Steadfast AFLC — AFLC 101

The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC) last week celebrated their 50th Anniversary. This is the church body to which I belong.  Some people when they see the acronym, AFLC, think of that duck from that insurance company.  That’s AFLAC.  The AFLC began in 1962 when representatives from 70 Lutheran Free Church congregations met.  These people opposed the merger into the American Lutheran Church.  In hindsight, this was incredibly wise because less than thirty years later the ALC would join the Lutheran Church of America and Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.  The roughly 40-50 congregations that decided not to merge into the ALC and continue the tradition of the Lutheran Free Church in the AFLC, has grown today to 270 congregations.  A few years ago our claim to fame was that we were the fourth largest Lutheran church in America.  Since then the two ELCA break away groups, Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and the North American Lutheran Church have passed us.  In all honesty, who cares?  Let the Church Growth people stew over numbers.

What does the AFLC “believe, teach, and confess”?  (*Warning* Confessional Lutherans may want to have a bottle of Tylenol nearby.)

First of all, the AFLC confesses the Bible to be God’s Word, i.e. inerrant, infallible, and inspired.  Also, for congregations to join the AFLC they must unreservedly subscribe to the ancient ecumenical symbols, Luther’s Small Catechism, the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, and the Fundamental Principles and Rules for Work of the AFLC.  The last document can be found at the following link:  At seminary we were taught a “quia” subscription to the Book of Concord, i.e. we believe the Book of Concord because it is a faithful exposition of the Scriptures.  However, it is usually only the Small Catechism and Augsburg Confession that are emphasized.  Certainly this has to do with our Norwegian roots.  One of the reasons is that the Book of Concord was not translated into Norwegian until 1868.  Another reason is pietism.  An excellent essay that discusses both, is Erling Teigen’s “The Book of Concord and Confessional Subscription Among Norwegian Lutherans—Norway and America” which can be found here:

What about women’s ordination?  The AFLC upholds the Biblical witness that only men are put into the Pastoral Office.  As we rightfully confess the truth in this matter, we fail in another: lay-ministry.  There are congregations in the AFLC that allow non-ordained men to publicly preach and teach God’s Word and administer the Sacraments.  The AFLC allows this because Scripture says in….(crickets chirping)……  We see that Scripture nowhere talks about the Office of lay-pastor.  What we do find in Scripture is that God calls, examines, ordains and sends men into the Office of the Holy Ministry via the church.  This is precisely how our Lutheran forefathers understand the Ministry in AC V and XI.

The “R” and “P” Word

I know hearing the word revival for some Confessional Lutherans is tantamount to swearing in church.  True spiritual awakening/revival that comes through the preaching of God’s Word and right administration of the Sacraments is a wonderful thing.  Most would agree with this statement, heck even the Preus’ would, I think?  Revivalism that is steeped in emotionalism and that is manufactured through cheap tricks, used by such men as Charles Finney and those in the CGM today is disgusting.

Hans Nielsen Hauge is one particular Norwegian revivalist that is championed in the AFLC.  He was a layman that went throughout Norway preaching repentance and personal salvation.  The state church did not care for him because he was not authorized to do the work of a pastor, and as a result he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.  One of the reasons Hauge is favorably viewed is because of his emphasis on pietism.

Pietism is another hallmark of the AFLC.  Usually it is tempered by the phrase “orthodox Lutheran pietism.”  However, “orthodox Lutheran pietism” is as much of an oxymoron as “lay-pastor” is.  True biblical piety is a good thing.  Such piety is based on proper preaching of God’s Word;  Law that kills and Gospel that makes alive.  It is centered on our justification in Christ and the means in which we receive his righteousness, the Word and all of its avenues; font, pulpit, altar, and confession and absolution.  This is true biblical piety.  Pietism never saw it this way, and that is why it devolves into “I don’t chew, smoke, or go with girls that do.”

