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Why Do Christians Lose Faith? Lutheran vs. Calvinism

Discussion in 'Theologia Crucis - Lutherans' started by jinc1019, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    Hello,

    I've been a Christian for nearly a decade, but I haven't been able to settle on a denomination. I think the two denominations that come the closest to the teachings of the Apostles are Lutheranism and Calvinism, but there are a few issues that I have yet to be able to settle. One is related to "falling away."

    I know Lutherans believe people can come to a truly justifying faith but then fall away later on. In some cases, these people never come back to faith and die in unbelief.

    My question is: According to Lutheran theology, why do Christians fall away?

    This is one of my biggest issues with Lutheranism. If Christians can fall away, there must be some reason for it, but all the reasons I can think of (environment, biological, etc.) can all be traced back to God's initial creative act. Consider Adam and Eve, for example. They chose to reject God, but God is the one who created them and He did so with perfect foreknowledge. Doesn't that mean God created Adam and Eve in such a way that he knew they would fall away, and thus desire it? The same could be said of every single Christian who has ever lived. That would mean those who fall away do so because God desires them to fall away, which violates specific passages of scripture that state clearly God does NOT desire Christians to fall away.

    In Calvinism, the answer is simple: Christians don't fall away. That doesn't mean Calvinists are correct, of course, but it is very clear.

    Any guidance on this issue would be very helpful. Thanks in advance!
     
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  2. paul becke

    paul becke Regular Member Supporter

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    Luther intuitively seems to have accepted that the deepest mysteries can be/are paradoxical*. A legacy from his Roman Catholic heritage.

    Unfortunately, Calvin took a simplistic way out, and chopped off one wing of the paradox, the imponderable mystery of Christian predestination.

    *With scientific advances, it has become apparent that even in physics, the bedrock of empirical science, the paradoxes proliferate more and more, the more profoundly they penetrate the nature of matter at both the quantum and astrophysical levels.
     
  3. Stabat Mater

    Stabat Mater Jesus Christ conquers! Supporter

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    Luther entertained the idea of predestination aswell.
     
  4. paul becke

    paul becke Regular Member Supporter

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    Yes, but, evidently, as possessing a paradoxical dimension in terms of free will.
     
  5. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    Interesting response. Thanks!
     
  6. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Jesus told the parable of the sower. The seed falls on different types of ground. He talks about the seed that falls on shallow ground as those who joyfully receive the gospel but because they don't have much depth, as soon as problems arise, they lose their faith and fall away. He also talks about the seed falling among weeds that grow up and choke the seed. These are ones who receive Christ and then allow the cares and pleasures of the world overwhelm and choke their faith.

    Therefore, it is not Calvinism or Lutheranism that is the problem. It is the individual who makes his profession of Christianity and how he decides to live it out through his daily life. When he comes up for judgment, he won't be judged as a Calvinist or a Lutheran. He will be judged as himself on the basis of how faithful he was to Christ throughout his life. Genuine faith in Christ is not just confined to church observances and activities. It includes how he lives at home, at work, in social situations, and even walking down the street, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
     
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  7. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    Thanks for the response.
     
  8. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

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    Sort of. We only have the freedom to reject the grace we have been given. So we accept that someone could once have faith, but then abandon the faith.
     
  9. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

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    We are simply not justified by our works. When God saves us, he adopts us and gives us a promise. We do not believe our salvation is the result of our faithfulness, since faith itself is a gift. Our salvation is the result of the merits or works of Christ alone.
     
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  10. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

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    Yeah, good point. Luther basically told people, don't delve into the mysteries of God. You have Christ now, that is sufficient. All our soteriology points to Christ, not philosophical notions like absolute predestination. Our religion is Christ, not philosophy.

    Luther would say, if you want to know if you are predestined, look to Jesus. Or as our pastor says on Christmas, who could feel threatend by a baby? That is how God chooses to relate to us. Not the inscrutible Providence of Puritanism, but the human face of Jesus.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2019
  11. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    I read a good study about small and large sins. It said that many, who would not commit a serious breach of the Ten Commandments, would have no problem committing a relatively minor sin.

    For example, if a person thinks it is a small thing to take a candy bar from a convenience store, or hopping over the fence and stealing apples from his neighbor's apple tree, he could quite easily commit armed robbery if he could get away with it. The only thing that would stop him would be the disgrace of being sent to prison and made to resign from his church. When coming to Christ, he would pass over confessing to stealing the apples because it would be such a small thing for him.

