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When Lutherans Assert that the Bible is the Verbally Inspired Word of God, and Actually Mean it, Are they Fundamentalists or Calvinists?

February 7th, 2013 3 comments

commandments

The one, holy, catholic and apostolic church has confessed throughout her entire history, until the last couple of centuries, that the Sacred Scriptures are precisely what they claim to be: the God-breathed words of God—the very words that God chose to have set down in written form. This is simply a fact.

I was reading recently statements made to the effect that insisting on this truth is a result of the influence of American fundamentalism, or if a person dares venture a bit further back in Church history, there is the charge that Lutherans who confess the Bible is verbally inspired and thus free from error and incapable of error have come under the influence of Calvinism. This is nothing short of stupendous ignorance of the facts of church history, in which one need spend only a small amount of time to find that the ancient fathers of the Christian Church were quite happy to confess the Bible is the very Word of God. Any claim that the doctrine of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures is some kind of more recent American fundamentalist assertion, or something Lutheranism took over from Calvinist is totally bogus. If or when you hear any Lutheran saying that you can be assured that you are hearing from a person who is abysmally ignorant of Lutheran doctrine, history and, for that matter, church history as a whole.

As for Lutherans…the “Second Martin,” as he was called, Martin Chemnitz, the foremost of the followers of Luther’s reformation insights after the great Reformers death, makes it abundantly clear what Lutheranism has to say about the inspired text, in his magnum opus, from which to this day remains the most definitive refutation of the Council of Trent ever published, The Examination of the Council of Trent.

The quote below comes from the very first volume of Chemnitz’ work where he is setting for the Church’s understanding of the Holy Scriptures and why they, not “tradition” or any other source are the supreme source for everything the Church believes, teaches and confesses. In great detail he works through how God chose to transmit His Word to his people, by means of written communication of His Word, seen already in how God chose to give His people the Commandments:

“It will profitably clear up and simplify the present controversy concerning the Holy Scripture by showing how the Scripture itself began. History shows—and I think this must be noted especially—that God not only instituted this way and method of preserving and retaining the purity of the heavenly doctrine by means of the divinely inspired Scriptures but that He also by His own act and example initiated, dedicated, and consecrated that way and method when He Himself first wrote the words of the Decalog. Therefore the first beginning of Holy Scripture must have God Himself as the author.

“I have related these things in order that it might be observed from the divinely inspired Scriptures, which God wanted preserved and made available for posterity, that nothing was written before the tables of the Decalog, which were written by the finger of God. It does much to shed light on the dignity and authority of Holy Scripture that God Himself not only instituted and commanded the plan of comprehending the heavenly doctrine in writing but that He also initiated, dedicated, and consecrated it by writing the words of the Decalog with His own fingers. For if the writing of the sacred books had first been begun by men, an exclusion of more than two thousand years could have been argued, where in the better times of the world and among the most outstanding patriarchs the doctrine of the divine Word was transmitted without writing, by the living voice. Therefore God Himself with His own fingers made a beginning of writing in order that He might show how much importance is to be attached to this method, according to which the purity of the doctrine is to be preserved to posterity by writings.

“For the fact that He took tablets of stone on which to write the words of the Decalog there is another reason, which is explained 2 Cor. 3.

“In order that those things which were either to be written through men of God, adorned for this by miracles and divine testimonies, or to be approved by them after they had been written, should not have a lesser authority or no authority at all for the confirmation of dogmas and the refutation of errors, God chose not to write the whole Law Himself, but, having written the words of the Decalog, He gave Moses the command that he should write the remainder from His dictation. And in order that the people of God might be certain that this Scripture of Moses was not introduced by the will of man but was divinely inspired, God gave the testimony of Moses authority through many mighty miracles both before and after the writing, and during the writing itself.

“We have thus shown two things from the most ancient sacred history: (1) that the purity of the heavenly doctrine was not preserved always and everywhere through tradition by the living voice but was repeatedly corrupted and adulterated; (2) in order that new and special revelations might not always be necessary for restoring and retaining purity of the doctrine, God instituted another method under Moses, namely, that the doctrine of the Word of God should be comprehended in writing.

