Fides Qua and Fides Quae, by Klemet Preus

At the recent convention of the MNS district I listened carefully to the debate surrounding the question of whether or not a congregation should be welcomed into the synod which does not use the name Lutheran on its sign, its bulletins, its web site or its stationary.

Here’s how the prevailing argument was formed. “The Alley Church is a cutting edge church which is reaching people with the Gospel who have lost interest in the organized church. These young people, in their 20s and 30s, have been disillusioned with the church and with traditional expressions of Christianity. They do not respond to denominational labels or to the accoutrements of organized religion such as liturgy, pastors with robes, church buildings etc. We want to make them Christians without scaring them away by words such as ‘Lutheran.’ After all, it’s not essential to be Lutheran but you must be Christian. Let’s start by making them Christian and then we can teach them the Lutheran doctrine.”

Such reason seems to confuse the fides qua with the fides quae. What does this mean?

The expression fides qua means “the faith which believes.” Here faith is saving faith which receives and holds the riches of Christ’s atonement. He has won for us the favor of God through the merits of Christ. He gives this salvation to us through the word and sacrament and we grab it and hold it by faith. This faith is what the theologians call fides qua – the faith which believes. It’s the fides qua which makes you a Christian.

The fides quae is a short-hand way which theologians use to talk about, “the faith which is believed.” Here the word faith is like when the pastor says, “let us confess the faith in the words of the Apostles’ Creed.” The faith which is believed does not so much refer to the grasping quality of saving faith but to that which faith clings. Fides quae is THE faith. So we could say that Christians have faith in the faith. Although it is usually a bit less confusing to say that we have faith in the gospel.

Fides qua without fides quae is emotionalism with all sorts of heartfelt sentiments but no understanding of precisely what Jesus is all about. Fides quae without fides qua is heartless theological abstractions – what my father used to call “theological ivory – towerism” and logomachists.

Usually when someone says that they are a Christian they are referring to the fides qua. They are saying that they have faith in Christ and trust in Him for eternal life. That’s usually what I mean when I identify myself as a Christian. Maybe they are defining themselves in contrast to Buddhists or Jews but even then the contrast is not so much as to the content of the faith but it is a reference to the trust a Christian has and directs toward Jesus.

On the other hand, when someone says that they are Lutheran they are typically referring to the fides quae. They are not referring to their faith in Christ but to the content of their faith. They are referring to the gospel and all its articles as the Confessions of our faith teach. A person who calls himself a Lutheran is referring not so much to faith as he is to the faith. That’s usually what I mean when I call myself Lutheran. It is often in contrast to false churches or false confessions of the faith.

That’s why we typically would not say that people should be made Lutheran so that they can go to heaven. We say that people should be made Christians so that they can go to heaven. And we typically do not say that people should be made Christians so that they can join our congregations. We say that they should be made Lutherans. In fact, a 1983 document of the synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations notes that “Church fellowship (in the sense of external unity in the church) is constituted by agreement in the faith with is confessed (fides quae) and not by faith in the heart (fides qua).” [p. 14]

Someone might say, “I’m not Lutheran I’m Christian.” What does this expression mean? Such an assertion seems to be claiming that you can have the fides qua – the faith which believes – without the fides quae – the faith which is believed. It’s like there is saving faith without any confession of the faith. It’s like faith without the word or at least faith without a system of theology.

I am trying to think of a context in which the expression “I’m Christian not Lutheran” can mean something different than an apparent confusion of the fides qua and the fides quae. Perhaps my readers can provide a different interpretation.

Of course here in Minnesota there are countless cultural Lutherans for whom the name Lutheran means little more than someone who likes hot-dishes, eats Lutefisk during the Christmas season and wants to have church at a convenient time for baptisms and weddings. Are these the Lutheran from which The Alley wants to disassociate itself? That’s not the argument I heard for the last three months. I wish I had.

I fear that the reluctance of new congregations to use the name Lutheran – and these are cropping up all over the place – are not simply reflective of a new outreach strategy. Rather they seem to be a desire to have faith without THE faith, to be committed without any serious doctrinal content, to want the fides qua without the fides quae.

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.

