Calvinism vs lutheranism essay

This principle of the Reform is of even earlier date than the views of Luther; for it was not only the principle of the primitive Church, of Wickliffe, of the Waldenses, and of many other fervent Christians, but it was proclaimed in the very morning of the Reformation, in the year , by Carlstadt, who says, in those theses which Dr. Every thing in the Reformed Church reveals this grand principle of the exclusive authority of the word of God.

While the Augsburg Confession is silent with regard to the sole authority of the Scriptures, all the Confessions of the Reformed Church are unanimous on this subject. While the text of the Lutheran Bibles does not distinguish human from divine words, in all our translations of the Bible, on the contrary, the words not found in the original are printed in italics, in order that the reader may, as far as is possible in a translation, discern between the word of God and the word of man. And it may be remarked that the translation of the New Testament published a few years since in Lausanne, which is purely and simply a fac simile of the original, has been prompted by the spirit of the Reform.

We do not think that such a translation would have appeared among Lutherans. It is not true, however, as has been recently pretended, that the Reform presents the Bible to us as a book all-sufficient in itself, whatever doctrine may be deduced from it.

We only regard as real and orthodox those explanations which are drawn from Scripture itself in conformity with the analogy of faith and the law of charity. There is not a century, not a generation, to whose voice the Reform is not ready to listen, and from which it is unwilling to derive instruction.

Only it places the great voice above all smaller voices, and, instead of judging of the import of Scripture by tradition, it judges, according to the principles of the Fathers, of the truth of traditions by the Scriptures.

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Such, then, is our first principle:. The Reform is pre-eminently the confession of the Bible.

Never shall such man-worship be found among us, even of the men of God in the Church, as has been justly called elsewhere Lutherolatry. And while, for a long space of time, all sorts of relics of Luther were preserved with a religious veneration, we hardly know where the great Calvin resided; there is not even a small stone in our cemetery to mark the place where his ashes repose; and four venerable trees, which were to be seen, five or six years ago, shading the ground where it is said the mortal remains of this great servant of God were laid, have been hewn down to make room!

This is undoubtedly going too far; but its import is striking: it reminds us that Calvin forbade that a monument should be erected to his memory, because he desired that the word of "God alone should be honored in his Church. Yes, the Rock of the word of God is the foundation of the Reform; we know of none other. Let other Churches boast of their ecclesiastical basis; we will boast only of our Bible foundation. And in this, we believe ourselves more truly ecclesiastical than those who mingle with the Divine Rock the quicksands of human tradition.

We will not forsake this our foundation for any price, not for the Pope, nor for Luther—what do I say?

Far distant be the day when the Reformed Church shall glory in being called the Church of Calvin or Zwingle. The Bible—the Bible—the whole Bible—nothing but the Bible! We asserted, at the outset, that the principle intrusted to the Lutheran Church was, in the days of the Reformation, of at least equal importance with that which God intrusted to the Reformed Church.

Which of the two is of most importance in our day? I dare not decide.

Luther and Calvinism

But I will say, however, that the principle of the Bible appears to me, at present, at least as important as that of Faith. Which are the powerful adversaries called upon to fight the battle of the nineteenth century? Evangelism and Ecclesiasticism. And by what means shall Ecclesiasticism be silenced, and those clouds of human traditions and human works which envelop it be dispelled? By the Bible. If we hesitate on the importance of the principle of the Reform, shall we not be instructed by the cry which is now sounding on all sides: The Church! The Church! What, then! To conquer by the Bible, or to perish, is the only alternative before us.

One thing, among others, which alarms us concerning the state of England is, that recently about a month since , in London, while the assemblies belonging to particular churches Episcopal or dissenting crowded the vast extent of Exeter Hall, for the first time the meeting of the Bible Society had comparatively but few present.

But if the Reformed Church places the word of God so decidedly above any word of man, and gives it pre-eminence even above Faith, on the other hand it places Faith above the Church. A distinguished theologian, Dr. Lange, who occupies in the university of one of our confederate cities the professorship which was intended for Strauss, has recently brought to mind that antithesis, wording it thus: The Church comes of faith, or faith comes of the Church.

We do not hesitate to say that both these propositions are true in a certain sense, and provided the visible Church be not confounded with the invisible; for there is a marvelous alternative between faith and the Church. But observe: while Lutheranism places emphasis on the latter, and declares that, since the foundation of the Church, God converts men only by means of the Church, the Reform, on the contrary, lays stress on the former, and asserts that faith, that faith which God implants in the heart, alone begets the Church. Hence the Reform does not say, The Church which is the assembly of the faithful exists first, and then follows each individual believer; but it says, First each believer exists, and then comes the Church, which is the union of all.

