Great Stuff Found on the Web: Pastoral Meanderings on “Lutherans and Evangelism”

I’ve posted several items from Pastoral Meanderings from Pastor Peters and found the following today. I’d caught the article he refers to about Why Lutherans Can’t Evangelize earlier, and Pastor Peters’ insights on what’s happening in our Synod ring true to me.

 


evangelism21On another on-line forum is the question “Why Lutherans Can’t Evangelize.” It is a striking question born of a time when Lutherans have borrowed the evangelism methods of others and found themselves without a voice of their own to speak the Gospel to their neighbor. I cannot always have been true because there was a point in the 1950s when Lutherans were growing at astounding rates. TIME magazine noted this in April of 1958 with the prediction that if things continue everyone in America will be Lutheran by 2000. We know how that turned out. Perhaps TIME jinxed our forward momentum since the last year we saw substantial growth in the LCMS was 1963.

I think we lost our voice. The boats stopped coming from Europe, America changed and suburbia brought with it additional cultural changes, our own shift from a largely rural to mostly urban and suburban church body made us turn inward to figure out what this meant for us, and we found ourselves without a voice to speak to those around us.

So we did what Lutherans are wont to do. We went shopping in the religious marketplace. We looked at the denominations that were growing (Southern Baptist) and began shaping our approach in their terminology and from their perspective. But it was a little like those who speak another language from a phrase book. It was not our native tongue.

Then came Evangelism Explosion and D. James Kennedy. We Lutheranized it into Dialog Evangelism (ala BZ) and suddenly there were people showing up on the front porches of America asking “What would happen to you if you died tonight?” Again, with all our tweaking, it was a foreign language to us and the decision theology part of it all left a taste in our mouth that diluted our enthusiasm.

In the end what this did is transfer the responsibility to an Evangelism Committee. Remember that before this Luthern congregational structures did not even have an evangelism group or committee or deacon. Don Abdon came along to help us with this restructuring need and with a list of those who were “evangelists” and we decided that evangelism was best done by those with its gift. All of this distanced the average Lutheran Christian from the task and purpose of sharing the faith.

Advance a few years and we were shopping at Willow Creek or Saddle Creek or CCM radio stations in the hopes that if we looked different and sounded different people would be attracted to us. Never mind the fact that our sanctuaries were architecturally unsuited for this style and our heart was not fully convinced (hence the traditional services that kept us Lutheran in identity at least at 7 am on Sunday morning).

Our mission execs began shopping for those churches that were growing and they shifted our paradigms and made us more missional and insisted that everything we were or did had to be negotiable if we were really to grow. Their hearts were in the right place — they daily faced statistics that most people in the pew choose to ignore… but the result has been a great division between those congregations that are LINO (Lutheran in name only), those who have abandoned even the name but exist within the denomination, AND those who turn to page 151 on LSB on Sunday morning and the worship wars past and pressent.

Now our Lutheran evangelistic zeal is part of the angst of who we are and what we are. If we did bring people to worship, would they feel at home? Would they like it? Would they find us friendly? Would they come back? Can we do this? Will it (giving up who we are) be worth it all in the end? Instead we should have been thinking Isaiah 55 — My Word will not return to me empty handed… Instead we should have been confident that where the Word and Sacraments are and the baptized people gathered around them and their Pastor, there is the Church with the fullness of the Spirit who IS the one who grows the Church.

Our parish grows because the people invite people to come with them. Our outreach is through the people in the pew who daily witness and share their faith and not through an evangelism committee. People hear about our work in the community or find out about us through our highly regarded preschool or come to one of our Music at Grace concerts or are brought by those who have confidence in the Word and Sacraments, the means of grace. We do try to be deliberately welcoming, we have a welcome desk at the door and people stationed to identify and welcome visitors. We have signs and lots of parking. We have a well maintained building. But we sing the liturgy on Sunday morning and use the full resources of the hymnal for the Divine Service. We have good teaching for all ages and good Biblical preaching that keeps the Law and Gospel distinct but together. We do everything wrong in this regard and next week we will receive nearly 40 new members (through baptism, instruction, adult confirmation, affirmation of faith, and transfer). What happens on Sunday morning and who we are during the week is the same. The result is that people know who they are in the pews and feel confident about bringing people with them, sharing the faith with their neighbors and co-workers, and they know what people will experience on Sunday morning. Even kids do this.