“This is how the Scripture began. Now that this has been shown, it remains that we consider further what use God wanted us to make of the Scripture, and what was to be its dignity and authority. Because the history is clear, we shall be content merely to list the passages.

“Moses included in four books not only the history of his own time, the exodus from Egypt, and what happened during the 40 years in the desert, but his plan was chiefly to write the doctrine of the Law, which God delivered to the people of Israel on Mt. Sinai in the desert. Besides, in the first book, he summed up the chief points of the doctrine and faith of the patriarchs, which they had received by tradition, on the basis of the revelation of God Himself from the beginning of the world almost down to his own time, and which they had also professed.

“God commanded that the tables of the Decalog, written by God’s own hand, should be deposited in the ark of the convenant, which was in the holy of holies in the tabernacle. And Moses commanded that his own writings, composed by divine inspiration, should be put into the side of the ark (Deut. 31:25–26). The custody and preservation of this deposit he entrusted to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. He also ordered that the king should have with him a copy of the Law, written according to that which was before the face of the priests and Levites, lest he depart from it either to the right hand or to the left (Deut. 17:18–20). He also commanded that the people should write these words on the posts, the doors, the lintel, and the gates of their houses. (Deut. 6:9 and 11:20)”

From: Examination, Volume 1, pgs. 53-54.

 

Why the Lutheran World Federation is a Fraud

February 1st, 2013 Comments off

Fraud

Fraud: A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury. Fraud is commonly understood as dishonesty calculated for advantage. A person who is dishonest may be called a fraud. 

Disclaimer: I am well aware that there are well-meaning, sincere confessional Lutherans who have chosen to affiliate with the LWF and there are a variety of historic reasons for this; however, they need to be aware that the Lutheran World Federation, as an “institution” or, as they insist on referring to themselves, as as “communion” of churches is simply a fraud. It is not Lutheran. It is not a Biblical “communio.” Those who continue to affiliate with LWF should do so only under ongoing protest against the insidious anti-Lutheran agenda that has the LWF in a vice-grip of error. Years ago when it was first

Liberal ecumenists and academics throughout much of world Lutheranism will recoil in horror when, or if, they read the assertion: “The Lutheran World Federation is a fraud!” Nonetheless, it is a truth that can not, and must not be, ignored or avoided, or swept aside with the polite tut-tutting of the ever-so proper and gentile pursuers of ecumenical agendas. The Lutheran World Federation is a fraud precisely because it is not Lutheran but wishes to assert itself as such, deceiving the innocent laity and pious who actually still may believe that the Six Chief Parts of Luther’s Catechisms are, wholly, Biblical truth.

The LWF insists on no clear confession of the Lutheran confession of God’s Word. It can not even insist that members confess even the simple truths of the Small Catechism as binding dogmatic statements on all who would wish to be, and remain, Lutheran. For example, when the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America waxes eloquent about homosexuality and ecumenical agreements with Calvinists and Catholics, this is simply the fraud of the LWF on display for all to see. When the LWF claims to represent 70.5 million Christians, this is yet another fraud. It does not see the Lutheran Confessions as a pure exposition of God’s Word, but can only wimper about seeing “in them” a pure exposition of God’s Word. Fraud and more fraud.

Oh, yes, there is much nostalgia about Martin Luther and the Reformation, but the large, liberal Western Churches that ostensibly bankroll the Lutheran World Federation bureaucracy with its incessant conferences, meetings and pious-blathering issuing forth from keyboards in Geneva, have long ago set aside any semblance of orthodox Lutheran Christian confession. No more across their seminaries and institutions of higher learning are the condemnations of the Lutheran Confessions held forth as true for our day, in fact, quite the opposite.

Any such notion that the Calvinist confession of the Lord’s Supper is false is regarded as “rigid dogmatism” or that the Roman view of Justification is contrary to the very Gospel is now regarded as “harsh confessional arrogance” and the like. Many years ago, Herman Sasse was sounding the alarm, which went unheeded even among The LCMS’ academics who were looking all starry-eyed at the notion of Lutheran union in America and in Europe.

