Here is an article that I wrote about Predestination that’s a bit too long for an article on BJS. I’ve included the first few paragraphs here and then included the PDF file for you to read the remainder of it.
Predestination, Why Bother?
A Facebook friend once asserted to me that the historical controversies, as well as the present ongoing debates, over the doctrine of predestination are nothing more than opposing sides stirring up trouble by arguing over linguistic nuances; hence, to become engaged in the controversy over predestination is to be pulled into a futile theological war. Is this friend right? While I truly wish I could agree with my friend for the sake of simplicity, I am afraid that he is grossly mistaken on this point. To the naked eye it may seem like a meaningless debate over linguistics or doctrinal emphasis; however, as we will see in the following pages, this debate is over two very different theological positions, views that have profound implications upon the church and pastoral office today. The doctrine of predestination matters!
The Nineteenth-Century Predestination Controversy
In exploring the doctrine of predestination from a Lutheran perspective one might assume that a logical place to begin would be the theological controversies of the sixteenth-century. It is interesting to note that the doctrine of predestination is discussed within the Lutheran Confessions (e.g., Formula of Concord XI); however, unlike so much of the articles within The Book of Concord, article XI of the Formula is not written in response to a public offense arising within the sphere of sixteenth-century Lutheranism. The introduction to article XI states,
On this article there has been no public conflict among the theologians of the Augsburg Confession. However, because it is an article of comfort when properly treated, it is also explained in this document so that no offensive dispute may arise in the future.
As stated in article XI, the authors of the Formula knew that this article on predestination/election would be needed at some point in the future. That future event would be the nineteenth-century predestination controversy among American Lutherans.
While the nineteenth-century controversy over predestination had several events leading up to its full manifestation, the most visible eruption of this controversy happened in 1872 between C.F.W. Walther of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and Prof. Gottfried Fritschel of the Iowa Synod. This great literary exchange between Walther and Fritschel fueled, launched, and garnered a controversy of considerable proportions where pamphlets, sermons, articles, and the like were circulated.
Read the remainder of the article below: