Church Fellowship – in Story Format

So who wants to talk church fellowship? (Sure, leave it to the WELS pastor to open up this can o’ worms.)

This will all seem terribly simplistic, I realize. And it is. But we might as well start somewhere.

Back around 1960, the LCMS had been dialoguing quite a bit already with the ALC. Some of those dialogues involved certain activities that had previously been considered (by WELS, ELS and LCMS) to be fellowship-related activities, especially joint prayers between LCMS groups and ALC groups.

The WELS protested, over the course of several years.

The LCMS replied, “Walther did it, so it must be OK.”

The WELS replied, “Walther’s fellowship discussions took place in a different context, when it was still being determined who believed and taught what. The ALC has by now clearly rejected Synodical Conference doctrine and has not changed its position. The LCMS should not join in prayer with them at these official meetings unless the ALC gives evidence that it no longer holds its false positions.”

The LCMS responded, “Walther did it, so it must be OK.”

The LCMS came up with a justification for this practice and coined the phrase “levels of fellowship” (cue evil music and sinister laughter). Church fellowship became essentially about altar and pulpit fellowship, acknowledging that “level” as requiring full doctrinal agreement between churches, but acknowledging other “levels” as not requiring full doctrinal agreement.

The WELS responded by coining a phrase of its own: “the unit concept” (cue evil music and sinister laughter). They viewed the LCMS “levels” as arbitrary distinctions that were created out of thin air to justify doing whatever they wanted to do with the ALC.

Here’s a portion of the WELS Theses on Church Fellowship defining the “unit concept.”

Church fellowship is every joint expression, manifestation, and demonstration of the common faith in which Christians on the basis of their confession find themselves to be united with one another…

…6. We may classify these joint expressions of faith in various ways according to the particular realm of activity in which they occur, e.g., pulpit fellowship; altar fellowship; prayer fellowship; fellowship in worship; fellowship in church work, in missions, in Christian education, and in Christian charity. Yet insofar as they are joint expressions of faith, they are all essentially one and the same thing and are all properly covered by a common designation, namely, church fellowship (see footnote 2). Church fellowship should therefore be treated as a unit concept, covering every joint expression, manifestation, and demonstration of a common faith. Hence, Scripture can give the general admonition “avoid them” when church fellowship is to cease (Ro 16:17). Hence, Scripture sees an expression of church fellowship also in giving the right hand of fellowship (Gal 2:9) and in greeting one another with the fraternal kiss (Ro 16:16); on the other hand, it points out that a withholding of church fellowship may also be indicated by not extending a fraternal welcome to errorists and by not bidding them Godspeed (2 Jn 10,11; cf. 3 Jn 5-8).

There have been many caricatures over the years of the unit concept, and to be honest, WELS members, pastors and seminary professors have been just as responsible as non-WELS members for creating and fostering these caricatures. Allow me to illustrate my understanding of the unit concept with a little First Century semi-historical fiction:

So imagine that the Apostle Peter is busy preaching to the saints in Jerusalem. He’s also organizing deacons to help with the works of charity among the Christian widows in Jerusalem. A man named Hymenaeus (cf. 1 Tim. 1:20, 2 Tim. 2:17) comes to Peter as a Christian, but a Christian who is teaching some strange things, namely, that the resurrection has already taken place. He has already been marked by the Apostle Paul as a false teacher and has begun to gather a following with his new teaching. The following discourse takes place:

Hymenaeus: “Hello, Peter.”

Peter: “Hello, Hymenaeus.”

Hymenaeus: “Peter, I know we don’t agree on every doctrine, but we both believe that Jesus is the Christ. Would it be all right if I give the sermon to the believers this Sunday?”

Peter: “No. You are a false teacher. How could I allow you to teach the believers? That wouldn’t serve the Truth.”

Hymenaeus: “Hmm. Well, all right. But you’ll allow me to commune at your altar, won’t you?”

Peter: “No. For we are one bread and one body, and you are trying to introduce dangerous leaven into the body, harming the body. Stop teaching your false doctrine. Repent, and then I will admit you to the altar.”

Hymenaeus: “Yeah, not gonna happen. I believe what I believe, and you should not judge me for it. But anyway, how about you at least let me lead a prayer at your Sunday gathering? Is that too much to ask?”

Peter: “Yes, it is too much to ask, Hymenaeus. You insist on teaching false doctrine which comes not from the Spirit of God, but from demons. It would not serve the Truth for me to allow you to lead us in prayer.”

Hymenaeus: “OK, then, would you come over to the flock I have gathered in Ephesus and lead us in prayer? I always tell them how much I respect you, even though I disagree with you about the timing of the resurrection. It would mean a lot if you could come and lead a prayer for us, maybe read a Scripture lesson or two.”

Peter: “No, I will not. That would give them the impression that the Truth can be broken up into bits that we can keep or discard as we see fit. I will not go and acknowledge you as a teacher of the Truth, nor will I go and give them the impression that Truth and error stand on equal footing, or that God is pleased that they continue to follow you instead of me.”

Hymenaeus: “Wow, Peter. I think you’re being very judgmental and an isolationist. You have to recognize other Christians out there who may not teach exactly the same way you do about the resurrection, but they love Jesus, too.”

Peter: “No. You have to recognize that Jesus gave me His Word of Truth and commissioned me to speak it. I am His apostle, together with all the other called Apostles of the Lord. You may not disagree with us and still pretend to follow Christ.”