Are we who wish to be and remain confessional Lutherans in the United States of America willing to recognize reality and speak against it and in support of the truth of the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions which so beautifully set them forth? Will we continue to welcome the scandal of being a confessional church? We do see encouraging signs coming from member churches of the LWF, rising up to reject and condemn the homosexual and feminist agenda that has exploded throughout liberal Lutheran Churches as the fruit, rotten to the core, born by the great trees planted and watered by the liberal theologians who for many decades have controlled the theology of USA and European Lutheran organizations, churches and “unions” of all kinds.

Keep in mind when you read the following quote from Sasse he was writing this many decades ago, long before the large liberal Western churches that control the LWF had gone even further down the road of compromising the Lutheran Confessions with Reformed, Calvinists, Roman Catholics, etc. and had embraced a social/moral agenda including abortion on demand and homosexuality!

Thus, Sasse:

“According to its very nature, the Lutheran Church, the Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, is a confessional church in the strict sense and can only exist as such. This is the unmistakable lesson of American church history.

“There would be no Lutheranism in America today if Lutherans had lacked the courage to present to the world, also and particularly to the Christian world, the skandalon of a confessional church. They knew from Holy Scripture that there is no heart that believes without a mouth that confesses (Rom. 10: 9– 10). They had learned from Luther that faith comes by preaching, the preaching of the pure Gospel, and that the church lives by the Word of God taught in its truth and purity and the Sacraments administered according to the institution of the Lord Christ. Despite the religious and irreligious trends of their century, they were not ashamed to identify themselves with the great dogmas of the orthodox church of all the ages, with the doctrines of the Lutheran Confessions, because they had come to recognize in them the true exposition of Holy Scripture as the inerrant [untrüglich] Word of God.

“Thereby American Lutheranism became an enigma to its environment. For with the exception of a few remnants of old Reformed Churches, American Protestantism is not familiar with a doctrinal type of Christianity. Only by means of this “rigid” (as the world calls it), firm, and clear position was Lutheranism able to maintain itself. There was no Lutheranism that was receptive to the influences of the world, that was broad-minded, liberal, and modern. There were indeed Lutherans who became liberal. But then they ceased to be Lutherans.

“Really that was also the case in Europe. What makes men like Söderblom and Harnack 19 look like Lutherans is finally merely a sort of nostalgia for the Lutheran Church. What is Lutheranism without the actual incarnation, without the miracles that belong to the enfleshed God-man, without the real presence of the body and blood of Christ, without the washing of regeneration? There is no Lutheranism save that which is “orthodox.” Anything else may be a beautiful, congenial humanitarianism and Christianity, but it is not Lutheranism. That must be kept in mind, even when one is, with an all-embracing love, gathering those who adhere to the Church of the Augsburg Confession. Our Church does not burn heretics nor judge consciences. But it does concern itself about true doctrine and must concern itself about it. A Lutheran Church that would not do that, a Church that would not train and guide its pastors to this end, a Church that no longer shields its members against false doctrine is no longer a Lutheran Church.

“There is a connection between this doctrinal character of the Lutheran Church and the fact that in the modern world it invariably functions as a foreign entity. This, by the way, has been the case ever since Luther parted company with Erasmus. The great truths of Lutheran doctrine call forth the ridicule of the world: beginning with the doctrine of man and his sin, which runs counter to all natural anthropology; continuing with the doctrine of justification, which implies the end of all natural morality; culminating in the doctrine of Christ and of salvation, and the doctrine of the church and the Sacraments. But this estrangement over against the world [Weltfremdheit] is the alienization of the true church. This unreasonableness is the unreasonableness of the true Gospel.”

Source:

Herman Sasse, Letters to Lutheran Pastors: Volume 1, “Letter Ten: On the Problem of the Union of Lutheran Churches-1949.” (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2013), p. 167-168.

