Great Stuff Found on the Web — What Happens When the Lutheran Confessions are Treated as a Museum Piece?

Another great post found on Cyberbrethren:

 


 

From Pastor Weedon:

“I would argue that when the documents comprising the Lutheran Confessions, the Christian Book of Concord, are no longer permitted to critique and challenge current teaching or practice; when instead our Church’s Confession is relegated to the museum as an interesting artifact of what was once the case, then we have lost the right to the name “Lutheran.” Whenever the Symbols are dismissed with “well, they can’t mean THAT because we DO that and we’re Lutherans after all,” their corrective voice has been silenced and stilled. Well, not really. Rather ignored and shouted down. The voice of our fathers still rings out and it still challenges what we believe, teach, confess and practice. So are you and your congregation and your Synod ready to hear the living critique which the Symbols would offer? Then there might be hope for the Churches of the Augsburg Confession yet. If not, then shut out the lights, folks, and move on. Or, at least be honest and change the name on the door…”

 

About Norm Fisher

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

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

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

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

Comments

Great Stuff Found on the Web — What Happens When the Lutheran Confessions are Treated as a Museum Piece? — 19 Comments

  1. The problem, of course, is not the name, which plenty are quite willing (even eager) to dispose of. They are not willing to give up the organization that currently bears the name. It really is all about structure and governance. Unfortunately there might even be a majority that would be perfectly happy to ditch the name, the Confessions and any historical reference that dates back more than 50 years as long as they get to keep the Missouri corporation. They will not give that up.

  2. Pastor Weedon,
    I certainly couldn’t say it any better. Thank you for getting the word out. Some time ago I saw a posting on Lutheran Forum online, where the pastor was trying to argue that the distinction between “quia” and “quatenus” is a thing of the past, and let’s get on with things in the 21st century! May it never be!! I am not so wide read, but I’m sure i could find some things I could agree with in the Heidelberg Catechism, the Westminster Confession, the Articles of Faith in the Book of Common Prayer, and even the verses in the Book of Mormon which were plagiarized from the King James Bible. Yet I could not subscribe to any of the above as a whole BECAUSE they are true as a whole. We need to remove the Book of Concord from its standing locked in a glass case in the library, and open it up to a whole new generation, not to mention to our other generations as well. I’m thankful it’s available online. The Book of Concord IS normed by Holy Scripture. As you know, we CAN with confidence subscribe to it BECAUSE it is true–not merely INSOFARAS. Thank you or posting the above. The world has enough pseudo-Lutheran church bodies. We don’t need one more.

  3. I’m very thankful to Pastor McCain and Concordia Publishing House for releasing the Reader’s Book of Concord so that laity like myself can understand it and see that it is not a museum piece.

  4. While I concur that the “Christian Book of Concord” should be viewed as a guide for Lutheran practice, I am far more concerned that our synod proudly point to the Scriptures as the guide and rule by which we practice our Lutheran faith. The Holy Bible is an eternally accurate document of love given by our heanvenly Father. The BOC is the interpretation of God’s Word as it was understood by the faithful and diligent men of a world that existed hundreds of years in the past.

    Thank you for your efforts to maintain the core of Lutheranism, but please do not reach first for the BOC for guidance, but instead reach first for the Word of God.

  5. @Sue Wilson #5
    Sue,

    One should always reach for the Scriptures first. The BOC is as always, to be considered a proper exposition of the Scriptures.

  6. And who interprets the Word of God for the laity? 100 readers of Scripture will have 100 different interpretations. We need the Book of Concord, written by amazing biblical scholars, to help us understand Scripture and how it shapes the doctrines of the church. Of course, the BOC doesn’t preempt Scripture, but who will argue with it being the proper explication and application of Scripture? Anyone who dissuades a Lutheran from using the BOC as a guide for Christian living and Church leadership has an ulterior motive. Yes, use the Bible first, but the BOC is also helpful, since it summarizes many points of Scripture for us…much like the creeds.

