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Chapter Eight: The Visible Word,


and Holy Communion



Many people try to hide the differences between Lutheran and Reformed doctrine. In brief, the difference is this:

1)     The Reformed separate the work of the Holy Spirit from the Word and Sacraments, believing the Word of God to be dead and useless unless we make it relevant, germane, and attractive to listeners.

2)     The Reformed reject the Biblical truth that the preached Word and the visible Word (Baptism and Holy Communion) give us the forgiveness of sin.

3)     The Reformed believe that prayer is the only means of grace, so they urge people to “make a decision for Christ” and “ask Jesus to come into your heart.” In denying that the Gospel in Word and Sacrament confers faith, they set up a system of works to merit the forgiveness of sin: yielding to Jesus, praying hard enough to earn forgiveness, suffering, tarrying, leading a life of holiness.

The spirit of the unionist moves him to say, as Church of the Lutheran Confession Pastor David Koenig did, “Lutherans and Reformed teach the same thing about the Word, but the Reformed do not accept the sacraments.”[1] We can see the uneasy conscience at work when David Valleskey falsely claimed that “the Reformed downplay the Means of Grace.”[2] Not surprisingly, one unionist will support another unionist, angrily denying what they both truly believe. Nothing betrays the anti-Scriptural foundation of the Reformed more than their war against the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. Disguising that difference with clever words will never bridge the gap between truth and falsehood. Moreover, it suggests that Lutherans who downplay the differences are secret bedfellows with the Reformed. The writings of these Lutheran foxes display a remarkable fondness for Reformed authors and a corresponding antipathy for Lutheran writers, especially Dr. Luther himself.

If we do not trust the efficacy of the Word preached and taught, then we will also doubt the work of the Holy Spirit in the visible Word of Baptism and Holy Communion. Sadly, many Lutherans have had their faith in the sacraments undermined by those who have sought to replace the effective Word with their clever methods. The purpose of this chapter is to show how the concept of the visible Word can be seen throughout the Scriptures as a great comfort to all believers.



"Thus we see what a very splendid thing Baptism is. It snatches us from the jaws of the devil, makes us God's own, restrains and removes sin, and then daily strengthens the new man within us. It is and remains ever efficacious until we pass from this state of misery to eternal glory. For this reason everyone should consider his Baptism as his daily dress, to be worn constantly. Every day he should be found in the faith and its fruits, suppressing the old man, and growing up in the new; for if we want to be Christians, we must practice the work whereby we are Christians. But if anyone falls from baptismal grace, let him return to it. For as Christ, the Mercy Seat, does not withdraw from us or forbid us to come to Him again even though we sin, so all His treasures and gifts also remain with us."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 61. Article on Baptism, 1529.


The Visible Word



"If we call Sacraments rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to decide what are properly Sacraments. For rites instituted by men will not in this way be Sacraments properly so called. For it does not belong to human authority to promise grace. Therefore signs instituted without God’s command are not sure signs of grace, even though they perhaps instruct the rude [children or the uncultivated], or admonish as to something [as a painted cross]. Therefore Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God's command and the promise of grace, which is peculiar to the New Testament. For when we are baptized, when we eat the Lord's body, when we are absolved, our hearts must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us for Christ's sake. And God, at the same time, by the Word and by the rite, moves hearts to believe and conceive faith, just as Paul says, Romans 10:17: 'Faith cometh by hearing.' But just as the Word enters the ear in order to strike our heart, so the rite itself strikes the eye, in order to move the heart. The effect of the Word and of the rite is the same, as it has been well said by Augustine that a Sacrament is a visible word, because the rite is received by the eyes, and is, as it were, a picture of the Word, signifying the same thing as the Word. Therefore the effect of both is the same."

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, XIII, #3-5. Number/Use Sacraments. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 309. Tappert, p. 211. Heiser, p. 94.


The term sacrament is not directly from the Scriptures but expresses what the Bible teaches.[3] In this area especially, one must not only ask about the terms used, but also determine what an individual means by those terms. Many expressions overlap. Those who do not accept the Biblical meaning of the sacraments will still use the term while calling the sacrament only symbolic. One can find this use among Presbyterians and Methodists as well. The Methodists claim to teach the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Communion, but their official doctrinal statement limits the presence to a spiritual presence. Lutherans may rarely use the favorite Reformed term, ordinance, instead of sacrament. Lutherans may also write about the sacraments being symbolic, without suggesting that they are only symbolic. Thus the secret bedfellows of the Reformed have a certain amount of confusion aiding them in their nefarious attempts to create a pan-Protestant generic faith marked by the absence of creeds, liturgy, and the Means of Grace.



"Although the Church properly is the congregation of saints and true believers, nevertheless, since in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled therewith, it is lawful to use Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ: 'The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat, etc.' Matthew 23:2. Both the Sacraments and Word are effectual by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ, notwithstanding they be administered by evil men."

Augsburg Confession, VIII. What the Church Is, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 47. Tappert, p. 33. Heiser, p. 13.


We live in an era where Lutheran leaders believe they can slither around the topic of false doctrine by teaching Lutheran doctrine while embracing Reformed methods. Thus WELS District President Robert Mueller published a fine statement against the Church Growth Movement while promoting Church Growth fervently within his district. Likewise, CLC President Dan Fleischer wrote an equally eloquent statement against the Church Growth Movement but also fanned the flames of Reformed doctrine within his tiny fiefdom. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod has prided itself on its opposition to the Church Growth Movement, but President George Orvick has always supported the error, sometimes with calculating silence, often with loud hurrahs for the false teachers of WELS.[4] The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, under the conservative leadership of Al Barry, Paul McCain, and Herman Otten, has harbored in its bosom hundreds of Pentecostal ministers, not to mention congregations belonging to another denomination, the Willow Creek Association.[5]



"You cannot of a truth be for true doctrine without being unalterably opposed to false doctrine. There can be no 'positive theology' where the God-given negatives have been eliminated from the Decalog."

            Norman A. Madson, Preaching to Preachers, Mankato: Lutheran Synod Book Company, 1952. Preface.


Being for the Means of Grace must also include opposing any system of thought replacing or supplanting the doctrine revealed to us in the Scriptures and confessed in the Book of Concord. Lutherans use the expression “Means of Grace” to show that forgiveness of sin comes to us only through the invisible Word of preaching, teaching, and absolution or the visible Word of Baptism and Holy Communion. The Reformed do not downplay the Means of Grace. They utterly reject the Means of Grace, as all junior seminarians know.[6]



"But just as the Word of God is the means of Grace, it is also the means of judgment. 'He that rejected Me,' says Christ, John 12:48, 'and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the Last Day.'"

Eduard Preuss, "The Means of Grace," The Justification of the Sinner before God, trans., Julius A. Friedrich, Chicago: F. Allerman, 1934, p. 63.


We owe our confirmation youth the knowledge of the Means of Grace in an era where so much confusion abounds concerning how we are forgiven of our sins by God. Lutherans are not Protestants who happen to use the liturgy and creeds. Cults have their greatest success with youth who have been poorly trained in their own faith, whether it is Judaism or Christianity. The loss of confessionalism quickly turns into apathy toward the Bible and a vague sense of righteousness based upon good works. This leaves youth with no sense of God-given purpose, no place to turn for genuine forgiveness, and no foundation for discerning between truth and falsehood, good and evil. The mainline churches set up their youth for cult membership by teaching tolerance for everything except confessionalism.



"To you, I must thank especially. You made me realize that there is so much in the Bible that is yet to be discovered. You definitely made confirmation fun and sweet! I have learned so much from you and I hope that I never forget it. I want you to know that without your teaching, I would not know the Means of Grace. Thank you so much, again."

Katie Schmidt, (newly confirmed), Church of the Lutheran Confession. Letter to Gregory L. Jackson, 5-29-96.



"The Holy Spirit works through the Word and the Sacraments, which only, in the proper sense, are means of grace. Both the Word and the Sacraments bring a positive grace, which is offered to all who receive them outwardly, and which is actually imparted to all who have faith to embrace it."

Charles P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1871, p. 127.



"The Lutheran Church Faces the World by clinging to the Means of Grace. The doctrine of the means of grace is truly a most timely subject. For just in these last times, according to divine revelation, there will be at work many spiritual brigands who will perpetrate the grossest kind of deception."

Edwin E. Pieplow, "The Means of Grace," The Abiding Word, 3 vols., ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 322.



"For the joy Thine advent gave me,

For Thy holy, precious Word;

For Thy Baptism, which doth save me,

For Thy blest Communion board;

For Thy death, the bitter scorn,

For Thy resurrection morn, Lord,

I thank Thee and extol Thee,

And in heaven I shall behold Thee."

Thomas Kingo, "Like the Golden Sun Ascending," #207, The Lutheran Hymnal, trans., George T. Rygh, 1908 St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.





"For this reason we shall now relate, furthermore, from God's Word how man is converted to God, how and through what means [namely, through the oral Word and the holy Sacraments] the Holy Ghost wants to be efficacious in us, and to work and bestow in our hearts true repentance, faith, and new spiritual power and ability for good, and how we should conduct ourselves towards these means, and [how we should] use them."

Formula of Concord, SD II. #48. Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 901. Tappert, p. 530. Heiser, p. 246.



"Therefore God, out of His immense goodness and mercy, has His divine eternal Law and His wonderful plan concerning our redemption, namely, the holy, alone-saving Gospel of His eternal Son, our only Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, publicly preached; and by this [preaching] collects an eternal Church for Himself from the human race, and works in the hearts of men true repentance and knowledge of sins, and true faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. And by this means, and in no other way, namely, through His holy Word, when men hear it preached or read it, and the holy Sacraments when they are used according to His Word, God desires to call men to eternal salvation, draw them to Himself, and convert, regenerate, and sanctify them. 1 Corinthians 1:21: 'For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.' Acts 10:5-6..."

Formula of Concord SD II. #50. Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 901. Tappert, p. 530f. Heiser, p. 246.



"Moreover, the declaration, John 6:44, that no one can come to Christ except the Father draw him, is right and true. However, the Father will not do this without means, but has ordained for this purpose His Word and Sacraments as ordinary means and instruments; and it is the will neither of the Father nor of the Son that a man should not hear or should despise the preaching of His Word, and wait for the drawing of the Father without the Word and Sacraments. For the Father draws indeed by the power of His Holy Ghost, however, according to His usual order [the order decreed and instituted by Himself], by the hearing of His holy, divine Word, as with a net, by which the elect are plucked from the jaws of the devil. Every poor sinner should therefore repair thereto [to holy preaching], hear it attentively, and not doubt the drawing of the Father. For the Holy Ghost will be with His Word in His power, and work by it...."

Formula of Concord, SD XI. #76-77. Election. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1089. Tappert, p. 629. Heiser, p. 293. John 6:44.



"In the Acts of the Apostles also we read how again and again the Spirit was given through and in connection with the Word. The Apostles depended on nothing but Word and Sacrament."

G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 136.



"The same divine Saviour now works through means. He has founded a Church, ordained a ministry, and instituted the preaching of the Word and the administration of His own sacraments. Christ now works in and through His Church. Through her ministry, preaching the Word, and administering the sacraments, the Holy Spirit is given. (Augsburg Confession, Article 5.)

G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 30.



"But in extraordinary cases, does He not dispense with means? Even there, means are employed; but in an extraordinary way. At Pentecost the multitudes were converted through the Word, although this Word was given under extraordinary conditions and circumstances, just as the multitudes in the wilderness were sustained not without bread, but with bread furnished in an extraordinary manner."

Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 266.



"When the efficacy of Word and Sacraments encounters man's unbelief and persistent resistance, their efficacy is not destroyed; but it is transformed from an efficacy of grace to one of judgment (2 Corinthians 2:16; 1 Corinthians 11:29)."

Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 320.



"If the question is put, 'Why did God ordain so many means of grace when one suffices to confer upon the sinner His grace and forgiveness?' we quote the reply of Luther who writes (Smalcald Articles, IV: 'The Gospel not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin, for God is superabundantly rich in His grace. First through the spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world, which is the peculiar office of the Gospel. Secondly through Baptism. Thirdly through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourthly through the power of the keys and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matthew 18:20.'"

John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 447. SA, IV, Concordia Triglotta, p. 491.



"For we can definitely assert that where the Lord's Supper, Baptism, and the Word are found, Christ, the remission of sins, and life eternal are found. On the other hand, where these signs of grace are not found, or where they are despised by men, not only grace is lacking but also foul errors will follow. Then men will set up other forms of worship and other signs for themselves."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 914. Genesis 4:3.



"From this it follows that they act foolishly, yea, against God's order and institution, who despise and reject the external Word, thinking that the Holy Spirit and faith should come to them without means. It will indeed be a long time before that happens."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 915.



"Give us Thy Spirit, peace afford

Now and forever, gracious Lord.

Preserve to us till life is spent

Thy holy Word and Sacrament."

Nikolaus Selnecker, "O Faithful God, Thanks Be to Thee," #321, The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.



"Since it is God's gracious purpose to remove every hindrance to conversion by the means of grace, and it is still possible for a man at every point to continue in his opposition to God, a man is never without responsibility over towards the grace of God, although he may mock and say that, since God is the one who does everything for our salvation, then a man has no responsibility himself, as we see in Romans 9:19. Cf. Theses 17 and 18."

U. V. Koren, 1884, "An Accounting," Grace for Grace: Brief History of the Norwegian Synod, ed., Sigurd C. Ylvisaker, Mankato: Lutheran Synod Book Company, 1943, Romans 9:19.


Part One: Baptism


Old Testament Sacramental Actions


We should not hesitate at the thought that God would unite His promises with earthly elements. Every rainbow reminds us of one particular promise.


KJV Genesis 9:15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.


God gave Abraham a sign of His covenant.


KJV Genesis 17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.


Those who insist that God does not need a visible sign of His promises miss the entire point of the sacraments. God was with the Israelites during the Exodus and spoke to Moses. Nevertheless, the Israelites needed a visible sign of His presence and His promises. Even then they faltered many times because of doubt.


KJV Exodus 13:21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.


When God defeated the Philistines, the prophet Samuel set up a memorial stone to remind the people of what God had accomplished. In remembering God’s gracious acts among us, faith is strengthened.


KJV 1 Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.


The entire Old Testament is a preparation for the complete revelation of the Gospel. We tend to view God’s time as calendar time, one event leading to another, cause and effect, just as we learn in history classes. In contrast we must allow that the Incarnation was determined by God from the beginning of time, along with all the promises associated with the Savior. Therefore, the Old Testament is truly based upon the New Testament. The spotless Passover lamb, sacrificed for the meal, foreshadowed the Lamb who would bear the sins of the world.


KJV Exodus 12:7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.


KJV 1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.


God promised to care for His people during the Exodus. One of the greatest anxieties of a wandering multitude would be water. The Israelites fell into doubt and strife from their lack of water.


KJV Exodus 17:6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?


KJV 1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.


Another sign of God’s love came in the form of manna, bread from heaven.


KJV Exodus 16:15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.


KJV John 6:58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.


Who could have imagined that the attack of serpents against the Israelites would be directly connected with the best and most concise summary of the Gospel message in the Bible?


KJV Numbers 21:7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.


KJV John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


Those who are offended by the visible Word should consider the giving of the Ten Commandments. God might have given His commandments and allowed them to be written down. Instead God inscribed them and had them placed in the ark of the covenant to be carried with the people of God as a visible sign of the Word. Surely God did not need to have His commandments carved in stone and carried with great awe and solemnity in a special casket. And yet God willed that this be done to sustain faith.


KJV Joshua 3:10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.