Comments

Fides Qua and Fides Quae, by Klemet Preus — 18 Comments

  1. Most excellent, Klement.

    I have been pointing out for years a parallel problem with the vast majority of those who want to play or hear “contemporary music” in the Divine Service. As I have worked with such musicians and talked with those parishioners I have noted consistently that they are all about expressing the fides qua and think music is for that purpose. I think that’s really what the ‘praise movement’ is all about, and why the texts of almost all the songs in the ‘contemporary worship’ repertoire lean in that direction. By contrast, the great chorales and most of the appointed liturgical texts from Scripture sing the fides quae. In plainer English, pop praise sings about saving faith, traditional Lutheran music sings of the faith by which we are saved. And the sturdy, objective character of our music just doesn’t “move” those who just want to sing about “the faith within their heart”. They want to sing about the faith they have (fides qua), not the faith by which we are saved (fides quae).

    Now certainly there is room for fides qua expressions in hymnody. Great hymn writers like Gerhardt do a great job of incorporating the subjective exerpience alongside the objective truth extolled and confessed in our hymnody. Faith moves us to sing and it is salutary to extol one’s heartfelt adoration of our Lord. But the music of fides qua alone can’t sing faith into other people’s hearts, because it doesn’t “sing the story of God’s love and proclaim His faithfulness.” (Ps. 89:1) So its use for corporate worship is especially limited because it doesn’t allow us to “address one another” and build each other up as Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16 instruct us to do with our music.

    I have found it helpful in the Lord’s ministry to encourage people to use THE as much as possible instead of MY when they talk about expressing faith. Sure, it’s not wrong to sing a simple song of praise. There’s certainly room for Psalm 150 expressions in the church. But we have a whole psalter of faith to sing about, and the riches of God’s grace far surpass our own personal experiences of it, however inspiring they may be at times.

  2. I find bait-and-switch tactics to be dishonest. “Let’s just get them in, then we’ll make them Lutheran sometime later”

    Either it’s dishonest to the people who join your church – to seem to offer one thing, but really wanting to offer another.

    Or else it’s dishonest to ourselves, in that the “switch” part never happens because we’re continue to be concerned with “baiting” new people.

  3. Hm…. Naming goes through trends. Just look at what people do to kids’ names now, especially girls’ names (Kayle, Kylie, Kayden, Kaelie, Kylea, Keesha, Kenechra, Mikaela, Makaela, etc., you get the point.) Whatever happened to Jane, Jill, and Jennifer? Well, those were one-size-fits- all names that the GI generation (“yes, sir!”) picked out with great joy and confidence in their newly minted pre-fab world.

    Same holds true for companies. General Electric doesn’t grip our imaginations. General Motors is bankrupt. But look at Verizon (what does that mean anyway?) and Thrivent. We are told, with no shame and reluctance, that branding is important for the emotional impact the brand evokes because emotions are far more important to sales than reason. OK…

    Same holds true for church names. We were shell-shocked from government enforced unionism, so what did we do when we got off the boat in the new world? We named our churches “Zion Lutheran Church,” most conspicuously not “Zion Evangelical Church,” howbeit, Ed Veith reminds us that we first spoke of ourselves as “evangelicals.”

    “Zion,”…it evokes a kind of feste Burg image. Zion, high and mighty, hard to assail, not Still Waters Lutheran Church, not Green Pastures Lutheran Church, not Sheepfold Lutheran Church, not Lord’s Banquet Lutheran Church, Zion, and by George, you unionists keep your filthy, scumbag doctrine and practice away from here or we’ll blow you to smithereens.

    Look at the names of our LCMS congregations in the Lutheran Annual. Look at the founding dates. I think you will find a correspondence between naming and founding dates. As we established new congregations in new suburbs in the ‘Fifties next to new shopping malls (Mondale, Roy-and-Dale, Chip’n Dale, and all your other fine shopping centers), we named our church buildings, “Beautiful Savior,” “Blessed Savior,” and “Good Shepherd.” A few years later, we named our spaces, “Lamb of God,” “Prince of Peace,” and “King of Kings,” …something a little more egalitarian about those three sylables that have the same auditory weight.

    And so it goes. I expect to see a lot more variants on The Alley in the near future, indeed, I expect to see made-up words that are evokative of a feeling, perhaps tweeted names, and on and on. Should we begin to be persecuted (and I do anticipate this), we may drop names altogether and go to code, eg., she who is in Babylon.

    All that said, I lift my Bierstein with Klement Preus for fides quae with this caveat: If we’re going to seriously reach the millennial generation with faithfully Lutheran fides quae (and by the way, brothers, all of us who have been ordained into the gospel ministry are bound by oath to this mission), we are going to need more tools in our toolbag than we have had hitherto. We are going to need to be more deft, more clandestine. We are going to need to operate more like a commando raid or a smart mob than like a general infantry army.

