9.5 Things That Hold Lutheranism Together (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

Yours truly was the guest on the “Studio A” radio program on KFUO, AM 850, on Monday, October 25, to discuss “What Holds Lutheranism Together.” You can listen to the interview below. The 25-minute segment runs from about the 29:00 mark to 54:00. Here are the list and notes for that interview:

[podcast]http://lcms-kfuoam.streamguys1.com/mp3/SA/SA_Oct_25b.mp3[/podcast]

 

 

9.5 Things That Hold Lutheranism Together

1. Justification
Justification by grace through faith in Christ. Romans 3:21-28: “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (v. 28). The article on which the church stands or falls. Central article of all doctrine and the center of each article. AC IV/Ap. IV. Penance, the Mass, vs. Rome.

2. The Sacraments
Esp. the Sacrament of the Altar. God’s work or man’s work? Vs. Rome: Sacrifice of the Mass. Vs. the Reformed, Zwingli/Calvin: Denial of Real Presence (Nature), Means of Grace (Benefit).

3. The Power of the Word
How can it (water, eating and drinking) do such great things? Living, active Word. Viva vox evangelii (living voice of the Gospel). Authority of the Word: Sole rule and norm of doctrine and life. Vs. Rome: Pope. Vs. Enthusiasts/Schwaermerei: Spirit apart from external Word.

4. The Proper Distinction of Law and Gospel
Walther (born Oct. 25, 1811). Both needed. Do not confuse the two. Knowing when to apply each. Gospel must predominate.

5. Catholicity
Connection with historic faith. We are teaching nothing new: “Our churches do not dissent from any article of the faith held by the Church catholic” (AC). Ecumenical creeds (Apostles’ Nicene, Athanasian).

6. The Doctrine of Vocation
Vs. monasticism. Ordinary Christian is doing holy, God-pleasing work. Works done from faith, according to Ten Commandments, for the good of the neighbor. Table of Duties.

7. Catechism and Hymnal
Getting doctrine into the life and minds of the people, grounding them in the faith, for daily living. Luther’s Small Catechism, “the layman’s Bible.” Liturgy (Divine Service), hymnody (e.g., Dear Christians One and All Rejoice) inculcate and express the faith.

8. A Doxological Concern
Twofold refrain in the Confessions: A) This doctrine gives all glory to God and honor to Christ.

9. A Pastoral Concern
B) This doctrine gives true comfort to terrified, troubled consciences. “Christ’s glory becomes more brilliant when we teach that we make the most of him as our mediator and atoning sacrifice. Godly consciences see that the most abundant consolation is offered to them in this doctrine. . . . Their teaching is confused and shadowy. It not only transfers Christ’s glory to human works, but also leads consciences either to arrogance or despair. But our teaching, we hope, is readily understood by pious minds and brings godly and wholesome consolation to terrified consciences” (Apology V: 178, 182).

9.5. Potlucks
Half-serious. Personal relationships, family ties have natural cohesive force. Congregational life.


Comments

9.5 Things That Hold Lutheranism Together (by Pr. Charles Henrickson) — 315 Comments

  1. @John, an Unlikely Pastor #250

    J.A.U.P.,

    You wrote, “I’d rather risk God’s judgement for being too lenient on who comes to the table rather than risk His judgement for baring someone who is hungry to recieve who has answered the call to come eat and drink.”

    Actually, the Apostle says that you are risking God’s judgment for those who commune under your less-that-watchful administration.

    TW

  2. @John, an Unlikely Pastor #250

    Surely pastor you understand why in our confession it is pointed out that “For the people use it, but after having first been instructed and examined” and “taught concerning the true use of the Sacrament”? We have a plain example from Paul himself as to why proper instruction must be given to individuals regarding the use of the Lord’s Supper from 1 Corinthians 11:23-29. Furthermore, I don’t understand how you are causing one of Christ’s to sin if you do not give him the Supper due to his not having first been instructed? Teaching always accompanies the sacraments, since it is the Word of God that delivers His promises through the means He has instituted. A person who hasn’t been taught doesn’t know what benefit is being had from the sacrament. I would also add that the outward appearance, the walking to the communion rail or altar, doesn’t tell us what is in the heart of the person. Only God knows that, but as a called pastor you have a duty to teach and to make the best effort to give the Lord’s Supper only to those who have been properly instructed in the faith. You are risking the souls of people who may really be eating to their own judgement. I do not mean to sound harsh, but I find your pragmatic argument as to why you risk the souls of others extremely troubling. However, I do thank you for your open and honest response and I hope you see that I am also trying to give as much in return.

  3. @Todd Wilken #251
    TW
    Human limits really do challenge how we minister; you might call it “less than watchful” but I call it being church together in a congregation full of life and with more families than I’ve gotten to know in 19 months on the ground here.
    I struggle to in reading Paul’s warnings about the discernment of the body not to miss the dual discernment of the Body of Chirst that he clearly makes in 1st Corinithians. He sees both that the body and blood are bread and wine and that the Body of Christ are the people who gather hungry to meet him in that same bread and wine.
    pax
    John

  4. @Jim Pierce #252
    Jim,
    in your reading push on into 1st Corinthians 12:12-14. Just as clearly as Paul admonishes us to discern the body in the bread and wine he now says that the body is so much bigger than one individual or even group of individuals. There’s a dual edge to his directions to discern the body. We surely do instruct about communion and preach about it frequently; but the call to the Table is found closest to the distribution in Jesus own words “Given for you…, shed for you…” I’m not in the business of replacing the Holy Spirit with myself for the one who hears the Words of Jesus “For you” and comes.