One definition of Calvinist worship is “A sermon surrounded by four white walls.” In fact, one church in New Haven, Connecticut, home of Yale University, found itself offended that members saw fit to add Tiffany glass windows to the original plain structure. The offending windows were removed. Formerly, in the name of protecting people against Roman influence, Protestants jettisoned the liturgy, creeds, chorales, paraments, stoles, liturgical gowns (preferring the academic black gown often seen on Court TV), and almost all visual images of the Christian faith. Now, Lutherans, in aping their non-liturgical brethren, have done the same, even removing the black Geneva gown in favor of a polyester business suit.[7]


Baptism in the Small Catechism



The Sacrament of Holy Baptism,

as the Head of the Family Should Teach It

in a Simple Way to His Household.



What is baptism?

Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God’s command and connected with God’s Word.

Which is that word of God?

            Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Matthew: Go ye into all the world and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.



What does Baptism give or profit?

            It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as words and promises of God declare.[8]

Which are such words and promises of God?

            Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he believeth not shall be damned.



How can water do such great things?

            It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.



What does such baptizing with water signify?

            It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.


Where is this written?

            St. Paul says, Romans chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.[9]


The Large Catechism on Baptism


I have two specific, personal reasons for avoiding doctrine and methods of the anti-Means of Grace Protestants. First of all, my family attended the Congregationalist church for many years and then joined the unionistic and quasi-Baptist Disciples of Christ congregation in town. I remember the Congregationalist church best for the woman who attended in a man’s suit and tie, long before anyone considered it normal. My mother’s answers to my puzzled and child-like questions were vague and disconcerting. The Disciples congregation, boldly named First Christian Church, emphasized the pastor’s personality, rebaptized everyone who had not been immersed, and motivated a packed Sunday School with special youth trips earned by faithful—if riotous—attendance. Hymns were obnoxiously sentimental in tone. The service was curiously divided into various unchanging “rituals,” including the “Ritual of Friendship.” People explained that they did not like Lutheranism because of all the “ritual,” and that perplexed me. I escaped to Lutheranism, good hymns, the liturgy, the creeds, paraments, and sermons about the Word. I also had the good fortune to marry the smartest and cutest Lutheran girl at Augustana College, a school once closely allied with my new Augustana Synod/LCA congregation.

Secondly, both of our daughters died at an early age. Because of neurological degeneration that attacked their muscular strength, neither Bethany nor Erin Joy could speak beyond cooing, crying, and laughing. Nevertheless, their intelligence was superior and they matured in ways identical to any little girl. I baptized both girls as babies and experienced their faith in Jesus their Savior. Nothing in the Baptist armory can convince me that:

  1. Bethany and Erin Joy were born innocent, since both could be rebellious, mischievous, jealous, and self-centered.
  2. Bethany and Erin Joy lacked faith, since their faces responded so radiantlly when we talked about their eternity with Christ in heaven.
  3. Bethany and Erin Joy failed to show the fruits of the Spirit, since they showed faith in Christ, great love for people, endurance under the greatest hardships, growing self-control, and a boundless sense of joy. Nurses called Bethany “Angel” because of her cherubic expressions. Another set of nurses called Erin “Joy,” not knowing it was her middle name.[10]


Infant Dedication Apes Baptism


The arguments of the Baptists against infant baptism begin with the innocence of babies and their lack of knowledge about sin—a powerful weapon if one has never read the Bible or raised a child. Baptists have no concept of the true meaning of Baptism, so they imitate infant baptism by dedicating their babies, “baptizing without water” to show their denial of baptismal regeneration.[11] They baptize adults and then baptize them many times over, using Baptism as a moist form of absolution and destroying its meaning by abuse. It is impossible for Baptists to deny the efficacy of the Word alone and still have a proper understanding of Baptism. Liberal Lutherans are no less confused.

Baptism has fallen so low in esteem among Lutherans that feminist pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America feel compelled to baptize “in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer” to avoid the odious and sexist terms “Father” and “Son.” According to Dr. David Scaer, some ELCA pastors also include references to “Our Mother God” in the baptismal formula.[12] This is not Christian Baptism, but an outrage, a sacrilege, one made worse by the pathetic eagerness of the Missouri Synod, WELS, and ELS leaders to participate in unionistic religious projects with ELCA while denouncing the liberalism of ELCA from time to time.



"For as truly as I can say, No man has spun the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer out of his head, but they are revealed and given by God Himself, so also I can boast that Baptism is no human trifle, but instituted by God Himself, moreover, that it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved, lest any one regard it as a trifling matter, like putting on a new red coat. For it is of the greatest importance that we esteem Baptism excellent, glorious, and exalted, for which we contend and fight chiefly, because the world is now so full of sects clamoring that Baptism is an external thing, and that external things are of no benefit. But let it be ever so much an external thing, here stand God's Word and command which institute, establish, and confirm Baptism."[13]

The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #6-8. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 733. Tappert, p. 437. Heiser, p. 205.



"From this now learn a proper understanding of the subject, and how to answer the question what Baptism is, namely thus, that it is not mere ordinary water, but water comprehended in God's Word and command, and sanctified thereby, so that it is nothing else than a divine water; not that the water in itself is nobler than other water, but that God's Word and command are added."

The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #14. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 735. Tappert, p. 438. Heiser, p. 205.



"Therefore it is pure wickedness and blasphemy of the devil that now our new spirits, to mock at Baptism, omit from it God's Word and institution, and look upon it in no other way than as water which is taken from the well, and then blather and say: How is a handful of water to help the soul? Aye, my friend, who does not know that water is water if tearing things asunder is what we are after? But how dare you thus interfere with God's order, and tear away the most precious treasure with which God has connected and enclosed it, and which He will not have separated? For the kernel in the water is God's Word or command and the name of God, which is a treasure greater and nobler than heaven and earth."

The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #15-16. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 735. Tappert, p. 438. Heiser, p. 205f.



"Comprehend the difference, then, that Baptism is quite another thing than all other water; not on account of the natural quality, but because something more noble is here added; for God Himself stakes His honor, His power and might on it. Therefore it is not only natural water, but a divine, heavenly, holy, and blessed water, and in whatever other terms we can praise it,—all on account of the Word, which is a heavenly, holy Word, that no one can sufficiently extol, for it has, and is able to do, all that God is and can do [since it has all the virtue and power of God comprised in it]. Hence also it derives its essence as a Sacrament, as St. Augustine also taught: Accedat verbum ad elementum et fit sacramentum. That is, when the Word is joined to the element or natural substance, it becomes a Sacrament, that is, a holy and divine matter and sign."

The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #17-18. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 735f. Tappert, p. 438. Heiser, p. 206.



"Thus, and much more even, you must honor Baptism and esteem it glorious on account of the Word, since He Himself has honored it both by words and deeds; moreover, confirmed it with miracles from heaven. For do you think it was a jest that, when Christ was baptized, the heavens were opened and the Holy Ghost descended visibly, and everything was divine glory and majesty?"

The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #21. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 737. Tappert, p. 439. Heiser, p. 206.



"Therefore I exhort again that these two, the water and the Word, by no means be separated from one another and parted. For if the Word is separated from it, the water is the same as that with which the servant cooks, and may indeed be called a bath-keeper's baptism. But when it is added, as God has ordained, it is a Sacrament, and is called Christ-baptism. Let this be the first part regarding the essence and dignity of the holy Sacrament."

The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #22. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 737. Tappert, p. 439. Heiser, p. 206.



"Here you see again how highly and precious we should esteem Baptism, because in it we obtain such an unspeakable treasure, which also indicates sufficiently that it cannot be ordinary mere water. For mere water could not do such a thing, but the Word does it, and (as said above) the fact that the name of God is comprehended therein. But where the name of God is, there must be also life and salvation, that it may indeed be called a divine, blessed, fruitful, and gracious water; for by the Word such power is imparted to Baptism that it is a laver of regeneration, as St. Paul also calls it, Titus 3:5."

The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #26-27. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 739. Tappert, p. 439f. Heiser, p. 206.



"Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it. Now, if I believe this, what else is it than believing in God and in Him who has given and planted His Word into this ordinance, and proposes to us this external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?"

The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #29. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 739. Tappert, p. 440. Heiser, p. 206.



"Now here we have the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. To what else do they refer than to Baptism, that is, to the water comprehended in God's ordinance? Hence it follows that whoever rejects Baptism rejects the Word of God, faith, and Christ, who directs us thither and binds us to Baptism."

The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #31. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 739. Tappert, p. 440. Heiser, p. 206f.



"And here you see that Baptism, both in its power and signification, comprehends also the third Sacrament, which has been called repentance, as it is really nothing else than Baptism. For what else is repentance but an earnest attack upon the old man [that his lusts be restrained] and entering upon a new life? Therefore, if you live in repentance, you walk in Baptism, which not only signifies such a new life, but also produces, begins, and exercises it. For therein are given grace, the Spirit, and power to suppress the old man, so that the new man may come forth and become strong."

The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #74-76. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 751. Tappert, p. 445. Heiser, p. 209.



"Thus it appears what a great, excellent thing Baptism is, which delivers us from the jaws of the devil and makes us God's own, suppresses and takes away sin, and then daily strengthens the new man; and is and remains ever efficacious until we pass from this estate of misery to eternal glory."

The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #83. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 751. Tappert, p. 446. Heiser, p. 209.



"For this reason let every one esteem his Baptism as a daily dress in which he is to walk constantly, that he may ever be found in the faith and its fruits, that he suppress the old man and grow up in the new. For if we would be Christians, we must practice the work whereby we are Christians. But if any one fall away from it, let him again come into it. For just as Christ, the Mercy-seat, does not recede from us or forbid us to come to Him again, even though we sin, so all His treasure and gifts also remain. If, therefore, we have once in Baptism obtained forgiveness of sin, it will remain every day, as long as we live, that is, as long as we carry the old man about our neck."

The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #84-86. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 753. Tappert, p. 446. Heiser, p. 209f.


The Holy Trinity and the Baptism of Jesus



"But here it is written that when Christ was baptized, all three Persons of the Trinity were present—God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit...and that the heavens stood open, too. In fact, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit daily stand about and at the side of our own Baptism....For this reason we should highly esteem and honor Baptism and say: Baptism was not devised by any human being, but God instituted it; and it is not simple water, but God's Word is in it and with it, which makes of its water a washing of the soul and a washing of regeneration."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 45. John 1:30-32.


KJV Luke 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, 22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.


BYZ Luke 3:21 VEge,neto de. evn tw/| baptisqh/nai a[panta to.n lao.n kai. VIhsou/ baptisqe,ntoj kai. proseucome,nou avnew|cqh/nai to.n ouvrano.n 22 kai. katabh/nai to. pneu/ma to. a[gion swmatikw/| ei;dei w`sei. peristera.n evp auvto,n kai. fwnh.n evx ouvranou/ gene,sqai le,gousan( Su. ei= o` ui`o,j mou o` avgaphto,j evn soi. euvdo,khsa.


Passages Showing God’s Activity in Baptism


The poverty of the anti-Means of Grace perspective is exceptionally clear when we examine the New Testament passages about Baptism. Most of the passages listed below are directly concerned with Baptism, but many more texts could also be listed. Baptism is the singular sacrament uniting all Christians, without regard to age, gender, or social status.[14] One passage is so important that Baptists have converted it from a Baptism text to a sedes doctrinae for the Hour of Decision.


Born from Above

KJV John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees,[15] named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?


BYZ John 3:1 ?Hn de. a;nqrwpoj evk tw/n Farisai,wn Niko,dhmoj o;noma auvtw/| a;rcwn tw/n VIoudai,wn\ 2 ou-toj h=lqen pro.j auvto.n nukto.j kai. ei=pen auvtw/| ~Rabbi, oi;damen o[ti avpo. qeou/ evlh,luqaj dida,skaloj\ ouvdei.j ga.r tau/ta ta. shmei/a du,natai poiei/n a] su. poiei/j eva.n mh. h=| o` qeo.j met auvtou/ 3 avpekri,qh o` VIhsou/j kai. ei=pen auvtw/| VAmh.n avmh.n le,gw soi eva.n mh, tij gennhqh/| a;nwqen ouv du,natai ivdei/n th.n basilei,an tou/ qeou/ 4 le,gei pro.j auvto.n o` Niko,dhmoj Pw/j du,natai a;nqrwpoj gennhqh/nai ge,rwn w;n mh. du,natai eivj th.n koili,an th/j mhtro.j auvtou/ deu,teron eivselqei/n kai. gennhqh/nai 5 avpekri,qh VIhsou/j VAmh.n avmh.n le,gw soi eva.n mh, tij gennhqh/| evx u[datoj kai. pneu,matoj ouv du,natai eivselqei/n eivj th.n basilei,an tou/ qeou/ 6 to. gegennhme,non evk th/j sarko.j sa,rx evstin kai. to. gegennhme,non evk tou/ pneu,matoj pneu/ma, evstin 7 mh. qauma,sh|j o[ti ei=po,n soi Dei/ u`ma/j gennhqh/nai a;nwqen 8 to. pneu/ma o[pou qe,lei pnei/ kai. th.n fwnh.n auvtou/ avkou,eij avll ouvk oi=daj po,qen e;rcetai kai. pou/ u`pa,gei\ ou[twj evsti.n pa/j o` gegennhme,noj evk tou/ pneu,matoj 9 avpekri,qh Niko,dhmoj kai. ei=pen auvtw/| Pw/j du,natai tau/ta gene,sqai 10 avpekri,qh VIhsou/j kai. ei=pen auvtw/| Su. ei= o` dida,skaloj tou/ VIsrah.l kai. tau/ta ouv ginw,skeij 11 avmh.n avmh.n le,gw soi o[ti o] oi;damen lalou/men kai. o] e`wra,kamen marturou/men kai. th.n marturi,an h`mw/n ouv lamba,nete 12 eiv ta. evpi,geia ei=pon u`mi/n kai. ouv pisteu,ete pw/j eva.n ei;pw u`mi/n ta. evpoura,nia pisteu,sete.


The conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus took place on two levels, as it did with the woman at the well and with Peter having his feet washed. Jesus explained His heavenly wisdom to Nicodemus, but Nicodemus heard only earthly things at first.[16] Nevertheless, we know he was converted to faith by the subsequent references to him in the Gospel. The key to his first misunderstanding is lost on people who do not know New Testament Greek. When Jesus said, “You must be born from above,” He used a word in Greek that has two meanings. The primary meaning in Greek is “from above” and is based upon the adverb for “above.” The secondary meaning for the Greek word is “again.” The main Greek adverb for “again” (palin) can be found in an English word – palindrome.[17] The Greek word used in John 3 is not palin but anothen. The adverb palin is found 140 times in the New Testament, but anothen only 13 times.[18] Significantly, the adverb anothen is used in the Gospel of John in the sense of “from above” in two additional places:


KJV John 3:31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.


BYZ John 3:31 ~O a;nwqen evrco,menoj evpa,nw pa,ntwn evsti,n\ o` w'n evk th/j gh/j evk th/j gh/j evstin kai. evk th/j gh/j lalei/ o` evk tou/ ouvranou/ evrco,menoj evpa,nw pa,ntwn evsti,n\


KJV John 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.


BYZ John 19:11 avpekri,qh VIhsou/j Ouvk ei=cej evxousi,an ouvdemi,an kat evmou/ eiv mh. h=n soi dedome,non a;nwqen\ dia. tou/to o` paradidou,j me, soi mei,zona a`marti,an e;cei.


KJV James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.


BYZ James 1:17 pa/sa do,sij avgaqh. kai. pa/n dw,rhma te,leion a;nwqe,n evstin katabai/non avpo. tou/ patro.j tw/n fw,twn par w-| ouvk e;ni parallagh. h' troph/j avposki,asm.


