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Rick Frueh

Although I agree with your general assessment of today's church, the word reformation as it applies ti Luther is misleading. It gives the impression that they reformed the RCC.

A better word would be "The Departure"

Steve Newell


Luther's intention was to reform the Roman Church and return it to historic orthodox Christianity. It was never his desire to create a new church body but to reform the church of the day so it would be consistent with Holy Scripture. It was Rome's rejection of the Reformers and their theology that lead to the creation of what we now call the Lutheran Church.

If you look at Luther's theology, he only rejected those things which do not conform with Holy Scripture. The Anabapist movement would be considered a departure from the Roman Church since they reject most of the theology of the Roman Church, both the good and bad.


Hey, an altar call. Mood lighting, emotional appeals, and the whole bit.

Rick Frueh

When you teach a salvation by works and a non-sufficient blood sacrifice (hence the need for purgatory), you are not a true church and departure is the only "reform".

Luther understandably did not see the panoramic picture, but he departed.

Steve Newell


Would you consider many of the "evangelical" churches today not part of the true church? There are many churches that preach a "gospel" that is similar to Rome but without the "smells and bells". For example, God's grace is provisional on your acceptance of it is no different than God's grace is provisional on your goods works. Both place the focus on man's actions as the action that merit's God's grace.

Rick Frueh

I was aved 33 years ago listening to Billy Graham on television so I know God uses people other than Calvinists to preach the gospel. However I would agree that much of the evangelical church is constructing a self help gospel.

But the RCC as it was formulated under a pope was never God's church. Luther was used to "rebirth" the gospel as he left, not reformed, the RCC.


Luther was excommunicated. He didn't just leave because "God's church" didn't exist under the papacy. He and all who agree(d) with his theology always considered themselves faithful members of the holy catholic church. In other words, Lutheran churches considered themselves just as catholic as the Roman churches, only rightly reformed. It was the universal Christian church that saw Reformation in the 16th century. Of course, reformation wouldn't change those who would cling die-hard to medieval church abuses. But it did bring many Christians out of that.

Rick Frueh

The RCC church wrongly incorperated aspects of the law in their theology and practice. Candles, incense, priestly robes, infant circumcism/baptism, and other outward ceremonies were shadows of the law.

Luther departed but kept some of their practices which would later be discarded by the majority of the evangelical church. He was greatly used of God ven though he was greatly flawed.

Steve Newell


The majority of the "evangelical" church has left historic orthodox Christian with the rejection of the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Holy Baptism as a means of grace. They have replaced the gifts of God by making it a good work.

As for the Law in their theology, many "evangelical" churches have done the same.

Rick Frueh

There are no "means" of grace. Faith alone is the "means" and Christ alone the grace.The things you mention are the graveclothes from the RCC.

frank m.

Dear Rick, Thank you for the Gospel in all it's truth! I just listened to you at Issues Etc on the Internet and I was blessed. I use to try and not sin and I had no peace. Then I heard the whole gospel and found peace through Jesus Christ and His perfect life. I am right with God because of Christ and His complete work for my sins...past and future. Thank you for your work. Your message has blessed me and I rejoice that there are Christians like you that are still preaching the gospel.

Heidi Sue

Wow... I think there's a bit of baby-with-the-bathwater syndrome going on here. Although it seems to be the favorite pasttime to expunge, defenestrate, and otherwise blast anything that could remotely be considered the "gravecloth" trappings of the Roman church, it's probably worthwhile to take a step back and see what's actually biblical.

Lots o' folks take issue with the whole "means of grace" business, and every one of them I've talked with hasn't really understood what we're talking about. The most common misunderstandings are that they are supposed to somehow replace saving faith as the cause of our salvation, or that they are considered actions we MUST do to inherit eternal life. This is the tricky thing when we use extra-biblical words like "means of grace" or "sacrament"... you have to be incredibly explicit in your definitions.

When we're talking "means of grace", we're talking about gifts. (That'd be the whole "grace" part.) God knows our sinful hearts very well, and He's well aware that our very nature will try and find ways to rebel and instill doubt in our faith. It's very true that faith in Christ is the means by which we're saved, but if that faith is gauged simply by how "faithful" I'm feeling or by my own convictions, it's too easy to let doubt creep in. (Or conversely, to have arrogant faith in my own faith.)

God knows this, so He gave us things outside ourselves as reassurances (or, put more crassly, "proofs") of His forgiveness. These things are what we call sacraments or means of grace, and sacraments in particular come with a simple 3-part definition:

1) They have a visible, tangible element involved;

2) They were instituted by Christ Himself;

3) They carry the promise of forgiveness.

(If you're one who likes prooftexts, a good place to start would be Matt 28.19-20 and 1 Peter 3.21 for Baptism, and Matt 26.26-28 and 1 Corinthians 11.23-26 for the Lord's Supper.)

So the means of grace don't replace saving faith; they strengthen it. If I'm questioning whether my faith is genuine or sincere enough, I can look to my baptism and remember that God picked me, washed me clean and claimed me as His own. If I'm questioning whether or not I'm truly forgiven, I can look to the Lord's Supper and hear Christ's words, "This is my body for you...This is my blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins." When I FEEL my faith wavering, these gifts refocus that faith away from my FEELING and towards the solid reality of Christ.

Do the means of grace effect forgiveness? Yes.

Are they effective without saving faith IN Christ that receives them as gifts FROM Christ? No. (That's for all you anti-Rome, anti-ex opere operato folk out there ;) )

Can a person be saved without ever having touched water or consumed bread and wine? Absolutely. God's forgiveness is not confined to the means of grace, but rather is revealed through them.

