Graphical Representation of Lutheran Soteriology and (lacking) Theodicy


This first graph is the Lutheran view of soteriology (as it has taken me years to pry out of them).  They believe there are three major soteriological teachings of Scripture (“Christ died for all”, “Not all will be saved”, and “Salvation is a work of God Alone”) and that we should not try to discount one of them in order to form a logical system.  Thus, Lutherans believe Calvinism,  Arminianism, and Universalism are each attempts to form logical systems which are detrimental to one of the three teachings.

If the teaching “Not all will be saved” is rejected then the soteriology opposite is the result; Universalism. If the teaching “Salvation is the work of God alone” is rejected then the soteriology opposite is the result; Arminianism. If the teaching “Christ died for all” is rejected then the soteriology opposite is the result; Calvinism. Lutherans uphold all three teachings and do not look for a logical system.  Their view is sometimes called “paradox” but I believe is better called “tension.”

The second chart I’ve made is an application of this teaching to Theodicy – attempts to solve the problem of evil. All Christians affirms, to some extent, these three teachings: (God is good, Evil exists, and God is all-powerful). Lutherans affirm all three of these views and do not attempt a Theodicy. Augustine at one point rejected that evil exists.  Thus I’ve placed him on the graph to fill what would otherwise be a gap. Arminians play lip-service to “God is all-powerful” but relinquish this power in their “Free-will Theodicy.” Calvinists play lip-service to “God is good” but relinquish this goodness by making his sovereignty the cause of evil.

Thus, if the Lutheran view is biblical it is a wonderful solution to the Calvin-Arminian debates.  The one difference with Calvinism, of course, is the unlimited atonement and therefore “illogical” view.  Of course some in the Reformed community have come to reject limited atonement and be 3-point Calvinists, 4 Point Calvinists, Amryaldists, etc. The Lutheran view is similar to these but revels more in tension.

I like the Lutheran view because it doesn’t get into the major troubles that each of the other 3 views get into.  The 1 trouble with the Lutheran paradigm (and by Lutheran I mean the LCMS, and perhaps not Luther himself) is that leaves you hanging.  By not positing an answer to the problem of evil they cannot be wrong about their theodicy, but of course they can’t technically be correct either.


About douglasdouma

I am a graduate of the University of Michigan (BSME), Wake Forest University (MBA), and Sangre de Cristo Seminary (Mdiv). I've learned far more from books than in school. I'm particularly in debt to Martin Luther, Ludwig von Mises, and Gordon H. Clark for any thoughts I have.
This entry was posted in Lutheranism. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s