We grew up Christian fundamentalist, transitioned to evangelicals, then became confessional Lutherans, where Kristofer ended up on the staff of a seminary. As a staff member, he was often asked to write articles on a variety of subjects.

Why a Seminary Education

This paper was written to defend the classical seminary education against other options such as vocational training, satellite schools, and distance education.

In our current day and age, many people question the need for a classical seminary education.  In fact, many seem think that a seminary education is at best an extravagance, and at worst irrelevant and harmful.  Many denominations are under pressure to adopt new educational models for the seminary, claiming they are more advantageous to the student, more beneficial to the churches, and better suited to our modern way of life.  It would be wise, therefore, to examine the reasons for the historic seminary as an institution.

1. The classical seminary education has a long history and tradition.  Tradition is very often a repository of accumulated knowledge about what works.  Seminaries are designed to be seed beds for the formation of pastors.  We know that seminaries in the past have produced great men of God; men who have been faithful ministers of word and sacrament; and men who have been vigorous promoters and defenders of the faith.  Lutherans respect the past, and understand that traditions should not be done away with lightly.  The question, then, is if anything has changed that makes the seminary system irrelevant in today’s world. 

2. The design of the standardized seminary curriculum is a product of many centuries of forming and educating pastors.  The content of the curriculum is based upon the scriptures, and is the result of centuries of study by great men of God.  The curriculum provides a broad-based professional education for men called to the ministry of word and sacrament. 

The pressure to water down the curriculum or cut short a student’s course of study is always present.  Each student has their own challenges, and each situation is different.  These challenges and differences provide constant pressure to make exceptions, to lower standards, and to reduce expectations.  The advantage of a seminary system is in its inertia, in its adherence to strict standards and the slow pace of change.  The seminary will gradually adapt, but is not whipped about by the vicissitudes of life.

3. The seminary serves a ritual function as a rite of passage.  These rituals are like a journey, with a leave-taking, a passage, and an arrival[1].  The less metaphoric and more precise description is that a systemic rite of passage would consist of a preliminal phase, (the rite of separation,) the liminal phase, (the rite of transition, where liminal means threshold,) and the postliminal phase, (the rite of incorporation.)  In this context, seminary serves as a complete rite of passage, consisting of the leaving of the old life, the transition, and the incorporation into the new vocation.  When a group of people pass through a rite of passage together, they experience communitas, a spontaneous, immediate and concrete communal bond.

4. The seminary provides a structure within which students learn to live in community.  This is especially relevant in western culture with its radical individualism and egalitarianism.  The seminary is a world within the world, a semi-cloistered, structured environment where men learn to live out their calling in community.  The seminary process of pastoral formation gradually introduces men to ministry, allowing them to make mistakes without becoming total failures in the beginning endeavors and making a shipwreck of their faith, and even their life.  When a student experiences difficulties in ministry, someone is there to absolve, to advise, to commiserate and ultimately to push the student back out into life.  This teaches men to rely upon each other and upon God.

5. The seminary provides an environment where a student is exposed to a wide variety of professors.  Just as no scripture is of any private interpretation, so too is pastoral formation too important to leave in the hands of any one man, or even too few men.  Without direct access to our apostolic fathers, education provided through a wide variety of gifted men with varying fields of expertise, interests and experience provides a reasonable assurance of a broad and deep education, leading to properly formed pastors prepared for the ministry of word and sacrament to the body of Christ.

6. The seminary provides access to an academic research library.  Such a library is both difficult to procure and expensive to maintain.  The rapid expansion of the Internet has made a wide variety of resources available, but the quality and veracity of these resources is questionable.  Utilizing the resources of an educated faculty and a trained library staff, the seminary can be very intentional in the development of their collection, giving access to research materials that would normally be unavailable any other way.