Hymenaeus: “Fine, fine. Be that way. I won’t preach for you, and you won’t preach for me. I won’t commune with you and you won’t commune with me. But I have some friends who share my belief about the resurrection. They’re going to make a trip to Rome in order to teach the people there about Jesus. Would you consider taking up an offering for them to help them on their way?”

Peter: “No. You have broken up the Truth into bits and pieces and introduced your lies into the mix. What your friends would preach is no longer the Truth I preach. We cannot support your mission effort.”

Hymenaeus: “Why do you hate Jesus so much, Peter? Can’t you see that evangelism takes precedence over your doctrinal nitpicking? Here. As a show of good faith, I would like to make a donation to your mission efforts. We may not agree on everything, but I’m OK with that.”

Peter: “I will not take your money, because the Truth does not need the support of error. Are you trying to make up for your lies with money? Did you ever hear the story about Simon the Sorcerer? How about Ananias and Sapphira?”

Hymenaeus: “Let’s move on, shall we? No joint preaching. No joint communion. No joint prayer. No joint mission work. But I just know you’ll agree to this. There are lots of poor people in Jerusalem, and there are plenty of poor people in Ephesus. Surely the poor matter more to Jesus than any minor differences there might be between you and me. So one week, I’ll come here with an offering from my church, and you and I can walk the streets of Jerusalem arm in arm together handing out money to the poor. Then the next week, you come to Ephesus and we’ll do the same thing there. At other times, my deacons can work with your deacons, and my members can work with your members. It’ll be awesome.”

Peter: “No. I am an apostle who teaches the Truth of Christ. You teach lies, and your lies are dangerous. You are wrong to minimize the significance of your lies. I will not walk the streets with you and so teach the world that the First Table of the Law can be trampled upon in favor of the Second. If you want to help the poor, then repent of your lies. Teach the Truth. Stop opposing the apostles of the Truth. Stop drawing our sheep away from us to gather around you and your lies. Submit to the apostolic Truth, in faith. Then your service to the poor will be pleasing in the sight of God, who is able to multiply the loaves for the poor without any help from you.”

Hymenaeus: “I’m appalled at your intolerance, Peter. I will make sure the world knows how arrogant you are. I think I’ll go back to Paul and see what he has to say about it.”

Peter: “Good luck with that.”

Now, here’s where it really gets sticky. The WELS did not view itself as Peter and the LCMS as Hymenaeus. The WELS viewed itself as Paul, the LCMS as Peter, and the ALC as Hymenaeus. The WELS expected the LCMS to treat the ALC as Peter treated Hymenaeus in the story above. But instead, “Peter” was much more willing to work together with “Hymenaeus” in the 1950’s and 60’s (and eventually welcomed Hymenaeus into full apostolic fellowship with him – until Hymenaeus started ordaining Priscilla). So Paul eventually broke fellowship with Peter, and that was that.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us with a great big mess, because neither “levels of fellowship” nor “unit concept” are adequate for the Church. Let’s consider where each has ended up after 50+ years of implementation.

“Levels of fellowship” has been followed to its logical conclusion (or perhaps simply abused), so that you have rampant ecumenism:

  • joint participation in wedding ceremonies and “civic ceremonies,”
  • open communion,
  • Lodge membership acceptable,
  • Yankee Stadium,
  • a Christmas Day community worship service at the local Presbyterian church in which an LCMS congregation eagerly participates,
  • A Change or Die Conference with LCMS, WELS and ELCA participants helping each other to change the Church together in order to promote the “gospel” in the inner city,
  • LCMS in full fellowship with church bodies in full fellowship with the ELCA (Lutheran World Federation),
  • Lutheran World Relief.

“Unit Concept” has been followed to its logical conclusion (or perhaps simply abused), so that you have a strange sort of synodicalist sectarianism (as it has been called), or narcissistic isolationism.

  • “Sorry, Aunt Millie. You may be dying, and I’m sure I’ll see you in heaven, but you still hold membership in an LCMS congregation, so no, I can’t pray with you.”
  • No dialogue – positive or negative – with anyone else in the world,
  • A “bravado of orthodoxy” that leads to an attitude of “WELS = Good, non-WELS = Bad,”
  • A Change or Die Conference with LCMS, WELS and ELCA participants helping each other to change the Church together in order to promote the “gospel” in the inner city, (“Hey, we’re not praying together, so it’s fine if we work together for Gospel ministry in other ways.”)
  • A WELS pastor applying for and receiving RSO status in the Missouri Synod, so that now both synods are promoting his admittedly non-Lutheran televangelism jointly. (OK, that’s just completely inconsistent with the unit concept. And yet it’s tolerated. Maybe we don’t really hold to the unit concept as a synod at all!)

In the end, it all leads down the path toward legalism—on both sides of the fence. Arbitrary, man-made rules, that are followed superficially and enforced arbitrarily, all the while missing the point.

We’re supposed to be working together, under Christ, for the Truth. Anything that compromises the Truth should be avoided. Anything that fosters the Truth should be promoted. There. Isn’t that simple? Or maybe just simplistic. It’s worth discussing, at least.

About Pastor Paul Rydecki

Rev. Paul Rydecki is originally from Stevensville, Michigan. Although baptized in the LC-MS, he joined a WELS congregation with his parents at an early age. He graduated from Northwestern College in 1995 and from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 2000, when he was ordained and commissioned as a world missionary to Puerto Rico. After four years in Puerto Rico and three in Mexico, Rev. Rydecki accepted a call in 2007 to Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he now lives with his wife, Amy, and his four sons, Nathan, Jacob, Samuel and Lucas.

