Monday, June 14, 2010

LHP Review: On Lutherans and Baptists

Hartzell, Eric S. A Lutheran Looks at Baptists. Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 2010. 132 Pages. Paper. $14.50. (LHP)

The latest in the A Lutheran Looks at... series from our friends at NPH is...Baptists.
Timely. Relevant. Necessary.
An LCMS theologian has recently commented in a lengthy online essay about the growing influence of Baptist theology, theologians and practice in the LCMS. Lutherans and Baptists don't look at things the same way. Yet, this reviewer has noted that a large number of the songs on a list promoted by the current LCMS Commission on Worship under the title "The Song of the People" are found in the new 2008 Southern Baptist Hymnal.
Baptists are a unique combination of Calvinism, Arminianism, and Americanism. And no, not all Baptists reject creeds and statements of faith (See Chapter 3 and the Addendum: pp. 79-126).
Baptists are so named because of their unique theology of baptism: adult immersion. That sets up two points for discussion/conflict with Lutheran Christians: 1) denial of infant faith/a new definition of faith and 2) the use of the Greek word for baptism for something other than immersion in Mark 7:4 (See Chapter 7). This is in addition to traditional Calvinist denials of baptismal regeneration and Arminianism's "decision theology" (See Chapter 2). And we should always be wary of "new" theology (Chapter 1).
Our congregation recently wrapped up a several-month study of Christian denominations in comparison to Lutheranism and Biblical Christianity. The ground rules were simple. They weren't to turn into complaint sessions. We were to discuss the facts and the Scriptures. And we were to speak of Baptist or Methodist or Roman Catholic teachings and practices so that a Baptist, Methodist or Roman Christian would say, "Yes. That's what we believe and practice." One of the best parts of this books is the Introduction, where author Eric S. Hartzell quotes Charles Ryrie with a very similar fair-minded mind-set to discussing Christian differences (iv).
Support NPH by purchasing copies of the books in this series. Why? We want to see many, many more written on a variety of religious groups.
And it wouldn't hurt if Lutherans who have read this book would talk with their Baptist neighbor (25 million of them; see the ad on the back of the current Meditations devotional for the source of this suggestion) and introduce them to a more Biblical Christianity in our Lutheran Church.
The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.