    She who is in Babylon may want to set aside the name “Lutheran” precisely for the strategic advantage of quietly winning the fides quae war. How about names like, “shelter,” “cleft,” “banquet,” “feast,” “life jacket,” “med,” “cloud,” “hand,” “stauros,” “rest stop,” “drowned,” “alive,” “drowned alive” “153,” “eremos,” and on and on?

    – Leonard Payton,
    St. John, Brown’s Corners, Wisconsin

  4. IF they wanted to “make them Lutheran later” would they be tearing down the faith for the Lutherans who already have it, by pushing “Transforming Churches” on them?

  5. To be quite honest – the Alley will never teach them Lutheran anything. The cry as I hear it over and over is just make them christian. If they don’t believe in 6 day creation, no problem. If they are living together, no problem. If they don’t believe in hell, no problem. If they don’t believe in original sin, no problem. If they don’t believe in the body and blood of Jesus Christ in communion, no problem. If they don’t believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sin, because after all they no longer have that problem, no problem. They are after all using Jesus as their example in living their lives. They are christian. No problem.

    Now, Judgment Day – that’s going to be a problem.

  6. I think the “Get them to be Christian(fides qua) now and Lutheran(fides quae) later” concept is only useful for trying to convince someone that a church is Lutheran and not truly as a bridge to Lutheranism. I don’t think the people that a church hopes to bring in with this tactic are being deceived. If anyone is deceived it is those to whom such a line is fed and the churches that actually believe it is true.

    When you have an increasing number of members who are not Lutherans but only Christians how do think voting assemblies are going to lean? Will they go toward the pop evangelicalism with which they are familiar or the confessional Lutheranism that they were told about once or twice but never saw implemented? This is how congregations drift further and further from the Confessions. When congregations only hope for Christian and not Lutheran members it should be no wonder that there is a lack on unity in the synod.

  7. Christian first, Lutheran later? Huh? I don’t know whether the heavy tool — the distinction between fides qua and fides quae — is needed to explain this one. In other words, let’s not overanalyze this and give credit where no credit is due.

    Perhaps it’s simply this: there is something “all Christians” can agree on. And then there’s something each denomination has as its own specialty; and because it’s their specialty (“their own thing”), not everyone who claims to be Christian needs to believe that. That’s classic American denominationalism: All the different Protestant confessions are, in the essential points, interchangeable; in the non-essentials — where we ought to practice charity anyway, right? — there is a disagreement that doesn’t really matter.

    The classic Fundamentalists of a century ago thought they needed to agree on five fundamental beliefs (look them up online yourself) to consider each other “really Christian” (and, no, you Lutherans: neither sacramental Baptism nor sacramental Communion made the cut). In the modern Ecumenical movement, similar games are played — of course, the five fundamentals are not necessary in this liberal movement. Evangelicalism is an updated version of the old Fundamentalists: they require less “doctrinal substance” (ok: fides quae) yet; so long as you’re feeling reborn and believe that the Bible is God’s word (whatever that might mean to you and your parachurch group), you’re basically good to go.

    Pietistic-minded Lutherans in the 19th century (Schmucker and his associates) had similar ideas about how to bring about church union in America: the Augsburg Confession is binding only where it agrees with what the Methodists and Baptists believe; the rest is, as said above, a Lutheran specialty that Lutherans may yet believe (albeit better not too much) but can’t make binding upon “everybody else.”

    And isn’t the approach of our dear Anglican friend, C. S. Lewis, also kind of like this: there is “mere Christianity” (the basics “we all” agree on), the hallway; and then there are all these little rooms (the confessional particularities) branching off from that common hallway.

    I think this is the paradigm that the Alley & Co. are following. The problem is, of course, that that’s not Lutheran, and dare I say it: that’s not Christian! Lutheran ministers are not obliged to uphold the “Lutheran Confessions.” No, we’re not a sectarian club governed by the personal fancies of some dead dude by the name Martin Luther. Lutheran ministers are charged to abide by the Christian Book of Concord, as the fuller title of the 1580 collection of these statements of faith reads. In other words, these are the statements of the CHRISTIAN faith; the authors / confessors of these writings here speak for THE WHOLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH ON EARTH, not for some weird faith group that somehow also wants the right to proselytize in a democratically organized community where religious liberty prevails constitutionally.