KJV James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.


BYZ James 3:17 h` de. a;nwqen sofi,a prw/ton me.n a`gnh, evstin e;peita eivrhnikh, evpieikh,j euvpeiqh,j mesth. evle,ouj kai. karpw/n avgaqw/n avdia,kritoj kai. avnupo,kritoj.


The adverb a;nwqen (anothen) is also used in the New Testament in the sense “from top to bottom” and “from the beginning.” The context in John demands the primary meaning of “from above.” From time to time, someone will insist that we must translate the Greek text into Aramaic to understand it, as if the Incarnate Son of God and His disciples could not have known two languages at once, a common presumption among Americans, some of whom do not even know their own mother tongue. It is not difficult to find unschooled people today who speak five or six languages because of their need to communicate with various ethnic groups in the same neighborhood. Jesus lived in Roman occupied territory where Latin, Greek, and Aramaic were spoken, so we can imagine the typical person needing to speak more than one language. Nevertheless, we should emphasize what we know—the text—rather than speculate about what we will never know.

The Baptist spin on this passage is entirely wrong. Jesus did not tell Nicodemus that he must be “born again” in the primary sense, but that he must be “born from above.” There is some ironic humor in the failure of Nicodemus to understand the statement correctly, just as the woman at the well (John 4) thought only of water to drink, at first. The ever-impetuous Peter refused a foot-wash and then asked for a shampoo (John 13:8-9) when foot-washing was explained to him.

We can forgive the King James Version for translating the adverb anothen as “again,”to make the question of Nicodemus seem appropriate:


KJV John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again {from above}, he cannot see the kingdom of God.[19]


BYZ John 3:3 avpekri,qh o` VIhsou/j kai. ei=pen auvtw/| VAmh.n avmh.n le,gw soi eva.n mh, tij gennhqh/| a;nwqen ouv du,natai ivdei/n th.n basilei,an tou/ qeou.


After Nicodemus made the issue an obstetrical problem, Jesus explained:


KJV John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.


BYZ John 3:5 avpekri,qh VIhsou/j VAmh.n avmh.n le,gw soi eva.n mh, tij gennhqh/| evx u[datoj kai. pneu,matoj ouv du,natai eivselqei/n eivj th.n basilei,an tou/ qeou/.


The Son of God is stating that being born from above means being water/Spirit born. We can join water and Spirit together in English because the Greek text is anarthrous, or lacking the article. Greek uses the article more than English, so the lack of an article is a grammatical event used for emphasis. Pentecostals claim to speak every tongue except New Testament Greek, so they insist this water/Spirit Baptism is a reference to a second baptism, a baptism of the Spirit accompanied by ecstatic speech. However, this is impossible on three counts.

1.     Water and Spirit are joined together by the anarthrous construction.

2.     The preposition evx (ex) is used only once, so it governs both water and Spirit together and not separately. “Born of water/Spirit,” not born of water and born of Spirit.

3.     Thirdly, the Bible teaches only one Baptism (Ephesians 4:5).


God uses different but parallel terms to teach us, if we take the time to study the passages. Being born from above is necessary to see the kingdom of God and to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus might have said, “Except a man be born of water and Word…” The Holy Spirit works only through the Word (Isaiah 55:8-11),[20] so Spirit and Word are interchangeable. We can simplify the exchange in this way.


Nicodemus: “How can someone be born from above and see the kingdom of God?”

Jesus: “Only through Baptism.”


Jesus and the Apostles converted people through the spoken Word. Faith in the Gospel moved adults to ask for Baptism. A man who believed in Jesus would be baptized with his entire household, including the smallest infants. The babies and small children would be nurtured in the faith given them at Baptism. We know that Christians have always been baptized. In some exceptional cases, someone might be converted to the faith and never have the opportunity for Baptism, but that would be extremely rare.



"Observe from this text how Christ in plain words ascribes to Baptism, which He calls water, such glory and power as to say that the Holy Spirit is present in it, and that by its means a person is born anew. By this statement all false doctrines and errors against the doctrine of faith and Baptism are overthrown."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 434. Trinity Sunday John 3:1-15.



“Yea, Thy Word is clear and plain,

And we would obey it duly:

‘He who is not born again,

Heart and life renewing truly,

Born of water and the Spirit,

Can My kingdom not inherit.’”

Benjamin Schmolck, “Dearest Jesus, We Are Here,” The Lutheran Hymnal, #300, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.


Original Sin and the Two-Fold Blessing of Baptism



"Also they teach that since the fall of Adam, all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost. They condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason."

Augsburg Confession, II. #1. Original Sin. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 43f. Tappert, p. 29. Heiser, p. 12.



"Here our adversaries inveigh against Luther also because he wrote that 'Original sin remains after Baptism.' They add that this article was condemned by Leo X. But His Imperial Majesty will find on this point a manifest slander. For our adversaries know in what sense Luther intended this remark, that original sin remains after Baptism. He always wrote thus, namely, that Baptism removes the guilt of original sin, although the material, as they call it, of the sin, i. e., concupiscence, remains. He also added in reference to the material that the Holy Ghost, given through Baptism, begins to mortify the concupiscence, and creates new movements [a new light, a new sense and spirit] in man."

Apology Augsburg Confession, II. #35. Original Sin. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 115. Tappert, p. 104f. Heiser, p. 31.


KJV Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.


BYZ Acts 2:38 Pe,troj de. e;fh pro.j auvtou,j Metanoh,sate kai. baptisqh,tw e[kastoj u`mw/n evpi. tw/| ovno,mati VIhsou/ Cristou/ eivj a;fesin a`martiw/n kai. lh,yesqe th.n dwrea.n tou/ a`gi,ou pneu,matoj.






Infant Baptism



"Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God; and that children are to be baptized, who, being offered to God through Baptism, are received into God's grace. They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children, and say that children are saved without Baptism."[21]

Augsburg Confession, IX. Baptism. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 47. Tappert, p. 33. Heiser, p. 13.



"We should be on our guard against the Anabaptists and sectarian spirits, who speak contemptuously of Baptism and say that it is nothing but ordinary water, which helps no one. They look at the sacred act as a cow looks at a new door; for they see a poor preacher standing there or some woman who baptizes in an emergency, are offended at the sight, and say: Indeed! What might Baptism be? Moreover, they state: Whoever does not believe is really not baptized. In this way they dishonor and blaspheme the most worthy Sacrament, not seeing any farther than a horse or a cow sees...."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 45. John 1:30-32.


Arguments against infant baptism did not surface with any strength in the Christian Church until followers of Zwingli took his rationalism seriously and began rebaptizing adults. Thus the Christian Church existed for 16 centuries without being burdened by doubts about infant baptism.[22] The assault against infant baptism continues along the same lines established by the rationalists:

  1. Infants cannot believe.
  2. The Word is not efficacious.


KJV Psalm 22:9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. 10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.


NIV Psalm 22:9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast. 10 From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God.


Some may want to dismiss the Psalm 22 passage because it is so clearly Messianic. However, when we turn to the Gospels, we find young children praising Christ and confessing their faith in Him as the Son of David, much to the distress of the scribes and chief priests.


KJV Matthew 21:15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, 16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?


BYZ Matthew 21:15 ivdo,ntej de. oi` avrcierei/j kai. oi` grammatei/j ta. qauma,sia a] evpoi,hsen kai. tou.j pai/daj kra,zontaj evn tw/| i`erw/| kai. le,gontaj ~Wsanna. tw/| ui`w/| Daui,d hvgana,kthsan 16 kai. ei=pon auvtw/| VAkou,eij ti, ou-toi le,gousin o` de. VIhsou/j le,gei auvtoi/j Nai, ouvde,pote avne,gnwte o[ti VEk sto,matoj nhpi,wn kai. qhlazo,ntwn kathrti,sw ai=non.


Jesus Himself taught that we must become as tiny children to enter the kingdom. That would be impossible if children did not believe. The term for children in Matthew 21:15 is paidia (paidi,a). Jesus as a newborn was a paidion, the singular form of paidia.[23] The Jews circumcise on the eighth day, and this newborn named John was called a paidion.[24] The woman in travail parable in John uses paidion for the newborn baby.[25] The newborn Moses was called a paidion.[26]


KJV Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.


BYZ Matthew 18:3 kai. ei=pen VAmh.n le,gw u`mi/n eva.n mh. strafh/te kai. ge,nhsqe w`j ta. paidi,a ouv mh. eivse,lqhte eivj th.n basilei,an tw/n ouvranw/n 4 o[stij ou=n tapeinw,sei e`auto.n w`j to. paidi,on tou/to ou-to,j evstin o` mei,zwn evn th/| basilei,a| tw/n ouvranw/n 5 kai. o]j eva.n de,xhtai paidi,on toiou/ton e]n evpi. tw/| ovno,mati, mou evme. de,cetai.


KJV Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.


BYZ Mark 10:15 avmh.n le,gw u`mi/n o]j eva.n mh. de,xhtai th.n basilei,an tou/ qeou/ w`j paidi,on ouv mh. eivse,lqh| eivj auvth,n.



KJV Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.


BYZ Matthew 19:14 o` de. VIhsou/j ei=pen :Afete ta. paidi,a kai. mh. kwlu,ete auvta. evlqei/n pro,j me tw/n ga.r toiou,twn evsti.n h` basilei,a tw/n ouvranw/n.




"The purest and best part of the human race, the special nursery and flower of God's Church, is tender youth. Youth retains the gift of the Holy Spirit which it received in Baptism; it learns eagerly the true doctrine about God and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ; it calls Him God with a chaste mind and with a simple, pure faith; it thanks Him with a quick and joyful heart for the blessings received from Him; in its studies and the other parts of life, it carries out the duties commanded it; and it obeys God and parents reverently. Particularly God-pleasing, therefore, are the studies of one's earliest age: prayer, obedience and praises which honor God, regardless of how weak and stammering its voice may be."

David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 9.



"I still maintain, as I have maintained in the Postil (SL 11, 496f.) that the surest Baptism is infant baptism. For an old person may deceive, may come to Christ as a Judas and permit himself to be baptized. But a child cannot deceive. It comes to Christ in Baptism as John came to Him and as the little children were brought to Him, that His Word and work may come over them, touch them, and thus make them holy. For His Word and work cannot pass by without effect; and in Baptism they are directed at the child alone. If they were to fail of success here, they would have to be entire failures and useless means, which is impossible."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 50. Letter to two ministers, 1528.






"He that believes and is baptized

Shall see the Lord's salvation;

Baptized into the death of Christ,

He is a new creation.

Through Christ's redemption he shall stand

Among the glorious heavenly band

Of every tribe and nation.


"With one accord, O God, we pray:

Grant us Thy Holy Spirit;

Look Thou on our infirmity

Through Jesus' blood and merit.

Grant us to grow in grace each day

That by this Sacrament we may

Eternal life inherit."

Thomas Kingo, 1689, "He That Believes and Is Baptized" The Lutheran Hymnal, #301, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.


Meaning of Hinder


When Jesus said, “Do not hinder the small children from coming to Me,” we should ask about the meaning of hinder. The Greek verb for hinder, kwlu,ein (koluein), is used in the New Testament in the sense of prevention.[27] As we see below, what prevents me from being baptized?


KJV Acts 8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?


BYZ Acts 8:36 w`j de. evporeu,onto kata. th.n o`do,n h=lqon evpi, ti u[dwr kai, fhsin o` euvnou/coj VIdou. u[dwr\ ti, kwlu,ei me baptisqh/nai.


The following verse concerns the evil of Diotrephes, who did not receive the brothers into membership, but prevented them and threw them out.[28] This one passage casts considerable light upon forbidding and its opposite, receiving. See Mark 9:37 below. Forbidding means preventing membership in the Christian Church, so receiving means taking someone into membership.[29] Casting out suggests a formal resolution by the congregation and not physical removal.


KJV 3 John 1:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.


BYZ 3 John 1:10 dia. tou/to eva.n e;lqw u`pomnh,sw auvtou/ ta. e;rga a] poiei/ lo,goij ponhroi/j fluarw/n h`ma/j kai. mh. avrkou,menoj evpi. tou,toij ou;te auvto.j evpide,cetai tou.j avdelfou.j kai. tou.j boulome,nouj kwlu,ei kai. evk th/j evkklhsi,aj evkba,llei.


How can one exaggerate the meaning of Mark 9:37? Receiving a child is the same as receiving Christ, and receiving Christ is the same as receiving the One Who sent Him. This is no small matter. To say a baptized child has faith requires faith in the Word. This is a great comfort to the parents. In contrast, someone who denies infant faith and baptismal regeneration becomes a modern Diotrephes, forbidding children and destroying the faith of their parents.[30] Modern Baptists are quite conflicted. Most of them seem to dedicate babies now, an acknowledgement of the reasons for infant baptism. Nevertheless, they insist on teaching against infant faith and baptismal regeneration while performing their dry baptisms.[31]

Nothing should make a pastor and congregation more confident in their work than infant baptism. It is such a simple thing and yet it is a once in a lifetime sacrament for the child. Only God is at work. The pastor, parents, and godparents simply participate in what the child receives through the Holy Spirit working in the Word. The baby is too small to dismiss the Word and too unlearned to imagine the Word is beneath him. Is a newborn incapable of believing? In many cases I have held the baby for the first time when it was time to apply the water. More than once a baby has looked into my face, seen a stranger, and wailed the cry of an angry or frightened child. Does he trust me? No. I baptize him in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Then I hand the outraged child softly into his mother’s arms. She says a few words to him. He sniffles and coos. Does he trust his mother? Yes. We can also say with confidence that he trusts God.

KJV James 1:21bReceive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.


BYZ James 1:21b de,xasqe to.n e;mfuton lo,gon to.n duna,menon sw/sai ta.j yuca.j u`mw/n.


KJV Mark 9:37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.


BYZ Mark 9:37 }Oj eva.n e]n tw/n toiou,twn paidi,wn de,xhtai evpi. tw/| ovno,mati, mou evme. de,cetai\ kai. o]j eva.n evme. de,xhtai ouvk evme. de,cetai avlla. to.n avpostei,lanta, me.


Households Baptized


How the Baptists and Pentecostals cry out in dismay when anyone states that entire households were baptized in the New Testament! First they say, “Do not talk about church history.” One cannot even mention that babies were baptized in the church for 16 centuries. The Baptists also say, “This baptism of households is not a proper argument. Not once is a baby mentioned in these passages.” Since the manner of Baptism is disputed, we have to look at these passages in their historical context. If we could find examples of Baptisms limited to adults in the apostolic era and in subsequent times, the household Baptisms might be imagined to be limited to adults. However, just the opposite is true. We have many specific examples of infant baptism from the earliest days of the Church. Moreover, the reason for the lack of New Testament argumentative material on the subject of infant baptism is the universal lack of debate on the issue.

The only reference to a later age for Baptism in the early church is an argument against infant baptism based upon postponement until the turbulent adolescent years are over. In other words, infant baptism was taken for granted from the earliest days of the Church and not doubted until the Anabaptists broke with Zwingli. Baptists and Pentecostals ignore all church history between the apostolic era and the Reformation. Luther is given some credit, but he did not go far enough in the opinion of Baptists. Unfortunately, Lutherans now have a Baptist/Pentecostal view of church history. One of the many strengths of the Book of Concord is its consistency with the church fathers. If we do not understand Augustine, Jerome, and Ambrose, it is difficult to appreciate the catholic, that is, the truly universal and orthodox nature of the Lutheran confessions, which begin with the Three Ecumenical Creeds.


Cornelius believed and was baptized:


KJV Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.