    Luther in the small catechism offers us the best way to respond to any who come wanting communion.
    “he is truly worthy and well prepared who believes these words: “?for you?” and “?for the forgiveness of sins.?” On the other hand, he who does not believe these words, or doubts them, is unworthy and unprepared, for the words “?for you?” require truly believing hearts.” Theodore G. Tappert, The Book of Concord : The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, ( Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 2000, c1959), The Small Catechism: VI, 10.

    May God have mercy on our souls as we seek to follow his son boldy into all the world.
    Pax
    John

  5. @Todd Wilken #251

    I must confess that this discussion has certainly caused knots in my stomach. Being brought up LCMS and know in the WELS, this discussion makes me uneasy. I appreciate that pastors are mindful of those taking communion. The pastors and our laity must practice close communion both for the individual’s sake and for the other believers at the table who assume the same faith and doctrine. Else we cause a stumbling block to the faith of others. We must be servants to our fellow believers based on a common confession as espoused by a church denomination’s doctrine. It may not be perfect, but it is what it is short of heaven itself.

  6. @Perry Lund #255
    Perry,
    I think the knots are supposed to be there.
    There’s no easy way arround this discussion; many rest on their belief that closed communion prevents anyone from wrongly recieving. That’s a theological conclusion that can be challenged biblically and pastorally just us you can biblically and pastorally challenge open communion. I say forge on into scripture and the confessions you won’t find a simple solution to the knots but you will find Christ.
    Pax
    John

  7. @John, an Unlikely Pastor #254

    Please keep in mind the following words right at the beginning of the LC section on the Sacrament: “For it is not our intention to admit to it and to administer it to those who know not what they seek, or why they come. “ (LC Sacraments para 2)

    You are pitting your quote from the Large Catechism against those I provide above from the Apology and the Augsburg Confession. I agree that we should give the Lord’s Supper to those who understand what it means—those who believe the words—”given for you,” etc. but our confession of faith doesn’t end at those words pertaining to whom should receive the Sacrament. Indeed, it clearly speaks of admitting to the table only those who have first been instructed and examined. You know, when I first started attending my current church home, the pastor of the church didn’t give me the Lord’s Supper until I was first instructed. In fact, I approached him and asked when I could approach the altar and partake. After I was catechized, and no sooner, I was admitted to the table and I am SO very thankful for that. My pastor demonstrated to me the love of Christ in teaching me what the words of institution meant, what it Jesus meant by “this is my body” and “this is my blood.” You see prior to my instruction I thought the sacrament was nothing more than a symbolic practice of remembering Christ’s death and nothing more. The evangelical churches I had been raised in took communion once a year at Easter because it was purely for remembering the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, according to them. And because the sacrament was purely symbolic, it didn’t matter who took the Lord’s Supper just so long as a person confessed to be a Christian. Roman Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses would have all been welcomed to “commune” based upon their confession that they believe in Christ, had repented, and wanted to live for Him.

    What personally moves me so much about the issue of closed communion is that my pastor cared enough for me that he didn’t want me to partake at our Lord’s table until I understood the benefits of the sacrament, what it means to share in the table of our Lord, and that our Lord is truly present in the bread and wine. I had never known until I was taught and our congregation has a regular attendance of about 200.

    Yes, indeed, pastor. May God have mercy upon us and grant us the strength to be steadfast in the faith given to us by Christ and His Apostles. Thank you for the dialogue.

  8. Jim Pierce :…I agree that we should give the Lord’s Supper to those who understand what it means—those who believe the words—”given for you,” etc. but our confession of faith doesn’t end at those words pertaining to whom should receive the Sacrament. Indeed, it clearly speaks of admitting to the table only those who have first been instructed and examined.

    Jim – I understand what the Lord’s Supper means. I believe these words, “given and shed for the forgiveness of sins”. I have been instructed in what the Evangelical Lutheran teaches regarding the Sacrament.

    Yet, all of the pastors who have participated in this conversation – except one – have made it clear that I am not welcome at the communion rail in their churches. And, all of the lay people who have participated have supported them in that decision. Why? Because they insist on examining me relative to a standard other than what the Evangelical Lutheran Church teaches regarding the Sacrament.

  9. John,

    I can’t speak for other pastors or laypeople on this thread, but here’s the reason I would not administer the sacrament to you: You reject the Formula of Concord in that you commune with those who teach (especially regarding the Supper) the very errors the Formula explicitly condemns.

    And, if that weren’t enough, you refuse to divulge your church affiliation, thereby making it impossible to know if your claim of fidelity to the Lutheran Confessions (otherwise disproved by your promiscuous communing) is true or false.

    In other words, you cannot expect any responsible Lutheran pastor to welcome you at the rail. The fact that some Lutheran pastors do (or say they would) proves only that they are as promiscuous in their administration as you are in your reception.

