Here I sashay, I cannot do otherwise...

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…no opinion can be either more pernicious or more absurd than that which brings truth and falsehood upon the same level, and represents it as of no consequence what a man's opinions are. On the contrary, we are persuaded that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty.  (Preliminary Principle Number Four, 1788 Synod of New York and Philadelphia, 1789 General Assembly)

When the Reformed men who founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (ACE) decided to include Lutherans in their parachurch organization, their compromise was a harbinger of things to come. So, for a couple decades now, Reformed academics looking for a place to make their name, not content to rehearse the history of the Westminster divines forever, have turned toward the importation of Lutheran doctrine and practice to the Reformed church.

The popularity of Federal Vision and Lutheran emphases concerning the sacraments, liturgy, sacerdotal (priestly) accoutrements, the repudiation of the Reformed doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, and so on, all viewed alongside other contributing factors such as the kissing-cousin relationship of the PCA's Covenant Theological Seminary and the LCMS's Concordia Seminary—both in St. Louis—have produced a growing number of bright young pastors enamored with the neo-Lutheran project. But sadly, because their credentials reside in churches and denominations confessionally Reformed and Presbyterian, they haven't been willing to raise the "Lutheran" flag or adopt a name as forthright as "Neo-Lutherans."

When asked about their Lutheranism they're quick to list several things that cause them to prefer Presbyterian credentials. They defend their doctrinal, sacramental, and liturgical innovations within Reformed churches as being merely "Biblical." But this is rather disingenuous. It's as if a Marine corporal were to watch as, patrol after patrol, his squad were being wounded and killed by enemies wearing the uniform of the United States Marine Corps; and complaining to his Platoon Commander, he were to get the response, "Look, uniforms are out...

"What's needed in modern warfare is an invincible commitment to justice and mercy—that's our agenda now. For centuries we've watched men die just because they were wearing the wrong uniform or flying the wrong flag. No more! Away with the superficiality of easy distinctions! Life is more complicated than that. Old Marines look on the outward appearance but the new Marine looks on the heart."

A serious problem in opposing this recrudescent Lutheranism is that the men promoting it keep telling us all the old lines got it wrong and only they themselves possess the brilliance necessary to draw lines properly. But then after they proclaim their deep commitment to accurate lines they hiss to their fellow intellectuals, "lines are passé, don't you think?" "Borders are gauche, don't you say?" Distinctions are maladroit, wouldn't you agree?"

"Don't you find as I do that it belongs to a generation such as ours, upon which God has chosen to shower the greatest gifts of meekness and humility of any time in history, to bring those considerable gifts to bear on the church in such a way that our Lord's Prayer 'that they may be one as Thou and I are One' may finally come to pass?"

I'll let you in on a secret. If you listen quite carefully, every now and then you will catch one of them whispering to another: "Of course Protestantism has no future, but don't breathe a word of it to the sheep or we'll run out of mutton and lamb chops."

Postmoderns hate distinctions and categorically reject any possibility of danger and enemies. Being of the postmodern philosophical type, neo-Lutherans reject historic labels, categories, uniforms, and flags, adopting Rodney King's plaintive plea, "Can't we all just get along?" 

Step back for a minute or two and survey the present scene in light of church history and historic Presbyterian and Lutheran distinctives. Doesn't it make more sense to use historic terminology concerning this schism?

It's time to out the Lutherans among us. Yes, they'll whine about it. They'll cop the posture of victims. They'll incessantly complain that we misunderstand them. They'll accuse their Presbyterian opponents of being big bad meanies too stupid to understand all the brilliant insights they are finding out there on the Biblical horizons.

But as I said, speaking of the "Neo-Lutheran" rather than the "Federal Vision" movement brings wonderful clarity to the battle. And make no mistake: it is a battle with real weapons and real soldiers and real lines and real casualties. Sacramentalism has always been one of our Enemy's principal tools of leading souls to Hell. And if you want to know what I mean by "sacramentalism," just read the neo-Lutherans.

After years trying to explain Federal Vision to confused souls, I've taken to putting it this way: "Federal Vision theology is a program being carried out by certain men of Lutheran background, tastes, or sensibilities who are working to import Lutheran errors into the Reformed church." Join me in this effort to promote clarity, will you?

All those opposing the Neo-Lutheran movement, especially the oatmeal stout/Biblical Horizons variety, should work together to deny them their false flag strategy. No more whining about being misunderstood.

They must be forced to own their Lutheran flag.

 

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!