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To Make a Long Story Short

Quite a while ago, I received an email asking about my conversion from Lutheranism to Reformed theology. I’ve decided to post my answer here.

Why did I move from Lutheranism to Reformed theology?

That’s a long story. First, I should say that I am not Truly Reformed®. I subscribe to the “Five Solas” (salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone), and am soteriologically Calvinistic, but I am not necessarily Reformed-kosher on the covenants or eschatology, and I am credobaptist.

I didn’t move directly from Lutheranism to Reformed theology. That theological journey began with difficulties I had with a couple of areas of Lutheran doctrine. One of those was Lutheran sacramentalism—consubstantiation in the Lord’s Supper, and paedobaptism, especially baptismal regeneration. The other was soteriological—I became increasingly Arminian as (I think) a result of contradictory practices in my church. While Lutheran soteriology is essentially monergistic (though a bit muddled on that count), the evangelistic methods of my church were distinctly revivalist. I was pretty confused, and became a devout synergist.

Sometime in the mid-eighties, I began listening to John MacArthur on the radio. I didn’t know he was a Calvinist at first, or I probably wouldn’t have listened long. By the time I caught on to his Calvinism, I was already hooked on his expository preaching, something I had never heard before. Through his ministry, my mind was opened to at least consider the claims of Reformed theology. As my synergistic and legalistic prejudices fell away, and as I learned to study the Bible without those presuppositions, the doctrines of grace became clear and undeniable.

I wasn’t particularly happy about this. I suppose it was my pride that struggled against it. Accepting the fact that I had played no part in my conversion was difficult, but worse still was the embarrassment of having argued loudly and at great length against Calvinist “heretics” for several years—and now I was one.

But, by the grace of God, I got over it, and now rejoice in the assurance that can only come through knowing that salvation is all—really all—by the sovereign will of God, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and that nothing—truly nothing—can ever separate me from the love of God.


And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

—Romans 8:28–30

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.

—John 6:37–40

Posted 2012·02·02 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Lutheranism · Monergism · The Thirsty Theologian
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#1 || 12·02·03··08:28 || Greg Wilson

I wasn't Lutheran and I'm not reformed. But we've had a similar journey and MacArthur is also the short story.

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