WIKI15 part 1

Pr. Chris HullLet’s Get Together

Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” These are the words I read in the Treasury of Daily Prayer on the first day of the Wiki15 conference in Katy, Texas. When I told some people that I was going to this conference they made a funny face and said, ‘Why would you do that to yourself.” Yes, I’m all the adjectives you can use to describe a hard headed Lutheran in the LCMS. Why would I ever want to go to a conference that is clearly on the opposite side of what I believe and practice? Why would I go to a conference that clearly doesn’t have the same practice or belief of what it means to be a pastor in the LCMS? Why did I go? Because of the words in Psalm 133. If we stop talking to one another and taking the time to listen, then all we will do is put the worst construction on everything. Yes, I could’ve stayed at home and watched the streamed videos on their website, but that isn’t the same. When you watch the videos you can abstract your brothers and sisters in Christ to people on a screen, rather than fellow believers who are baptized with the same water and Word as we are. No, if we believe that those who went to this conference have gone astray, then we have to follow the words of St. Paul that say, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgressions, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). We have to take the time, to listen, put the best construction on things, and speak as given to by Christ, rather than listen to what the Old Adam has to say. This was the attitude I prayed the Lord would give to me over the three-day conference in Katy and I pray that this is the demeanor that the Lord will continue to give to me as long as He gives me breath. I pray that this would be the true disposition of all brothers and sisters in at least the LCMS.

Rather than try to summarize and therefore miss some important issues in a 4-page report, or bore people with a 25-page tome on the topic, I am going to divide my experience at the conference into a three-part article. This first part is a few overview issues and also will describe the opening service at the conference. Psalm 133:1 replayed in my mind the entire time and I had to repent numerous times during the conference because I transgressed it.

One thing confessional guys can learn from the group assembled at the Wiki15 conference is their fraternal spirit. These men and women gathered came to encourage one another and support one another in their ministries. They didn’t come in and find ways to rip each other apart, nor were they picking apart every sentence for a hint of false doctrine. Not that it is a bad thing to reveal the false teacher, but we shouldn’t go into a conference or meeting with the hope that we will triumph as the champion of Orthodoxy. This conference was a genuine opportunity for these men and women gathered there to build each other up and go out stronger and more courageous. Everything from the worship to the coffee hour was a time for them to speak words of strength and support. Let us repent when we don’t do this and look for opportunities to speak words of strength and endurance to one another.

I felt very welcomed at this conference when I first arrived. The greeters at the doors were extremely friendly and they were helpful with making sure I knew where to go. I wasn’t lost for a minute. There was always someone to help me find my way. The air was filled with laughter and you could see that all gathered were excited to see one another. It was in the midst of this atmosphere that I got my name tag and proceeded to the worship center for the opening worship. I could write an entire series on the look of the center, but it is a typical look. No altar, pulpit, or visible font. No cross up front and center. There was instead the stage with the band and the screens on either side. I expected this look at the Church. However, it is not the main issue. The deeper issue is not what the church looks like, or what the pastor dresses in, but rather is what is said and sung within the walls of the Church. What did the band sing and what did the pastor preach? These are the questions that need to be answered.

What did the band sing? The opening song was “This I believe”. It was a sung version of the creed. I had the assumption that we wouldn’t sing anything remotely biblical or creedal. Was it the best song? No, it was a summary of the creed and therefore skipped a lot of important things like baptism, and the nature of who Jesus is as the Son of God. There was nothing wrong with the song, but because it didn’t confess the fullness of the Creed, it was lacking and when something is assumed in our confession it is lost. This lack of certain articles of the faith would play out throughout the rest of the service.

The next was, “The King is calling.” The lyrics are:

Come every beating heart that longs to find its worth Come every aching soul in need of something more Come with your questions Come with your doubts Bring them to the Lord Come all you castaways, left out of every crowd Come all you outsiders, unwanted until now You are a people You have a place Waiting with the Lord Troubled and restless, hungry and helpless Sing for joy, the King is calling Strong in justice, rich in mercy Sing for joy, the King is calling And His love is never-ending Come all you servants, with no candle left to burn Come every broken body, tired from years of work Lay down your tools Lift up your hands Lift them to the Lord Lift up a shout Our King is full of grace Lift up a shout He’s worthy of our praise

Again, this song has some good things to say. It confesses the tiredness that comes with struggling in this earthly way. However, it doesn’t confess Christ as the one who gives us rest. The singer went into a mini sermon about finding rest, but then never preached Christ crucified and resurrected as our rest. He didn’t preach baptism, the Lord’s Supper, nor absolution for our rest. The song ends up being more about us singing to the King who is calling, rather than about what the King is calling us to, which is life everlasting in His death and resurrection. The important part of the song isn’t the grace of the King, but rather that His grace makes Him worthy of our praise.

