Practice Can Change Doctrine, Which Is Why Doctrine MUST Inform Practice

Anyone else growing weary over the constant admonitions to "Do Something! Do More! Be Better! Be Like Jesus!" so-called "Missional" mindset that not only confuses Law and Gospel as we Lutherans have always believed, taught, and confessed it, but that also distorts the Office of The Holy Ministry with the "Every Member A Minister" in need of running their very own "Ministry of Some Felt Need" notion?

Me too. Join the club.

There's a reason why it's true that one's practice changes one's doctrine, which is why we should never take these discussions lightly.

A post we published earlier today highlighted a new Lutheran blog I found that's written by a Lutheran Pastor in Texas. Here's one of his more recent articles...



As We Pray, So We Believe - How Practice Changes Doctrine 
“As we pray, so we believe” is one way of expressing the understanding that what we do informs and instructs how we believe so that when we change how we pray, we are changing what we believe. Another way of saying this more distinctly is that our doctrine, that is what we believe, teach and confess, should determine our practice, that is how we do what we do, whether what we are doing has to do with the way we evangelize, the way we teach, the way we live, and especially the way we act out our faith in Divine Service, or worship. Indeed, we practice our faith in worship in a way that flows out of what we believe, so that in worship we are instructed in what we believe. So these two things, doctrine and practice, or as sometimes stated and equated, style (practice) and substance (doctrine) cannot be separated but go together hand in hand. This understanding of doctrine and practice being inseparable can be seen in what has been happening in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod over the past thirty-five years as there was an attempt to separate these two entities with the belief that to change how one acts does not affect what one believes. The following is an example of how these two, doctrine and practice do go hand in hand. 
The so called “Church Growth” movement of the early 1980s brought many ideas to the table concerning how to “grow” a church. All of the ideas however were ideas from a social or cultural understanding of how people act and respond to, shall we say, “persuasion.” In other words, as a famous movie says, “Build it and they will come,” the church growth strategy was “do this or change that and they will come.” Now, from a strictly social point of view of attracting people, many of the ideas were valid and true. Certainly people are prone to only fill 80% of a space before they feel uncomfortable, except we might suggest being at a concert or ball game of sorts. Certainly it is true that in order to fill a church building that ample parking is necessary. So, we concede that there are obvious (or not so obvious) secular, social, cultural norms that need to be acknowledged and provided. 
But what about the very heart of the Church? What about what we believe, teach and confess? Are these things that we believe important, just as important, more important or less important than luring people into our facility? How is it that a person is brought to faith? How is it that a person is strengthened and kept in faith? Where is the power of the giving of faith? What is the means through which one comes into the church, is given faith, and made a member of the Holy Christian Church?  
The Lutheran Church has always believed in the “solas”; Sola Fida (faith alone), Sola Gratia (grace alone), Sola Scritpura (Scripture alone) and these three “alones” have guide our faith lives, at least up until recent history. We believe, teach and confess, or at least according to our confessional documents and history, that we are conceived and born in sin, that our will is no longer free but has been tainted by sin, that we cannot come to Jesus nor claim faith in Him but that He must come to us, that He is the one who gives us faith, forgiveness and life, and that He does His work through means, namely the means of grace, that is through His Holy Word, through Holy Baptism, through Confession and Absolution and through His Holy Supper. Thus we believe that we are saved by grace through faith given to us through Scripture as the Holy Spirit works through these means to give us the gifts God has to give. 
What we hear today are statements such as, “We have to get out of the way of God’s Word.” “We have to be conscious of the culture in which we are working.” “We have to make God’s Word fitting for the culture we are trying to reach.” These statements not only infer but outright state that we no longer believe that the Word of God is efficacious, but that it is ineffective, and so there is something we must do in order to help God out. Here again, we are not only implying but outright stating that the Holy Spirit is ineffective as well because even He cannot work through God’s Word. So we see that as we have changed something we believe as innocuous as our practice of how we present the Word of God, we have changed our belief concerning the power and effectiveness of that same Word.  
So, today the three solas of the church have become the solas of “Sola Cultura,” “Sola Societas,” “Sola Civilis,” that is, culture alone, society alone, and civil alone. It would seem that today we believe, teach and confess that God gives His gifts through how we relate to the culture and society especially in a civil manner. It would seem that today we believe it is our efforts and how we exercise those efforts that are what are effective in giving faith to people. 
So, in an attempt to grow the church, we have analyzed the culture, interviewed the society, and have civilized what we do so that we might attract people to be a part of our group. In the process we have given up the true identity of our group and that thing that makes us who we are, or who we were, so that we are no longer that to which we were attempting to draw others to in the first place. Now we are a different body of beliefs and believers practicing a different set of practices which conform to our new beliefs and which teach those beliefs, even if they are not what we profess them to be.  
Perhaps it is time to get back to God’s Word and let His Word dictate, guide and instruct us in how we are to be His people and His church. Perhaps it is time to renew our faith in the Good News of Christ alone for our salvation and God’s promise that the Holy Spirit will work when and where He pleases through His Word to give, strengthen and keep in faith. And then realize that means practicing being His people in the way He has given us to be His people, i.e., vocationally with His authority and promise to be with us giving us the words, His Word to speak as we have opportunity and as we are asked, in gentleness with respect and let God be God.


See, the major problem with this kind of Christianity is that it puts our justification in the corner. Once we're saved, it somehow becomes all about the unsaved rather than remaining focused squarely on Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior, or the One solely responsible for our salvation.

Sure, we give lip service "In Jesus' Name!" all the time, but our actions betray us, don't they? How can we say we have the right focus when we preach a "Social Gospel" over and above the pure, unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ? How can we save we have things correct when we preach a "Get To Work!" message instead of an "It Is Finished!" one?

