Great Stuff Found on the Web — The Lutheran Church Is and Is Not

On Pastor Lovett’s blog, ORATIO + TENTATIO + MEDITATIO, he has a question regarding The Lutheran Church Is and Is Not.


Consider the following statement. I’d like to hear your comments below. (While I loathe to admit it, the statement was adapted from a very similar statement about the Eastern Orthodox Church here.)

The Lutheran Church is evangelical, but not Protestant. It is catholic, but not Roman. It is orthodox, but not Eastern. It isn’t non-denominational, neither is it merely a denomination – it is pre-denominational. It has believed, taught, preserved, defended and died for the witness of the Apostles since the Day of Pentecost some 2000 years ago.

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,, 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


Great Stuff Found on the Web — The Lutheran Church Is and Is Not — 72 Comments

  1. @Lloyd I. Cadle #37

    > I just recently resigned as an elder and asked for a peaceful release from the WELS because a fellow gentleman on the council called me a heretic and said that I can no longer be “his elder” because I stated in a conversation with him that I believe in the six literal days of creation, but that there may be evidence that the universe may be 15 billion years old because it takes at least that long for the speed of light to reach us from the stars.

    What you are talking about isn’t evidence. God created light as such. At one “moment” there was no light, and the next, there was. He’s not trying to trick us — in every era there seem to be physical things that we can’t square with Scripture — but “science” is not all done, not static, always delusional in some important ways. Stick with the plain statements of Scripture and “science” will catch up (in some ways, while inventing other heresies as their orthodoxy). Superluminosity (travelling faster than light) has been in play in physics for a long time. Stay tuned. There’s no proof of any kind of such an old universe.

    I’m sad that this is a reason you are coming to the MO synod, because we really don’t need any more of this teaching. It’s officially frowned upon but delivered somewhat covertly even in some of our grade schools.

    > While reflecting on WELS doctrine, it is a little puzzling as to why women can’t vote

    The MO synod changed its practice (therefore its doctrine) on this in a devious and muddled way in convention in 1969. No theological reason has been given for the change. All of the Scriptural theology is on the traditional side of it. It is impossible to ignore the context of the 20th century, the winds of feminism (and pusillanimous abdication of responsibility by men in power), that blew us into this sorry situation.

    Again, a very poor reason to leave WELS.

    > and as to why you can’t pray with other Christians because of prayer fellowship within the WELS.

    Hardly anybody would disagree with you on this — but beware that actual unionism and even syncretism are to be found in the MO synod.

  2. @mbw #52 The LCMS doesn’t take a position on the age of the universe. LCMS does state that they believe (again, as do I), that God created the universe in six literal days.

    How old the universe really is a secondary issue that the Bible does not address. It could be an old earth or a young earth. We must be careful on how we propose the arguments to un-believers. Again, I am simply stating that the universe appears to be old. It MAY NOT BE OLD!

    You state, “a very poor reason to leave WELS.” I was an elder there. I taught a Sunday school class. I helped do shut in visits with the pastors. I served communion to the pastors. I was on the evangelism and the strategic planning committes. I have five kids. My son did the sound for the church. We are confessional Lutherans, not borderline Lutherans.

    This other council member yelled at me in front of the other members of the church and humiliated me and my family. He said that I am no longer his brother and insisted that I leave the church or him. That is why we left. He is the treasurer of the council. The church had a hard time in finding a treasurer. My position as elder was not nearly as important as his position as a treasuer. So, when he said that either I leave or him, for the good of the church, I left. (By the way, other council members agreed with me on the age of the universe being a secondary issue.)

    I was very happy in the LCMS, but left my old church to help an Ablaze church plant, which frustrated me and we ended up in the WELS.

    We are happy to go back to our old LCMS church, and the pastor is glad to have us back.

    I am a confessional Lutheran. I go by the teachings in the Bible and the BOC. I read Luther almost every day. If you want to take a back handed slap at me and say that “we really don’t need any more of this teaching,” you sound as narrow minded as the council member that kicked a family of seven out in the street. (A family that is active and serving the Lord there.)

    I know that the LCMS is more than glad to take back a confessional Lutheran family!

    By the way, I post my name, why don’t you?

  3. @Lloyd I. Cadle #53

    Welcome back to the LCMS Mr Cadle.
    However, I’m actually very glad that mbw spoke up. He demonstrates that, despite our doctrine, we are far from a perfect people. That is to say~ you’ll find the “other council member” here too.