The third song made up a little for the lack of Christ in the second. The title is ‘Free to Worship.” The lyrics are:

We have gathered to sing these songs Wretched sinners and desperate frauds Fully covered in Jesus’ blood Free to worship the three in one Free to worship the three in one Holy is the Lord Holy is the Lord, Almighty Holy is the Lord, our mighty God We have gathered to sing these songs Sons and daughters of every tongue Bound together in Jesus’ blood Free to worship the three in one Free to worship the three in one Chorus The curtain was torn through We stand before you And mercy is all you speak

This song does confess that the Blood of Christ covers our wretchedness. This song had more clarity on the work of Jesus Christ to save us and have mercy on us. However, the Gospel, the Blood of Christ, was a means to an end, rather than the end itself. The blood of Christ frees us to worship and that was the focus of the song, and the title itself. Yes, in freedom we worship the Triune God. However, it would’ve been nice to have one song that focused on what Jesus does for us and the forgiveness we receive in Worship.

These were the songs sung before the message. One of the things we can learn from this is that the band had these songs memorized. Yes, we could say it is because they are simple and repetitive and therefore anyone can memorize. However, instead of critiquing it we should be encouraged by it. We should inwardly digest every hymn we are to sing on Sunday morning during the Divine Service. We should not have to look at the hymnal once during the service because we have made the hymnody and the liturgy our daily bread throughout the week. Yes, the band knew the songs because they sing the same rotation and that is one of the reasons they know them all. However, putting the best construction on it, they know the songs because they love them and believe that these songs confess the truth of their salvation. Are they right? No, the songs are lacking at best.

After the songs, then came the pastor to preach the message for the opening worship. He used the account of Mary and Martha from Luke 10 as the text. The preacher was very good at his task. He didn’t stand behind a pulpit and look down at his manuscript every two seconds to make sure he didn’t miss a word. He had constant eye contact with the assembly and had a connection the entire time. We can learn from this. We should not have to look down every two seconds at our text, but should have a confidence knowing that as we preach to our congregation it is like we are talking to our children. You don’t tell your wife, “I love you,” by reading it on a piece of paper. No, you look her in the eyes and say it. We should do this as preachers. When we preach the Love of Christ, it is better to look at the sinner who needs to hear it. Secondly, you could tell with the preacher that he spent a lot of time meditating on what he would preach. Not necessarily on the text, but he did spend a good amount of time preparing to preach. So the desire to preach a good sermon is there. However, the content did not flow from a true biblical and confessional reading and meditation of the text.

The pastor opened by asking everyone why they are in ministry. The people had the typical answers, that you could find at any conference. People shouted out, “Make Disciples. Make Jesus Known. Reach the lost. Live Love. Advance the Kingdom. Share the Word.” All the answers centered around what we do. These were the hearers. They all answered with what they have to do. This gave the preacher immediately what the people need to hear. They thought it was something they do in the ministry, rather than being stewards who hand over the gifts of the cross. The all gave law answers, “what must I do” answers.

The pastor then went into the exegesis of the text. Martha is like those pastors or sacramental entrepreneurs who are too focused on just getting the ministry done. We want to do the work and get the daily stuff done. He showed that Martha is concerned with her work and that this is not what is good in Christ’s eyes. Martha even went so far as to bring Mary down because she wasn’t doing the ministry like her. The pastor then went on to say that Jesus’s main concern isn’t to teach us a lesson, but to love us. I was very pleased with this. YES. Jesus created us to love us.