Are we content to "let God be God" or are we so arrogant to assume that He couldn't possibly do anything like save souls without our help and ingenuity?

That piece underscores what we've said before. In addition, it echoes what other Pastors have said about how the so-called "Great Commission" is actually the "Great Confusion" within Christ's Church that demands a "Great Confession" of the truth by those of us who know better.


It is amazing how the Church—the entity divinely charged with preaching and proclaiming the Gospel—continues to muddle, mix, and marginalize the clear Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
*- Rev. Woodford


Indeed. This is most certainly true.

Let us cling to the truth and boldly confess it!


The distinction between law and Gospel is an especially brilliant light which serves the purpose that the Word of God may be rightly divided and the writings of the holy prophets and apostles may be explained and understood correctly. We must therefore observe this distinction with particular diligence lest we confuse the two doctrines and change the Gospel into law. This would darken the merit of Christ and rob disturbed consciences of the comfort which they would otherwise have in the holy Gospel when it is preached purely and without admixture, for by it Christians can support themselves in their greatest temptations against the terrors of the law. 
*- Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article V, Law And Gospel.


Let's be authentically and courageously Lutheran and pray that we do not abandon the great confession and practice of faith (the explicit distinction between Law and Gospel) that has long been the basis of our identity even in the face of such persistent and widespread pressure to change for sweet sounding half-truths and outright lies masquerading as truth.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, practice can change doctrine, which is why doctrine MUST inform practice instead.



NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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The 'Missional' Mindset Lacks A Confessional Foundation

God willing, I have a feeling I'm going to be spending a lot of time here this week on the so-called "Missional Movement" within Christianity and particularly within the Lutheran church.

I found this from a 2012 piece published over at a blog called Rev's Ramblings written by a "Rev.Doc.Tex" or a Lutheran Pastor in Texas...



Perhaps we should look at what Scripture says concerning being confessional and/or being missional. One example might be God’s command to the Children of Israel when they entered the promised land. God did not tell them to be missional but to be confessional. God did not tell them to share the message of salvation but to wipe out the heathen people in the land. Certainly we understand this as God’s divine judgement against those in the land. 
But what about Elijah and the prophets of Baal? God did not have Elijah create a house of prayer with the prophets of Baal. No, He had Elijah challenge them to an altar contest. Elijah even made fun of them and laughed at them. And finally, God had the prophets of Baal killed as well. 
Why all this killing of the heathen and Baal worshipers? Because God knew what would happen if the confession of His name and Word were compromised by those outside the faith. And we see throughout the Old Testament what happened when the Children of Israel compromised their confession of faith. 
But what about the New Testament? In the Gospel of John we have the account of Jesus speaking hard words so that some took offense and left Him (John 6:51-69). Jesus was not concerned about being relevant, nor offensive, rather He was interested in keeping His Word faithful and true. In the Gospel of Matthew we have God’s Great Commission as it is called. Although that is the topic of another article, let us just say that rather than being a great commission, the words of Jesus are the great giving of authority and God’s promise to always be with His people. Although we are encouraged to bear witness of our faith through our daily vocations as priests in the priesthood of all believers, again another article, there is no real statement from God in Holy Scripture as a command being missional. There are many passages which speak of confessing sound doctrine. The following is a partial listing: “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them” Romans 16:17 (ESV). “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing” 1 Timothy 6:3-4b (ESV). “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” Titus 1:9 (ESV). “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine” Titus 2:1 (ESV). 
Although Scripture shows quite clearly that God is more interested in a true confession of doctrine, it never puts doctrine and practice, or as we speak in this article, confession and missional in opposition. Scripture speaks clearly of the importance of pure doctrine for the purpose of giving a true witness of faith, a true missional emphasis. Martin Luther, C.F.W. Walther, Alvin Barry all understood this and spoke of the importance making sure our doctrine is pure so that we might bear witness of that doctrine, of getting the message straight and getting the message out. 
But, let us get back to the question, “Can a person be confessional without being missional?” The accusation is that if a person is spending all their time guarding the message, then the message is simply kept out of reach of others. The fallacy of this accusation is the very fact that as a person studies, learns, and learns to defend what they have learned, they cannot help but want to tell others of what they have learned. Remember as a child in first grade, learning to read, you wanted to show everyone you could read. 
Can a person be missional without being confessional? Here again the suggestion is that for the church to survive we must get the message out. But how can one share what one does not have or how can one share that about which they know nothing. In other words, unless I know what I am sharing, what do I have to share? 
My conclusion is that a person cannot be confessional without being missional because being missional simply flows out of being confessional. On the other hand, a person can be missional according to their own definition of being missional without being confessional; however, as we have seen, without a confession to be missional about this lack of a confession simply means they truly are neither confessional nor missional. 
[Via]


I think that's spot on accurate.

As the brief description from that blog states, we are, "Chosen by God, Lutheran by choice."

In a Lutheran layman's terms, simply put, the "Missional" mindset lacks a Confessional foundation.



NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane (4/25/15)

Remember when Saturday mornings used to be so much fun when you were a kid?

For me, I'd usually stay up as late as I could the night before (after what I thought was such a "hard" and "long" week at school), and then sleep in as late as I wanted to on Saturday morning.

The best part? Whether Dad would make us breakfast or not (his French Toast!), the even better part of my Saturday mornings growing up was plopping myself down in front of our TV to watch cartoon after cartoon! You know, the kind that were only on once-a-week and not available in an instant through YouTube and/or Netflix?

I thought about that recently and decided it might be cool to come up with a new weekly tradition of sorts for us adults to enjoy each and every Saturday morning now that we're all grown up (ok, at least some of us more than others anyway). I mean, isn't it time for us to look forward to Saturday mornings again?