    TW

  10. Todd – you have avoided what I perceive to be the critical question several times. So, let me format it a little differently – a one word answer, yes or no, in response to each should be sufficient.

    Is the Holy Spirit at work in Word and Sacrament when Episcopalians worship?

    Is the Holy Spirit at work in Word and Sacrament when Catholics worship?

  11. John,

    Unlike you, I haven’t avoided any questions.

    Yes, the Holy Spirit is at work wherever Scripture is read or spoken. But in the case of your communion companions (the Episcopalians and the Roman Catholics), they reject that very Scripture, and thus the Holy Spirit, when they believe and teach things contrary to Scripture.

    Why would you want to commune with those who reject the very thing you claim to believe?

    You say you were confirmed by a Lutheran pastor. Were you never taught any of this?

    TW

  12. John,
    Many better & more learned than my pitiful self, have been more than forthright, open, and honest. Todd, on this or another thread, has stated he had never met anyone so obstinate, in stating what they so forcefully speak through & uphold.
    I w/intent list only those, who are holders of the Office:
    Rev. Weinfauf
    Rev. Rossow
    Rev Wilken
    Rev. Sterle
    Rev. Pettey
    Rev. Henrickson
    these all have been most patient, tolerant, kind, merciful, but as is right…lovingly honest, open, direct & blunt. The most loving act, one can do for another, is to cast aside, what the world views as loving, and uphold Truth, Honesty, and Confession in love, not our own in our own terms, but His.
    You to your credit, have John, an unlikely Pastor, who per his many blogs, seems to be ELCA. You also seem to have fellowship w/him, outside your posts here. The only items, that can be taken from this blog & others, is you know him outside this blog in fellowship. Therefore, w/o you statement as to which Congregation or Denomination you stand fast & firm (sad statement, as you are not willing to stand w/that you have chosen, in full view & public, that’s truly sad. You must not be confident in what you speak on here, if you are not willing to stand or fall by what which you attend or defend.)
    We are here, forced to assume by your abstention, for you to be ELCA, or a smaller denom in fellowship w/ELCA.
    It begs belief for me, for both you & the Unlikely Pastor, on the posts here or blogs elsewhere, Denominational affiliation, is so refused & so willingly hidden.
    If many less than these, have publically stated, at great risk, what they stand for, attend & defend, your asbstention, we I attending yours, would be insulting to me. I stand firm in what I profess, and am willing to answer any question, you sadly think little of what you speak & defend. To abstain, is to act, answer, and give much over to.

  13. Todd Wilken :
    Why would you want to commune with those who reject the very thing you claim to believe?
    You say you were confirmed by a Lutheran pastor. Were you never taught any of this?

    Todd – first, please understand that I am not in the habit of church hopping. I regularly attend my own congregation (where I also am a very active member) and, of the five Lutheran churches in my community, it is the congregation which most closely aligns in teaching and worship practice with that of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, as I was instructed. I was also instructed that both the Body of Christ and the Evangelical Lutheran Church are the “invisible” church, i.e. neither is defined by denomination nor can they be defined by other empirical criteria.

    Periodically, I find myself in other churches in my community – weddings, funerals and because one of the choral groups that I sing in is available for special services in the congregations that support our group.

    If I am in either of the cathedrals I will commune because, as you noted, the Holy Spirit is at work and Jesus promises to come to me in the Sacrament. I know that from my instruction. I have a pretty good idea of the differences among Lutherans, Episcopalians and Catholics. I also know, from my instruction, that, relative to the work of the Spirit and the promises that Jesus offers in the Sacrament, those differences are trivial. So, when I commune, I am not affirming their teachings – I am affirming my belief in God and the way that God works in the lives of sinful people through Word and Sacrament.

  14. @Dutch #262
    Dutch – it could also be that “Unlikely” is a “moderate” LCMS pastor. And, if so, that likely also explains why his identity is anonymous. If he were completely open with those views, chances are very likely that he would be routinely harassed by those LCMS pastors who think they have the lock on “pure doctrine”. That routinely happens in LCMS. And, my impression of this and a couple of related sites is that it provides a forum in which to air the “errors” of others.

  15. John,
    On the Unlikely sites (Banter, Conversations, Kiva, etc.) , I haven’t seen links, to LCMS. ELCA, KIVA,& other good stuff, yep, LCMS nope. But I’m not well schooled in using this well.
    If we all, are not willing to be forthright, open, honest & true, – completely truthful in our beliefs, intents, words, what we defend & what we choose not to, where we attend & go, & what Denom we choose, what does that say of us? Truth is relative to many, but absolute to few. To the lost, most relative, to those of Christ, most Absolute, per His Word, not discerned, but as written. Take your pick, English, German, Latin, Greek or Hebrew, the Holy Spirit aids in this.

    Are we willing to live/speak openly, confessing & defending what we do or are we not? If we are not, what does it say? Not to those who know, but to those who know nothing, decry Him, or are lost?
    The lost, know full well, who & what we are, to stand by, say, & confess. They watch, with eagle eyes, their defence against, depends on this. If those who are not willing to stand, confess, or defend publically in detail, plays to their/lost favor. I know many, I’ve heard it, before, many times, as I have been called to account for such.
    The lost don’t care nor count unlikely, liberal, moderate, or confessional. The count, listen, & take, what you are publically willing to speak, stand by, defend, and give Confession to, not in generalites, but in great specifics. The lost I know, tend to be more knowledgable, about the term “Lutheran” and all it stands, believes, worships, partakes & defends, of/for.
    John, I’m a great dancer, but in this, no one is that good.