BYZ Acts 10:48 prose,taxen te auvtou.j baptisqh/nai evn tw/| ovno,mati tou/ Kuri,ouÅ to,te hvrw,thsan auvto.n evpimei/nai h`me,raj tina,j.


Lydia was baptized with her household:


KJV Acts 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.



BYZ Acts 16:15 w`j de. evbapti,sqh kai. o` oi=koj auvth/j pareka,lesen le,gousa Eiv kekri,kate, me pisth.n tw/| kuri,w| ei=nai eivselqo,ntej eivj to.n oi=ko,n mou mei,nateÅ kai. parebia,sato h`ma/j.


The jailer was baptized with “all his” after the spoken Word converted him.


KJV Acts 16:33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.


BYZ Acts 16:33 kai. paralabw.n auvtou.j evn evkei,nh| th/| w[ra| th/j nukto.j e;lousen avpo. tw/n plhgw/n kai. evbapti,sqh auvto.j kai. oi` auvtou/ pa,ntej paracrh/ma.


Crispus believed and was baptized with his entire household.


KJV Acts 18:8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.


BYZ Acts 18:8 Kri,spoj de. o` avrcisuna,gwgoj evpi,steusen tw/| kuri,w| su.n o[lw| tw/| oi;kw| auvtou/ kai. polloi. tw/n Korinqi,wn avkou,ontej evpi,steuon kai. evbapti,zonto.


In the light of these passages and the centuries of infant baptism following, we would have to see a specific exclusion of babies to believe that God never intended for the young to be baptized. In addition, dozens of passages would have to be removed from the Bible to allow for the Baptist/Pentecostal position. As we can see from all passages concerning the Word, where God is not glorified, man must be magnified. If God does not accomplish His will through the Word, then man must make a decision, surrender his will, have the correct attitude toward God, search for God and come to the right conclusion after hearing a skillful and winsome presentation. This rationalistic concept is behind the indictment of the Baptists against infant baptism in the Bible. They cannot imagine someone coming to faith solely through the visible Word of Baptism.

Activity of the Word in Baptism


Seven Ones

The seven “ones” passage emphasizes unity in the Christian church. It is clearly God’s will that one sacrament would unite all believers in the church. Our good works do not unite us. Our plans and attitudes do not bring us together. The distinguishing mark of unity is one Baptism we all share in common. Therefore, it is not surprising that the universal Christian use of Baptism, for all ages, would be ended during the Swiss Reformation, when a division was created that encouraged the Church of Rome to call Protestantism a half-way house on the road to unbelief.[32]


KJV Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.


BYZ Ephesians 4:4 e]n sw/ma kai. e]n pneu/ma kaqw.j kai. evklh,qhte evn mia/| evlpi,di th/j klh,sewj u`mw/n\ 5 ei-j ku,rioj mi,a pi,stij e]n ba,ptisma 6 ei-j qeo.j kai. path.r pa,ntwn o` evpi. pa,ntwn kai. dia. pa,ntwn kai. evn pa/sin h`mi/n 7 ~Eni. de. e`ka,stw| h`mw/n evdo,qh h` ca,rij kata. to. me,tron th/j dwrea/j tou/ Cristou/.


KJV 1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.


BYZ 1 Corinthians 12:13 kai. ga.r evn e`ni. pneu,mati h`mei/j pa,ntej eivj e]n sw/ma evbapti,sqhmen ei;te VIoudai/oi ei;te {Ellhnej ei;te dou/loi ei;te evleu,qeroi kai. pa,ntej eivj e]n pneu/ma evpoti,sqhmen.


KJV Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.


BYZ Galatians 3:27 o[soi ga.r eivj Cristo.n evbapti,sqhte Cristo.n evnedu,sasqe 28 ouvk e;ni VIoudai/oj ouvde. {Ellhn ouvk e;ni dou/loj ouvde. evleu,qeroj ouvk e;ni a;rsen kai. qh/lu\ pa,ntej ga.r u`mei/j ei-j evste evn Cristw/| VIhsou.


Buried-with, Risen-with


The apostle Paul taught the efficacy of Baptism, using the word for efficacy, evnergei,a (energeia), translated by the KJV as “operation.” Although the Holy Spirit never formed a compound verb for “make disciples,” He did create two compound verbs to emphasize the working of Baptism: buried-with and risen-with. In Greek the verbs are formed by adding sun (syn) to the beginning of the normal verb. This prefix strengthens the impact of God at work in Baptism, for the baptized person is passive in being buried-with Christ and being raised-with Christ. The Scriptures teach us that Baptism is God’s activity and energy through the Word in creating faith and sealing us for the Kingdom of God.


KJV Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.


BYZ Colossians 2:12 suntafe,ntej auvtw/| evn tw/| bapti,smati( evn w-| kai. sunhge,rqhte dia. th/j pi,stewj th/j evnergei,aj tou/ qeou/ tou/ evgei,rantoj auvto.n evk tw/n nekrw/n\


The significance of Baptism grows with our understanding of the Word at work in our lives as believers. The anti-sacramental confessions think of Baptism as an ordinance, a law to be obeyed. Baptism cannot be so trivial if we are buried with Christ by the sacrament and enabled to walk in newness of life.


KJV Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.


BYZ Romans 6:4 suneta,fhmen ou=n auvtw/| dia. tou/ bapti,smatoj eivj to.n qa,naton i[na w[sper hvge,rqh Cristo.j evk nekrw/n dia. th/j do,xhj tou/ patro,j ou[twj kai. h`mei/j evn kaino,thti zwh/j peripath,swmen.



"Baptized into Thy name most holy,

O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,

I claim a place, though weak and lowly,

Among Thy seed, Thy chosen host.

Buried with Christ and dead to sin,

Thy Spirit now shall live within."

Johann J. Rambach, "Baptized into Thy Name Most Holy," #298, The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.


Baptism Saves

No passage terrifies the anti-Sacrament people more that 1 Peter 3:18-22. The key verse is 1 Peter 3:21, but it should be read within the context of the argument being presented. Noah’s ark saved eight people from the total destruction of all life on earth. The Genesis flood is seldom considered seriously now in spite of obvious physical evidence of a global flood. But for someone who believes that the Old Testament is God’s Word, the implications of the flood are beyond imagination. No human beings survived unless they were on Noah’s ark. The ark saved a few people from certain death. Death by drowning is frightening, but drowning when there is no hope for rescue on the entire planet – that drowning is universal death. The ark did not save Noah’s family symbolically, but in reality, rescuing them from certain death. When we read the entire passage, it is clear that Noah’s ark is the figure or metaphor being used to show the miraculous work of Baptism. Baptism does now save us in the same way, but even beyond that. Baptism gives us the ability to rest in God’s grace and not be afraid of His wrath, because we are forgiven.

We could view the entire passage as having this form: A – B – A. At first the apostle teaches us about Christ suffering for our sins and rising from death. The verses about His descent to Hell and the ark seem to be a digression, but Peter returns to the main theme, showing how the treasure of the atoning death of Christ comes to us through Baptism. The ultra-conservative Evangelicals love the King James Version, but not here, because the Word of God says what they deny: Baptism now saves you just as certainly as Noah’s ark once saved eight souls from universal death.


KJV 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.


BYZ 1 Peter 3:18 o[ti kai. Cristo.j a[pax peri. a`martiw/n e;paqen di,kaioj u`pe.r avdi,kwn i[na u`ma/j prosaga,gh| tw/| qew/| qanatwqei.j me.n sarki. zw|opoihqei.j de. pneu,mati\ 19 evn w-| kai. toi/j evn fulakh/| pneu,masin poreuqei.j evkh,ruxen 20 avpeiqh,sasi,n pote o[te avpexede,ceto h` tou/ qeou/ makroqumi,a evn h`me,raij Nw/e kataskeuazome,nhj kibwtou/ eivj h]n ovli,gai( tou/t e;stin ovktw. yucai, diesw,qhsan di u[datoj 21 o] avnti,tupon nu/n kai. h`ma/j sw,|zei ba,ptisma ouv sarko.j avpo,qesij r`u,pou avlla. suneidh,sewj avgaqh/j evperw,thma eivj qeo,n di avnasta,sewj VIhsou/ Cristou/ 22 o[j evstin evn dexia/| tou/ qeou/ poreuqei.j eivj ouvrano,n u`potage,ntwn auvtw/| avgge,lwn kai. evxousiw/n kai. duna,mewn.


Translations Drown Baptism in Symbolism


Notice how the clear words of the King James Version must be changed in two modern revisions. Martin Jackson said about the need for publishers to change the Authorized Version, pretending only to update the verb endings for conservative Evangelicals, “They know their market.”


KJV 1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us….


New King James 1 Peter 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us — baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh….


Modern King James 1 Peter 3:21 which figure now also saves us, baptism….


King James 21st Century 1 Peter 3:21 In like manner baptism doth also now save us….[33]


ASV 1 Peter 3:21 which also after a true likeness doth now save you….


NIV 1 Peter 3:21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.[34]


NRS 1 Peter 3:21 And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you….


NAB 1 Peter 3:21 This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.


NLT 1 Peter 3:21 And this is a picture of baptism, which now saves you by the power of Jesus Christ's resurrection.


Washing of Baptism


God always gives us more than one example of His clear teaching, so no one has an excuse to say that, for instance, 1 Peter 3:21 is exceptional. A second passage portraying Baptism as saving us can be found in Titus, an overlooked Pauline letter with many significant passages for Lutherans to consider carefully. The key verse in this section is Titus 3:5, but it means more when considered within its context. The apostle Paul wrote this letter to Titus to advise him about his pastoral work. This glorious statement about Baptism is preceded first by an admonition about Christian behavior and a reminder of how the believers lived before they were converted to faith in Christ. A simple outline would be:

a.      This is how we should live as Christians.

b.     This is what the unconverted were like.

c.      This is what God did for us.

God’s kindness, love, and mercy caused Him to save us, not because of our works, but through the washing, rebirth, and renewal of the Holy Spirit in Baptism.[35] It is true that Baptism itself is not named in Titus 3:5, but washing can only refer to Baptism here, especially in light of many other references to Baptismal water, washing and rebirth.[36]


KJV Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, 2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. 3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.


BYZ Titus 3:1 ~Upomi,mnh|ske auvtou.j avrcai/j kai. evxousi,aij u`pota,ssesqai peiqarcei/n pro.j pa/n e;rgon avgaqo.n e`toi,mouj ei=nai 2 mhde,na blasfhmei/n avma,couj ei=nai evpieikei/j pa/san evndeiknume,nouj pra|o,thta pro.j pa,ntaj avnqrw,pouj 3 ?Hmen ga,r pote kai. h`mei/j avno,htoi avpeiqei/j planw,menoi douleu,ontej evpiqumi,aij kai. h`donai/j poiki,laij evn kaki,a| kai. fqo,nw| dia,gontej stughtoi, misou/ntej avllh,louj 4 o[te de. h` crhsto,thj kai. h` filanqrwpi,a evpefa,nh tou/ swth/roj h`mw/n qeou/ 5 ouvk evx e;rgwn tw/n evn dikaiosu,nh| w-n evpoih,samen h`mei/j avlla. kata. to.n auvtou/ e;leon e;swsen h`ma/j dia. loutrou/ paliggenesi,aj[37] kai. avnakainw,sewj pneu,matoj a`gi,ou 6 ou- evxe,ceen evf h`ma/j plousi,wj dia. VIhsou/ Cristou/ tou/ swth/roj h`mw/n 7 i[na dikaiwqe,ntej th/| evkei,nou ca,riti klhrono,moi genw,meqa kat evlpi,da zwh/j aivwni,ou.



"Whoever is baptized in Christ is baptized through His suffering and blood or, to state it more clearly, through Baptism he is bathed in the blood of Christ and is cleansed from sins. For this reason St. Paul calls Baptism a "washing of regeneration" (Titus 3:5); and according to what Christians say and picture, the Sacraments flow from the wounds of Christ. And what they say and picture is right." [Plass footnote: "Thus Jerome (d. 420) sees the Sacrament symbolized by the blood and water that flowed from the side of the dead Christ (John 19:34). Similarly St. Augustine (d. 430). In Luther's days pictures and woodcuts presented the same view. See W 30, II, 527, note; SL 13a, 491f.]

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 46. to Duke George, 1533. John 19:34; Titus 3:5.


KJV Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.


BYZ Acts 22:16 kai. nu/n ti, me,lleij avnasta.j ba,ptisai kai. avpo,lousai ta.j a`marti,aj sou evpikalesa,menoj to. o;noma tou/ Kuri,ouÅ


KJV 1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.


BYZ 1 Corinthians 6:11 kai. tau/ta, tinej h=te\ avlla. avpelou,sasqe avlla. h`gia,sqhte avllV evdikaiw,qhte evn tw/| ovno,mati tou/ kuri,ou VIhsou/ kai. evn tw/| pneu,mati tou/ qeou/ h`mw/n.


KJV Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.


BYZ Hebrews 10:22 prosercw,meqa meta. avlhqinh/j kardi,aj evn plhrofori,a| pi,stewj evrrantisme,noi ta.j kardi,aj avpo. suneidh,sewj ponhra/j kai. leloume,noi to. sw/ma u[dati kaqarw/|\



"How beautifully the apostle in these strong words extols the grace of God bestowed in baptism! He refers to baptism as a washing, whereby not our feet only, not our hands, but our whole bodies are cleansed. Baptism perfectly and instantaneously cleanses and saves. For the vital part of salvation and its inheritance, nothing more is necessary than this faith in the grace of God. Truly, then, are we saved by grace alone, without works or other merit."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 154. Early Christmas Morning Titus 3:5.



"Take note, God pours out upon us in baptism superabundant blessings for the purpose of excluding the works whereby men foolishly presume to merit heaven and gain happiness. Yes, dear friend, you must first possess heaven and salvation before you can do good works. Works never merit heaven; heaven is conferred purely of grace...The true Christian's whole life after baptism is but a waiting for the manifestation of the salvation already his."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 151. Early Christmas Morning. Titus 3:4-8.



"O Triune God, we humbly pray

That all Thy blessings be conferred

Upon this child here cleansed today

By means of water and the Word."

Albert Knapp, "Dear Father, Who Hast Made Us All," #299, The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.


Water and the Word


Another indisputable passage about Baptism saving us can be found in Ephesians 5. We can see that the Scriptures do not give us how-to or fix-it sermons about marriage, and that may explain why the Word of God is so seldom mentioned at Seeker Services. Instead, the apostle urges husbands to love their wives even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. A Gospel admonition about marriage is welded to the meaning of Baptism. The love of Christ is revealed in His sacrifice on the cross for the purpose of making the Church holy and cleansing it with Baptism, the washing of water with the Word. Justification by faith through Baptism is so complete that Christ can present believers to Himself as spotless, holy, and without blemish.


KJV Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.


BYZ Ephesians 5:25 Oi` a;ndrej avgapa/te ta.j gunai/kaj e`autw/n( kaqw.j kai. o` Cristo.j hvga,phsen th.n evkklhsi,an kai. e`auto.n pare,dwken u`pe.r auvth/j 26 i[na auvth.n a`gia,sh| kaqari,saj tw/| loutrw/| tou/ u[datoj evn r`h,mati 27 i[na parasth,sh| auvth.n e`autw/| e;ndoxon th.n evkklhsi,an mh. e;cousan spi,lon h' r`uti,da h; ti tw/n toiou,twn avll i[na h=| a`gi,a kai. a;mwmoj.


The image of the beloved bride dressed in her special gown is captured in the last verse of Paul Gerhardt’s exquisitely beautiful hymn, “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth.”



