Steadfast Media Pick of the Week — From Evangelicalism To Lutheranism

From Evangelicalism To Lutheranism

This pick is nostalgic and informative as seminarians Dr. Leonard Payton, Brian Kachelmeier, Kenneth Mars, and Brian Wolfmueller join Pastor Wilken in a roundtable discussion of their journeys from Evangelicalism to Lutheranism.



Steadfast Media Pick of the Week — From Evangelicalism To Lutheranism — 13 Comments

  1. It was a connection problem and so was only downloading the music before it ran out! But I got it sorted.

    Interesting and yet very annoying listen.

    I am evangelical, pentecostal, lutheran mix.
    Saved in an Assembly of God in South Africa after one of those despicable ‘altar calls’ – here I am still, 32 years later! Thanks be to God!

    I wonder if it would not have been more acceptable if I did not believe and was enticed as Luther suggests in his small catechism preface, by cutting of my food supply, refusing to employ me and asking the prince to throw me out the country? That is so much nicer, more scriptural and totally unmanipulative than an altar call, don’t you think?

    And in all the times I have visited Lutheran churches not one single person has ever asked me about my salvation! And I always stick around and have coffee after the meetings, but despite having conversations with folk, no one, not even the pastors have asked me about my spiritual state!

    I grew up as a believer in that Assembly of God Church, where every Sunday morning we met around the Lords table – yes, for Sunday morning the furniture was rearranged around the table which was placed in the centre of the Church hall.
    Folk offered their own prayers of thanksgiving up in a period before we partook of the bread and the wine and I recall the many tears that folk shed as prayers of thanksgiving and praise were offered up to God for His Son Jesus and the forgiveness of sins.
    Strange, I have yet to see a single tear shed in a lutheran church! I have yet to hear a single person so overflowing with thankfulness that they cry out aloud in prayers of worship and thanksgiving for their salvation!

    Before the sermon folk were encouraged to get up and give a testimony of how God had worked in their lives that week. And wouldn’t you know it, we actually believed that God did take an interest in us now that we were, thanks to Jesus, God’s children! And so we encouraged one another in our faith.

    At sermon time, Bibles were opened up every meeting and no matter what verses the preacher read, we were always encouraged to turn to the verses and read with him.
    Unlike the Lutheran Churches I have attended, where some folk bring in their bibles, but I have yet to see one opened as everything is read out to them.
    And when the pastor references a verse in his sermon, no one in the Lutheran churches I have been to turns in their bibles to read along, in fact, not even the pastor opens his bible in the pulpit, he just reads off of his sermon notes!

    Have I been blessed with parking spaces? Yes, many a time!
    I have also been blessed with a wife who was cured from cancer and as a result I have 2 wonderful children, now 28 and 21 years old and the Mother is still alive and well! All the treatment was for free as it was the first case of that sort the hospital had experienced and so, together with students observing the process as a learning tool, the treatment was supplied freely. No one understood why on the day of the operation, the pre–op xrays came up clear! All glory to God!
    I will not bother going into the many other wonderous works that God has done throughout the years.

    Were we, and are we assured of our salvation? Oh yes, and we were shown in Scripture and told to cling to the Scriptures for our assurance of salvation! And when the pastor would preach on this topic he would even have the audacity to get us to turn to the very Scriptures and follow along as the verses were read out to us!
    So much better I think than what lutheranism has to offer, with Luther stating that even pastors and preachers could be damned if they did not do certain things! Hmmm, does that not smack of works righteousness?
    And if pastors can be damned and people threatened with not only Gods punishments, but also punishments from parents and princes if they do not live as Luther said they must, I wonder which way of life is closer to the Scriptures, which one is of faith in Christ alone, and which one is of coercion and manipulation?

    So when I hear this recording, apart from annoyance at the childish examples spoken of here, I also laugh at the silliness of it all as they seek to show that my ‘subjective experiences’ are wrong, and in order to prove that, they give me their subjective experiences!

