Great Stuff Found on the Web — Pastoral Meanderings on: A shocker in Bible Study…

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Means of Grace Window from Grace Lutheran Church in Clarksville, TN

We were continuing our way through the Augsburg Confession in my Sunday morning study and we had just ended the first section (Articles 1-21).  Then before beginning Article 22 we read:

Inasmuch, then, as our churches dissent in no article of the faith from the Church Catholic, but only omit some abuses which are new, and which have been erroneously accepted by the corruption of the times, contrary to the intent of the Canons, we pray that Your Imperial Majesty would graciously hear both what has been changed, and what were the reasons why the people were not compelled to observe those abuses against their conscience. . . For Your Imperial Majesty will undoubtedly find that the form of doctrine and of ceremonies with us is not so intolerable as these ungodly and malicious men represent. . . nothing would serve better to maintain the dignity of ceremonies, and to nourish reverence and pious devotion among the people than if the ceremonies were observed rightly in the churches.

I asked simply do you think this is true today…  The answer was silence.  This was not the first time we had made our way through the Augustana since I have been here but we sometimes forget what the Confession actually says.  We dissent in no article of the faith from the Church Catholic and we maintain the dignity of the ceremonies [of the Church Catholic].  (capitals from the Book of Concord web site)

Lutherans have gotten too comfortable in their Lutheran identity as Protestants, who did not so much rebel against innovations and abuses but against the whole idea of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith and its consistent practice.  We have grow too secure in our denominational identities and not secure enough in our Confessional identity.  We have grown to think of ourselves as conservative Methodists or liturgical Presbyterians or high church Baptists when the Confessions remind us that we are reformed catholics.  The whole genius of the Lutheran Reformation was lost to the Radical Reformers who insisted that Luther and his cohorts did not go far enough while they insisted the others went too far.  And we have forgotten about it as well.

I am not speaking here to ceremony or ritual but to how we see and understand this church of ours called Lutheran.  Certainly Walther and the Saxons were scandalized by what had happened to Lutheranism in America and went so far as to refuse to borrow Lutheran church buildings for their services (choosing instead to use the Episcopal cathedral in St. Louis).  This was not for the trappings of it all but a refusal to be identified with the kind of Lutheranism Lite that flirted with Protestant America and only reluctantly admitted their marriage to the Lutheran Confessions and the liturgical identity which flowed (still flows) from those Confessions.

I am amazed at how casual so many Lutherans are toward evangelicalism, fundamentalism, and the mainline Protestants in America and how their hair stands up on the back of their necks toward Rome.  Before you rush to hit the comments button I am not advocating that we belly up to either buffet but feast from the riches of our own diet of confession, creed, liturgy, hymnody, and sacramental piety — one which is thoroughly Lutheran and thoroughly evangelical and catholic in the best sense of those terms.

It amazes me how tough it is for folks to find a Lutheran congregation in which the liturgy is used and hymns are sung from the hymnal.  I know because my parish sends out dozens of families every year to the various parts of the nation and the world and they complain back that they have trouble finding another “Grace” [code word for Lutheran parish that is unapologetically Lutheran in belief and practice).  I have seen families who left for 3-10 years and move back only to have been desensitized to this Lutheran identity of faith and practice by a congregation of our Synod flirting with evangelicalism or some other generic non-Lutheran identity.

Sure, I know that there are a few parishes that might seem more Roman than Rome out there but they are so few as to be insignificant in this discussion; so I turn my attention mainly to those whose very identity reflects a dissent from evangelical and catholic belief and practice.

It is NOT that Lutherans like me are Romanizing or in love with Eastern Orthodoxy.  I am not.  But what I do appreciate is that we speak more a common language than the current gurus of church life in Mars Hill, Saddleback, Willow Creek, Lakewood Church, and the string of others so influential on our Pastors and our people.  I will tell you up front that I feel very little in common with the Southern Baptists, Methodists, Church of Christ, Nazarene, and non-denominational (or generic churches who hide their denominational affiliation).  I do not speak the same language and our identities and piety are rooted and grounded in very different realities.  Yet, there are times when I feel like I am just as out of step with many of the larger and more influential parishes of my LCMS District and Synod.

The statement in the Augustana that prompted our discussions was declarative.  It was a simple statement of who we are as Lutheran people, where we stand, and how we live together around the Word and Sacraments that are His gifts and define us as the Church.  Yet, truth to be told, such a statement may not declare who we are or how we see ourselves today.  And that, my friends, is the heart and core of the problem…

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 — Pastoral Meanderings on: A shocker in Bible Study… — 44 Comments

  1. When I was at the Air Force Officer’s Training School in Texas (quite a few years ago, now) I was far more comfortable going to the Catholic chapel services than the “Protestant” services. They had the liturgy and bible readings that I (LCMS Lutheran) was used to. “Protestant” services tend to leave me hypoglycemic – they’re all sugar and no meat.