Lutheranism says, First the species, then the individual; the Reform says, First the individual, then the species. We are ready to allow that both are right, but we add, that it should be our especial care to uphold the principle of the Reform. And why so?

bible college papers: anabaptist, lutheran, and reformed (calvin) theologies

Because if we assert, in an absolute sense, that faith comes of the Church, we establish at once the principle that leads to the Inquisition, and which gave rise to it in times past. Now, at the period of the Reformation, when for centuries all those who did not humbly receive their faith from the visible Church had been stretched on the rack, it was necessary that the renewed Church should loudly proclaim opposite principles.

The Reform is then in direct opposition here to Rome, and also to ultra-Lutheranism. By this name we call that extreme Lutheran orthodoxy, which, in the days of Calow and Quenstedt, exaggerating the Lutheran principle, revived the scholastic system, and placed above all other doctrines that of the Church and the means of salvation. The Reform, on the contrary, remembering that Christ saves His people soul by soul, gives, has given, and always will give the first place in Christian theology to what concerns the individual work, the regeneration, the justification, and the conversion of the believer.

Thus, what distinguishes Lutheranism is the importance attached to the Church, to the Church collectively, and particularly to its ministers. In truth, it is not very far from that sacerdotalism which is the essence of Rome and of Oxford. The Lutherans do not hesitate to give their pastors the name of priests; and in a celebrated book on Practical Theology, written by a German whose memory is very dear to us, Claude Harms, prevost of Kiel, one of the sections is entitled the Preacher, another the Pastor, and a third the P RIEST.

This, too, was essential to our unity. The individual element of the Reform might have brought on dissolution and dispersion of the members of the Church, which would have proved fatal to the whole body, had it not been restrained by the ecclesiastical element of Lutheranism; as also the tendency of the latter would have been to languor and certain death, had it not been restrained by the spontaneous and vivifying influence of the Reform.

What's a Lutheran? — Holy Cross Lutheran Church

It is the combination of these two forces, the one centripetal, the other centrifugal, which has launched into the universe a new world, and which sustains it. Shall we abandon, then, the principle of our strength, as we are called upon to do? God preserve us from this invasion on the eternal decrees of His all-wise providence! Let us not look on one side only; let us examine both, and contemplate the magnificent ensemble of the work of the Lord. If a man is a Lutheran, he is right, quite right; if a man embraces the Lutheran faith, he is right still; but if he is Reformed, if he converses with the Reformed, he should neither act nor speak as though he were Lutheran, or as though he were addressing Lutherans, to counteract, impede, and destroy the Reformed principle in the bosom of the Reform itself.

We shall not enumerate here the numberless evils to which too strict an application of the Lutheran principles has led.

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From this arose clerocracy, [8] or the excessive authority of the pastor, or, more properly speaking, confessor for among the Lutherans each individual has a pastor to whom he gives that name , so that, in the last century, these confessors having become infidels, and the unsuspecting Lutherans continuing to submit to them, infidelity spread throughout their churches with inconceivable facility. It has even been asserted, in Lutheranism, that each individual should cling to his spiritual guide, appointed by the competent ecclesiastical authority, even though that guide were a stranger or entirely opposed to the true faith!

The Reformed Christians will never acknowledge this as their maxim. They will ever rank the Bible above the pastor, and, if there is a decided disagreement between them, rather than allow themselves and their children to be led by them into infidelity, they will forsake their pastor, and take refuge beneath the word of Christ.

In so doing, they carry the Church with them, leaving to themselves both the sect and the pastor. It is from this Ecclesiasticism that originates the different importance which the Lutherans and the Reformed attach to the confessions of faith of the Churches. In the Reform, symbolical writings are, on the contrary, but the expression of the faith of the Church. Although this privilege belongs, by right, to another here present, allow me to pay a passing tribute to the memory of this faithful servant of Jesus Christ, [9] who was taken from us a few weeks since, in a good old age, and whose glory it was to have been the first, after a century of infidelity, to raise again in our country the standard of the Gospel and the Reform.

Again I repeat: The Church comes of faith, rather than faith of the Church. This is our watchword. And who will dare assert that the time is come when we should lower our colors, and meekly march under those which others offer us, and which Papacy itself has shown for so many centuries past? If any of our brethren deem it their duty so to do, we openly declare that we will not; convinced that, in this day, to uphold and vindicate the principles of the Reform is to save the Reformation.