Besides, it will be good for us to recall that childlike faith in fun and laughter if only for a few moments each week. You'll remember that laughter was, for Luther, a sign of divine grace and also an antidote against the devil too.

From the very beginning, humor had been a theological topic for Martin Luther, embracing the dramatic scope of his whole world view. He himself explained: "When I was unable to chase away the devil with serious words of with the Scripture, I often expelled him with pranks." And so this unique concept is born! Ok, so it's really not all that "cool" or "original" or "fun" to be sure, but it will be our new tradition here, and I'll try to make it worthwhile too. So who's with me then?

Please keep in mind, it won't be flashy, and it will hardly grab and hold your attention like a classic episode of the Care Bears, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, or Voltron would, but these "Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane" should satisfy the Confessional Lutheran's appetite for a balanced breakfast that includes your VDMA Vitamins which include Vitamin A (Amusement), Vitamin B (Best of the Blogs), Vitamin C (Confessional), Vitamin D (Doctrine), and Vitamin E (Everything Else).

Each Saturday morning, God willing, I'll do my best to share some of the things I remember coming across in my unpredictable journey through Cyberspace during the week (hence, the "Along Memory Lane" part). For the most part, these will be things I either bookmarked, read, wrote down, and/or simply couldn't get to myself during the week. Of course, this is also where the things you send me via email (if any) will show up too.

Ok, enough with all the "commercials" when all we want is some "cartoons," right? Let's get the show started already, shall we?




8:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN A (AMUSEMENT): "Yeah, you're a sneaky little secularist, Patrick!" How did I miss "Donall And Conall Meet Richard Dawkins" from Lutheran Satire? It's another instant classic!



8:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN B (BEST OF THE BLOGS):
 One discussion I caught on a Lutheran Facebook Group this morning had to do with the knee-jerk reaction by most Lutherans (I used to be one of them!) in regards to seeing a crucifix as opposed to the empty cross. Rev. Anthony R. Voltattorni wrote an excellent piece on the subject titled "Resurrecting A Crucifix" and Issues, Etc. had a discussion about it too. It's all definitely worth your time since this is a subject that I know for a fact is heavily influenced by American Evangelicalism




9:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN C (CONFESSIONAL): 
 From the "With Intrepid Hearts We Believe, Teach, And Confess" section of the Reader's Edition of The Book of Concord: "Intrepid hearts indeed! What could possibly be so important that you would stake eternity on it? What gives a person such courage and conviction? Only one thing -- the truth. This is what this book is all about, the truth of God's Word. Lutherans have used the Confessions of faith contained in this book for nearly five hundred years as their public witness and testimony of what the Bible teaches. These Confessions give clear, unambiguous, and certain witness to the Christian faith. They unite all those who bear the name Lutheran and wish to be -- and remain -- genuinely Lutheran. That is why this book uses the word Concordia as a title."



9:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN D (DOCTRINE): Galatians 2:11-14 (ESV) "
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, 'If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?'" Here's what my Lutheran Study Bible has to say about this: "Paul took issue with Peter personally. Peter was not merely self-condemned, but convicted in God's presence. Emotion, not change of conviction, prompted Peter's duplicitous behavior. Paul could hardly believe it! His trusted friend and colleague for so many years succumbed to behavior inherently dishonest. Measured by the Gospel of freedom in Christ, the deliberate withdrawal from fellowship with Gentiles not only lacked integrity, but betrayed God's truth. For the sake of the truth of the Gospel, Paul publicly rebukes Peter for his hypocritical conduct, which communicates that the Gentiles must keep Jewish laws. The Word of God condemns hypocrisy (Matthew 23:28; Luke 12:1; 1 Peter 2:1; Luke 20:20). Yet, this history shows that God is true to His promise of mercy toward sinners (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 1:9). Lord, keep us from hypocrisy in our thoughts, words, and actions. Affirm our freedom won by Christ. Amen."

10:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN E (EVERYTHING ELSE): A hard-hitting, but necessary commentary "I Got Punched In The Face And I Liked It" from Alien Righteousness in light of recent posts we've published.
 

Sorry, but that's all I have for you this week.


In a Lutheran Layman's terms, you've been fed a balanced spiritual diet this morning so I hope you're full and wide awake and ready to face the day in your God-given vocations.


Grace and peace to you and yours!



NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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We Are All Beggars At The Temple Gate (Acts 3:1-21)

I was going to include this in tomorrow morning's edition of Lutherandom Musings, but it was simply too good to risk getting lost in the shuffle and it really deserves it's own stand-alone post.

Found this over at Cranach: The Blog of Veith. It's from Rev. James Douthwaite who serves St. Athanasius Lutheran Church, and his Easter 3 Sermon, based on the lame beggar at the Temple gate who was healed by Peter (Acts 3:1-21).