  2. I can understand and sympathize with the author’s feelings. I felt closer kinship with the EOC priest than I did with the Methodists and Baptists who made up most of my CPE group. However, I was also aware that we do not speak the same language as the Eastern Orthodox. Our soteriological definitions differ. I have long thought we have caused most of our problems by not accepting our unique distinction in the world of Christianity by seeking to align ourselves with other groups. Lutheran teaching is unique and its time we said as much. We are not Catholic, we are not Protestant, we are not Fundamentalist, and we are not American Evangelical. We are evangelical catholics who speak a unique language and teach a unique doctrine. So, I say we should stop trying to align ourselves with others and claiming kinship that will largely be detrimental.

  3. revaggie :I can understand and sympathize with the author’s feelings. I felt closer kinship with the EOC priest than I did with the Methodists and Baptists who made up most of my CPE group. However, I was also aware that we do not speak the same language as the Eastern Orthodox. Our soteriological definitions differ. I have long thought we have caused most of our problems by not accepting our unique distinction in the world of Christianity by seeking to align ourselves with other groups. Lutheran teaching is unique and its time we said as much. We are not Catholic, we are not Protestant, we are not Fundamentalist, and we are not American Evangelical. We are evangelical catholics who speak a unique language and teach a unique doctrine. So, I say we should stop trying to align ourselves with others and claiming kinship that will largely be detrimental.

    With respect, I must dissent. Our Confessions, as noted above, place us solidly in the catholic stream of historic Christianity, in fellowship with the prophets and blessed Apostles (known through their canonical writings) and hence in fellowship with Christ. If we were to teach something new, we would be accursed… and I can find no support for that intent in the Confessions. Perhaps what you intended to say, is that we have a peculiar emphasis on that historic catholic faith, born of our historic controversies, and providing us tools to keep that emphasis rightly intact? (i.e., the proper distinction of Law and Gospel, a Christo-centric hermenuetic, theology of the cross, and so forth.)

    I will add my lament to the author’s, and his parishioners’. I travel quite a bit, and I am routinely shocked how hard it is, to find a Lutheran congregation in the Missouri Synod.

    Peace be with you.

  4. @Paul of Alexandria #1

    I had precisely the same experience during my USAF years, and particulary at OTS. The farily orthodox Anglican priest was the closest thing to Lutheran we often found.

    Peace to you.

  5. Without a question the main influence on the LCMS is the CGM. These practices have carried with them theological and doctrinal content that has poisoned our well. Those who initially borrowed some useful ideas from CG opened the door for those far less able to discern what is helpful from what is harmful. When visiting LCMS churches I EXPECT to find CG methodology everywhere I go and its no longer a coastal phenom it is in the cities and towns of the center of the country as well. As one who pays the salary of these incompetent and deceitful (deceit is part of the CG change model) pastors and profs I find it disgusting and it truly ticks me off. The average layman must come to “get it” and be willing to challenge these wolves in sheep clothing even if these wolves do not see themselves as wolves. You must also be prepared for the often abrasive response you get from these “men of God”. Luther warned of a church overun by clergy and we are in it.

  6. Take a virtual tour of our LCMS churches on line. You will find CGM everywhere. Look for tell tale signs like
    casual worship (notice they do not call it Divine service)
    praise worship
    relevant worship (as if Christ were ever irrelevant)
    cell groups
    small groups
    ministries aimed at every dysfunctional malady in our culture
    all printed hand outs for “worship”
    feel good sermons – moralizing without speaking of sin
    wide open communion
    watered down new members classes…………

  7. There are two ditches. The fact that one is fuller than the other doesn’t mean the other should be ignored. The number of prominent Lutherans that have abandoned justification by faith in favor of Roman or eastern liturgy is long. It is more important that a church teaches justification, the Gospel, than that it follows the liturgy. There is more Gospel at most praise band Lutheran churches than Roman churches.

  8. @boaz #7

    While I agree that falling into any erroneous ditch is something to be avoided, I would offer that your assertion at the end has not been my practical experience. Of the many LCMS congregations that I’ve visited who have fallen into the soft-core pentecostal ditch, I’ve heard almost no Gospel at all… just soft law, programs, pledge drives, and searching for assurance within one’s emotional state.

