What Are The Small Catechism And Large Catechism?

Next up in our continuing and impromptu Q&A series on the basics of the Lutheran beliefs, teachings, and confessions of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) is a quick look at the Catechisms.

First off, what in the world is a "Catechism" anyway? Simply put, it's just a summary of the teachings of the Christian faith presented in the form of questions and answers, and used to teach believers the Christian faith.

Ok, but what are the "Small Catechism" and "Large Catechism" then? Why do Lutherans have a "small" and a "large" version in the first place?



What Are The Small Catechism And Large Catechism? 
Martin Luther realized early on how desperately ignorant the laity and clergy of his day were when it came to even the most basic truths of the Christian faith. Around 1530, he produced two small handbooks to help pastors and the heads of families teach the faith. 
The Small Catechism and the Large Catechism are organized around six topics: the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Holy Baptism, Confession, and the Sacrament of the Altar. So universally accepted were these magnificent doctrinal summaries by Luther, that they were included as part of the Book of Concord.


There's really so much more we could say about both, but, for now, I hope that was helpful.

God willing, maybe we'll isolate each one and say a little more about it some time next week.

I like to think of it this way...

The Small Catechism is perfectly sufficient on its own as a summary of our shared and cherished faith, but the Large Catechism takes you much deeper by digging into those truths and expanding upon them by providing much more specific detail derived from the Holy Bible.

It's like the Small Catechism is a feature film you'd watch like everyone else and the Large Catechism is the Director's Cut version of that same film. Ok, maybe that's not the best analogy, but I think this is pretty easy to understand without it.

As for the reason why we Lutherans have a "small" and a "large" version that basically says the same thing, it's because doctrine mattered to Martin Luther so much and God used him to communicate how important it is to Him as well, which is why we are repeatedly encouraged to never stop learning His Word and the promises and truth found in it (Deuteronomy 29:29; Proverbs 30:5; Matthew 4:4; 2 Timothy 2:14-26; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Romans 15:4; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Jude 1:3).

In a Lutheran layman's terms, the Catechisms help us to believe, teach, and confess with confidence the truths of God's Word, the Holy Bible, as they are correctly explained and taught to us from the Lord, from the prophets, from the apostles, and from Christ Himself.



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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Hypocrisy 101: My LCMS Church Prefers Ronald McDonald To Martin Luther

Hypocrisy.

Yes, I know that we're all hypocrites (even those of us who call ourselves Christians and sit in the pews next to one another each and every week).

But what happens when a church says it believes one thing and then its actions suggest otherwise? More specifically, what happens when a church claims it knows the importance of being "authentic" and then it goes and alienates its members -- members who are simply asking her to be more "authentic" or faithful to her beliefs, teachings, and confessions of God's Word -- to the point where those same members end up leaving the church when they're asked to leave for speaking up and speaking out?

At that point, can that same church really claim to be all that concerned about "authenticity" and "being real" with its parishioners? I thought about that today after something I read from my church's monthly newsletter.

Here are a few casual observations from the Trinity Church Tidings - March 2015 Newsletter that I received and only had a chance to read a few days ago (from the LCMS-Eastern District church that my family and I are still "officially" members of as of this writing)...


NEWSLETTER: In a recent article written by Mark MacDonald (Worship Facilities magazine, Jan/Feb 2015), he notes what he sees as 'trending' in churches these days. In the midst of what seems to be a technological explosion he cites the trend for personalization -- the 'Human to Human (H2H)' touch. He notes that even with social media, email, texting, and whatever...people desire more personal and conversational contact and communications. Now this can be accomplished in part through the use of social media that is carefully crafted and directed. Secondly he says to be real! Authenticity is a MUST, whether it is communicated on a website or when guests visit the church. What is advertised needs to match up with the programs and services offered by the church as well as the perceived motives of the membership. They must be real and truly care. Thirdly he sees the trend of keeping things simple. Whether it is sermon titles, programs, logos, web pages or whatever, simplicity is better. Actually, the new CEO of McDonald’s (the hamburger people) is saying something similar. The new track that the golden arches is going to take is keeping things simple, going back to the basics and sticking with one design and direction (USA Today, 2/10/15). Seems like all of this is something we ought to consider as a church... 1. Personalization; 2. Authenticity; 3. Simplicity. In our high tech, fast paced and sophisticated world, perhaps the church needs to focus on being high touch, genuine and simple. There is without a doubt a great benefit to be reaped in the use of the technology of the day, if we utilize it appropriately. Although it was in a different time, culture and context, it seems to be the way that Jesus ministered and related to people: personally; genuinely; simply. Food (hamburger?) for thought!!