    If I can’t ask, put a question specifically to another of my Denom, and receive a specific answer…what does that say of that person who is lost but watching? I point not only Lutherans to BJS, & the articles I post on, but others as well. They take special care, of the ones they know me to have posted on or forward. I say nothing here, no less or more, than I do to them in private. The fact you are still avoiding your Denom or lack of, to which you hold, stand, & defend, detracts from anything you say, let alone whatever it is you believe, hold, defend or attend. All they know, is your are willing to engage others, w/o defending your own belief & posts.
    That’s the odd thing about blogs & sites, not everyone who views it, actually visits, let alone posts, that requires great courage, to say the least. These can be forwarded, sent, or chosen for Facebook, beyond, this country mind you, they can fly far this outside, BJS, and they/us question your motives, actions, intents, & affiliations & beliefs, what is it the lost, which we all try to reach take away from your lack of stand, answer or that which you hold so highly?
    They are most bold in stating their stand, why are you not willing to take yours? We are to be bolder than the lost, not more cagey or fearfully hidden. Let alone, follow the pattern of those we try to sow seeds for Christ with. What is it, you lacking, says or what is it you would say to them? Not just here, John, but to those across the Pond. Many see this too.

  16. John,

    You wrote, “So, when I commune, I am not affirming their teachings…”

    Yes, you are.

    TW

  17. John,
    What Todd said is true,
    if you kneel, then you deal. You deal, affirm, accept, and defend, by action, by your own action in the doing, to what you choose to partake, the teachings & Doctrines of where you choose to partake, and thus deny what you privately accept. Absolute Truth, no, this is not possible. Relative truth, that is the only way possible, in this action.
    Relative or absolute Truth, that is the question. How odd, that to be or not to be, isn’t anymore.

  18. Dutch – we are called to be unified in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. And, that is the context for the Scripture passages that have been referenced in this conversation. People who affiliate with denominations are members of the Una Sancta. We need organized church as a place where we may be affirmed in our faith and a place where, together, we can do Kingdom work. But, to equate organized church with the Una Sancta is an error. And, to use Scripture passages that reference unity within the Una Sancta as the rationale for promoting unity within denominations at the expense of unity within the Una Sancta is a greater error.

    I have been very forthright about what I believe. I also have been very candid in expressing the reasons why I believe that – provided my affiliation affirms me in the faith that I expressed as an Evangelical Lutheran – the notion of “outward confession” is a meaningless construct.

    Would that we all could be more candid. You may not realize it because you are a member of a WELS congregation. But, trust me, the gnesio-lutherans within LCMS have a well-established reputation for being “witch-hunters” and bearing false witness against their neighbors when they do so. I guarantee you that, if “ulikely john” is an LCMS pastor, people will be looking for him and, when he is outed, he and/or his congregation will be referenced in a document like this one: http://acelc.net/userFiles/2001/acelc_evidence_of_errors_-_holy_communion.pdf.

    We are called to be one in the body of Christ. Behavior that promotes division is contrary to God’s will. It is sinful. Punkt! Absatz!

  19. John,

    You wrote, “We are called to be one in the body of Christ. Behavior that promotes division is contrary to God’s will.”

    Agreed. So why are you engaging in that behavior by communing with those who deny the Scripture’s teaching on the Sacrament?

    TW

  20. Having read this thread now for some days, I feel compelled to make some comments. But first, let me introduce myself. I am member of a German Lutheran “Landeskirche” (something like the state churches like in Skandinavia, but not quite) which is part of the Lutheran World Federation and the Ecumenical Council of Churches. So, technically, I belong to a liberal church. (And English is not my first language.) Having studied theology I am now a librarian managing a theological library.

    John has stated that he has communed in a Roman Catholic church. He was not and he is not allowed to do so, because Rome forbids communion to anyone not in agreement with the Roman Church. Roman Catholics altars are only for Roman Catholic christians. The Eastern Orthodox churches teach the same, and so does the Lutheran Church – it is the teaching of the christian church of all ages that only those are allowed to commune when and if all participants are in fellowship, because communion is a public statement of this fellowship. The book of Elert has been mentioned earlier in this thread which is very helpful to gain a perspective of the practice of the early church of the first centuries. John may continue to ignore this statement that communion is an expression of fellowship, but he none the less wrong.

    John has also stated that he communed in an episcopalian church and that he believes that he received the body and blood of our Lord. He most probably did not, if this episcopalian church stood to its calvinistic confession. While he is right that neither our unbelieve nor the unworthiness of the minister distributing the sacrament negates or hinders the destribution of the real body and blood, this not the only thing our confessions have to say. They explicitly state: If a church by its public confession denies the teaching of scripture in regard to the Holy Supper, then is distributes only bread and wine, nothing else, Christ is not there, because by their public confession they deny that which they cite by merly “babbling” the words of institution at the beginning of the communion. We see that not only the confession of the individual is important (as John seems to believe), the public confession of a church is important, too, as many (e. g. Todd Wilken) have already stated. The relevant article is FC SD VII, 32, which is a citation of Luther, who confesses that our unbelieve does not hinder the work of the Lord in the sacrament, but then goes and states that disbobedience against the command of the Lord does!