  7. @Sue Wilson #5
    “The BOC is the interpretation of God’s Word as it was understood by the faithful and diligent men of a world that existed hundreds of years in the past.”

    Sue:

    As the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God and the Book of Concord is not, you are correct. However, until it is proven to be in error, the BOC is the exposition of how we as Lutherans understand and interpret the Bible. It’s not some snapshot of a relevant understanding 500 years ago that is subject to subjective acceptance and application as times change. It is an explaimation of how the (unchanging) scriptures interpret the scripures. It shows how the simplest, clearest passages are normative over more obscure passages and how we understand and confess that where the scriptures remain silent, God has chosen not to reveal the answers to us and we must accept the mystery of those things. As such, it is en exttemely useful and necessary tool to be used in any discussion of Gods word so that we can mark and avoid the common errors and heresies that continue to recycle and plague God’s church.

    That’s my layman’s ubderstanding, anyway. I stand to be corrected as necessary.

    BTW, I was asked recently ny a friend why we Lutherans couldm’t just accept the Bible and why we needed another book to explain God; were we like Mormans? In trying to offer an explaination, I likened it to a FAQ list, telling him that it doesn’t do anything more that point out the scriptural answers to the questions. Is that a reasonable answer? Is there a better or simpler one I could have used? Just wondering…

    Eric

  8. Those who subscribe to the BOC conditionally use this Bible-vs-BoC argument rather effectively, so we need to be careful. The BoC does not “trump” scripture, and it sure is handy to have around. Builds faith.

    j

  9. I was a very active member of “Bible believing” churches for years. In Awana Clubs as a youth I won awards for scripture memory. I was involved in Wednesday night Bible studies and Saturday morning Bible studies all through high school. I worked in a “Christ centered” and “Bible believing” Evangelical Free Church for the better part of a decade. Interpretations of Scripture varied in these churches. There were all kinds of doctrinal conflicts because there was no “confessional standard” to which churches could ascribe. One pastor might have a different interpretation of a passage than another. You could have a 5-point Calvinist as a pastor or a semi-Pelagian pastor in churches like these as long as he was a “godly” man. You get my point.

    When I was finally, after an extended period, introduced to and embraced the Lutheran Confessions, I felt enormous clarity. I thought, “Wow! So, this is what the church believes, and has always believed as being taught in Holy Scripture.” And all those years of studying Scripture and memorizing it are still paying off, because I continue to be surprised over and over again by what the Lutheran Confessions tell me Scripture actually means. Thanks be to God for our confessions, that still, in often fascinating and marvelous ways illuminate the life-giving Word of God to our minds and hearts!

  10. Thank you, Stephen, for your word of testimony. It is an inspiration to us all. Too many Lutherans I know are plagued with The-Grass-Is-Always-Greener-On The Other-Side-itus. Praise be to God, who lead you to stability in understanding His Word.

  11. BTW, I was asked recently by a friend why we Lutherans couldn’t just accept the Bible and why we needed another book to explain God

    When someone says that they believe in the Bible and don’t need to have a separate confession like the Book of Concord, point out to them they have just made a separate confession, albeit a very simple one.

    If they reply that they are just stating what is in the Bible, then point out that the Lutheran Confessions state the same thing in more detail, and ask them if there is any doctrine included in the Lutheran Confessions they think is not in the Bible.

  12. Contrary to popular belief, “I only believe what the Bible says,” is not a statement found in the Bible. It is a creed, a creed which from the outset is a lie.

