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
ONE HERESY UNITES ALL OF PROTESTANTISM!
WHY POINT OUT DIFFERENCES?
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.
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.