I would like to see my church body, just as the Missouri Synod has in the last ten years, rediscover Bo Giertz.  He is a man that understands that true biblical piety is rooted in Christ especially as He comes to us with His gifts in the Divine Service.  Giertz, through the fictional character, Torvik in The Hammer of God, writes:

 As long as the world lasts, all Christianity is bound to this Jesus Christ….Today one becomes a disciple by being united with this same Jesus of Nazareth, being baptized to him, nurtured by him in his church, and receiving his gifts.  These gifts are the same today as then.  The same words reach us through the Bible, the same feast is celebrated in the Lord’s Supper, the same forgiveness is pronounced in the absolution.  The conditions of discipleship are the same, salvation is the same.  Once and for all, he suffered and died and rose again.  Once and for all, the faith that embraces all this has been delivered to the church.  And this is the holy and unchangeable faith for which the Word here bids us contend. (P. 271)

Here emphasis is where it should be on, Christ.

An Association not a Synod

The last thing that makes the AFLC fairly unique is her polity.  Every congregation is autonomous.  This can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.  It is bad in the sense that a congregation can call a non-Lutheran pastor if she wants to.  Of course such a pastor is not allowed onto the clergy roster of the AFLC, but at the same time the congregation cannot be disciplined because she is autonomous.  This polity can be a good thing if a congregation is led by a Confessional Lutheran pastor and has faithful lay leaders.  She can remain such without fear from other pastors or leaders.

Maybe you are wondering if there can be such disparity between congregations why is there even an association?  The company line is there is an association to help support a seminary, Bible school, home missions, foreign missions, and other works of mercy.  Why an association was answered by of the proponents of the Lutheran Free Church over a century ago:  “The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations is a venture of faith.  It is an attempt to build an effective and orderly Christian fellowship with a minimum of human organization.  It is an experiment in extreme ecclesiastical democracy and decentralization.  It is a searching test of faith in the power of the Spirit of God.” (Dr. Bernhard Christensen, ‘What is the Lutheran Free Church.’”


Associate Editor’s Note — With this posting we introduce Pastor Patrick Lohse to the regular writers here at BJS.  Pastor Lohse will give commentary on many things having to do with a rise in confessionalism in the AFLC as well as provide some interesting translation work from the Mission Province of Finland for us as well.  We look forward to reading his future postings.  Here is a little more about Pastor Lohse:

Patrick was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry on June 19th 2009.  He has been the Pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Morris, Illinois since then.  The Lord has blessed him with a beautiful wife, Jennifer, and two sons, Caleb and Noah (who is in the womb).  He is currently enrolled as a part-time S.T.M graduate student at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.



Steadfast AFLC — AFLC 101 — 33 Comments

  1. When I was a kid I used to go to one of LFC’s great Bible Camps – outstanding.  Does AFLC still have Bible Camps?

  2. “It is bad in the sense that a congregation can call a non-Lutheran pastor if she wants to.”

    Why allow lay ministry while supporting an official seminary at the same time? One method appears to contradict the other. Where is the consistency in the application of doctrine within the AFLC if each congregation may do as it pleases. I do think it is wonderful that AFLC pastors do not have to worry about harassment from autonomous, all-powerful district presidents with their non-Lutheran Church Growth agendas. However, I imagine it would be extremely difficult for a member of an AFLC congregation to move out of state and try to find any familiarity in worship and study materials in his/her new AFLC congregation.

    Are congregations within the AFLC wrestling with Church Growth? Does the AFLC have a need to “rediscover confessionalism”. Is the AFLC also reassessing its core beliefs?

    Is the AFLC currently in discussion with other Lutheran bodies?

    How does the AFLC compare to the AALC?

    How does the AFLC compare to the LCMC?

  3. You may choose to address my questions in separate articles. I am looking forward to learning more about your church. Blessings to you!

  4. I believe our local AFLC church practices open communion and has contemporary services…

  5. Some of the best, most Word/Sacrament grounded years of my life, were spent in an AFLC congregation, surrounded by wonderfully well catechized and charitble parishioners… a confessionally orthodox, yet warm and friendly congregation.

    I don’t know that I shall ever live to see its likes again, but it was a wonderful place. May God bless and preserve the Free Lutherans in faithfulness and compassion.