We must know who we are before we know our voice in evangelism and outreach. It must be authentic and real, positive and genuine… Identity is what helps us welcome… confidence in that identity gives us confidence to invite and welcome… it really does work.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Great Stuff Found on the Web: Pastoral Meanderings on “Lutherans and Evangelism” — 24 Comments

  1. Well said. I have seen first hand how congregations buy book after book with new “strategies” and think they have to leave all of that antiquated Lutheran stuff behind in order to get more people saved. As if being Lutheran is synonymous with not caring about the lost.

    Thank you for trumpeting the fact that God’s people grounded in and nourished by Word and Sacrament are far more effective than any program, book, or multimillion dollar mission drive. God’s Word will not return empty…it will accomplish His will. Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

  2. It has been said that if every Lutheran in a particular Congregation invited one person to Church, once in a while, there would be no chance for the Pastor to eat and drink, for the time needed to teach and preach to these newcomers.

    When Paul admonishes a particular Minister to, ” Do the work of an Evangelist, fulfill your Ministry.” He, Paul, is not saying that Evangelism is the only work he does, but when and if the time arrives for such an opportunity, such as follow-up on people who have attended worship services that Sunday, on Sunday, to see if they need a Church home or are looking at the Lutheran faith with an interest in Christ and His Word, then the Pastor spares no time doing just that.

  3. Very well said by both Pastor Peters and Sojourner. I just don’t understand why someone would go to seminary to be a Lutheran pastor, so that they can “do church” like a Calvary Chapel or other non-denominational churches? Most of the American pastors in these other churches aren’t trained in the original Bible languages or theology. Most of them are semi-Pelagian, and preach another Gospel. Most of these pastor’s are ignorant of church history, and believe that the church has been dead until they started their own “brand” of Christianity.

    Some pastor’s are afraid of being a Lutheran, because they think that it is out dated. Since when has preaching the Law and Gospel and administrating the Sacraments properly (according to our Lutheran confessions) become outdated or not effective? It hasn’t. Shame on those pastors!

    Again, Lutheran churches that attempt CG, will not grow, but the numbers will go down. And, God does not want us to be concerned about the numbers anyway. He only cares about being faithful in preaching the Law and the Gospel, and He will do the rest.

  4. It’s probably not a cause-and-effect scenario, but I think it’s at least interesting that, according to the article, the last year of substantial growth was 1963. By then, the semininary had become infected with historical/critical teaching, Gospel reductioninsm, the source hypothesis, and who knows what else. I have heard any number of preachers from that era and much of their message was works-oriented, and Gospel-as-information. One refugee from that teaching said to me “my preaching had no power.” A good pastor friend once told me that when pastors abandon the authority of scripture, they often turn to programs.
    Hmmmm……

    Can we connect the dots? Perhaps–perhaps not. But it is interesting, and food for thought. I wonder what others out there might think.

    Johannes (flak jackets provided)

  5. johannes:

    You wondered what others think?

    You make a good argument about the seminary. I know, that being in the WELS, and formerly of the LCMS, that one big difference between the two, is the teaching at the seminary.

    Pastor, after pastor, old timers and the new one’s have all told me that the teaching at the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WELS) has not changed at all. They all tell me that they are still being taught the same way. So, they all come out thinking pretty much the same on the Bible and our Lutheran confessions.

    I am not saying that we are perfect (we are all sinner’s), but, for the most part, it still seems to be working pretty well.

