John H at Confessing Evangelical gives us more proof that the Pope is a closet evangelical. Or perhaps, not so closet.

At the same time, I’m starting to have afterthoughts about my agreement with John on the Lutheran understanding of assurance. The Lutheran emphasis has always been on the word preached with authority. The gospel has it’s effect as it is preached, and the Christian can have confidence in his salvation because it has been proclaimed to him personally by Jesus Christ, via the preacher. In the standard Lutheran liturgy, there is a time for public confession of sin, after which the minister proclaims, “your sins are forgiven.” And they are, because Jesus Christ has said so. In the same way, doubts about true conversion can be allayed with “But I’m baptized!” or even, “I am baptized! So there!

And there’s an element of truth to it – particularly when compared to a Catholic understanding that says, “unless you see me putting my own effort into it as well, it didn’t take.” In other words, the Catholic understanding is typically that sanctification is an intrinsic part of justification, to the point that assurance is withheld against the collateral of the ongoing fruit of a Christ-like life. The Lutheran balks and says no, the word of God preached is always effective. The preacher says I have been buried in Christ and raised with him, and so I have been. The word of God does not fail. I am a Christian.

But I’m starting to veer toward a more Calvinistic perspective, which is more biblical, I think. Continue reading “Assurance”