  21. Lanx – Luther also makes it abundantly clear that the Sacrament is the Sacrament because of what God does – not because of what the celebrant does.

    To suggest that I did not receive Christ’s body and blood – and the promises that Christ offers in His body and blood – when I communed in an Episcopalian church is to deny that the Holy Spirit is at work in Word and Sacrament when Episcopalian’s worship. And, that would, in effect, suggest that you think Episcopalians are outside the Una Sancta. I reject both propositions.

    And, it seems to me that the relevant “command of the Lord” is “take eat…take drink”.

  22. John :
    Lanx – Luther also makes it abundantly clear that the Sacrament is the Sacrament because of what God does – not because of what the celebrant does.
    To suggest that I did not receive Christ’s body and blood – and the promises that Christ offers in His body and blood – when I communed in an Episcopalian church is to deny that the Holy Spirit is at work in Word and Sacrament when Episcopalian’s worship. And, that would, in effect, suggest that you think Episcopalians are outside the Una Sancta. I reject both propositions.
    And, it seems to me that the relevant “command of the Lord” is “take eat…take drink”.

    You are wrong; you do not even consider what I have written. To quote Luther in your favor when I have just shown you that Luther is against you is either ignorant or malicious.

    Consider this statement (FC SD VII, 32):

    After this protestation, Doctor Luther, of blessed memory, presents, among other articles, this also: In the same manner I also speak and confess (he says) concerning the Sacrament of the Altar, that there the body and blood of Christ are in truth orally eaten and drunk in the bread and wine, even though the priests [ministers] who administer it [the Lord’s Supper], or those who receive it, should not believe or otherwise misuse it. For it does not depend upon the faith or unbelief of men, but upon God’s Word and ordinance, unless they first change God’s Word and ordinance and interpret it otherwise, as the enemies of the Sacrament do at the present day, who, of course, have nothing but bread and wine; for they also do not have the words and appointed ordinance of God, but have perverted and changed them according to their own [false] notion. Fol. 245.

  23. Todd Wilken :
    John,
    You wrote, “So, when I commune, I am not affirming their teachings…”
    Yes, you are.
    TW

    Amen.

    Thanks to Todd and too Lanx for his quote from PC SD VII, 32. I want to at every opportunity strengthen my faith and those around me; we want to build up the church in communing under and around a common confession. To maliciously weaken the faith of others in communion or my own by communing with people who do not share the same faith is dangerous.

  24. Perry Lund,
    You are such a joy & blessing to see here!
    Thank you bunches for your post in #274, ya know I look for em.
    Blessings,
    Dutch

  25. Lanx :For it does not depend upon the faith or unbelief of men, but upon God’s Word and ordinance, unless they first change God’s Word and ordinance and interpret it otherwise, as the enemies of the Sacrament do at the present day, who, of course, have nothing but bread and wine; for they also do not have the words and appointed ordinance of God, but have perverted and changed them according to their own [false] notion. Fol. 245.

    Neither ignorant or malicious. Just reflecting on the fact that practically the same liturgy (except for the chimes) and the same words of institution are spoken in Lutheran, Episcopalian and Catholic churches. Thus, I am having great difficulty understanding how Luther’s admonition applies.

  26. John,

    You wrote, “Todd – one in the confessional Lutheran movement and one in the Body of Christ are not synonymous.”

    I didn’t say they are.

    I am saying that by communing with Episcopalians and Roman Catholics (both of whom explicitly teach things condemned by the Lutheran Confessions) you are affirming their errors and seriously undermining your claim of fidelity to the Lutheran Confessions —whether you intend to or not.

    TW

  27. @Perry Lund #274
    Perry – I feel very much the same way. I think it is malicious to deny the Sacrament to anyone who professes “faith in these words”. I think it is malicious to imply that the Holy Spirit is not at work in Christian congregations other than those whose teachings we “approve”. I think it is dangerous to faith when we confuse faith with certitude in our own understanding of “pure doctrine”. I also think we make it very difficult for unbelievers to hear the Gospel and to hear the message of justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ when we erect barriers like “pure doctrine”.

  28. @Lanx #273

    Lanx,

    Thank you for your posts and for the excellent quote from the Solid Declaration.

    I think a point of interest for all reading is the following from “Article XII of the Formula of Concord: Of Other Heretics and Sects.”

    From the very beginning of the Reformation, and especially at Augsburg, 1530, Eck and other Romanists had either identified the Lutherans with the Anabaptists and other sects, or had, at least, held them responsible for their origin and growth. Both charges are denied by the Formula ofConcord.For here we read:”However, lest there be silently ascribed to us the condemned errors of the above enumerated factions and sects [“of which evil the papistic tyranny, which persecutes the pure doctrine is the chief cause”], 8] -which as is the nature of such spirits, for the most part, secretly stole in at localities, and especially at a time when no place or room was given to the pure Word of the holy Gospel, but all its sincere teachers and confessors were persecuted, and the deep darkness of the Papacy still prevailed, and poor simple men who could not help but feel the manifest idolatry and false faith of the Papacy, in their simplicity, alas! embraced whatever was called the Gospel, and was not papistic,-we could not forbear testifying also against them publicly, before all Christendom, that we have neither part nor fellowship with their errors, be they many or few, but reject and condemn them, one and all, as wrong and heretical, and contrary to the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles, and to our Christian Augsburg Confession, well grounded in God’s Word. ” (emphasis mine)

    Our Lutheran fathers not only rejected and condemned the false teachings of those who refused to teach the truth of the real presence and both kinds of the sacrament, but they also refused to have any part with them or fellowship with them; which would include not taking the Lord’s Supper with those subscribing to false doctrine.

