What is, and what is possible

Martin Chemnitz in vol. 1 of Examination of the Council of Trent is arguing with his opponent Andrada about what remains in the regenerate of concupiscence, and whether or not it is truly sinful in the sight of God. Andrada tries to argue from what is possible. Isn’t it possible, he posits, that Baptism could have enough power to completely remove forever what is evil and sinful in a person? Are you saying, Martin Chemnitz, that the wickedness of Adam has harmed us more than the merit of Christ can benefit us? Chemnitz replies in a way that I would never have thought: “You cannot draw a firm conclusion about what is from what is possible.” No doubt the reason I wouldn’t have thought to say this is that I have never studied logic. Sadly. 

How many questions could be dismissed with these words! I thought immediately of the argument often put forth regarding creation vs. evolution. “But pastor, you are limiting God’s power. Isn’t it possible that God used the process of evolution to create? Isn’t it possible that he meant millions of years when he said “day”? Well, to use Chemnitz’ words, yes, it is possible. It is just as possible that God created all things by His Word in a matter of a few hours. Or instantly. But, “you cannot draw a firm conclusion about what is from what is possible.” 

In such questions we must look at “what is.” What is in the Word? What is its plain meaning? Oh, there are always many possibilities! Nevertheless, these things must be established from the Word of God, not from argumentation about what is possible. I thought it was helpful. Maybe you do too. 


About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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