OBSERVATION: At first, I was thrilled to read this in the newsletter! The new Pastor who has only been shepherding here for roughly 100 days now seemed to be sending a not-so-subtle message that we needed to "Keep It Real!" and "Get Back To Basics!" as a church. Eureka! Have my prayers been answered? I mean, the last time I expressed my heartfelt concerns to church leadership, I made a point to mention how, sadly, the only thing that's distinctly Lutheran about us is that such a name appears on our church sign out front. That's it. I even used a Fast Food analogy too and said it would be like seeing a McDonald's down the street and you crave a cheeseburger and fries so badly. Yet, when you walk inside EVERYTHING on the menu makes it look like you're inside a Red Lobster instead -- and your highly allergic to all kinds of seafood! Now, here we are, also roughly 90-100 days later, and I'm reading from the new Pastor that "authenticity is a MUST, whether it is communicated on a website or when guests visit the church" and "what is advertised needs to match up with the programs and services offered by the church as well as the perceived motives of the membership" because "they must be real and truly care." Well, that's fantastic and you'll get no arguments from me! Praise the Lord! Things might be starting to turn around slowly, but surely! It would appear as though my family's prayers have been answered!


Um, unfortunately, not so fast I'm afraid.

That was me putting the "best construction" on things (and why wouldn't I, right?). I was sky high for a few moments...then I kept reading the rest of the March 2015 Newsletter.

It's hard for me to remain optimistic and to think that my prayers have been answered when the rest of the Newsletter included things like the following, which I'll include V-E-R-B-A-T-I-M as written and/or permitted by the Pastor himself (who also wrote the above excerpt that got me all excited)...



Men-In-Ministry: Through various Bible studies; Simple (Andy Stanley), You’ll Get Through This (Max Lucado), and the church wide I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist (Dr. Frank Turek), members and friends have been able to learn and grow in their relationships with Jesus.

Sunday Morning Bible Class: Would you like to know God better? Would you like to understand the promises and precepts in the Bible so you can walk better in His will? Then check out these principles and begin your journey to experiencing life in a better way. Facilitated by NAME REMOVED and NAME REMOVED (who are excellent high school teachers), the study meets on Sunday mornings in the church meeting room at 9:15am. March 1 - The awareness of God's presence energizes us for God's work; March 8 - God does not require us to understand God's will, just obey it, even if it seems unreasonable; March 15 - You reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow; March 22 - The dark moments in our life will last only so long as is necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us; March 29 - Fight all your battles on your knees and you win every time. 

Vision and Passion: We need to determine what the members of Trinity passionately want this church to look like in 3 to 5 years from now. It’s so very easy to fall into ruts and routines, especially with the rich and long history that Trinity has. On the other hand we have to always be mindful of the changing culture and community around us and consider what that means to the mission and ministry of the church. It may require some changes, then again it may not. 

Expanding the Ministry: Trinity is gifted with some wonderfully talented disciples who have big hearts for ministry. We need to equip and expand the ministry staff in order to better shepherd our congregation. The called pastor can only do so much. His calling is to coach and equip as well as shepherd. To that end, like the early church, we need to equip and train more of our members to assist in the ministry. I’d like to look at the Stephen Ministries Training Program to help us train more of our laypeople. The Deacons and I have already begun discussing either expanding their role and responsibility or possibly creating a new board of elders or lay ministers. 

A Time For Women: Looking for a group that leads to great discussion and connects a relevant study to your life? Intriguing questions, inspirational stories, and poignant reflections take folks deeper into God's Word in the Biblical book of Galatians with the author of the study Max Lucado. Facilitated by our own seasoned leader NAME REMOVED, come and find out why the women and friends of Trinity have taken to this meaningful gathering twice a month.

Trinity Lutheran School: Our school is the 6th oldest school in the LCMS! That is amazing! And what a blessing that has been to thousands of children over the past 165 years! I’m amazed at the number of alumni of our school are still members of Trinity Lutheran Church. That said, we are being challenged in this mission with declining enrollment and the need to find a new school principal. Please know this: It is not my intent to close the school! However it is my intent to challenge the church and the school to see if we are "all in" and still totally committed to this mission. I attended a Lutheran Day school and am in full support of this ministry. But unless we are "all in", we’re all done. ... Most importantly, our curriculum centers around the Word of God. The Fruit of the Spirit is the base upon which all other subjects are built. We don't have to implement a "character" program, we ARE a character program! 
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The school hasn't gone by the name "Trinity LUTHERAN School" in years because it was changed to "Trinity CHRISTIAN School" to attract more Christian families from other non-Lutheran denominations in the local area. As a result, doctrine has been watered down and the Gospel reduced to the lowest common denominator so as not to "offend" anyone and risk having kids pulled from the school. Any attempts to catechize children with distinctly Lutheran teaching during daily religion classes and/or Wednesday chapel services have not been consistently applied and whenever something is presented that smells Lutheran, it's always immediately qualified by being given a disclaimer of sorts. Oh, and you can forget about teaching them any sort of hymns and Liturgy too since Contemporary Worship rules the day. As someone who has been asked to participate in such activities over the years, as well as someone whose wife serves as Teacher's Aide/PTO President while my son, daughter, niece, and nephew all attend the school, I can confirm all of this as undeniable fact. So, are we "all in," you ask? Well, that depends. Called Lutheran Teachers should be teaching Lutheran doctrine to their students at the 6th oldest school in the LCMS, don't ya think? If that's what constitutes "all in" moving forward, then sign me up! If not, then it may be time for us to leave the school also. Either way, let's remember that the "success" of the school is ultimately up to God for 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 says, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."]


