Saturday, April 17, 2010

Calvinism Vs. Lutheranism: Debate and Cook-off


I would be very interested in hosting a Calvinism Vs. Lutheranism debate in my backyard. If you live in the Grand Rapids area please let me know if you are interested, especially if you are a confessional Calvinist who is willing to debate. If you think that the presidential debates are actual debates please do not volunteer. I am willing to defend the Lutheran position unless someone more qualified volunteers to take my place. I am also open to another location if someone has a more suitable facility.

There seems to be a lot of misconceptions between Calvinists and Lutherans about what the other believes and this would be an excellent way to clear up those misconceptions. It would be good to have other confessional Lutherans and confessional Calvinists around who know their catechisms well to clear up any of the misstatements by the debaters. I believe the debate should start where it began--the Lord's Supper.

There should also be good food. It's summer and a grilling competition would be delicious.

22 comments:

Rev. Jim Roemke said...

Sounds fun!

X said...

Oh, I gotta see this! :)

Laura Wiese said...

I'm going to hide in the kitchen!!

Jason Smathers said...

Perhaps you can challenge James White to a debate and fly to Phoenix. I'll be there. :)

Chuck Wiese said...

Jason:
I'll try to work that into my budget...lol Grand Rapids is the Calvinist New Jerusalem so I'm hoping I can get someone. I just sent an email to two local Reformed seminaries...each of which I was planning at one time or another. If I could get John Pless to take my place that would be even better.

Ted Badje said...

Just so it isn't a cook-off like Michael Severtus had. 'Ya never know about those crazy Calvinists. ;-)

Chuck Wiese said...

Ted:
Ha! The doctrine of the two kingdoms should also enter into the debate although the CRC and their step-children have modified their confessions to allow for a more Lutheran understanding of the two kingdoms. Servetus was of course sentenced to death already by the RCC and he was most definitely a heretic. The Calvinists may have been wrong to burn him but in some ways the way they handled the situation was superior to current practice. At least Calvin talked with Servetus. Current practice today is to just ignore those who contradict and perhaps talk about them but never with them.

NewKidontheBlogg said...

Very interesting debate and cook-off. I have been in a Reformed church for ten years since marrying my husband and have started to reflect on my previous pietistic heritage in the (once Swedish) Evangelical Covenant Church. If I were coming I would bring Swedish meatballs and try to follow both sides. Isn't there room for both orthodoxy and orthopracy? Ya think?!

joe said...

Just happened to stop by your blog again and couldn't help but notice this one! I'd be surprised if you had a no-show of Calvinist folks in these neck of the woods. I can't say I'm much of a formal debater, but I'd be up for summer grilling & good conversation with my Lutheran brothers & sisters!

Chuck Wiese said...

Joe:
I emailed Dr. Beeke and the Protestant Reformed Seminary but I have not heard back from anyone. I could just be asking the wrong people. If you know anyone who you think would be a good fit please ask them for me. A Lutheran turned Calvinist who knows his stuff would be ideal but I'll take what I can get at this point. I want it to be fun and informative.

Laura Wiese said...

My vote is for the 'more suitable facilities' whatever that is, lol.

NewKidontheBlogg said...

What are your debate questions so I can prepare?

Chuck Wiese said...

New:
I had not organized the questions yet, I'm still working on tracking down a confessional Calvinist.

Jeff said...

Hello all,
I happened upon this post by Googling "Evangelical Covenant Church" and "Calvinism". I was trying to learn more about the ECC and whether or not they have Calvinist origins. Based on what I have read thus far, it seems like they have a Swedish Lutheran origin. Many thanks to NewKidontheBlogg for mentioning the ECC in one of her comments and sending me on an entertaining if not educational diversion!

I'm surprised at your difficulty to find a professing 5-pointer in Grand Rapids of all places. Calvin College is in (or at least near) Grand Rapids. I am a 3rd or 4th generation Calvinist and I was strongly encouraged to consider Calvin (MI) or Dordt (IA) colleges for undergraduate studies in spite of the fact that I lived in Texas!

If no professors cast down the gauntlet, perhaps the bribery of ground beef sizzling on the grill-top will prove too strong a temptation for a poor and hungry grad student or TA to resist! They are, after all, victims of total depravity! ;-) And we Calvinists are gluttons for punishment, so although this crowd seems a little one-sided and the venue offers a bit of a home-field advantage, you still might find a taker or two. I hope your search goes well!

Best regards, - Jeff

Jeff said...