  13. Stephen :
    I was a very active member of “Bible believing” churches for years. In Awana Clubs as a youth I won awards for scripture memory. I was involved in Wednesday night Bible studies and Saturday morning Bible studies all through high school. I worked in a “Christ centered” and “Bible believing” Evangelical Free Church for the better part of a decade. Interpretations of Scripture varied in these churches. There were all kinds of doctrinal conflicts because there was no “confessional standard” to which churches could ascribe. One pastor might have a different interpretation of a passage than another. You could have a 5-point Calvinist as a pastor or a semi-Pelagian pastor in churches like these as long as he was a “godly” man. You get my point.
    When I was finally, after an extended period, introduced to and embraced the Lutheran Confessions, I felt enormous clarity. I thought, “Wow! So, this is what the church believes, and has always believed as being taught in Holy Scripture.” And all those years of studying Scripture and memorizing it are still paying off, because I continue to be surprised over and over again by what the Lutheran Confessions tell me Scripture actually means. Thanks be to God for our confessions, that still, in often fascinating and marvelous ways illuminate the life-giving Word of God to our minds and hearts!

    Why be an LCMS Lutheran? Why do denominations matter? Now THIS is the type of testimony that should be prominently posted in the “Who we are,” “FAQs,” and/or “Belief and Practice” sections of the LCMS website.

    The members of those non-denominational mega-churches (and members of the ELCA/LCMC) need to read this stuff. I would also hope current LCMS members would be reminded what the LCMS stands for (Book of Concord). This would help stem the exodus of LCMS Lutherans to other churches who abandon one “Church Growth” LCMS church for a “Church Growth” nondenominational church.

    By the way, the current LCMS website has a cluttered, confused, and stuffy look. It needs to be revamped to make information easier to access, and it also needs to appeal to young people. Thanks for the testimony, Stephen!

  14. revfisk :
    Contrary to popular belief, “I only believe what the Bible says,” is not a statement found in the Bible. It is a creed, a creed which from the outset is a lie.

    Please explain this.
    We like to think we’re cleverer than everyone on one side of the spectrum, but here is the rub, coming from the other side.
    How can Lutherans decry the concept of Holy Tradition in favor of Sola Scriptura, when Sola Scriptura is itself a Holy Tradition in Lutheranism?

  15. @Stephen #10
    You and I are probably cut from the same cloth because I, too, was steeped in Bible-believing Evangelical Free interpretation of Scripture and for 18 years in Bible Study Fellowship (for which I must give much credit for making me delve into all the books of the Bible) and I finally realized out of deep frustration for finding the truth, that after I returned to the LCMS and was able to expand my understanding using the BOC , I realized I had been a Lutheran at heart all along. Why?……….because the Book of Concord helps me understand our teaching and I find no discrepancies because of “new thought” in the last 500 years that plays with our minds. I find that those who criticize our use of the Book of Concord have no place to turn themselves other than the Christian Bookstore shelves lined with self-help books by such gurus as Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Joyce Meyers, Beth Moore, etc to explain what they cannot comprehend on their own. Heaven forbid they would actually read the Scriptures and the BOC side by side. Too much work? I am very thankful for the BOC which to the serious searcher of truth, helps that journey along nicely.

  16. @gayle wehrli #18

    Gayle, I think we are indeed cut from the same cloth. I have been chuckling at a number of little quips you make in your post, only because, well… been there, done that! I have often asked people who do not understand the role of a confessional document whether they have ever read a Bible commentary. The illustrious authors you list unfortunately do not even really qualify as Bible commentators. I am thinking of people like the late James Montgomery Boice, Charles Spurgeon, the old Ironside commentaries, and several other Reformed and Evangelical theologians. Many people understand the idea of reading a commentary on the Book of Romans, for example. I just expand their notion to the idea that the Confessions are our commentary on the whole Bible. That can be a good starting point with some folks.

    My hope for the LCMS and for all Lutheran bodies, is that they will rediscover the beauty and wonder of the Holy Scriptures as our Confessional standards explain them. This might take a bit of a revival that can only be brought about by the Holy Spirit, but it is my prayer all the same.

    Many thanks to all of you who have made such encouraging and supportive comments. And many thanks to BJS for providing this forum with such interesting posts and comments.

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