The Beauty, Comfort and Power of the Doctrine of Objective Justification

August 26th, 2012 2 comments

It has come to my attention that there are some laypeople who read my blog, and follow my Facebook page, who have had the unfortunate experience of stumbling across very negative and harmful discussions on the Internet of what is called the doctrine of “objective justification.” There is a former Lutheran pastor who has made it his life’s mission to attack this comforting doctrine. I urge and warn all those who read this blog and my Facebook page to avoid any such discussions and to flee from any false teachers who would rob you of the comfort of the Gospel. They like to insert themselves everywhere they can on various forums where justification is discussed. Pray for their repentance and restoration to a true and living faith. They are the very kind of persons whom the Apostle warns us about when he urges us to make sure we are “keeping Faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith” (1 Timothy 1:19). Mark and avoid anyone who casts doubt on the doctrine of objective justification, and particularly mark and avoid any pastor who does so Do not be deceived. Cling to the truth.

Rejoice in this beautiful explanation of the doctrine of objective justification written by the Rev. Dr. Robert Preus, in 1981.

“The doctrine of objective justification is a lovely teaching drawn from Scripture which tells us that God who has loved us so much that He gave His only to be our Savior has for the sake of Christ’s substitutionary atonement declared the entire world of sinners for whom Christ died to be righteous (Romans 5:17-19).

“Objective justification which is God’s verdict of acquittal over the whole world is not identical with the atonement, it is not another way of expressing the fact that Christ has redeemed the world. Rather it is based upon the substitutionary work of Christ, or better, it is a part of the atonement itself. It is God’s response to all that Christ died to save us, God’s verdict that Christ’s work is finished, that He has been indeed reconciled, propitiated; His anger has been stilled and He is at peace with the world, and therefore He has declared the entire world in Christ to be righteous.

THE SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT
“According to all of Scripture Christ made a full atonement for the sins of all mankind. Atonement (at-one-ment) means reconciliation. If God was not reconciled by the saving work of Christ, if His wrath against sin was not appeased by Christ’’ sacrifice, if God did not respond to the perfect obedience and suffering and death of His Son for the sins of the world by forgiveness, by declaring the sinful world to be righteous in Christ -–if all this were not so, if something remains to be done by us or through us or in us, then there is no finished atonement. But Christ said, “It is finished.” And God raised Him from the dead and justified Him, pronounced Him, the sin bearer, righteous (I Timothy 3:16) and thus in Him pronounced the entire world of sinners righteous (Romans 4:25).

“All this is put beautifully by an old Lutheran theologian of our church, “We are redeemed from the guilt of sin; the wrath of God is appeased; all creation is again under the bright rays of mercy, as in the beginning; yea, in Christ we were justified before we were even born. For do not the Scriptures say: ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them?’’ This is not the justification which we receive by faith…That is the great absolution which took place in the resurrection of Christ. It was the Father, for our sake, who condemned His dear Son as the greatest of all sinners causing Him to suffer the greatest punishment of the transgressors, even so did He publicly absolve Him from the sins of the world when He raised Him up from the dead.” (Edward Preuss, “The Justification of a Sinner Before God,” pp. 14-15)

OBJECTIVE JUSTIFICATION AND JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
“The doctrine of objective justification does not imply that there is no hell, that God’s threats throughout Scripture to punish sins are empty, or that all unbelievers will not be condemned to eternal death on the day of Christ’s second coming. And very definitely the doctrine of objective, or general, justification does not threaten the doctrine of justification through faith in Christ. Rather it is the very basis of that Reformation doctrine, a part of it. For it is the very pardon which God has declared over the whole world of sinners that the individual sinner embraces in faith and thus is justified personally. Christ’s atonement, His propitiation of God and God’s forgiveness are the true and only object of faith. Here is what George Stoekhardt, perhaps the greatest of all Lutheran biblical expositors in our country, says, “Genuine Lutheran theology counts the doctrine of general (objective) justification among the statements and treasures of its faith. Lutherans teach and confess that through Christ’s death the entire world of sinners was justified and that through Christ’s resurrection the justification of the sinful world was festively proclaimed. This doctrine of general justification is the guarantee and warranty that the central article of justification by faith is being kept pure. Whoever holds firmly that God was reconciled to the world in Christ, and that to sinners in general their sin was forgiven, to him the justification which comes from faith remains a pure act of the grace of God. Whoever denies general justification is justly under suspicion that he is mixing his own work and merit into the grace of God.”