    I throw another distinction in the discussion: the distinction between historical faith and saving faith. Now, as good Lutherans, we’ve learned that “historical faith” is pretty much dead in the pan; saving faith is what we’re going for! In other words, don’t just believe that XYZ happened as recorded in Scripture; believe that it happened “for you” and your eternal salvation. Of course, as Seminex taught us, the “just” in the previous sentence can quickly fall by the wayside: need not believe that XYZ really happened; just believe it happened for you and your salvation. (I think that’s a kind of Evangelicalism too: not just the “(gospel-)reductionism”, also the subjectivistic trust in the power of (my) faith, not in the power of actual objective events outside of myself: creation, redemption, fulfillment. Historically, it goes back, in the case of the Seminex guys, to Schleiermacher and then, in Lutheranism, the Erlangen School: v. Hofmann, Elert etc. one of whose desires and goals it was to proof Christianity against seemingly corrosive historical criticism: let’t take the historical component of Christianity out of the foundation altogether…)

    The Catholic apologists of the 16th century already saw that one coming (probably because historical faith is still their main thing, even today, to include also post-biblical dogmas the Church decreed), which is why Chemnitz, I forget where, reemphasizes that Lutherans don’t give up the historical faith. It is highly important to believe that what is taught in Scripture is, first of all, true, because only then, unless you are a credulous dope, can you believe that it is also true for you, saving you. Luther said that he who denied the historical fact that Abraham was circumcised would be damned, even if he believed in Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Now, that’s potent stuff. There’s certainly no idea of bartering with the evangelist knocking at your door: how much do I have to believe to get the benefit of your church’s neat childcare center and general fellowshippy atmosphere? That would be club-mentality: we make the rules; we decide ‘cos we’re in charge of this thing. Very unchurchly.

    Well, as always: you decide anyways.

  8. They should call themselves the Back Alley, as they have it all bassackwards.

    Seems to me that the point of the Lutheran confession and practice of the faith is that this IS the faith that makes Christians; this is what it means to be a Christian Church; to deny any of these articles is to part from Christianity.

    The Lutheran Confessors were not risking life, limb, and property to start a new church denomination. They were staking their life, limb, and property on those things that define what Christ’s Church is and is not.

    Here we stand. We can do no other.

  9. In reponse to #2,
    As one of those young folks that are constantly stereotyped, it’s probably worth it for me to say that if I was a victim of this “bait and switch” tactic, I’d be insulted. I’m young. Doesn’t mean I’m stupid.
    On another note, I visited The Alley this past Feb, and for all this talk about reaching the young folk, there sure were a lot of baby boomers there. That’s worth consideration.

  10. Great post, Klem, per usual! Yes, the church (the local congregation!) MUST simply do the hardest work in the world, namely, standing fast on God’s Word, faithfully teaching it without any apology whatsoever. We follow in good footsteps when we say “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (let the reader, if s/he does not know who said that, do some quick concordance work – hint: look for two notable men). Unfortunately, calling our fallen world to repentance is not the most winsome thing in the world, at least by the world’s definition of “winsome.” If we desire to be “winsome,” we must end up compromising with the world, for the world is always the definition of what it considers to be “winsome.” A consumer-driven church simply must conform – how else do you make the sale? God help us, there are many who are now “leaders” in denominations who believe that the “church” must be consumer-driven.

    The Lord Christ’s seven letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor (Rev. 2-3) is the perfect commentary on what the Lord expects for His Church as she is rubbing elbows with the culture du jour. He admonishes His beloved to do right. He calls His beloved to be faithful. We can do no other! We are, after all, the Bride of Christ! It’s our vocation! To do anything other than that is to step outside of and to deny our very vocation. (When a husband or wife steps out of his/her vocation, the Lord calls it “adultery.”) When O.T. Israel stepped out of her “vocation” and compromised with the culture and became consumer-driven, the Lord had the strongest kind of language for Israel.

    In fact, the very reason why it is so very difficult for the church to contact our culture and call it to repentance is, at least in very large part, b/c the culture has come to recognize that most of the churches are liars! They don’t trust us! They see preachers on TV, radio, etc. who are constantly trying to manipulate them! They are in contact with churches which are constantly trying to deceive them (“Come to our play so that we can give you a 20 minute “sermon”/harangue on why other churches are so bad and why we’re so good and why you need to give us money, your commitment, etc.”). It is precisely because of dishonest churches that it is becoming more and more difficult for others of us to call the culture to repentance! So, what do we do because of that? We do the same bait and switch.