  6. @CDJ #4
    You will find a variety of almost anything within the AFLC. Yes, most churches practice open communion. I say most. I could say “all” because I’ve never heard of one that practiced closed, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. As for style/substance of worship, you will also find just about anything out there. The AFLC emphasizes “simplicity” in worship. And you can define that however you want, and so churches do. In some ways, this can be good, because those of us who choose to be confessional and would like to see the historical liturgy restored to our church should be free to make those changes without any persecution. It remains to be seen if it in fact works out that way, though, since there are very few of us making that move and we have yet to find our voice within the Association.

    On the other hand, this “association” and “autonomy” has a very dark side that has been rearing its head more frequently in the last decade. This idea that “the congregation is the right form of the Church on earth” can be taken to an extreme, and it has. In the case of the congregation I attended, 80% of the voting members decided to force the faithful Lutheran pastors to resign as the congregation no longer wanted to be Lutheran in any real sense of the word. They have rejected the historical confessions and see even the Creeds as suspect. “We just want to believe the Bible!” is their mantra. This becomes a polity issue because this church is still a part of the AFLC and as far as I am aware has no intention of leaving it. And the AFLC leadership has given no support to the pastors who have been burned, but instead have sided with the majority in the congregation because if the congregation is the right form of the church, then the congregation must always be right!!

    So keep a close eye on the AFLC. There is a growing number of us who are confessional in the true sense of the word. It remains to be seen, however, if there will be a place for us in the AFLC, or if the emphasis on pietism, revivalism and an often misguided “simplicity” forces us to move elsewhere.

  7. @MissionMobilizer #6
    Your analysis is spot on! It is horrifying to think 80% of a supposedly Lutheran congregation could force pastors to resign simply for being faithful Lutheran pastors. We truly live in dark and evil days!

  8. I visited an up-and-coming AFLC church in our area a while back. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. One of the key points was the pastor classifying Christians according to their works – either as believers, disciples, or disciple-makers. He made a very strong pitch for everyone to move up this piety ladder.

  9. @DA #8
    Sounds like that pastor needs “Law and Gospel” for dummies. Sadly your experience is all too common in the AFLC.

  10. I’ve seen some of that around the AFLC, too. Of course, I’ve seen an awful lot of it around the LCMS. Persecution of orthodoxy and orthopraxy is alive and well in many Lutheran bodies.

    It strikes me, that what’s on paper at the Association or Synod headquarters is far less significant, that what is actually lived out and confessed at the local congregation. I see this not only among Lutherans, but many other traditions… a confession is only as good as it is lived and confessed by real people, in real places, gathered around real Word and Sacrament. Anglicans, Romans, Methodists, and many others are dealing with this, too.

  11. What role does the proper use of Adiaphora play in criticizing the practice within the AFLC?
    Do AFLC congregations have to use “the historical liturgy and hymns” in order to be “confessionally Lutheran”? Do their pastors have to wear vestments? Is there room within confessional Lutheranism for “low church Lutherans”? Or is “confessional Lutheranism” a monolith without Adiaphora?

  12. @Warren Malach #11
    Those are good questions. I would ask what are those things that are considered indifferent?

    In regards to your questions about the use of liturgy, hymns and vestments, the Augsburg Confession articles 15 and 24 help us out in this area. There are Confessional Lutherans in the AFLC asking “why not the liturgy? why not weekly Communion? why not vestments?” I’m glad these questions are being asked because what we see in the AC (with regards to articles 15 and 24) is not what’s going down in the AFLC.

    BTW-Our Association’s hymnal, the Ambassador Hymnal, does have the Common Service and yes even some excellent hymns (not all) in it.

  13. Pastor Lohse #12: The AC articles to which you refer tell us how the Lutherans at the time of the AC wanted to demonstrate that the Lutheran Church had not radically departed from the usage of the Western Church, as had the “Reformed” and “Enthusiast” groups. However, these articles cannot establish laws about things about which Scripture is silent.
    Christians are “free in Christ” to follow these examples or not, as long as they do not teach or practice contrary to Scripture. It is the same thing regarding church polity: the New Testament gives the example of “congregational” polity, but does not mandate it.