The message continued with preaching that Jesus doesn’t want to teach us a lesson and then used the Last Supper as an example. When St. Peter is talking about his steadfastness, Jesus says, “Take Eat, This Is My Body. Take Drink. This Is My Blood. In my head, I was saying, “YES! That’s the stuff.” Jesus calls us out of our righteousness and into His work. He calls us to hear, eat, drink, and be baptized. This was good. However, he didn’t then preach the cross where Jesus took that works righteous transgression and our Marthaisms and put them to death on the cross. He didn’t take us to Calvary and announce the blessed exchange. He didn’t say, “Take heart, beloved ministers. You who have condemned your fellow brothers. You who have acted like you founded your ministry. You who believe you sustain the ministry. Take heart and know that Jesus did all the work for you on the cross and there did He reveal His Love for you.” No, the preacher proclaimed an abstract love of Christ, a crossless love of Christ, where the Gospel is but a mere footnote in the context of the sermon. He ended this section by saying that Christ called us into the ministry to Shepherd our hearts. That sounds great, but how does He shepherd our hearts? He does so in the waters of Holy Baptism, in the Lord’s Supper, in the Gospel proclaimed, and in Holy Absolution. Because of this, no one heart is shepherded more than another. Just because you are a pastor doesn’t mean that Jesus shepherds you more than he does the garbage man or the stay at home mom. No, we are all fed and guided by the same means of grace that hands over the same gifts of the cross in equal measurement. Meaning that they hand over the full Christ, not parts of Him.

It would have been alright if he had ended with the Lord’s Supper, but he continued by quoting Luther and his little saying, “We are nothing but snow covered dung heaps.” He said that he didn’t agree with Luther because it wasn’t biblical. No, we are not dung heaps anymore. “NO, we are a new creation”. This was how the sermon ended with our identity as a new creation. Yes, we are a new creation in Christ as St. Paul declares to the Church in Corinth. However, as the Holy Spirit inspired him to write to the Church in Rome, we are still sinners as well until we die. If it’s all about the new creation, what about the man who still looks at porn, the husband who beats his wife, the mom who ignores her children, or the citizen who disobeys the law of the land. Our comfort is not derived from our identity as a new creation, but rather from the love that Christ proclaims to us in the words of Holy Absolution. These words were talked about in the sermon, and even encouraged to hear and pronounce. However, when the time came to forgive the assembly we instead prayed and asked God in our hearts to forgive us. The sermon was crossless, with the gospel as a footnote, and sanctification comforted the new creature. There were some really good points in the sermon, but they were swallowed up because we ended with what we need to do, rather than what Christ did and continues to do for us.

We concluded the opening worship by singing, “Whom shall I fear.” A contemporary view of Psalm 46. Would A Mighty Fortress be better? Yes. Why? Because it preaches how Jesus does the work for us. This song had God by our side with angels, but it didn’t preach what Jesus does for us. This was the overall problem with the opening worship, that Jesus is not the actor and we the recipients of His work for our forgiveness, life, and salvation. The cross, the gospel, and the person of Jesus Christ were assumed and therefore lost in the opening songs and preaching. The sinner was not forgiven, but rather encouraged to limp a little less this week in their love for their neighbor. Can we say that they don’t preach Christ and Him crucified? No, they do. However, it is not the priority or the main focus. Justification by faith in Christ Jesus alone is not the beginning and the end of their hymnody and preaching, but rather an aspect of it. No matter how much Jesus you preach, it all comes crumbling down when you place the believer in any capacity to accomplish anything on his own.

To summarize what happened in the opening worship. We heard the name of Jesus, the work of God, but never heard or received the forgiveness of our sins. That is the only authentic and genuine thing the Church is given to hand over to all fallen sinners. Let’s preach that then and let the Holy Spirit do the work of guiding us in faith toward God and in fervent love toward our neighbor. These brothers and sisters are not outright heretics or deniers of the cross, they just don’t preach the cross as fully as it should be preached and therefore do not hand over the gifts of Jesus as they are given to do. Let us pray that we keep this in mind as well, lest we be tempted to do the same.

About Pastor Chris Hull

Chris Hull is the Senior Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tomball,Texas. He was married to Allison Desiree Monk on June 3rd, 2006. They have been blessed with four boys, Lochlann Richard Patrick, Eamonn Julius Luther, Tiernann Thomas Walther, and Jamesonn Frederick Flacius. Pastor Hull graduated from Concordia University in River Forest, Il in 2006. He received his Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2010. He is currently in the STM program at CTSFW.


WIKI15 part 1 — 17 Comments

  1. He showed that Martha is concerned with her work and that this is not what is good in Christ’s eyes.

    I immediately thought this statement was going to be used as an analogy to demonstrate how a faithful, confessional pastor (Martha) is myopically concerned with his work of Word and Sacrament and the concerns of the church rather than individuals in the community who desperately need to hear the Gospel. Mary represents the sacramental entrepreneur who has chosen the good portion and it will not be taken away. I need to switch to decaf.

