Great Stuff — Does Being Lutheran Still Matter?

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We Pray
Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

We meditate on Holy Scripture
Revelation 14:6-7
Romans 3:19-28
John 8:31-36

A Meditation on the Festival of the Reformation: Does Being Lutheran Still Matter?
by Rev. Paul T. McCain

Luther Rose

Luther Rose

The movie “Luther” sparked renewed interest in the life and work of Martin Luther. The fact that Concordia Publishing House’s movie companion book, Luther: Biography of a Reformer was received so enthusiastically indicates that, if only given a chance, people are eager to learn about Martin Luther and what it means to be and remain genuinely Lutheran. There seem to be three types of responses to the question, “Does being Lutheran matter?” One is, “Are you kidding me? You better believe that it matters! Let me tell you why!” Another response is a sort of “mental shrug” to the question, “Well, of course we want to be and remain Lutheran, that goes without saying, there’s no real need to talk much about it though.” And then, sadly, there is this response, “It doesn’t matter. All that matters is being a Christian. We need to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us.” As I watch and analyze events and trends in Christianity and Lutheranism, both in this country and around the world, I am more convinced than ever before of two things. First, being and remaining genuinely Lutheran matters more then ever, and second, the reasons why this is so are unclear at best to many people.

To be Lutheran is to be a person who says, “This is what God’s Word, the Bible, teaches. This and nothing else is true and correct. This understanding and teaching and confession of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most accurate and most faithful to God’s Word. This and none other. Nothing more, and nothing less, will do, for this is the truth.” In our day and age these sorts of bold assertions are often met with angry responses, such as, “How dare you insist that Lutheranism is actually the true teaching of God’s Word. How can you think you have the truth? All that matters is if a person is sincere about their faith in God.” We live in a time when truth is viewed as something relative, impossible to know for sure. The attitude common today is reflected when we hear things like this, “I have my truth. You have your truth. As long as we respect our differences, that is all that matters.” It seems today that the most important “truth” for many people is their profound doubt that truth can be known, and equally strong conviction that those who claim to know the truth are wrong.

Before we go further we need to clear up a common misconception. While insisting on the truth of Lutheranism, we can never allow ourselves to do so in an arrogant, haughty or self-righteous manner. People who are passionate about the truth of Biblical Lutheranism know that the Bible teaches often and clearly that we are all sinful human beings in need of God’s constant mercy, which He so lavishly gives in Christ. To be truly Lutheran is to receive the gifts of God with humility, repentantly recognizing our great need. It is tempting for Lutherans to be proud and arrogant of their great heritage, but this is a terrible evil! To be Lutheran is to be always mindful of our great sin and our great need for a Savior. To be a Lutheran is to be a sinner calling out to fellow sinners, “Come and see!” Furthermore, we would never want anyone to think that we Lutherans are saying, “We, and we alone, are the only ones who will be in heaven. In fact, you can’t be a Christian unless you are a Lutheran.” Not so! Not at all. We realize that the Word of God is powerful and active, wherever and whenever it is heard, read or meditated on. There are many Christians in other denominations and churches. They are not Christians because of the errors in their churches, but in spite of those errors. Let’s then have none say, “You Lutherans think you alone are Christians.” We have never said that, we have never believed it, and we never will. The reason we insist on Lutheranism for everyone who will listen is we believe so passionately that it truly is the most correct and most accurate understanding of the Word of God.

Another point that confuses many people is the fact that there are so many different churches to choose from. It is an awful mess, so it seems. Yes, it can be confusing, but it really is not as complicated as some would think, or want to maintain. Up until the year 1054 there was basically one unified Christian church, distinct from a number of non-Christian or anti-Christian heretical groups. In 1054 the church divided into Eastern and Western Christianity. So, you have to decide if the Western tradition was correct, or the Eastern tradition. By the time of the late Middle Ages the Western Church, which had come to be known as the Roman Catholic Church, had reached a point of deep corruption, most importantly in what it believed, but also in the morals and life of the clergy and church leadership. In 1517 there began what we know today as the Reformation, when Martin Luther, a professor and monk in Wittenberg, Germany posted a series of “talking points” on the practice of selling “indulgences” by which people were led to believe they could buy forgiveness of sins, for their dead relatives in purgatory. A person has to decide if the Lutheran view of Christianity is correct, or the Roman Catholic view is correct.