7. The seminary provides a setting for faculty to pursue their professional interests.  Besides teaching within their fields of expertise, they are able to develop greater expertise in those areas.  They have the time, the incentive, and the resources at their disposal to research and publish in their areas of expertise.  The students benefit from the faculty’s ever-deepening and ever-broadening expertise.  Likewise the church benefits from the publication of books and essays on the wide variety of issues before the church.

Having developed these rationales for the existence of the seminary system, we should also point out a major difficulty.  The institutional structure of the seminary has been described as a money-guzzling machine.  The costs of procuring and maintaining real property, educational assets, and salaries for faculty and staff are quite high.  It may seem that other models of education can deliver similar results at lest cost, and with a smaller infrastructure.  We should therefore examine these models and see if they prove to be cheaper and educationally comparable to the seminary system.

One model is that of vocational education, where someone learns by doing under the watchful eye of a mentor.  This model would seem to have some scriptural validity; the O.T. prophets had their disciples, as did Jesus.  But proponents of this model, pointing to the scriptures for validity, are falling prey to a legalistic Biblicism.  The idea that pastors can adequately form new pastors is fundamentally flawed.  First, simply being called and ordained to ministry does not make one the equal of an O.T. prophet or apostle, let alone an academician.  Second, we know of only one case from scripture where the student exceeded the master, (Elisha was the student of Elijah.)  Students typically know less than their teachers; disciples rarely excel their masters.  Using this model would result in the gradual dumbing down of the pastorate.  Although vocational education is cheaper in monetary terms, the cost of an inadequately educated and trained pastorate is incalculable.

Another model is that of education by extension, sometimes called satellite schools, where the students meet at locations dispersed around the country for short, intensive courses of study.  Often this is combined with varying degrees of independent study and distance education.  In its pure form, (no independent study or distance education, and offering an accredited degree,) this educational model has some advantages.  Students and their families may prefer this model, as it allows them minimal disruption of their lives while they are studying for the ministry.   It also minimizes the cost to the student, as they don’t have to pay the expenses of moving to a new location and the attendant loss of income.  The satellite seminary maintains the historic curriculum, and the instructors, being academicians, are qualified to teach their course of instruction.  The question, then, is how this model compares to the traditional seminary. 

While better than the vocational educational model, the extension model still falls short.  The student body is limited and may change with every course.  The opportunity to live in community likely does not exist.  Students are exposed to a more limited pool of instructors, generally one at a time.  The lack of exposure to a wide variety of gifted men with varying fields of expertise, interests and experience is problematic, and cannot provide an assurance that the education is both broad and deep.  Another difficulty is the reliance upon short, intensive courses of study.  Subjects that require changes in behaviors are best learned through long-term instruction, reflection and/or practice,[2] and behaviors are unlikely to be affected by intensive bursts of study.  Also, the opportunity for serious academic research is lacking.  The instruction is generally limited to the assigned texts and what is available electronically.  The opportunity to follow the derivation of an idea through primary source material is simply not available without access to an academic library. 

Before discussing the independent study and distance education models, we should take a moment to discuss the cohort model.  In the cohort model, a group of people begin a program of education together, and stay together until completion.  They are treated as a unit, a cohort, and hopefully experience communitas.  In the cohort model, courses are taught in short, intensive bursts, combined with independent study.  They also may rely on a number of practicum, where the students learn by doing, under the supervision of a professor/mentor.  The cohort model thus minimizes the disruption to a member’s family, encourages the development of community, and incorporates the best of independent study and vocational education. 

The cohort model is best used to produce academic degrees rather than professional degrees, because the cohort model suffers from some of the same shortcomings as the extension model.  Students are exposed to a more limited pool of instructors.  The reliance upon short, intensive courses of study is a problem for subjects intended to produce changes in behavior, which are best learned through long-term instruction, reflection and/or practice.[3]  Behaviors are unlikely to be affected by intensive bursts of study, (although they may be changed through a generous practicum program implementing the intensives.)  Also, the opportunity for serious academic research is lacking.  The instruction is generally limited to the assigned texts and what is available electronically.  The opportunity to follow the derivation of an idea through primary source material is simply not available without access to an academic library. 