  2. Stefan,

    I’d be interested to hear how your denominational mix plays out with regard to synergism/monergism , the Sacraments, and eschatology, but that aside it is great to hear from a fellow member of the Body of Christ.

    As to your comment on the preface to Luther’s Small Catechism the admonition is for those in a Christian household who refuse to learn the word of God. It is not a prescription for how to evangelize the unbeliever. And yes, it is far more scriptural than an alter call. (Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4, etc.)

    I’m obviously not privy to the conversations you had at the churches you visited, but I would imagine the subject of Baptism came up. It was probably mentioned or assumed that you were Baptized(probably something we need to get better about not assuming). For Lutherans that would be all we need to know about your Spiritual state. I’d be interested to hear what you wanted to say about your spiritual state.

    You go on to speak of the emotions and feelings you have experienced at non-Lutheran churches. As a reaction to the proclamation of the Gospel that is a good and salutary thing. (I can remember a time or two when i have she’d tears in the Divine Service), but you seem to be using them as some sort of measuring stick. We regard the pure preaching of the Word and the proper administration Of the sacraments as the marks of the church

    It is great to share with others what God has done for you but the Divine Service is not that place. We are present to receive God’s gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation and thank Him in response.

    When speaking of people’s actions during the sermon, you seem once again to measuring something. During a sermon God’s Law and Gospel are delivered to me. If having your Bible open helps someone to focus on this proclamation then that is great. My sinful flesh is tempted to thumb around and be distracted so I am more comfortable simply receiving God’s word that He speaks through the Pastor.

    God certainly has blessed you in this temporal life but once again you seem to be correlating your blessings with your faith. Would God be any less good if your wife had not been cured and you didn’t have children? Are the Christians in Africa any less blessed because they don’t have cars let alone parking spaces.

    You may find the examples childish, but I have heard those exact same stories from Evangelical preachers like Joel Osteen. And they were suggesting that using your subjective experiences as evidence and measure of faith is dangerous, as I pointed out above your temporal blessings are your temporal blessings many faithful Christians have not been as fortunate. Their subjective experiences weren’t used to point to their faith in fact they were describing how their experiences caused them doubt. And ultimately that is their point, if you look at your subjective experience from moment to moment, you won’t know if God is for you or against you, but if you cling to Christ crucified for the forgiveness of your Sin then you have an objective truth that can weather the worst temporal experiences.

  3. I fear Sir, you may have missed the point of my post, which is just to say that if you (the Gents on that recording) are going to criticise another, make sure your own house is in order and without blame, and try use examples and reasonings that actually make some sense and are not a futile grasping at straws – which is the impression I get from listening to them.

    I am not going to give a full answer to your post Brian, it may not make for good neighbours 🙂 but:
    I do not measure my faith by anything – it is not my faith, it is a measure of faith given to me by God, and I would not have a clue on how or what I could use, to measure it!
    I do not measure my ‘standing with God’ by anything, except what the Bible says it is.
    I do not consider myself any more ‘blessed’ than any one else who is also just absolutely blessed to be able to draw oxygen and wake up in the morning!
    Personally, I do not know of anyone who looks to their subjective experiences moment by moment but perhaps Osteen does, but why is it that one can not engage in a discussion without reference to the lunatic fringe?

  4. Stefan,
    I certainly did miss your point. In your criticism of the show I read things that you didn’t like about the Lutheran churches you attended (not opening Bibles, not showing emotions, not asking about your spiritual state), but none of which are commanded in the Bible so I didn’t really connect that you were arguing that they shouldn’t be criticizing subjective experience since they didn’t have their own houses in order (which we, as sinful humans obviously don’t). But you do see their main point which is that subjective experience is not universally applicable and if you take a close look at your life and see all the sin you daily commit there really is no explanation as to why God has saved you.

    As far as measuring, you compared churches you’ve been to and deemed one set better than another so you measured them. We all do. Your measures (see above) are not Scriptural.