After the Reformation, many groups developed from the teachings of persons other than Martin Luther, most notably, two men: Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin, who did much of his work in Geneva. These two men and their writings gave rise to many churches that can be traced back to and grouped under the general category of “Reformed” churches. In America in the 19th and 20th century there arose many splinter groups from Reformed churches, these would include “Charismatic” and “Pentecostal” groups, along with groups that rejected all denominations and became, in effect, a denomination of their own, the so-called “non-denominational” churches. And so the question then becomes, “Is Lutheran theology correct, or Reformed theology correct?” So, is it Rome or Wittenberg. If Wittenberg, then is it Geneva or Wittenberg?” Once those decisions are made, the myriad of denominations today makes a lot more sense.

But there is an additional challenge unique to our century and more so the past half-century. Today, despite all their denominational differences and historic confessions, the vast majority of Christian churches in Protestantism have been nearly overwhelmed by the rise of liberal Christianity. This unites them more so than any other feature of their confession of faith. Historic differences are no longer regarded as divisive since these divisions were based on one group’s understanding of the Biblical text as opposed to another group’s understanding of the Bible. For example, the difference between Lutheran and Reformed views of the Lord’s Supper are very important and based on very serious and clear differences in how the words Jesus spoke at the Last Supper are understood. Liberalism however regards the words of Jesus in the Bible as unreliable. It teaches that we can not be sure that what is recorded in the Bible is true and accurate, therefore, there is no point in being “dogmatic” about much of anything having to do with the Bible. Modern liberalism has swept through all Christian denominations, Lutheran Reformed, Protestant and Roman Catholic.

This impacts our question, “Does being Lutheran matter?” for we have to realize that there are many churches in the world today that claim to be Lutheran but have been nearly entirely overcome by liberal views of the Bible. Therefore, they have compromised away the distinct doctrinal position of Lutheranism. They are, in other words, Lutheran really in name only, more by way of tradition than by any real living doctrinal distinctiveness. They may still be fond of historic Lutheranism, but no longer insist that it, and it alone, is true and that other views of the Bible are in error. When we ask the question, “Does being Lutheran matter?” It is a question that must be asked first of those who still use the name Lutheran, but no longer insist on the exclusive truth claims of historic, genuine, authentic Lutheranism. Let’s examine the world’s largest Lutheran organization, the Lutheran World Federation.

Clear-headed analysis of what is happening in world Lutheranism reveals that the greatest threat to being and remaining genuinely Lutheran comes from groups that call themselves Lutheran! Let’s think about the Lutheran World Federation, for instance. No organization in the world has done more in the past fifty years to deconstruct genuine Lutheranism than the Lutheran World Federation. It has tolerated, even encouraged, a loose and unfaithful understanding of the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, all the while ostensibly claiming a certain identity with them. The predecessor bodies that formed the Lutheran World Federation would not reject and throw out false teachers such as Rudolph Bultmann who worked to “demythologize” the New Testament, casting doubt on the words and deeds of Jesus. To this day the Lutheran World Federation pays mere lip service to the ancient Christian creeds, but tolerates in its midst churches whose pastors and theologians doubt, and even very brazenly and openly deny the most fundamental tenets of the Christian faith, casting doubt on the miracles of Jesus, His virgin birth, His bodily resurrection, and so forth! LWF member organizations have embraced the anti-Apostolic and anti-Scriptural practice of the ordination of women, abortion. The large Lutheran state churches are offering same-sex marriages. The LWF, despite its claim that it is Lutheran, does not even insist on absolutely faithfulness to the most basic of all the Lutheran confessions, Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. The LWF, and most of its member churches, compromised and walked away from the Lutheran insistence on the Lord’s Supper when it entered into all manners of “full communion” with Reformed churches that continue to this day to deny that the bread and wine in the Holy Communion are in fact the body and blood of Christ. The LWF leadership structure has embraced a compromise of the very heart of the Gospel itself with Rome, when it accepted the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” in which it allowed Rome to continue its formal anathema of the Biblical doctrine that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, apart from any works.