Comments

Church Fellowship – in Story Format — 237 Comments

  1. Among the 2 billion goats there may be some sheep.   I just hope they won’t want to pray with the Lutherans.   (sarcasm-off)

  2. John Rixe,
    Wha’? I look forward to seeing BJS posters at Home, along w/a few R.C., Baptist, & still prayin’ for a few LCMS whom I know outside, their own Congregation. I.E. Family, John.

    His world, His realm, His creation, & He does & can do what He likes, He wrote It all & made both gates, didn’t He?

    When did the narrow gate, not become narrow? Wide was always wide, but when did the narrow one, become wider by personal preference or anything else…it’s His Gate, His Word, or did that change?
    Just kinda curious…

  3. @Pastor Tim Rossow #46

    I normally don’t like beating a dead horse, and I was happy enough to walk away, but some things call out for a little correction.

    You say:

    Missouri Synod Lutherans do not have fellowship with Baptists. In the LCMS we have chosen to use the word “fellowship” to mean those with whom we are in docrtinal agreement on all the articles of the Gospel.

    Our Synod says otherwise.

    From our CTCR Document — approved by our Synod as the official position of our Synod:

    When Christ had completed His work upon the cross and had reconciled all mankind to God, He committed to His church the Word of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19), with the command that they should preach it to all the world (Acts 1:8; Luke 24:46-48; cp. Acts 2:4-12). Through this Word men are summoned to faith, and faith is created in them (1 Peter 1:23-25; Rom. 10:17; Rom. 1:16, 17; James 1:18).3

    The call to faith is simultaneously the call into fellowship (1 Cor. 1:9). In the Gospel God effectively calls man into fellowship; in Baptism God initiates man into fellowship (Gal. 3:26-29); in the Lord’s Supper God strengthens and confirms man in the fellowship into which He Himself has called and placed him (1 Cor. 10:16, 17).6 This fellowship, created and sustained by the Holy Spirit, makes the Christian a partaker in Christ, a child of God, and therefore also an heir of God in time and in eternity (Rom. 8:16, 17; Gal. 3:26-29; Rom. 10:9-13).

    B. FELLOWSHIP WITH ALL BELIEVERS IN CHRIST
    Those who have fellowship with God through faith in Christ are also in fellowship with one another (1 John 1:3). As faith makes all men children of God, so it also makes them all brethren in Christ (Gal. 3:26 and 27). This fellowship transcends every barrier created by God or set up by man and brings about the highest unity possible among men, the unity in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). This transcending of all barriers is beautifully described in Eph. 2:11-22.

    ============

    So….you know, your argument is not with me; it is with the official teaching of our Synod.

    When you say ” It did not bother you to break our commonly agreed definition of fellowship” what you actually mean is “It did not bother you to break with my privately held definition of fellowship” because it certainly is not our Synod’s definition of fellowship.

    “Growing up” can often refer to admitting that you are wrong….so…are YOU going to grow up?

  4. One more thing:

    …Sts. Paul and Peter we only declare fellowship with someone if they agree with all the teachings of the Bible….

    Where does it say this in Scripture?

  5. Once again you are the master of equivocation.

    You would like us to believe that we ought to have full altar and pulpit fellowship with the Baptists, Methodists, etc. because of the broader use of the term “fellowship” in something you quoted from the CTCR. They are using it in the broad sense. When we as the LCMS, the CTCR included, speak of “fellowship” in a technical sense, concerning “fellowship” with other church bodies, we are referrning to altar and pulpit fellowship.

    A question for you. Does it bother your conscience when you have altar and pulpit fellowship with those outside of the Christians with which the LCMS has altar and pulpit fellowship?

  6. Mark,

    So do you believe that Peter and Paul and the other apostles for that matter, would have altar and pulpit fellowship with those who hold to false teaching?

  7. @Mark Louderback #53

    As I continued reading the document you cite from, I found the following…

    “C. IN GUARDING THIS FELLOWSHIP

    A Christian’s fellowship with God in Christ as well as his fellowship with other Christians is an exceedingly great and precious possession (1 John 3:13, 14; Eph. 4:1-6).1 For this reason Satan constantly strives to disrupt this fellowship by every means at his disposal. Therefore it is necessary for the church to safeguard this fellowship in every way….

    This the church does—

    1. By remaining steadfastly under the power of the Gospel in Word and Sacrament (Acts 2:42; Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:26-28; 1 Cor. 12:13; 1 Cor. 10:16, 17; 1 Cor. 11:26),1 since Christian fellowship can be nourished and sustained only by the Gospel, which created it (John 8:31, 32; Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 20:20; Acts 20:27, 28; Luke 11:27, 28; John 15:7-9; 1 John 2:24, 25; Col. 3:14-16).2 1 Acts 2:42….

