Edward Reiss wrote: “There is no promise we will know we have eternal life.”
I'm not sure what constitutes a "promise" in Edward's mind:
1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Edward Reiss wrote: “We are told that we may deceive ourselves that we are elect when we are not”
Calvin explains it this way:
I am aware it seems unaccountable to some how faith is attributed to the reprobate, seeing that it is declared by Paul to be one of the fruits of election; and yet the difficulty is easily solved: for though none are enlightened into faith, and truly feel the efficacy of the Gospel, with the exception of those who are fore-ordained to salvation, yet experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption. Should it be objected, that believers have no stronger testimony to assure them of their adoption, I answer, that though there is a great resemblance and affinity between the elect of God and those who are impressed for a time with a fading faith, yet the elect alone have that full assurance which is extolled by Paul, and by which they are enabled to cry, Abba, Father. Therefore, as God regenerates the elect only for ever by incorruptible seed, as the seed of life once sown in their hearts never perishes, so he effectually seals in them the grace of his adoption, that it may be sure and steadfast. But in this there is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit from taking its course in the reprobate. Meanwhile, believers are taught to examine themselves carefully and humbly, lest carnal security creep in and take the place of assurance of faith. We may add, that the reprobate never have any other than a confused sense of grace, laying hold of the shadow rather than the substance, because the Spirit properly seals the forgiveness of sins in the elect only, applying it by special faith to their use. Still it is correctly said, that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.
Edward Reiss wrote: “This means looking for fruit runs the serious risk of us deceiving ourselves into thinking we are elect when we are not.”
1) Although we are to look for fruit for assurance, we are not to trust in our fruit. We are always to trust in Christ.
2) The fact that something is not perfectly reliable does not mean that it is not generally trustworthy. Does Edward refuse to believe his eyes at all because he once attended a magic (sleight-of-hand) show?
Edward Reiss wrote: “The spiritual danger of this should be readily apparent.”
The spiritual danger appears to flow from trusting in one's fruit rather than in Christ. Otherwise, it is impossible to see how spiritual danger arises simply from human falibility.
Edward Reiss wrote: “Examining ourselves for our fidelity and obedience is different from examining ourselves to ‘prove’ we are elect, which we cannot know anyway.”
One wonders how Edward would explain this passage in view of his comment above:
2 Peter 1:10-11
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Edward Reiss wrote: “We can know that when we hear the Gospel in e.g. baptism or communion that we are truly receiving what God promises because God does not lie--as opposed to our looking into our own lives for proof.”
This simply a false dichotomy. We can rely on God's promises and engage in self-examination.
Edward Reiss wrote: “No one has second party knowledge of my eternal state.”
No one except for God has certain knowledge of that. However, others are invited and even exhorted to judge us by our fruits.
Edward Reiss wrote: “And I don't think I even have first party knowledge (see 1 above). Given this, and the theological commitments of TULIP Calvinists, a TULIP Calvinist cannot say Christ died for him, or anyone else. I do however have first hand knowledge of receiving communion, being absolved and I have proof I am baptized.”
Edward seems to mean that a Calvinist cannot consistently claim to know that Christ died for him. This is simply a rehash of his claim above. Being unable to say that Christ died for some particular person only seems to be a problem for those who make "Christ died particularly for you" part of their evangelistic message.
Edward Reiss wrote: “You have ‘demonstrated’ something we have not claimed: that Sacraments guarantee everyone who receives the sacrament eternal salvation.”
Edward Reiss wrote: “What we have claimed is that the grace offered in Sacraments is real grace…”
Reification of grace is a real problem, and seems to be a problem in Edward's explanation here.
Edward Reiss wrote: “…and not actually a withholding of grace, as is the case in the Calvinist system where grace is only offered to the elect, because offered grace must be 100% ‘effective’ for it to be real.”
Saving grace saves. The grace of regeneration is given, not "offered." The forgiveness of sins is offered to all, but conditionally. Only the elect become qualified by the working of the Holy Spirit.
Edward Reiss wrote: “Finally, it is not the Lutherans who look at their navel, but the TULIP Calvinists looking within themselves to prove they are really elect.”
Calvinists don't normally go around trying to prove that they are elect.
Edward Reiss wrote: “If we can be deceived into believing we are elect even if we are not, where is the assurance in that?”
It seems that Edward is complaining that the level of assurance is not high enough.
Edward Reiss wrote: “But baptism and communion go one better--they promise the forgiveness of sins.”
The butcher down the road promises to give me meat for money. Comparing delivery of meat to forgiveness of sins would be a strange comparison - but it is a stranger comparison to compare forgiveness of sins (a kind that is apparently at least potentially temporary) with eternal life. So what if Lutheran theology does promise that someone can know that their sins are forgiven or if the butcher promises that someone can know that their meat has been delivered. Knowledge of such facts falls in an inferior category.
Edward Reiss wrote: "The standard "Protestant" syllogism works like this: All those who have faith in Christ are saved[;] I have faith in Christ [;] Therefore I am saved"
Steve has already demonstrated that this is Scriptural. Further to that explanation, as James explains, our works demonstrate that our faith is a true faith.
Edward Reiss wrote: "The "Lutheran" Syllogism works like this: Christ said "I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit"[;] Christ never lies and always tells the truth[;] Therefore I am baptized"
1) See above about the comparisons (comparing baptism to salvation is like comparing meat to baptism).
2) Christ does not personally baptize Lutherans, which throws something of a wrench in the syllogism.
Edward Reiss wrote: “If you object to a sacramental view of baptism feel free to insert "Christ said I died for you..." in lieu of baptism.”
Christ doesn't come down and tell individual believers that - though if he did, we ought to believe him.
Edward Reiss wrote: “The point is that there is no ‘if’ embedded in the Lutheran syllogism, where the Protestant syllogism has an ‘if’ embedded into it--do I really have faith?”
That formal point is truly without merit. We can remove that "if" from the "Protestant" one by saying "those who repent and believe are saved" rather than "if I repent and believe I am saved." Alternatively, we can rephrase the Lutheran one as "if Christ said... then it is true, because he doesn't lie; he did say ...; therefore it is true."
Edward Reiss wrote: “Do we ever keep his commandments? St. John himself allows for the forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake which presupposes disobedience. I certainly don't see how we can get some sort of assurance of perseverance from our obedience as there is always the possibility we will not be obedient. In other words, it does not cut against the Lutheran position.”
If Edward thinks that perfect obedience is what Calvinists are looking for, he's mistaken. What cuts against what he calls the Lutheran position is the failure to recognize the inseparability of the love of God from the objects of that love.
Edward Reiss wrote: “Getting back to the larger issue, no one has really said I got the Reformed position wrong.”
Between Steve and myself, the number of such people seems to be at least two.
Edward Reiss wrote: “Calvinist assurance: You are assured of eternal salvation and under no circumstances will you lose it.”
You can lose assurance but you can't lose eternal life. If you could, it wouldn't be eternal life.