In our own country, we have seen the devastating consequences of this compromising view of Lutheranism in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is in full communion fellowship with the most outrageously liberal of one of the most outrageously liberal protestant churches in the world, the United Church of Christ. The UCC does not even insist that its member pastors confess the Holy Trinity! The disaster taking place in the Episcopalian Church in this nation merely is a portend for what the ELCA faces, which only recently had a prominent woman theologian officiate at a homosexual “wedding” service with two women and then shortly after a pastor in their midst do the same for a male couple. Because of the “Concordat” of full communion the ELCA has with the Episcopalian Church USA the newly consecrated homosexual bishop is now, de facto, also a bishop received and recognized by the ELCA. Within our own Synod there is the constant temptation on the part of some to bury their head in the sand and hope and pretend these situations are not taking place or that somehow, perhaps by magic, they will just all go away or that we can ignore these realities and go on with business as usual. These pressures and theological trends also are at work in our own Synod.

Does being Lutheran matter? Many would suggest that to insist on being and remaining Lutheran is to insist on what divides us from other Christians rather than on what unites us with them. “I’m more interested in people being Christian, rather than Lutheran” is a comment one actually hears these days quite often, sadly and tragically, even from Lutheran pastors. Clearly this is a false alternative that we must be on our guard to avoid. Being Lutheran is not a matter of culture, tradition or habit, at least is should not be simply that. No, being Lutheran is about being passionate about the truth, the full truth, and nothing but the truth as revealed by God in Holy Scripture. As much as we care about the truth of God’s Holy Word and the proclamation of a pure and unadulterated exposition of the Scriptures, being Lutheran matters. Martin Luther was concerned that people would be using his name, but then he realized that using the name “Lutheran” was a way to identify with what he stood for, to identify with his confession of the Gospel, in other words, to clearly identify oneself as a person who holds to a specific confession of Christ and none other. There are so many competing points of view of what Christianity is. Being Lutheran therefore is a way to distinguish and teach and confess and bear witness to the Christian faith in a very specific and faithful way.

Being and remaining truly Lutheran takes courage and determination. It is not easy. Faithfulness to the Word of God is never easy, or convenient, or popular. This places unique demands on our pastors and congregations and our church body, since we are determined to be and remain truly Lutheran. Dr. C.F.W. Walther, the first president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, offers important insight in his masterful study of Lutheranism titled The True Visible Church on Earth. Contrary to our detractors, the Lutheran Church has never claimed to be the only church outside of which there is no salvation. No, not at all. We do believe that the teachings of the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Book of Concord of 1580, are in fact the pure, divine truth, because they agree with the written Word of God on all points. It is for this reason that the Lutheran church, and consequently our Synod, demands of all members, especially of our ministers, that they acknowledge the Lutheran Confessions without reservation and show their willingness to be obligated to them. And it is precisely because we so value and honor the purity of the Gospel given as a gift to us that we stand with Scripture (1 Cor. 1:10Rom. 16:17) and our Confessions (AC VII; FC SD X) in rejecting every fraternal and ecclesiastical fellowship that rejects the truth of the Lutheran Confessions, either in whole or in part.

This is why we say that being and remaining Lutheran does matter. We Lutherans therefore have no choice but to sound the call for true, orthodox, confessional Lutheranism. We want no poor imitations, but the real thing. We will continue to call for complete faithfulness to God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions, recognizing the blessing that such faithfulness has been since the time of the Lutheran Reformation. Our desire is always to be maximally faithful, not merely minimally so.With this call for faithfulness comes the Lord’s call for outreach. In no way must we ever permit ourselves to pit faithfulness against outreach. Faithfulness to the Word results in outreach with the Gospel. Faithful outreach is based entirely on a faithful proclamation of the Word. The constant hallmark of a genuinely Lutheran Synod, and a genuinely Lutheran congregation, is this two-fold emphasis: faithfulness to Scripture and the Confessions, and outreach with the Gospel.