Finally, we should discuss the related concepts of independent study and distance education.  Independent study in this context is different than a vocational education or mentorship model.  It is also different than the independent study used on a college campus, where a student studies and meets on a weekly or bi-weekly basis with a faculty advisor.  Instead, we are talking about a situation where a student performs a significant amount of study on his or her own, outside the college environment, and rarely meeting with an advisor or mentor.  Distance education takes place outside the academic institution, and course materials, lectures and assignments are delivered by some means to the student.  The student studies the materials on their own, completes the assignments, and by some means interacts with the instructor and, sometimes the class.  Modern distance education is usually performed over the Internet, with varying degrees of synchronous and asynchronous communications.  In some programs, a student is required to spend a certain amount of time on campus.

The advantages of distance education for the student are that a student can take classes wherever they are and whenever they find the time.  Distance education creates a minimum of disruption to a student’s life, and can deliver specialized course content to regions without an institution of higher learning.  Distance education opens the door to personal growth and advancement for people who are unable to attend a traditional institution of higher education.

Despite the advantages to the student, distance education, (along with independent study in the distance education model,) has some major flaws when used for a seminary education.  For example, distance education does not build community.  Students who have taken distance education classes report they cannot remember the name of a single one of their fellow students, and have neither the means to nor the interest in ever contacting them again.  Likewise there is very little personal connection between the students and the professor.  The human connection that occurs during face-to-face contact is lacking.  The students and the professors do not get to know each other except through whatever communications channel they use to deliver course content and provide classroom communications.  The totality of communication is missing, and therefore the course content is neither fully delivered by the professor nor fully received by the student.  The student does not have access to the full range of academic resources, and must rely upon course content and whatever is available at local libraries and online.  The depth, breadth, and quality of this material is less than ideal. 

Distance education is expensive to develop and deliver.  Whatever the mode of course delivery, the institution has to hire additional staff and build additional infrastructure to support distance education.  Since distance education has different requirements than a residential program, the seminary can leverage only select portions of its existing infrastructure.  Delivering quality distance education requires additional funds beyond those raised for the residence programs.

To put it bluntly, distance education delivers a lesser quality of education.  This is not to say it does not have its uses in some circumstances, but to rely on it as a primary, secondary or even tertiary mode of education is a mistake.  To use distance education in a seminary, where we are not only educating men but building their character and changing their behavior, is a mistake.  We must not settle travel the path of least resistance.  We must not settle for second best.  We must not run uncertainly, but strive for mastery, always pressing forward for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

[1] These references are based on Arnold van Gennep’s book, The Rites of Passage, as described in Frank C. Senn’s Book, Christian Liturgy, p. 9.

[2] Examples of subjects poorly suited to this style of education are Homiletics and Pastoral Counseling.  The traditional model entails instruction, practice and correction, repeated several days a week, for many weeks. 

[3] Examples of subjects poorly suited to this style of education are Homiletics and Pastoral Counseling.  The traditional model entails instruction, practice and correction, repeated several days a week, for many weeks.

What is “Normative” in Theology


Kristofer Carlson

April, 2007

This paper was written for “The Evangel”, the national magazine of The American Association of Lutheran Churches (TAALC).

The Constitution of the AALC describes certain confessional writings as “normative” without ever defining what normative means. This has, in some cases, led to confusions and questions regarding exactly what we believe, teach, and confess, and which of the confessional writings the AALC subscribes to. At its heart is a misunderstanding of the import of the word “normative”, a word which is not part of an ordinary English language vocabulary. We must therefore understand that “normative” is a theological term, part of a standard theological vocabulary. Therefore every pastor, as the preeminent theologian in their particular congregation, must have no doubts regarding what is normative and why it matters.