  29. @Jim Pierce #280

    I would like to add a Luther quotation written in the same vein as the quote I provide above:

    I regard them all as being cut from the same piece of cloth, as indeed they are. For they do not want to believe that the Lord’s bread in the Supper is his true, natural body which the godless person or Judas receives orally just as well as St. Peter and all the saints. Whoever (I say) does not want to believe that, let him not trouble me with letters, writings, or words and let him not expect to have fellowship with me. This is final. —Martin Luther, Brief Confession of Christ’s Supper (1544), as cited on p. 149 of The Lord’s Supper by John R. Stephenson

  30. Jim Pierce :
    @Jim Pierce #280
    I would like to add a Luther quotation written in the same vein as the quote I provide above:

    I regard them all as being cut from the same piece of cloth, as indeed they are. For they do not want to believe that the Lord’s bread in the Supper is his true, natural body which the godless person or Judas receives orally just as well as St. Peter and all the saints. Whoever (I say) does not want to believe that, let him not trouble me with letters, writings, or words and let him not expect to have fellowship with me. This is final. —Martin Luther, Brief Confession of Christ’s Supper (1544), as cited on p. 149 of The Lord’s Supper by John R. Stephenson

    Jim, this is not only a mere quote from Luther, it is also a part of our confessions, since exactly this snipped is quoted in FC SD VII, 33.

  31. Todd Wilken :
    @John #278
    John,
    You obviously believe “pure doctrine” is a bad thing. You prefer “impure doctrine”?
    TW

    Close, but no cigar, Todd. I believe that each of us is a sinner. Because of sin, none of us is able to discern without considerable error. You cannot know “pure doctrine” any better than I. We hold the Symbols to be faithful and true. Yet, when we cite them – as many have done in this exchange to “prove” me wrong – it is not the Symbols speaking, but your interpretation of the Symbols. I have not tried to “prove” anyone wrong – just express my confession and how my confession relates to the Symbols – and that, also, is not the Symbols speaking but my interpretation of the Symbols. If, in all of this, there is a single point of agreement, it is this – you and I are both wrong. If it were a multiple choice test, the correct answer is “none of the above” because it is beyond the capacity of any sinner, no matter how saintly, to know.

    The best that we can do is hold to our shared belief that Scripture is the inspired Word of God; that the historical creeds are the best that we can do to understand God and how God works in our lives; and, that the Symbols are faithful and true. The reality is that even that confession leaves many questions open and, because they are open, they will remain open at least until the Parousia. For me, the only closed questions for which I have answers are: Scripture is God’s inspired Word. I am a sinner, a lost and condemned creature. God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is my God. God is at work in me through His creative, redemptive and sanctifying power. God works in me through Word and Sacrament. Each of us is created in God’s image and God loves each of us, without reservation. I am justified by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.

    That brings us back to the blog that started all of this. The doctrine of justification ought to bind Lutherans together. It doesn’t. Justification can’t bind us together as long as some folks behave as though “pure doctrine” is a pre-requisite to receive it.

    We are called to be one in the Body of Christ. That objective, like the objective of “pure doctrine”, is not attainable and for the same reason – we are sinners. From my flawed perspective, unity is the higher calling. “Pure doctrine” is helpful when it serves the Una Sancta. The confessional movement’s understanding of “pure doctrine” only serves gnesio-Lutherans and, is therefore, divisive and works against our calling to be one in the Body of Christ.

  32. Jim & Todd & Lanx,
    Great posts!!!

    Jim, W.C. book is awesome! Quite the Confession of Faith, as are all in W.C.
    Not the loo, the book. lol

  33. John,

    By your reasoning: Since a pure moral life is also unattainable. So, why try?

    By your reasoning, Since pure faithfulness to my wife and children is unattainable, why try? I should seek “unity” instead –with whomever will welcome me into their bed. It’s a higher calling, you know.

    This is what your confirmation pastor taught you?

    TW

  34. And, you wrote, “You cannot know “pure doctrine” any better than I.”

    How do you “know” this?

    Aren’t you claiming to “know” this doctrine purely, namely, that no one can know pure doctrine?

    How do you know that your “no one can know pure doctrine” doctrine is true??

    TW

  35. I prefer the words of our Confession and those of Francis Pieper over John’s…

    We speak of the unity in the faith as it is to be created according to God’s will. And this is the agreement not merely in several articles of Christian doctrine but in all articles.