My apologies, Chuck. I just read your ‘About Me’ section and realized that Calvin is your alma mater. Surely you’ve either tried Calvin or you are looking for someone with a higher understanding of the catechisms than Calvin has to offer. Please disregard my previous post.

Chuck Wiese said...

Jeff: Thanks for the suggestion. Confessional Calvinists do not teach at Calvin College, at least no in the religion department. I had one professor there who denied the virgin birth and the resurrection. Calvin Seminary still has some good professors and I haven't tried there yet but I've sort of given up at this point unless I get some responses back.

I contacted Puritan Reformed Seminary and the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary but received no response. A friend of mine is trying to get a seminary student to do it but I haven't heard anything back yet. I had a couple of emails back and forth with one Calvinist minister in which he said that there are too many differences to engage in debate. I tried to explain that the purpose of the debate was to clear up misperceptions among both parties and he started talking about how Lutheranism isn't what it once was. He wasn't very clear on what he meant by that but brought up the use of medieval vestments. I tried to explain that our confessions say that we use the medieval vestments and that Lutherans later departed from that and have returned to it and I was never sure how the use of vestments would prevent debate but that's where our conversation ended. Perhaps I should find a knowledgable Calvinist and grill him one of my steaks and take it to his house and tell him if he wants more he has to debate me.

I think the problem is that most Calvinists are simply not very knowledgeable about Lutheranism and most Lutherans are not very knowledgeable about Calvinism and everybody except for me is afraid to look stupid. Ideally I would track down a Lutheran turned Calvinist but I have been unsuccessful so far and I've come across more Calvinists turned Lutheran. From debates that I've had over the internet I've also come to see that the vast majority of Calvinists are unable to think outside of the Calvinist/Arminian paradigm which makes debate with other groups difficult especially when most Lutherans would consider Arminianism to be just another kind of Calvinism.

NewKidontheBlogg said...

Hi Jeff! This is NewKidontheBlogg herself. I have an ECC background that included a pinch of Reformed early on. With my marriage I am now in a Reformed church. Chuck has commented on what I wrote on http://millennialdreams.blogspot.com/ and I think the debate is between Arminianism and Calvinism rather than Lutherism and Calvinistm. But Chuck is holding the cook-off. I wonder who will get roasted?!

NewKidontheBlogg said...

Jeff,
The Evangelical Covenant Church came out of the Swedish state Lutheran church. They objected to automatially being a Lutheran because they were Swedish and emphasized the new birth rather than automatic church membership because you were in Sweden. Those Swedes who came to America formed the ECC, which is not now predominately Swedish.

Jeff said...

Wow, I am surprised and saddened by the current state of affairs at Calvin, but thanks for the update.

I agree with your statement about the lack of understanding between Calvinists and Lutherans. Or at the very least, it is a true depiction of me. That in combination with the geographic distance prevents me from engaging you. After all, "those who do not know their opponent's arguments do not completely understand their own." Perhaps instead of a debate, you should invite a Calvinist to participate in an apologetics cross-study where you both teach and learn more about one-another’s' beliefs.

Your steak bribery idea sounds like an excellent improvement on the old carrot and stick.

And thanks, also, for the extra info on the ECC. Very interesting!

NewKidontheBlogg said...

Jeff and Chuck,

I can get you a confessional Calvinist. But again, I see a bigger issue between emergent/Arminian type and the Lutheran/Calvinistic/Reformed Anglican types.

I asked for the questions from Chuck, but haven't heard them yet. I am interesting in how this will proceed. I blog at http://millennialdreams.blogspot.com/ and have also written book that you can find on that blog.

Cordially,
Carol Noren Johnson

Chuck Wiese said...

Carol: In order to formulate questions, I really need to know what kind of Calvinist I am dealing with. In general I think it would be helpful to start with a debate over whether or not we can create dogma based on logical inferences. Then we can go on to the Scriptural teaching on the Lord's Supper. But I really don't think this thing is going to work unless I can find a well-read Lutheran who has gone Calvinist.

NewKidontheBlogg said...

Bowing out, then Chuck. I am not a well-read Lutheran or a well-read Calvinist. I am just a learner who loves the Lord and Scripture. Words like "create dogma based on logical inferences" leave me pretty cold as does "most Lutherans would consider Arminianism just another form of Calvinism". My dogma at this point is the list of Scripture I have typed out over my kitchen sink to help me deal with serious issues and life stresses such as my husband's dementia.