The term “normative” is derived from the Latin, which for over 1,500 years was the language of theological discourse. The norma normans, or “ruling rule”, is the Scripture—for it alone is the absolute norm of faith. Other related terms are norma primariaand norma decisionis, meaning the primary rule of faith, or the rule that is decisive by its own right. Scripture is therefore the self-authenticating and decisive norm of faith, the rule by which doctrine is judged to be true and right.

When we describe certain confessions as being “normative”, we are not describing them to be the norma normans: the “ruling rule”, or the primary rule of faith. Instead, we are describing these confessions as norma normata, which means they are a secondary norm, derived from the primary norm. Other related terms are norma secundum quid, norma secondaria,and norma discretionis, all of which mean roughly the same thing: that these confessions are a secondary norm, ruled by the Scriptures: the Scriptures being the norma normans, or the primary rule of faith.

The norma normata, or secondary norm, is only relatively necessary, meaning it is necessary only insofar as it relates to the primary norm, being the Scriptures. The secondary norm is what decides whether a person has clearly understood the true doctrines of Scripture. Therefore we look to the scriptures as the authority and primary rule of faith, and to the confessions as “the presentation and explanation of the pure doctrine of the Word of God and a summary of the faith of the evangelical Lutheran Church” (TAALC Constitution, 03.08).

Every Lutheran theological student learns that the confessions are understood collectively as the norma normata, the secondary standard of faith which is dependent upon and derived from the Scriptures. An important derivation of this is that the Scriptures exercise authority within the Church; there is no scriptural authority extra ecclesia, or outside the Church (meaning there is no individual or private interpretation). The interpretation of the Scriptures takes place within the Church, by means of the Holy Spirit, and this interpretation is accepted as a subsidiary standard: the norma normata of the faith.

This has important implications for our own personal faith. The Apostle Peter writes: “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Pet 1:20). The resurrected Lord Jesus states: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3: 6, 13, 22). Our Lord repeats this hermeneutical principle seven times, the number of divine perfection, thereby underscoring its importance. We do not determine the truth of scripture for ourselves, but instead we are taught through the church by the Holy Spirit. This is what the Apostle Paul means when he says: “The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2).

This is why the fathers spoke of the Church as “the mother who begets and bears the Christian.” By this is meant that the Church is both the site and the means by which the Holy Spirit works in the life of the Christian. The Church through the Holy Spirit begets the Christian, and the Church through the Holy Spirit sustains the Christian in his or her growth “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4: 13). The Church is therefore the tender mother who nurtures us, teaches us, guides us, admonishes us, and protects us. Most importantly, through the sacraments which are her mark, the Church administers to us the forgiveness of sins. As the Large Catechism states: “Outside of this Christian Church, where the Gospel is not, there is no forgiveness [or sins], as also there can be no holiness [sanctification].” (LC 2:56)

The confessions, as secondary standards of faith, are not accepted as authoritative simply due to their age, nor because this is what the Church has always believed, taught, and confessed. Tradition is not authoritative. Instead, each generation makes its own subscription to the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. In doing so, each generation makes its declaration that the Confessions are “the presentation and explanation of the pure doctrine of the Word of God and a summary of the faith of the evangelical Lutheran Church.”

Our Presiding Pastor, the Rev. Thomas V. Aadland, recently described what happens at an ordination. First, each pastor vows to “preach and teach the Word of God in accordance with the Confessions of the Church,” and that he will “administer the Holy Sacraments after the ordinance of Christ” [The Occasional Services from the Service Book and Hymnal, Ordination, p. 97]. Moreover, the ordinand normally adds their own signature to the Book of Concord, thereby affirming the entire Book of Concord to be their own statement of faith. At their ordination, each pastor agrees that the confessions of the church are their own confession, and each pastor agrees to teach nothing contrary to the symbolic books of the church. Therefore, this is what it means when we say the Book of Concord is normative for theology: that each pastor and congregation of the AALC confesses the Scripture to be the norma normans, or the rule of faith; that each pastor and congregation of the AALC has confessed the entire Book of Concord to be the norma normata, meaning the secondary norm by which the proper understanding of  Scripture is determined; that no pastor may teach anything contrary to the doctrine of Holy Scripture, as the norma normans; and that no pastor who wishes to remain faithful to their ordination vows may teach any doctrine contrary to the Book of Concord, which is the norma normata, the standard of faith, the means by which we determine the proper understanding of scripture.