    2. By applying the corrective measures of the Law and the healing powers of the Gospel whenever the church is invaded by errors in teaching and preaching (Titus 1:9; 1:13, 14; 1 Tim. 1:3, 4; 1 Cor. 1:10, 11; 3:3, 4; Eph. 4:1-6; Col. 3:14-16; 2 Thess. 3:14, 15),1 by corruptions of morals (Matt. 18:15; Luke 17:3, 4; Gal. 6:1-2; 2 Tim. 4:1-3),2 and by schismatic and separatistic tendencies (Titus 3:10; 1 Cor. 1:10, 11; 1 Cor. 3:3, 4),3 which impede Christian fellowship. (Cp. Acts 15:1-29; also the manner in which St. Paul deals with erring Christians in his epistles. For the importance of correcting error see James 5:19, 20.)4

    3. By resolutely confronting, exposing, and excluding all that threatens to vitiate and destroy the fellowship (Matt. 7:15, 16; 16:11, 12; Gal. 5:9; 1:6-9; Acts 19:8-10; 2 John 9-11; Rom. 16:16-20; 1 Tim. 1:19, 20; 1 Cor. 5:3-6; Matt. 18:15-18),1 whether it be a satanic intrusion from outside the church or a satanic perversion from within (John 8:44; 2 Cor. 2:8-11; 2 Cor. 11:2-4; 1 Tim. 4:1, 2; Matt. 24:24).2 (Cp. 2 Peter 2:1-10; 2 Tim. 3:1-9; 1 John 2:18, 19; Eph. 5:6-11; Matt. 12:25, 30-32; Jude 17-23; 2 Peter 3:1-3, 17, 18; 1 Cor. 15:32-34; 1 Tim. 6:3-5.)….” —CTCR Theology of Fellowship pp. 11-13

  8. We believe, teach, and confess also that no Church should condemn another because one has less or more external ceremonies not commanded by God than the other, if otherwise there is agreement among them in doctrine and all its articles, as also in the right use of the holy Sacraments, according to the well-known saying: Dissonantia ieiunii non dissolvit consonantiam fidei, Disagreement in fasting does not destroy agreement in faith. (Formula of Concord, Epitome, 10,7)

    Thus [According to this doctrine] the churches will not condemn one another because of dissimilarity of ceremonies when, in Christian liberty, one has less or more of them, provided they are otherwise agreed with one another in the doctrine and all its articles, also in the right use of the holy Sacraments, according to the well-known saying: Dissonantia ieiunii non dissolvit consonantiam fidei; “Disagreement in fasting does not destroy agreement in the faith.” (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, 10, 31)

  9. Maybe just maybe…if those in authority, the men who sit & serve, in whatever manner, are no longer, “mehl im Maule behalten”, then things like this & many another will change. Until that is done, at great cost, nothing really will. IMHO.

  10. @Pastor Tim Rossow #55

    You know, when you say equivocation, you mean “accuracy.” Part of being a theologian is making distinctions.

    It is what I am doing. It is an important distinction to make. So I don’t apologize.

    You would like us to believe that we ought to have full altar and pulpit fellowship with the Baptists, Methodists, etc.

    And this is exactly why we need to make distinction. Because otherwise we get foolishness like this.

    I have said no such thing and I support no such thing.

    You have NO idea about the position of our Synod; you have no idea about MY position; and you are unsure of what YOU think.

    And I am the one who gets labeled as the skeptic on Steadfast?

    It is humorous AND sad. It is Sadorous.

  11. @Jim Pierce #57

    Yes. Once again, have I not said, again and again: we cannot ignore the differences between us. Have I not? This is absolutely correct.

    Once again: absolutely correct.

    The document is a pretty good one. You ought to take some time working through it. It is pretty compelling. Of course, like most CTCR documents, it is ignored — that is how we do our theology on fellowship. We write stuff and walk away from it. And this is equally true of both sides.

    I’d like us to actually address the issues at hand and not merely take one side or another.

    BTW, I do appreciate your response above. What I was actually driving at though, is not your overall position on fellowship, but what exactly do you think the confessions mean?

  12. @Pastor Tim Rossow #56

    You asked: Does it bother your conscience when you have altar and pulpit fellowship with those outside of the Christians with which the LCMS has altar and pulpit fellowship?

    And just once again, to point out that this is what separates me from many other men and women on Steadfast — Dutch, Pr Rydecki — I’m not going to give Pr Crandall too much flak as he is thinking about my question, but as it has been a few days, maybe a little flak — I’m going to answer your question.

    I just point that out as something that gives me the smallest bit of moral superiority. 🙂

    First, I don’t have altar fellowship with those outside of our fellowship. But have I participated in prayer services and the like? Yes. Absolutely.

    My positon is clear: we need to demonstrate the fellowship that we have while at the same time pointing out the differences between us.

    Your position may or may not be that we treat non-Christian and Christian alike. I don’t think Peter and Paul would have done that. Would they have done as I do? Well, I’m doing what they wrote, so, yes.

    But at the same time, I’m not saying I have not made mistakes. I am saying that at least I acknowledge that there is a tension and a struggle and not just a neat clean cut that you guys want.

    And I think that this is something we ought to discuss — and actually understand what the people are saying and not twist the words and pretend otherwise.

    I’ve written pages and pages — and you still can’t express my position? What, I’m not clear enough? I’m too obtuse?

    I don’t think so.

    What exactly do you think is going to happen at the Koin? You are going to be Obama’s rep walking into a buzz-saw. You heard it here first.

  13. Mark Louderback :
    I’ve written pages and pages — and you still can’t express my position? What, I’m not clear enough? I’m too obtuse?

    Absolutely yes.

  14. @Mark Louderback #61

    Pr. Louderback,

    What do the Confessions mean concerning what exactly? Your question is vague. I suppose I can guess what you are asking is “What does it mean to say that we find the Church where the marks of the Church are present?” Or some question like that? It is all too obvious for me that the Confessions talk about the invisible Church and the visible, or revealed, Church. Since we can’t see the invisible, the marks of the Church show us where we might find the visible Church. The marks being the teaching of the pure doctrine of the Gospel and the faithful delivery of the Sacraments. Churches or congregations that teach the Gospel in its purity and rightly teach concerning and deliver the sacraments are part of the visible Church on earth. Does that answer your question?