THE REALITY OF OBJECTIVE JUSTIFICATION
“Objective justification is not a mere metaphor, a figurative way of expressing the fact that Christ died for all and paid for the sins of all. Objective justification has happened, it is the actual acquittal of the entire world of sinners for Christ’s sake. Neither does the doctrine of objective justification refer to the mere possibility of the individual’s justification through faith, to a mere potentiality which faith completes when one believes in Christ.

“Justification is no more a mere potentiality or possibility than Christ’s atonement. The doctrine of objective justification points to the real justification of all sinners for the sake of Christ’s atoning work “before” we come to faith in Christ. Nor is objective justification “merely” a “Lutheran term” to denote that justification is available to all as a recent “Lutheran Witness” article puts it – although it is certainly true that forgiveness is available to all. Nor is objective justification a Missouri Synod construct, a “theologoumenon” (a theological peculiarity), devised cleverly to ward off synergism (that man cooperates in his conversion) and Calvinistic double predestination, as Dr. Robert Schultz puts it in “Missouri in Perspective” (February 23, 1981, p. 5) – although the doctrine does indeed serve to stave off these two aberrations. No, objective justification is a clear teaching of Scripture, it is an article of faith which no Lutheran has any right to deny or pervert any more than the article of the Trinity or of the vicarious atonement.

THE CENTRALITY AND COMFORT OF THE DOCTRINE
“Objective justification is not a peripheral article of faith which one may choose to ignore because of more important things. It is the very central article of the Gospel which we preach. Listen to Dr. C. F. W. Walther, the first president and great leader of our synod, speak about this glorious doctrine in one of his magnificent Easter sermons: “When Christ suffered and died, He was judged by God, and He was condemned to death in our place. But when God in the resurrection awakened Him again, who was it then that was acquitted by God in Christ’s person? Christ did no need acquittal for Himself, for no one can accuse Him of single sin. Who therefore was it that was justified in Him? Who was declared pure and innocent in Him? We were, we humans. It was the whole world. When God spoke to Christ, ‘You shall live,’ that applied to us. His life is our life. His acquittal, our acquittal, His justification, our justification….Who can ever fully express the great comfort which lies in Christ’s resurrection? It is God’s own absolution spoken to all men, to all sinners, in a word, to all the world, and sealed in the most glorious way. There the eternal love of God is revealed in all its riches, in its overflowing fullness and in its highest brilliance. For there we hear that it was not enough for God simply to send His own Son into the world and let Him become a man for us, not enough even for Him to give and offer His only Son unto death for us. No, when His Son had accomplished all that He had to do and suffer in order to earn and acquire grace and life and blessedness for us, then God, in His burning love to speak to us sinners, could not wait until we would come to Him and request His grace in Christ, but no sooner had His Son fulfilled everything than He immediately hastened to confer to men the grace which had been acquired through the resurrection of His Son, to declare openly, really and solemnly to all men that they were acquitted of all their sins, and to declare before heaven and earth that they are redeemed, reconciled, pure, innocent and righteous in Christ.”

Source:

CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
NEWSLETTER – Spring 1981
6600 North Clinton
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825

Mythbusting: “Dead Orthodoxy”

May 4th, 2012 1 comment

THIS IS GOOD, STRONG MEDICINE. 

What better source for instruction concerning the nature of the Church’s confession can we find than the New Testament? Here we at once make an extremely important observation, namely that the same words which correspond with our “confess” and the Latin confiteri, the words homologein and exhomologeisthai, have several distinct meanings which nevertheless are basically related: the confessing of sin (1 John 1:9, Matt. 3:6, James 5:16), the confessing of faith(Matt. 10:32, John 9:22; Rom. 10:9; 1 John 2:23; 4:2; Phil. 2:11, etc.; cf. 2 Cor. 9:13; Heb. 3:1; 4:14, etc.) and the praising of God(e. g., Matt. 11:25; Rom. 14:11).