    Thus the Lutheran Church understood the unity in the faith willed by God. It defined “the true unity of the Christian church” in Article VII of the Augsburg Confession thus: “that there unanimously, according to a pure understanding, the Gospel is preached and the holy sacraments purely administered according to the Gospel” [AC VII 1]. The Lutheran Church confesses in the Formula of Concord, Article X: “We believe, teach, and confess that no church should condemn another because it has fewer or more external ceremonies not commanded by God, as long as there is mutual agreement in doctrine and all its articles, as well as in the right use of the holy sacrament” (FC Ep X 7). Here our Church declares that by “correct unity” it understands agreement “in the doctrine and all articles of the same,” not merely in some of the same. At the conclusion of Article XI of the Formula of Concord, our Church asserts that it has a true desire and love for unity and strives for it, but it must be [real] unity: “We desire such harmony as will not violate God’s honor, that will not detract anything from the divine truth of the holy Gospel, that will not give place to the smallest of error” (FC SD XI 96).

    Francis Pieper; quoted from At Home in the House of My Fathers by Pr. Matthew C. Harrison, p. 574.

  36. @Jim Pierce #287

    Jim,

    You’re right, of course. But in John’s case, you’re probably wasting your breath (or bandwidth). John doesn’t seem to think that unity requires any agreement in doctrine… not even in the chief doctrine (as proven by his willingness to commune at a Roman Catholic church).

    TW

  37. @Todd Wilken #288

    Indeed, and he apparently denies that we can know “pure doctrine;” which, of course, is a universal statement applying to justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ, too. “Progressive theology” (aka liberal theology) is ultimately self-defeating and John has provided a good example of why that is true in this thread.

  38. Todd Wilken :
    By your reasoning, Since pure faithfulness to my wife and children is unattainable, why try?

    Todd – The pastors who instructed me taught that I am a sinner/saint. They taught me that “trying” has no place in the relationship that God has established with me. They taught me that God is faithful. They taught me to remember what God has done for us. They taught me that faithful living is my thanksgiving.

    Todd Wilken :
    How do you “know” this?

    From a plain reading of texts like Romans 11:33-36; 1 Corinthians 1:20-25; and, 1 Corinthians 1 Cor 2:11-16. Yes, we have been given God’s Spirit, but we are still earthen vessels. We cannot know God’s wisdom perfectly. I acknowledged that I can’t. And, I’m suggesting that you cannot claim that capacity and also hold to the doctrine of justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.

  39. John,

    You are swinging at straw men.

    Neither I nor anyone on this thread (which you seem to have clean out pretty thoroughly) have claimed to “know God’s wisdom perfectly.” We have claimed to know that God’s Word is clear, that there is such a thing as pure doctrine, and that the Lutheran Confessions express that pure doctrine purely.

    Moreover, the Lutheran Confessions themselves teach (as does Scripture) that pure doctrine must be maintained (SD, RULE, 14-15):

    Moreover, since for the preservation of pure doctrine and for thorough, permanent, godly unity in the Church it is necessary, not only that the pure, wholesome doctrine be rightly presented, but also that the opponents who teach otherwise be reproved, 1 Tim. 3 (2 Tim. 3:16); Titus 1:9, — for faithful shepherds, as Luther says, should do both, namely, feed or nourish the lambs and resist the wolves, so that the sheep may flee from strange voices, John 10:12, and may separate the precious from the vile, Jer. 15:19,

    Therefore we have thoroughly and clearly declared ourselves to one another, also regarding these matters, as follows: that a distinction should and must by all means be observed between unnecessary and useless wrangling, on the one hand, whereby the Church ought not to be disturbed, since it destroys more than it builds up, and necessary controversy, on the other hand, as, when such a controversy occurs as involves the articles of faith or the chief heads of the Christian doctrine, where for the defense of the truth the false opposite doctrine must be reproved.

    Really, your position, that pure doctrine cannot be known and that it is a sin (malicious was your word) to maintain it, is completely out of step with the Lutheran Confessions you claim to believe.

    TW

  40. @John #291

    Apparently you are unaware of Scriptures such as Luke 10:21-24. Had you been aware of such Scriptures, then you would know the scriptures you cite do not apply to the revealed Word of God. The Corinthians citations refer to the unregenerate and the Romans citation refers to the unfathomability of God’s nature and doesn’t refer to His will revealed to us in the Scriptures.

    The Scriptures do not support your view and both the Scriptures and our Lutheran confession are against your view. If you really do believe the truth of our Lutheran confessions you ought to concede the point over pure doctrine.

  41. Todd Wilken :
    Really, your position, that pure doctrine cannot be known and that it is a sin (malicious was your word) to maintain it, is completely out of step with the Lutheran Confessions you claim to believe.

    Actually, Todd, “malicious” was Lanx’s word. I just repeated in response to his use of that word.

    I have articulated – several times – the “pure doctrine” that is at the heart of the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. When I visit this website, when I read Gottesdienst or when I read the admonition, I hear a message that conditions God’s unconditional grace. I hear a message that confuses certitude with faith. I hear a message that confuses LCMS with the Body of Christ. I hear people who would declare sisters and brothers impenitent because they disagree with the message. I hear people who declare false witness against sisters and brothers for the sake of a self-serving political agenda. I hear people calling for unity, yet behaving divisively. I listen for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control and hear silence. I see pastors who are called and compensated to serve their respective congregations and, instead, commit some of their time to serving BJS, etc.