See what I mean?

As if that weren't bad enough, I also saw something listed on the Church Calendar that started recently this month that raised an additional red flag for me.

Apparently, a "Prayer & Meditation Group" will be meeting every Friday night at the church. Now, the word "meditation" by itself doesn't scare me. For Lutherans, studying the Bible is never merely an intellectual exercise, because study is meditation on God's Word, or "meditatio," and that is an act of devotion (Philippians 4:8; Hebrews 4:12).

However, knowing what I know about what so many church members there actually believe, teach, and confess -- including the types of practices they are open to (I was at a Sunday morning Bible Study one time where we were asked to "rewrite a Psalm" of our choosing "in your own words" and "with you as the focus of it" and, while we were expected to do this, the group leader put on some strange, instrumental New Age music in the background!) -- I wouldn't be surprised one bit if this was a "Centering/Contemplative Prayer" group meeting as opposed to anything appropriate (a.k.a. Lutheran). To be fair, I could be wrong about that (I pray that I am!), and I'm still waiting for someone to get back to me with more info on this though.

In short? Another month, another exercise in Lutheran Churchianity (Hypocrisy 101) I'm sorry to say. Please spare me the charges of committing a sin against this Pastor and my fellow parishioners by saying I somehow violated the 8th Commandment. The Book of Concord is crystal clear on how and when to respond to public sins (and, yes, issuing public statements like these as though they're unadulterated "Biblical truth" when, in fact, they are evidence and examples of blatant false teaching is a "public sin").

Unfortunately, it's all just the latest list of many more reasons why my family's decision to look for a more faithful church to attend is a good one, IMHO. Now, how do we go about officially terminating our membership there? I mean, I hate that it's come to this, but I feel like we're delaying the inevitable at this point, you know?

This March 2015 Newsletter came on the heels of the church's announcement that they were enthusiastically participating in "The Lenten Journey" again this year (or ecumenism/unionism, which is strictly forbidden by the Holy Scriptures, our Confessions, and our Synod Constitution).

Last night, I looked at the April 2015 Newsletter that was just published and released and found so much more to be greatly grieved about I'm sorry to say.

Where do I begin? They have a college kid (a member of the church, but a de facto "Youth Pastor" type) teaching all the Confirmation Classes instead of the Pastor. He was eager to share with the congregation how he led the Confirmands in a "Spiritual Gifts Inventory" exercise. Boy, I would love to have been a fly on the wall during that one!

One Lutheran Day School Teacher went on-and-on praising an over-the-top instance of nothing but pure "Decisional Theology" when he shared the story of how one of his students revealed in class that he and his dad were getting baptized at their Wesleyan mega-church complete with a video testimony on a giant movie screen that made it all about them and all about their decision (a.k.a. what THEY DID in the form of a "good work" for Jesus) rather than being all about Jesus Christ (a.k.a. what HE DID/DOES for them through baptizing them with water and His Word).

It's a shame I even have to include a disclaimer like this, but let's keep in mind what I'm not saying here. I'm not somehow suggesting that their baptism is no good or anything ridiculous like that. Look, being baptized "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" is valid no matter who's doing it, no matter how it's down, and no matter in what denomination it takes place within. The point is that it's something that happens to us and outside of us with Christ getting all the credit and glory. I'm not here to debate that at all. That's not what I took issue with.

My main issue is with the fact that this is supposed to be a distinctly Lutheran publication that is supposed to be used to reinforce what Lutherans already and distinctly believe, teach, and confess and baptism is a pretty big subject where we differ with most other Christians. It's a golden opportunity for on-going Lutheran catechesis, but those who write content for it prefer to use it as an opportunity for on-going Evangelical catechesis with a Non-Denominational flavor. Why?

So, instead of taking the opportunity to reinforce what it is that we at the 165-year-old Lutheran Day School and accompanying LCMS church actually are supposed to believe, teach, and confess about the Holy Sacrament of Baptism (remember, this was a publication going out to ONLY the official members of this particular LCMS Church, which means WE SHOULD ALL BE ON THE SAME PAGE as self-professing Lutherans!), he decided it would be better to give this student and his father praise for their "good work" done "in obedience" in Jesus' name. To what end? To encourage us to do the same perhaps? Law anyone? Works Righteousness maybe?

Sadly, even despite my attempts to "put the best construction on things," it's clearly obvious that there's no way the Pastor was talking about a return to our Confessional Lutheran heritage, history, roots, and tradition in his piece about the McDonald's CEO, especially when he's also proposing, promoting, and spearheading such non-Lutheran concepts as Small Group Bible Studies using material from blatant blasphemers and heretics, "vision" casting, relevancy, and "Lay Ministers" too.

Sadly, the so-called Lutheran "Leaders" at the church and school are on the same page as him as evidenced by their constant refusal to proclaim anything even remotely Lutheran regardless of the fact that they're members of a Lutheran church and school writing for a Lutheran publication.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, how can I not feel like this particular LCMS church prefers the confessions of Ronald McDonald to those from Martin Luther; a worldly approach to church and school rather than the one that's prescribed for us in the Word and Confessions where doctrine informs practice?