    Conversely, of the various Roman congregations in our area, and those around friends of mine in other parts of the country, their liturgy delivers some Gospel as a minimum in addition to the full lectionary Scripture readings, and preaching that at times even borrows from Reformation writers (to the chagrin my associates who prefer a pre-Vatican II Tridentine Romanism.)

    It seems, to my humble mind, that the myth of soft-core pentecostal LCMS congregations being better purveyors of the Gospel than Rome, is one that is unraveling. Perhaps Lutherans in our day were not prepared for the lack of Gospel that has been epidemic among the enthusiasts, but our Confessions have been stalwart in their warning against them… which is probably why some have, with great sorrow, chosen to drink blood with the papists rather than mere juice with the schwarmer.

    May God preserve a remnant of the Confessional Lutheran Churches, that the people may an option that is not merely a choice between various doctrinally erroneous ditches.

    Peace be with you.

  9. @Paul of Alexandria #1

    @boaz #7

    @Brad #4
    I also found myself more comfortable in RC masses than Protestant services when deployed to locations without Confessional Lutheran chaplains. I generally disagree w/ Boaz, but there might be enough variety in garage band Lutheranism to make it a toss-up. perhaps as Lutherans we’ve grown too familiar w/ the Western liturgy to see it, but the propers and ordinaries of the Western liturgy itself contain more “Gospel” than anything offered up by the Schwärmeri, even when incorporated into a Lutheran Lite service. It might not be always true, but I suspect that when a Lutheran church rejects the liturgy, much of what they are rejecting is “Gospel,” which is in turn being replaced w/ the 3rd use of the law. Sinful humans instinctively understand the law. It’s their happy place, and if your goal is “relevance,” legalism will get you there.

  10. @Matthew Mills #9

    Well said, friend. As we worked from Job 38 last night at our evening chapel service, one of the observations discussed was the penchant for man to love the law… at least one that he can create and manage according to his own desires, rather than the blistering light of God’s Law.

    But of course, if the radical fury of God’s Law were preached in all its severity, the people would be in gravest need of the Gospel in all its sweetness. Perhaps, in these churches that have little or no Gospel, the people feel no need for it, since they have not really heard the Law of God which condemns them.

  11. I will begin by saying I have NO sympathy for those who would desert the soul-reviving gospel of Lutheran Doctrine for the church of the Anti-Christ.

    However, I will also say that in most of the cases I am aware of where a pastor has left our circle for either the Eastern Church or the Roman Church, the main appeal has not been legalism, works righteousness or — most especially — the liturgy. Rather, the men whose Apologies I have read seem mainly to be attracted to the Eastern/Roman concept and claim of “Church.”

    To be sure these men see (as do I) in the loss of the traditional liturgy the loss of a sense of “Church” among us. However, the liturgy (or its lack) is only a symptom of their real concern — connection to the Church of God in all times and places.

    I happen to be what some claim is impossible — a High-Church (middle-high anyway) traditional Missourian. I share the desire for a tangible, visible “Church-ness.” But I find that powerful reality in the people of God — pastor and people — gathered around the Holy Word and Sacraments. With or without the beautiful, laudable, reverent, respectful liturgical traditions of the liturgy, the Church is identifiable present around the altar. It is both concrete and mystical.

    This means-of-grace “Church-ness” is the real thing — the substantial and tangible presence of God’s people on earth. The seeming ignorance of others in our fellowship cannot change this. What more can we need than to stand among the other sheep, and with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven singing to the Savior Who is present on the throne in their midst in heaven and on His throne of the altar in my sweltering sanctuary.

    Of course, I lament those who find this holy place to be an appropriate setting to kick back and sip a latte. But even a sinner as big as I cannot stop God’s church from being what He makes it — the Holy Bride.

  12. When I was stationed in Virginia, we had communion every week. Each Chaplain had his way of doing the communion service, so imagine my surprise when the Southern Baptist Chaplain held the communion service very liturgical using the Western Rite. Then came the LCMS Chaplain who was in charge, and the church service as a whole went less liturgical (Including the communion service)

  13. Rev. Steve Bagnall :I will begin by saying I have NO sympathy for those who would desert the soul-reviving gospel of Lutheran Doctrine for the church of the Anti-Christ.

    I’m not advocating that position, and I hope it didn’t come across that way. What I think is emerging, though, is a distinction between the idea and the reality of our Confessions. When congregations across the LCMS can stand up, and with a straight face, declare altar and pulpit fellowship around a shared confession, when in reality they live out their Christian experience in radically divergent doctrines and practices, we have a dishonest confusion.