“And when Thy glory I shall see

And taste Thy kingdom’s pleasure,

Thy blood my royal robe shall be,

My joy beyond all measure;

When I appear before Thy throne,

Thy righteousness shall be my crown,

With these I need not hide me.

And there, in garments richly wrought

As Thine own bride, I shall be brought

To stand in joy beside Thee.”

Paul Gerhardt, “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth,” #142, The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.[38]


Mark’s Missionary Commission


Those Lutherans who favor the modern translations must now ask themselves whether they can use the traditional absolution from the ending of Mark during the worship service:


“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Grant this, Lord, unto us all.” The Lutheran Hymnal, p. 6.


“He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. Grant this, Lord, to us all.” Lutheran Worship, p. 137.


According to the most admired experts on the subject, including Princeton’s Bruce Metzger, the traditional ending—Mark 16:9-20—was invented by someone to smooth the jagged edge of 16:8, “for they were afraid.” All of the evidence, internal and external, supports the traditional ending being written by Mark. Our modern anti-Means of Grace Lutherans do not want to say these words on Sunday, so they are likely to drift into the swamp of Seeker Services where the liturgy is disdained in favor of entertainment. Nevertheless, the remnant who take comfort in these words from Jesus Himself realize that salvation comes from God’s work, through the Word alone, whether invisible in preaching or visible in the sacraments. Mark 16:16 is another clear testimony that Baptism is God’s powerful sacrament of forgiveness. Jesus teaches us that Baptism saves in the context of His commission to the apostles to preach the Gospel to the entire Creation and to baptize. This mandate parallels the one we find at the end of Matthew’s Gospel: preach to all nations and baptize.


KJV Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.


BYZ Mark 16:15 kai. ei=pen auvtoi/j Poreuqe,ntej eivj to.n ko,smon a[panta khru,xate to. euvagge,lion pa,sh| th/| kti,sei 16 o` pisteu,saj kai. baptisqei.j swqh,setai o` de. avpisth,saj katakriqh,setai.


KJV Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:


BYZ Matthew 28:19 poreuqe,ntej maqhteu,sate pa,nta ta. e;qnh bapti,zontej auvtou.j eivj to. o;noma tou/ patro.j kai. tou/ ui`ou/ kai. tou/ a`gi,ou pneu,matoj.



"And yet, one single Christian believer, by his preaching and prayer, can be the means of salvation to uncounted multitudes. In spite of Satan's hatred and desire to hinder, many people hear the Gospel, receive baptism and become teachers of the faith; and through the influence of the Gospel the sacredness of home and country are preserved."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 241.


Johann Gerhard on Baptism



"Even though the water which is used for holy Baptism continues to retain its natural essence and natural attributes after Baptism, it is nevertheless not just lowly [plain] water, but it is formulated in God's Word and combined with God's Word. Thus it is a powerful means through which the Holy Trinity works powerfully; the Father takes on the one who is baptized as His dear child; the Son washes him of his sins with His blood; the Holy Spirit regenerates and renews him for everlasting life."

Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 56.


"Children are no less in need of holy Baptism than the adults; indeed, children need it more than the older folks, for one can deal with them [adults] through the proclamation of the divine Word. The children, however, cannot be washed of the inherited sin into which they are born through any other means (under normal circumstances) than through holy Baptism."

Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 127.


"Among other apparent grounds for denying Baptism to little children, not the least of them is that holy Baptism does not benefit little children because they do not believe. We have already given answer to this above in chapter 19, point of contention 8—that, indeed, little children by nature do not have faith and do not bring faith to Baptism. Yet God the Lord wants to awaken the same in their hearts through the Sacrament of holy Baptism, since, along with other effects, God ignites faith in and through Baptism, as demonstrated in chapter 13, #1."

Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 159.


"The entire Scripture testifies that the merits of Christ are received in no other way than through faith, not to mention that it is impossible to please God without faith, Hebrews 11:6, let alone to be received into eternal life. In general, St. Paul concludes concerning this [matter] in Romans 3:28: Thus we hold then that a man becomes righteous without the works of the Law—only through faith."

Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 165.


"Therefore, the fulfillment of this promise to Abraham is in no way to be interpreted to mean that Abraham's seed became righteous and saved without individual faith."

Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 167.


"For just as we are born again through the Sacrament of holy Baptism, so also we are nurtured for eternal life through the Sacrament of this holy Supper. Just as we were taken into God's covenant of grace through the former Sacrament, so also through the latter Sacrament we are preserved in the very same covenant of grace. Just as the Holy Spirit awakens faith in us through the former, so also He strengthens and increases it through the latter. Just as circumcision typifies the former, so the Passover [paschal] lamb of the Old Testament typifies the latter."

Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 209.


Absolution and Baptism


The number of sacraments has lately been a topic of discussion among some Lutherans, in part to create some mischief and confusion.[39] Lutherans should be eager to discuss absolution, because we obtain comfort and peace from the efficacious Gospel, both in individual and corporate confession. In general, Lutherans have settled on limiting the sacraments to the Gospel in visible form, Baptism and Holy Communion. But we should not neglect the Book of Concord and the reasons for including absolution as a third sacrament.



"If we call Sacraments rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to decide what are properly Sacraments...Therefore Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God's command and the promise of grace, which is peculiar to the New Testament. For when we are baptized, when we eat the Lord's body, when we are absolved, our hearts must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us for Christ's sake. And God, at the same time, by the Word and by the rite, moves hearts to believe and conceive faith, just as Paul says, Romans 10:17: 'Faith cometh by hearing.' But just as the Word enters the ear in order to strike our heart, so the rite itself strikes the eye, in order to move the heart. The effect of the Word and of the rite is the same..."

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, XIII,#3. Number/Use Sacraments. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 309. Tappert, p. 211. Heiser, p. 94.


The most frequently asked question about the liturgy has been, “How can you declare that my sins are forgiven?” This question comes from people who associate the absolution with Roman Catholicism. I respond, “I am not announcing your forgiveness as a matter of personal opinion or because of my own power. I am speaking for Christ.” Because Lutherans have carried with them the burden of Pietism, they have trouble realizing that they are completely forgiven all their sins. Even without the toxic effect of Pietism, our Old Adam rebels against and doubts the Word of God. That doubt explains why a formal absolution is so important to us. We see and hear that our sins are forgiven, to strengthen our faith in the Gospel, to be assured that we are justified before God through faith.

The first move of the Liberal Book of Weirdness was to get rid of Confession and Absolution at the beginning of each service. ELCA Pastor Franklin D. Fry, the son of the sainted Lutheran Church in America president, Franklin C. Fry, argued at the national convention for the inclusion of the Confession and Absolution in the three settings. The convention agreed with him by resolution. The LBW editors set up the hymnal so that omitting the Confession and Absolution was a preferred option for the three settings. Each setting began, as indicated by the title of the setting and the table of contents, on a certain page. The Confession and Absolution preceded each setting, much like the preface seldom read in books. The LBW promoters also made it clear that Confession and Absolution were late developments in the service and likely to detract from the joyous nature of worship. Franklin D. Fry was apoplectic with rage, because the hymnal editors cleverly by-passed the stated wishes of the national convention. This deceit was a harbinger of sinister trends in the other synods. Convention votes only mattered when they served the interests of the radical minority.[40]

The most beautiful expression of absolution can be found in a hymn often neglected by Lutherans. The hymn below may best be sung to Old Hundredth (“Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”).



(1)"Yea, as I live, Jehovah saith, I would not have the sinner's death,

But that he turn from error's ways, Repent, and live through endless days.


(2) To us therefore Christ gave command: 'Go forth and preach in every land;

Bestow on all My pardoning grace Who will repent and mend their ways.


(3) 'All those whose sins ye thus remit I truly pardon and acquit,

And those whose sins ye do retain Condemned and guilty shall remain.


(4) 'What ye shall bind, that bound shall be; What ye shall loose, that shall be free;

Unto My Church the keys are given To ope and close the gates of heaven.'


(5) The words which absolution give Are His who died that we might live;

The minister whom Christ has sent Is but His humble instrument.


(6) When ministers lay on their hands, Absolved by Christ the sinner stands;

He who by grace the Word believes The purchase of His blood receives.


(7) All praise, eternal Son, to Thee For absolution full and free,

In which Thou showest forth Thy grace; From false indulgence guard our race.


(8) Praise God the Father and the Son And Holy Spirit, Three in One,

As ‘twas, is now, and so shall be World without end, eternally!”

Nicolaus Herman, 1560, "Yea, As I Live, Jehovah Saith," #331, The Lutheran Hymnal, Trans. Matthias Loy, 1880, alt. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941. Ezekiel 33:11.


Lutheran pastors have turned from the Scriptural mandate of Confession and Absolution to the death-trap of psychological counseling. An old liberal bishop pointed out that he could tell when a minister was on his way out of pastoral work. He said, “Instead of visiting members, he spends all his time in counseling in his office.” It reminded me of a pastor in a large, affluent congregation. Not long after I heard that he was spending all his time counseling people, he announced he was leaving pastoral work to set up a counseling center. In the same letter, with unintentional humor, he said he was also available to do magic shows.

The counseling situation creates a false intimacy in which both the minister and the member are tempted. Repeated visits to an office weaken both parties. Counseling theories are based upon achieving happiness and satisfaction in life, not on right and wrong and the forgiveness of sin. More than one pastor has left town with his girlfriend in tow after abandoning his family and congregational responsibilities, often breaking up another marriage as well.

In contrast, as the old bishop said, counseling can take place during the course of pastoral visitation, something as neglected as the efficacy of the Word. The pastor will normally visit with the entire family or the husband and wife together. Once a couple was completely alienated by one partner’s open infidelity. Divorce seemed to be around the corner. At one point I visited the home, an event which had never happened in 20 years when the couple attended another congregation. I explained the meaning of complete forgiveness through the Gospel. The couple not only reconciled, they looked like newly- weds. I remember the day when they signed up for flowers on their anniversary, smiling and holding hands. Once again, as in Baptism, God’s Word did everything. Secular counseling can condemn, but it cannot heal. The Gospel heals, comforts, dissolves anger, grants us peace, all through the forgiveness of our sins. Knowing the power of Absolution, we should never be timid in using this Means of Grace.



"Of Confession they teach that Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although in confession an enumeration of all sins is not necessary. For it is impossible according to the Psalm: 'Who can understand his errors?' Psalm 19:12."

            Augsburg Confession, XI. Confession. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 47. Tappert, p. 34. Heiser, p. 13. Psalm 19:12.



"Of Repentance they teach that for those who have fallen after Baptism there is remission of sins whenever they are converted; and that the Church ought to impart absolution to those thus returning to repentance. Now, repentance consists properly of these two parts: One is contrition, that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that, for Christ's sake, sins are forgiven, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance."

Augsburg Confession, Article XII. Repentance. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 49. Tappert, p. 34f. Heiser, p. 13.



"On this account, as the Augsburg Confession in Article XI says, we also retain private absolution, and teach that it is God's command that we believe such absolution, and should regard it as sure that, when we believe the word of absolution, we are as truly reconciled to God as though we had heard a voice from heaven, as the Apology explains this article. This consolation would be entirely taken from us if we were not to infer the will of God towards us from the call which is made through the Word and through the Sacraments."

            Formula of Concord, SD, XI. #38. Of God's Eternal Election. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1075. Tappert, p. 622. Heiser, p. 289.



"We further believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of sin, which is wrought through the holy Sacraments and Absolution, moreover, through all manner of consolatory promises of the entire Gospel. Therefore, whatever is to be preached, concerning the Sacraments belongs here, and in short, the whole Gospel and all the offices of Christianity, which also must be preached and taught without ceasing. For although the grace of God is secured through Christ, and sanctification is wrought by the Holy Ghost through the Word of God in the unity of the Christian Church, yet on account of our flesh which we bear about with us we are never without sin."

The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III. #54. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 693. Tappert, p. 417. Heiser, p. 195.


Part Two: Holy Communion



"And just as the Word has been given in order to excite this faith, so the Sacrament has been instituted in order that the outward appearance meeting the eyes might move the heart to believe [and strengthen faith]. For through these, namely, through Word and Sacrament, the Holy Ghost works."

Apology Augsburg Confession, XXIV (XII), #70. The Mass. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 409. Tappert, p. 262. Heiser, p. 123.


Those who have grown up in non-liturgical denominations can understand how unimportant communion has become for the Zwinglians.[41] When a Roman Catholic *attends a traditional Lutheran communion service, he will respond very favorably to the dignity and Christ-centered nature of the worship. The only real worship service for a Roman Catholic is a Mass, because the Eucharist is dominant in their understanding of Christianity, even though the reasons are warped by Purgatory and the promise of limited forgiveness. In contrast, a non-liturgical Zwinglian service contains only the sermon and some emotional hymns. One Baptist worship professor alienated his pan-denominational audience at Wheaton College by telling the Pentecostals to observe the Sunday of Pentecost, the Evangelicals to have a cycle of Biblical readings, and the entire crowd to consider the value of reciting the Ecumenical Creeds.[42] The applause was definitely scattered and hostile.

When I left the Lutheran Church in America, the denomination was moving toward the Episcopalian model of high church Unitarianism. In other words, the ministers believed nothing and each congregation had more doctrinal opinions than members. Nevertheless, rules for the proper conduct of worship were emphasized in many official communications. A 1970s evangelism filmstrip, the grandfather of the video, explained how important a liturgical service and a well prepared sermon were. Some vocal ministers of the LCA and ALC were arguing for every Sunday communion in a legalistic way, but they were talking about worship.[43] A few progressives began promoting infant communion, following the Eastern Orthodox. The national LCA conventions redeemed themselves to some degree with their communion services.

Imagine my shock when I joined the Wisconsin Synod and found people repeatedly denouncing more than one congregation as “a page five and fifteen congregation.” Someone had to explain this term to me, because I thought it referred to by-laws. My informant said, “Those are congregations using The Lutheran Hymnal all the time, page five for the normal service and page fifteen for the communion service.” So I asked, “What’s wrong with that?” The WELS pastor said, “They are not being creative in worship.” All too soon I learned what being creative meant. I went to a WELS conference where the worship bulletin cover said that Easter keeps us going and going and going and going, an obvious reference to a battery commercial on TV, one that featured a pink rabbit.[44] The Introit for the service was simply invented by the pastor, who is now on the board of the seminary. The Creed could be anything, such as a part of the Small Catechism.

The powerful district mission boards of the Wisconsin Synod, surely no more debased than their LCMS counterparts, could not impress on congregations enough the need to make every visitor happy. Closed communion was converted to “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.” No one bragged about having open communion, but no one mentioned closed communion either. I attended one WELS conference where a pastor explained how congregations could get away from the hymnal altogether—with transparencies on an overhead projector—just like the Assemblies of God. No one really spelled it out, but it was clear that the liturgy was an obstacle in the eyes of the Church Growth groupies.

How far can this trend go? Following are some actual examples.

1.     The Wisconsin and Missouri Synods have endorsed Seeker Services, copying Willow Creek Community Church.

2.     Lutheran hymns have been set aside in favor of treacle like “Take the world but give me Jesus,” featured in the new WELS hymnal, edited by James P. Tiefel and Iver Johnson.

3.     ELS missionary Roger Kovaciny is known for singing and dancing in the pulpit with a basket on his head. Using a pistol or gun-case in the pulpit is another famous example of Kovaciny making the Word relevant.