We don’t know much about this man. We don’t know his name or the names of his parents. All we know is that he had been born lame (Acts 3:2) and had been unable to walk for over forty years (Acts 4:22). And that everyday some kind people carried him to a gate of the Temple so he could beg. So he could, with every person going into or coming out of the Temple, lower his eyes and raise his hands and beg for mercy. That was his life... 
Until one day, Peter and John approached his gate. The lame man did as he did for everyone, but instead of filling his hands, Peter filled his ears and said: I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk (Acts 3:6)! And he did. And from that moment he clung to Peter and John, as the first reading today began. He would not let them go, those who had given him not just healed legs, but a new life. 
And soon a crowd gathered, for the man was causing quite a scene. For he was not only walking, but, we are told, he was leaping about and praising God (Acts 3:9). This was not proper Temple behaviour and etiquette, and so people were running to see who or what was causing such a commotion. And so with a great crowd of people now gathered around him, Peter preached. Just as he had preached to the lame man, so he preached to the crowd. They hadn’t done this amazing thing, Jesus did. Yes, that Jesus! Of Nazareth. The same Jesus they had rejected and traded for a murderer, the same Jesus they had crucified and thought was dead, the same Jesus whose grave was empty because – their leaders were telling them – His body had been stolen to perpetuate His hoax – guess what? That Jesus was alive, risen from the dead, and still doing powerful things, like making men lame from birth walk. A dead Jesus couldn’t do that. Peter and John were witnesses of His resurrection, and now these people were witnesses of His living power. 
Now, we’re not told, but I’ll bet you could just about hear a pin drop at that moment . . . because of the lumps in their stomachs and throats. They had Him crucified and now He’s back? What’s He going to do to them? What will be His revenge on them? For that’s what people do; that’s what they were used to. An eye for an eye. But that’s when Peter tells them: no revenge. He has come back to forgive. You! Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. Or in other words: Jesus was raised, Jesus raised this man, and He wants to raise you too... 
That Jesus is not dead, but alive and well, and continuing His life giving work. Only now through men, through words, through Sacraments. But the same mercy, the same forgiveness, and same new life. He will ascend, but the work will go on, when they are clothed with power from on high.  
And it has, and it is! For the gate of the Temple is now here, at this font, where perhaps your parents or friends brought you to receive the mercy and forgiveness and new life of Jesus. 
The gate of the Temple is now here, at this pulpit, where your ears are filled with the preaching of the living Jesus and all that He has done for you. That by His Word and Spirit your minds be opened and all the sin and junk and wrong thinking be cleaned out and you instead be filled with His Word and truth. 
The gate of the Temple is now here, before this altar, where you come with your eyes cast down to the ground in repentance and your hands lifted up for mercy, to receive from Him what you need the most – and given in those wonderful words: I forgive you all your sins.  
And the gate of the Temple is now here, at this table, where the risen and living Jesus gives you His own Body and Blood, the new food of the new life that starts now and never ends. 
And thus just like that lame man, you have been raised to a new life. He was over forty years old when it happened to him – for some of you it may have been forty days, forty hours, or even forty minutes after your birth; for others maybe more than forty years. But no matter how old or young, it is the same Jesus, the same power of His resurrection, His same mercy and forgiveness given to us sinful beggars, that we may have – and live – a new life.


Pretty powerful preaching right there!

In a Lutheran layman's terms, this sermon excerpt beautifully preaches the truth from God's mouth into our ears.

Plus, now I have a much deeper appreciation for Martin Luther's last words: "We are beggars. This is true." 


NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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ZITAT: 'So That They Can Play The Game Of Synod'

Unless I'm way off base with my basic translating skills (and have completely forgotten how to perform an accurate Google search!), I believe the English word "quote" (used as a noun as in "a quote") is translated to "zitat" in German. That will help to explain the strange "Z" word listed in the title of this post.

That being said, I'm always keeping my eyes and ears open for good Lutheran quotes that encourage prayerful consideration and deeper study of God's Word, His Sacraments, Christ's Church, and the Lutheran confessions of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). Plus, it certainly helps me in my on-going journey from American Evangelicalism to becoming a Confessional Lutheran .

Here's the latest...



"There are many pastors in America who form a 'union' of sorts so that they can play the 'game' of synod. They may be renegades from the discipline of a legitimate synod, are usually poorly educated, know nothing about the doctrine of the church whose name they bear, may have no preparation for the office of the ministry at all, are filled with errors of every kind, may also be conscienceless people who carry on 'ministry' like any other trade, just in order to earn their daily bread and live a comfortable life. When they come into an area, especially one that has no synod, they think, 'This is nice, we'll form our own synod here.' So then they accept as members any Tom, Dick, or Harry who happens to come along, so that they can play 'synod.' They all want to be 'president,' and so they elect a large number of vice-presidents so that everyone holds an office, a title, a dignity. They have no doctrinal studies of any kind, because their heads are empty and therefore they can't produce anything worthwhile. Neither do they have any interest in doctrine. They spend their time on 'business,' how they should precede in a proper parliamentary fashion. They appeal repeatedly for 'proper procedure' in bringing matters up for consideration by the 'right reverend synod,' or the 'venerable ministerium.' And so they refer the matter from Caiaphas to Annas, etc. It is truly hair-raising and shocking to read the history of how certain 'synods' came into being. The way they operate is nothing less than scandalous! 
In contrast to that, a Synod worthy of the name must above all else be formed so that the gifts which are distributed to the various servants of Christ may be best utilized for the benefit of all. And here again the number one priority must be the promotion of a better understanding of God's Word. Even if a synod proceeds in a free and easy manner, with no particular organized procedure, it is still a glorious synod so long as there is an intensive study of God's Word. The Lord is in the midst of His Synodical members. For there we are gathered in His name and there His Word is taught in childlike faith." 
*- C.F.W. Walther, Essays For The Church, Vol. II, (St. Louis, MO, Concordia Publishing House, 1992), pp. 45-46.


In a Lutheran layman's terms, I long for more faithful men of God who desire to be true ministers of Gods gifts to His people, and staunch defenders of the faith, rather than those who just want to play the "game" of Synod all the time.



NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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12 Easy Steps To 'Living The Gospel' (Or Being 'ALL IN' For God)

I thought I would share this for those of you who are not connected to me on Facebook.

Yesterday, I received our church's Monthly Newsletter for May 2015 and just had to rant.