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 Augsburg Confession And Apology Of The Augsburg Confession?

One of the things that caught me off guard when I first learned about Confessional Lutheranism is that there were supposedly all these important "Confessions" of sorts.

I had no idea what a formal, written "Confession" really was at the time let alone why one of them was tied to a place called "Augsburg" only to discover that another one of them was an "Apology" to that first one.

What was that all about? Does that mean the writers of the first Confession felt bad about what they wrote? Did they then decide to write an "Apology" in response (a sort of "We're sorry we wrote that!") sort of thing?

As you can see, I had a lot of questions and not many answers, especially since I was attending an LCMS church at the time and there was never any talk about any kind of Lutheran Confession whatsoever!

That made me wonder if "Confessional Lutherans" were part of some sort of "cult" within the Lutheran Church perhaps; the "black sheep" of the whole bunch. I mean, why all the secrecy? Why all the unfamiliarity whenever I would bring it up and ask other lifelong Lutherans about it?

I remember one time when I asked the Pastor's adult daughter about this thing called the "Book of Concord" and she had no idea what I was talking about except for the fact that her dad (the Pastor) never had one the entire 30+ years he was in ministry until a fellow local Pastor was leaving the area just a few years ago to answer another call, and he gave a copy as a gift to his friend before he left.

How "important" could all these Confessions really be if lifelong Lutherans and Lutheran Pastors themselves didn't seem to care about them all that much? Why should I waste my time with them then?

All of this is to simply say that I completely understand if you're new to Lutheran theology and you're sitting there thinking that having all these Confessions is absolutely absurd.

For me, I remember thinking, "Why do we even need a formal Confession of any kind when we have the Bible?" Well, because it's just like we mentioned in the previous post about the Ecumenical Creeds.

As one Lutheran resource succinctly summarized, "In the early centuries of the Christian church, confessions -- or creeds -- were written to summarize the truth of Scripture in opposition to those who were distorting or misunderstanding Biblical truth. The Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds were developed for this purpose."

Tough to argue with that, isn't it? It makes perfect sense from that perspective.

So, Martin Luther did not intend to begin a new church; he wanted to reform the church by returning its teachings to the teachings of the Bible. When that proved to be impossible, Lutherans saw the need to state clearly what they believed.

During Luther’s life and in the decades after his death, he and others wrote what have come to be known as the "Lutheran Confessions," and "The Augsburg Confession" and the "Apology of The Augsburg Confession" both make up a key part of those Confessions.

Ok, but what exactly is the Augsburg Confession anyway? What is the Apology of the Augsburg Confession too?


 
What Is The Augsburg Confession And Apology of The Augsburg Confession? 
In the year 1530, the Lutherans were required to present their confession of faith before the emperor in Augsburg, Germany. Philip Melanchthon wrote the Augsburg Confession and it was read before the imperial court on June 30, 1530. One year later, the Lutherans presented their defense of the Augsburg Confession, which is what “apology” here means. It too was written by Philip Melanchthon. The largest document in the Book of Concord, its longest chapter, is devoted to the most important truth of the Christian faith: the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. 
[Source]


That's about as easy an explanation as I could find online to explain what these two important documents are. Personally, I haven't read either of them yet, but I can't wait to get started! I'm just trying to build the proper foundation by going through both the Small Catechism and Large Catechism first.

"Wait! What the heck are the 'Small Catechism' and 'Large Catechism'?" right? Don't worry. That will be answered in our next entry I'm sure. For now, all you need to know is that "Confessions" are good things for a Christian to have, especially if they're written down for any and all to read and compare to the Word of God at any time.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, it's the Lutheran Confessions that beautifully summarize the truth of Scripture in opposition to those who would distort or misunderstand Biblical truth whether intentionally or not.



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 Are The Ecumenical Creeds?

We might as well continue to ask the simple questions to help us reinforce the basics of the Lutheran faith or the Lutheran confession of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

Today, it's common to hear the phrase "Deeds Not Creeds!" from our brothers and sisters in Christ who despise any talk of doctrine, because they feel that "doctrine divides" and, therefore, it is counter-productive to their church growth, "missional" efforts.

They're right in one sense -- doctrine does divide, but it's supposed to do that (1 Corinthians 11:18-19; 1 John 2:19).

Ok, so what about these "creeds" then? What is a creed? What are they? Why are they important?


 
What Are The Ecumenical Creeds? 
The three ecumenical creeds in the Book of Concord are the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. They are described as "ecumenical" ("universal") because they are accepted by Christians worldwide as correct expressions of what God's Word teaches.


As one Lutheran resource succinctly summarized, "In the early centuries of the Christian church, confessions -- or creeds -- were written to summarize the truth of Scripture in opposition to those who were distorting or misunderstanding Biblical truth. The Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds were developed for this purpose."

Martin Luther did not intend to begin a new church; he wanted to reform the church by returning its teachings to the teachings of the Bible. When that proved to be impossible, Lutherans saw the need to state clearly what they believed.

