Excellent resource on sale – one of the keys to understanding our Life Together debates

Luther’s work “On Christian Freedom” was required reading at seminary.  It provided a great way to understand the freedom we have in Christ (by faith) and also the bonds we have to one another (by love).  This is as I see it, one of the key things in many of the doctrine/practice debates going on in the LCMS today.  Often freedom claims are made in every little innovation that is introduced.  Often one pastor can claim his freedom over his neighboring pastors in doing things.  All of the freedom talk leaves the idea of the bonds of love behind.  Luther and those Lutherans after him understood this difference, and the LCMS would do well to revisit it once again.  With that in mind, CPH has a recent publication on sale right now – their new release of Luther’s “Christian Freedom”.

Here is a posting from Rev. Paul McCain’s blog on it:



For example, in the “worship wars” Christian freedom is touted in order to introduce all sorts of innovation and love is often only directed to those not in the church.  The second generation of Lutherans, who understood true Christian freedom created church order books, which directed the pastors in a given region on how to conduct worship.  These books were very restrictive, but no one cried “freedom” because they understood their bonds of love to each other.

Hopefully the release of this volume and selling it for a very affordable price will encourage us to rediscover our bonds of love and also the true meaning of freedom for the Christian.


About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


Excellent resource on sale – one of the keys to understanding our Life Together debates — 48 Comments

  1. When I first saw this posting in my Facebook feed I thought it said, “…understanding our Life Together debacles.” I’m not sure looking more closely at it changed the meaning of the sentence all that much.

    But it is an excellent book. Already have a copy of it.

  2. Freedom in the worship/Divine service context is always quoted to defend the “new” method and it is often offered in a very arrogant manner as in “how dare you question my methods and motives”. As a layman who has sincerely questioned many Pastors as to why they employ these innovations this is often their attitude. You are right to ask, where is the love?
    It has been this attitude that has alienated many loyal orthodox laymen from many of our “pastors”. Pastors are no longer given trust they must earn it.

  3. @mames #2
    The roots go back farther than this.

    In the 70’s the laity began distrusting pastors because many of them changed the teachings of the church, or supported those who did. Additionally, in the 90’s or so, confessional pastors began distrusting the synod because it was explicitly pushing evangelicalism, and evangelicalistic pastors because it was not changing very quickly or by fiat. The combination is devastating. Pastors feel that they have the right and the responsibility to individually determine what worship should be like for their specific congregations, and laity tend not to trust and go along with this. The result? Dissensus all around.

    The cure? Increased catechesis regarding both the Office of Holy Ministry, and the value and Lutheran Confessions-based support for reasonable uniformity of practice. And, generally, lively, reverent, hymnal-based worship, consistently used throughout the Synod. Because if we have too many answers to the question, “What are the characteristic practices of a Missouri Synod church?”, then effectively we have NO answer to that question.

  4. The only option is to flee to Wisconsin ( not an option for me) or stay and fight the collars. We choose to stay and fight but it is often a lonely and depleting role. AND FORGET ABOUT getting uniformity in the COP, THEY ARE THE WORST!

  5. All of the freedom talk leaves the idea of the bonds of love behind

    Should the bonds of love flow both ways?  I’ve been a casual observer of this website for about a year.  I can’t recall even one single comment by a conservative who respects the ministry of those who include a contemporary service along with traditional services on a weekend.  Arrogance isn’t limited to missionals. It seems the conservatives (of whom I am one)  just want to receive love, respect and encouragement – not give it.  (There’s also some plenty horrid missionals e.g. MNS BOD.)

  6. @mames #4

    Another option:

    …Right now in our church body as well as in most church bodies, the trust level among members is low.  Even in the context of a fallen world, one would like to see more trust among the saints.  Here we must ask an important question.  What is the essence of good trust?  How is it actually engendered in a church, in a government, or in a marriage?  It does not come from people saying, “Trust me, trust me, and please trust me.”  That is a law move, not a gospel move.

    The curb and cure for suspicion is born of a common commitment to the full gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Salutary trust comes and grows from a mature faith in the Absolute. The gospel not only fights extremes by its very nature, but it is the great glue for a wholesome trust that is needed when walking together and working together within the body of Christ.  Beautiful bonds are born when common commitment to the person and work of Jesus are established and grow.  Nevertheless, where legalism replaces the gospel and where lawlessness serves as a 666 version of the gospel, trust erodes, church bodies fracture, homes melt down, and cultures are carried away by extremes.

