Author Topic: cur alii prae aliis  (Read 495 times)

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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cur alii prae aliis
« on: June 09, 2022, 01:00:33 PM »
Here's a question for you, Ed - let's say an underlying theological issue in most mainline Protestant groups is universalism.  The old question has been "cur alii prae alii?"  And that has led through the centuries to a lot of debate about the dogma/doctrine of election - double predestination, etc. etc.

So if and as universal salvation at the end is declared as the natural extension of "God so loved...." and the exhortation to "judge not lest you be judged" is the way dogmatically to steer clear of eschatological debates, what is left then of the Law and the Gospel.  On the Gospel side there's objective and universal justification/reconciliation, so there's the theo-logic that universal redemption belongs to Christ alone in the end.  On the Gospel side also, though, is incentive to share the Gospel changed in terms of urgency?  Which means on the Law side, if all are eventually saved, what's left of the Law that condemns?

That to me is a dialog that is in waiting, but I haven't heard about it being actually held.

Dave Benke
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Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2022, 01:02:45 PM »
Here's a question for you, Ed - let's say an underlying theological issue in most mainline Protestant groups is universalism.  The old question has been "cur alii prae alii?"  And that has led through the centuries to a lot of debate about the dogma/doctrine of election - double predestination, etc. etc.

So if and as universal salvation at the end is declared as the natural extension of "God so loved...." and the exhortation to "judge not lest you be judged" is the way dogmatically to steer clear of eschatological debates, what is left then of the Law and the Gospel.  On the Gospel side there's objective and universal justification/reconciliation, so there's the theo-logic that universal redemption belongs to Christ alone in the end.  On the Gospel side also, though, is incentive to share the Gospel changed in terms of urgency?  Which means on the Law side, if all are eventually saved, what's left of the Law that condemns?

That to me is a dialog that is in waiting, but I haven't heard about it being actually held.

Dave Benke

I moved this to its own thread since it's plenty different from what's going on in the thread about the Sierra Pacific Synod in the ELCA. I'm heading out but will share a thought when I get back.
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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2022, 02:28:35 PM »
Speculation regarding election and universalism sets up one as god/God who believes they/he/she, ie. the sinner, can accurately determine the outcome.  It’s called judging the neighbor or an abstract other (who is no neighbor but someone’s mental construct of their own imagination).  There is a good reason that this is forbidden under God’s law.  Pay attention to yourself…and repent and you believe in the Good News for you.  Election and universalism treat others as objects and not as subjects.

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2022, 03:25:29 PM »
As I think about the question, I'll consider two ways of framing it:

Why are some elected rather than others?
Why are some saved rather than others?

These questions share a lot in common. Yet we cannot fully or well answer the first question. We have insight into the second, at least from a human perspective. I'll draw on a life example about the second question.

We just today finished distributing 2,500 fliers to our neighborhood. Everyone is invited and welcome to come to our VBS but not everyone here received an invitation. Some homes have "Do not solicit/trespass" on them. So we pass them by. They aren't getting the Gospel message because they have chosen to raise a barrier that blocks it. Has the Lord rejected them? John 3:16 says no. Have the people who received the invitation been elected by God? Insight tells us not all will welcome the message.

The first question above is like the dark side of the moon. We believe it is there but we cannot explore it from this vantage point. The second question we can explore. It is accessible to our experience. Matthew 13 and the Parable of the Sower bring us about as close as we can get to an answer. We may have more questions but more importantly, there's work to be done and we see it bear fruit. Why wonder more?
« Last Edit: June 09, 2022, 03:55:17 PM by Rev. Edward Engelbrecht »
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Dave Benke

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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2022, 04:33:51 PM »
As I think about the question, I'll consider two ways of framing it:

Why are some elected rather than others?
Why are some saved rather than others?

These questions share a lot in common. Yet we cannot fully or well answer the first question. We have insight into the second, at least from a human perspective. I'll draw on a life example about the second question.

We just today finished distributing 2,500 fliers to our neighborhood. Everyone is invited and welcome to come to our VBS but not everyone here received an invitation. Some homes have "Do not solicit/trespass" on them. So we pass them by. They aren't getting the Gospel message because they have chosen to raise a barrier that blocks it. Has the Lord rejected them? John 3:16 says no. Have the people who received the invitation been elected by God? Insight tells us not all will welcome the message.

The first question above is like the dark side of the moon. We believe it is there but we cannot explore it from this vantage point. The second question we can explore. It is accessible to our experience. Matthew 13 and the Parable of the Sower bring us about as close as we can get to an answer. We may have more questions but more importantly, there's work to be done and we see it bear fruit. Why wonder more?