Ok, I need some help from my more discerning Confessional Lutheran friends (particularly Pastors too who are willing to give a faithful confession here) and those who have been Lutheran a lot longer than I have. A couple of thoughts on my mind today after reading some things that left me absolutely stunned. 
First, is it ever correct for a Pastor to teach us that Jesus' "last words" AFTER His resurrection are somehow more important to us than His words "It is finished" on the cross? Yes, we should pay close attention to anything and everything Christ said, but the Gospel (Jesus' propitiatory sacrifice on the cross in your place for your sins so that you could be forgiven and have eternal life) is what it's all about, right? Shouldn't that be emphasized as often as possible and especially so soon after celebrating Easter? Yes, focusing on Jesus' "last words" AFTER His resurrection is often done within the context of doing a teaching on the so-called "Great Commission," but let's not forget that that passage is more for Pastors and the Office of The Holy Ministry than for believers like you and me who do not have that specific vocation in life (again, from a distinctly Lutheran perspective). That's not to say we never share the Gospel with people (we most definitely do!; 1 Peter 3:15). Still, we do so WITHIN the context of our various vocations (i.e., as a husband; father; brother; friend; co-worker; etc.) and not intentionally walking the streets just looking for anyone and everyone to witness to. I guess I'm just constantly amazed by the complete lack of attention given to the role of the called and ordained Pastor and/or one's vocation and how God has designed both to operate in this life. Sure, it's certainly clever to create a devotion/study on "Jesus' REAL Last Words," but should a minister of God's gifts for me and for you be emphasizing a "missional" mindset over and above justification and salvation? Sorry, but I have to agree with one friend who commented: "I think it always unwise to pit Jesus' words against one another..." Amen! You know who is good at doing that and at twisting Scripture (Genesis 3:1)? Something for us to prayerfully consider. 
Also, exactly how does a Christian go "ALL IN" for Jesus? I'm curious. Using Deuteronomy 6:5 as a proof text to guilt me into "fully committing" my life to Him? Again, how does one "fully commit" though? What's the standard? Am I supposed to measure my own "good works" against someone else's? Though important, I thought we weren't supposed to put our faith and trust in our good works? Wow! That's a complete misunderstanding of Law and Gospel, isn't it? It just makes me sad (and mad) that proper, on-going catechesis on the basics of our shared and cherished faith isn't being done in our churches today as it should be. What is so hard about faithfully preaching the Word and rightfully administering the Sacraments? They are God's Means of Grace for you and me, and yet, they're being kept from us in all their purity. My hungry soul cries out about this and I'm somehow the "bad guy" for even bringing it up. That's ok. My dear friends, I'm only trying to help. Don't take my word for any of this. All I know is that it's supposed to be about God's gifts of grace for you! It's not supposed to be about your life as some sort of "gift" for Him! So, to read something like, "Is He calling you to be His disciple and are you willing to do what it takes...to be ALL IN?" is just heartbreaking. That's Lutheran let alone Biblical!?! I challenge any self-professing Christian (particularly any self-professing Lutheran I know who's reading this) to please just get your hands on the Small Catechism/Large Catechism if not the Book of Concord itself either in print or for free online and start reading it side-by-side with your Bible. Seriously, just humor me and give it a shot. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I know what it is I believe, teach, and confess and why I believe, teach, and confess it. My heart truly breaks for those I love who are being fed a steady diet of spiritual half-truths and outright lies. This rant was simply another attempt to get them to repent and return to "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). Grace and peace to you and yours!


Of course, I went almost two full years without a single person from my congregation clicking the "Like" button or commenting positively on any of the truth-affirming Scripture passages and verses (including various blog posts, videos, and sermons) I shared on Facebook to help communicate what it is we Lutherans believe, teach, and confess, but attack the church itself -- that is, attack Trinity Lutheran Church and not Christ's Church in general -- and that surely gets them to respond!


RM: Jeff, my previous post is the article I believe you are speaking of. I don't see anywhere in it to make me believe that the Pastor was telling us that his last words were more important than his sacrifice for us. I do see it as encouragement for us as Christians to share the news of his death for us to non believers.

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BM: I feel like the analogy about going "all in" can be compared to Paul's letter to the Romans chapter 6. Do we go on sinning or do we live in God's grace and serve him? It's like James says in chapter 2 starting at verse 14...if your life is not producing fruit are you truly living your life for Christ?...it's just something to get you thinking about your priorities in life...Christ called us to action not to just accept his grace for ourselves. It saddens me that you read that newsletter and chose to create a theological debate. The newsletter is supposed to be uplifting, a way to share our faith with each other and support each other, I hope you can focus on that.


You'll recall that its already been several months since I was told in no uncertain terms that me and my family should find another church since no one at the one where we're currently members feels the same way that we do.

Still, recognizing that this entire discussion is playing itself out publicly on Facebook, and wanting to respond appropriately despite any feelings of righteous anger and contempt that still have root in my heart (Lord, forgive me!), I asked, "How would I respond if I were a Pastor who was trying to catechize while also giving a firm and steadfast confession?"

Well, here's what I came up with...




Thank you all for commenting. RM, if I may ask you to please go back and read what I wrote, then you will see that I agree with you in that, yes, we should definitely be prepared to tell others what it is we believe, teach, and confess about our risen Savior (see the section where I referenced 1 Peter 3:15). My criticism is that the article puts the emphasis on us (i.e., our own abilities/methods/techniques for "converting" the lost non-believers) rather than upon Jesus Christ and His work and gifts for others where it belongs (i.e., how He converts/saves lost souls with or without our help; Ephesians 2:8-9). My criticism is that the article is more representative of a popular theology that differs significantly from what we Lutherans proclaim to believe, teach, and confess (see "Arminian Theology"/"Decision Theology" which we are supposed to firmly reject as false although this is what is being regularly taught as Biblical truth). That's all I was criticizing and questioning. That particular kind of theology of conversion distorts the concept of the church's mission as it distorts the historic understanding of Matthew 28:19-20 (the so-called "Great Commission"). We seem to accept -- rather uncritically -- a translation and interpretation that takes "the making of Christians" from the realm of God (a.k.a. the fact that "What Makes A Christian" is God Himself, all by Himself, with no help from anyone who is turned from enemy of God to follower of Christ), and makes it the work and responsibility of men.