    Another quick observation, coming from the LCMS to the WELS, is that you just don’t hear about the bureaucracy. What is sort of neat, is that even though the Synod is also ministry, you hardly hear about it. Each congregation is pretty much on it’s own, with most of the effort’s going into the preaching of the Law and the Gospel and the Sacrament’s as defined in our confessions. It is a pretty peaceful existence between the congregations and the district president’s and the SP.

    Blessings,

  6. @David Housholder #7

    David–

    I have just read your essay. I haven’t time to reply right now, but I’d get out my flak jacket if I were you. That is friendly advice from one, who altho he does not agree with all that you’ve said, nevertheless has been flakked-upon for his opinions. I think you can expect the same. I’ll be back later tonight.

    I’m certain that your interest in getting a major discussion going will bear fruit.

    Johannes (incoming, incoming!!!!)

  7. Johannes,

    Thanks for the heads-up.

    As I have no need to win the argument and am the least codependent person on earth (i.e. don’t have to be right and don’t have to be liked), the “incoming” mortar fire will do very little to me.

    I just want to get people talking about reaching lost adults with the Gospel. We’re really bad at that, as a Lutheran tribe. I think we have great potential for growth in this area, and, actually, a great deal to contribute to the cause of Christ throughout the world.

    A church movement in North America averaging under one adult baptism per congregation has serious effectiveness issues in terms of evangelization. Just sayin’

    DH

  8. DH,

    I need to read your article. It sounds compelling.

    BTW – how many adult baptisms did the New Testament congregations average per year? Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a single adult baptism in a New Testament congregation. I also cannot think of a single scripture passage where Paul, Peter, James or John gives an admonition to the New Testament congregations to be adding adults by baptism. They certainly are not opposed to it but your mentioning of this metric does get one thinking. Based on this silence they seem to have other priorities for the New Testament congregations to which they wrote.

    Just sayin…

    TR

    (your faithful editor and servant seeking to outdo Johannes in curmudgeonliness and sadly succeeding)

  9. @David Housholder #10

    I have to admit to concern about your use of the terms “effectiveness,” and “potential for growth.” Whether we like it or not, effectiveness and growth are freighted terms, and are favorites of the church growth folks. They make me uneasy.

    I like what Detlev Schulz (CTSFW) says about mission–“Mission is the act of extending the gift of righteousness and forgiveness to the world thru the preaching of the Word and administering of the Sacraments…” Mission from the Cross, p. 78. Elsewhere he states that mission is accountable to Justification (AC IV). Now there’s some food for thought.

    More later–but–you got me talking (or writing, anyways).

    Johannes

  10. As a born and raised Wesleyan who studied and read himself out of the Armenian world (saved by grace – maintained by works) and was dragged kicking and screaming into the Confessional Church, I have some observations. I have been chosen as a lay delegate to Convention this summer from CID. As such we had a meeting in St. Louis to be presented the blue ribbon task force document and ask questions of the panel that wrote it. At that meeting we were seated around tables with a half dozen other delegates. The podium requested that each table introduce themselves to each other and address the subject “who led you to Christ?” As the question made the rounds, “My father, My grandfather, etc.” until the token was passed to me. When I said “C. S. Lewis,” One would have thought I had just grown another eye in my forehead.
    There were some two hundred men at that meeting, I may very well have been the only one there who was catechized as an adult. I didn’t get the feeling that the other folks at my table were ever really comfortable with me after that.
    I wonder if Lutherans were really honest with themselves, do they really want their church to grow if it means bringing in a lot of outsiders? Are they pretty comfortable with the clubby atmosphere that exists within the church as it is?
    It seems to me that strategic question needs to be addressed first, tactics can come later.

  11. David Householder #10, just a few responses to your essay, which I just read:

    1) “We have no functioning eschatology.” For many years, Lutherans have just held to the historical church view of the end times as defined in the Apostles’ Creed. “From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.” Of course, our BOC has only a few short paragraphs on eschatology, and in it it affirms that Christ only comes twice (not the three times of the modern day dipsy’s). He comes the first time to seek and save that which is lost (us), and He will come the second time in judgment. Although the BOC doesn’t mention it by it’s name, obviously, we are Amillennial, which is the historical church view.