To your example, there is a science fiction short story somewhere about the process you describe.  The story takes place in some very isolated mountain area.  It turns out that some form of the extension of the Gospel - flyers, missionaries, word of mouth, has reached every tribe and people group in the world except this one isolated tribe.  And a missionary wanders by chance into this tribal area, and is taken to the leader, and presents the reason he's there - the Gospel.  As that conversation takes place, the command of Jesus in Matthew 28 is completed.  And the missionary and leader look up into the sky - and it's the eschaton. 

I don't know if you've baptized many people who started out as a Muslim, a Hindu, or a Zoroastrian (Persian).  When that catechization takes place, the world of the New Testament (and the Mormons) comes right into view, because people wonder - speaking of wondering - about their dead parents and family members.  Are they roasting in hell?  What about Auntie?  What about Rashid? 

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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2022, 04:50:32 PM »
My wife, who was raised Swedish Baptist, notes a lack of urgency among Lutherans.

Her midwest relatives would be making sure the clan was saved to the point where some relatives were a bit annoyed with all the evangelism going on.

Have any of you met any Lutherans who truly feared for their eternal salvation? The one I person so moved was the spouse of a Lions Club member who asked me to stop by as the club chaplain and explain the Christian basics. Neither were Lutheran.
Pete Garrison

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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2022, 06:15:35 PM »
Perhaps asking about salvation (or election) is the wrong question? We do not have control over that. Salvation/election is in God's hands.


What we have control over:
• our knowledge and understanding of what God has revealed to us through scriptures (and our own experiences) - we learn; we teach
• our behaviors, especially towards others, and even more importantly towards fellow believers - we witness to God's grace by our actions

"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2022, 06:54:40 PM »
My wife, who was raised Swedish Baptist, notes a lack of urgency among Lutherans. . . .
Have any of you met any Lutherans who truly feared for their eternal salvation?

The answer is yes. I meet people wondering this often enough. I also see that the Gospel gives calm and confidence to troubled souls.

My experience with Baptists (I graduated from a Baptist highschool) has a marked contrast with my experience with Lutherans. The Baptists I knew tended to use A LOT of fear instilling tactics to drive people to their altar calls. I remember a sermon in particular about a burn victim's suffering illustrating hell and lots of films about the Great Tribulation.

I am happily Lutheran and also braving my crime-ridden neighborhood to bring the Gospel to lost souls---many of whom have Appalachian or Black Baptist backgrounds---compelled not by fear of hell but by the love of Christ. Spent last night praying for recovering alcoholics and addicts as I do most Wednesday evenings at the AA meeting we host. I see daily the urgent need for the Gospel both for this life and the one to come.
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Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2022, 07:30:41 PM »
As I think about the question, I'll consider two ways of framing it:

Why are some elected rather than others?
Why are some saved rather than others?

These questions share a lot in common. Yet we cannot fully or well answer the first question. We have insight into the second, at least from a human perspective. I'll draw on a life example about the second question.

We just today finished distributing 2,500 fliers to our neighborhood. Everyone is invited and welcome to come to our VBS but not everyone here received an invitation. Some homes have "Do not solicit/trespass" on them. So we pass them by. They aren't getting the Gospel message because they have chosen to raise a barrier that blocks it. Has the Lord rejected them? John 3:16 says no. Have the people who received the invitation been elected by God? Insight tells us not all will welcome the message.

The first question above is like the dark side of the moon. We believe it is there but we cannot explore it from this vantage point. The second question we can explore. It is accessible to our experience. Matthew 13 and the Parable of the Sower bring us about as close as we can get to an answer. We may have more questions but more importantly, there's work to be done and we see it bear fruit. Why wonder more?

To your example, there is a science fiction short story somewhere about the process you describe.  The story takes place in some very isolated mountain area.  It turns out that some form of the extension of the Gospel - flyers, missionaries, word of mouth, has reached every tribe and people group in the world except this one isolated tribe.  And a missionary wanders by chance into this tribal area, and is taken to the leader, and presents the reason he's there - the Gospel.  As that conversation takes place, the command of Jesus in Matthew 28 is completed.  And the missionary and leader look up into the sky - and it's the eschaton. 

I don't know if you've baptized many people who started out as a Muslim, a Hindu, or a Zoroastrian (Persian).  When that catechization takes place, the world of the New Testament (and the Mormons) comes right into view, because people wonder - speaking of wondering - about their dead parents and family members.  Are they roasting in hell?  What about Auntie?  What about Rashid? 