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This is why we Lutherans view Matthew 29:19-28 as being mistranslated, overworked, and abused. How so? Well, as Lutherans, we also believe in something called the "Doctrine of Vocation" and we also believe that God has instituted Christ's Church for the very purpose of delivering His "Means of Grace" to us, His blessed gifts to us, in the form of His Word and Sacraments. Furthermore, God has instituted the vocation of Pastor to call and ordain those men who would be His servants and ministers of those precious gifts for our conscience and soul. Why? Because it is through those Means of Grace (Baptism; Word of God; Lord's Supper) that the Lord promises to create Christians and to grow Christ's Church here on earth. The Lutheran Confessions declare, "Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. It is the devil himself whatsoever is extoled as Spirit without the Word and the Sacraments." (Smalcald Articles Part III, Art. VIII, 10). So, this whole "We Are The Ones Who Make More And Better Disciples of Jesus Christ" sounds good on the surface to our ears, and our hearts are certainly in the right place no doubt, but it's not entirely Biblical nor is it what we should be believing, teaching, and confessing, especially if we are calling ourselves Lutherans (2 Timothy 4:2-5). We don't create Christians or grow Christ's Church -- God does that all on His own and apart from us. That's why such teachings like this that reflect the principles of the "Church Growth Movement" are things I'm going to regularly try to get people to prayerfully consider and question, because it's in direct opposition to what Lutherans believe, teach, and confess and, therefore, in direct opposition to the Biblical truth of the matter. Instead of always asking, "What Must We Do To Become A Large And Successful Church?" we should be asking, "What Must We Do To Be Found Faithful Before The Lord Of The Church?" It's Christ's Church, not ours. Plus, why do we allow the secular business world’s standards to determine whether a church is doing "good" or "bad" in this day and age? "Success" by the world's standards (a.k.a. see the various mega-church ministries today) is not necessarily "confirmation" of God's blessing upon it (James 4:4; 2 Peter 2; 1 John 2:15-17). See, the fundamental difference between the Lutheran understanding of "What Makes A Christian?" and the "Made-In-America" Pop Christianity understanding is that we have always known from the beginning that "success" and/or "failure" (again, usually defined by worldly standards, which is another subject all its own) is not in our hands. It is to be left completely up to God. Our only concern? Is the Word being faithfully preached and are the Sacraments being rightly administered? That is the only question I had hoped to get people to ask themselves after reading my comments from yesterday.

**********************************************

BM, thank you for commenting as well. You wrote that "it saddens me that you read that newsletter and chose to create a theological debate." Since when is simply asking questions akin to creating a theological debate, especially when those questions are an attempt to point out how and why the things that a Lutheran church believes, teaches, and confesses is in no way "Lutheran" in the hopes that such a church will repent and return to her faithful confession? The irony? The misapplication/misunderstanding of Deuteronomy 6:5 was one of the subjects of my post and I find it quite ironic that I'm trying to do exactly what it tells me to ("You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might") by trying to point out that we're not showing Him that kind of love if we're willing to distort His Word (whether intentionally or not), and yet, I'm the one who's the problem. The greater irony? How can we all claim that our mission as a church body is for "Making Better Disciples of Jesus Christ" when any attempt to actually "disciple" one another (like I attempted to do by bringing all of this up for honest, serious discussion) gets immediately ignored or ridiculed? Isn't that a bit hypocritical of us? It certainly is and we're all guilty of it (or have been at one time or another). How does that demonstrate being "ALL IN" if that's what we're aiming for? We’re “ALL IN” but we can’t talk about our shared and cherished faith without getting so offended? Why? I mean, if we’re all Lutherans here, then it should be pretty easy to find agreement and reach a consensus on such subjects, shouldn’t it? Again, I'm only being direct not to be a jerk, but because this is serious stuff and we need to watch what we're calling Gospel truth (James 3:1; Matthew 12:36). If I made you and your husband a 5-Star dinner tonight, but told you that somewhere in that meal was a single pellet of Rat Poison (just 1 pellet or less than 1% of the entire meal), would you still eat it? Of course not. In a spiritual sense, I’m just trying to prevent my brothers and sisters in Christ from swallowing that “one pellet of Rat Poison” -- doctrinally speaking -- by calling attention to it and by pointing it out. Does that really make me such a bad guy? It says "Lutheran" on the sign out front, but shouldn't that mean that our doctrine and practice matches what it means to be Lutheran? That's all I wanted to bring up for prayerful consideration with my comments from yesterday, because I love the Lord, I love His children (that's all of you!), and I love His gifts (though not perfectly or as often as I should, I admit). If that is not "uplifting" since it demands we all have a "challenging" and "difficult" conversation about such things, then so be it. If I didn't care, if I didn't love Him, love His gifts, and love His people (you), then I would just keep my mouth shut, right? Wouldn't that be the most "unloving" and "non-supportive" thing to do? Wouldn't that be violating the very verse (Deuteronomy 6:5) that the newsletter encouraged me to commit “ALL IN” to? Sorry, I’ve written way too much already and don’t know what else to say. I pray that you will come to understand where I'm coming from on this. Grace and peace to you and yours!


At the time of this writing, I haven't received a response from either of them yet, but I'm sure I will at some point later today.

Thankfully, I came across this fantastic list that Chris Rosebrough shared that beautifully resonates with this whole ordeal.