 In the Church all three types of “confessing” belong inseparably together, even as history shows. The “Te Deum laudamus, Te Dominum confitemur,”which Luther loved to count as one of the ecumenical confessions of the Church,

[1]was sung by a church that was repenting for the sins of mankind amidst the ruins of the ancient world. The Confessiones of Augustine are praises of God, but also confessions of faith and confessions of the sin in his life. Because the Reformation began as a penitential movement and according to its innermost nature was such a movement in fact, a movement that concerned itself about true repentance and the justification of sinners, therefore, and only therefore, it was able to produce confessions of faith and to sing a new song of praise to God in its liturgies and hymns. Paul Gerhardt[2]and the other great hymn writers of our church could sing the praise of God as no other generation. But it was not in spite, but rather because of the fact that they were orthodox men and contenders for orthodoxy.

 It is no mere coincidence that the end of the seventeenth century, when men were no longer taking the doctrine of faith seriously, also witnessed the departure of the confessional from Lutheran churches and at the same time the silencing of its great hymns of praise and thanksgiving. When will men stop this idle talk about “dead orthodoxy,” a charge that is completely without historical foundation, resting only on a dogma of Pietism,—for Pietism has also had its dogmas, and some very obvious ones at that. This connection between confession of sins, confession of faith, and the praise of God could be demonstrated as occurring in other denominations as well, e.g., in the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages, whose great theologians were also great liturgists, or in the Eastern Church where “orthodoxy” has always meant both the true doctrine and the true praise of God.

Nevertheless, it would be entirely wrong to proceed from this connection to the conclusion which is so often drawn today, namely that it is enough if the Church worships God with glorious hymns and liturgies, and that the Creed is only a part of the Liturgy. Many modern Protestants are perfectly willing to join in singing those old hymns of praise which glorify the Incarnation of the eternal Son of God or the divine mystery of the Trinity. But that does not yet mean that they accept these respective articles of faith as true. In addition to their liturgical function, therefore, these Creeds have another side, according to which they serve as formulations of doctrine. And this dare not be surrendered. In Heaven this confession will indeed be purely an act of praise (Phil. 2:11, also the great hymns of the Apocalypse). For in heaven there will be no more error, no more heresies. And Anti‑christ, who leads men into misbelief and unbelief, will finally be overcome.

But here on earth the praise of God with its implied confession of belief in Him is accompanied by a declaring of the content of this faith, of simple judgment of fact, of articles of faith which the believer holds to be true. “Born of the Virgin Mary,” “of one essence with the Father,”—those are statements that one cannot pray and cannot sing unless one believes them to be true, even as one should not sing, “Blest and Holy Trinity, Praise forever be to Thee!” if one no longer believes this doctrine. The fact that modern Protestants do this nevertheless is a symptom of the decline of the evangelical churches and explains the greater strength of Catholicism. There is no church on earth without a real confession that it takes seriously. The Liturgy itself is an outgrowth of such a confession, and the Pope was perfectly right when in his encyclical Mediator Dei he reminded the liturgical movement of the Roman Church that the familiar dictum “Lex supplicandi lex credendi” [the law of praying is the law of believing, i.e., what is prayed is believed] not only can but must be inverted. Just as it is certain that in the history of the Church a dogma is usually first prayed and then defined as an article of faith, just so certainly the liturgy is preceded by confession of faith in the original Church.

 

Sasse Letters to Lutheran Pastors II, Church and Confession, translated by M.C. Harrison

Categories: Lutheran History

Why We Lutherans Reject Denominationalism and Why We are So Hard to Figure Out: Overheard on a Lutheran Forum

August 31st, 2011 16 comments

My good friend Pastor Weedon made a comment on a Lutheran forum and a few of you have drawn it to my attention. So, I’m passing it along to the rest of you. I think Pr. Weedon is making a point that is lost on many Lutherans, or, to be more charitable about it, not clearly understood, neither by Lutherans or non-Lutherans. Lutherans are very hard for Calvinists, Evangelicals, Baptists, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthdoox to figure out. Just when they think they’ve got us nightly shut up tightly into our “denominational” box we go and say something, or do something, that jumbles their well ordered “systems.”