God forbid that we would ever apologize for wanting to be, and remain, a truly Lutheran church, or that we would ever hesitate clearly to speak up when we notice others walking away from the truths of the Word and the Lutheran Confessions for the sake of unity, which is no unity at all, since it is not based on agreement in the teachings of the Word, but only on an agreement to disagree! Thus, we pray that the Lord would continue to strengthen and embolden us to be a true, faithful and courageous Lutheran church body, to the glory of His holy name and the extension of His kingdom.

It is particularly interesting to me how many younger are keenly interested in Lutheranism. They want substance in worship and in Bible study and in every aspect of their church life. They want “authenticity,” not the showy and manipulative “hype and hoopla” that their parents and maybe now even grandparents found so alluring in past several decades. They have been raised in a culture that at every turn is trying to manipulate them into buying something. They have had enough of that. They see how shallow it is and they want instead substance and content and rich depth of meaning. This is where Lutheranism excels, for we rejoice in the depths of God’s truths, not resting content with simply “once over lightly.”

We wonder why, when people have a choice, they leave the Lutheran church. Why bother to remain Lutheran if there is nothing anything worth remaining for? If the differences that distinguish Lutheran from any other option in Christendom are never mentioned, or made to appear no more important than picking amongst various ice cream flavors, is it any wonder why people leave our congregations to find “greener pastures” in other churches? That is why the constant challenge we face is gently, pastorally, warmly and winsomely to be working hard at reinforcing good understandings and encouraging careful thinking and reflection, helping our people to see the issues of our day, and thereby recognizing and appreciating the fact that Lutheranism is the best option for anyone who wants to remain genuinely faithful to God’s Word.

So, how does one remain Lutheran? Fond hopes, fervent wishes, pious prayer. Yes, all that, but more. The old Benedictine motto: “Ora et labora” applies! Pray and work and then, pray and work some more. Teaching is key. We must disciple people into the truth. This involves long, hard work. Passion, energy, excitement, dedication, enthusiastic desire to pass along the truth-these are key to being and remaining Lutheran. Nothing is more exciting than the truth, and if that is so, shouldn’t our attitude toward it be equally one of excitement and energy and conviction? If Lutheranism appears to be dreary, dull and plodding whose fault is that but ours? High-quality intensive teaching is the key to the future of Lutheranism. We sing, “Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word” and then we work to make it so among us, for our sake and for the sake of those who will come after us.

Does being Lutheran matter? Yes, it matters. It matters as much as being and remaining true to Christ and His Word and Sacraments matters, as outreach with the Gospel matters, and as loving our neighbor matters. Our great privilege is helping all those whom we can, be and remain genuinely Lutheran, for that is to be nothing more, and nothing less, than true to Christ and His Gospel. To that end, may God bless our efforts, and may He guide our work together in this high calling and noble task-being and remaining Lutheran.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Great Stuff — Does Being Lutheran Still Matter? — 23 Comments

  1. I would agree whole heartedly, that being Lutheran still matters, and for much the same reason Pr. McCain notes– it is important, because truth is important.

    What I think is not addressed here, is just how few Lutherans are left in the world. If we sift out the apostate churches (those Pr. McCain graciously calls liberal) there are only a few others left who actually hold the Scriptures to be inspired and inerrant. Of those, fewer still actually hold the Confessions in all their points. And the critique made toward the liberal churches, regarding their free association with other churches that conflict with Lutheran doctrine and practice, can be said of many “conservative” Lutheran churches that have no unity in the Confessions.

    A more painful question that must be asked in our day, in a growing number of locations, is whether or not it is important to be Lutheran, when there are no Lutherans left. What is the next best Christian association to be absorbed into, based upon the primary teachings of the Lutheran Confessions, when all the local “Lutheran” churches are either apostate, enthusiast/pietist, Reformed, or something else in their doctrine and practice?

    In essence, the question rephrased, “Does it still matter to belong a church that calls itself Lutheran when they are in fact living contrary to the Scriptures and Confessions, when another church that does not call itself Lutheran, is actually closer in their living out of the Scriptures and Confessions?”