    There is so MUCH wrong with this and with the thinking which goes along with it. What has happened to our spiritual leaders who used to remind us to keep our head and to be faithful and to trust God to care for us? . . .

  11. Holger #7,

    You ROCK, dude! 🙂 Seriously, great post. I would expect nothing less from you. Hope all is well with you and yours.

    In Christ,
    Tom

  12. Jonathan,
    You make a great observation.. As much as the inventors of contemporary worship claim to be “doin’ it for the kids,” it’s amazing how much they need to be looking in the mirror. They are the ones who feel attracted to the styles they create and they want to fashion trends int their own image.

    Fides quae always norms fides qua, especially when it comes to issues of praxis. Thanks be to God for such organizations as Higher Things who encourage youth and college age students to remain grounded in the Christ-centered liturgy which puts God’s Word literally on our tongues in the Sacrament, in our ears in preaching, in our mouths to speak back to God what He declares to us.

  13. “Those Christians who have their own personal commitment to the Christian faith will not misunderstand me when I say, ‘I am a Lutheran because I am a Christian.’ They will know that my strong commitment to the Christian faith leads me to the Lutheran confession of it because I see in such confession the true and appropriate expression of that faith.
    “The sentence ‘I am a Lutheran because I am a Christian’ asserts (1) that the Christian faith is clearly revealed, (2) that it can be grasped and understood, (3) that it can be accurately stated and taught, and (4) that this has been done in traditional Lutheranism….The big enemy of the true Christian faith is compromise, toleration, the spirit that we ALL are right–as if the important thing is not to be Lutheran but to be Christian without any denominational confession whatsoever.” (pp. 11,12)

    Henry Hamann, “On Being A Christian”, Northwest Publishing House, pp. 11,12.

    This should be required reading. Great stuff!

  14. I am not sure if you are making a big deal out of nothing or scratching an itch in the Body of Christ that just won’t go away (and that you might need to learn to live with).

    My questions in response to this post are more constructive in nature than theological:

    1) “What would you do to start a congregation that reaches into the lives of people on the edge of the church or without a living relationship with Jesus?”

    2) “What would you ask existing churches to do today to reach out to those outside the church today to invite them to know Jesus of Nazareth?”

    As a Lutheran pastor (who didn’t start out Lutheran) I am proud that we Lutherans have a great theological heritage that can and ought to inform our ministry; but I don’t honestly think that a person outside of the church will care about Luther or Melanthon or Chemnitz until they are committed to Jesus and to learning more about Him.

    The mid-western Lutheran Church (in all it various and sundry flavors, LCMS, ELCA, WELS, LCMC etc.) has emerged in the 21st century after 150+ years of proclaiming Jesus’ death and rising mostly to people who already have a relationship to the church (and an implied relationship to Jesus).

    So what about those souls outside the church?

    The fastest growing church affiliation in the United States is none. Do we care? It is not bait and switch for Lutherans to start churches that don’t identify themselves as Lutheran at the front door. People just meeting Jesus for the first time in scripture or in God’s Word proclaimed in a sermon will care about our theological interpretations of the Holy Scripture after they hear what matters most, the proclamation of Jesus’ cross and resurrection.

    Luther made a distinction between the milk of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the rich meat of the theologians. People outside the church need the milk of God’s law and gospel plain and simple. Once they are hooked on Christ their own curiousity will bring them deeper into the history and theology of the church. Trust me, it didn’t take long for me to start reading Luther.

    As a pastor I have a few moments when folks outside of the church or on the edge of the church come in to join in fellowship with us; the most profound conversations about faith come after funerals as people look and the body of the person they just lost and start to wonder out loud about God’s will for them and their lives.

    There are other times I see people come to the church from the outside: weddings, Sunday and Bible School, youth activities, and confirmation classes. They come when we open the door to let them in looking to talk about Jesus.

    thanks
    pax
    John, aka Unlikely.

  15. It is only bait and switch if the congregation is indeed orthodox and confessional in its Lutheran practice. Unfortunatley so many LCMS churches now, even with the label, do no longer reflect orthodox confessionalism not even in new forms. No make no mistake about it this is an effort to deconfessionalize our synod wheter one wants to agree or not. What is so ofensive about being labeled “Lutheran” if the moniker reflects the reality of its practice? If some are offended by the label perhaps they should examine what it is they truly believe and if as I suspect they are out of alignment with the confessions join another denomination. We must be honest about who we are and able to express exactly what and who we believe in. No amount of repackageing can replace integrity. MOST of this effort is in fact bait and switch and more properly belongs in the ELCA where they having been lying about thier “lutheranism” for decades.