Here then is why this is so, as explained by Pr. Weedon:

We in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod do not accept denominationalism.  We do not believe in the “branch theory” of the Church.  We recognize that our practice of closed communion is exactly what would be appropriate for the entire visible Church on earth.  We believe that what we believe is precisely what every jurisdiction/communion should believe, because it is—we hold—nothing other than what the Scriptures teach.

In other words, we don’t regard those who hold to a different Confession as just “another denomination.”  We regard the other confessions to the extent they differ from ours to be falsifications of the truth.  As offensive and prideful as they may sound, it’s not intended to be anything less than what (until very recent times) everyone believed about their own confession.

So we act in our communion discipline as what we believe the Lutheran confession of the Faith actually is: the legitimate heir and successor to the Catholic Church of the West. That’s a self-understanding derived from our Lutheran Symbols.  We do not claim to be the only jurisdiction in this Catholic Church of the West, purified by the Gospel.  We recognize other particular churches around the globe in whom the same faith resides—from the churches of the Archbishop of Latvia, to the churches of the Archbishop of Kenya and the Bishop of Southern Africa and the President of the Lutheran Church—Canada, and a bunch of others.  Consequently the notion that our altars are closed to non-Missourians is actually not at all accurate.

In the corrupted state of the Church in which doctrine that we cannot but regard as false and dangerous is enshrined in the confessions of other jurisdictions, this leads invariably to acknowledging in them that while members of the Church Catholic may well reside in their midst (in fact, most certainly DO), nonetheless those Churches by the acceptance of various falsehoods alongside the truth of God, cannot be acknowledged as true sister churches on a par with our Synod.  Again, I know it sounds horrific to the ears of those who think denominationally, but if you think confessionally it makes perfect sense:  confessions can be entirely pure, somewhat corrupted, or totally destructive of the Christian faith.  We tend to put almost all the other confessions (Anglican, Reformed, Roman, Orthodox) as “somewhat corrupted.”  Totally destructive would be something like a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness confession.

So back to the assumption that an LCMS person holds the pure confession – that IS the assumption we would make, unless the person in question gives evidence that his participation at our altars is in fact a lie – that he disagrees with our Lutheran confession of the Christian faith as expressed in our Lutheran Symbols.

I’ve probably offended all my ELCA friends and many of my Missouri ones by the above, but I think it’s clear that until we can get the differing ecclesiologies understood, there’s no hope of anyone understanding our practice of responsible communion (my preferred term), which takes seriously into account the nature of one’s public profession at a given altar.

This Day in Lutheran History

October 4th, 2010 Comments off

Several significant events occurred on this day, October 4, in Lutheran history:

1512 Martin Luther was made a licentiate at Wittenberg, Germany. A “licentiate” granted enabled Luther to begin his career as a professor of theology. The full name of this degree is: sacrae theologiae licentiatus, which translates as licentiate of sacred theology. With this degree in hand, Luther was called by the Church to be a doctor and teacher of theology, a calling upon which he continually relied as he pursued his studies and his proclamation of the Gospel accordingly throughout the Reformation. Here is an interesting description of what the licentiate meant for Luther, from an older book on the life of Luther, via Google books.

1515 Lucas Cranach the Younger, German painter, was born (d. 25 January 1586). The most prominent of Lucas the Cranach the Elder’s children, Lucas Cranach the Younger himself enjoyed a successful career as painter and artist. Among his many works, he is perhaps most famously known, in many Lutheran circles, as the painter of the magnificant altar painting that adorns the chancel of the St. Peter and Paul Church in Weimar, Germany. A painting featured prominently on Cyberbrethren.com

1529 The Marburg Colloquy closed. The denial of the presence of Christ in the bread and wine of the Lord’ s Supper by Zwingli and his followers resulted in Luther rejecting them as false teachers, and therefore, fellowship was precluded. The best book that deals extensively with the events leading up to and flowing from the Colloquy is This is My Body, by Hermann Sasse.

Categories: Lutheran History