does not know how to start.

Reading the Psalms with Luther – An introduction to each Psalm to aid understanding from Martin Luther himself.

After exposure to these resources, and in the case of “Treasure of Daily Prayer” and “Lutheran Book of Prayer” my personal use, I would love to have resources more in line with the Reformed Tradition along these lines. A real Reformed and covenantal Study Bible. A Reformed Book of Prayer. A Reformed Treasury of Daily prayer with selections from the Three Forms or Westminster instead of Book of Concord. But, oh well. Until such things happen, I'm content to read my Westminster next to my Lutheran Book of Prayer. But I'm really tempted to get a Lutheran Study Bible and carry it to church. When asked why, I would reply: it's as close to a Reformed Study Bible in English. Sad but true.


Paul McCain said...

Thank your for this very interesting blog post.

God bless

Cordially in Christ,
Rev. Paul T McCain
Concordia Publishing House

M. Jay Bennett said...


I agree. Good post!

Sten-Erik said...

I echo your sentiments! As a former LCMS Lutheran, I often find myself returning to these resources time and time again. I haven't yet acquired a Lutheran Study Bible, but it is high on my list.

Excellent post.

Aaron said...

I agree too. There are only two tradition that have tempted me to leave mine. Catholic and Lutheran.

Aaron said...

As a Calvinist I have typically seen more in common with my Reformed Credo- Baptist view points and most other Reformed type churches. So that never tempted as much in the past. It is only recently I have learned that Presbyterians do not like me assuming that at all. But I do have some tradition envy there too. Presbyterians rock!

Anonymous said...

Dare I say that if you completely understood Lutheran theology, I don't think you'd prefer Calvin. Calvin's double-predestination and limited atonement do a disservice to God's love in favor of human reason.

Jared Nelson said...

I love much of Lutheran Theology. But unfortunately, I believe the doctrine of double predestination is not Calvin's or Augustine's but Paul's doctrine in Romans 9.

Still, I think Calvinists can learn from Lutheran homiletics and devotional practices. Still envious there.

Paul McCain said...

I've always been curious about why Calvinist appears to be so focused on whom God wants to be in hell for all eternity.

I frankly used to engage in debates with Calvinists, but finally I've just resolved myself to the fact that I'm not smart enough to figure out why, and how, when God's Word says Christ died for all and why when it says that God so loved the world it doesn't really mean Christ died for all and God doesn't love the world.

I guess that makes me a Lutheran, or something.

: )

Anonymous said...

I like 'old' Lutheranism, very much. The new stuff, not so much. Have you heard of Universal Objective Justification? Ask your friendly Lutheran publisher above about it. It does a disservice to sola fide, and cheapens God's grace to his flock. In this LC-MS, WELS promoted theory, everyone is justified, everyone forgiven. Without faith in Christ. Hell is full of 'forgiven saints'?! Very bizarre bit of theory. They say it's 'in' their Confessions. Heck...I can find all five points of TULIP in the Lutheran Confessions if I look hard enough, but not UOJ. ;)