    As long as the changes a church body is considering regarding how it worships do not try to establish laws contrary to Scripture and properly use adiaphora regarding things about which Scripture is silent, there should be no problem. However, when factions compete with one another within the Church with claims being made of one position or another being the “only authentic Lutheran position,” that could end in legalism.

  14. @Warren Malach #13

    Of course, Christians may be free to deviate from the Lutheran Confessions, but that does not necessarily free a Lutheran from doing so. Since a Lutheran is fundamentally defined by their confessions, one has a hard time claiming to be “Lutheran” and at the same time, claiming to be “free” to leave the confessions behind.

    Hence, the AFLC, the LCMS, and any other “Lutheran” synod or association, is evaluated on it’s respective “Lutheran” credentials, based on their confession of and living by, the Lutheran Confessions.

  15. Brad #14: I have said nothing about “deviating” from the Confessions or “leaving the Confessions behind;” please don’t put words in my mouth. I have tried to point out that the Confessions are human writings not equal to Scripture and are not a source of doctrine alongside of Scripture. They are a correct exposition of Scripture in teaching doctrine, and therefore should be used in the Lutheran Church which created them to teach what the Bible teaches about doctrine. However, when Scripture is silent, the Confessions cannot establish laws binding on human consciences, such as “every Sunday Communion” or that someone *must* confess their sins to a pastor in order to be assured of the forgiveness of their sins. Where in the Confessions are any of the following taught from Scripture: (1) That *only* pastors can forgive *all* sins; (2) That *only* pastors can forgive sins saying “I forgive you your sins…” while a layperson can only forgive the sins commited against themself and can otherwise *only* announce that God will forgive sins; (3) That pastors “embody” or “become” Christ to their congregations and are a “means of grace” to their congregation in having a “monopoly” over the availability of the Means of Grace in the congregation; and (4) That in the absence of a pastor and with the permission of the congregation, a layman cannot consecrate the Sacrament of the Altar for the congregation under *any* circumstances, even though the layman would be acting under the provisions of the *same* “assumed” or “temporary” call to be the pastor by which a guest pastor acts in a congregation in the absence of the called pastor?

    I do not believe that these things are taught as “divine mandates” in either the Scriptures or the Confessions, and neither has the LCMS taught these things in its public doctrine, howsoever the synod may uphold the teaching that pastors “ordinarily” administer the Means of Grace in the congregation upon the basis of their call and therfore *should* publicly administer the Sacrament of the Altar in the congregation. Where in either Scriptures, the Confessions, or the public doctrine of the LCMS is an “antithesis” statement clearly made that a layman can *never* consecrate the Sacrament of the Altar in the Church under *any* conditions?

  16. @Warren Malach #15

    Friend, I was not attempting to put words in your mouth, nor lure you into a pointed debate on particular confessional topics.

    However, my point was that as Lutherans, the Lutheran Confessions are normative for us. Deviation from their norms, means deviation from the descriptive title of “Lutheran.” And, since being Lutheran is itself a very catholic, orthodox, universal way of being a Christian, deviation from those norms implies heterodoxy… at least from a Lutheran perspective.

    I do not see a distinction in the Confessions themselves, that intends to leave parts of their teachings as subjective for being left behind. Regarding your specific questions about the Office of the Holy Ministry, the Confessions retain the norms of orthodox Christian practice, which reflects a universal/catholic understanding of how the Keys are administered in the Church (once again, reflecting a historic understanding of what Christ instituted.) Of course there are exceptions to norms, but exceptions are not what we build confessional theology upon… at least, that’s not what Lutherans build their theology upon.

    I subscribe to the Confessions, because I find them to be true in their witness to Scripture– both in doctrine and in practice. I find that I have a deep kinship with others who do the same… and less kinship with those who accept and live by less of them. There are certainly Christians who live outside the light of the Augustana, but there is a deep and practical fellowship of those who do. I choose to remain in that fellowship.

    Peace be with you.

  17. Brad #16: Do you believe that the Lutheran Confessions are a source of doctrine and practice together with Scripture, or is Scripture Alone the source of doctrine in the Lutheran Church, as according to the Formal Principle of the Lutheran Church?

