Episode 120: More Good Advent Stuff



Is the doctrine of Election Law or Gospel?  It makes a difference.  We’re talking more Calvinism, Lutheran TULIP, catching up with email and Skype calls.  Plus more great Lutheran hymns, Bill Shatner, and a musical stuffed dog.  Disturbingly compelling Christian radio.

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8 Responses to “Episode 120: More Good Advent Stuff”

  1. Mike from Hagerstown, MD says:

    Thanks for the show! I’m a Lutheran per your podcast, coming out of Calvinism.

    I may have misunderstood what you were saying. It seems to me that your explanation of perseverance turns regeneration into prevenient grace, so that election depends on us not resisting after regeneration. Whereas Arminians say that it depends on us not resisting before *and* after regeneration.

    I understand that we’re dealing with paradoxes here. Just seems like you put too fine a point on it and said things in a way that goes beyond scripture. If someone asks “Will God preserve me to the end?”, a good response might be “Why are you asking?”

    Here are some quotes to try to make me look smart … hehehe @:}

    —- Quote from Walther per Jordan Cooper’s website:

    “If my non-resistance were the real and ultimate ground, then I would be my only savior.” ibid. 188


    —- Quote from Pieper per Jordan Cooper’s website:

    “What Scripture teaches on final perseverance may be summarized in these two statements:

    1. He that perseveres in faith does so only through God’s gracious preservation; the believer’s perseverance is a work of divine grace and omnipotence.

    2. He that falls away from faith does so through his own fault; the cause of apostasy in every case is rejection of God’s Word and resistance to the operation of the Holy Spirit in the Word. This doctrine the Christian Church must maintain and defend on two fronts: against Calvinism and against synergism.” (Dogmatics Volume III pg. 89)


    Thanks Pastors!!! You give me something to look forward to when I head to work. ( I know … I need to get a life … lol )

  2. Mike (again) says:

    Responding to the idea that “me not doing something is not me doing something” …

    What about Adam in the garden? All he had to do was to *not* eat from the forbidden tree.

    If salvation depends on us *not* doing something, regeneration could then be understood to place us in the same position as Adam before the fall, without the imputed righteousness of the Second Adam. Or, to quote Rod Rosenblatt, “Your sins are forgiven … now don’t screw up.”

    Also … “me not doing something is not me doing something” seems to miss the point of the nature of idolatry, and would then make our salvation depend on our obedience to the first commandment. To me, it sounds like you are saying, “All you have to do is not wander after your false gods … but that’s not doing something.”

    This gets into the whole problem of at what point does sin become so severe as an act of unbelief that it kills faith.


    PS: Pastor Cwirla … I downloaded about a hundred of your sermons from htlcms.org/sermons. No … the check is not in the mail (sorry)

    What’s interesting is I can hit shuffle and use it as a sermonical ouji board … yikes! Just kidding, but you get the idea.

    You’d be amazed at how many times it jumps to the perfect sermon for what I needed to hear that day … though it may be the Holy Spirit working with whatever sermon pops up.

    It’s the perfect cover though … I think Jesus probably is making the “right” one pop up, but nobody could ever prove it … hehehe @:}
    (crazy people don’t know they’re crazy, and what I don’t know can’t hurt me … lol)

  3. Obsessive Mike says:

    *** Disclaimer or Warning About This Episode (for anyone with religious ocd and fears about their perseverance or election) ***

    If you have religious ocd, I recommend that you avoid this episode like the plague. Faith-killing stuff for anyone who’s terrified that they’ll fall away, and because of mental illness is drawn to constantly check themselves to see if they’re resisting more today than they were yesterday.

    Pastor Cwilra (who I love and would gladly have his baby, if it were anatomically possible … ewwwwww. sorry about that, but hey I’m nuts) explains the unanswerable question of “Why Some and Not Others” with those who are saved are the ones who didn’t reject. As an ocd sufferer, this sent me into a bit of a tail spin again, as it did a year ago when I first heard it.

    Some episodes where I disagreed with them on my first listen, now I understand better because I’ve learned more about Lutheran theology, specifically their discussion of ex opera operato. But this episode on election is still awful. Please see my comments above which I think are still valid.

    Hopefully this is a disagreement among friends … just wanted to add my perspective on this episode.