    It almost seems, again to my little mind, that St. James’ caution regarding the role of faith and works, becomes an allegory to our day’s debate. If faith without works is dead, and faith is manifested by works, what does it mean in our Synod that enthusiasts say they have our faith (confessions,) but don’t live them out (worship, piety, etc.) To this, I am inclined to reply, “show me your subscription to the Lutheran Confessions without your Lutheran practice, and I’ll show you my subscription to the Confessions by my practice.”

    Part of the confusion that our parishioners are experiencing, to my observation, is that there are Christians in non-Lutheran communions, living out a more Lutheran piety and practice, than our communions are. When confronted by the hypothetical Lutheran identity supposed to exist in “Lutheran” communities not exhibiting the fruits of Lutheran confession, it is easy to see why people might go where the actual fruits of the Lutheran Confessions become manifest… even if the shingle over the door doesn’t bear the name. If faith without works is dead, I submit, that Confession without corresponding piety is also dead.

    Peace to you.

  14. I live in Georgia and have attended a Baptist church for many years. I would love to switch to a church that teaches, professes, and preaches the theology I hear from guests and hosts of Issues, Etc…, Rev Fisk, and Pastor Wolfmueller. But our Georgia LCMS churches (and specifically our local one) don’t fit into that category. As far as I can tell, the closest possibility is 2+ hours away in South Carolina. In the meantime, I inject as much good Lutheran theology into my discussions with the Baptists as I can.

    The statement “our churches dissent in no article of the faith from the Church Catholic, but only omit some abuses which are new, and which have been erroneously accepted by the corruption of the times” is essentially what led me to Lutheranism after looking into early church father teachings. It seemed that the fight against Rome’s abuses led to throwing the baby out with the bath water and that was worsened by The Enlightenment.

  15. @Where The Baptists Are #14

    WTBA: I have no idea where you are in georgia, but here’s one church that might be possible:

    http://lutheranliturgy.org/view.php5?n=76

    It’s unfortunately the only one listed in Georgia .. I know from having lived in the south that finding a liturgical church is difficult.

    http://lutheranliturgy.org/search.php5?sb=city&formState=Georgia

    Any other Pastors with liturgical churches in Georgia or anywhere — be sure to list yourself on our sister site, http://lutheranliturgy.org ..

  16. Thanks Norm. Yep, I knew of that church from that website. It is just that the SoCarolina one (which isn’t listed on the linked site) is closer to me in the North Ga foothills.

  17. @Brad #13
    Brad,

    I wasn’t really trying to disagree with you — I don’t really disagree. (The only quibble I’d have with this post is your wording — that Evangelicals have a more Lutheran piety than Lutherans. I’d suggest a more evident or tangible piety. Strictly speaking Lutheran Piety flows as a response of faith in the gospel, not motivated by the law at all, just guided by it. Strictly speaking nothing qualifies as Lutheran piety unless it grows from the reception of the pure Word and Sacraments.)

    However, I think your point is valid. I sometimes say that Lutherans believe that we are saved apart from work, so we try to prove it by never doing any! This NOT what St. Paul is saying!

    My comments were more about an idea I haven’t seen clearly stated here, but whch often arises when we speak about Lutheran pastors who leave for Rome (or Constantinople). That is that they leave for the liturgy. I believe that more often they leave for some Romantic (and wrongheaded) idea of Church. It is easy to point to the liturgy because these guys usually are liturgical.

    No, I think you and I are in basic agreement here. Keep up the good work!

  18. @Brad #13

    I couldn’t agree more! Just because the sign in form of the church says LCMS, it often means nothing in terms of Lutheran liturgy and practice. I am more comfortable worshiping in a RC or EO church.

    I recently visited one of these break away Anglican churches (Anglican Province in America). It was very reverent and liturgical. Communion every Sunday. The pastor wore vestments. Folks made the sign of the cross. Granted, I did not study all the theological differences between LCMS and this church. However, in terms of external practice, this Anglican church seemed much more “lutheran” to me than many LCMS churches I’ve visited.

    James

  19. “Certainly Walther and the Saxons were scandalized by what had happened to Lutheranism in America and went so far as to refuse to borrow Lutheran church buildings for their services (choosing instead to use the Episcopal cathedral in St. Louis).”

    That Wather and the Saxons refused to borrow (or rent) Lutheran church buildings for services does not seem to be substantiated in information from the books of Gotthold Günther (The Destinies and Adventures of the Stephanists who emigrated from Saxony to America, Dresden, 1839, pp. 49-50) and Carl S. Mundinger (Government in the Missouri Synod, CPH, 1947, pp.86, 149-154).

    First, on March 2, 1839, there was some sentiment expressed in a newspaper letter that the German Protestant Church would open their new building for use by the Saxons. However, that building was not actually completed until several months later. In the meantime, Episcopal Bishop Kemper had given the Saxons permission to use the basement of Christ Church Cathedral from 2 PM until sunset for their services.