During Luther’s life and in the decades after his death, he and others wrote what have come to be known as the "Lutheran Confessions," and the three Ecumenical Creeds make up a key part of those Confessions.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, knowing the creeds are important, because those who believe, teach, and confess the creeds believe, teach, and confess the truths of God's Word, the Holy Bible, as they are correctly explained and understood.



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 Worship?

I thought this would be a good time to say a little more about worship practices since yesterday's write-up on "Contemporary Worship (CoWo) Services" and why we need to abolish them.

What is worship? More specifically, what is worship from a distinctly Lutheran perspective? Why does the way we worship matter? What's the big deal?



What Is Worship? 
"If you were to ask most people what 'worship' is, they might say, 'Worship is praising the Lord' or 'Worship is what human beings do to express their thanks to God' or 'Worship is going to church,' or something like that. While there is some truth to each of these answers, they do not adequately describe the main purpose of Lutheran worship. 
We Lutherans have a unique perspective on worship. We know that God’s Word and His holy Sacraments are His precious gifts to us. They are the tools the Holy Spirit uses to give us forgiveness, life and salvation. The main purpose of Lutheran worship is to receive these gifts from God. Our Lutheran Confessions explain this truth as follows: 'The service and worship of the Gospel is to receive good things from God' (Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Article IV.310). I am not sure whether we have adequately emphasized this important truth. God gives His gifts. We receive them. That is the main purpose of Lutheran worship. He does this as His Gospel is proclaimed, as His Word is read, as His forgiveness is announced and sinners are absolved, and as we receive our Lord’s body and blood in Holy Communion. 
In these wonderful ways, God is present with us, His people, drawing us to Himself and giving us what we need so much -- His mercy, forgiveness, love, joy, peace, power and comfort! The purpose of worship, therefore, is to be gathered by God around His gifts. 
Having clearly established this important point, I need to say that it would be wrong to assume that we are merely passive participants in the worship service. Listen to the beautiful introduction to Lutheran Worship: Our Lord speaks and we listen. His Word bestows what it says. Faith that is born from what is heard acknowledges the gifts, received with eager thankfulness and praise. Saying back to Him what He has said to us, we repeat what is most true and sure... The rhythm of our worship is from Him to us, and then from us back to Him. He gives his gifts, and together we receive and extol them. We build one another up as we speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Lutheran Worship, p. 6). 
How true! God speaks. We listen. Then we speak the great 'amen' of faith, saying, 'Yes, yes, this is true!' Praise God for His mercy in permitting us to receive His gifts! Praise God for drawing us together around His gifts!" 
*- Dr. A.L. Barry


Isn't that absolutely beautiful? So simple and straightforward too.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, this is why doctrine matters, because doctrine defines and determines our worship practices.

What we do in church says a lot about what we actually believe.



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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Why Is Contemporary Worship (Music And The Praise Band) The Sacred Cow In Christ's Church Today?

There have been a couple of REALLY GOOD commentaries written in the past few days about "Contemporary Worship (CoWo)" in Christ's Church with a special emphasis placed upon the style of music so often characteristic of CoWo as well as the use of a "Praise Band" and whether or not any of it should even have a legitimate place in the Divine Service.

I don't care what denomination you belong to (or if you attend a Non-Denominational church), because the simple fact of the matter is that Contemporary Worship has somehow become the new mark of the "true" Christian Church.

Never mind the Holy Gospel, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper as being the marks that identify a true Christian Church from the pretenders! Nowadays, if your church sign out front isn't advertising to the general public that you you offer a weekly Contemporary Service, then you must be a "dead" or "dying" church since you're "clearly not trying to be relevant" to attract others from your local community.

The phrase "Sacred Cow" easily comes to mind.


"Sacred Cow" 
A person or thing immune to criticism or questioning, as in The rules governing the press conference have become a sacred cow in this administration. This term alludes to the honored status of cows in Hinduism, where they are a symbol of God's generosity to humankind. It has been used figuratively since about 1900. 
[Source]


Sure enough, any serious criticism of Contemporary Worship Services and all that's associated with them is usually followed by fierce resistance from the CoWo enthusiasts.

It's even become "taboo" in some circles to even bring the subject up for any kind of discussion whatsoever. So much for that group's claims of wanting to be as "accommodating" and "inclusive" as possible, huh?

However, have you ever really stopped to think about the Biblical case that can be made against practicing Contemporary Worship? Yes, believe it or not, there are some extremely powerful points to be made against CoWo participants and proponents that I think we need to prayerfully consider.

Don't take my word for it though. Please listen to what others have to say -- others who were once staunch supporters of the practice and who now do what they can to educate their brothers and sisters in Christ about the spiritual dangers (yes, "spiritual dangers") inherent in such a form of weekly worship.

People like Pastor Eric Andersen. Here are some of the most compelling excerpts from the first piece he wrote on the subject only a few days ago...