  4. wcwirla says:


    Your problem is with what you describe as “religious ocd” and not with what we said. You want to be able to put things into neat little boxes that make sense without being paradoxical to alleviate the logical tension that paradoxes create. Calvinists hate paradox and view it as an intellectual copout. I’m afraid that the doctrine of election won’t provide any such security.

    To be accurate, the “saved” are the elect, the “damned” are those who reject their election. We are not saved by our non-rejection nor are we damned by God’s election. This may sound strange to you but you actually should be terrified of falling away and “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Do Christians honestly fear hell anymore? They should! And in that fear and trembling, you should flee to Jesus Christ who is the only refuge against the wrath of God and the fear you have of falling away. If it was up to you and your believing, you’d be damned along with Craig and me. But it is not up to you, it is all hanging on Jesus. Fear and faith go together. The doctrine of election never, and I mean NEVER, will leave you feeling secure about your faith or anything else in you. It will leave you with nothing but Christ crucified as your certainty.

    So you are not far from the kingdom. And your old Adam rightly hates what we have to say because we’ve stripped him of any attempt to save himself. Keep checking yourself daily and you will find a damnable unbelieving sinner that needs to die. He’s called your “old Adam.” He is not to be coddled with platitudes or comforted with Calvinistic logic. He is to be put to death. And the new you in Christ is to rise daily. You must decrease, Christ must increase. The Calvinists with their logical syllogisms will never be able to bridge the paradoxical tension of old man and new man, Law and Gospel.

    So just to be clear for those looking in. It is NOT that those who are saved are those who don’t reject, as though their non-rejection is the cause of their salvation. Those who are saved are saved because they are elect in Christ, the elect Son, from all eternity. Those who are damned are those who reject their election in Christ. Keep the paradox of salvation paradoxical. Your religious “ocd,” like your old Adam, needs to drop dead.

  5. Obsessive Mike says:

    Thanks, Pastor. I’m actually a Lutheran for a couple years as a result of listening to your show. People with ocd are afraid all the time, except for about an hour a week when they’re in church (if they have a faithful pastor). Listening to your show also provides some relief. It’s a medical condition where the person fixates on whatever may go wrong between them and God (athiests often become obsessed with things like germs like the tv show Monk). The only help is medication, and training yourself to recognize the thought as an irrational ocd thought and ignore it. To debate it only makes it stronger until you’re paralized with fear. I’ve also found the yahoo support group, The Scrupe Group, helpful because you read the fears that other Christians are expressing and it’s easier to recognize the irrational ocd thoughts.

    Ocd people with religious fears have a unique problem in that they are actually afraid of something real. As opposed to being afraid of elevators, or being stuck in traffic, where there is actually no danger. So yes, we understand the idea of being afraid of hell. Not so good at understanding that our sins are forgiven, and we have nothing to fear in Christ. Listening to your show has been a tremendous help to me in that regard, and I think I would probably have gone to atheism without it. That happens to us because we just want to shut it off. Also anything by Rod Rosenbladt, especially his series on Fathers. Good stuff.

  6. wcwirla says:

    The best antidote I know for “theological ocd” is to study less and worship more. Those who must resolve even the most minute of logical conflicts will have trouble with theology, which tends to revel in paradox. Paradox is a tripping point for those who are fixated on order. Since all theology is ultimately doxology, worship more and study less. Read the bible devotionally, pray, sing hymns, commune. I don’t mean think less, I just mean think with your right brain instead of your hyperactive left. And relax. We are not saved by our theological formulations or the tidiness of our theological systems, but by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Systematic theology is ultimately a work of the Law and a vocational service to the neighbor in service of the liberating Gospel of Jesus. In other words, chillax in Jesus. :D

  7. Obsessive Mike says:

    Heeheheeheheeee … Thanks, Pastor @:} Sounds good!!!

    Gotta get my praise on (so to speak) … which is a reason I enjoy gospel music, though some of it talks too much about “today I’m going to get my breakthrough”, and stuff like that (very temporally oriented).

    Wish there was an internet station that played Lutheran hymns where you could here the words. That’s the problem with choral singing is you can’t tell what they’re saying.

    Anyway, I hope you have an awesome Christmas, with lots and lots of Bacon … LOL

  8. wcwirla says:

    And to you and yours, Mike. Tell Rosebrough at PCR that he needs to have a show devoted to awesome music. There is way too much talk, even for my own good. :D

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