  4. @Lloyd I. Cadle #53

    Wow, sounds like you have a a church journey, but yet an appropriate one. So you left to start an Ablaze congregation. I am not surprised you became frustrated, particularly if they were trying watered down theology to attract the masses. Smart to leave. And then the WELS congregation… Good that you got out of there. Treasurer more important than elder? Well, considering how WELS takes an official view of ministry that is way too much functional, it is believable that this congregation can easily get it priorities all mixed up. Money more vital than truth or the Word of God? Probably for the best you got out of that situation. I say welcome back to the LC-MS. May you find a good home, and may you help us cling to the cross. Really, we should be thanking you for abilities that can help your members learn and commit to Jesus. Blessings on you future involvement.

  5. @Jason #55 Thank you Jason for your understanding. The president of the church council was way, way overworked. If the treasurer were to quit, the president would also have to do the job of treasurer. The amount of work involved would affect his health.

    In this case, I am much more easy to replace than the treasurer.

  6. Don’t most Christian denominations believe that they are holding faithfully to apostolic teaching?

  7. @Lloyd I. Cadle #53

    Lloyd, my name is known here. If you wish to contact me, you may do so via [my steadfast moniker][at][my steadfast moniker].org

    No swipe Lloyd. I do urge you to go back and reconcile if possible, or make charges, regarding what happened to you.

  8. @mbw #58
    I have already asked for a peaceful release from the church. I am on good terms there.

    Just to fill you in on the situation at the church. The church has a dwindling membership. They hadn’t paid on their mortgage for two years. They started a school which backfired. Then they started an assisted living home which also went down. They only have about fifty members. They borrowed almost a half of a million dollars from the members and are having a hard time paying it back. Only the council members serve there. We have tried to get other members on the council, but, they just want to do there one hour a week for God and not get involved.

    Please understand this: They could not find anyone to be a treasurer of this messy church, with all of the financial problems that are going on. The only person that they could find to be treasurer is the hot headed council member that yelled at me to leave the church. The church is 55 years old and the old timers say that I am the best elder that they have ever had there. Please don’t take that as bragging, because I am a nothing.

    This hot headed councilman commanded that I leave or him – all because I stated that I believe in the six literal days of creation, but the universe may be 15 billion years old. Again, the universe may be a young earth, and the Book of Concord (our confessions) and the Bible does not take a position on this issue, so it is open for debate!

    Even though I was the elder there, if the hot headed councilman (the treasurer) left the church it would be a disaster. The job of treasurer would fall to an overworked president of the council, and he has already had health issues. I left on a peaceful release on good terms with all members and council members so the hot head wouldn’t quit and leave the church in even worse shape than it is.

    Also, I was becoming more concerned with the WELS concept of church and ministry (not being able to have prayer fellowship with my wife’s dad (a non Lutheran pastor), and women not being able to vote, etc.

    If you don’t have an understanding of this very difficult situation, you are not a very compassionate Luthern brother.

  9. @Old Time St. John’s #1 I must disagree with the non-protestant claim. Luther lead the first of a very long and unfortunate line of protestant leaders. We would not have the large numbers of protestant denominations had Fr. Luther not lead the revolt. Luther had legitimate claims, such as the selling of indulgences. But these were local issues led by troubled bishops, and was never part of nor condoned by the Church. One of Luther’s issues was against the idea of monastic vows. If Luther had a problem with monastic vows, he should not have joined the Augustinians and perhaps he should have joined the Dominicans, where he would have been able to help the poor as he claimed the church should (and did) do. He condemned the entire idea of a prayerful order, showing a disbelief in the power of prayer. I was a Lutheran for 10 years and they are good and God fearing people that do a lot for the communities they are in. I just can’t let the first church to be lead away by a protestant claim to not be PROTEST(ant). The Orthodox are separated but theologically are almost indistinguishable from Catholic, so I don’t consider them protestant.

  10. @Lloyd I. Cadle #59

    Lloyd I am sorry to have hurt you. I do not in any way judge you. I do not think the other churchman should have treated you that way. I do not think you understand about the issue of women in church government. I believe this issue has been badly mishandled in the MO synod, and has caused a tremendous amount of harm. It is one area where some conservatives in MO think WELS has it right. I am alarmed at the MO people who seem to desire the WELS view of church and ministry and flirt with it openly while claiming to be friends of Walther.

  11. By the way…..I am a confessional Lutheran. I have studied and read every word in the BOC. I love Luther and Lutheran theology. I believe in the six literal days of creation. God created the universe out of nothing. God is the first cause.

    Since the Bible does not make a case for the age of the universe and neither do our confessions, we should say, “I believe that the universe is young and here are my arguments for it” or I believe that the universe is old, and here is why……”

    Both young earth and old earth folks bring in a bunch of presuppositions and use Bible passages out of context to make their case. AGAIN, THE BIBLE DOES NOT SAY THE UNIVERSE IS 6,000 YEARS OLD OR 15 BILLION YEARS OLD. We need to make our case and state that we really don’t know, and leave the Bible out of it.