 
Why I Quit The Praise Band 
And then I started studying the Lutheran Confessions. I eventually came to realize that I couldn’t be a Lutheran and keep doing what I was doing, and I wasn’t about to turn my back on sound doctrine so I could keep doing what felt good. To say this was a painful divorce would be a massive understatement, and it didn’t happen overnight. The truth is, I continued playing in praise bands throughout my time at the seminary even though I was beginning to have theological reservations about it. Getting involved in praise bands was the natural thing to do, especially since my field education and vicarage took place a large congregations with thriving contemporary services. The culture of Concordia Seminary (St. Louis) also encouraged this sort of thing. My suspicion of the praise and worship genre began during my time at Concordia Chicago, when Professor Brian Mosemann (who was more than patient with my endless questions and objections in class) introduced Confessional Lutheranism to me without ever beating me up with “what we’re supposed to do because the confessions say so.” He simply and eloquently presented Lutheran theological thought, and it was impossible for me to resist the logic. I wanted to, as my Old Adam wasn’t going to let go of his crass enthusiasm without a fight (he’s still clinging to it, BTW; see SA III:VIII, 9).

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

So why did I finally put my guitar down and quit the praise band?[1] It wasn’t easy, but here are some of the main reasons. 
1. Praise music is not suitable for congregational singing (generally speaking). Unlike the hymns, which utilize a limited melodic range and fairly basic rhythmic patterns, much of the praise music that congregations utilize today was written by professional musicians to be performed by professionals at concerts. Chris Tomlin, for example, is a (first) tenor. Many of his songs include notes that are so high you can barely reach them with a ladder. Nor do the (syncopated) rhythmic patterns that dominate the genre lend themselves to congregational singing. 
2. The text, not the music, should be primary. The music typically comes first in praise songs; the words are secondary. Complex rhythmic patterns dominate the text, making it difficult to hear or reflect on what is being said. The lyrics that pervade the praise & worship genre are generally shallow (why bother writing profound lyrics when nobody’s going to hear them anyway?). Good hymns emphasize the text above all else. Even when music plays a prominent role, it still ought to be a handmaiden to the text. 
3. When we’re at church, we’re on holy ground. The sanctuary is a holy place. In order for something to be holy, it must be different, set apart. Not common. Praise music is common. It sounds like everything else in the world around us today (in some cases, it’s even a cheap imitation of that). Things are supposed to be different in the Church, which is why pastors vest and the liturgy calls for chanting. Most contemporary-minded pastors don’t do those things. Vesting and chanting would be out of place. There’s not much room for the holy in the average contemporary service. 
4. 7/11 songs are shallow. Now not all praise and worship songs are 7/11 songs (where you sing the same 7 words 11 times), but many of them are. The chorus to one of the popular songs I used to lead back in my praise band days went like this: “Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord. Yes Lord, yes, Lord, yes, yes Lord. Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes yes Lord, Amen.” I’m not even kidding. 
5. Theology matters. If a praise song is harmless, that’s usually the best you can hope for. It’s better for a song to teach nothing at all then to teach false doctrine. This is why I don’t like most so-called “Christian” radio stations, bestsellers, or movies. Most of them are filled with terrible theology. You’re much better off sticking with the secular stuff. Many praise songs don’t say much about God at all, so a Jew, Muslim, or any sort of theist would be comfortable singing them. Quite often they say things that are unbiblical. Decision theology is rampant in the praise genre (which makes sense, as most of these songs are written by reformed Christians). Rarely, if ever, is there any Sacramental emphasis. 99% of the time praise songs are so happy they make Pharrell seem like a downer, and it’s easier to find Waldo than it is to find any trace of sin or the Law in them. Most of the time, however, the songs are about me, me, me, and more me, and how we love, love, love to praise God SO much, and all we wanna do is just praise Him and squeeze Him and give Him our hearts. Many praise songs would work quite well as a love song. Replace any mention of “God” with the name of your girlfriend, buy her a box of roses, and you’re all set. Ideally, church music would teach us something about who God is and what He has done for us. Hymns teach doctrine and tell the story of salvation. In fairness, there are some praise songs out there that don’t do a bad job of this. But I’ll put up the best hymns against the best praise songs any day. Paul Gerhardt says more about God in a single stanza than most contemporary Christian artists say on a whole album. 
6. The Church is catholic. Contemporary worship is trendy, and so it is constantly changing. When something gets old, it is no longer contemporary and is discarded (which may be one reason why the Bible may be minimized or is entirely absent from these services and much “contemporary” preaching). Contemporary worship is defined by its age, not by its theological substance, nor is faithfulness an essential criterion. It’s hard to define “contemporary worship” because it means so many things to so many people. It is also therefore highly individualistic, a quality which is antithetical to unity and catholicity. Contemporary services in one place are often drastically different from contemporary services in another place, even on the same Sunday. Not that we need absolute uniformity (AC VII), but there ought to be some continuity from congregation to congregation, especially if they are in the same Synod.


Definitely read the whole thing, but make sure you let the above key points sink in.

In short, I love Pastor Eric Andersen's brief confession: "So, why did I quit the praise band? Because I’m Lutheran." What else is there to say?

Yet, such an honest, humble, and truthful piece did not sit well with the CoWo crowd. In fact, it prompted Pastor Kent Reeder to respond with his very own commentary alternately titled "Why I Won't Quit The Praise Band" that I personally disagree with (for many reasons!) primarily due to his belief that "liturgy and hymnody don't maintain orthodoxy" because "people do, because God, in his grace, chooses to use certain individuals and his Word to keep the Church on track." What!?!