    I don’t want to guess why you keep pressing your example with the RC. The RC is a heterodox church body. Are there Christians therein? We should expect so, since they have the Word and the Sacraments and in spite of their gross errors and false gospel, the Holy Spirit works faith through His Word and Sacraments.

    Should we have pulpit and altar fellowship with the RC? Absolutely not!

    Let me know if I have answered your questions, please.

  15. Mark Louderback :
    @Pastor Ted Crandall #58
    Did or did not the Lutherans come together for devotions and prayers with the RC back in the confessors day? Hm? Ask Jim Pierce, he will be able to tell you.

    Please refresh my memory, Pr. Louderback. I recall you arguing a point in the past—when to the best of my memory you argued most vehemently that the Roman Catholic church has, in its official teachings, the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ (and that most ignore Trent)—that Lutherans and RC publicly prayed together and shared devotions together, but I don’t recall anything more than that.

  16. Pastor Louderback ,
    Surprised by, the polite German form of meely mouthed? I know how to say it in Frieslander & Bayrische slang, but “meely” isn’t the term used, in those.

    Meely-mouthed is never something ya are, here at BJS. I believe the mistake was yours, Pastor.
    Pie crust promise, easily made, easily broken, kinda figured ya’d break it first.

  17. @Jason #64

    (Chuckle) See, what is funny about this Jason is that earlier you said:

    And yet you post so many definitive statements….

    So…which is it? Am I too definitive or am I obtuse? Or some half-way point inbetween?

    Or are you just trying to score debating points? That is not too obtuse a statement, is it?

    @Dutch #67

    I believe the mistake was yours, Pastor.

    I would disagree…but, one would expect that I guess.

  18. Pastor Louderback,
    Who would be counting? Certainly not a gnat like me.

    Your words, your rules. Crow really doesn’t taste bad, if others add honey to the plate.

  19. @Jim Pierce #65

    Ok— I did not say I was never not clear. 🙂

    I mean this confessions quote:

    “[We are speaking not of an imaginary Church, which is to be found nowhere; but we say and know certainly that this Church, wherein saints live, is and abides truly upon earth; namely, that some of God’s children are here and there in all the world, in various kingdoms, islands, lands, and cities, from the rising of the sun to its setting, who have truly learned to know Christ and His Gospel.] And we add the marks: the pure doctrine of the Gospel [the ministry or the Gospel] and the Sacraments” Apology VII, VIII, 20.

    What does this quote mean?

    Sometimes when I ask questions, I do it having an answer in mind and I am trying to prove a point (Did Paul think that Hymenaeus was a Christian?)

    Here on the other hand, I am just interested in how you read this. Are the Reformers intending to say that the RC does NOT have the marks of the Church? Or do they?

    Just curious as to how you read that.

    Now, as to this questions:

    I don’t want to guess why you keep pressing your example with the RC.

    Because the RC has denied justification by faith alone, which we generally see as foundational — so when it comes to an example of a group that might not be Christian, they are generally used as the example.

    This is my extreme example, so that is why I use it.

    Please refresh my memory, Pr. Louderback. I recall you arguing a point in the past—when to the best of my memory you argued most vehemently that the Roman Catholic church has, in its official teachings, the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ (and that most ignore Trent)—that Lutherans and RC publicly prayed together and shared devotions together, but I don’t recall anything more than that.

    The example of the praying and fellowship is found in — none other than!!! — the same Fellowship document we have been talking about: The Theology of Fellowship.

    Let me copy it here:

    At the Colloquy at Ratisbon in 1602 Lutherans and Roman Catholics had taken turns with the opening prayers. (Cf. Theology of Fellowship, Part II, Footnote 46.) It appears that at Thorn the Lutheran spokesmen, among them Huelsemann and Calov, expected that the same arrangement would prevail. Upon arrival, however, they found that the Roman Catholics insisted that all opening services were to be conducted by Roman Catholics. The result was that the Lutherans refused to attend the opening services, and prayed instead in a private meeting of their own.

    ======

    This is fascinating for two reasons: first, because in 1602, the Lutherans and RC were still praying together. But as well, it indicates that when the RC refused to see Lutherans as equals, the Lutherans walked away from it.

    This is exactly what I believe our theology of fellowship should reflect.

  20. @Jason #64

    Mark Louderback: I’ve written pages and pages — and you still can’t express my position? What, I’m not clear enough? I’m too obtuse?

    Jason: Absolutely yes.

    Second! Pastor Louderback goes on and on, to such an extent that, if I did read all his posts, I’d have very little time left to read anyone else’s. Besides, he’s consistently rejected any correction and from word one I know I’m reading the opinions of a “Lutheran” pastor who is unrepentant about offering his congregation on Christmas Day (a Sunday) only a joint worship service at a Presbyterian service. Not much motivation there to give him the time of day, especially in light of Romans 16:17.

  21. @Mark Louderback #70

    Pr. Louderback,

    What does the text say? It matters not what I think it means. Look at the text!

    “We are speaking not of an imaginary Church, which is to be found nowhere;… and we add the marks: the pure doctrine of the Gospel [the ministry or the Gospel] and the Sacraments”

    Where is this not-imaginary Church to be found? Where we find “the marks” which are “the pure doctrine of the Gospel [the ministry of the Gospel] and the Sacraments.” How is that not clear to you?

    Do you believe the RC has “the pure doctrine of the Gospel,” Pr. Louderback? Do they teach the truth about the Lord’s Supper?