    After two and a half years, Christ Church, who were told in 1839 the Saxons would be moving soon to Perry County, told the congregation of Trinity Lutherans Church they would have to find another place to hold their services. The Saxons did go to the German Protestant Church congregation, who gave them permission for three Sundays, but the pastor, Rev. G. Wall threatened to resign at once (augenblicklich) if the Saxons were permitted to use the church. Wall earlier had written to others: “They [the Saxons] hope to get our church for their services when it is finished; and many of our congregation are inclined and regard it as their duty to open it for them, although I can never consent, because the Stephanists only would — as they already did — bring into our congregation disharmony.” To another pastor Wall also noted that the Stephanists had offered to contribute money toward the erection of the German Protestant Church in order that they might have a legal claim to its use. In early 1842, the German Protestants refused to let the Saxons use their church.

    Finally in March, 1842, after the Saxons had used a school classroom to hold services, Christ Church relented and allowed the Saxons to use the basement of their church a while longer, but only in the afternoon. That continued until December, 1842, when Trinity Lutheran Church dedicated their own building.

    BTW, Mundinger also notes that when Trinity Lutheran congregation finally obtained their own property to build a church the voters assembly did include Walther’s suggestion to only permit German language in their church and not to allow strangers to give pledges toward church construction lest they lay some claim to the property.

    The use of Christ Church basement for the Saxon services was also discussed by Walter A . Baepler (A Century of Grace, CPH, 1947, p. 29) and Walter O. Forster (Zion on the Mississippi, CPH, 1953, pp. 320-323, 435, 460-461, 504).

  20. @Rev. Steve Bagnall #17

    Steve,

    Yes, it seems we are in agreement. Unfortunately, if I left you with the impression that I thought Evangelical piety could better reflect Lutheran piety, I did not communicate well. As you rightly observe, our piety is fundamentally linked to Word and Sacrament, which both give rise and form to our living out of the Christian faith, be that in corporate worship or private devotion.

    As for those who have left for Rome or the east, I know it’s a mixed bag. Anyone who leaves simply for the liturgy, I think will find themselves at a crisis fairly quickly, because as you note, there’s something wrong in their understanding of what the Church really is. The Church is not her worship, even though she must worship; she is not her forms, though she has form. Even Rome is coming to perceive the reality of the Church beyond her physical forms, and for the Lutheran who goes to Rome, the inconsistency of theory and practice will continue to prick the mind… unless, of course, they just stop thinking about it, and live in a piece born of willful ignorance. This is not a fate I am ready to embrace.

    A similar topic came up in conversation with a dear friend several years ago, who was stuck in a place that did not have Confessional Lutheran worship or congregations. I shared with him my opinion, that being a Lutheran is something peculiar in the broad swath of Christianity. One can be an Anglican, because they decend from and within an Anglican church body. Likewise with Romans or Orthodox. Even among the Enthusiasts of their various stripes, there is a sense of identity that comes from their common heritage, even if that’s primarily defined in experiential terms. But a Lutheran is not primarily a result of native birth, or of culture, or of some kind of historic succession– they are a community of common confession. It is what a person believes that defines them as a Lutheran, and that belief manifests in a life of faith and repentance under the Word of God and the Holy Sacraments. A Lutheran is not made by either a full or anemic new member’s class, but by the conviction of the heart and mind, by the grace of God.

    Thus, it was my counsel to him, that a Lutheran is what he is, by grace through faith, and found in his confessional subscription. Even if no significant numbers of his ilk were found in any particular area, it does not diminish the conviction of his heart, that the Confessions reflect a pure and holy understanding of the faith, once for all, delivered to the saints. The presence of Lutherans, to my observation, was an indication of health in the local Body of Christ, but their lack did not necessarily mean the non-existence of the Body. In short, he could remain a Lutheran, embattled and harried as he might be, whereve the Lord might have placed him.

    This seems to be the fate of many in our days.

    Blessings to you, friend.

  21. Pastor Peters,
    I’m just curious, why did your parishioners in the Bible Class respond in ‘silence’ to your question?
    From my experience in Bible classes, there’s usually someone that responds.
    Thanks,
    Diane

  22. @Diane #22
    The silence was the result of honest admission that we Lutherans today are not as a group comfortable with such a statement and with sadness admit that we have gone far afield of the intent and explicit declaration of our Confessions…

  23. The first 21 Articles in the Augsburg Confession were previously declared “This is about the Sum of our Doctrine in which, as can be seen, there is nothing that varies from the Scriptures. or from the Church Catholic, or from the Church of Rome as known from its writers.”