Well, the debate didn't end there. Pastor Eric Andersen published a new piece just yesterday as a follow-up to his original one, but also as a direct response to his fellow Pastor, Rev. Kent Reeder.

His intentions couldn't be any clearer and they emphasize what's at stake here and why we need to be having this discussion at all levels within Christ's Church.


The purpose of this response to a response is to highlight how the contemporary approach to worship which Pastor Reeder has articulated in his article (and is practiced widely throughout the Christian Church today) is fundamentally opposed to the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments.


That's the gist of it right there.

That always has been the issue and that always will be the issue.

So why in the world wouldn't we want to try to reach unity with one another in regard to how we worship each week? I'll let Pastor Eric Andersen fire the first return salvo in his opening paragraph from his latest article.


Why The Praise Band And I Are Never, Ever, Ever Getting Back Together 
How do you know what somebody believes? Look at what they do. Faith is manifest in works; doctrine is manifest in practice. If you pour the blood of Christ down the toilet, that says something about your doctrine of the Sacrament. If you don’t believe the Divine Service is holy ground, you either don’t believe that Jesus is holy or that He is present in the Divine Service. The denial that we are on holy ground in the Divine Service is a key component of the false theology that undergirds much of what is often called “contemporary worship.”


And that was only the first paragraph in Pastor Andersen's response to Pastor Reeder!

He went on to accurately state...


The wildly contrasting approaches to worship we see in the Church today aren’t the result of minor differences over human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men (as is often claimed by proponents of contemporary worship). There’s no way around it: if the Divine Service isn’t holy ground, then Jesus either isn’t present or He isn’t holy. I suspect many in the CoWo crowd would insist that the church is holy ground, but in actual practice it nevertheless remains that any regard for the holiness of God (and therefore the presence of Jesus) is absent in many of their services. This is an approach to the Divine Service which is fundamentally opposed to the pure doctrine of the Gospel and the right administration of the Sacraments (AC VII). Our practices reflect our doctrine. When our practices are radically different, odds are, so is our doctrine.

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

To call the place where the Lord Jesus comes to serve us “regular ground” borders on the blasphemous. As Holy Scripture says, we have access into the holy places by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19). Where the blood of Jesus is, there is holy ground. The Divine Service is not “regular ground,” where “regular people come and hear a universal message.” We are on holy ground, where Jesus comes not merely to speak some generic, universal message, but comes to make you, a sinner, holy.

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

Those who understand that the Divine Service is holy ground understand why what is often called “contemporary worship” doesn’t belong there.

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

How those who make the worship-related decisions for a congregation regard the Divine Service (is it holy ground or isn’t it?) is usually obvious upon entering a sanctuary. What is the architecture like? Is there an altar, pulpit, font, and crucifix? What sort of fabrics adorn the sanctuary? How does the pastor dress? Does it look like a movie theater or a concert venue? What sort of music is being played? How is the liturgy conducted? These things will speak volumes about the doctrine which is confessed at a congregation’s altar (if there is an altar). Just as faith is manifest in works, doctrine is manifest in practice.

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

Lutherans, nor even Christians, for that matter, are supposed to “point all people to Christ by whatever means available.”

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

Great contemporary Lutheran music is being written. Steven Starke’s hymns are, in my opinion, some of the best in Lutheran Service Book. As I mentioned in my original article, caution is needed when straying from the hymnal (but do note that I suggest that it’s possible to do so while retaining a distinctly Lutheran identity), and I even commend the efforts of “contemporary” music director Miguel Ruiz as being an example of what faithful “contemporary” Lutheran worship might sound like.

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

The Divine Service is not about us pointing to Christ, much less doing so by any means available. The Divine Service is about receiving Christ in His appointed means of Word and Sacrament. There is no room in the Divine Service for shallow contemporary songs that are all about what we do for Jesus, nor is there room for the general irreverence that the praise and worship genre typically fosters. The Church exists to deliver Christ to His people, and nothing does that better than the liturgy. Sorry praise band, but we are never, ever, ever getting back together.


Now, good luck trying to slay the sacred cow that is Contemporary Worship in your congregation, especially if your Pastor is the one driving the "CoWo Wagon" like Pastor Reeder, but at least Pastor Eric Andersen has provided you with some helpful resources you can use to make a strong Biblical case against it if need be.

I like how one person summed it up on Facebook...


Rafe Spraker: Praise Bands music purposely manipulates emotion to stimulate a "Spiritual Mystical Decision." Sheep are confused by the religious jargon set to music which is designed to "move them." Luther knew music has this powerful ability upon our soul and therefore encouraged hymnody to be written which reflected the Truth of the Gospel. Our emphasis should be on Christ in His incarnation and on His presence in His Word and Sacraments. Praise Band music focuses on the state of our hearts and its ability to choose, make commitments or decisions, etc.


I couldn't have said it any better than that.

Here's what we find in the Book of Concord too...


