There's been a pretty nice discussion going on in the comments section of this post. Informative, respectful...you know, pretty much exactly the opposite of how most internet discussions go. All of this despite the fact that conversation has really boiled down to this:
Calvinists: Calvinists CAN be sure of their salvation.
Lutherans: No they can't.
So the Calvinist says that, for certainty of his election, he can simply look to the cross. But the Lutheran says the Calvinist can't because the Calvinist can't be certain that Jesus died for him. The Calvinist says he can, by virtue of the fact that he believes that Jesus died for him. The Lutheran responds by asking the Calvinist how he knows that his faith is sincere, since Scripture makes clear that many who believe themselves to be among the elect actually won't be.
So how does the Calvinist respond? Commenter Nathan provides an answer straight from the lips of Calvin himself. Which just goes to show in all it's big, fat, hideous glory what happens when you do what the Calvinist does, when you twist and contort and smoosh and smash all sorts of Gospel comfort into soul-crushing law in your attempt to fit God into a perfect box of sovereignty. Kudos to Nathan, who writes:
As a former Calvinist, I was thoroughly amused by your accurate representation of my high-school and college aged self! I believe you owe me some royalties for character theft. I could not think of a better summary of my college years than: "I am a Calvinst, I am sure of everything........except if Jesus died for me."
For those Calvinsts who doubt whether this is a fair representation, I would encourage you to read Calvin's Commentary on Hebrews 6. There, he attempts to fit apostasy into his system by postulating that God grants to some of the unelect just enough grace to believe themselves Christians. These individuals will receive the sacraments, believe the Christ died for them, and do good works...for a time. Then, when God has fulfilled his hidden purpose, he withdraws said grace and the person plunges into ruin with all the other reprobate. After reading this gloomy hypothesis and seeing how it inevitably results from Calvin's logical premises, I realized that it was impossible to find anything which could convince me that I was not among the reprobate. Everything could have been of part of the ruse by which God was tricking me into trusting myself to be saved when I actually had no hope at all.
To make a long story short, I am now a Lutheran and I am liberated by the assurance of trusting Christ's words to me in my baptism.
So congrats, Nathan, on winning the Comment of the Year Award. You don't get a prize or anything. But if you're ever in my neck of the woods, I'll buy you a beer.