    Our Lutheran eschatology is a functioning eschatology, that just need’s to be explained to the masses who are being brainwashed with the false doctrine of the dispensationalist’s.

    2) “Luther’s formative 16th century anti-Semitism.” Luther’s statements concerning the Jews, often represented in abbreviated form, can be evaluated in unbiased fashion only when we first take into account the Jewish situation in the West on the eve of the Reformation, and next, when we evaluate the context in which Luther made these statements. If these factors are not observed, access is obstructed to historical understanding as well as to a critique, with any basis, of Luther’s position. The attempt at hastily uniting Luther’s position with later developments leads to misrepresentation.

    Luther frequently attacked the Jews for their legalism and self-righteousness. The reproaches had to do with the attempt to establish one’s own righteousness before God,
    with false trust in one’s own works. On this subject Luther often set the Jews in a series with other heretics and schismatics who trusted in their own righteousness before God.

    Luther actually defended the Jew’s against anti-Semitism with this quote, “If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts and blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would sooner have become a hog than a Christian.”

    3) We have “no theology of mission, we have no idea how to get someone saved.” I just have to think of all of the time that I wasted in my early Christian years in apologetics. I took classes on it in Bible college, books by Norman Geisler etc. Most of the tactics used in apologetics, are used by the Baptist’s in their attemp at arguing someone into the Kingdom of God.

    Lutherans don’t engage in too much of this because we have such a strong view of the Holy Spirit doing the converting through His ordained means of Grace, the Word and the Sacraments. You mention that “we have no idea how to get someone saved.” The Biblical pattern is not our wisdom, but the foolishness of the Cross, and Christ crucified. The Word of God goes out, and the Holy Spirit creates the faith to believe. (Phil. 1:29.) Or, God uses His Word, combined with the waters of Baptism to create saving faith. (Gal. 3:27, John 3:5, Mark 16:16, Eph. 5:26, Titus 3:5, 1 Pet. 3:20 & 21, Acts 2:38 & 39, Romans 6 3 & 4, Acts 22:16 etc.) God is the active party in Baptism, not us!

    4) Lutheran confessions “were not nearly as systematic as the parallel Reformed Calvinist documents.” Which Reformed confessions are we talking about here? How on earth can the Reformed and or Calvinist’s be so “systematical” when they are all over the place with so many different confessions that teach different doctrines? (The only thing that they can agree on is the un-Biblical five points of Calvinism.)

    At least Lutherans can agree on one set of confessions, the Book of Concord. I came out of the Dutch Reformed camp. The Reformed didn’t get it right the first time, so their theologians are still trying to develop it as time goes on.

    5) “Lutheran systematic theology is a bit of an oxymoron.” The Reformed systematic theology is predicated on double predestination, which is totally un-Scriptural. (Matt. 25:41, 1 Tim. 2:1-6, Heb. 2:9, 1 John 2:2, 2 Pet. 3:9, Matt: 23:37, 1 Tim 4:10, Ezek: 33:11, and John 3:16 among many other passages.) In fact, in the “Reformed systematic” theology, they would love to cut these passages right out of the Bible, because it screw’s up their “system” too much. Remember, with the Reformed, the “system” comes first, not the Scriptures.

    The Reformed sytematic theology leads them into going way beyond what the Scriptures teach. In other words, they get into man’s logic, rather than sticking with what the Word of God teaches us.

    The Reformed view of the Lord’s Supper is a total un-Scriptural teaching which is infested with Platonic Philosophy. In it, they “spiritually eat Christ’s body and blood.” They teach that the physical is not true realty, that the thought world is. They transcend the physical to reach the spiritual. In other words, they are not really receiving the true body and blood of Christ, only the bread and the wine. They deny the words of Christ. Lutherans take Christ at His Word. (Christ’s body and blood is under, in and with the bread and the wine. We actually receive four things, Christ’s body, blood, bread and the wine, not the two of everyone else. RC only receives the body and blood, and most of the other’s only the bread and the wine.)

