Bred Lutheran

(Editor’s note: This is a new column that will introduce to us those who were not born Lutheran but have been bred so in the rich Gospel soil of such gifts as Issues, Etc. Look for a new post in this column every 2-3 weeks.)

I enjoy a good beer. I enjoy a good brat. In fact I have enjoyed both for a long time, a time that reaches back well beyond my Lutheran identity. I am one of the lucky ones, I was bred Lutheran.


I was bred Lutheran not born. I am late to the feast; an eleventh hour worker in the vineyard. I was not baptized as an infant; it took 36 years for me to be grafted into my eternal family. I was fortunate enough to see my own children baptized next to me at a simple font with plain water and Divine words by a called servant of God, Himself. I did not have the benefit of faithful, faith-filled, parents to instruct me at home and to get me to catechism class on time. I have no catechism verse to call my own and, so, often feel a bit less Lutheran than my peers. I console myself in the knowledge that our church father Martin himself was not born Lutheran. He had to discover the truth of faith by grace alone later in life after suffering a tormented youth, a domineering father, and an idol of an all powerful, all demanding, insatiable God. He was born “Roman”.


Why am I so lucky?


Until I heard the clearly divided Word of God, His Law AND His Gospel, here in this humble Lutheran church, I was a heathen. Until I found myself sitting next to other sinners in need of a Savior, I was a pagan. Until I saw Christ’s death on a cross, for me, I was lost. But now I am found and have been bred into a competent Lutheran. I may use the wrong words from time to time in explaining a theological subtlety, but I have truly grown to love the liturgy, have read Walther, have belly laughed at the frank directness of Luther, and rest my life on the promises of Christ. I have been found and given an eternal home through the faith that is so clearly expressed and confessed in our Lutheran understanding of God’s own Word. I knew only darkness, but now there is Light.


Some born Lutheran sometimes fall into a darkening trap of familiarity. They exchange the Gospel’s comfort for worldly activity. They know they are saved. They know they don’t have to earn their salvation. Yet some grow to take the gift for granted. The temptation to look inward not upward for purpose and direction is easily mistaken for good works. Some even confuse mission for message. As one brought into the light, it can sometimes be easier to remember that which we must not take for granted, the gift of salvation bought at a price; a gift bought by Someone else’s blood and yet given freely. We know what it is to live without that precious gift.


I thank my God that he condescends to meet us here in simple words and simple elements. The faith we share is a simple faith. I thank my God that he gives us faithful preachers and proclamation, like Issues Etc., where we can continue to grow in our understanding of this simple faith. It is taught, preached and confessed by those both born, and bred, Lutheran. In days to come we will meet other “Bred Lutherans” and reflect on the grace lavished on poor miserable sinners, “of whom I am chief.”


Russell Davies

Grace Lutheran Church

Columbus, Indiana


About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Bred Lutheran — 9 Comments

  1. Russell,

    I want to thank you for these words. They mean a lot to me also as one who has come to Confessional Lutheranism later…mine by way of marriage. Yeah, I got my wife too in the bargain!! Ya can’t beat that!

    “Why am I so lucky”, indeed…


  2. Allen, I’m glad we both have been brought into the true body of Christ. Sounds like you received a two-fold blessing. We joke around our house about a similar “two-fer”. When my wife was baptised she was six months pregnant with our daughter. Surely that should have counted as a two for one as well.

    Peace be with you.


  3. I, too, am bred Lutheran and in some ways I feel closer to being what Martin Luther had in mind for a Christian when he read the Scriptures than some of my friends who are in families that have been Lutheran for generations. I may feel closer, yet not superior, for I know I have also come to the party late. I was late because I had been invited to so many other parties that had some cheap party favors to offer, but no real attendance gifts. It is the gifts given by Christ, expressed in the Lutheran doctrine and practice that made me realize how empty those other parties had been. Now I am a party animal and show up whenever I can to receive my gifts which just keep on giving. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. i am so glad I received His invitation and was led through the Christ, the open door.