    The excerpt at the start of this BJS thread is from the Introduction, “Articles in which are reviewed the abuses which have been corrected,” just before Article XXII and the other remaining AC articles:

    Article XXII: Of Both Kinds in the Sacrament.
    Article XXIII: Of the Marriage of Priests.
    Article XXIV: Of the Mass.
    Article XXV: Of Confession.
    Article XXVI: Of the Distinction of Meats.
    Article XXVII: Of Monastic Vows.
    Article XXVIII: Of Ecclesiastical Power.

    The Introduction states: “… we pray that Your Imperial Majesty would graciously hear both what has been changed, and what were the reasons why the people were not compelled to observe those abuses against their conscience.” [from the Latin] or “… we are obliged… to indicate our reasons for permitting changes in these cases in order that Your Imperial Majesty may perceive that we have not acted in an unchristian and frivolous manner but have been compelled by God’s command, which is rightly to be regarded as above all custom, to allow such changes.” [from the German].

    The Introduction’s last sentence [from the Latin],

    “But it can readily be judged that nothing would serve better to maintain the dignity of ceremonies, and to nourish reverence and pious devotion among the people than if the ceremonies were observed rightly in the churches,”

    argues that the dignity of ceremonies, reverence, and pious devotion are served best (“nothing would serve better”) by observing the ceremonies rightly, that is, in which the abuses have been corrected, as discussed in the subsequent AC articles.

    Explanations of some of these articles are also given in other Lutheran Symbols, which provide further understanding.

  24. The quoted excerpt comes from the Latin version of the Augsburg Confession. The German version in the 1580 Book of Concord, states:

    “So nun von den Artikeln des Glaubens, in unsern Kirchen nicht gelehrt wird, zuwider der heiligen Schrift, oder gemeiner christlichen Kirchen, sondern allein etzliche Missbräuche geändert sind, welche zum Teil mit Gewalt aufgerichtet, fordert unser Notdurft dieselbigen zu erzählen, und Ursache anzuzeigen, warum hierin Änderung geduldet ist, damit Kaiserliche Majestät erkennen möge, dass nicht hierin unchristlich, oder frevlerisch gehandelt, sondern dass wir durch Gottes Gebot, welches billig höher zu achten, denn alle Gewohnheit, gedrungen sein, solch Änderung zu gestatten.”

    English: “From the above it is manifest that nothing is taught in our churches concerning articles of faith that is contrary to the Holy Scriptures or what is common to the Christian church. However, inasmuch as some abuses have been corrected (some of the abuses having crept in over the years and others of them having been introduced with violence), we are obliged by our circumstances to give an account of them and to indicate our reasons for permitting changes in these cases in order that Your Imperial Majesty may perceive that we have not acted in an unchristian and frivolous manner but have been compelled by God’s command, which is rightly to be regarded as above all custom, to allow such changes.”

  25. @Brad #2

    I think you misunderstood me. Allow me to elaborate. I am not disconnecting us from historic Christianity, by any means. What I am saying is of the voices in the world of Christianity we are unique in that we have not abandoned the historic proclamation of the church and it is time to stop aligning ourselves with those who have be it RCC, emergent, American Evangelical, or whatever.

  26. For the most part, the Western liturgy pre-dates the heterodox Roman doctrines that folks seem to be (rightly) fussed about. When Rome uses the historical liturgy they are, to an extent, praying against themselves. So the question of whether we should be apeing heterodox Rome, or the Schwarmeri is at best a strawman. What we are doing when we use the historical Western Liturgy is joining the orthodox catholic church in the worship she has historically used. What we are doing when we try to shoehorn Lutheran substance into a Protestant style is selling our birthright for a bowl of pottage. There isn’t a comparison. Our substance fits the style of the liturgy better than the current-RC substance does, but it will never fit a Neo-Evangelical style. Unlike us (and the Romans) the Schwarmeri worship an absent God.

  27. “I also found myself more comfortable in RC masses”

    Ugh, this is the problem. I’d be most comfortable in an RC Mass as well. Or going to a Bach concert at the local orchestra. Or in bed sleeping Sunday mornings.

    It’s not about “comfort level,” “worship styles,” tradition, what I’m used to, what I learned growing up, musical preference, instrumentation, or any of that. It’s all useless if it doesn’t teach the Gospel. Rome simply does not teach pure Gospel. Neither does the Eastern Church. Nor do Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, many pietist Lutherans, liberal Lutherans, and even sometimes, LCMS Lutherans.