    Their faulty view of the Lord’s Supper goes right on into their messed up view of Christ’s human and Divine nature. They divide up the works of Christ’s human and the Divine nature separately, so that as Luther states, “you would have to have two Christ’s.” Luther goes on to say that the human and the divine natures of Christ fit in Him as a body and soul does in man.

    In this “Reformed Systematic theology”, the human nature is used mostly for the crucifiction, but now He has returned back to being God again. The Reformed view severely restricts Christ’s human nature.

    6) “Arminian (Finney, Moody, Billy Graham, etc.) are the World champions of missionology.”
    Billy Graham himself has stated that maybe only 10 percent that come forward at his event’s to actually “receive Christ into their hearts,” actually get saved. Why? His message, along with the rest of these heretics appeals to the felt needs of the people, and has nothing at all to do with the preaching of the Law and the Gospel.

    The great theologian–and may I add, a great systematic theologian, Dr. Martin Luther addresses this crap in his classic, “The Bondage of the Will.”

    To sum it all up: Luthern theology is the most Biblical, well thought out, most systematical (in which all of the Scriptures are used, not some of them to fit a particular system) out there.

    Calvin (Mr. Systematic), in his doctrine of Christ alone, would look to himself and how he was perservering for the assurance of salvation. This could prove deadly, as many Reformed pastors have had trouble in giving their folks assurance and comfort of their salvation, because they look to themselves for this assurance.

    Luther, on his doctrine of Christ alone, would look outside of himself for this assurance of salvation and comfort, to Christ, His Word, and the visible promises that are found in the Sacraments. See, Luther always thought sacramentally, and he taught us to think the same way. It is, indeed, the only way to “think systematically.”

    We certainly don’t need to change historical, confessional Lutheran theology to fit our times. We need to embrace it’s Biblical truths, and the incredible beauty of our tradition, and take it out there to a dying world. God’s Word, doesn’t come back void!

    If you go to the Bible with an analogy of faith, that the Bible is true in everything that it says, you will have to come away a Lutheran!

  12. @Lloyd I. Cadle #14
    Lloyd +1 on your “few” comments. I agree totally. I think what finally caused me to walk away from the reform church was their having to tie themselves in knots trying to rationalize all of the contradictions that come with trying to squeeze the square block of scripture into the round hole of their “system.” What attracted me to Luther’s thinking was his embrace of mystery. What keeps me in the Church bearing his name is the beauty of the service, the rationality of the doctrine and the love of Christ. It is difficult to feel any love for Christ when the only Christ one is shown is the Christ of Matthew chapter 5. The end result of both Calvin and Wesley’s thinking is despair. The only quibble I would have with your analysis is when you say “many Reform pastors have trouble giving assurance. . .” From my personal experience I would say it is not the pastor, it is the dogma. When one bases ones hope on their own “holiness” the “end thereof is destruction.” There is no comfort, and no assurance at all in a theology that sets one on a path of “seeking their own sanctification.”

  13. From the heard on Issues, Etc. dept.:

    As we all know, Lutherans love theology. And, some of my Lutheran brothers and sisters here on John the Steadfast certainly do too, when they are able to take time out from fighting the bureaucrat’s, and actually sit down and enjoy the theological side of our great tradition.

    Anyway, our Reformed friends (I will affectionately refer to them as the “Systematicals”) also love theology. A big difference, of course, being that the “Systematicals” develop much of their theology from excluding large chunks of the Scriptures, and over playing other Scriptures in order to make their system work. They also develop much of their “system” from man’s logic and speculation, whereas Lutherans just stick with the Scriptures, and we are silent where the Scriptures are silent.