12 Easy Steps To "Living The Gospel" (Or Being "ALL IN" For God)

(NOTE: I added the "Or Being 'ALL IN' For God" part)

1. Be born of a virgin in the city of Bethlehem in Judea 
2. Live a sinless life for 30 years. (Also, stay sinless through steps 3-11) 
3. Get baptized by the prophesied forerunner of yourself. 
4. Survive the desert for 40 days, with nothing but the clothes on your back. Then, resist the temptations of Satan. 
5. Call 12 people to be your specially trained apostles, without telling them what they are getting themselves into. 
6. Preach the Word of God, especially in confusing parables, that even your apostles need you to interpret for them. 
7. Heal the sick, blind and deaf instantly, and without doubt. Raise the dead. Cast out demons. 
8. After 3.5 years of this ministry, enter Jerusalem (in Israel) on the back of an ass, triumphantly. Make sure it is just before the Jewish Feast of Passover. 
9. After a night of feast and prayer, be betrayed by one of your 12 apostles. 
10. After a mock trial, be sentenced to death by crucifixion. Be beaten and abused until you are no longer recognizable as a human being. 
11. Carry your own cross through the city and be nailed to it and die for the sins of the world. 
12. Raise yourself from the dead after 3 days. 
HT: S. Christopher Fischer


What's the matter with you!?! Why aren't you living the Gospel like you should be!?!

You must be a "false convert" then or something.

Get the point? Good.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, remember, it's not about "YOU/US For Christ!" but about "CHRIST For You/Us!"



NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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What Is The Connection Between The Bible And The Confessions?

If you're anything like I once was (or are reading this as a non-Lutheran), then you probably think it's the height of arrogance and absolutely absurd that we would even have a set of written Confessions that we highly regard.

I get that. Really, I do.

However, it's such things as Creeds and Confessions that give us an anchor to our faith; an anchor to "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

Furthermore, having them written down and preserved for all future generations to learn from them also allows those very same future generations to test its claims against the very Word of God itself.

That got me thinking about the important connection between the Bible and the Confessions. I think a great place to start is to prayerfully consider this note I shared on my Facebook page recently...


From the "How To Use This Book" section of the Reader's Edition of The Book of Concord: "For 425 years, the Book of Concord has united and guided Lutheran congregations, schools, pastors, and teachers. Yet today, many Lutherans are virtually unaware of its existence and use. As a result, when someone mentions the Book of Concord, one often hears, 'Aren't we just supposed to follow the Bible?' as though Christians do not use other publications based on the Bible (e.g., creeds, hymnals, catechisms, devotionals). One may even hear the Book of Concord compared to documents like the Book of Mormon, as though Lutherans were trying to add new texts to the Bible. ... Take note that the Book of Concord functions very much like the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, summarizing or clarifying what the Bible teaches on controversial topics. In particular, it thoroughly teaches God's love and forgiveness for all people based on Jesus' life, death, and resurrection -- reminding us that this is the chief teaching of the Christian faith."


I loved the point about creeds, hymnals, catechisms, and devotionals!

Now, if we were to refine things a bit, we might ask a more specific (and important) question that demands an answer and that would help us to better understand the unique relationship between the two.



What Is The Connection Between The Bible And The Confessions? 
We confess that, “The Word of God is and should remain the sole rule and norm of all doctrine” (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 9). What the Bible asserts: God asserts. What the Bible commands, “God commands. The authority of the Scriptures is complete, certain and final. The Scriptures are accepted by the Lutheran Confessions as the actual Word of God. The Lutheran Confessions urge us to believe the Scriptures for “they will not lie to you” (LC,V, 76) and cannot be “false and deceitful” (FC SD, VII, 96). The Bible is God’s “pure, infallible, and unalterable Word” (Preface to the BOC). The Lutheran Confessions are the “basis, rule, and norm indicating how all doctrines should be judged in conformity with the Word of God” (FC SD RN). Because the Confessions are in complete doctrinal agreement with the written Word of God, they serve as the standard in the Lutheran Church to determine what is faithful Biblical teaching, insofar as that teaching is addressed in the Confessions.


Clearly, the Confessions merely summarize and underscore what the Bible already says.

I get that some of you might still be a little uneasy about all of this though. So, if that's you, then please take a few minutes to read this brief summary of the reality titled "The Lutheran Confessions And The Bible" from Robert D. Preus...