    Sadly, far too many of our parishioners are having to ask exactly this…

  2. @Brad #1 Brad, I would agree with your assessment of Lutheran church bodies being confessional/not-confessional in North America, but when I read about the Lutheran Churches in Africa, I get a different picture and I am encouraged. I am encourage by Lutheran brothers and sisters fighting tribal religion, poverty, and Islam and still confessing Christ. I have reminisced the following in other places but on my vicarage year, over 30 years ago, the LWF was meeting in Chicago and a Lutheran pastor from Nigeria (if memory serves) a LWF official, Nigeria spoke at my all white vicarage congregation and he said the time will come when we will send missionaries to your country. I think a sure sign of the demise of the Lutheran Church has been the Old Lutheran website which is nothing more a wallowing in Keillor-esque Lutheran past that actually never existed. The confessional Lutheran Church has been at death’s door for a long time. For instance, in the 19th century, in the other Lutheran church bodies in the USA, there arose Rev. Samuel Schmucker, president of the Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg who wanted to accommodate Lutheran doctrine to revivalism and actually did his own expurgated version the Book of Concord in which he did away with the doctrine of the real Presence. And I think the pastor and theologian who has documented well the “lonely way” of the Lutheran Church was Rev. Hermann Sasse. This following quote is from his Here We Stand, published in 1938, when he was in Germany, Nazi Germany with the 1933 election of Hitler as Chancellor. I cite it as a challenging encouragement for all of us on Reformation:

    “If we stand up for the doctrine of the sinner’s justification sola gratis, sola fide, it is not the dogmatic idiosyncrasy of a denomination which is at stake, but the article of which “nothing can be yielded or surrendered, even if heaven and earth and all things sink to ruin”
    (Smalcald Articles, Part II, Jacobs, Book of Concord). Not only the church of our Confession, but the whole church of Christ, lives by this article. Hence we cannot possibly render a better service to the whole Christian church on earth, or even to the Christians of other communions who do not quite understand us today, than by preaching this doctrine in all purity and clarity. Indeed, it is the greatest contribution which can be made toward the true unity of divided Christendom, as the Formula of Concord says, quoting Luther:
    “If only this article is kept pure, the Christian church also remains pure, and is harmonious and without all sects; but if it does not remain pure,it is not possible to resist any error or fanatical spirit. (Formula of Concord, Book of Concord)” The hour will come when it be necessary for the Lutherans of the whole world to have learned the full depth of these words. That hour will come when they are required to answer the question of the world, the question of the other communions, “What does it mean to be Lutheran?”

  3. Superb post Norm – Rev McCain knocked it out of the park.

    The entire article is quotable, but from my own experience the following really hits home.

    In no way must we ever permit ourselves to pit faithfulness against outreach.

    It is particularly interesting to me how many younger are keenly interested in Lutheranism. They want substance in worship and in Bible study……………….

    Within our own Synod there is the constant temptation on the part of some to bury their head in the sand and hope and pretend these situations are not taking place or that somehow, perhaps by magic, they will just all go away or that we can ignore these realities and go on with business as usual.

    Does being Lutheran matter? Yes, it matters. It matters as much as being and remaining true to Christ and His Word and Sacraments matters, as outreach with the Gospel matters, and as loving our neighbor matters.

  4. Now, if we could only convince the LCMS to remain Lutheran. With every year it sometimes appears they will make their way to pulpit fellowship with the ELCA soon enough being as inconsistent in their doctrine and practice as they are. Sorry people, becoming a Reformed Baptist or a Calvinist is becoming more appealing to me.

  5. Chris at #4 “if we could only convince the LCMS to remain Lutheran” so true…it saddens me to see more than one church remove “Lutheran” from name of their church. One close to me is a long, long time LCMS church. One of the first in our county I believe. But in the name of ‘growth and outreach’ they dropped the Lutheran from their name. I also see districts planting churches that have ‘cool and catchy’ names, but no mention of being Lutheran.

    As an ex-Reformed ( PCA ) church goer and officer, I’m not sure I could ‘go back’. The church I left, however, had a Lutheran-leaning ( think White Horse Inn ) pastor. But, I think I get the sentiment of what you’re saying. They definitely take the Word and their Confessions seriously. They are a ‘set apart’ type of church.

  6. Dare I say it? Part of me wishes we could drop the name “Lutheran” and just go with what it means, and thus be free of the baggage that it comes with, which is the opposite of what it means.