    A while back, Pastor Wilken had a Lutheran pastor on his show, that ask’s his catechism classes before they are confirmed three true or false questions–which they must get right in order to be confirmed. The pastor chuckled and said that these three question’s really leave the Reformed theologians scratching their heads in bewilderment, because of the un-Biblical restriction’s that the “Systematicals” place on the human nature of our Lord.

    Here are the three question’s:

    1. Mary is the mother of God.
    A) True B) False

    2. God died one afternoon.
    A) True B) False

    3. A human being runs the universe.
    A) True B) False

    All three are true! This is on the simple side of our great Lutheran theology!

  14. @David Housholder #10
    A church movement in North America averaging under one adult baptism per congregation …

    You mean we made our “quota” this morning?
    Somehow I don’t believe anyone will think so.

  15. It looks as though we need to define our terms, starting with “Evangelism.” It’s not about “getting someone saved.” It’s simply telling the good news, as in the Detlev Schulz quote above on mission (#12).

    Pastor Peters concludes above, “We must know who we are before we know our voice in evangelism and outreach. It must be authentic and real, positive and genuine… Identity is what helps us welcome… confidence in that identity gives us confidence to invite and welcome… it really does work.”

    Pastor Peters is right–how can we expect genuine evangelism if we have forgotten who we are, or have never really known who we are, for that matter? “Quotas”, “growth”, “effectiveness,” and such terms are barriers to meaningful evangelism, and reduce it to law-based duty. Before we beat up our “Lutheran-ness”, we’d better understand what real genuine “Lutheran-ness” is. Then the self-flagellation will cease.

    Here’s another quote: “”Evangelism is directed toward the conversion of the sinner and his incorporation into the body of Christ in Holy Baptism and his reception of the body and blood of the Lord in the Holy Supper; not the recruitment of people to be members of a voluntary religious organization.” “Mysteria Dei, John Pless, “Liturgy and Evangelism in the Service of Mysteria Dei”, p. 226. Now that’s Lutheran!!

    Pastor Rossow, I’ll see your curmudgeonliness and raise you one

    Johannes

  16. Lutheranism is really the only place in Christendom to go for “saved by Grace alone.” Rome denies salvation by “faith-plus-works” in word, but on paper is a different story (they never recanted on the Council of Trent). Constantinople is very “faith-plus-works,” as we all know. Armininism and Anabaptism are also very “my works” based. If I have to make a decision, then it’s not all Grace. Having grown up Methodist, I always wondered if my decision “took.” “Was I sincere enough when I ‘accepted’ Jesus?”

    Calvinism is interesting, because the “once saved, always saved” and “double predestination” could be used in two-ways, I believe. The first extreme is that, “Since I’ve been predestined to salvation, I can do whatever I want and persist in unrepentant sin, because I can’t ‘lose’ my salvation.” The other extreme is, “How do I know I’m in the ‘elect’ camp? If I’m not, then maybe if I ‘try harder’ God will change His mind.”

    The top reply I get when inviting others to church is, “You guys do stuff like the Catholics.” Another common one is, “Like the Catholics, you can just do whatever you want and then be forgiven by confessing. How phony.” The antinomian accusation is quite frustrating, because being “saved by Grace alone” brings about a life of repentance. But our default religion of, “I have to do something,” totally flies in the face of confessional Lutheranism.

    Calvinism, Arminianism, and the other -isms make sense, in many ways. Human logic, emotion, and reason explain these theologies. The problem is that logic, emotion, and reason are tainted with our sin. The other problem is that these theologies contradict Scripture. Having been Lutheran for over ten years now, it now makes more sense than the other theologies, Praise be to God. Like said elswhere in this forum, we don’t “save anyone.” We are mere instruments of the Holy Spirit to present the Gospel to unbelievers. He does the saving.

    “One Christ, Many Creeds,” by CPH, is a must-read for clergy and laity alike, as it is very useful for comparing denominations.

