Question for our Readers – Decision Theology v.s. Affirmation of Faith

The following was submitted to me from a BJS reader about a concern at a church. We are opening up the question to other readers.

 


 

This is the last two or three minutes of the Christmas Eve Service at my LCMS large contemporary church. My question: does this border on decision theology or is it an affirmation of faith by repeating line by line of a prayer spoken by the pastor. My 20 year old son attended the service with us and said he didn’t like that the pastor had a “repeat after me” type of a prayer. He said, how would you know what and where the pastor was going with the prayer and to blindly repeat after him just didn’t seem right. The following is end of the sermon — the “pray with me” prayer section is bolded.

A Savior that can walk with me through the valley of the shadow of death, yet I will not be bound by the grave.

A Savior who has the qualifications to step down into my world and my life and he takes upon himself my sin and my death who is both the Son of God and the Son of man.

Qualifications that take him from a manger to a cross and from a cross to a grave and from a grave he steps out. He stepped down and now he steps out. He says all this is for you. All of this was because of my love for you. I know that many of you finally in your heart believe that.

There may be some here this night that may be hearing this for the first time.

What I want us to do is have a moment of prayer together. A moment in where we affirm our faith or for the first time speak about Jesus as Savior.

So, here’s what I want to do is to take you, to kinda lead you through a moment of prayer and I’d like to ask you to consider strongly that I speak a line and then you speak a line after me. I begin this way.

God, I thank you for Jesus. He stepped down from Heaven, to a manger and into our world, from swaddling clothes, to a crown of thorns, from this first breath to his last, from His resurrection to His return, I acknowledge my sins and rejoice in Him my Savior. Together lets say Amen.

The sermon can be listened to below. The above trascript starts around 13:40 into the audio clip.

[podcast]http://www.steadfastlutherans.org/mp3/Dec_24_2010.mp3[/podcast]

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

Question for our Readers – Decision Theology v.s. Affirmation of Faith — 110 Comments

  1. @Stefan #100

    Hi Stefan,

    You can try the Wittenberg Trail ( http://wittenbergtrail.org/ ) which is “user friendly.” You could also visit Luther Quest ( http://www.lutherquest.org/cgi-bin/discus40/discus.cgi?pg=topics ) and do a forum search on topics. They’ve been around for awhile and you can find some good information and enter discussions.

    However, I think the best thing to do is to talk with the Lutheran pastor you are having a meeting with and ask him as many questions as you want. There is no good substitute for a face to face conversation.

  2. @Stefan #86
    Stefan and all others,
    I am sure grateful to see this conversation continue about God coming to us in Word and Sacraments. If you like we can continue on my underused blog unlikelybanter.blogspot.com or if one of the powers that be behind the Steadfast Lutheran’s site is ready it might be continued here as well.
    You ask if Lutheran’s believe in transubtantiation. We don’t; but we do believe that Jesus is present for us in the bread and wine just as he promised to be present.
    I was raised as a Catholic and even attended a Catholic University for my undergraduate degree. I have always believed that Christ is present in communion, the difference between a belief in real presence and a belief in transubtation is in no small part how we accept the mystery of Jesus’ presence in communion. Here’s where Luther makes more sense (at least for my simple brain) by letting the ambiguity be that others try to explain away through their doctrines of Transubstatiation. The Catholic belief in Transubstatiation, as I was taught it, is an attempt to logically explain a mystery of God coming into our midst.
    Martin Luther was bold in saying yes Jesus is present; but he was equally bold in encouraging people to just let the mystery of God’s presence stand

    So against all reason and hairsplitting logic I hold that two diverse substances may well be, in reality and in name, one substance. These are my reasons: First, when we are dealing with the works and words of God, reason and all human wisdom must submit to being taken captive, as St. Paul teaches in II Corinthians 10[:5], must allow themselves to be blinded and led, directed, taught, and instructed, lest we presume to be God’s judges in his words, for we shall surely lose out when we try to judge him in his words as Psalm 50 [51:4] testifies.
    Secondly, if we take ourselves captive to him and confess that we do not comprehend his words and works, we should be satisfied. We should speak of his works simply using his words as he has pronounced them for us and prescribed that we speak them after him, and not presume to use our own words as if they were better than his. Martin Luther, vol. 37, Luther’s Works, Vol. 37 : Word and Sacrament III, ( ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan et al.;, Luther’s Works Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999, c1961), Vol. 37, Page 296.

    Thanks Stefan for this great discussion of one of the great mysteries of faith. I trust that God’s Word is always fruitful and that you and I both may be strengthened in our trust of Christ through such great conversation.
    Pax
    John

  3. @John, an Unlikely Pastor #103

    Hiya John!

    Thanks for this.

    I read the small catechism and see the stuff about the ‘real’ and not the ‘transy’ bit (courtesy of Berean) but I am going to go over the large caty stuff just to make sure I get the full implications before I get back to you – either on here or on your blog.

    Still going over it in my head along with all the other stuff I have been reading and the discussions I am having on Facebook!

    Wow, you guys have a lot of material to cover hey!

    When I was ordained in the Assembly of God, it was quick and simple stuff – I did some studies of my own accord cause I felt it was befitting not because they insisted on it!

    Yeah, it has been a good discussion John and I am most grateful to all who partook and for the manner in which it has been conducted!

    (okay, so whats the Pax thing John?)

    aUB
    Stefan

  4. @Stefan #100

    If you have a question or a topic that you think would be appropriate for this blog, you can format up a post and send it to me (click on Have a question or an article that you want to submit for consideration here? Contact Us and we’ll consider it. We are always looking for guest articles or items for “Good Stuff Found on the Web”. on the sidebar.

  5. @Stefan #104
    First of all Stefan, sorry for not responding to your last post – I believe others have already answered what you asked.

    Second, your pastor is never too busy to teach about the faith (by answering questions). That is the primary thing he has been given to do, so take advantage of God’s gift to you, your pastor.

  6. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #109

    All good Joshua thank you – the folk here have been most gracious!

    I had a good meeting with Chris yesterday and we had a very interesting chat – nothing doctrinally really as it was a ‘get to meet each other’ time.
    Much enjoyed!

    He has given me the address of a Lutheran church fairly close by and I will get over there when time and transport permit.

    A lot of what I have read here helped in our discussion; I told him that I understand closed communion and would not be wanting to partake – he looked a bit relieved 🙂

    He is a very very busy man Joshua – not least of his problems is trying to learn the Zulu language for he works predominantly amongst Zulu folk.
    This is his 2nd African language he is learning, having worked amongst the Tshona people in Botswana for many years – I take my hat off to him for his sterling efforts!

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