Almost Catholic, Not Quite Protestant


Kristofer Carlson

October 2008

This article was written for The Evangel, the national magazine of TAALC. I somehow doubt that it was published, given its mild criticism of Lutheran polity.

I remember it well, my reaction to my first Lutheran service. I was then a fundamentalist, even if I was searching for something more, and I left the service with no intention of ever returning. “This is Catholic”, I told my wife. I used that term in a pejorative sense, not knowing just how close to the truth I was. I’ve since discovered just how close Lutherans and Catholics really are. Lutherans are almost Catholic, not quite Protestant. Despite this closeness, many Lutherans reject Catholicism in every way, thus rejecting something critically important to their understanding of themselves. I’ve attended church council meetings where a proposal for processing the crucifix was rejected as being “too Catholic”, rejecting our entire catholic heritage with that one simple statement. What a shame.

If you ask most Lutherans why they are not Roman Catholic, their reasons will likely be as numerous as they are trivial. The truth of the matter is that Lutherans and Catholics have always very close in faith and practice, far closer than Catholics and Anglicans, or Catholics and Orthodox. We Lutherans and Catholics share a common history, a common bond, a common liturgy, and a common history. It is that very closeness that has fueled centuries of animosity. The more I learn about Lutheran doctrine and practice, read of Luther and his contemporaries, and read the church fathers, the more I clearly I see the serious issues dividing Lutherans and Catholics. Yet I have come to understand that while serious issues exist, those issues are few indeed. I have developed a working hypothesis: the more issues and objections a person has to becoming Roman Catholic, the less catholic they are. The corollary to this is that the greater the number of issues, the more trivial the objections.

In like manner, a great many Catholics object to Lutherans without understanding the key issues involved. In a lecture entitled Protestantism and its Forms by the late Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J, he uses the term Protestants to mean Lutherans, Anglicans, Calvinists, and a term of his own invention: “Zwingalism”.[1] Fr. Hardon says all these separated brethren have some principles in common that separated them from Catholic teaching. His synthesis manages to misrepresent each faith tradition, thereby missing the vast gulf in doctrine and practice between each of these branches of Christianity.[2] What was surprising to me was that Fr. Hardon, who claimed a thorough knowledge of Lutheranism, and who even taught at a (theologically liberal) Lutheran seminary,[3] would so completely misunderstand and miscategorize Lutherans and fail to recognize them as almost Catholic, not quite Protestant.

What most church historians will agree on, whether Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, or Protestant, is that the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation was quite corrupt. Simony was rampant. Church offices were openly bought and sold, and even the papacy was for sale to whomever could buy off the other candidates. Pope Leo X spent the Vatican treasury into near bankruptcy and—prefiguring the modern televangelist—turned the church into a money-making scheme. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the “odious greed for money displayed by the Roman Curia”, and mentions that when Pope Leo X tried to raise funds for another crusade, opponents distributed pamphlets saying the real Turks were in Rome. William Manchester, in his book A World Lit Only by Fire, describes in great detail the greed and depravity of the papal court. That the vicar of Christ displayed so few virtues and such great vice brought disrepute upon the Church of Christ.

The fetid sewer of greed and licentiousness filling the Roman Curia aroused those who argued for church reform. That reforms were necessary is beyond dispute. In late middle ages, many of the Catholic religious orders began as movements of reformation within Roman Catholicism. As these movements seemed to center on personal piety rather than attempt a wholesale reformation, they were accepted and flourished under the umbrella of Catholicism. It might even have been possible for a Lutheran religious order to have developed in like fashion, except that the issue that aroused Martin Luther’s ire, the sale of indulgences, necessarily impacted upon the institution of the papacy and the manner in which the church funded its building projects, acquisitions, and military operations.