Where did this infuriating display of contempt for the Means of Grace begin? First of all, it started with the denial of the efficacy of the Word. If the foundation is wrong, the worship service is turned into a sad, sick parody of praising God. Lutherans should have a national day of shame and contrition for what they have done to worship in the name of evangelism. God has betrayed them, as He does all the reprobate, by denying them the one thing they desire, numerical growth.[45]

In the past, no one imagined that Holy Communion was an entitlement for anyone who happened to be in church on a given Sunday, those visiting relatives or the curious and the lost, like a Methodist woman who dropped by St. Paul’s in Columbus and was communed with her young son. Yale professor emeritus George Lindbeck, who regularly attended the early service at Bethesda Lutheran Church, New Haven, where I worked as a student assistant, recently wrote an article on this subject: “The Eucharist Tastes Bitter in the Divided Church.”[46] Lindbeck pointed out that the divinity school chapel began to use the eucharistic rite of the Church of South India, which was a union of the Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregationalist confessions. However, one colleague objected to the words of distribution, “This is my body” and “This is my blood.” The dissenter did not believe those words and did not want to participate. Lindbeck wrote: “I had misled him about my belief in the real presence by joining in the old quasi-Zwinglian service just as he felt he had misled others in the opposite direction by eating and drinking in accordance with the new South Indian liturgy. Both of us had in our respective ways borne false witness to our faith and were guilty of mendacity—some would say, blasphemy—by signifying fraudulently with sacred things.” The article’s assumption of ecumenical communion reminds me of the impertinent question asked by a woman at a Greek Orthodox congregation’s open house. She kept saying, “I want to take communion here.” The priest patiently responded more than once, “Then take classes and join if you agree with our confession.” The woman sounded exasperated that the priest took the Lord’s Supper so seriously. No one else does today.

Luther explained why Holy Communion means so much to the individual.



"For in Confession as in the Lord's Supper you have the additional advantage, that the Word is applied to your person alone. For in preaching it flies out into the whole congregation, and although it strikes you also, yet you are not so sure of it; but here it does not apply to anyone except you. Ought it not to fill your heart with joy to know a place where God is ready to speak to you personally? Yea, if we had a chance to hear an angel speak we would surely run to the ends of the earth."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 II, p. 199.


Holy Communion in the Small Catechism



VI. The Sacrament of the Altar,

As the Head of a Family Should Teach It

in a Simple Way to His Household[47]


What is the Sacrament of the Altar?

It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.


Where is this written?

The holy Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul, write thus:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and gave it to His disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.

After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Take, drink ye all of it. This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the remission of sins. This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.


What is the benefit of such eating and drink?

That is shown us in these words: Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins; namely, that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.


How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?

It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words which stand here, namely: Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins. Which words are, beside the bodily eating and drinking, as the chief thing in the Sacrament; and he that believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.


Who, then, receives such Sacrament worthily?

Fasting and bodily preparation is, indeed, a fine outward training; but he is truly worth and well prepared who has faith in these words: Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins.

But he that does not believe these words, or doubts, is unworthy and unfit; for the words For you require altogether believing hearts.”


Holy Communion in the Large Catechism



"And all these are established by the words by which Christ has instituted it, and which every one who desires to be a Christian and go to the Sacrament should know. For it is not our intention to admit to it and to administer it to those who know not what they seek, or why they come."

Large Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar. #2. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 753. Tappert, p. 447. Heiser, p. 210.



"For it is not founded upon the holiness of men, but upon the Word of God. And as no saint upon earth, yea, no angel in heaven, can make bread and wine to be the body and blood of Christ, so also can no one change or alter it, even though it be misused. For the Word by which it became a Sacrament and was instituted does not become false because of the person or his unbelief. For He does not say: If you believe or are worthy you receive My body and blood, but: Take, eat and drink; this is My body and blood."

The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #16-17. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 757. Tappert, p. 448. Heiser, p. 211.



"On this account it is indeed called a food of souls, which nourishes and strengthens the new man. For by Baptism we are first born anew; but (as we said before) there still remains, besides, the old vicious nature of flesh and blood in man, and there are so many hindrances and temptations of the devil and of the world that we often become weary and faint, and sometimes also stumble."

The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #23. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 757. Tappert, p. 449. Heiser, p. 211f.



"Therefore it {communion}is given for a daily pasture and sustenance, that faith may refresh and strengthen itself so as not to fall back in such a battle, but become ever stronger and stronger. For the new life must be so regulated that it continually increase and progress; but it must suffer much opposition. For the devil is such a furious enemy that when he sees that we oppose him and attack the old man, and that he cannot topple us over by force, he prowls and moves about on all sides, tries all devices, and does not desist, until he finally wearies us, so that we either renounce our faith or yield hands and feet and become listless or impatient. Now to this end the consolation is here given when the heart feels that the burden is becoming too heavy, that it may here obtain new power and refreshment."

The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #24-27. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 759. Tappert, p. 449. Heiser, p. 211.



"For here in the Sacrament you are to receive from the lips of Christ forgiveness of sin, which contains and brings with it the grace of God and the Spirit with all His gifts, protection, shelter, and power against death and the devil and all misfortune."

The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #70. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 769. Tappert, p. 454. Heiser, p. 214.



"Therefore, if you cannot feel it {the works of the flesh, Galatians 5:199ff. above}, at least believe the Scriptures; they will not lie to you, and they know your flesh better than you yourself...Yet, as we have said, if you are quite dead to all sensibility, still believe the Scriptures, which pronounce sentence upon you. And, in short, the less you feel your sins and infirmities, the more reason have you to go to the Sacrament to seek help and a remedy."

The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #76-78. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 771. Tappert, p. 455. Heiser, p. 214.


Against the Word, Against the Real Presence



(1) "Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide, For round us falls the eventide;

Nor let Thy Word, that heavenly light, For us be ever veiled in night.


(2) In these last days of sore distress Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness

That pure we keep, till life is spent, Thy holy Word and Sacrament.


(3) Lord Jesus, help, Thy Church uphold, For we are sluggish, thoughtless, cold.

Oh, prosper well Thy Word of grace And spread its truth in every place.


(4)Oh, keep us in Thy Word, we pray; The guile and rage of Satan stay!

Oh, may Thy mercy never cease! Give concord, patience, courage, peace.


(5) O God, how sin’s dread works abound! Throughout the earth no rest is found.

And falsehood’s spirit wide has spread, And error boldly rears its head.


(6) The haughty spirits, Lord, restrain Who over Thy Church with might would reign

And always set forth something new, Devised to change Thy doctrine true.


(8) A trusty weapon is Thy Word, Thy Church's buckler, shield, and sword.

Oh, let us in its power confide That we may seek no other guide!


(9) Oh, grant that in Thy holy Word We here may live and die, dear Lord;

And when our journey endeth here, Receive us into glory there.”

Nikolaus Selnecker et al.,"Lord Jesus Christ, with Us Abide," The Lutheran Hymnal, #292, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.


In the name of love, ecumenical communion prepared the way for the next atrocity in Christian worship, the inter-faith service, where various world religions are recognized and treated as equals. Many examples could also be cited where pagan religion has been added to a Lutheran service in the name of providing relevance and excitement. This is especially true in the ELCA and the sisterhood of the National Council of Churches. The Sophia goddess conference wedded female goddess worship to feminist mainline leadership. However, long before all these blasphemies took place, the efficacy of the Word in Holy Communion was denied.

Huldrich Zwingli began the rejection of God’s work through the visible Word by proudly declaring that the Holy Spirit did not need a vehicle like an oxcart. Zwingli did not know theology very well and he was inordinately jealous of Martin Luther. His Swiss Reformation in Zurich anticipated the more refined rationalism of John Calvin in Geneva. Many of Zwingli’s statements are revolting for their block-headed ignorance, but his move to separate the Holy Spirit from the Word was his foundational error. The Book of Concord calls it Enthusiasm. Whenever someone declares that God works apart from the Word and Sacraments, he is an Enthusiast. Granted, some Christian confessions are closer to the efficacy of the Word and less obnoxious in their statements, but the union of the Holy Spirit and the Word, whether visible in the Sacraments or invisible in preaching, cannot be relinquished because it is Scriptural.



"Whoever denies the Real Presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Lord's Supper must pervert the words of Institution where Christ the Lord, speaking of that which He gives His Christians to eat, says: 'This is My body,' and, speaking of that which He gives them to drink, says: 'This is My blood.' [Also 1 Corinthians 10:16]

Francis Pieper, The Difference between Orthodox and Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 40. 1 Corinthians 10:16.


John Calvin was an erudite legal scholar before he became a Christian leader, so he lifted Zwingli’s rationalism to a more refined level. He stated this about the Lord’s Supper – that the finite forms of bread and wine cannot contain the infinite of Christ’s body and blood (finitum non capax infinitum, called the extra Calvinisticum).[48] If we examine his statements in his Institutes more closely, we can easily find the same mocking tone so familiar in Zwingli. However, few Lutheran pastors read the Institutes, even though they buy and use Calvin’s complete Biblical commentaries.[49]



"Calvin was dissatisfied with Zwingli's interpretation of the Lord's Supper, but his own interpretation was also wrong. He said that a person desiring to receive the body and blood of Christ could not get it under the bread and wine, but must by his faith mount up to heaven, where the Holy Spirit would negotiate a way for feeding him with the body and blood of Christ. These are mere vagaries, which originated in Calvin's fancy. But an incident like this shows that men will not believe that God bears us poor sinners such great love that He is willing to come to us."

C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, trans., W. H. T. Dau, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, p. 185.



"When the preacher who is administering this holy Sacrament repeats, along with the Lord's Prayer, the words of institution, he first of all is testifying that he does not desire to perform, from his own opinion, a human action and institution; rather, as a householder [steward] of the divine mysteries, he is, in accordance with Christ's command, desiring to administer a holy Sacrament. Accordingly, he sets aside visible bread and wine so that it can be the means and instrument for the distribution and fellowship of the body and blood of Christ. Further, he prays that, in accordance with His institution and promise, Christ would be present in this action, and that by means of the consecrated bread wine he might distribute Christ's body and blood. Finally, he testifies that by the power of the institution of Christ, the bread and wine in the holy Supper are not [merely] base bread and wine, but rather that Christ's body and Christ's blood are received sacramentally united and present with the bread and wine. He will herewith then point out this institution and ordinance of Christ to the communicants."

Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 301f.


Communion Texts


KJV Matthew 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.


BYZ Matthew 26:26 VEsqio,ntwn de. auvtw/n labw.n o` VIhsou/j to.n a;rton kai. euvcaristh,saj e;klasen kai. evdi,dou toi/j maqhtai/j kai. ei=pen La,bete fa,gete tou/to, evstin to. sw/ma, mou 27 kai. labw.n to. poth,rion kai. euvcaristh,saj e;dwken auvtoi/j le,gwn Pi,ete evx auvtou/ pa,ntej 28 tou/to ga,r evstin to. ai-ma, mou to. th/j kainh/j diaqh,khj to. peri. pollw/n evkcuno,menon eivj a;fesin a`martiw/n.


It is difficult to improve on Luther’s Small Catechism, but some things need to be noted because of recent developments. One is the use of testament or covenant for the Greek word diaqh,kh (diatheke). In this context we have to ask about the English meaning of the terms. Testament is clear, suggesting a last will and testament. I can leave my entire fortune to a Lutheran synod, without having a Planned Giving Counselor guide my signature while stepping on my oxygen hose. A last will and testament is a one-sided agreement, made without the permission of the other party. When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He did not ask for a mutual agreement. He simply announced what He was doing and what it meant. We often use the term covenant for an agreement between two parties. For instance, when I did an Internet search on the word covenant, the first page found was Reformed and concerned the Covenant of Scotland, quoting Joshua 24:25.[50] Covenant has been a favorite term for Calvinists. The term is also used now as a legal term for an agreement among two parties. So it arouses my suspicions to have the new Wisconsin Synod hymnal change the Words of Institution to “This is my blood of the new covenant….”[51] The Lutheran Hymnal reads: “This cup is the New Testament in My blood….”

The Evangelical Lutheran Synod has had a long-running debate on the Moment of Consecration. The discussion has provided the benefit of avoiding serious doctrinal issues for years. If the ELS understood and believed in the efficacy of the Word, they would not have a debate or use such a term as The Moment of Consecration, a term which by itself sounds Roman Catholic. I have not participated in the ELS discussions or taken sides, since it seems like a replay of the Spanish Civil War. Obviously, the power of the Sacrament of the Altar comes from the Word. One cannot divorce the Real Presence of Christ from the Word. In the days of the old Synodical Conference, people were taught to think in the following way and they still say, “It is not the body and blood of Christ until the communicant receives it.” That belief would make the reception efficacious in effecting the Real Presence. All my quotations about the Lord’s Supper assume the Real Presence before the reception of the elements. Receptionism has even been critiqued by WELS.



"It should perhaps be mentioned also that some of our Lutheran teachers limited the real presence to the moment of eating and drinking. This, too, goes beyond the specific words of Christ."

            W. Gawrisch, Review of Bjarne Wollan Teigen, The Lord's Supper in the Theology of Martin Chemnitz, Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly, Spring, 1987, 84, p. 155.



"This precium nostrae redemptionis, that is, this His true body, which He gave into death for our redemption, and this His true blood, which He poured out for our redemption, the Lord Christ takes and distributes to us by means of the consecrated bread and wine so that thereby we might be strengthened and made sure in faith and so that also the promise of the gracious forgiveness of sins applies to us."

Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 369.



"This consumption of the body of Christ along with the consecrated wine is in no way to be regarded as a natural eating and drinking, much less as a Capernaitic eating and drinking, since Christ's body and blood are not eaten and drunk as one usually receives and uses other food and drink, [i.e.] in a natural manner for the nurture of the body. Rather, such an eating and drinking takes place in a highly incomprehensible mystery, [in an] unfathomable and genuinely spiritual manner. It is, however, called a sacramental eating and drinking because it occurs only in this Sacrament and is due to the sacramental union of the true body of Christ with the consecrated bread and the true blood of Christ with the consecrated wine."

Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 336.



"Human reason, though it ponder,

Cannot fathom this great wonder

That Christ's body ever remaineth

Though it countless souls sustaineth

And that He His blood is giving

With the wine we are receiving.

These great mysteries unsounded

Are by God alone expounded."

Johann Franck, 1649, "Soul, Adorn Thyself with Gladness" The Lutheran Hymnal, #305, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.



(1) "An aweful mystery is here To challenge faith and waken fear:

The Savior comes as food divine, Concealed in earthly bread and wine.


(2) This world is lovelessbut above, What wondrous boundlessness of love!

The King of Glory stoops to me My spirit's life and strength to be.


(3) In consecrated wine and bread No eye perceives the mystery dread;

But Jesus' words are strong and clear: 'My body and My blood are here.'


(4) How dull are all the powers of sense Employed on proofs of love immense!

The richest food remains unseen, And highest gifts appearhow mean!


(5) But here we have no boon on earth, And faith alone discerns its worth.

The Word, not sense, must be our guide, And faith assure since sight's denied."

Matthias Loy, 1880, "An Aweful Mystery Is Here" The Lutheran Hymnal, #304, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.



"Draw nigh and take the body of the Lord

And drink the holy blood for you outpoured.

Offered was He for greatest and for least,

Himself the Victim and Himself the Priest."

"Draw Night and Take the Body of the Lord," The Lutheran Hymnal, #307, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.



"We eat this bread and drink this cup, Thy precious Word believing

That Thy true body and Thy blood Our lips are here receiving.

This word remains forever true, And there is naught Thou canst not do;

For Thou, Lord, art almighty."

Samuel Kinner, 1638, "Lord Jesus Christ, Thou Hast Prepared," The Lutheran Hymnal, #306, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.


