Are we Lutherans, Catholics or Christians? All three, and here’s why.
My collegue, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes, likes to share crumbs that fall from the master’s table he is working at, as he edits Johann Gerhard’s Loci Theologici. Here is the latest pearl of wisdom from Dr. Gehard Ben just shared with me, and I with you. You are, I assume, buying the volumes in the Gerhard Loci series? Hint-hint. Nudge-nudge.
The volume on Scripture and Theology is out, and so is the volume on the doctrine of the Trinity, before the end of this year, the volume on Christ will be in print and next up is the volume on the Church. Here are the various Gerhard resources available from Concordia Publishing House. Here is the pearl.
It is not we who call ourselves Lutherans. Rather, our adversaries call us that. We allow this to the extent that this title is an indication of the consensus that our churches have with the orthodox and catholic doctrine that Luther set forth from Holy Writ. Therefore we allow ourselves to be named after Luther, not as the inventor of a new faith but as the asserter of the old faith and the cleanser of the church from the stains of Papist dogmas. Consequently, we also do not reject the names “Christian” and “catholic,” nor do we render ourselves unworthy of them by the approval of any heretical dogma, as did the Arians, Nestorians, Eutychians, etc. Rather, we are called “Christians” from Christ as the only Author and Teacher of our faith. We are called “catholics” from our consensus with the catholic faith. We are called “Lutherans” from Luther as the asserter and defender of that faith, but especially as the reformer whom God raised up.
—Johann Gerhard, On the Church (Theological Commonplace XXV), § 156.