At the time of the reformation, the power of the Papacy to bind and loose sins was for sale. Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses intending to have an academic argument centered on the need to reform Catholic Church practices. The particular issue that tormented him was the sale of indulgences, which he had observed to have a detrimental effect upon the spiritual well-being of his parishioners by bringing the sacrament of Reconciliation into disrepute.[4] However, his attack upon the sale of indulgences led him to oppose Pope Leo X and the theology that underpinned the sale of indulgences, something that could not be tolerated by Pope Leo X.[5] Thus the seeds were sown for what became the Reformation, and the subsequent separation from our brethren in the faith.

I must tell you the truth in Christ, and without lying, that I feel a great weight upon my soul and experience continual sorrow in my spirit. I am troubled that we Lutherans remain sundered from our brethren in the Roman Catholic Church. This schism is a source of great distress, for such schism is a sin against the body of Christ: for whom, by whom, and in whom she exists. As the result of this schism, the Christian church has difficulty in bearing witness to our faith before and unto the world. I could almost wish that I myself would be damned, if only this great divide could be healed. Have mercy upon us, O Lord.

We Lutherans cannot fail to note the great debt we owe to the Roman Catholic Church, of whom are the fathers, the creeds, the liturgy, the canon of scripture, and indeed the preservation of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We share a common heritage of the faith. The fathers of the Roman Catholic Church are our fathers as well. Likewise we share in the creeds, developed to define orthodoxy over and against heresy. The liturgy of the Lutheran church, the western rite, was completed in its current form by the Emperor Charlemagne, and has been greatly enriched by the various psalms, canticles, hymns, and chant tones passed on to us from the Catholic church. We Lutherans are inheritors of all this.

Yet in America, despite the inheritance we received from the Church of Rome, confusion reigns. The Lutheran church is divided into competing factions, some of which differ on relatively trivial points of doctrine. With access to the Lutheran Confessions, yet absent any teaching magisterium, the Lutheran church flounders, unable to resolve even simple theological issues, choosing instead to sunder ourselves again and again rather than admit our own fallibility. That this problem exists is due to one of Luther’s greatest errors, in that he transferred the spiritual authority of the bishops to the princes. This was a pragmatic approach, as most German bishops remained loyal to Rome. Luther’s compromise had drastic consequences, one of which was to make Lutheran churches national instead of catholic. Thus temporal rulers gained power over the church in matters of faith and practice. Following the Thirty Years War, The Peace of Augsburg established the principle of Cuius regio, eius religio:  the faith of the regent is the faith of the region.

In the United States the situation was different. No national religion exists and Lutherans could be Lutherans without the interference of or coercion by the state. But while Catholics and Episcopalians had some form of external authority to maintain unity and consistency of doctrine, Lutherans owed allegiance to no external authority, but were held together only by means of their ethnic origins and their confessional subscription to the Book of Concord. Within the United States, that subscription was weak. Many Lutherans became infatuated with the radical egalitarianism and democratic spirit of these United States, as well as adopting doctrines from the dominant Americanized strains of Christianity. Lutheran church bodies in America largely abandoned the episcopate,[6] choosing instead a congregational form of government (in violation of our own Book of Concord).[7] In this we American Lutherans have more in common with Protestants than we realize.

We Lutherans lack what Catholics have, which is an external authority to decide upon issues of faith and morals. The leaders of Lutheran church bodies are often more political than pastoral, giving heed to seducing spirits and teaching the doctrines of demons. Lutheran leaders today often bear a striking resemblance to Pope Leo X, in that they are rapacious in their efforts to fleece the flock of God, creating programs that serve as their temporal legacies. While the Roman Church has largely changed in choosing leaders with a decidedly spiritual bent, we Lutherans choose temporal leaders who conduct a temporal government, who rule rather than serve (Pr 20:26; 22:7, 16; 29:4, 14), and for whom the care of souls is a distant concern. Moreover, our leaders are not chosen for their evident holiness of life and abilities as teachers of the word (Tit 1:5-9), but for their political abilities. We have become that which we profess to hate. “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man” (Rev 13:18).