    – Rev Dr Peter Kurowski
      The Seduction of Extremes
      Torelian Publishing, 2007

  7. @John Rixe #6 Thankfully we still have some of those relationships but unity simply for the sake of unity is not unity at all; it is capitulation to willful theological error.

  8. Pr Kurowski talks about unity for the sake of the gospel not about unity for the sake of unity.

    “It is possible to unify 85% of the synod in doctrine, practice, and mission, I’m convinced.  No one group in the Synod has moral hegemony or superiority.  We are all pure sinners in need of pure grace.  Our fundamental problem is unbelief.  We do not believe the Word of God actually can and does unite us…

    “We must finally make the time and effort to come to a broad consensus on who we are and how we shall live and work together.”  – Pastor Harrison, It’s Time 

  9. @John Rixe #5
    I would only suggest that based on the historical practices of the church it is the “missionals” who are changing from the norm when introducing new worship aspects. If a person is advocating change the burden is on them to show how it is a beneficial departure from the historical norm. It is slightly disingenuous of a church to break from the norm and to stop seeking unity in love in order to do their own thing and then cry foul that the other party no longer respects them. If the other parties involved do not agree then love dictates that you do not change, but rather work to persuade your fellow brothers hearts and minds until they willingly agree, in love, to introduce new changes. It is very striking in most conversations that confessional churches tend to seek that bond of unity in love. They ask what the Church in ages past has practiced and how they can be faithful to that. They ask how the LCMS has traditionally practiced and seek to be faithful to that. They even used to, as Pr. Scheer rightly points out, look to how others in their are practicing and try to come to agreements in love about that. “Missional” changes tend to ignore what all of the practices are historically, synodically, and locally and focus only on what “I” want.

    Just as an aside, I dislike the terms “conservative” and “missional”. It implies that somehow only one side is concerned about the lost while the other side is only concerned about conserving what they have. I think a lot of “conservatives” would disagree with that! 🙂

  10. @Rev. McCall #9

    “No one group in the Synod has moral hegemony or superiority.  We are all pure sinners in need of pure grace.  Our fundamental problem is unbelief.  We do not believe the Word of God actually can and does unite us…”

    The hundreds (thousands?) of congregations that have a contemporary service each weekend usually along with traditional services tend to focus only on what “I” want? Respect please.

  11. @John Rixe #10
    Who made the changes to introduce contemporary worship? Were they done in mutual brotherly love as a synod or even a circuit or were they done one by one by churches who just wanted to change so they could do what they wanted to do?
    If one goes about fundamentally changing a structure without the mutual love and consent of his brothers and then demands respect for what he has created, how is that brotherly love?

  12. Obviously I can’t speak for everyone, but in my neighborhood the circuit and district gave consent, advice, and encouragement to those congregations wanting to try to add a contemporary service.  CPH also provided materials.

  13. So the district and circuit looked at the Church’s historical liturgy and practice, the LCMS’ historical liturgy and practice, and consulted the Synod and other Districts prior to this?

  14. Yes. The contemporary services around here are pretty tame and follow the historic format. We’ve been over this several times, and I apologize for the Groundhogs Day repetition.

  15. Then in what way are they contemporary?
    To make most “contemporary” moves in worship means by and large ignoring 2,000 years of Church practice and doctrine. It usually means ignoring the Church’s historical and biblical teaching of the inability to separate doctrine and practice. It usually means embracing practices the Church historically considered “enthusiast” and not a part of worship. It usually means ignoring what our Synod already has in place for guidelines for worship and approved materials and songs. It usually means the “need” to reach people here and now trumps unity in externals.
    I don’t know any particular churches practice outside of my own and those in my area, but I am pretty skeptical that a church or district could look at all the above factors and claim to be acting in unity and love by choosing to ignore them and implement most CoWo practices anyway. I am always willing to accept being wrong though.

  16. @John Rixe #14
    Did you attend our district convention in April? (Assuming you are CNH). In no way would I characterize the contemporary worship there as tame or following the historic format. And the presiding pastor indicated that the service was typical of his congregation’s worship, and the most attended service of the several that they offer.

  17. @Carol Broome #16

    I’m ED and I was describing the services in my neighborhood. By the way I totally agree with your goals in comment 3 as long as they are accomplished by catechesis and persuasion.