  12. @Tom #60 Lutherans can’t be predemonination if they have schisms (synods) of itself that are not in full communion with all other parts. Some of these such as the anglo-lutherans are much closer to Catholic theologically than others. In fact the Anglo-Lutherans (a breakaway of the Missouri Synod), has joint the Anglican Ordinariate of the Catholic Church and are in full communion. Of course this meant that they have moved on issues where the two churches are close (justification – a bit of a what came first the chicken or the egg argument. On others they had to move a little more – consubstantiation.

  13. @Lloyd I. Cadle #59

    Lloyd – also – part of Walther’s pro-congregation solution was a very powerful (“supreme”) voter’s assembly. (Here I anticipate the mockery of the hierarchicalists.) This cannot coexist with female and child voters. Either a blatantly non-Scriptural polity is practiced with women truly in authority over men, or the voters are deprecated in favor of the church council and the pastor, so that the voters in fact have no authority. In the context of the church body essentially founded by Walther, this is experimental at best. It’s also very inconsistent, even hypocritical, when the church constitution still reads as it did say 50 years ago, except hacked to allow woman voters.

    So, if you are truly fleeing the WELS view of church and ministry, please research what the MO voter assembly was supposed to be. Note that it is very easy to caricature the old standard-form MO constitution, when voters are referred to as “supreme.” It does not mean that the church was envisioned as a democracy.

  14. @mbw #60 mbw, no problem. We have much in common because we are confessional. Now that I am back home in the LCMS, maybe one day we’ll take the Lord’s Supper together!

  15. @mbw #62 For me, the real difficult issue is the prayer fellowship. Around the Thanksgiving table we have a lot of Christians in both families. However, my wife and I are the only Lutherans. So, when we were WELS, we were not allowed to pray with other family members because they believed false doctrine and were not in fellowship with the WELS even though they were Christians. My wife had a real hard time with this because her father is a pastor, but not a WELS pastor.

    I am not talking about a situation like the Yankee Stadium incident, where you are praying with Muslims etc. That is wrong. And, I am not talking about communion where we should not take the Supper with non-Lutherans. I am talking about good Christians that are family members and not being allowed to pray with them.

  16. “… the Yankee Stadium incident, where you are praying with Muslims etc.”

    At Yankee Stadium, it was more blasphemous than just a heretical prayer with Muslims, it was a LCMS pastor, sneaking onto the field without FBI-clearance, despite being told by the group leader to remain on the bench, and co-officiating a prayer service with Muslims, Jews, and other non-Christian clerics. Then the heretical pastor unrepentantly attacked those confessional Lutherans who called him to account.

  17. @Lloyd I. Cadle #66

    Lloyd, I do rejoice in our unity on these issues. And I confess that I regularly commune with people with whom I am not in total doctrinal agreement, because the role of women in the church is a doctrinal issue, and in almost every MO congregation there is disagreement or flat out error on this. I am sorry. Should I stop communing? I believe that they do not understand (because they have been taught this muddled fence-straddling by their teachers), and would not willfully oppose St. Paul and the entire order of creation if they did. I can’t commune at a WELS/CLC church.

  18. @Tom #60
    I didn’t make the ‘non-Protestant’ claim; that was in the original post.

    I find it a bit confusing to use the term Protestant, and I avoid it because in many circles it has come to mean “non-denominational, mega-church, fundamentalist, anti-Sacramental, politically conservative, Reformed, and Biblicist.” But I don’t make an issue of the term unless it is used that way.

    There is a good book from Northwestern Publishing House called “Lutheran, Catholic, Protestant” that makes the case that Lutheranism is separate from Protestantism quite well. I recommend it.

  19. @Old Time St. John’s #69

    > “Lutheran, Catholic, Protestant”

    Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant by Greg Jackson. He did some good work, but now he is in a perpetual rant against “Objective Justification” which he lumps in with universalism, and he’s trying to run an Internet church. Objective Justification is taught by our church against Calvinism and Arminianism, and is not universalism.

  20. Tom (63): “In fact the Anglo-Lutherans (a breakaway of the Missouri Synod), has joint the Anglican Ordinariate of the Catholic Church and are in full communion. Of course this meant that they have moved on issues where the two churches are close (justification – a bit of a what came first the chicken or the egg argument. On others they had to move a little more – consubstantiation.”

    Since Rome later boasted that they gave up nothing in that “agreement” on “justification” they signed with the ELCA, the Anglo-Lutherans must have moved on justification all the way back to purgatory and purchasing forgiveness with cash money.

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