  16. Here’s another paradigm that needs to be thrown into the discussion, and I wonder why no one who actually attended the convention has pointed that out yet, and that point is the notion of “radical Christians.”

    This notion was brought up in a presentation by Rev. Chris Dodge of St. Michael’s Lutheran, Bloomington, MN (still available at his congregation’s website: http://www.stmichaelsbloomington.org/multimedia.html (at the bottom under Bible Classes, scroll down the list to the bottom: Where is His-Story Going?, pt.s 1-3)). According to him, a radical Christian is a person who’s not just going to church and being a nominal Christian, but a person who believes in Christ’s atonement, the truth of the bible and who is fully committed to spreading the Christian faith. It seems to me: that’s basically what the Alley is supposed to be — fervently spread the gospel while unencumbered with doctrinal details.

    The presentation deserves careful scrutiny, for these reasons:
    1. According to Dodge, the conquest of East Jerusalem by Israeli troops in 1967 fulfills Luke 21:24, thus ending the times of the Gentiles, bringing us closer to the end of this world. — Christian Zionism hasn’t traditionally been the strong suit of the LCMS. But, I guess, so long as we’re radical Christians, this might be a thing we should pick up to get with the program.

    2. The 20th-century global Pentecostal revival, while some (!) abuses and false beliefs in the movement are conceded, is held up as a “phenomenal thing God is doing” in these last days. Especially post-1950 China is held up as the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit in history, even (or especially!) without the presence of trained missionaries (short-term mission trips also offered by an LCMS church near you …). — The reality about China is that its state-sponsored and state-coerced religion makes the Prussian union look totally harmless and benign, for in China there are no Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians; by the state’s repressive might, there’s only Protestants and Catholics.

    You’ve maybe heard about the negotiations between the Vatican and the Chinese government to bring the “official” Chinese Catholic church back in line with Vatican positions. Who’s the champion for Lutheranism in China? Not the LCMS, it seems.

    Apparently, we’ve forgotten the history of genuine Lutherans in Germany under repressive state might; apparently we now stand with Pietists who flourished under the Prussian kings because they didn’t divide the state by doctrinal squabbles, focusing instead narrowly on God’s wrath and love, and, additionally, did lots of social work without asking too many questions. So long as “the Spirit” produces “radical Christians” who are ready to march from China to Jerusalem to evangelize the Muslims, all must be good, and perhaps even an example for us here in the States. LCMS Lutherans had better not judge these different-looking and different-sounding fervent, devout, committed Christians by their own narrow rubrics.

    One wishes that here a distinguishing of the spirits (1 John 4) would take place big time!

    3. Based on Pastor Dodge’s analysis of the signs of the times that suggests that the “confluence” of signs is unique today, a three step program is offered: a. Unchained by God’s word; b. United with God’s people in small-group settings; c. Unleashed to share God’s word in the world. — Given the historical overview Dodge offered, it’s not surprising that under “united” no mention is made of shared doctrine or confession etc.; instead, personal relationship ought to be cultivated to hold us together.

    Even though he ridiculed “post-modernism” as requiring merely a sincerity of belief, whatever you believe, it seems that he here, following the “missional” radical-Christian paradigm (which is basically the above-mentioned Evangelicalism warmed over and applied to a global context), follows the same pattern: let’s be wholly committed — i.e., sincerely committed — to a basic set of bible beliefs and not condemn those who believe “more” than we do, so long as they do not “legalistically” require us to hold what they hold; instead, let’s get busy spreading those basic, radical beliefs that are apparently enough to get a person saved, and let’s do so with great holiness, sincerity, and fervor, keeping in mind that the Lord is nigh.

    I think this presentation captures and puts into context a lot. In other words, don’t get bogged down with The Alley; it’s only a symptom of a much larger shift driven by major, well-established congregations in the LCMS.

  17. On another note, I visited The Alley this past Feb, and for all this talk about reaching the young folk, there sure were a lot of baby boomers there. That’s worth consideration.

    Tut tut! They think they are “young folk”. The band’s playing their songs, isn’t it?

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