Are the sacraments biblically legit? Better believe it!

Are they Roman leftovers? Perhaps, but they're also Antiochene, Corinthian, and Jersualemite leftovers. In other words, they are most certainly part of the catholic, apostolic, universal Church Christ ordained and sustains.

Far from being shadows of the law, they are instruments of the Gospel.

Of course, if you prefer the Evangelical definitions of Baptism as a way to show your commitment to Jesus, and Communion as a way to show commitment or unity with the people of the church who are merely remembering an historic event, then they are no longer means of grace, but more commands to be obeyed. But what gifts you're missing out on!

Heidi Sue

BTW Rick,

Try looking at some of those ceremonies through a Gospel lens rather than the Everything-Roman-is-Evil lens, and you can see where they are actually helpful for Gospel proclamation.

Candles and incense
"Bad Rome": Pretentiousness
Gospel: A tangible way to remember that God is present

Priestly Robes
"Bad Rome": More pretentiousness, setting the priestly class above others
Gospel: Takes the focus off the pastor and puts it on Christ; we are covered by the robe of righteousness

Infant Baptism
"Bad Rome": A work that must be done
Gospel: see the previous post

Outward Ceremonies
"Bad Rome": More works to be done
Gospel: Ways to focus on Christ and His saving work

Obviously this doesn't hold for some of the more explicit salvation-by-works ceremonies, but again, hold on to that baby!


Heidi Sue: Good posts.

To say that there are no means of grace is as ridiculous as saying that a person doesn't need a pastor to preach to them, or a Bible in front of them to read, or anything of the sort, in order for the Gospel to come to them. They just mysteriously "faith it to themselves"!

A means of grace is a way that God creates and strengthens faith by delivering the Gospel of Christ to us. It's not a replacement for Jesus; it's a description of how Jesus comes to us. And that Gospel does have to be delivered to us, because Jesus died for our sins 2,000 years ago and we can't manage time travel yet.

Faith isn't the means that delivers the salvation; it's the open hand that receives the gift. We're not saved by faith through grace-- we're saved by grace through faith.

I like how people think the optional use of candles is necessarily somehow "works of the Law." If someone was actually interested in learning the truth of what the Lutheran church taught, the church's official Confessions would set them straight on all such things.

"Of Usages in the Church they teach that those ought to be observed which may be observed without sin, and which are profitable unto tranquillity and good order in the Church, as particular holy days, festivals, and the like. Nevertheless, concerning such things men are admonished that consciences are not to be burdened, as though such observance was necessary to salvation. They are admonished also that human traditions instituted to propitiate God, to merit grace, and to make satisfaction for sins, are opposed to the Gospel and the doctrine of faith. Wherefore vows and traditions concerning meats and days, etc., instituted to merit grace and to make satisfaction for sins, are useless and contrary to the Gospel." (AC XV)



Hmmm. Let's see here - instead of indulgences we know have a doctrine that distorts grace and allows Christian's to "Sin in Word thought and deed everyday". A doctrine that says an all-knowing and all-seeing God that really no longer sees peoples sin as they really are as the Father has Christ blood in his eyes (imputation). We have a doctrine that says God wills certain people to heaven and others to hell and we seem to think this does not tarnishes God's character in any way - not to mention it makes God the author of Sin and Evil. Oh and I almost forgot John Calvin was also a man who murdered Michael Servetus by demanding he be burned at the stake for heresy. WOW! Johnny boy was just exuding the fruits of the Spirit now wasn't he! And I just can't forget good ole Martin Luther a man that once said to "sin boldly" and hated the Jews so much he supported the use of murder. Now how is it we still honor these heretics to even this day!? Calvinism is NOT Christianity! It is a sick blasphemic doctrine that destroys the character of God. Instead - read something from Charles Finney or John Wesley.


I would love to know what movie this clip is from? It is amazing that our Churches today came from this 1 act.

daniel offsay

pax vobis from Rome...
its difficult to know where to start with you adherants of the de-formation but lets just throw a few of the good ones out there

a) sola scriptura is a-scriptural...no where in the Bible does it say the Bible alone is doctrine unto godliness in fact St Paul explicitly exhorts the faithful to hold fast to whatever they received by way of epistle or preaching...hence, if the doctrine isn't in the Bible it can't be held, i.e. its a flat contradiction to say "I believe in the Bible alone" because the fact that said doctrine isn't in the Bible means you necessarily got that belief from a source other than the Bible (p.s. you got it from the traditions of men, that is heretics)

b)private interpretation of Scripture is absurd...in fact, if one holds to private interpretation then antecedently every interpretation is feasible (even, for example, Christ is a creature; cf Arius or, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit are one Person; cf modalism
or any thing you can conceive of no matter how outlandish; likewise, no interpretation can be categorically ruled out, none, not any; because every one is given to interpret the Bible according to their own inspiration, hence, if private interpretation prevails no one can ever know anything for sure about what is contained in the Bible
p.s. it was the Roman Catholic Church that defined and defended the Incarnation and the Trinity against those who believed in the Scripture but interpreted them differently according to their own doctrine of private interpretation

c) the printing press wasn't invented until 1400 years after the Resurrection, uh, small problem for private interpretation ya think?

ahh whats the use, just take a look at the history,the Bible was compiled by the Catholic Bishops, the earlies writings we have after the Scriptures show the primacy of Rome (epistles of Clement) and its rediculous to think God would fail to establish an authoritative interpretor of His Revelation when our salvation depends on it

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