A cavalier attitude about the efficacy of the Word in the Lord’s Supper has led to many different episodes shocking to anyone who values the liturgical tradition of the Christian Church, a tradition whose foundation rests upon Old Testament worship. For instance, it has been claimed that pastors at conferences have held communion services where the Words of Institution were deliberately omitted, claiming freedom to change the form of worship, as if the words of distribution are an adequate substitute for the Consecration. Another practice indicative of bad doctrine, common of large churches, is that of keeping most of the bread and wine in the sacristy, to be hauled out like extra bulletins when the supply runs low on the altar. Worse, someone runs back to the cupboard and takes out additional wine and bread. One could argue speciously that the Word is efficacious throughout the church building, but slovenly practices leave the definite impression that the Consecration is meaningless, a message reinforced by communion without the Words of Institution. An altar guild or pastor can easily place all of the elements on the altar or on an area adjacent to the altar. The solution to such problems is not a how-to program, but education about why we show utmost respect and awe for the miracle of Holy Communion, the visible Word.


Efficacy or Church Growth Eyes?


KJV 1 Corinthians 11:23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.


BYZ 1 Corinthians 11:23 VEgw. ga.r pare,labon avpo. tou/ kuri,ou o] kai. pare,dwka u`mi/n o[ti o` ku,rioj VIhsou/j evn th/| nukti. h-| paredi,doto e;laben a;rton 24 kai. euvcaristh,saj e;klasen kai. ei=pen La,bete( fagete( Tou/to, mou, evstin to. sw/ma to. u`pe.r u`mw/n\ klw,menon\ tou/to poiei/te eivj th.n evmh.n avna,mnhsin 25 w`sau,twj kai. to. poth,rion meta. to. deipnh/sai le,gwn Tou/to to. poth,rion h` kainh. diaqh,kh evsti.n evn tw/| evmw/| ai[mati\ tou/to poiei/te o`sa,kij a'n pi,nhte eivj th.n evmh.n avna,mnhsin 26 o`sa,kij ga.r a'n evsqi,hte to.n a;rton tou/ton kai. to. poth,rion tou/to pi,nhte to.n qa,naton tou/ kuri,ou katagge,llete a;crij ou- a'n e;lqh| 27 {Wste o]j a'n evsqi,h| to.n a;rton tou/ton h' pi,nh| to. poth,rion tou/ kuri,ou avnaxi,wj tou/ kuri,ou e;nocoj e;stai tou/ sw,matoj kai. tou/ ai[matoj tou/ Kuri,ou 28 dokimaze,tw de. a;nqrwpoj e`auto,n kai. ou[twj evk tou/ a;rtou evsqie,tw kai. evk tou/ pothri,ou pine,tw\29 o` ga.r evsqi,wn kai. pi,nwn avnaxi,wj( kri,ma e`autw/| evsqi,ei kai. pi,nei mh. diakri,nwn to. sw/ma tou/ Kuri,ouÅ


Someone suddenly visiting the remnants of the old Synodical Conference would never know that close communion was once the practice of the entire Christian Church. Paul’s discussion of communion rests upon the efficacy of the Word in the Lord’s Supper, pouring out forgiveness and many blessings upon believers while damning and hardening those who receive Holy Communion unworthily. Proof of this powerful effect can be found everywhere in Christendom. Where the Lord’s Supper has been relegated to a mere ordinance, a human display of piety rather than the reception of God’s grace, Christian doctrine is subordinate to human reason and embarrassing to intelligent people. The lower the view of Holy Communion, the more debased the denomination’s doctrine, a fact admitted ruefully by its own leaders. Once the ELCA had pursued every radical Left advocacy group and every ecumenical mandate, its own leaders began poping and half-poping to escape the ultimate result of Zwinglian doctrine: a church without liturgy, doctrine, direction, or the Sacraments.[52]

Ask a denomination what it believes about the Lord’s Supper and soon you will find out how frequently and prominently the Sacrament of the Altar is celebrated, if those words can be mentioned at all. The absolute bottom pit of Zwinglianism may be the self-enclosed grape juice and wafer package to be picked up on the way out of church, as seen in various Christian catalogues. The worst extreme needs to be mentioned, because Lutherans have a horrible tendency to veer in the wrong direction. Pietism influenced the Lutherans to participate in Holy Communion less frequently, as infrequently as three times a year. The Temperance Movement caused General Synod Lutherans in the Grape Juice Belt to replace wine with juice in the name of social improvement. When Lutherans start wishing that Holy Communion did not lengthen the service on Sunday nor annoy visitors, they are falling into the slough of despising the Means of Grace.

This passage from Paul promotes a love of the solemn service of Holy Communion. In the Eastern Orthodox service, the priest chants, “The doors. The doors. In wisdom let us attend.” The opening admonition came from the practice of shutting the doors to prevent others from casually hearing or attending the Eucharist.[53] There is also evidence from the early Church that Holy Communion was regarded in much the same way. Therefore, if someone cannot discern the body of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, he should not be given Holy Communion. The Church Growth camp followers are so ignorant of God’s Word that they use “discerning the body” to fraudulently promote their concept of Church Growth Eyes. Church Growth gurus are so proud of their Church Growth Eyes that they cannot stop bragging about it. When Lutherans use the term, they appear especially foolish.[54]



Sacraments Define the True Church



"But the Church is not only the fellowship of outward objects and rites, as other governments, but it is originally a fellowship of faith and of the Holy Ghost in hearts. [The Christian Church consists not alone in fellowship of outward signs, but it consists especially in the heart, as of the Holy Ghost, of faith, of the fear and love of God]; which fellowship nevertheless has outward marks so that it can be recognized, namely, the pure doctrine of the Gospel, and the administration of the Sacraments in accordance with the Gospel of Christ. [Namely, where God's Word is pure, and the Sacraments are administered in conformity with the same, there certainly is the Church, and there are Christians.] And this Church alone is called the body of Christ, which Christ renews [Christ is its Head, and] sanctifies and governs by His Spirit, as Paul testifies, Ephesians 1:22..."

Apology Augsburg Confession, VII & VIII. #5. The Church. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 227. Tappert, p. 169. Heiser, p. 71.



"Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called."

Augsburg Confession, Article XIV. Ecclesiastical Order. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 49. Tappert, p. 36. Heiser, p. 14.



"[We are speaking not of an imaginary Church, which is to be found nowhere; but we say and know certainly that this Church, wherein saints live, is and abides truly upon earth; namely, that some of God's children are here and there in all the world, in various kingdoms, islands, lands, and cities, from the rising of the sun to its setting, who have truly learned to know Christ and His Gospel.] And we add the marks: the pure doctrine of the Gospel [the ministry of the Gospel] and the Sacraments. And this Church is properly the pillar of truth, 1 Timothy 3:15."

Apology Augsburg Confession, VII & VIII. #20. The Church. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 233. Tappert, p. 171. Heiser, p. 73. 1 Timothy 3:15.



"That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith, where and when it pleases God, in them that hear the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ's sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ's sake. They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparation and works."

Augsburg Confession, V. #1-2. The Ministry. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 45. Tappert, p. 31. Heiser, p. 13.



"This power {the Keys} is exercised only by teaching or preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments, according to their calling, either to many or to individuals. For thereby are granted, not bodily, but eternal things, as eternal righteousness, the Holy Ghost, eternal life. These things cannot come but by the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, as Paul says, Romans 1:16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Therefore, since the power of the Church grants eternal things, and is exercised only by the ministry of the Word, it does not interfere with civil government; no more than the art of singing interferes with civil government."

Augsburg Confession, XXVIII. #8. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 85. Tappert, p. 82. Heiser, p. 23. Romans 1:16.



"Now, it is not our faith that makes the sacrament, but only the true word and institution of our almighty God and Savior Jesus Christ, which always is and remains efficacious in the Christian Church, and is not invalidated or rendered inefficacious by the worthiness or unworthiness of the minister, nor by the unbelief of the one who receives it."

            Formula of Concord, SD VII, #89. Holy Supper. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1003. Tappert, p. 585. Heiser, p. 272.


Benefits of Holy Communion 



"Besides this, you will also have the devil about you, whom you will not entirely tread under foot, because our Lord Christ Himself could not entirely avoid him. Now, what is the devil? Nothing else than what the Scriptures call him, a liar and murderer. A liar, to lead the heart astray from the Word of God, and blind it, that you cannot feel your distress or come to Christ. A murderer, who cannot bear to see you live one single hour. If you could see how many knives, darts, and arrows are every moment aimed at you, you would be glad to come to the Sacrament as often as possible."

The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #80-82. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 771f. Tappert, p. 456. Heiser, p. 214.



"However, you will be sure as to whether the sacrament is efficacious in your heart, if you watch your conduct toward your neighbor. If you discover that the words and the symbol soften and move you to be friendly to your enemy, to take an interest in your neighbor's welfare, and to help him bear his suffering and affliction, then all is well. On the other hand, if you do not find it so, you continue uncertain even if you were to commune a hundred times a day with devotions so great as to move you to tears for very joy; for wonderful devotions like this, very sweet to experience, yet as dangerous as sweet, amount to nothing before God. Therefore we must above all be certain for ourselves, as Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:10: 'Give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure.'"

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 II, p. 211.



"Accordingly, we say that by virtue of the institution, the holy Supper was established by Christ and was used by the believers chiefly to this end: that the promise of the gracious forgiveness of sins should be sealed and our faith should thus be strengthened. Then, too, we are incorporated in Christ and are thus sustained to eternal life; in addition, subsequently, other end results and benefits of the holy Supper come to pass. Yet, both of the fruits indicated above always remain the foremost."

Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 369.



"O living Bread from heaven,

How richly hast Thou fed Thy guest!

The gifts Thou now hast given

Have filled my heart with joy and rest.

O wondrous food of blessing,

O cup that heals our woes!

My heart, this gift professing,

In thankful songs overflows;

For while the faith within me

Was quickened by this food,

My soul hath gazed upon Thee,

My highest, only Good."

Johann Rist, 1651, "O Living Bread from Heaven," The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #316. Matthew 26:26-29.



(1) "Lord Jesus Christ, we humbly pray

That we may feed on Thee today;

Beneath these forms of bread and wine

Enrich us with Thy grace divine.


(2) The chastened peace of sin forgiven,

The filial joy of heirs of heaven,

Grant as we share this wondrous food,

Thy body broken and Thy blood.


(3) Our trembling hearts cleave to Thy Word;

All Thou hast said Thou dost afford,

All that Thou art we here receive,

And all we are to Thee we give."

 Henry E. Jacobs, 1910, "Lord Jesus Christ, We Humbly Pray," The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #314. 1 Corinthians 10:17.






Altar Fellowship with the Church of Rome



"Our adversaries have no testimonies and no command from Scripture for defending the application of the ceremony for liberating the souls of the dead, although from this they derive infinite revenue. Nor, indeed, is it a light sin to establish such services in the Church without the command of God and without the example of Scripture, and to apply to the dead the Lord's Supper, which was instituted for commemoration and preaching among the living [for the purpose of strengthening the faith of those who use the ceremony]. This is to violate the Second Commandment, by abusing God's name."

Apology Augsburg Confession, XXIV. #89. The Mass. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 413f. Tappert, p. 265f. Heiser, p. 124.



"In addition there is this perversion, that whereas Christ instituted the use of His Supper for all who receive it, who take, eat, and drink, the papalist Mass transfers the use and benefit of the celebration of the Lord's Supper in our time to the onlookers, who do not communicate, yes, to those who are absent, and even to the dead."

Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, II, p. 498.


Altar Fellowship with the Reformed



"Is the Lord's Supper the place to display my toleration, my Christian sympathy, or my fellowship with another Christian, when that is the very point in which most of all we differ; and in which the difference means for me everything—means for me, the reception of the Savior's atonement? Is this the point to be selected for the display of Christian union, when in fact it is the very point in which Christian union does not exist?"

Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: 1911, p. 905f.



"Hence it is manifest how unjustly and maliciously the Sacramentarian fanatics (Theodore Beza) deride the Lord Christ, St. Paul, and the entire Church in calling this oral partaking, and that of the unworthy, duos pilos caudae equinae et commentum, cuius vel ipsum Satanam pudeat, as also the doctrine concerning the majesty of Christ, excrementum Satanae, quo diabolus sibi ipsi et hominibus illudat, that is, they speak so horribly of it that a godly Christian man should be ashamed to translate it. [two hairs of a horse's tail and an invention of which even Satan himself would be ashamed; Satan's excrement, by which the devil amuses himself and deceives men].

Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's Supper, 67, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 997. Tappert, p. 581f. Heiser, p. 270.



"Dr. Luther, who, above others, certainly understood the true and proper meaning of the Augsburg Confession, and who constantly remained steadfast thereto till his end, and defended it, shortly before his death repeated his faith concerning this article with great zeal in his last Confession, where he writes thus: 'I rate as one concoction, namely, as Sacramentarians and fanatics, which they also are, all who will not believe that the Lord's bread in the Supper is His true natural body, which the godless or Judas received with the mouth, as well as did St. Peter and all [other] saints; he who will not believe this (I say) should let me alone, and hope for no fellowship with me; this is not going to be altered [thus my opinion stands, which I am not going to change]."

Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's Supper, 33, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 983. Tappert, p. 575. Heiser, p. 267.



"Therefore also it is vain talk when they say that the body and blood of Christ are not given and shed for us in the Lord's Supper, hence we could not have forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament. For although the work is accomplished and the forgiveness of sins acquired on the cross, yet it cannot come to us in any other way than through the Word. For what would we otherwise know about it, that such a thing was accomplished or was to be given us if it were not presented by preaching or the oral Word? Whence do they know of it, or how can they apprehend and appropriate to themselves the forgiveness, except they lay hold of and believe the Scriptures and the Gospel? But now the entire Gospel and the article of the Creed: I believe a holy Christian Church, the forgiveness of sin, etc., are by the Word embodied in this Sacrament and presented to us."

The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #31-32. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 759. Tappert, p. 450. Heiser, p. 211.



"The Reformed, and all Reformed sects, deny the Real Presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Lord's Supper. Through this they detract from God's honor."

Francis Pieper, The Difference between Orthodox and Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 36.



"Furthermore, consider this: All doctrines of the Bible are connected with one another; they form a unit. One error draws others in after it. Zwingli's first error was the denial of the presence of Christ's body and blood in the Lord's Supper. In order to support this error, he had to invent a false doctrine of Christ's Person, of heaven, of the right hand of God, etc."

Francis Pieper, The Difference between Orthodox and Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 41.

Final Proof


Those who wish to glide over the differences between Reformed and Lutheran doctrine need only to consider these questions: How many Reformed hymns about Baptism and Holy Communion do we have? How many Reformed hymns even mention the Means of Grace? Which Reformed hymn teaches the efficacy of the Word? If the answer to all these questions is “Zero,” then we also need to ask ourselves how we can learn from the Reformed if they cannot sing our hymns or publish hymns suitable for our worship. For them, it is a death-trap to admit to Baptismal regeneration and the Real Presence in Holy Communion. If it is a death-trap to them to confess these Biblical doctrines, then why is it so easy to overlook their rejection when we embrace them, saying, as the president of one Lutheran seminary did, “They [the Fuller professors] are Christians. We can learn from them too.”? This issue is not a black robe/white robe question, where people can spend time fussing about nothing. The Reformed refuse to promote a book teaching the Biblical view of the Word and the Sacraments. How can Lutherans silence themselves on these crucial issues in order to please the Reformed?


[1] This happened at a meeting attended by Dan Fleischer, Steve Kurtzahn, Paul Tiefel Jr., and me. Tiefel and Koenig promoted unionism, Reformed doctrine, and Roman Catholic doctrine with their While It Is Day newsletter, distributed in the Church of the Lutheran Confession as a CLC newsletter. WIID was so awful that it was ordered to cease publication. Koenig and Tiefel continued to publish and distribute their newsletter anyway. WIID was also distributed free to CLC college and high school students.