  4. Talk about a harden heart, my conversion most likely took the longest for the Holy Spirit pierce. Thanks Russell for sharing your story. I can envision your daughter’s leap for joy at the font in the womb. Guess what guys, God choose us, but we get to say we choose to be Lutheran so we don’t have to explain to our children what happen to grand daddy’s church. I was surprised to find out LCMS Inc. is not a brand name.

  5. Perhaps the title of this topic should be “Adopted Lutheran” rather than “Bred Lutheran”. As I see it, to be born or to be bred basically means the same thing. It’s like flammable and inflammable both mean that the substance burns.

    I was adopted Lutheran. Before my wife and I were married, she, who had been raised Methodist, suggested we try the Lutheran church. Two weeks before we were married I began working in West Virginia. While there I attended St Paul’s. I liked it and after we were married in Pennsylvania and settled in West Virginia and we soon both became Lutherans. Last month we celebrated 44 years of marriage and being Lutheran.

    I think there is a difference between the Lutherans who were born into the faith 50 or 60 years ago, and those who are born into it today. In the past, I believe there was a deeper understanding of what it meant to be Lutheran, and the kids actually were taught and learned the correct doctrine. Today, I’m afraid that many that are born into the faith with little understanding of professing to be Lutheran. It’s just one of many and whatever is most comfortable is the church they seek, if any at all.

    In that regard, those who have adopted to become Lutheran today probably have a greater understanding of the doctrine and are more likely to adhere to the teachings than those who became Lutheran by birth.

    But as I used to say in my previous vocation, “the above may be correct, incorrect, or oversimplified.”

  6. The Lord’s blessings to you Rev. Kusko. Initially I thought the same as you, and adopted fits well. But I came to realize that “Bred Lutheran” highlights the sad fact that Gayle and yourself elude, that not all who are Born Lutheran are Bred Lutheran. I have had life long Lutheran say, “like or not …” followed by a proud boost of their family’s long history and noted contributions in the LCMS Inc., as if it gives the authority of God’s Word. Being born and bred is a good thing. I pray that our children are daily bred and led to the foot of the cross of our Crucified and Risen Lord.

  7. Russell,

    That is excellent, not to mention brilliant. Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading these regularly.

    We praise God for you and your family as a part of our larger church family and as a fellow member in the Holy Christian Church.

    (P.S. – I still could not get this site from the link in your e-mail, so I pasted them into Yahoo’s search engine and now have them.)

    Your friend, fellow Christian and fellow church member,


  8. Russell,

    Thank you for sharing these insights into your background; we work together and still there is much to learn about one another. I, too, am Bred Lutheran and am daily learning about this simple faith. I believe it is that simplicity that, ironically, makes it so difficult for some to accept. “Shouldn’t I be doing something?” or “That’s just too good to be true!” Well, our sinful human nature does indeed make it difficult at times to believe that we cannot do anything to free ourselves from our sinful condition. Hence, Confession and Absolution in the Divine Service is so very important. We must be reminded with great regularity of the fact that sin is not just what we do (as I was taught in my early years); but it is truly what we are, as Psalm 51 reminds us.

    Thank you again for this beautifully written post; it is a privilege to serve with you at Grace Lutheran Church, Columbus, Indiana.

    John W. Matthews, Jr.
    Director of Music and Organist

  9. I am a womb to tomb Lutheran. I was born into the faith. My father was an LCMS pastor for 40 years. It is with that that I am able, sadly, to own this: “Some born Lutheran sometimes fall into a darkening trap of familiarity. They exchange the Gospel’s comfort for worldly activity. They know they are saved. They know they don’t have to earn their salvation. Yet some grow to take the gift for granted. ” I actually have a term for that, I call them (myself) a “stand up, sit down Lutheran.” I knew when to stand up and when to sit down in the service. I can say the Apostles Creed at the drop of the hat. Lutheranism, in short, became an excercise in Rote Rehersal. I have had to work hard to become more intune with my Lutheran Heritage and my the wonderful Gracefilled message that is the Gospel and Lutheran Doctrine.

    It truly is a blessing.

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