  2. Pr. Hull,

    While I laud the intention of charity, I’m concerned about the approach you’ve articulated being taken within the auspices of the LCMS. Most of your observations would be just as easily made of any number of erring Christian denominations with whom the LCMS very intentionally does not have fellowship– various strains of Baptists, Pentecostals, and Enthusiasts of many stripes. Your argumentation above cements in my mind only that the 5/2 crowd within the LCMS is nominally Christian at best, but highly deviant from the orthodoxy of our Confessions.

    With that said, it appears to me that the 5/2 crowd deserves the level of charity we offer to all other erring Christian fellowships, just as we would offer it to Mars Hill or Willow Creek or Calvary Chapel disciples. But if they are not Biblical (Lutheran) in doctrine or practice, however, how can we with intellectual honesty treat them as such? Any remaining fragments of the doctrine of closed communion devolve into incoherence, if we’re willing to apply it capriciously to Enthusiasts of every kind outside the Synod, but not the ones who maintain inconsistently their membership in the LCMS.

    I do not recommend our people or pastors hang out and study under the Enthusiasts of 5/2, nor participate in their heterodox worship. Doing so would be like telling our people to go to the local (fill in the blank) Enthusiast congregation, and participate fully in their rites and teaching… which as you must know, is spiritually dangerous for them, and negligent of us. I think our Lutheran Fathers would have thought the same, as I can think of none who would have taken the approach you have above.

  3. @Brad #3

    I appreciate your sentiments, but when possible I think it’s a good idea for solid Confessional Lutherans to gain first hand intelligence and to be in communication with all corners of the Church as well as the world. Pastor Hull has given a good report and instruction for both Missional Christians and Confessional Lutherans to ponder. The world, including the unbelieving, the missional and the confessional all need to come into contact with people willing to confess the all important truth of Jesus on the cross for them. Some are more fit for this work than others, but I think those who are well equipped for it need our encouragement and support.

  4. Chris: Thank you for your inputs and your willingness to investigate the 5/2 folks at their 2015 WiKi Conference. Your comments provide a first hand analysis of some of the concerns orthodox Lutherans have with 5/2. Rather than comment on them now, I will await the remainder of your reports before drawing any final conclusions. Again, thank you for your efforts.

  5. Chris: Thanks, very insightful commentary on the opening worship, much of what I have suspected for a long and from past experiences in such worship services @ District conferences and conventions and so on. We who faithfully proclaim the full Gospel of Jesus Christ in Word, Sacraments, and Absolution continually lift the erring brothers and sisters up in prayer, and share the truth in love. God bless.

  6. Thank you for this fair and honest report.

    I am increasingly worried that unnecessary schism in our synod is only amplified by refusing to take the approach that you have just demonstrated. No doubt, many will take “having read a report” as coordinate with “having been there myself,” but such a thing cannot be helped.

    One pastor who, in collegiality, fraternity, and the spirit of Psalm 133, engages with his brother for the sake of understanding, correcting, and being corrected when needed, is worth 10 such pastors who do not. That is why we must be faithful attenders of our winkels – particularly when we are at odds with some of the other brothers who attend. There, hopefully, we have the opportunity to hone our skills of listening and responding in all faithfulness to both the scriptures and confessions, and the undying demands of the 8th commandment.

    I truly look forward to part 2.

  7. “worship. I could write an entire series on the look of the center, but it is a typical look. No altar, pulpit, or visible font. No cross up front and center. There was instead the stage with the band and the screens on either side. I expected this look at the Church.”
    This is the idea of what church looks like according to all the liberal dp’s. Throw out the font and throw out the lectern. Hey lets get rid of the altar too. Who needs it.

  8. @LW #4


    I certainly do encourage honest and even handed investigation, and the most charitable approach to dealing with all Christians. While Pr. Hull may be well equipped both intellectually and spiritually to soak in this heterodox soup for the sake of scientific inquiry, it is not to be taken lightly by anyone– clergy or laity alike. One of the persistent historical marks of Enthusiasm which is entirely present in our day, is that their errors are so effective at infiltrating the orthodox and making converts based on sentimentality. Consider the rapidly growing rates of world Pentecostalism, for example.