    In short, Todd, the confessional Lutheran movement lacks credibility as the keepers of pure doctrine because your behavior contradicts it.

  42. @John #294

    John,

    Actually, you wrote:

    I believe that each of us is a sinner. Because of sin, none of us is able to discern without considerable error. You cannot know “pure doctrine” any better than I. We hold the Symbols to be faithful and true. Yet, when we cite them … it is not the Symbols speaking, but your interpretation of the Symbols. …and that, also, is not the Symbols speaking but my interpretation of the Symbols. If, in all of this, there is a single point of agreement, it is this – you and I are both wrong. If it were a multiple choice test, the correct answer is “none of the above” because it is beyond the capacity of any sinner, no matter how saintly, to know. The best that we can do is hold to our shared belief that Scripture is the inspired Word of God; that the historical creeds are the best that we can do

    You are saying (contrary to Scripture and the Confessions) that we can’t know or have pure doctrine.

    The Confessions never treat the historic creeds as “the best we can do.” On the contrary, they treat them as:

    …the true Christian doctrine, in a pure, sound sense… collected from God’s Word into brief articles or chapters against the corruption of heretics… glorious confessions of the faith, brief, devout, and founded upon God’s Word… (SD, 2)

    I can’t think of anything more divisive than your kind of doctrinal relativism.

    TW

  43. Hi Todd,
    Just as an aside here. John hasn’t spooked, cleared anyone off this post. For my part, I have an easier time, bringing this type up at full on/full contact family gatherings. I don’t there, I won’t here. It bears no good fruit, it causes only discord, and if I won’t do this with my own family, why would I do it here with John at BJS?

    John, is content, in doing what he’s doing, you & Jim, are the best to retort his musings. That is all they really are, musings…w/ammo. Many are watching, just not posting. He has made his choices, his stand, his words.
    We are all still watching, just not willing to be fruitless with our time or intents.
    You & Jim, can do what we cannot.
    Kudos & many thanks to ya both, & a blessed Thanksgiving if I lack the ops,
    Dutch

  44. @John #294

    John, I have a (hypothetical – sorry about that) question for you.

    Presume a potential pastor will allow you to commune based on your stated beliefs and without regard to your church body affiliation.

    What would your position be if you knew many of your potential fellow individual communicants object to communing with you based only on your church affiliation? Do you attempt to witness to them, and what is your forum for doing that?

    I would ask you to not respond to me if you don’t wish to answer my question; if you don’t wish to go along with the required presumptions. I am not going to debate those.

    Thank you.

  45. @Todd Wilken #295
    Todd – please note that in my post, which you quoted, I noted that we hold the Symbols to be faithful and true – a statement that is consistent with the SD cite. And, that really is the “best that we can do”.

    I also noted that we are not talking about what both you and I agree is the faithful and true doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. We are disagreeing about the qualifications that you and others in the confessional Lutheran movement are trying to add to (and, thereby, subtract from) the historic confessions.

  46. mbw :What would your position be if you knew many of your potential fellow individual communicants object to communing with you based only on your church affiliation? Do you attempt to witness to them, and what is your forum for doing that?

    MBW – in all honesty, I have a difficult time imagining an LCMS congregation that would fit the scenario that you described. But, if I were aware of such a congregation, I would respect the fact that I’m not welcome to worship there and would worship elsewhere. I would not want to be a wedge between the pastor and the people whom he is called to shepherd.

    I once was a member of an LCMS congregation (even served for a while as chairman of the Board of Elders) in which, were the same pastor serving and were I a visitor next Sunday, I would be welcome to commune. I would enter the church and read a brief statement in the bulletin regarding “close communion” – would have a brief conversation with either the pastor or a duty elder indicating my desire to commune and confessing my “faith in these words” – and my communing would be a non-issue.

    The vast majority of the congregation concurred with that practice. Two families did not. One of those families assumed the personal “responsibility” of regularly reporting our pastor’s “errors” to the circuit counselor and district president. That behavior was not healthy for our congregation, for the pastor, for the members and not healthy for the family engaged in that behavior. When I see documents like the ACELC’s “admonition” I am reminded of that experience.

    God loves each of us unconditionally. Behavior which seeks to reserve God’s grace for only those who, by virtue of their commitment to “pure doctrine”, are worthy to receive it, is destructive. Worse, it bears false witness to the Gospel and to the doctrine of justification, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.

  47. @John #298

    John,

    You wrote:

    we are not talking about what both you and I agree is the faithful and true doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. We are disagreeing about the qualifications that you and others in the confessional Lutheran movement are trying to add to (and, thereby, subtract from) the historic confessions.

    No. I am talking about your doctrinal relativism.

    I and others have already shown you several times that by communing with the Roman Catholics and Episcopalians, you are joining in their error and their rejection of the Lutheran Confessions. You are accepting their errors… the very opposite of what the Lutheran Confessions intend to do.

    From your persistent refusal to recognize this I can only conclude that you have made your own conscience and desire for unity a higher authority than both the Confessions and Scripture. You have said, in effect, “I know what the Scriptures and Confessions say, and I know that the Roman Catholics and Episcopalians reject what them, but I don’t care. I want to commune with Roman Catholics and Episcopalians.”

    TW

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.