Dave Benke

I've not had this honor or dilemma but we did discuss it at Bible Study last night, what happens with the ancestors. One who helped me think about this matter was Norman Nagel. When it came up in discussion, he said, "That's a God-sized problem with a God-sized answer." In other words, we leave such judgement to God. It's not our calling to send ANYONE to heaven or hell. That's God's responsibility. Our is to make His Word known.

As to whom I am baptizing, the children and grandchildren of many addicts and broken homes. On Sunday I will baptize four children of Caribbean-Hispanic descent and one Anglo child whose dad is a recovering addict. Joy in heaven!
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2022, 07:51:02 PM »
My wife, who was raised Swedish Baptist, notes a lack of urgency among Lutherans. . . .
Have any of you met any Lutherans who truly feared for their eternal salvation?

The answer is yes. I meet people wondering this often enough. I also see that the Gospel gives calm and confidence to troubled souls.

My experience with Baptists (I graduated from a Baptist highschool) has a marked contrast with my experience with Lutherans. The Baptists I knew tended to use A LOT of fear instilling tactics to drive people to their altar calls. I remember a sermon in particular about a burn victim's suffering illustrating hell and lots of films about the Great Tribulation.

I am happily Lutheran and also braving my crime-ridden neighborhood to bring the Gospel to lost souls---many of whom have Appalachian or Black Baptist backgrounds---compelled not by fear of hell but by the love of Christ. Spent last night praying for recovering alcoholics and addicts as I do most Wednesday evenings at the AA meeting we host. I see daily the urgent need for the Gospel both for this life and the one to come.


I think that a major difference in the DNAs of Lutherans and Baptists is that Lutheranism grew up as a state church. If you were born in Sweden you were a Lutheran. If you were born in the Lutheran area of Germany, you were Lutheran. (If you didn't like that, you moved to a Roman or Reformed area of Germany.) That is not part of the Baptists' background. They sometimes viewed everyone who wasn't a Baptist as someone in need of conversion.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Fcdwyn

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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2022, 04:28:19 PM »
As I think about the question, I'll consider two ways of framing it:

Why are some elected rather than others?
Why are some saved rather than others?

These questions share a lot in common. Yet we cannot fully or well answer the first question. We have insight into the second, at least from a human perspective. I'll draw on a life example about the second question.

We just today finished distributing 2,500 fliers to our neighborhood. Everyone is invited and welcome to come to our VBS but not everyone here received an invitation. Some homes have "Do not solicit/trespass" on them. So we pass them by. They aren't getting the Gospel message because they have chosen to raise a barrier that blocks it. Has the Lord rejected them? John 3:16 says no. Have the people who received the invitation been elected by God? Insight tells us not all will welcome the message.

The first question above is like the dark side of the moon. We believe it is there but we cannot explore it from this vantage point. The second question we can explore. It is accessible to our experience. Matthew 13 and the Parable of the Sower bring us about as close as we can get to an answer. We may have more questions but more importantly, there's work to be done and we see it bear fruit. Why wonder more?

To your example, there is a science fiction short story somewhere about the process you describe.  The story takes place in some very isolated mountain area.  It turns out that some form of the extension of the Gospel - flyers, missionaries, word of mouth, has reached every tribe and people group in the world except this one isolated tribe.  And a missionary wanders by chance into this tribal area, and is taken to the leader, and presents the reason he's there - the Gospel.  As that conversation takes place, the command of Jesus in Matthew 28 is completed.  And the missionary and leader look up into the sky - and it's the eschaton. 

I don't know if you've baptized many people who started out as a Muslim, a Hindu, or a Zoroastrian (Persian).  When that catechization takes place, the world of the New Testament (and the Mormons) comes right into view, because people wonder - speaking of wondering - about their dead parents and family members.  Are they roasting in hell?  What about Auntie?  What about Rashid? 

Dave Benke

I've not had this honor or dilemma but we did discuss it at Bible Study last night, what happens with the ancestors. One who helped me think about this matter was Norman Nagel. When it came up in discussion, he said, "That's a God-sized problem with a God-sized answer." In other words, we leave such judgement to God. It's not our calling to send ANYONE to heaven or hell. That's God's responsibility. Our is to make His Word known.

As to whom I am baptizing, the children and grandchildren of many addicts and broken homes. On Sunday I will baptize four children of Caribbean-Hispanic descent and one Anglo child whose dad is a recovering addict. Joy in heaven!

Are the parents and grandparents of all these children you are privileged to baptize believers? Are they  committed to "bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?"  Those of us who have been called to administer the Sacrament of Holy Baptism know the disappointment and concern when some of those children we baptize never show up for Sunday school or Confirmation class.  Does the "joy in heaven" (Luke 15) come at baptism or at Confirmation?

