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Archive Nota Bene Steven Wedgeworth

More Calvinists, Lutherans, and Baptists, Oh My!

Over at TGC, Joe Carter chimed in on the question of “Lutheran Baptists” and the ongoing discussion about the differences between Calvinism and Lutheranism. He was kind enough to plug my own comments on that matter. He also went on to highlight Gene Veith’s perspective, concluding that it was the clearest (though I do wonder if that judgment isn’t itself intentionally non-committal). We can’t help but point out, however, that Dr. Veith’s answer is not actually incompatible with our own. Though he certainly disagrees when it comes to Calvinism, he affirms our description of “Lutheranism” today. It’s all about the particular doctrine of the real presence.

Dr. Veith’s post is also interesting for the way in which it views “Calvinism.” His Calvinism is one that is not much like Calvin’s own version, nor of the Reformed churches in Scotland, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, or Hungary. Dr. Veith’s version of Calvinism is one that evidently has no meaningful role for the sacraments. It’s not even one that requires you to go to church!

Dr. Veith also tips his hand when he allows for the distinction between “Calvinist” and “Anglican,” saying that while a Calvinist absolutely cannot be a Lutheran, an Anglican could be one, at least in theory. This is quite odd, since the 39 Articles are “Calvinist” or “Reformed” in the only sense that such adjectives would have been intelligible in the 16th century. Notice Article 28, “The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.” If Dr. Veith will allow this within the bounds of “Lutheranism,” then surely he can find room for the Continental Reformed churches as well. But we doubt that this is the case.

And this supports my contention that this discussion isn’t about the historical figures and churches, nor even about a necessary theological logic, but rather the way that nomenclature becomes the property of polemics.

 

By Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the associate pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Institute.