    With regard to the establishment of practice in the Lutheran Church, do the examples of practice in the Confessions by themselves establish laws binding upon the consciences of Christians?

    Does Luther’s treatment of Confession & Absolution in the Catechisms establish as doctrine or practice in the Lutheran Church either of the first 2 claims made about the Office of the Public Ministry listed in my previous post as laws binding upon the consciences of Christians?

    Obviously, the Confessions are understood and interpreted in different ways even by those Lutherans who share a “quia” subscription to them. In case of a difference of understanding and interpretation of the Confessions, where else can Lutheran Christians go to resolve those differences regarding doctrine and practice than to the Scriptures, using the Formal Principle of the Lutheran Church to establish all doctrines in the Church? And if the Scriptures do not establish a practice as binding upon the consciences of Christians and thus to be adiaphora, how can the Confessions be used to establish a practice as binding upon the consciences of Christians?

  18. @Warren Malach #17

    Friend, I receive the Lutheran Confessions as a faithful witness to the Scriptures, which are the only source and norm of Christian doctrine and practice. As such, I confess the Confessions, because they are true and faithful to the Scriptures. When I cease to be convinced of this relationship, I cease to be a Lutheran in any meaningful sense, and should be obligated by conscience to find another Christian home. I.e., if I must pit the Scriptures against the Confessions, then I have invalidated the premise of the Lutheran Reformation.

    In my discussions with those who suggest they come to different conclusions on those Confessions while keeping the same subscription, what I tend to find, is that we really don’t have the same subscription. I support those Confessions in all that they teach regarding doctrine and practice. There are others, who use arguments similar to those you offer above, to receive the Confessions only on one regard, perhaps in teaching but not in practice. I find this a bifurcation not supported by the Confessions themselves… nor by the oaths we take upon our ordination and installation. Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy are deeply linked concepts, perhaps as deeply linked at the relationship between Law and Gospel, or between Faith and Good Works. We may examine them categorically, but we cannot really divide them from an organic whole.

    Peace be with you.

  19. Brad #18: A “great falsehood” is being perpetrated upon the LCMS through the teachings of “Loehist” pastors, contrary to the public doctrine of the LCMS. That “falsehood” is that the “Loehist” teachings about Church & Ministry are “confessional,” and anything else, including the LCMS’ historical “Waltherian” position on Church & Ministry, is “not confessional.” The “Loehists” will *not* openly and publicly charge the synod with holding a false doctrine of Church & Ministry because they *know* that the synod would not accept such a charge, so they must needs work to change the synod’s public doctrine of Church & Ministry through the infiltration of the congregations of the synods, attempting to convince congregational members that the “Loehist” teachings are the *only* “confessional” interpretation of the Lutheran Confessions regarding Church & Ministry.

    The LCMS’ historic understanding of what a “quia” subscription to the Lutheran Confessions involves is clearly stated in the last section of the Brief Statement. I agree with that understanding; do you? Can you demonstrate to me where the LCMS has publicly taught that the Scriptures must be interpreted in the light of the Lutheran Confessions, violating the Formal Principle of the Lutheran Church and setting human writings “above Scripture”?

  20. I believe that I need to clarify something regarding a “quia” subscription to the Confessions:
    The Lutheran Confessions are a correct exposition of Scripture relative to the doctrines which they are teaching, but the Confessions are *not* an *exhaustive* exposition of everything in Scripture, nor do they claim to be. If the Confessions are silent about somethng taught in Scripture, then obviously they are *not* providing “a correct exposition of Scripture” regarding that specific subject. In such a situation, one obviously cannot use the Confessions to properly understand Scripture. Where Scripture Itself is silent, the Confessions would also obviously *not* be providing a “correct exposition of Scripture” other than to state that Scripture is silent about the specific subject, as with matters of adiaphora. Otherwise, the Confessions are a correct exposition of Scripture.

    However, just as Scripture can be interpreted differently, cannot the Lutheran Confessions also be interpreted differerently, as they obviously appear to be with reference to the doctrines of Church & Ministry? Are those different interpretations of the Confessions divisive of church fellowship, as with different interpretations of Scripture? That would also appear to be the case in some circumstances, such as the authority and inspiration of Scripture and the doctrines of Church & Ministry.

