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WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS PICTURE?

This picture shows a physician doing two things at one time. First, the physician is handing the newborn baby to the mother. Second, the physician is also reading the health report of the two-hour old baby. This report details the baby’s physical condition, including the baby’s blood quality. These happy parents will soon be shocked! Earlier, the mother had emergency surgery and contracted HIV/Aids. The doctor now tells the parents the tragic and stunning news: Their newborn baby has inherited the deadly and in­curable HIV/AIDS. What to do? The physician’s prescription? The newborn baby needs an immediate treatment to control the AIDS and prevent death. This treatment must then also continue for the rest of the baby’s life.

BY UNDERSTANDING WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE PICTURES ON THIS PAGE,

YOU WILL UNDERSTAND THE BASIC “ROOT”

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DENOMINATIONS!


Most people would agree with the description of what is happening in the UPPER picture on the opposite page. Based on hospital diagnostics, the doctor is giving the mother of the newborn a report of her baby’s health. However, most clergy and lay people would probably NOT agree with what Good News says is happening in the LOWER picture! Why? There is great disagreement among denominations regarding the spiritual status of a newborn and what a spiritual physician, a pastor, should advise parents to do to help their newborn. The differences in teaching and practice are here explained.

FIRST: THE DISTINCTIVE TEACHING AND PRACTICE OF LUTHERAN CHRISTIANS

That newborn babies have spiritual AIDS is the official teaching and practice of Lutherans worldwide. Based on Scripture and the clear Word of Christ, we know that newborn babies are filled with Sin from the moment of conception (Psalm 51:5). Lutherans have always officially taught that Original Sin can be described as a type of “spiritual disease” (Book of Concord, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Art. 2, ¶6), a spiritual disease similar to HIV/AIDS. Therefore, Lutheran pastors urge parents to have their newborn baby receive its first miraculous spiritual treatment from God as soon as possible. How? Through God’s miracle of Baptism, which is the first “living Word” treatment the baby will receive, followed by additional ongoing living Word treatments from the Lord. These ongoing treatments are to control the deadly and incurable spiritual HIV/AIDS. The Holy Spirit describes this initial treatment as God’s miracle of Baptism (Romans 6:3–5). He then describes the regular treatments—for the rest of the child’s life of sanctification—as the daily washing of the Word and Spirit (Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5). This living Word treatment from God prevents the newborn from being a slave to Sin, Sin that would make him vulnerable to the deadly spiritual HIV/AIDS, as taught in Romans 6:6–23.

SECOND: THE DISTINCTIVE TEACHING AND PRACTICE OF ROMAN CATHOLICISM

Roman Catholics—about 800 million worldwide—also believe and teach that babies are born with a type of spiritual HIV/AIDS. They believe that treatment for Original Sin—Baptism—is needed as soon as possible. However, the difference between the official Lutheran and Roman Catholic teaching on Sin and Baptism is this: Roman Catholicism officially teaches that through Bap­tism the disease of Original Sin is completely removed (Cate­chism of the Catholic Church, p. 277, ¶978). In contrast, by following Scrip­ture alone, especially Romans 7:19, Lutherans officially believe and teach that, even after Baptism, a residual “root” of Ori­gi­nal Sin remains behind­­—a root which keeps resprouting and needs to be suppressed by the power of God’s living Word and Spirit (Romans 6:6–23).

THIRD: THE DISTINCTIVE TEACHING AND PRACTICE OF WORLDWIDE PROTESTANTISM

Defining what Protestantism officially teaches and practices is very difficult. Why? First, Protestantism includes Baptists, Metho­dists, Pentecostals, Nazarenes, etc., but not Lutherans. These various groups boast loudly that they are non-creedal. They generally refuse to define and publicly print what they believe. Second, defining what Protestants believe is difficult because there exists among Protestant churches an endless variety of what many would call “petty differences.”

ONE HERESY UNITES ALL OF PROTESTANTISM!

At the same time, as compared to official Lutheran teaching and practice, almost all Protestants are united and speak with one voice by rejecting the Scriptural teaching that every person is conceived and born in Sin (Psalm 51:5). Protestantism speaks with one voice as it views newborns and children as not vulnerable to the power of Sin until they reach the “age of accountability,” an arbitrary age, based on human opinion, with no Scriptural basis. If you watch popular television evangelists, you will not see any significant presence of newborns or children at crusades or revivals. They believe that if children are not infected with the destructive power of incurable Sin, there is absolutely no need for God’s divine living Word-medicine to combat the spiritual disease of Sin. Except for classic Reformed, all of Protestantism vigorously rejects the Spirit’s teaching that Baptism is God’s miracle for being born again, for new life, justification, and sanctification (1 Corinthians 6:11). You will see this difference clearly in the drawings on the next page.

WHY POINT OUT DIFFERENCES?

There will certainly be some readers of Good News who will be offended when someone points out the “root” of the differences between denominations. The primary goal of Good News is not to emphasize these differences. However, GOOD NEWS receives constant requests from pastors, teachers, missionaries, and bishops from around the world, pleading for help to sort out differences in official denominational teachings. Why do they request this? So that they can help their people “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) of conflicting teachings, and to help them see which group of Christians is following “Scripture alone.” They desire to be like the Berean Christians who were “examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Dear Lord, give me the desire of the Berean Christians to examine the Scriptures daily. Lead me to say with the Psalmist: “Give me understanding according to Your Word” (Psalm 119:169).

For further study, turn to the Bible Study on page 36, questions 9–­11.

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AND . . .WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS PICTURE?

In this picture the mother is receiving her baby from her pastor, identified by the cross between his shoulders.
The pastor is reading a different report. This pastor’s report comes from the Scriptures—produced by God—and reveals the newborn baby’s spiritual condition.
The bottom line crucial difference: In the top picture the hospital physician tells the mother her newborn has inherited physical HIV/AIDS; in the bottom picture, on the basis of Scripture, the pastor tells the mother that her newborn has inherited deadly and incurable spiritual HIV/AIDS. This newborn will therefore need an immediate spiritual “treatment”—Baptism—followed by lifelong spiritual medication.


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