“When Did I Become a Lutheran?” A Layman’s Answer
A Lutheran layman, a convert, prepared this little essay that I found to be extremely thought-provoking. Perhaps you will as well. Here is what layman Mr. Michael Baker had to say, when asked, “When did you become a Lutheran?”
When Did I Become a Lutheran?
While some bean-counter will tell me that I became a Lutheran when I
joined the Lutheran church body to which I belong, I tend to disagree.
You see, I am a rarity among converts. I did not even really know
anything about Lutheranism until long after I left charismatic
Anabaptism. Why did I leave charismatic Anabaptism? I started to read
the Bible. When I read the Bible with discernment, I found Scripture
that explicitly contradicted many of their teachings. I left because
they were teaching false doctrine and I could no longer stomach it.
A few years later, I worked past my disillusion and decided to find a
church that did not teach false doctrine. A few years of sulking was
not a transition from one church to another. It was a conscious
decision born out of years of objective research that measured many
Christian and several pseudo-Christian faiths against Holy Scripture
and church tradition on a level playing field. I resolved to find the
truth and join the faith that best agreed with truth.
At the conclusion of this journey, I selected Lutheranism. I then
searched for Lutheran churches and Lutheran church bodies, to find the
one that was the most faithful to what I had been reading and what I
had come to believe.
My confession: When I set foot in my current congregation, I had to
take several trips back to my car to bring in my stacks of theological
books and research notes. I held up my copy of the Book of Concord and
told the pastor, “This is what I believe. Do you teach and follow this
So I ask, “When did I become Lutheran?”
If I became Lutheran when I confessed Lutheran doctrine, then
Lutheranism is objective truth that can be believed and understood –
not just corporately, but individually as well. If Lutheranism is true
and objective, then it needs no followers to be the correct confession.
That is why I selected it. I knew nothing of controversies, synods, and
church politics the day that I joyously declared, “I am Lutheran!,” for
the first time. I did not know how many problems there may be in
actually practicing Lutheranism. But I knew truth when I saw it. At
that point, I could not be anything that disagreed with the truth. I
should have realized that the ideal of Lutheranism is always practiced
by people who are very much sinful human beings. There is no perfection
on this planet, no perfection in any Lutheran church either. I get that
For me, the truths that are expressed in Lutheranism are objective and
imperative. As much as my heart grieves for those who attend a
whacked-out congregation that is only pretending to be Lutheran, this
has no bearing on the validity of my confession. I confessed
Lutheranism long before I joined a corporate body. I confessed it the
day that I discovered that I could no longer commune with my family. I
confess each day that I learn about a new horrible problem (both real
and perceived) within the church body that I am in.
I confess the Book of Concord. My copy of the Book of Concord has my
signature inked just below the list of original signatories. That is a
very personal and intimate thing for me. I do not confess Lutheranism
because I am Lutheran. I am Lutheran because I confess Lutheran
teaching. I am Lutheran because I agree with the teachings contained in
this book, and that is what people who agree with this book are called.
If extremists on either side of my Lutheran denomination tear it apart,
and cause it to schism, I will still confess the teachings of the Book
of Concord. If a day comes when my Lutheran church requires me to go
against the confessions, I will rebuke her and confess Lutheranism. If
I should be stranded on a desolate island for the rest of my life, I
will still confess Lutheran doctrine and practice. Real Presence is
objectively true. Justification by faith alone is objectively true. As
far as the validity of truth is concerned, what others do or think is
If a group calling itself the “Purple Zamboni Church of Lower New
Brunswick” takes up the Book of Concord and begins to follow it
confessionally as the founders did, then I will encourage my church
body to follow their example. If my Lutheran church does not listen, I
will leave and join the PZCLNB… and start to lobby for the
Zamboni-ists to pick a better name.
Do I confess Lutheranism because I was born Lutheran? No.
…because I like everything I see happening in Lutheran church bodies? No. I don’t.
…because Lutheranism is the rebound faith that I fled to? No rebound here.
…because my pastor is a good guy? No. (He is, but that is beside the point.)
…because I like Lutheran music and liturgy? I hated it at first.
…because I like Germany and Scandinavia? Never been to either locale.
…because I was witnessed to by Lutherans? No, modern Lutherans are horrible at this.
…because I think that Lutherans are better Christians than other Christians? They’re not.
…because Lutherans have all the answers? No. Lutheranism thrives on
paradox. Lutheranism can only tell you what it has been told by
Scripture. Lutherans have the fewest answers of any Christian
confession. They don’t know squat because they don’t make stuff up when
things do not make sense.
I confess this confession because no one has been able to show me where
it is objectively false. I confess it because I firmly believe that it
is the true explanation of God’s Word and stands apart as superior
against all other human opinions. I confess it because of the human
speculation and opinion that it lacks. I confess it because it is the
clearest path to my Crucified and now Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.
Nothing will come between me and this true expression of Christianity… including Lutherans.