  21. Patrick! It was great to run across your post. I don’t think I’ve seen you since seminary, and haven’t heard much.
    It’s always great to find another confessional Lutheran in the AFLC. As I was becoming confessional, I often felt like there were only a few of us, but I encounter more and more all the time. I definitely do think there is a place for confessional Lutheranism in the AFLC, and I’m glad we have pastors like you.

  22. What do you mean by Loehist teaching of church and ministry? Does this have to do with the stance only pastors should preach? Please put it in simple layman terms.

  23. The AFLC Seminary has trained some very fine pastors in the last decade. Yes, Pastor
    Lohse, you are right on. There does seem to be a hungering for confessional Lutheran
    teaching out here in the AFLC, and it is happening in certain places. Unfortunately there
    are pastors out here that have been working against this, some in the very district that
    you serve in. God Bless You!

  24. Sven :
    The AFLC Seminary has trained some very fine pastors in the last decade. Yes, Pastor
    Lohse, you are right on. There does seem to be a hungering for confessional Lutheran
    teaching out here in the AFLC, and it is happening in certain places. Unfortunately there
    are pastors out here that have been working against this, some in the very district that
    you serve in. God Bless You!

    I came into the AFLC in 1997 and have served only in the Illinois District. I certainly agree with you, Sven, about the AFLC’s training of pastors over the last decade. Many long time AFLC pastors also notice a markedly more confessional bent in the pastors ordained from the mid-90s on.

    Unfortunately, you are also correct that we have several pastors in this District who openly flout the Confessions. Infant “dedication’, rebaptizing persons baptized as infants, “ordination” of by local pastors of men lacking seminary training, and, in at least one case, a pastor instructing a man to purchase an “ordination” certificate online and then present himself as a pastor are examples of the rampant confusion.

    Why do these abuses not result in correction or discipline? Some point to the extreme congregational nature of the AFLC’s polity. Others sense that there is a desire in some levels of leadership to move gradually toward the “community church” model–all the while maintaining the Lutheran label. It is not without cause that a growing number of observers place the AFLC in the LINO category–“Lutheran in name only.”

    Please continue to pray for us!

  25. Is it too late to add a comment? I just received a link to this page.
    I’m happy to hear that there are getting to be some confessional pastors in the AFLC. I suspect it is due to the influence of PH, God bless him.
    Pastor Lohse didn’t give attention to the Fund Prin and Rules for Work. I believe it is a mistake to elevate them to confessional status – one reason being their apparent contradiction to the AC on the subject of ecclesiastical structure. AFLC teaching re lay-pastors is derived from the Fundies.
    The one requirement for congregational membership in the AFLC is subscription to the AC, Sm Cat, 3 creeds, and fundies, but subscription is not enforced.
    The democracy quote from Dr Christensen is propaganda. The congregations are autonomous but so are the schools, missions, etc. Democracy is rule by the people, but the “joint endeavors” are controlled entirely by the several boards, not any democratic body.

  26. One correction: the AFLC does not require acceptance of the “Rules for Work” as a doctrinal statement. The “Rules for Work” is a practical document that describes how the Annual Conference is run, among other things. This document has often been amended through the years.

  27. Rules for Work, paragraph 4 reads: “The AFLC consists of congregations which, in their constitutions, unreservedly subscribe to the ancient ecumenical symbols, Luther’s Small Catechism, the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, Fundamental Principles, and Rules for Work of the AFLC and report the same to the secretary of the Co-ordinating Committee.”
    No distinction is made between the Fundies and the Aug Conf, etc.
    Several years ago, Dr Monseth, Dean of AFLTS, was speaking in Grand Forks, ND on paragraph 1 of the Fundamental Principles: “According to the Word of God, the congregation is the right form of the Kingdom of God on earth.” Someone in the audience suggested that the AFLC does not hold that idea as a doctrinal position. Dr Monseth replied that indeed the AFLC does hold that as a doctrinal position.