    Any true Lutheran would grit his or her teeth through “Shine Jesus Shine” or “Lord of the Dance,” or some other poorly thought out dog and pony show, before agreeing to anti-Christian teachings in Rome, the East, or the SBC, or any other denomination that knowingly and intentionally confesses doctrine that destroys the Gospel with human effort.

  28. @Matthew Mills #29
    Mr. Mills,
    Well put. A few months ago I went to a Wednesday mass at a local Catholic Church. I needed to speak with the priest and decided to worship before our appointment. Since it has been a decade or so since I have been to a Catholic mass, (other than family funerals, since I was raised Catholic), it was interesting to hear the mass with post seminary ears. What shocked me was that the mass reflected our theology but not theirs. Almost no mention of Mary or Saints or Pope or even works righteousness. The sermon was meh, but not horrible. Have definitely heard much worse in the LCMS (even this last summer). In short at a Catholic mass like this the people are learning Lutheran (that is the historic and universal christian) faith. Praise be to God. It is amazing how He preserves His church in the midst of our falleness. And thanks be to God for the Confessional Lutheran Church which preserves not just the liturgical but substantive catholic faith. I am grateful to have left the Apsotate Roman Catholic Church and become a true Catholic.

  29. This upcoming Sunday my parish is celebrating its 160th anniversary. As a part of this celebration I am writing a newsletter article about what our full name according to our constitution actually means. And our full name is this:

    St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession at Woodland, St. Joseph County, Indiana.

    I’m just about to finish up our study of the liturgy in our Sunday morning class. I think the Augsburg Confession will be next, followed by a request to study other denominations in the country. We need to know who we are before we study who others are.

    But I knew that I was coming to an outstanding parish when I read the final sentence in my call documents. “No holy rollers, please.”

  30. @Mathew Mills #29

    I’m not sure what you mean by “the Schwarmeri worship an absent God.” Do you believe this because the liturgy and sacraments are absent in most American Evangelical services? Having grown up in the SBC, I was taught – and continue to believe as a confessional Lutheran – Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I among them.” So I do not think it is fair, right or true to say that American Evangelicals worship “an absent God.”

    If, however, you mean most American Evangelical worship services are filled with an “it’s all about me and my faith” mentality versus “it’s all about Christ and what He did on the cross,” then we are in complete agreement. I do, however, believe that you can hear Christ and the Cross preached in a high church, mid-church and praise and worship setting.

  31. @boaz #30
    Oddly enough, happy-clappy LCMS wasn’t an option at Camp Victory Iraq, or Kwang-ju Air Base, Republic of Korea, or Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, or Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. In those places I had Protestant “theology of glory fest,” RC or sleep-in as my 3 options (at Victory I could have gone EO as well, but I’m partial to the doctrine of the atonement.) While at Osan AB Korea I drove 45+ minutes to get to an PLI-ish Korean Lutheran Church when my work schedule allowed, but when it didn’t I visited w/ the on-base RC folks. I’m sure your comment was well intentioned, but it’s going to sound sort of “let them eat cake”-ish to most military folks. There just aren’t enough LCMS chaplains around to have even a weak one at every base. The truth about LCMS folks in uniform is that nearly every deployment is an excommunication.

  32. @LB #33

    When I said they worship an absent God, I meant a physically absent God. Unlike Lutherans, RCs and EOs, the Protestants use the phrase “the right hand of God” geographically. Many of their objections to the doctrine of the real presence come out of their belief that Jesus is somehow cooling His heels up in heaven, and until the (non-scriptural) millenium he is physically absent from earth. In my opinion, like a stone tossed into a still pond, that sets up a bunch of theological ripples. I mentioned millenialism already, you also get a lot of problems with the two natures ouf Christ coming out of the Protestant assertion “the finite cannot contain the infinite.” I also think it can be traced to the “it’s all about me and my faith” mentality you mention, and a host of other problems.

    Singing the Agnus Dei, and really meaning it, makes a huge difference in how a person looks at the church, and the world.

  33. @boaz #30
    Any true Lutheran would grit his or her teeth through “Shine Jesus Shine” or “Lord of the Dance,” or some other poorly thought out dog and pony show, before agreeing to anti-Christian teachings

    Kind of optimistic to think that you would get Christian teaching with a “dog and pony show”, isn’t it? When LWML puts one on you usually get evangelical protestantism as the main course, as well as “Shine, Jesus, Shine”. (People who had better training once have read Max Lucado for the evening “devotion”.) 🙁
    FTR, I do not go to Zone any more, and do my teeth damage at the local meeting.