    Another person could hold resentment against another and might think that is not worth confessing, but if given the chance he could just as easily commit murder if it wasn't against the law.

    A person might find a $100 note on the floor of the bus and decide to keep it, because who's to know who or where the owner is? But if he found a wallet full of cash, he might hand it into the police for show so he could be praised for his honesty.

    A genuinely converted Christian would confess the taking of the candy bar, the apples and any resentment toward any person, and if he found a $100 note on the bus, he would hand it in to the bus company because he would not wish to dishonour God even in the smallest way.

    When a person receives Christ as an "easy believer", confessing only his "big" sins, or saying "forgive me all my sins" but not specifying to God what they are, he might express surprise when his religion fails to "fire" for him. He might blame the church, lack of caring of other Christians, persecution, and other problems; but he would be blind to the number of seemingly minor sins that he has not thought to confess and forsake. Therefore I would say that most of believers who fall away after a short time do so because they failed to completely follow through with getting right with God over every sin, large or small; major or minor.

    It could be a tragedy if a professing believer was shut out of heaven just because he failed to confess the stealing of a couple of apples from his neighbor's fruit tree!
     
  12. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

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    Lutherans do not expect Christians to fully innumerate their sins, because that would be a huge burden indeed, even our mind is clouded to the dire nature of our condition, and we simply cannot have assurance we have confessed everything that we ought to confess. We confess we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. That covers the bases, I would say. If anything in particular bothers our conscience despite this, we can confess privately to our pastor.

    We just don't think of "getting right with God" as a category for our spirituality. We do not reconcile ourselves to God, God reconciles himself to us, as sinners, but in a way that does not condone our sins.
     
  13. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    My assertion is that if there is just one specific unconfessed sin in your heart, then you cannot guarantee that God will fellowship with you or listen to your prayers. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18). Also, on the day of judgment there won't be a "we", there will be just you, and you might have difficulty answering God's question, "Why did you not confess and discuss that specific sin with Me? Why did you keep it in your heart?"
     
  14. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    Right, but why do people abandon the faith? That's the thing I don't understand. Do Lutherans have an explanation for that, or do they just say it's a mystery?
     
  15. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

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    Beyond the common sorts of Christian explanations and admonitions we find in the Bible and the early Church, we do not engage in speculation like that. You'ld be better off asking sociologists, not theologians.
     
  16. Ttalkkugjil

    Ttalkkugjil Spiritual Director

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    One doesn't stay alive if one isn't being nourished.
     
  17. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

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    Sort of. I am convinced there are Lutherans that barely go to church but a few times in their life after confirmation, who have little or no formal "quiet time" with God, and who have it all together more than people who show up every week. We never nail down just what it means, in Luther's words, to "not despise the Word".
     
  18. Ttalkkugjil

    Ttalkkugjil Spiritual Director

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    In my own life I had a crisis moment through which God drove me back to church. :)
     
  19. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

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    OK, but confessing we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves is basically confessing it all, whether in our heart or not. We simply do not believe a meticulous inventory of actual sins is necessary. As the Anglicans say "all can, some should, none must". It really is a matter of personal discernment, but I would advise the average person to not go there unless they feel especially burdened in their conscience. It's much better to be thankful for the grace we have and to look for ways to serve others in our vocations. The Devil holds our sins before us, but as Pr. Zeke, our elderly retired pastor, said last sunday, God does not keep score. Our pastors simply doesn't teach the notion of judgement you describe.
     
  20. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

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    That can happen. I think both Anglicans and Lutherans accept that the Church is a hospital, and perhaps people will check in and check out at various times. It simply does not mean people do not have God's grace, that is not our judgment to make really. In traditionally Lutheran countries, fewer people go to church unless they are old, or they are going to weddings, confirmations, baptisms or funerals, but many people continue to value it as an institution in their nation.

    My only concern in the US, is how do we fund such a church where there is no national tax to pay for it? It is a challenge.

    Alot of our younger people, the children of elderly parents in our church, no longer go, but we do pray for them. We just aren't going to twist arms or scare people into going back. As pastor says, when people don't go, they are missed.
     
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