    You write:

    “Because the RC has denied justification by faith alone, which we generally see as foundational — so when it comes to an example of a group that might not be Christian, they are generally used as the example.”

    Any Lutheran who holds a quia subscription to the Book of Concord says that the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ is a foundational doctrine. Don’t you believe it is a foundational doctrine, Pr. Louderback?

    But, thank you for letting me know why you are using the RC. Mormons aren’t Christian, so if you are looking for a clear example perhaps you should use them in the future?

    “At the Colloquy at Ratisbon in 1602 Lutherans and Roman Catholics had taken turns with the opening prayers. (Cf. Theology of Fellowship, Part II, Footnote 46.) It appears that at Thorn the Lutheran spokesmen, among them Huelsemann and Calov, expected that the same arrangement would prevail. Upon arrival, however, they found that the Roman Catholics insisted that all opening services were to be conducted by Roman Catholics. The result was that the Lutherans refused to attend the opening services, and prayed instead in a private meeting of their own.”

    Pr. Louderback, you should continuing reading the document, since you missed the whole point that was raised in the footnotes. There is nothing in the footnote which indicates, as you do, that the Lutherans were desirous to pray and hold devotions with the RC because they wanted fellowship. On the contrary! Continue reading the footnote to find, “There follow additional reasons why the Lutherans believed they could not consent to pray with the Roman Catholic party” and “8. It militates against our conscience, which forbids to harm the neighbor; our neighbor, who is related to our faith, would be harmed if we were to pray together with Roman Catholics.” This wasn’t Lutherans wanting to pray WITH the RC, but rather wanting to exercise their Christian freedom to pray AT the public colloquy for the sake of their side. So please continue reading…

    “At the Colloquy at Ratisbon in 1602 Lutherans and Roman Catholics had taken turns with the opening prayers. (Cf. Theology of Fellowship, Part II, Footnote 46.) It appears that at Thorn the Lutheran spokesmen, among them Huelsemann and Calov, expected that the same arrangement would prevail. Upon arrival, however, they found that the Roman Catholics insisted that all opening services were to be conducted by Roman Catholics. The result was that the Lutherans refused to attend the opening services, and prayed instead in a private meeting of their own. In his Historica Syncretistica (1682) Abraham Calov not only gives valuable information and documents relating to the Colloquy of Thorn but also about the whole syncretistic controversy which developed in connection with the union efforts spearheaded by Georg Calixt. Calov gives among others these reasons advanced by the Lutherans why they could not yield to the Roman Catholic demands in the matter of the prayers:

    1. The apostle forbids that anyone should have fellowship with darkness and the spiritual Babylon. 2 Cor. 6; Rev. 18.
    2. There is nothing in the royal invitation (the colloquy had been called by the king of Poland) about joint prayers and ceremonies; rather that those who had left Roman Catholicism should be distinct and separate.
    3. The royal invitation of Dec. 1, 1644, gives sacred guarantees that charity should be preserved among all. But parity is violated if we are hindered from reciting our own prayers and called, as it were, before a tribunal, with the prayers of the Roman Catholics thrust upon us.
    4. The colloquy is to be charitable; but it is a contradiction of charity to forbid those who have equal rights to conduct prayers with their fellows, to take away from them the liberty to pray in public; if we were to condescend to pray with the Roman Catholic gentlemen, we should sin against charity, by which we should give offense to the weak. Rom. 16.
    5. Liberty has been granted three provinces of greater Prussia in the exercise of religion, according to the teachings of Holy Scripture and the Unaltered Augsburg Confession; why should there not also be liberty of reciting prayers, as in our churches so also in a hall and in a public act of confession.
    6. It militates against our protestation, in the preliminary conditions, which the Roman Catholic part has already confirmed. . . .
    7. It militates against our instructions, in which we are commanded to hold firmly and to defend the equality of our side.
    8. It militates against our conscience, which forbids to harm the neighbor; our neighbor, who is related to our faith, would be harmed if we were to pray together with Roman Catholics.
    9. We have been instructed to procure and do all things which could be conducive to avoiding schisms in our churches, and establish harmony instead, and to nourish harmony with the churches which are outside [our realm], with which we are joined in fellowship of faith. But agreeing to pray [jointly] in public, will give cause for schism, disturb harmony, offend the churches without, who will be surprised that we should be willing to have the liberty of praying taken away from us.
    10. We confess Christ also in our prayers, therefore he who forbids us these, takes away from us the liberty of confessing Christ.
    11. Our instructions prohibit us from accepting from the Roman Catholics even so much as the manner of conducting the colloquy; much less will it be right to accept from them the manner of praying.
    12. A charitable colloquy ought not to have the power of a synod, or the power to compel. But to compel the party of the Augsburg Confession and to forbid them prayer in public, what, I ask, is this if not to exercise the power of a synod against it? There follow additional reasons why the Lutherans believed they could not consent to pray with the Roman Catholic party. The Scriptures referred to are 2 Cor. 6:14-18 (Rev. 18); and Romans 16:17, 18.”

  22. @Pastor Ted Crandall #72

    Be that as it may, I shall note that you still have not answered my question.

    I think you are just hiding behind a cowardly attack. Rather than actually address the topic, you lash out at the one asking the question.

    Back out and away now — but that won’t be an option at the Koin, will it?

  23. @Jim Pierce #73

    What does the text say? It matters not what I think it means. Look at the text!

    I’m looking for what YOU believe the text says. You could be in error of what the text says, right?