  34. @Matthew Mills #35

    Very interesting. I never heard that growing up in the SBC, but in my experience I’ve found that Baptist congregations vary widely in what they believe/preach. One of the things that I loved about the LCMS when I first began attending was that the doctrine was spelled out explicitly. The pastor who confirmed me told what we believe and why we believe it, and he welcomed my questions and doubts as an opportunity to show me the scripture that forms the foundations of those beliefs. At that church I heard the true Gospel preached from the pulpit for the first time in my life. It was Christ crucified every week. And this came from a church in the Mid-South District that now has traditional, blended, and contemporary services, and has a spin-off congregation that meets at a movie theater on Sunday mornings…

  35. Matthew Mills :
    @LB #33
    When I said they worship an absent God, I meant a physically absent God. Unlike Lutherans, RCs and EOs, the Protestants use the phrase “the right hand of God” geographically. Many of their objections to the doctrine of the real presence come out of their belief that Jesus is somehow cooling His heels up in heaven,…

    Over at the high hat, monocle wearing site (source: http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3990.msg229083#msg229083 ) I recently saw the claim that “Real Presence” is in fact a term the Reformed are happy with, and that we should use “the body and blood of Christ.”

    Which surprised me a little, but we live and learn?

  36. @Joe #39

    I could be mistaken, but my understanding is that the Calvinists aren’t happy with the term “real presence” but will say that Christ is “spiritually present” with the bread and wine. I don’t think they deny that the flesh and blood are given to the recipient of the Lord’s Supper, but they will say it is a spiritual eating only and deny that Christ’s corporeal body is truly present in, with, and under the bread and wine. So if a Calvinist is comfortable with the term “real presence” it is likely because they have redefined the term to mean something like “spiritually present” rather than physically present in a way we can’t comprehend.

  37. @Joe #39

    @Jim Pierce #40
    To give the more orthodox Reformed their due, they have generally told me: what we teach SHOULD be called “real presence” and what you teach SHOULD be called “physical presence,” but we’ll use the terms as they exist to avoid confusion. (They like the term, but respect our ownership.)

    This is one of the perennial problems we have w/ the liberal reformed/methobapticostals though. They will use terms which sound good to us, but when you dig, the meanings of the words have changed dramatically. The Arminians like saying “saved by grace through faith,” but for them “faith” is a conscious decision, basically a “spiritual work.” Ditto here: “real presence” has historically meant physical and spiritual presence, but if your church history starts in the 1860’s it’s easy to adopt a term that sounds good and give it a non-historical meaning. I think it’s always worth digging a bit rather than just taking things at face value when your dealing w/ 5th generation splinter groups.

  38. Where The Baptists Are :
    I live in Georgia and have attended a Baptist church for many years. I would love to switch to a church that teaches, professes, and preaches the theology I hear from guests and hosts of Issues, Etc…, Rev Fisk, and Pastor Wolfmueller. But our Georgia LCMS churches (and specifically our local one) don’t fit into that category. As far as I can tell, the closest possibility is 2+ hours away in South Carolina. In the meantime, I inject as much good Lutheran theology into my discussions with the Baptists as I can.

    I understand there is a solid parish in Cumming, Georgia, which might be closer to you than the one in NC. It was pointed out to me by a friend who is a very solid pastor and also by Sandra Ostapowich, who I think posts here on occasion. Here is their website:

    http://www.livingfaithlutheran.com/

    I’m former Lutheran, now Orthodox, and I have trod the same path as you. I hope you have better luck than we did. Cumming is a good hour and a half away from us, and Birmingham, Alabama was the only other one that was solid, but that’s over 2 hours from us.

  39. It seems the issue has been addressed here. Read and reread the comments!

    Now — will someone please get busy with a real solution? I do mean NOW!

  40. @Mary #43

    I think those of us who can, have begun the catechesis process in our respective parishes. To my humble observation, the “real solution” will manifest itself sooner rather than later. The LCMS will eventually have to grapple at a district and synod level, with the issue presented at the individual congregational level– the fact that, even after all the catechesis is accomplished where it can be done, there are Lutheran and non-Lutheran congregations that are functionally out of communion with each other, all swinging the same shingle. For example, there are LCMS congregations and pastors that I can recommend to our parishioners, and those that I warn them to stay away from… within our circuit, our district, and our broader synod. I can’t tell you how disheartening it is, to be asked by a parishioner who is sending their son off to college, where their son might be spiritually well cared for in their new home away from home, and not being able to recommend a single LCMS congregation in that area. What is that, but a broken and/or impaired communion?

    I think the “real solution” is going to be letting those who wish to walk according to the Scriptures and the Confessions do so, and letting those who wish to walk apart, do so. Let’s just get this schism over with, so we can get back to a unified faith and practice. Being unequally yoked to this extent, is not healthy.

    Peace to you.

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