  18. @Rev. McCall #9 There is a entrenched notion among the CG group that if you have to lose some to gain more go ahead and do it. This is in fact a valid notion in marketing but not when dealing with souls.
    It is also why those committed to the process will not likely take much time to explain WHY they are doing it. Take it from many of us, asking a Pastor why he is engaging in such practices puts you on his excrement list, they will of course justify this as a necessary reaction to an “obstructionist”.

    In the area of open communion, a clear NO NO according to our confessions, open communion is often linked with contemporary or CG approaches and yet our Districts do nothing about it BECAUSE they are often in the same camp as the local CG Pastor. Of course the biggest impediment to church discipline actually being implemented are vast numbers of theologically willfully ignorant laymen who will come to the rescue of the Pastor in error because they “like” him.

  19. @Carol Broome #16 I visited the closing session of our Michigan District a couple weeks ago. The kind of enthusiasm and jacked up liturgy and sermon I witnesses was barely liturgical. The drivel coming from the pulpit from the typical “Hipster” with frosted tip hair and little glasses was depressing. I am sadly convinced that some of these very Pastors will wonder why they are not recognised at the Judgement.
    BTW I follow the “Wilken” approach when evaluating a sermon and the first concern is how often is Christ mentioned and why.

  20. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (Galatians 5:14, 15)

  21. @mames #18
    Yes I hear that all the time. “It will be my fault or someones fault if people are not saved because they simply didn’t change their practices and approach.” (Which is completely Biblically false.)

  22. @Rev. McCall #21
    I vividly remember when something similar was said in the Lutheran Witness during the mid-90’s, indicating that a grandfather’s stubborn reluctance to ‘update’ his church’s worship was responsible for his grandson’s falling away. This was repeated by my then pastor in a sermon and then subsequently in two church newsletter articles.

    I also remember a great response to it at a Real Life Worship seminar–I believe I know who said it, but don’t want to cite a name. “Really? That’s not why people fall away. What about the devil, the world, and our flesh?”

  23. Your quote seems to presuppose that it is in someway unloving to point out error. Quite the opposite is true. If you love your brother in Christ one must be willing to correct and rebuke him.

    @John Rixe #20

  24. @Rev. McCall #24
    It was not terrifying, because it was too unconvincing. Instead it was dishonest and insulting. It made it extremely clear that it was time to stop feeling guilty about valuing timeless worship and the laity formation process that had nourished so many. In other words, in publishing this they finally went too far, and it backfired.

  25. @Carol Broome #25
    I unfortunately have meet many people (including my own family) who have believed this sentiment and are indeed terrified that they may or may not be doing something that keeps people from Christ. I am glad you perceived it for the dishonest and insulting message that it was!

  26. @Rev. McCall #23

    The drivel coming from the pulpit from the typical “Hipster” with frosted tip hair and little glasses was depressing.  

    Is this the way to lovingly correct and rebuke?   🙂   

  27. @John Rixe #28

    Maybe it is to mark and avoid….

    I also don’t care for cheap grace, where “loving” is being nice, too often at the expense of truth and reality.

  28. @John Rixe #30
    I’m ok w/ “drivel” as a description. (What did you like in this? the catch phrases, the attempts at humor, the self-referential story telling, the sweater vest, or the bald assertions of unity where none exist?) Thank God my pastor is a “museum keeper.”

  29. “It is possible to unify 85% of the synod in doctrine, practice, and mission, I’m convinced… Our fundamental problem is unbelief. We do not believe the Word of God actually can and does unite us…”

    Why only 85%? If we believe the Word of God actually can and does unite us, why are we not convinced that it is possible to unify 100% of the synod in doctrine, practice, and mission?

    And another thing — if 85% is a contrived figure (and unrealistically high), don’t we risk winking at unrepented sin in order to keep 85% of the synod together, but not really unified?

  30. I believe there is unity possible among the 85%.  There is no unity between the 85% and the 15%.  There never will be. As in any imperfect human organization there are folks out on the fringes.

  31. @John Rixe #17
    Part of ‘catechesis and persuasion’ is to say what is unacceptable and why. This can, to be sure, be done kindly or unkindly, and kindly is better. But it really does need to be done. Otherwise we sink into a meaningless atmosphere of ‘I’m OK, you’re OK’ and never resolve anything, which is a problem because, again, if we have too many answers to the question, “What are the characteristic practices of a Missouri Synod church?”, then effectively we have NO answer to that question.

  32. I’m switching over to the “Look Down on or Despise” thread where there is no drivel.

  33. @John Rixe #28
    I don’t believe those words were mine. They are not the best choice of words to express ones frustrations with CoWo pastors. Unfortunately both sides engage in such language.