K.S. Hahn CSL '72

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2022, 04:57:54 PM »
Are the parents and grandparents of all these children you are privileged to baptize believers? Are they  committed to "bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?"  Those of us who have been called to administer the Sacrament of Holy Baptism know the disappointment and concern when some of those children we baptize never show up for Sunday school or Confirmation class.  Does the "joy in heaven" (Luke 15) come at baptism or at Confirmation?


Jesus never commanded us to confirm youth. The best (and about only) explanation I've heard for confirmation was that when priests were being defrocked (or worse) for being heretics, the bishop would come around to see if the children the heretic had baptized had received the proper faith.

One of the things a congregation council and I started about 1991, was to require at least one parent attend confirmation classes with their child. There were a number of reasons for this.

1. It is primarily the parents job to teach the faith to their children.
     a) Parents (and sponsors) promise at a child's baptism to "teach them the Lord's Prayer, the Creed and the Ten Commandments."
     b) Each part of Martin Luther's Small Catechism begins with "In the plain form in which the head of the family shall teach them to his
      household." The church's confirmation program is to help parents in their task -- not to take the place of parents.
2. Statistics and personal observations indicate that students' involvement in the congregation before, during and after confirmation instruction is most directly influenced by the involvement of their parents in the congregation. Very seldom will a youth remain involved in the church after confirmation if his/her parents are not actively involved in the church. So, to achieve our goal of increased involvement by the youth, we feel that we need to involve parents in the life of the church.
3. Statistics indicate that 75% of Christian parents rarely or never speak to their children about Christ. Having both parents and youth in class together will facilitate communication between them about faith Christ, living the Christian life, and church membership. The expected outcome of this family sharing is a stronger faith and greater learning in both parents and children.
     a) The parents, who may have forgotten some of their confirmation instruction, will be renewed in their faith and knowledge as they read
     and hear and discuss the lessons from the catechism and scriptures.
     b) The students, who may have never heard their parents talk about their faith, will learn first-hand about being an adult Christian and a
     member of the congregation.


"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2022, 06:50:19 PM »
In the LCMS catechism tradition, which goes back to the Dresden Catechism as I recall, confirmation is rooted in Scripture two ways: Mt 28, make disciples . . . teaching; Mt 10:32, who confesses Me I will confess before My Father.

Emmanuel, with my urging, maintains active children's ministry that keeps reaching out to those families who seek Baptism: Sunday School, children's messages, children's bulletins, children's activities at festivals, VBS/Carnival (starts tomorrow!), Kids' Night Out, Youth Overnights, Game Night, service projects, and of course catechism. We don't see all these children at all events but the majority continue to be engaged. God willing we will have children's choir again in the fall. The congregation knows that children's ministry is high priority for this pastor and it comes out in support. We just distributed 2,500 fliers in the neighborhood and hopefully will have good turnout from the community tomorrow. For me (and I believe, the angels), Baptisms are joy! The Holy Spirit and grandparents are the strongest influence on church life in my experience. I just help out.
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Dave Likeness

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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2022, 07:27:47 PM »
@Brian......There was a study released in the LCMS in the 1980's
about the direct correlation between an 8th grade youth confirmand
and their parish involvement during their high school years.

It was reported that the key component was both of the parents
being actively involved in the congregation. This included weekly
worship, adult Bible class, serving on various parish boards and
committees. This is most certainly true as I have witnessed active
high school youth in our parish. The parents set a good example
and their children are willing to follow them.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: cur alii prae aliis
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2022, 07:32:35 PM »
In the LCMS catechism tradition, which goes back to the Dresden Catechism as I recall, confirmation is rooted in Scripture two ways: Mt 28, make disciples . . . teaching; Mt 10:32, who confesses Me I will confess before My Father.

Emmanuel, with my urging, maintains active children's ministry that keeps reaching out to those families who seek Baptism: Sunday School, children's messages, children's bulletins, children's activities at festivals, VBS/Carnival (starts tomorrow!), Kids' Night Out, Youth Overnights, Game Night, service projects, and of course catechism. We don't see all these children at all events but the majority continue to be engaged. God willing we will have children's choir again in the fall. The congregation knows that children's ministry is high priority for this pastor and it comes out in support. We just distributed 2,500 fliers in the neighborhood and hopefully will have good turnout from the community tomorrow. For me (and I believe, the angels), Baptisms are joy! The Holy Spirit and grandparents are the strongest influence on church life in my experience. I just help out.


Certainly the teaching ministry is needed to fulfill the Great Commission. It's the rite of confirmation that is extra-biblical. However, there are biblical texts about the laying on of hands.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]