"Thus the worship and divine service of the Gospel is to receive from God gifts; on the contrary, the worship of the Law is to offer and present our gifts to God." 
*- Apology, III:189


Seriously, isn't it time we took a more serious look at Contemporary Worship and all that comes with it? Why is Contemporary Worship (music and the Praise Band) the sacred cow in Christ's Church today?

Arrogance. Pride. Sin.

Apparently, "Old Adam" is lounging around on a swimming pool float within too many hearts and minds, cocktail with an umbrella in one hand with his iPod playing the latest CCM hits in the other, when he should be drowning daily in the waters of our Baptism instead.

If you're looking for more information on this topic, then please check out some of the other posts from our Archive for a more comprehensive and in-depth analysis of this unholy trend.


Yes, It's Time To Ditch The 'Contemporary Worship' Service

Have Evangelicals Been Listening To Table Talk Radio!?!


You wanna know why I have a problem with Contemporary Worship particularly as it exists within the LCMS? Because of things like this -- Worship Satire: "Your Identity" or, as I like to call it, "The Type of Thing I Hear Each And Every Week During Our Contemporary Worship Service At Church" when the Pastor's not letting the Youth Group do a skit IN PLACE OF the Divine Service.

When your CoWo Service sounds like that intentionally satirical worship song, then there's a big problem, my dear friends.

When did we get to a place where we assume that a song must be "truly Christian" and, therefore, it is perfectly appropriate for us to include in our church services simply because "it has the words 'fire,' 'desire,' and 'believe' in it" and is performed by the "most sincere" and "passionate" Christian(s) we know?

Even Jimmy Fallon blasted Contemporary Worship for what it truly is without even realizing it...and millions of Christians probably laughed along with him without giving it the slightest second thought about its existence in their own church and why they allow it to happen in the first place.

What a sad state of affairs. Then again, it's about perspective, patience, and perseverance, right? So, let's keep forcing the issue and having this debate by speaking "the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).


Who Left Whom? CoWo Isn’t A Practice Of Walking Together 
One thing I don’t understand about this whole affair of CoWo at CUNE and in LC-MS congregations (please read this thread and the comments for some examples and context) is why those introducing this recent innovation into the LC-MS have done so knowing that they are changing the liturgy from practice that was common to most congregations in the LC-MS for decades? For all the talk of brotherly love coming from those demanding that the “traditionalists” stop blocking change in the LC-MS towards CoWo, where was that brotherly love when these innovators began introducing CoWo (and accompanying Church Growth theology) departing from the common practice of their synod? 
One of the problems here is that the CoWo practicing brothers have stopped walking with their “traditionalist” brothers and have gone their own way for years now, pursuing and making their changes despite pleadings not to run in the direction they seem dead set upon going. 
A theme carried throughout the thread I link to above, from those supporting “praise bands” and unionism, is that the so-called “traditionalists” are an unloving, intolerant, lot who can’t see the “big picture” because they are wrongly focused on teaching (aka doctrine) and “incessant wrangling” over getting the message and practice straight. But who left whom? Who departed the practice of their synod and then demanded the right to continue their practices even though they were causing divisions with their new practices? 
I have read allot of talk from CoWo supporters concerning not offending our brothers and sisters in the Lord, but isn’t what the CoWo supporters are doing an offense to those who want to preserve the liturgy practiced in the LC-MS long before CoWo arrived on the scene?


That says it all.

I rest my case and I will certainly continue to pray for my friends and church.

I will fervently pray that the Lord will open the eyes, ears, hearts, and minds of all the CoWo enthusiasts to the truth and lead them to repentance.


In a Lutheran layman's terms, this is why doctrine matters. Doctrine matters because it defines and determines our worship practices.

How we worship at church says a lot about what we actually believe.



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 A Confessional Lutheran?

In follow-up to our previous post ("What Is A Lutheran?"), I thought it would be helpful to try to be a little more specific and explain what a "Confessional Lutheran" is exactly.



What Is A Confessional Lutheran? 
The word “confession” is used in a variety of ways, but when we speak of a “confessional” Lutheran we mean a Lutheran who declares to the world his faith and most deeply held belief and conviction, in harmony with the documents contained in the Book of Concord. You will catch the spirit of confessional Lutheranism in these, the last words written in the Book of Concord:

“Therefore, it is our intent to give witness before God and all Christendom, among those who are alive today and those who will come after us, that the explanation here set forth regarding all the controversial articles of faith which we have addressed and explained and no other explanation-is our teaching, faith, and confession. In it we shall appear before the judgment throne of Jesus Christ, by God's grace, with fearless hearts and thus give account of our faith, and we will neither secretly nor publicly speak or write anything contrary to it. Instead, on the strength of God’s grace, we intend to abide by this confession” (FC SD, XII, 40).
[Via]


Again, I have to reiterate one point for clarity's sake.


"The first thing I ask is that people should not make use of my name, and should not call themselves Lutherans but Christians. What is Luther? The teaching is not mine. Nor was I crucified for anyone. How did I, poor stinking bag of maggots that I am, come to the point where people call the children of Christ by my evil name?" 
*- Martin Luther


In a Lutheran layman's terms, I would add that a Lutheran is simply a Christian who believes, teaches, and confesses "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).



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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