I do not advocate returning to Rome, for the gulf betwixt us may be narrow, but is widening. Although Rome has long since given up a number of the practices that ignited the Reformation, yet it has made certain matters of contention into Catholic dogma, making it increasingly unlikely that any reconciliation will take place. While I cannot advocate an allegiance to Rome, I nevertheless advocate a return to our catholic heritage, that which we inherited from our Catholic forefathers, and that which our confessors contended, fought, and even died for.

We who go by the name Lutheran bear a great name, and inherit a great legacy—including that which we inherited from the Catholic Church. Yet it is clear that we Lutherans have lost our first love. We do not examine ourselves, and so risk falling into condemnation. We must remember from where we have fallen, and repent. “Behold, I come quickly”, says the Lord. “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev 3:11).

Even so, come quickly, O Lord.

[1] This is Fr. Hardon’s own term. The usual term used is “Zwinglianism.” He is correct, however, in identifying the distinct influence of Ullrich Zwingli, for today much of what is commonly termed Calvinist is actually derived from Zwigli, and those who hold to the five points of Calvinism often don’t realize they are subscribing to the Synod of Dort, not to Calvin himself. The five points of Calvinism are often referred to in English by the acronym TULIP: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, & Perseverance of the Saints. These five points were developed in opposition to the five points of Arminius: Free Will, Conditional Election, General Atonement, Resistible Grace, and Falling from Grace.

[2] For example, Fr. Hardon says that for Catholics faith is an act of the intellect, and that for Protestants faith is an act of the will. He fails to recognize that for Lutherans, faith is the gift of God of the ability to believe. Where once we were dead in our trespasses and sins, we have been made alive in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Fr. Hardon uses the form of the five solas—Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Christus, Soli Deo Gloria—but restates them after for his own purposes: Sola Scriptura, Solo Spiritu, Solo Gratia, and Sola Fide. Solo Spiritu he describes as the idea that the Holy Spirit teaches the individual the meaning of scripture directly. Lutherans teach differently: “For through the Word and the sacraments, as though instruments, the Holy Spirit is given, and the Holyu Spirit produces faith, where and when it pleases god, in those who hear the Gospel. …Our churches condemn the Anabaptists and other who think that the Holy Spirit comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparation and works. (Augsburg Confession, Article V.)

[3] Fr. Hardon claimed to have taught for seven years at the Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, IL, although this does not appear in his listing in Who’s Who in America.

[4] Some would come to confession with indulgence in hand, claiming repentance for sins was no longer necessary.

[5] The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes indulgences quite differently than did salesmen like Johann Tetzel. The Catholic Encyclopedia, while attempting to revise history’s judgment of him, nevertheless cites Tetzel’s departures from Catholic doctrine in this area, as acknowledged by numerous Catholic luminaries.

[6] The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XIV, states the following: “It is our greatest wish to maintain church-polity and the grades in the Church.”

[7] The Augsburg Confession, Article XXVIII, states the following: “The power of the Keys, or the power of the bishops, according to the Gospel, is a power or commandment of God, to preach the Gospel, to remit and retain sins, and to administer Sacraments. …Again, according to the Gospel or, as they say, by divine right, there belongs to the bishops as bishops, that is, to those to whom has been committed the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, no jurisdiction except to forgive sins, to judge doctrine, to reject doctrines contrary to the Gospel, and to exclude from the communion of the Church wicked men, whose wickedness is known, and this without human force, simply by the Word. Herein the congregations of necessity and by divine right must obey them, according to Luke 10, 16: He that heareth you heareth Me.”