    Or, I could be in error and I need correcting. Either way, I’m looking for explanation.

    How else does one ask for it? What is the correct way to ask this question?

    Where is this not-imaginary Church to be found? Where we find “the marks” which are “the pure doctrine of the Gospel [the ministry of the Gospel] and the Sacraments.” How is that not clear to you?

    I’m dumb. I’m slow. I’m an idiot.

    It is not clear. Would you explain it to me? Please.

  24. @Jim Pierce #73

    Pr. Louderback, you should continuing reading the document, since you missed the whole point that was raised in the footnotes. There is nothing in the footnote which indicates, as you do, that the Lutherans were desirous to pray and hold devotions with the RC because they wanted fellowship.

    See?! I got it wrong — all the more reason you should explain the early section.

    Calov’s words are in reaction to the RC insisting that they be the only ones to pray.

    You tell me: if you went to a theological conference between the Mormon church and the LCMS and each day, the group started with a devotion and prayer, what would you draw from that?

  25. So, at this point things, have degraded once again — because I am not clear enough with my words (eyes roll), so let me summarize my position:

    I think people are simply too polarized on this. It seems as though there are only two positions allowable: either you don’t pray with false teachers of ANY ANY ANY kind, or else you have full altar and pulpit fellowship with every false teacher in the book.

    I myself want to have some moderating position in the middle. One that acknowledges the fellowship that has been given to us as a gift of God and one that takes seriously the errors that divide us.

    People can say I’ve drawn the line wrong — it should be HERE and not THERE — but once again, that is a matter for the Synod to decide and do so in truth, love and charity. My beef has been that the Synod doesn’t really wrestle with these issues. We put out fellowship documents that ignore what previous fellowship documents have said. And so it goes on and on.

    It is my hope that the Koin cleans this all up.

    Furthermore, I just think that too many people on Steadfast aren’t used to opposition. They remove themselves from having to face serious opposition, and so when it pops us, they attack it and walk away.

    Once again, look at the many questions I have asked that people don’t answer (Jim Pierce, I am specifically not referring to you, although, in all honesty, you could just explain what the text means and save me from having to ask you a few times…)

    Let me repeat that: People don’t answer my questions. Because they are hard. They run counter to what they believe. It forces them to re-examine their positions. It demonstrates prejudices and blind spots they have.

    Too bad, you know? My own positions are certainly put under the fire — oh, I mean, as far as people are able to understand them. Seems as though people understand them when they criticize me, but not when I respond. How convenient.

    I can’t imagine how Luther would respond to this. I think he’d be ashamed. Luther never said “Well, I’m not going to answer that dumb question!” I was reading through Bondage of the Will and Luther thinks Erasmus is an idiot, but that doesn’t stop him from answering every single statement that Erasmus says.

    Bondage was longer than Erasmus’ work. That is my kinda guy.

    So, I ask the reader to consider the words here and judge accordingly. If you have more questions, you may always ask me. If you disagree, let me know. Just don’t be disagreeable.

    And whatever we do, do it all to the glory of God.

  26. @Jim Pierce #76

    Et tu Brute?

    Well, I am sorry that you too will not answer my question. In all honesty, I thought you would do better than that. I thought you would BE better than that. You have normally treated me better and I’m disappointed.

    That might not mean much, of course, but there it is.

    What question do you want answered?

  27. @Mark Louderback #79

    Pr. Louderback,

    I have tried several times answering you and believe I have been as clear as I can be. I believe exactly what I have written. The marks of the Church are the pure doctrine of the Gospel and the sacraments. I have no doubt that an article of the pure Gospel is specifically justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ. I don’t think I need to spell that out, do I? We could also include the doctrine on the nature of God and of Christ, since we can’t have a pure Gospel without the correct object of faith? And we also have to include proper teaching on the vicarious atonement. Which also means we have to include in this all the proper teaching about the Word of God. How far do you want to go? I think it is enough to use the short hand “pure doctrine of the Gospel” which our Lutheran confessors did and then go back to the articles of faith explained in the Book of Concord. However one teaches concerning justification, though, is going to be “the biggie” as to what they mean by “the pure doctrine of the Gospel and the sacraments.” If you don’t see justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ as fundamental to the faith, then you are going to waffle all over the place as to what that—the pure Gospel— means. Does that help? I am not sure it will at this point.

    What is the text saying according to Pr. Louderback?

    In addition can you answer the following… Do you believe the RC officially teaches “the pure doctrine of the Gospel?” Do they teach the truth about the Lord’s Supper?

    Thanks.

  28. Mark Louderback :
    I can’t imagine how Luther would respond to this. I think he’d be ashamed. Luther never said “Well, I’m not going to answer that dumb question!” I was reading through Bondage of the Will and Luther thinks Erasmus is an idiot, but that doesn’t stop him from answering every single statement that Erasmus says.
    And whatever we do, do it all to the glory of God.

    BTW, Erasmus answered the Bondage of the Will with his two volume Hyperaspistes. I believe Luther just yawned at it. 🙂 He certainly didn’t waste his time responding to it.

  29. @Jim Pierce #81
    I believe Luther just yawned at it. 🙂 He certainly didn’t waste his time responding to it.

    Another reason I love being Lutheran!