    How many of our local Lutheran parishioners do we know, who have wondered off into various charismatic and/or non-denominational sects, after having loosely participated in their Enthusiast services? Were we so inclined, I’m sure that many of us could share tales of family after family who left our struggling orthodox Lutheran congregations, enraptured by the sentimentality of these false teachers. There’s a reason our Fathers and Dogmaticians gave grave warnings about fraternizing with those who Luther said were of another spirit. Rather, where public false teaching and practice is occurring, public refutation must also be applied. As a synod, we make this public refutation against numerous Enthusiast sects, warning our people against participation in their worship and rites– it’s on our webpages, in our published literature, and even our Constitution.

    However, it seems to me, that our synod has become very loose about any kind of public refutation of heterodoxy, so long as it comes from an LCMS rostered clergy person… and is endorsed by an LCMS district president. It took decades to get rid of one public false teacher on our roster (allowing him to make innumerable disciples after his own heretical image,) and I imagine it will take decades to rid ourselves of 5/2 (allowing them to make many more disciples in their own heterodox image.) That is, unless the synod at large tolerates their error long enough that it either destroys the synod, or permanently morphs it into something Enthusiast like itself. Either way, it will be yet one more Lutheran synod down the tubes of history, who for the sake of saying “peace, peace” to each other when there was no peace, lost their clear Confession of Christ and the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

    At the risk of being pilloried as one of the ten who is not worth the one, I reiterate that I cannot encourage anyone to participate in the heterodox worship and rites of this emergent sect. Rather, they should be publicly rebuked for their publicly proclaimed and shamelessly practiced heterodoxy, and without repentance, put out of the Synod for abandoning Scripture and our common Confessions. This is the charitable way to respond to erring Christians– not to leave them in their errors, feeling that fraternity and sentimentality are sufficient substitutes for orthodoxy.

  9. I guess I’d like to pull aside a 5/2 leader and simply ask them “What is it about confessional Lutheranism that is motivating you to stir up divisiveness within Lutheranism?”

    Unity goes both ways, and it entails doctrine as much as practice. Pastor Hull is correct in promoting first-hand encounter, simply for the fact that it is bad practice to assume false teaching without examination.

    Lutheranism draws lines in the sand (rightly so) that separate it from other denominations. There is good reason for this: heterodox practices stem from heterodox theology, and when one incorporates heterodox practice, it is only a matter of time until the theology is affected as well. Note well the final observation made by Pr. Hull about the speaker’s dissent from Luther (and ultimately the Bible) about our status as no longer being “dung heaps.” This is not only a sentiment expressed in almost all of American evangelicalism, it also runs directly counter to Scripture (Rom. 7:14-25). This sets up a dangerous precedent for the Wesleyan-charismatic idea of entire sanctification, and I can tell you first-hand that entire sanctification is a spiritually damaging doctrine to allow.

  10. Oh, just one more thing before I forget that I wanted to address:
    ” The preacher was very good at his task. He didn’t stand behind a pulpit and look down at his manuscript every two seconds to make sure he didn’t miss a word. He had constant eye contact with the assembly and had a connection the entire time. We can learn from this. We should not have to look down every two seconds at our text, but should have a confidence knowing that as we preach to our congregation it is like we are talking to our children. You don’t tell your wife, ‘I love you,’ by reading it on a piece of paper. No, you look her in the eyes and say it. We should do this as preachers. When we preach the Love of Christ, it is better to look at the sinner who needs to hear it.”

    That’s true to a certain extent. A preacher ought not sound like an emotionless robot when he proclaims the Word of God. Nor should a preacher be so bound to a written sermon that the sermon sounds awkward to the congregation’s ears (as somebody who writes, I know all too well that what looks good on paper does not necessarily translate to sounding good when spoken). Delivery, while subservient to content, is nevertheless not to be completely discounted.

    However, having said that, let me say this: While text-bound speech may not be as exciting or as engaging as more improvised, spontaneous speech, there is also FAR LESS likelihood that the text-bound speech will stumble into erroneous statements. I have seen this happen all too often with preachers who disdain a written sermon in favor of speaking “off-the-cuff” and end up making statements that are either confusing or outright not well-thought, and end up undermining sound Scriptural points. The analogy of saying “I love you” to our wives, while understood, is not quite sufficient. Preaching, while certainly saying “I love you,” is saying more than just “I love you.” It is handling the Word of God rightly. It is the careful exposition of words originally written in a language other than English. It is relaying law in its fullest, sound doctrine in its purest, and the gospel in its sweetest. It is coming to the pulpit with fear and trembling, knowing that the Author of that text requires it to be delivered without our own personal bias or desires interfering with the text, and will demand an account of each one of us who are entrusted with that privilege on the Final Day.

