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What Luther Says

Q&A: What About The 'Essentials' of Christianity? (Or Does God Save Some Despite Their 'Bad Theology'?)

As we continue our look at Pietism this week, we begin with another video from Rev. Jonathan Fisk and Worldview Everlasting.

Q&A: What About The 'Essentials' of Christianity?
(Or Does God Save Some Despite Their 'Bad Theology'?)

While that's the primary question Pastor Fisk answers in this edition, there's also some talk about the "essentials" of Christianity ("Vanilla Essentialism" he calls it), as well as a brief commentary on Pietism too, which is why we wanted to include it here today.

I often struggle with the answer to that main question too so it was actually quite refreshing to hear him say that while none of us (myself included, of course) will ever completely understand everything in the Bible, and that God most certainly saves despite our "bad theology" even, that does not mean that we should become indifferent to it, because "false theology" is a greater sin than all others. Ouch!

And yet, how often to we hear others excuse false teachings by proclaiming "Gospel Reductionism" or by reducing the faith to John 3:16? "Well, I don't want to debate over doctrine with you and we'll just have to agree to disagree, because we all believe John 3:16 anyway..." Boy, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that one in recent years!

But, as this video clearly shows, that's a spiritually dangerous game for anyone to play.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, I'll echo what Pastor Fisk said...

"The 'essential' is Jesus -- who He is and what He did and what He said -- absolutely, which is why Baptism and the Lord's Supper are essentials, because they are who He is, that are what He's doing, and they are based exclusively on what He said! ... Doctrine is a body just like a church. ... If we remain faithless, He remains faithful. That's the key. But it doesn't mean you wanna go and be faithless."

As for his comments on Pietism?

"Even though 'Pietism' as a movement was a removal of the essentials -- the Word and Sacraments of Christ from the center of the Church and replacing it with your response, your heart, what you do, how you feel, how you act before God -- that doesn't mean there were no Christians in the movement, that doesn't mean that no Pietist will ever be saved. ... A lack of 'Piety' can remove Christ at the center in the same way that Pietism does."

Hope that helps.

Grace and peace to you and yours!

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a Lutheran-In-Name-Only at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that perhaps wouldn't be too big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in interpreting a specific portion of Scripture exegetically, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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