  30. Pastor Louderback,
    Ha! These posts are why I said no. You ask questions, but they really, in truth, aren’t really, at the end of the day, aren’t questions. You’ve had & been gifted a cavalcade of answers, none of which, suit you, as it seems.
    When those who pose questions, to you….receive quite a bit, not answers however. I’m sorry for ya, in a way, you spent years of your young life, in Sem & University, they gave & sent ya off w/more questions, than any answers.
    I know Jim Pierce, he knows me, far outside BJS. Pastor Crandall, USMC Chaplin (no such thing as an ex or former USMC anything) you philosophize….
    they DO. In spite & dispite, w/o compromise. I’ll answer a real question, once you actually post one, to either of them & get an answer.
    Specially if it is not one, you chose, wanted, or needed. That is evangelism, that is sharing the Good News, it’s what many do, w/o pomp, fame, or public knowledge.

    Ask a real question & be thankful & grateful for the answer & nothing more. Then maybe you’ll be taken as seriously as you endevor.

  31. @Jim Pierce #81

    These is only so much one-ups-man ship that you can do.

    Besides, Luther could say “Well I answered your questions.” 🙂

    And that is the point at hand, isn’t it? That Luther DID answer Erasmus. In detail. Extensive long detail.

    Remind you of anyone?

    I have tried several times answering you and believe I have been as clear as I can be. I believe exactly what I have written.

    What you have not been clear about is the meaning of the passage in the Confessions.

    We are speaking not of an imaginary Church, which is to be found nowhere; but we say and know certainly that this Church, wherein saints live, is and abides truly upon earth; namely, that some of God’s children are here and there in all the world, in various kingdoms, islands, lands, and cities, from the rising of the sun to its setting, who have truly learned to know Christ and His Gospel.] And we add the marks: the pure doctrine of the Gospel [the ministry or the Gospel] and the Sacraments” Apology VII, VIII, 20.

    Person A says this:

    When I read this, what this means (And we add the marks: the pure doctrine of the Gospel [the ministry or the Gospel] and the Sacraments’) is that the Reformers were denying that the RC was in fact the church. They did not have the pure Gospel, and while they had baptism, they did not celebrate a correct Lord’s Supper, but rather had some Mistaken Mass.

    You can’t have one mark and be the church. It says AND — you need all.

    This is not to say that the RC don’t have Christians — certainly they do — but the Confessors — and we — ought to understand that the Church is only to be found properly where the marks are and nowhere else.

    This carries on to today — the baptist say that Christ is not present, and indeed He is not. They have put themselves outside of the Church. Not as individuals, but as a church body, they do not have the marks of the church.

    Person B says this:

    When I read this, I see that the Confessors were calling the RC Church the Church, because the marks of the church were found there. Even though the Gospel was proclaimed next to falsehood, yet the Gospel was there — in the liturgy, in the Creed, etc. This carries on to today as well — where the Gospel is proclaimed, there the Church is.

    Even the Baptist church has baptism and the sacrament. They teach it with error, but they still have it, and so this is a mark of the church and it is why we say that the Baptist Church is The Church.

    ==========

    So, imagine this conversation:

    Me: So, what does this passage mean.
    Person A: Why, exactly what it says!
    Person B (nodding) Yes, quite.

    You see that the two, holding opposing views, both believe that their view is simply a reading of the text.

    So when I ask you to explain the text, I just want you to unpack it a bit and explain what it means. Perhaps you agree with Person A, but note that Luther later on wrote about nine marks of the church — thus indicating, not a correction, but more of an expansion of the position. Maybe you hold to position C, which says something completely different — but at the same time is still exactly what the text says.

    Does that make sense?

    So, when they say “The Pure Gospel” is that to be taken perhaps in a minimalistic form (Christ died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again) or is it meant to be taken in a larger form (the articles of faith that hinge on the Gospel).

    You seem to be leaning to the latter position — why? I just want you to explain what the passage means.

    What is the text saying according to Pr. Louderback?

    Well, I did ask you first. 🙂

    I believe that in that section, Melanchthon was pretty much referring to the RC church as being the church — he intended to mean “This is what the marks of the church are and the RC church has those marks” — and when other churches sprouted off, I think that Luther then noted additional marks.

    That would be my reading.

    Do you believe the RC officially teaches “the pure doctrine of the Gospel?”

    In the broad sense yes. They are a Christian church, they proclaim Christ crucified and risen. Their denial of justification is pretty meaningless — because in all honesty they are a big hodge-podge of true and false teaching. They just never correct anything and jut keep making contradictory statements and don’t really care.

    Because there is only one way of salvation — and that is the Gospel — to say that they are a Church is to say that they have the Gospel. And the Gospel — even a little Gospel — is the whole thing and brings forgiveness and salvation. So God sees the RC as being a Church without error, clothed in His Son’s righteousness.

    A Gospel with error is still the pure Gospel. Just as a sinner with Christ is a perfect saint.

    At the same time, in a broad sense (Wait, two broad senses? Well, I may as well give people a reason to call me obtuse) the RC does not have the Pure Gospel. They teach error and the like. The universalism that is in their catechism is just sad.

    Do they teach the truth about the Lord’s Supper?

    Once again, they are good and bad, but the individual leaving their Table is forgiven by Christ, through His body and blood. So, once again, salvation is there.

    Do they teach truth about the Lord’s Supper? Yes. Is what they teach ALL true about the Lord’s Supper? No.

    Did I answer your questions? 😉

  32. @Dutch #83

    These posts are why I said no.

    Rationalize all you want. The fact of the matter is simple:

    You said something about me
    I asked what you meant
    You refused to answer.

    That is not the behavior of Luther.

    Or, really, of a Christian.

    I think I’d like to add that to the marks of the church: Christians confess.

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