  34. @Rev. McCall #37
    Those words don’t seem at all harsh to me.
    In the linked sermon, the preacher in question used the term “museum keepers” himself. I’m not sure about any other districts, but in the NoW, those are “fighting words.” Our former DP, the rt. rev. Warren Schumacher used to call the NoW district Confessionals “museum keepers” and he bragged in print about how many of them he had driven out of the district and synod. (Two of these men were in Alaska and I got to see the venom and spite of their “missional” brothers in the ministry first hand, and the hardships these faithful pastors and their families faced as a result of this abuse.)
    The phrase is an open insult and historically a veiled threat. Any pastor using the “museum keeper” epithet is going to get a similar reaction from me and other NoW District Confessional Lutherans as Republican candidate using the “n-word” at a NAACP rally.
    That was not a sermon to unite.
    -Matt Mills

  35. @Matthew Mills #41
    I was in no way endorsing any language that sermon used and in fact found that term equally as offensive. I hope I did not come across that in some way I condoned it! To be fair, I feel that comments about a pastors personal appearance should not be brought into a discussion about their doctrine or practice. I understand the stereotype that was being made but if that frosted haired, little glasses wearing pastor were wearing an alb and stole and faithfully preaching in a liturgical church there would be no issue with his appearance correct? The real issue is his doctrine which is affecting his practice so it might be more wise to focus on that. Getting him to change his hair or his eye wear still won’t change the drivel coming from his mouth.

  36. @Rev. McCall #42
    I’m sorry. I’ve led you down the bunny path inadvertantly. All I meant was that no one should have to apologize for using the term “drivel” for the attached sermon. It is drivel, and worse. As to the man’s fashon sense, if it was intentional (and given the venue, I assume the whole presentation was intentional) his choice of tie and sweater vs alb and stole was more important than hair color or glasses. (I think there are a few hipster Confessionals.)

  37. @John Rixe #30

    Others have touched on this sermon. In general, it was okay enough. I did not at all find it spectacular. While certain parts were nice, and he does talk about Jesus’ works to save us, but right off the bat I did not like his opening. I have heard it before, so it isn’t as funny anymore. And worse, it only works with people you are comfortably familiar with. Being an outside stranger, I was not thrilled with the bragging that goes on in that joke, most certainly not from a pulpit. Kinda funny when his opening prayer he asks that he may decrease and God to increase. With that joke? Can you see the irony?…

    He also talked about our unity, but to me it felt like Kieshnick’s unity, ignoring the serious differences we do actually have. And a unity of history? Please… Missionals with their CoWo are trying to throw away as much historic and traditional Christianity as they can, particularly in worship. And the diversity that will be in heaven? Sure we are called from every tribe and race to Christ, but we also must deny ourselves. Yes, uniqueness, but I am uncomfortable with how much diversity, i.e. baggage, we wish to bring. Could be a troublesome line when expanded upon.

    The back half of his sermon didn’t bug me. There are some good lessons and analogies. Considering my impressions of all the districts, I think Michigan gets a little funny at times. So this sermon is good, in that it could have been worse. (I am thinking in relation to some of the questions Pers. Harrison was asked at NWD) But I also wouldn’t put it on a pedistal to emulate.

  38. @Matthew Mills #43
    @Rev. McCall #44

    “I’m proud to be a confessional Lutheran Christian…. We have a rich and glorious past and we must affirm that past but we are not called to be museum directors.  It’s a living past, a living  word.  Our doctrine is alive. ” 

    Putting the best construction on it, should we assume Pr Duncan meant this as an open insult and a veiled threat? Maybe so.

    Almighty God, You have commanded us not to give false testimony against our neighbor. Grant that we may fear and love You so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  39. @John Rixe #46
    If in other writings, as Matthew has indicated, this label of “museum director” is used in a derogatory way towards other pastors whom have been driven from other Districts then I’m not sure how to take it. It is certainly a poor choice of words then at best on his part and he should have been much more sensitive and careful.

  40. @John Rixe #46
    You tell me. Would the best construction be that he was an out of touch moron that didn’t realize that he was using fighting words, or that he was taking a shot across the bow of a group w/ which he obviously disagrees? If you ever catch me doing something similar in the other direction I’d rather you assume I am a bright person deliberately saying something controversial for effect, than that I am a moron who has spent the last decade under a rock.

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