WON ME FROM ALL SINS, FROM DEATH, AND FROM WHO…?

devil-667637-m            Perhaps you have heard the latest from Religious News Services reporting the recent decision of the Anglican Church of England which in the United States is called the Episcopal Church, USA. The Church of England has purged references to the devil and to sin in a new baptism ceremony, saying it is easier to understand compared to the older service. From the Ecumenical News we have:

In the current wording, parents vow to “reject the devil and all rebellion against God,” “renounce the deceit and corruption of evil” and “repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbor,” Britain’s Independent newspaper reported.

The 16-year-old alternative version agreed by the churches’ General Synod on Sunday, however, only asks parents and godparents to “turn away from sin” and “reject evil.”

In approving the new text, the synod said there were apprehensions that the current wording was too complex to understand and easily turned off people particularly occasional churchgoers.[1]

Hmm. If the “current wording” in the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer is “too complex to understand and easily turned off people particularly occasional churchgoers” how long before the “complexity” of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone is removed to accommodate the unbelievers amongst the church? Oh wait, this is already happening in quarters of Christendom.

From the Scriptures down through the Early Church all liturgical / sacramental churches have had a reference to the renunciation of Satan in the Rite of Holy Baptism. What follows below shows what we in the LCMS have in our Rite of Holy Baptism by way of renouncing Satan. Sometimes it is referred to as the triple renunciation of Satan:

 

P:    [Name]   , do you renounce the devil?
C: Yes, I renounce him.
P: Do you renounce all his works?
C: Yes, I renounce them.
P: Do you renounce all his ways?
C: Yes, I renounce them.

 

P: Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth?
C: Yes, I believe. [etc.]

 

The Rite of Holy Baptism used in the LCMS continues with confessing the Baptismal Creed—the Apostles’ Creed. To omit a renunciation of Satan and his works and ways minimizes much needed teaching which through the Word grows faith in Christ’s delivered gifts. It will not be long before such churches confess that Baptism is a powerful symbol of what, no one can be sure, but a powerful symbol just the same. If Baptism’s deliverance from Satan is hushed or more tragically denied the need to have our children or anyone baptized is certainly minimized as it is among the Evangelical Churches.

Some churches which include the parish where I serve incorporate Luther’s language of exorcism for in Holy Baptism Satan is truly cast out of the individual. In short form the language reads as follows:

P:    Therefore, depart, you unclean spirit, and make room for the Holy Spirit in the name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit.

For those interested in pursuing this subject I would highly recommend Concordia Publishing House’s recent publication: I Am Not Afraid: Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare, by Robert H. Bennett, Item #: 531204.

Jesus said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. … Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” (Jn 14:15, 21). What helps us keep and treasure Christ’s commandments of Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, and Holy Absolution is teaching and confessing the salutary redeeming work delivered in and through these Sacraments. These benefits are kept and treasured when their benefits are extolled.

Luther succinctly instructs us when he wrote the Meaning of the Second Article of the Creed:

Who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, …

This deliverance from Satan expressly happens in Holy Baptism which “… works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare” (What benefits does Baptism give?)

What the Anglican Church has done is most unfortunate. Souls are at stake for eternal salvation is the subject. Perhaps the rise of the global South in the Anglican Communion will be able to address and reverse this unfortunate turn of events. In reading this critique some may object saying we ought not to meddle in other denominational concerns especially since the Episcopal Church USA is one step further removed from the LCMS than is the ELCA who at least still officially retains the name “Lutheran”. In a slightly different context these words from Herman Sasse respond to such thinking. The reader may exchange the words “Missouri Synod” with “The Anglican Church.”

“It is not meddling in the affairs of another church if we today undertake to speak on one of the basic problems of the Missouri Synod. For the life of a church is not like the life of an individual Christian, a private matter; it is a matter for all of Christendom. Whenever a church, whether it be a small congregation or a major part of Christendom, confesses her faith, she does so ‘to those now living and those who shall come after us’ (FC SD XII 40 [BSLK, 1099.42f.; Tappert, 636]).”[2]

We in the Missouri Synod need to be in prayer for our fellow brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion which includes the Episcopal Church USA. And, may we in Missouri in a repentant humble spirit continually judge all our teachers. Lovingly may our members exhort all pastors and officials to cling to the confession of faith enunciated by Luther as received from Sacred Scripture regarding Baptism and all Christ’s Commandments.

In Christ,

Pastor Weber

 

[1] Miko Morelos, “Anglicans Purge Devil References in Simplified Baptism Liturgy,” Wednesday, July 16 2014, Ecumenical News <<http://www.ecumenicalnews.com/article/anglicans-purge-devil-references-in-simplified-baptism-liturgy-25621>> [Accessed July 18, 2014]

[2] Hermann Sasse, “Confession and Theology in the Missouri Synod” in Letters to Lutheran Pastors-Volume II, 6, quoted in: John T. Pless Crossing Bearing and Life in a Lutheran Synod: What Can We Learn from Hermann Sasse?, The Emmaus Conference, Tacoma, Washington, 1-2 May 2014.

About Pastor Karl Weber

Karl has been serving St. Paul’s Richville LC and St. John’s, Ottertail, MN since Labor Day, 2004. He was raised in the Roman Church receiving his BA from Fordham University. Before going to seminary he was a computer programmer in Minneapolis. He served as a short term missionary in Guatemala and Kenya, East Africa. He spent time as a member of the ELCA and studied two years at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN pursing his M. Div. before transferring to the LCMS for theological reasons and continuing his studies at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. He was ordained in 1991 and earned his D. Min. in May 2002 from the same institution. He has contributed study notes to The Lutheran Study Bible. He enjoys deer hunting, going to the gym, swimming, and reading. He is married to Mary and has five wonderful children.

Comments

WON ME FROM ALL SINS, FROM DEATH, AND FROM WHO…? — 1 Comment

  1. “Therefore, depart, you unclean spirit and make room for the Holy Spirit….”

    I have always had misgivings about this. It seems to assume that the Holy Spirit is not already there, but has been waiting around for a minister to say the words of exorcism to clean house first. Yet the wind blows where it will. And if we really believe that a baby is under the influence of an unclean spirit, wouldn’t we want the pastor to perform the exorcism at the very earliest opportunity?

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