  28. My point was to distinguish between the “Rules for Work” and the Fundamental Principles. I agree that the Fundamental Principles are a doctrinal statement in the AFLC. The Rules for Work are not.

    However, the author of the article states: “First of all, the AFLC confesses the Bible to be God’s Word, i.e. inerrant, infallible, and inspired. Also, for congregations to join the AFLC they must unreservedly subscribe to the ancient ecumenical symbols, Luther’s Small Catechism, the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, and the Fundamental Principles and Rules for Work of the AFLC.”

    I am merely trying to clear up a potential misunderstanding about the “Rules for Work”.

  29. The question is: Does the AFLC require subscription to the Fundies and the Rules for Work?
    The paragraph listing requirements for membership in the AFLC requires unreserved subscription to both Fundies AND Rules right along with the ancient creeds, Aug Conf., etc. The distinction you are trying to make is not in the paragraph. Whence this distinction?

  30. @PBR #27
    “Several years ago, Dr Monseth, Dean of AFLTS, was speaking in Grand Forks, ND on paragraph 1 of the Fundamental Principles: “According to the Word of God, the congregation is the right form of the Kingdom of God on earth.” Someone in the audience suggested that the AFLC does not hold that idea as a doctrinal position. Dr Monseth replied that indeed the AFLC does hold that as a doctrinal position.”

    My question is “Which specific Scriptural passages reveal this doctrinal truth?”
    An assertion as bold as this requires specific references.

  31. It would be best to ask Dr. Monseth, himself, to defend his position. I can try to present the argument as I understand it.
    It is, essentially, an argument from silence, based on what scripture does not say. The NT tells of local churches in Galatia, Philippi, Ephesus, etc. It does not mention popes, cardinals, dioceses, councils, or administrative entities superior to the local church. The local church is, supposedly, the only Biblical model.
    To hold that position, one must not look too closely at Acts 15, in which “The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter” in dispute, and James said, “…my sentence (krino) is, that we trouble not them…” v19. Subsequently, Paul and Timothy “delivered them the decrees (dogma) for to keep, that were ordained (krino) of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem,” Act 16:4. Seemingly, the apostles and elders had authority to krino dogma, if you will. (Apologies; the Greek letters dropped out.)
    Neither can one give credence to the little statement at the end of Titus: “It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Cretians, from Nicopolis of Macedonia.” Paul wrote, “This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you,” Titus 1:5. This verse is understood to mean that Titus officiated at the ordination services of men democratically elected to the position of elder, nothing more. He was not entrusted with any decision-making authority, and he did not represent any organizational unit of the church encompassing more than one, local congregation.

  32. The AFLC is like Forrest Gump’s chocolate box—“You ain’t know whatcha gonna get.” There is a rise of confessional Lutheran clergy in the AFLC. So there is hope. The differences in worship approach is causing more and more an “us and them” rift in the roster of the ‘Association.’ There needs to be more integrity in a number of the AFLC worship services—a confessional liturgical approach is not only historical, but there is a more sense of awe in the presence of a Holy God. (IMHO a liturgical approach is much more dignified). The okie dokie style of worship is embarrassing, especially when they call themselves “Lutheran.” Worse yet, some congregations are “dedicating” infants rather than baptizing them—chalk one up for “congregational freedom.” Little if anything is done about this—-but I would bet anything short of the family farm that if any congregation started to pray the Rosary, or have hail Mary’s or pray to the saints, they would come down hard and fast. I love the AFLC and I am deeply concerned about some fellow congregations. It is more than just some crazy relatives that need to be chained up in the attic. So what is going on? What can be done about the diversity? Doctrine (the Word and the Sacraments), integrity and (no pun intended) the very soul of our AFLC is on the line. I will continue to preach the Word, administer the Sacraments and hold forth the Lutheran Confessions.

  33. @Warren Malach #19

    This “Loheist” charge is a straw man cooked up by those who are unable to see the great blessings for the church when 2 fine orthodox figures are kept in creative tension. Furthermore, Loehe founded deaconess orders and trained frontier pastors without ever being in America. We are blessed

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