    You mentioned all the wonderful things God has done for you temporally and that didn’t help me see that you were criticizing the panel for not having their business in order. I was taking your description as evidence of your favor with God. Since that is not the case I apologize and would ask what point you are trying to make by listing your temporal blessing?

    Do you know anyone who has responded to more than one alter call? Anyone who has been baptized more than once? (I know people, sometimes the same people, who have do so) These are people who are relying on their experience to determine if they are saved. You look to the Bible to know your standing before God so you look to an objective source. Again, I hope you can see my confusion as far as missing your point because you don’t look at your subjective experiences, which was the point of the panelists, and yet you were arguing for them.

    We all have our personal experiences and preferences and they can certainly guide us towards God’s truth, but we can never use them to determine His truth.

  5. @Stefan #3


    Yours is an interesting story and I have one quite similar to it. I was eight years old when I was baptized in an Assembly of God mission (my first of three water baptisms!). A couple of years later my mother took us to a United Pentecostal Church (oneness pentecostalism) where I was baptized a second time, because they reject the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. I remember the many altar calls I participated in and the emotion laden, and driven, worship. I also remember the despair I ultimately wound up in, because there were long period of times where I wasn’t “blessed by the Holy Ghost” with an intense feeling, crying “out aloud in prayers of worship and thanksgiving for their salvation!” Such was a roller coaster ride, to say the least.

    You mention that you haven’t seen emotion at the Lutheran churches you have attended. Would it matter if I have seen tears running down the faces of others when kneeling at the Lord’s table and receiving the forgiveness of their sins? I have also seen my brothers and sisters shed tears, or their faces brighten up, as we sing hymns and when listening to our pastor preach. But, are these displays of emotion indicative of where these brothers and sisters in Christ stand with God? I can tell you that in some of the pentecostal circles I ran in, such emotions were, in fact, used as measuring rods to see where a person was at with God. We would judge some as weak in faith if they didn’t display emotions during worship. After all, they didn’t look thankful, so must not be! What a terrible time those days were for me! They lent to my despair and to ultimately getting so mad at God, that I lost faith and became an atheist for 18 long years.

    Thanks be to God that I am no longer an atheist! I am so very thankful that the Lord plucked me up out of my unbelief and gave me faith to receive His forgiveness!

    Keep reading this site, Stefan. If you haven’t already done so, get a copy of Pr. Jonathan Fisk’s book Broken: 7 Christian Rules That Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible. And, if you can, get involved in a Lutheran Confessions reading group and pick up a copy of the Book of Concord to work through on your own, too.

    If you have questions for me about my past Pentcostalism, etc. You can reach me at the email address listed on my blog linked here.

  6. @Brian Yamabe #7

    I like your last point their Brian!

    As I said, I do not want to respond point for point on your first reply to me and I am sure there are places where people are told to look at their experiences as ‘proof’ of God working in their lives, which of course could be claimed by a multitude of religions, but it ain’t all of us (them) 🙂

  7. @Jim Pierce #8

    Hi Jim!

    I do have that book thank you. I read it almost every night so I have gone through it quite a few times already.
    I also have the L Study B and the L Service Book, and the Book of Concord, which I am busy hand writing out the Small Catechism for a friend 🙂

    And Walthers Law and Gospel and a couple of other Lutheran publications – I did say I was a mixture of denominations 🙂

  8. I had a former Methodist in my adult instruction class enthusiastically ask me along the lines of, “How does it feel when you finally get to go up and take the Lord’s body and blood? What’s it like to see God face to face? What are you thinking about?”

    I said “Sometimes you feel nothing at all. Sometimes you are thinking about what’s for lunch or about how the guy in front of you has his collar sticking out at a funny angle. But who Jesus is and what he has done is not dependent upon your emotional state or level of concentration. When you are at your lowest and least-religious of mindsets, the objective unchangeable Gift and Promise can be pretty comforting.”

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