What Walther, Pieper, Luther, & Confessions Say About Decision Theology

By: Rev. Jack Cascione


Reclaim News received a number of replies in support of the Lutheran Hour
Ministries website being linked to websites promoting decision theology.
The Reclaim News Article was titled: "Lutheran Hour Ministries Website
Appeals to Decision Theology." LHM explained why it was necessary to
maintain these links but did not explain why "Decision Theology" is wrong.

While LHM does not endorse Decision Theology, it is amazing to see how many
Lutheran Pastors and lay people quickly came to LHM's defense and believe
that Decision Theology is a useful evangelism tool for the LCMS.  My German
mother-in-law would call this a "couldle-mouldle" (sp?).

Rather than give my own explanation, Walther, Pieper, Luther, and the
Confessions can do the job very well on their own as follows:

(Walther's "Law and Gospel" page 264) Melanchthon, after Luther's death
falsely wrote: "'Three causes concur in a person's conversion: the Word of
God, the Holy Spirit, whom the father and the Son send to quicken our
hearts, and the will of man, which gives assent to the Word of God and does
not resist.' Man's faith comes under the same ruling as his contrition.  I
may sit down in a corner and indulge in melancholy thoughts in order to coax
contrition out of myself; but I fail.  If I am sincere, I am forced to admit
my inability.  While I imagine that my heart has been softened and I am
repenting of my sin, I suddenly feel in me a craving for the very sin of
which I have repented.  If genuine contrition is to be produced in me, the
thunders of the Law must roll over my head, and the lightnings of Sinai must
strike my heart.  The same holds good with regard to faith - I cannot
produce it myself."  (Walther's Law and Gospel, page 264)

Again Melanchthon incorrectly writes: "'You say you are unable to obey the
voice of the Gospel, to listen to the Son of God, and to accept Him as our
Mediator?'   This question Melanchthon answers:  'Of course you can!'  An
awful answer, this! When a parishioner comes to you complaining of his
inability to believe, you must tell him that you are not surprised at his
statement; for no man can; he would be a marvel if he could.  And you must
instruct him to do nothing but listen to the Word of God, and God will give
him faith.  Furthermore, you may admonish him not to resist divine grace and
not to extinguish the sparks, which are beginning to glow in his heart.  But
your telling him these things does not give him the strength he needs.  When
the Gospel enters his heart like a blessed water of life from heaven, faith
is kindled there.  It is at first feeble like a new-born babe, which sees,
hears, tastes, moves, has a certain amount of strength, cannot eat and
drink.  Not until this has taken place, may you urge the person to cooperate
with divine grace.  We do not by any means reject cooperation on the part of
man after his regeneration; we rather urge it upon him lest he die again and
incur the danger of being lost forever." (Walther's Law and Gospel, page

"Melanchthon continues: 'Raise yourself up by means of the consolations of
the Gospel effective in you.  You must understand that the grace of God
proposed to convert us in this manner, viz., that, having been quickened by
His promise, we wrestle with ourselves, call upon Him, and fight against our
unbelief and other evil inclinations.'"

"Again he says: 'Free will in man is the ability to prepare oneself for
grace'.  This is the notorious statement which is usually cited to prove
that Melanchthon was a genuine synergist.  The foregoing awful statements
prove it indeed."

"Lastly, Melanchthon says: 'What I mean is this: man hears the promise,
makes an attempt to give his assent to it, and puts sins against his
conscience aside.'  This is wrong; before a person is able to put aside sins
against his conscience, he must be converted." (Walther's Law and Gospel,
page 264)

"'But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for
they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are
spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14.' All the children of God in the
Old and the New Testament have experienced this truth.  They know that their
faith is not dependent on their own choice, their 'self-assertion,' their
'self-determination,' their 'self-decision,' etc., but is the result of God'
s power and efficacy, which is just as effective as the creative omnipotence
by which God made the natural light shine forth out of darkness (Ps.
51:10-12; 2Cor. 4:6)."  (Pieper Vol 1 page 316)

Pieper explains that making a decision to believe in Christ turns faith into
a human work instead of a gift of divine grace.  Only the Gospel creates
faith, not man's agreement with God. (Pieper Vol II. Page5, & 401)

"Par. 43] Thus far is the mystery of predestination revealed to us in God's
Word, and if we abide thereby and cleave thereto, it is a very useful,
salutary, consolatory doctrine; for it establishes very effectually the
article that we are justified and saved without all works and merits of
ours, purely out of grace alone, for Christ's sake. For before the time of
the world, before we existed, yea, before the foundation of the world was
counsel, before the time of the world, decided and ordained that He Himself,
by the power of His Holy Ghost, would produce and work in us, through the
Word, everything that pertains to our conversion." (Formula XI Trig. 1077)

"Par. 56] Thus without any doubt God also knows and has determined for every
one the time and hour of his call and conversion [and when He will raise
again one who has lapsed]. But since this has not been revealed to us, we
have the command always to keep urging the Word, but to entrust the time and
hour [of conversion] to God, Acts 1, 7" (Formula XI Trig. 1081)

"Par. 76] Moreover, the declaration, John 6, 44, that no one can come to
Christ except the Father draw him, is right and true." (Formula XI Trig.

"For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on
Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted
to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel."
(Luther Large Catechism Trig. page 689)

We read: "It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without
the Word and Sacraments." (Luther, Smalcald Articles Trig. 497)

Darkness does not create light nor does darkness cooperate with light.  Why
don't the Devil and his demon hoards convert and give themselves to Jesus?
We are not to believe that human beings have the ability to invite Jesus
into their lives.

The current direction of the LCMS is to follow President Kieschnick's axiom
that we don't let over purification of doctrine interfere with saving souls.
This appears to be little more than giving the LCMS permission not to let
doctrine interfere with what it wants to accomplish.  Teaching correct
doctrine has been the greatest problem for the Church on earth since
Pentecost.  If God can no longer use the LCMS to teach the truth, He will,
in His own time, raise up others to take our place.  So much attention is
now being placed on the Synod bleeding hundreds of millions of dollars in
red ink.  No Church body can serve two masters.  How we spend our money is
getting more attention than how correctly we teach our doctrine.