    What I mean is this: It is my impression that in the US the public perception of what “Lutheran” is is (not unnaturally) associated with the largest church body claiming that name. Because of this, so often, when people learn that we are a “Lutheran” church, they immediately assume that we also have abandoned any care and concern for what is Biblical and Christian and true.
    Using a different name might be a good signal to the world that we are not all about Luther and what he thought about this and that – rather, we are about the Biblical truth, for whose rediscovery he happened to be the instrument chosen by God, and the realisation that “Biblical” is equal to “truth”.

    Of course we would necessarily have to come up with another name; for obviously it is dishonest and deceitful to sail without a flag, rather than honestly and openly indicate to where we belong and what we represent and what visitors and seeker can expected to find with us.
    But then, on the other hand, I guess it is even more dishonest to put a “Coke” sticker on the Pepsi you are selling – perhaps some of our churches not using the name Lutheran are actually, at the beginning of a path that might, in the end, lead to doing something that might, in a strange way, resemble “the right thing”? Hmm.

    And perhaps having a different name for ourselves might be a helpful reminder to our preachers and teachers that we do not preach and teach and do what we preach and teach and do because it is “Lutheran”, even though it is that, but rather because it is entrusted to the entire Church of Christ by her Lord, and so we really do not have much of a choice, if we want to be faithful to Him. This might bring about some beneficial changes in some of the ways we communicate what we are communicating – perhaps – and the way many of our people think about things.
    But many of the good names are taken, so that they also now would mean pretty much the opposite of what they really mean (like “Evangelical” or “Gospel”).

    Perhaps a name like “Concordian” could do it. Or “Evangelical-Augsburgian”, as in the name of the LWF church in Poland.
    Not that I am all that serious about this. I am not going to start a movement, and I would suggest that nobody else do it, either. Still, I like to play with the thought in my mind – sort of as an exercise in ecclesiastical identity awareness.

  7. What I’ve seen and experienced from churches that ‘drop the name’ is a pathetic attempt to be cool and relevant to the culture and not faithful to their confessions or faith. A church name will always be too narrow. Being “Lutheran” simply means we are Christians.

    Presbyterian churches…their names has a focus on the type of church government ( polity ). Baptists…well, they baptize ( so do we ).

    I believe originally, the Lutheran reformers were called Evangelicals ( Lutheran was a sort of pejorative ).

  8. @Daniel Casey #7

    Daniel Casey :
    What I’ve seen and experienced from churches that ‘drop the name’ is a pathetic attempt to be cool and relevant to the culture and not faithful to their confessions or faith.

    Like sailing without a flag – or perhaps rather, refraining from sailing under a flag to which you have no allegiance anyway?

  9. @Jais Tinglund #6
    I have long liked the idea of “Concordian” as a replacement for “Lutheran,” for two reasons: (1) we are typically assumed to be ELCA, since it is the largest and most vocal “Lutheran” church, and (2) we are also assumed to be slavish followers of everything Luther himself said and did, rather than followers of Christ. We probably can’t do it now, since we would lose the benefits of the “brand” (so to speak), but I think it would be more accurate and less susceptible of these problems.

  10. Turning this around a bit ( and tongue firmly planted in cheek and venting ) but, from where I’m coming from ( father of six children ), at the end of the day, do we want to raise Lutherans or do we want to raise generic ‘Christians’ ?

    If I Google a list of churches in my area, names like Grace Point, The Rock, New Heights, Cross Church, Solid Rock, Key Point, Life Spring, Hope Community, etc, etc. pop up. I can tell you most of these are Baptist leaning and yet, few ( close to 0 ) have any idea about the London Baptist Confession of Faith and could care less. Does it matter? To them it doesn’t. What matters is that you are saved and you are serving, period.

    I would wager that most of the above churches would have a very similar ‘statement of faith’ or ‘what we believe’ on their website. Is that enough? Seriously, isn’t that the question being asked?

    Why not drop the name Lutheran from our churches, teach the catechism ( and BoC ) less and less and just ‘love Jesus’ and sing awesome, rockin’ hymns songs on Sunday?