    Again, Pr. Hull is correct: preachers should not sound like robots. But at the same time, neither should they sound like improvisational speakers, either.

  11. “However, having said that, let me say this: While text-bound speech may not be as exciting or as engaging as more improvised, spontaneous speech, there is also FAR LESS likelihood that the text-bound speech will stumble into erroneous statements. I have seen this happen all too often with preachers who disdain a written sermon in favor of speaking “off-the-cuff” and end up making statements that are either confusing or outright not well-thought, and end up undermining sound Scriptural points.”

    Very good post. That is what DP’s want from all their pastors. Off the cuff preaching. No pulpit, just walk around and tell stories and throw out some explanation of the assigned text. I sat through through this two months ago. The preacher, off the cuff, said that those who suffer from any form of depression are demon possessed. That was the last time I showed up to that church. Pastors learn from this: Use the pulpit, its there for a reason unless you serve in the Eastern, Pacific Southwest, FLorida or English where there is a movement to get rid of all the pulpits; not mention the lecterns and altar. They need room for the bands.

  12. @J. Dean #11

    Agreed. As a hearer of God’s word, I am aware of the cult of personality that has in many cases elevated the preacher to “rock star” status and we need to put on our “Berean caps” when we receive an engaging, even spellbinding message.
    Here’s one of my favorites as an example of a dramatic delivery:
    Some preachers, like John Piper, have the ability to read from a manuscript in such a way that you don’t notice that he’s doing it. Regardless of how compelling the message, the antenna should be out for preaching of the Law and Gospel, rightly divided, as CFW would say. Sincerity and other emotions should not be mistaken for true doctrine.

  13. @Mark #13

    There are ways of preaching well without a manuscript. However, in my experience, I find it takes far more preparation to do so. It is much easier to do one’s research and hammer out a typed sermon, than to firmly commit to one’s memory all that research, and weave it together in a proper balance of Law and Gospel.

    The half-way house is to preach from well researched notes and outlines, so that critical exegetical research points are not lost when needed.

  14. @Brad #9

    I hear you Brad. As one who tossed himself into a soup of heterodox worship and church life for years (at a couple of different LCMS congregations) I get what you’re saying. In leaving the first I slipped off into another which was more subtly heterodox and more dangerous.

    Heterodoxy is indeed a sour soup made sweet with many sugary lies, but Christ has called upon His Church to have His salt in it.

    The LCMS reflects each and every one of us individually in that it has lost its saltiness. We need to be honest about our lack thereof and of peace among one another. Our disunity, our lack of peace, reveals our lack of love for each other and for Christ. At times we are unloving in that we do not correct a brother or try to bring him back. At others times we do not listen to our brother’s correction. Sometimes we do not forgive a brother. Sometimes we don’t see our need for forgiveness. We grumble and complain and do our own thing. We often ignore those among us who are in need. Often we just don’t listen to or spend much time with each other. We often don’t trust one another with our confession and prayers for help. We like to heap all kinds of laws and rules and work and guilt on each other when we should be heaping the grace and mercy of Christ instead. We need to repent of this. Jesus is our only answer. I’m not sure of any way to make it through this muck except that we trust in God’s Word and keep our eyes fixed on Him.

  15. @LW #15


    I think your last point is exceptionally poignant and you are right– there is no way out of this muck except by God’s Word. Our unity, peace, love, and all other theological virtues are bound up in the eternal Truth of God. At the foundation, divisions and lack of charity reflect sin against God and His Word, which in itself is a lack of faith. The return of Christ’s people to His Word in faith and repentance, will be marked with the fruits of love, peace, and unity.

    Unfortunately, one can never drive love, peace, or unity apart from the truth of God’s Word. Like the Doctrine of Justification rightly puts faith and grace as the predecessors of good works, so we recognize that love, peace, and unity flow from our common faith and grace given by God through His living Word. It is a common faith which gives rise to a common confession and a common life together under God’s Word. There is no common confession or common life together apart from it.

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