The Lutheran Confessions And The Bible 
Scripture Is Divinely Authoritative 
The average Lutheran layman today may not know any Latin, but he probably knows what the phrase sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) means. It means that we Lutherans base our theology solely on the Scriptures of God and nothing else, not tradition, not human speculation, not modern scholarship, not our experiences or feelings or anything else. Sola Scriptura is a watchword, a guide for action, for every true Lutheran, pastor or layman. 
This was the position and practice of Luther and our Lutheran Confessions. "The Word of God is and should remain the sole rule and norm of all doctrine" (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 9). "We pledge ourselves to the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments as the pure and clear fountain of Israel, which is the only true norm according to which all teachers and teachings are to be judged" (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 3). This is the spirit in which our great Lutheran Confessions speak. Everything we need to believe and do as Christians is told us in the Scriptures. Just as our Lord Jesus was a man of one Book and drew all His teaching from that one divine source and submitted Himself to it utterly in all He said and did, so we too who are His disciples today place ourselves joyfully under that prophetic and apostolic Word. And with our Lutheran Confessions we say: "No human being's writings dare be put on a par with it, but ... everything must be subjected to it" (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 9). 
What persuades us as Christians to render such an exalted place to the Scriptures in our lives and teachings? It is the marvelous content of Scripture, which is the Gospel -- as Luther said, "Christ is involved in Scripture through and through, like the body in its clothes" (WA, 12, 418). And it is 20 the Spirit of Christ who witnesses in our hearts that as Scripture speaks judgment and grace it proclaims God's judgment and grace to all men. We believe in the absolute authority of Scripture because Christ accepted the absolute authority of the prophetic Word of the Old Testament and because He guaranteed the absolute authority of the apostolic Word of the New Testament by His promise of the Holy Spirit to His apostles. 
Why Is Scripture Authoritative? 
Edmund Schlink of Heidelberg answers: "Because God saves through the Word proclaimed by it." But this is no answer to the question and confuses the issue. God saves also through the Word proclaimed in hymns and sermons and Christian literature. No, Scripture is authoritative because it is God's Word. How often do our Confessions contrast God's Word in Scripture to any human being's writings and insist that all our doctrine be drawn "out of God's Word" (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 3,4,5,9, 10, 16; Ep, 1, 7, 8)! And Luther says: "The Word of God shall establish articles of faith and no one else, not even an angel" (SA, II, ii, 15). In contrast to all other writings and human authorities, God's Word carries with it God's authority. 
And this authority is absolute and final. What Scripture asserts God asserts, what it commands He commands, what it promises God promises! Because our Lutheran Confessions believe in such infallible authority, they cite the Scriptures hundreds of times and regard Scripture's answers to the great problems and issues of their day as God's answers. 
Today such a conviction regarding Biblical authority is rejected by many theologians. The Bible cannot carry divine authority with it, because it is not the very Word of God, they say. Although it may somehow "convey" or "contain" or "become" the Word of God, it must be read like any other human book. This is exactly the posture taken by many who use the "historical-critical method" (also called "higher criticism"), employed within the church by some scholars for about 200 years, since the time of Rationalism and the Enlightenment in Europe. 
It is quite clear that such modern views -- which were shared by unbelievers in the early centuries of church history -- are not compatible with the position of Luther and our Confessions. The approach of higher criticism is likely to result in questioning, again and again, the 21 evangelical doctrine which is drawn from the right reading of the Sacred Scriptures. Today, after 400 years, we need have no doubt concerning the divine authority of Scripture and therefore of our Gospel message drawn from it. And today Scripture still authenticates itself as the only source of our knowledge of God and of His grace. 
Threefold Tier Of Authority In The Church 
Now that we have talked about the authority of our Confessions and creeds as norms for teaching in the church and also about the authority of Scripture, the reader may be a bit confused. Are there, then, levels of authority? Yes. Precisely. Specifically there is a threefold tier of authority in the church, according to our Confessions. 
(1) "The prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments" are "the pure and clear fountain of Israel, which is the only true norm according to which all teachers and teachings are to be judged and evaluated" (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 3). That statement means two things: (a) Scripture is the one divine source from which, as from a spring or fountain, we draw all our theology; and (b) Scripture is the only norm to judge teachers and teachings in the church. 
(2) The Confessions, on the other hand, are the "basis, rule, and norm, indicating how all doctrines should be judged in conformity with the Word of God" (ibid., Heading). This means, quite simply, that the Confessions state what we Lutherans believe to be the teachings of Scripture and what we therefore believe, teach, and publicly confess. 
(3) Other good Christian writings, that is, "good, useful, and pure books, such as interpretations of the Holy Scriptures, refutations of errors, and expositions of doctrinal articles" have their place too. They are not to be rejected or spurned. "If they are in accord with the aforementioned pattern of doctrine [namely, the Confessions], they are to be accepted and used as helpful expositions and explanations" (ibid., 10). 
Scripture, the Confessions, other good Christian literature! Scripture's authority is divine and absolute. The Confessions' authority is derived from their agreement with Scripture and is binding for everyone who professes to be a Lutheran. Other Christian writings are authoritative and useful too when they agree with Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. 
The Confessions And Scriptural Inerrancy 
Do our Lutheran Confessions teach that the Scriptures are inerrant? And do they interpret the Scriptures in such a light? There has been much debate on this issue lately, and therefore we must give the question our attention. 
When we call Scripture inerrant we are using a relatively modern word to express the utter reliability and truthfulness of Scripture and of all its assertions. The term we use may be somewhat modern, but the conviction it expresses is as old as Scripture itself. The Scriptures teach and assume everywhere their utter truthfulness, and so do our Lutheran Confessions. 
When our Confessions take for granted the divine origin of Scripture, they likewise take for granted its reliability and inerrancy. In our Confessions the Bible is called "the Holy Scripture of God" (FC SD, V, 3), "the clear Scripture of the Holy Spirit" (Ap, Preface, 9). Again and again "God's Word" and "Holy Scripture" are used interchangeably in our Confessions. This assurance concerning the divine origin and nature of Scripture is fundamental to a proper reading and approach to Scripture. The Lutheran Confessions consistently read Scripture as God's Word, carrying with it God's authority, God's power, God's truthfulness. 
In other words, the inerrancy, or truthfulness, of Scripture is a definite result of its divine origin. And so our Lutheran Confessions speak of Scripture as "the eternal truth" (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 13). They urge us to believe the Scriptures, for "they will not lie to you" (LC, V, 76; cf. IV, 57) and cannot be "false or deceitful" (FC SD, VII, 96). And why? Because God, who is eternal Truth, cannot contradict Himself in Scripture (FC SD, XI, 35). It is His "pure, infallible, and unalterable Word" (Preface to the Book of Concord, p. 8). 
This childlike trust in the truthfulness of Scripture permeates our Confessions as they confidently go about the business of citing and interpreting and applying the Scripture to the great issues of their day. The power of our Confessions rests in great measure on their joyful and total submission to the divine Word. 
SOURCE: Getting Into The Theology Of Concord By Robert D. Preus (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977), pgs. 7-29.


Hopefully, that did a much better job of explaining things for you.

Remember, even the writers of the Confessions wanted everyone to clearly understand that "no human being's writings dare be put on a par with it, but ... everything must be subjected to it" (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 9).

In a Lutheran layman's terms, the Confessions are not intended to take the place of the Bible (or to even be on par with it), but they are there to help us understand what it is we believe, teach, and confess and they are there to explain it all in layman's terms.



NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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