[2] Questionnaire mentions CG "underemphasizing the Means of Grace as the power of the Holy Spirit." David J. Valleskey, Pastoral Theology 418, The Church Growth Movement—An Evaluation, Summer Quarter, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, June 23-July 11, 1986. "This downplaying of the importance of the means of grace on the part of many in the Church Growth Movement would seem to stem from several factors." David J. Valleskey, "The Church Growth Movement: An Evaluation," Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly, Spring, 1991, p. 105. Holidaysburg, 10-15-90. "Those who claim that Baptism is not a Means of Grace, no washing of regeneration, must continually deny these words of Scripture, Galatians 3:27: 'For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ." [Also Acts 2:38; Titus 3:5] Francis Pieper, The Difference between Orthodox and Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 40. Galatians 3:27; Acts 2:38; Titus 3:5.



[3] "For Scripture never calls either Baptism or the Lord's Supper mysteries or sacraments. Therefore this is an unwritten (agraphos) appellation." Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, 4 vols., trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, II, p. 29.

[4] The ELS printed a fine critique of Church Growth in their journal. It was followed by Adie Harstad’s article supporting Valleskey about “spoiling the Egyptians.”

[5] Missouri congregations can also belong to the in-house Association of Courageous Churches, a clone of the Willow Creek Association. Many LCMS clergy have their hearts in ELCA and their money in the Missouri Synod pension fund.

[6] "A denial of the efficacy and sufficiency of the means of grace is contained in the theological systems of all religious enthusiasts." Edwin E. Pieplow, "The Means of Grace," The Abiding Word, 3 vols., ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 343. "The Lutheran Confessions take a decisive stand against 'enthusiasts,' who teach that the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of men without the Word and Sacraments (SA-III VIII 3-13; LC II 34-62; FC Ep II 13)." John T. Mueller, "Grace, Means of," Lutheran Cyclopedia, Erwin L. Lueker, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1975, p. 344. "Calvinism rejects the means of grace as unnecessary; it holds that the Holy Spirit requires no escort or vehicle by which to enter human hearts." John T. Mueller, "Grace, Means of," Lutheran Cyclopedia, Erwin L. Lueker, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1975, p. 344.

[7] The founder of the LCMS Association of Courageous Churches (!) preached in a business suit for a period of time. The Church of the Lutheran Confession considers a white Geneva gown to be high church and problematic.

[8] "The devil is always plaguing the world by keeping people from distinguishing between the work of God and the work of men....But you should know that though no human being believed Baptism and the Gospel, the Gospel and Baptism would still be right; for both are not mine but God's Word and work." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 705. November 24, 1537 John 1:30-34.

[9] "To be sure, Baptism is so great that if you turn from sins and appeal to the covenant of Baptism, your sins are forgiven. Only see to it—if you sin in this wicked and wanton manner by presuming on God's grace—that the judgment does not lay hold of you and forestall your turning back. And even if you then wanted to believe and trust in your Baptism, your trial might by God's decree, be so great that faith could not stand the strain. If they scarcely remain in the faith who do no sin or who fall because of sheer weakness, where will your brazen wickedness remain, which has challenged and mocked God's grace? Let us, therefore, walk with care and fear that we may hold fast the riches of God's grace with a firm faith and joyfully give thanks to His mercy forever and ever. Amen." What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 57. Treatise on Baptism, 1519.

[10] Our family wrote the book Angel Joy to help people understand the loss of children.

[11] Baptizing without water is my term, not one likely to escape the lips of any Baptist.

[12] Martin Luther, cited by David P. Scaer, Logia, Reformation, 1999, p. 58.

[13] "One must not make the sweeping assertion: God is not worshiped by anything external. Therefore we should not ridicule all things that are external in the worship of God. For when God speaks about a splinter, His Word makes the splinter as important as the sun. It is, therefore, profane language to say that the water of Baptism is only water; for the water of Baptism has the Word added to it. Therefore it is like a glowing or fiery iron, which is as truly fire as it is iron and does all that fire usually does. But only the pious see and appreciate the Word in the water; a cow or a dog sees only water." What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 45. Psalm 122:3.

[14] I am indebted to David Scaer’s course on the sacraments at Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne.

[15] WELS would have us believe that a;nqrwpoj (anthropos) can only be translated as fully human. Their abominable hymnal, Christian Worship, avoids “and became man” in the Creed by using the words “fully human,” arguing from the verbal form of anthropos. Thus we must translate John 3:1 as “There was a fully human of the Pharisees…”

[16] KJV John 7:50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) KJV John 19:39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

[17] A palindrome is a phrase that runs around the track again, so we can read it forwards and backwards the same way, for example,“ a man, a plan, a canal, Panama.” Anna, Bob, and Otto are also palindromes.

[18] When anothen appears to be used in the sense of again, I would argue that it adds emphasis to palin, “back again into slavery.” KJV Galatians 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? BYZ Galatians 4:9 nu/n de. gno,ntej qeo,n ma/llon de. gnwsqe,ntej u`po. qeou/ pw/j evpistre,fete pa,lin evpi. ta. avsqenh/ kai. ptwca. stoicei/a oi-j pa,lin a;nwqen douleu,ein qe,lete.

[19] "Man's own merit or holiness can contribute nothing toward getting out of the old birth of flesh and blood or achieving the new birth. Man is not born again of his own choice and idea; but a new birth must take place through Holy Baptism, without man's contributing anything. The Holy Spirit is bestowed through the divine will and grace by means of the externally preached Word and the water." What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 344. John 3:3.

[20] KJV Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

[21] "The same is true of other factions—the Anabaptists and similar sects. What else do they but slander baptism and the Lord's Supper when they pretend that the external [spoken] Word and outward sacraments do not benefit the soul, that the Spirit alone can do that?" Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 208. Tenth Sunday after Trinity, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.

[22] "There is on earth no greater comfort than Baptism." What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 61.

[23] KJV Matthew 2:9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. BYZ Matthew 2:9 oi` de. avkou,santej tou/ basile,wj evporeu,qhsan kai. ivdou. o` avsth.r o]n ei=don evn th/| avnatolh/| proh/gen auvtou.j e[wj evlqw.n e;sth evpa,nw ou- h=n to. paidi,on.

[24] KJV Luke 1:59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. BYZ Luke 1:59 Kai. evge,neto evn th/| ovgdo,h| h`me,ra| h=lqon peritemei/n to. paidi,on kai. evka,loun auvto. evpi. tw/| ovno,mati tou/ patro.j auvtou/ Zacari,an.

[25] KJV John 16:21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. BYZ John 16:21 h` gunh. o[tan ti,kth| lu,phn e;cei o[ti h=lqen h` w[ra auvth/j\ o[tan de. gennh,sh| to. paidi,on ouvke,ti mnhmoneu,ei th/j qli,yewj dia. th.n cara.n o[ti evgennh,qh a;nqrwpoj eivj to.n ko,smon.

[26] KJV Hebrews 11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. BYZ Hebrews 11:23 Pi,stei Mwu?sh/j gennhqei.j evkru,bh tri,mhnon u`po. tw/n pate,rwn auvtou/ dio,ti ei=don avstei/on to. paidi,on kai. ouvk evfobh,qhsan to. dia,tagma tou/ basile,wj.

[27] Dr. David Scaer, Concordia Seminary, Ft. Wayne, emphasized this point about hindering in his course on the sacraments.

[28] This is one of many places where the Word of God names names, supposedly a felony among conservative Lutherans today. No one is allowed to name false teachers. If someone does, he is vilified for the sin of naming names. Obviously this is not a sin in the Bible. Teaching against God’s Word is a sin, a terrible sin, because it dishonors God and murders souls.

[29] KJV Matthew 10:40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. BYZ Matthew 10:40 ~O deco,menoj u`ma/j evme. de,cetai kai. o` evme. deco,menoj de,cetai to.n avpostei,lanta, me 41 o` deco,menoj profh,thn eivj o;noma profh,tou misqo.n profh,tou lh,yetai\ kai. o` deco,menoj di,kaion eivj o;noma dikai,ou misqo.n dikai,ou lh,yetaiÅ

[30] One pastor claimed to be Lutheran and did not believe in the efficacy of baptism. When asked by mothers of newly baptized babies if their child would be in heaven if death occurred, the pastor responded, “We should not speculate.” The pastor himself offered the example of what he taught. In another case, a district president taught pastors that babies were better off if they died before baptism. One would hope that Lutherans could at least get baptism right. However, if they doubt the efficacy of the Word, everything else collapses into works righteousness, rationalism, or irrationalism.

[31] Oral Roberts did this when he dedicated a baby on TV, carefully denying baptismal regeneration, in case listeners suspected him of a Roman Catholic heresy.

[32] Herman Sasse pointed out that Zwingli created the rationalistic foundation for the Anabaptists to deny the efficacy of infant baptism. The progression from Zwingli denying the efficacy of the Word in baptism to his followers denying infant baptism altogether is natural, but damnable.

[33] The intention of this revision of the KJV was to update word meanings only, taking no liberties. It can be done.

[34] The answer of a good conscience becomes a pledge from man in the NIV.

[35] The Wisconsin Synod had a Spiritual Renewal project, a national effort to promote the work-righteousness of the Church Growth Movement. Paul Kelm led the effort, with the usual gang of suspects. This is obviously not the meaning of renewal in the New Testament.

[36] KJV Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. KJV 1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. KJV Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. KJV Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word….

[37] Pastor Martin Kalish has pointed out that this word alone, palingenesis, a new Genesis, a new beginning, stumps Baptists.

[38] It is impossible to sing this verse without thinking of the death of Gerhardt’s wife and children. Those who have lost children or a spouse can see this image in their mind’s eye, making this verse difficult to sing but nevertheless comforting beyond all measure.

[39] The argument goes something like this: Lutherans have used various numbers for the sacraments, so doctrinal agreement is not necessary. We could apply the same reasoning to the numbering of the Ten Commandments, since Lutherans and the Reformed differ somewhat, giving us permission to break all of the commandments at our leisure.

[40] Notice that Lutheran worship in America has moved toward the Reformed in some respects (Seeker Services, how-to sanctification sermons, avoiding the Creeds) and toward the Church of Rome in other respects (three year Scripture cycle, early communion, newly invented liturgical colors). The LCMS, WELS, and ELS are all following the lead of ELCA’s ecumenical probes, also aping the ELCA trend of women preaching, reading the Scriptures, distributing communion, serving as ushers, feminist hymnals (Christian Worship). The ELS and WELS both borrowed heavily from copyrighted ELCA material for their new hymnals.

[41] Not every Evangelical denomination is the same, as a music librarian keeps writing me, but the trend toward happy talk baptisms and no communion is fairly typical. A happy talk baptism features the baby as a cute object for the congregation to admire. Two ELCA pastors baptized a baby, chattered with each other during the sacrament, and then carried the baby down the aisle as if the child were some prize cabbage grown for the county fair. WELS Pastor Roger Zehms solemnly advised me that many congregations move communion to Wednesdays, so the Lord’s Supper will not be an obstacle for Sunday morning membership recruitment. Pastor Martin Kalish visited ex-WELS Pastor Marc Freier’s community church, where the goal at the Sunday seeker service was to get visitors to attend the swimming party. The Pentecostals have moved from baptism without water (infant dedication) to water without the Word (swimming parties).

[42] I attended three summer sessions at Wheaton College when I was in the Lutheran Church in America. I was surprised to see that the same training was recommended at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. A poster for the School of Evangelism was outside of President A. Panning’s office with a note: See Paul Kelm for details.

[43] One ALC pastor insisted that a worship service without communion was “castrated.” I never forgot the crassness of his advocacy.

[44] Being cute by copying TV commercials is now very popular in Lutheranism. The recent LCMS Vacation Bible School material recast the stories of the Bible with cutesy titles. Parish newsletters feature the same kind of nauseating embroidery. The Peoria, Arizona WELS mission described the post-Easter appearance of Jesus as “Jesus hits the beach and throws a beach party.”

[45] KJV Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. "Those, however, who set the time, place and measure, tempt God, and believe not that they are heard or that they have obtained what they asked; therefore, they also receive nothing." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 172. John 16:23-30.

[46] Spectrum, Yale Divinity School, Spring, 1999, p. 1. Various anecdotes from ivy league seminaries remind me of the prescient article in Theology Today, a parody, called, “The Seminary of the Future.” At Princeton outraged women had petitions signed in the chapel because a foreign student mistakenly referred to God with male terms during his sermon.

[47] The Book of Concord places the responsibility for catechetical training of the child upon the head of the household, not on the pastor or  on the mother.

[48] "If Reformed theology wishes to free itself from the confusion of self-contradiction and its other Christological errors, it must by all means eliminate its rationalistic principle that the finite is not capable of the infinite." Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1951, II, p. p. 275.

[49] The only commentaries worth using are Luther’s, Lenski’s, and Kretzmann’s. The Book of Concord is a Biblical commentary, very concise and easy to use. One can look up topics and Scriptural passages in the index or use the excellent Concordance to the Book of Concord from NPH. No Lutheran should use the ELCA sermon helper books, Calvin’s Commentaries, or the weirdly titled Handfuls on Purpose.

[50] KJV Joshua 24:25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.

[51] The WELS spin-doctors like to say, “It can be understood in the right way.” But why be ambiguous when clarity is needed? "Error loves ambiguities." Charles P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1913 (first edition, 1871), p. 215.


[52] Poping is an old term for Protestants who join the Church of Rome. Father Richard J. Neuhaus was the first of many, although Concordia Seminary (St. Louis) had an earlier version: Eduard Preuss. Some have half-poped, joining Eastern Orthodoxy to avoid the stigma of poping.

[53] One Lutheran told me that he grew up in Eastern Orthodoxy and did not know what that opening chant was about.

[54] "We have discovered that the Early Church was an institution that unknowingly saw its world through Church Growth eyes. We have some benefits they did not have in that we can look back today and analyze their successes and failures." Floyd L. Stolzenburg, "Church Growth - the Acts of the Apostles," Taught at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Columbus, Ohio."The Institute for American Church Growth has created a card game called 'Church Growth Eyes.' The game may be used in groups to learn how to see through church growth eyes." Delos Miles, Church Growth, A Mighty River, Nashville: Broadman Press, 1981, p. 51. "As we consider various factors and principles relating to Church Growth we need abundant, accurate information about the members of our churches. This basic principle of Church Growth is called Discerning the Body . Pastors and lay people need to discern the Body in the congregation in which they are serving. For this, Church Growth eyes are essential." Donald A. McGavran and Winfield C. Arn, Ten Steps for Church Growth, New York: Harper and Row, 1977, p. 61. "This is not a handbook on how to do certain things, not offering us gimmicks, procedures, models, and the like, although there is much of practical material to be found throughout. It is rather a theology of church growth and missions." [foreword by Robert Preus] Waldo J. Werning, LCMS, The Radical Nature of Christianity, Church Growth Eyes Look at the Supernatural Mission of the Christian and the Church, South Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1975, p. 9. "Students of Church Growth realize that a good structure for the church that really wants to grow is the organization of celebration plus congregation plus cell. When we see the importance of the organization of the church we are looking with 'Church Growth Eyes.' We are looking from an x-ray perspective and understanding the internal organs of the body of Christ—the Church!" Kent R. Hunter, Launching Growth in the Local Congregation, A Workbook for Focusing Church Growth Eyes, Detroit: Church Growth Analysis and Learning Center, 1980, p. 81.