    Sorry, I’m in a bit of a fit today. As a still new-ish Confessional Lutheran, I’m exasperated at times to see long time Lutherans willing to toss it all out the window in favor of what the PCUSA or Assembly of God church down the street is doing because they sure fill up their parking lots.

    So yes, I agree, it is V E R Y important to be Lutheran, to call ourselves Lutheran, and not be generic in our faith, but explicit ( BoC ) and faithful.

  11. Perhaps those “Lutheran” congregations that disregard confessional Lutheranism should drop the name and form their own new synod.

    Maybe their new synod could be called the Synod of Heterodox Assemblies of Mysticism – SHAM for short!

  12. @Stef #13
    Well, there are so-called “Bible Church”es all over the place – which, again, is yet another case of a name meaning pretty much the opposite of what it means ….

  13. The happy clappy crowd are not the only folks who want to drop ‘Lutheran’. That may or may not be the case in other parts of the country or the world, but I know from first-hand experience that in my neck of the woods, it is folks who are big on liturgy but hate all that Biblical inerrancy and quia subscription to the Book of Concord stuff that want to move away from being too ‘Lutheran’. I really think it has escaped many in more traditional LCMS circles that the new liberals (in protestantism this is best represented by the Emergent Church) are incredibly positive toward bells and smells. Among hipsters the old gothic, medieval and ancient church art and architecture are super cool. It is Christian beliefs that are not cool.

  14. The name Lutheran is obviously not the best. Luther himself didn’t like it.

    The name “Missouri Synod” is obviously a problem. Most people can neither pronounce it, nor understand what it means, and are confused as to why a church body that is nation-wide and in fellowship with other churches around the world has “Missouri” in its name.

    Calling elders “elders” is obviously a problem since in the Bible that word means something very different.

    We use “church” when we should use “parish”. We use “sanctuary” when we mean the whole chapel and not just the sanctuary. We use “church” when we mean the chapel.

    All these things and more are problematic. But cleaning up our terminology is often used a cover for other changes.

  15. @Daniel Casey #7

    Daniel Casey :
    Presbyterian churches…their names has a focus on the type of church government ( polity ).

    … as do Episcopalians and Congregationalists, and by their own choice, because church government rather than doctrine is what constitutes their ecclesiastical identity *vis-a-vis* other church bodies.

    Daniel Casey :
    Baptists…well, they baptize ( so do we ).

    Yes, but in the old world, where pretty much everybody would be baptised already, the Baptists would be distinguishable from other revivalist preachers in this very thing that they they actually baptised those (already baptised) who joined them, rather than “merely” encourage them to repentance, faith and new life.

    I believe Methodists had their name applied to them by their critics until they became accustomed to it and owned it; kind of like us …

    Just in case that would be interesting to anybody; or even if it is not …

  16. @Lance Brown #16
    Amen.

    I was having a conversation with some of our parishioners one Sunday evening, and I was reminiscing about how the old Lutheran churches used to have a stone near the foundation, viewable by all who passed by, with the letters “UAC” engraved upon it. I was tempted to take a chisel out to the facade of our building, and pound it in there myself.

    I think the first name / title change we need, is to put “catholic” back into the Creeds, the way they were originally written. The second, would be an unabashed return to the Augustana– use it in every new member class, give away free copies, do periodic catechesis from it, etc.

    And maybe brand the letters “UAC” on our pastor’s chests…

  17. @Pr. Mark Schroeder #2
    Pr. Schroeder,

    I am often given hope by the African churches, as well– they seem to be speaking orthodoxy back into their respective mother churches, from the Anglicans and Romans, to the Lutherans. From my conversations with missionaries over there, I find it interestingly sad, that they (Lutheran, Roman, Anglican,) seem to be fighting a very aggressive pentecostalism / enthusiasm there, too. Seems that kind of enthusiasm is much more akin to the native pagan religions of Africa, which I suppose should be no surprise, since enthusiasm is about the oldest pagan religion in the world.

    They fight there, and we fight here. The protagonists and the antagonists appear the same– just the geography of the battlefield changes…

  18. @Brad #18
    And maybe brand the letters “UAC” on our pastor’s chests…

    Invisible (I hope)…
    Maybe tattoo it on their biceps and have them wear sleeveless clericals?
    8-^)
    [I hope not!]

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