  17. @boogie #19
    Thanks for your apology-less apologetic. It’s nearly breathtaking to hear (read) a Lutheran who is unabashedly Lutheran and un-ashamedly proud of it. And when you proclaim “saved by Grace alone” you are one heckuva evangelist. All you Lutherans out there, take note!

    Thank you for your bold and fearless witness!

    Johannes (curmudgeon-less, this time)

    p.s. Were you at LCA in FW in January? How did we miss each other?

  18. Thanks, Johannes. Please, not the “Grumpy old Lutheran of the day” award. All Glory be to God Alone. Yes, I was at LCA at FWA. Sorry we didn’t get to meet.

    Here we go off topic again. A pastor from CA sitting at our table made a good observation. He said that allowing “commissioned ministers” to vote in conventions as a “pastoral delegate” could be a way to implement female ordination in a “back-door” way. Also, the “everyone’s a minister” mentality of Reformed Christendom is another step closer for LCMS.

  19. @Lloyd I. Cadle #14
    Lloyd,

    your comments in response to Pastor Hausholder are as equally thought provoking as his essay. Please look again at Housholder’s 3rd point.

    You are very right to say that we Lutherans shy away from arguing somebody into salvation through confrontation and that we believe God is the active party in baptism. You very clearly stated a great truth, “…we have such a strong view of the Holy Spirit doing the converting through His ordained means of Grace, the Word and the Sacraments.”

    The part that we often miss is the Spirit’s work in connection to the external Word. The Word isn’t in me just by birth. The Word that saves me is alien to me. Praise God some human beings to Word into me with their mouths and pens. Isaiah 5:7-8 isn’t just beautiful poetry. It’s the honest truth,
    How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
    who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
    Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy;
    for in plain sight they see the return of the Lord to Zion.

    Lutheranism is best defined by common confession; but the church reguardless of historical theology has recieved Christ’s common commission. It’s no wonder why the first imperative in the Great Commision is, “Go…” Lutherans would do well to ponder why Isaiah asked Israel, “Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1 NRSV)

    The same questions prompts me to look at my neighbors today. Isaiah invites me to imagine the Word making a difference. He challenges me, who has heard the Word, to reach out with the word into the world.

    Some interesting Lutherans who made contributions to this discussion in the last 100 years or so are Gerhard Forde THEOLOGY IS FOR PROCLAMATION, Gustaf Wingren’s THE LIVING WORD, and Regin Prenter SPRITUS CREATOR.

    thanks for the thoughtful response
    John

  20. John, thanks for the kind words!

    No other theology has such an incredible, powerful view of the Holy Spirit as do the Lutheran’s. What is ironic, is that Lutheran’s are accused of having a weak view of the Holy Spirit. When in reality, we have the most Biblical teaching of the Holy Spirit.

    The Pentacostal’s talk about the Holy Spirit. But it is more of a force, apart from the Word and the Sacrament’s, which by the way, is un-Biblical. Also, the H.S. of the Pentacostal’s doesn’t have the power to save, that is why they depend on human argument’s.

    The H.S. of the Reformed, is relegated to mere signs and seals. The Reformed H.S. is along side of the sacrament’s, not within them–which is the Biblical Lutheran view. The Reformed infant Baptism is not much more than a baby dedication, where they are just brought into the Cov’t of Grace, but not saved in the Sacrament.

    The Baptist view of Baptism, is just an act of obedience. They don’t Baptize babies until they are eight or nine years old, or according to them, “age of accountability”, which denies the doctrine of original sin.

    Only the Lutheran view of the H.S. is Biblical, and so powerful that the H.S. actually is within the Word of God and the Sacraments in such a way as to save people.

    To use a little hyperbole here; the Lutheran view of the H.S. as it is in the Word and the sacrament’s can literally knock you out!

    I am in a real hurry here, so I am sorry for any typos!

  21. One more quick thing:

    I love opening my Bible and showing the Baptist’s and the other’s the Lutheran view of the Sacraments. By God’s grace, I will give them so much Scripture for the Lutheran viewpoint, many will quit arguing against it!

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