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What Luther Says

Zitat: Being A Confessional Lutheran

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) is translated as "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 and His Church. Here's the latest.

For whatever reason, a lot of the material I've been picking up to read lately has had to do with this notion of the "Small Group Bible Study" as it relates to being "evidence" of a person's "true relationship with Jesus Christ" and their "true personal stage of sanctification" too.

Obviously, I put those phrases in quotations for a good reason, because they're un-Biblical ideas of man, and yet, those are precisely the types of things that are often associated with such Small Group Bible Studies and the types of things you'll often hear people say as sort of a badge of honor for themselves or as a way to differentiate between the different kinds of Christians in a particular church (like Christians come in Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, and Super-Sized versions or something ridiculous like that).

What? You didn't know that there are different kinds of believers (usually two kinds) in every church? Oh yes! According to the "Emergent," "Church Growth," "Contemporary Worship" types, there are only ever two kinds of believers -- you and them, or "committed, genuine, on-fire, radical, true believers" and "fake, half-hearted, lukewarm, pretend believers."

Now, please don't misunderstand me. The Bible does tell us quite a bit about "true" and "false" believers. However, today's quote as it relates to this whole Small Group phenomenon is never a matter of distinguishing between the "wheat" and the "tares" or the "sheep" and the "goats" even. If it were, then identifying each other accurately would be very easy since DOCTRINE is what determines the true from the false (1 Corinthians 11:19).

But most people can't bother themselves with doctrine anymore, because "doctrine divides" they say, remember? It's about "Deeds Not Creeds" too, apparently. Plus, studying doctrine and then seriously discussing it with other believers is "too formal" and "too much like school and work," and who wants church and the study and worship of God and His holy Scriptures to be anything like that sometimes?

So, instead, it's about setting up an exclusive class of "Super Christians" within each church body that are supposedly the heart-and-soul of Christ's own church. Yes, this is easy to spot in the Mega Churches run by the Celebrity Pastors, but it's starting to show up with greater regularity within smaller churches too, especially those that want to implement the Rick Warren Purpose Driven drivel.

It's easy enough to spot. Typically, anything and everything that happens (or doesn't happen) that involves a particular church and its members is solely due to the personal efforts and ingenuity of those select individuals...who are "surely blessed by the hand of God Himself to be able to do what they do for His church!" and, of course, it's always "in Jesus' name!" too. Without fail, these "Super Christian" laymen always belong to (or seem to lead) a Small Group Bible Study themselves and often without the oversight of a called and ordained Pastor.

At this point, I should probably add that I don't dispute or call into question the sincere intentions and motives of such people. But I most certainly will challenge and call into question their doctrine and theology by speaking "the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) here.

Back to the use of the Small Group Bible Study within Lutheran circles these days. Personally, I think Small Group Bible Studies are a good thing...but only if there's a Pastor leading them or at least a part of them to help guide the rest of the group into truth.

The problem nowadays is that I'm seeing these Small Groups supplant the divinely instituted Office of The Holy Ministry, subverting God's primary means of grace to His own sheep, and establishing a class system amongst the laity. Not good, my dear friends. Not good at all.

For instance, I overheard a young woman (a wife and mother of two who volunteers at our church and school more than anyone else I know) taking heat in the narthex after a church service recently by another older sister in Christ because she hadn't been to a Women's Small Group Bible Study in months (one about a best-selling Evangelical Christian book -- not the Bible or Lutheran doctrine -- and one without a Pastor!).

Never mind the fact that she was fulfilling her various God-given vocations faithfully day-in-and-day-out without ever complaining or trying to wear it as a badge of honor. Somehow that's just not good enough though.

The irony is that history is repeating itself here, which further proves the validity of Scripture (Ecclesiastes 1:9). How so? Do a study sometime on the controversy that C.F.W. Walther faced in the early years of our Synod regarding those who preferred the Small Group model over and above the Office of Holy Ministry.

I don't want to get too deep into this right now because I've already included far too much commentary of my own here, and I'm sure I'll publish some additional posts later this week that will continue this discussion. But for now I think this short video and quote about Small Groups are good ones to highlight the main issues and why we should be very concerned.

Yes, I plan to keep beating this drum, because this idolatry of the Small Group system is straight out of American Evangelicalism and it actually does the very opposite of what it promotes. I should know since I used to be a part of that crowd.

All I want to do is try to help my brothers and sisters in Christ understand why going down this road is dangerous let alone why there's nothing historically Lutheran about it either.

With that in mind, here's an excellent quote I've taken to recently about what it means being a Confessional Lutheran when you get right down to it.

If you are unfamiliar with historical Christianity as expressed in Confessional Lutheran doctrine, here are a few things that may help you that have helped me tremendously:

"We believe the Scriptures are inerrant, infallible, verbally inspired and authoritative in all matters of life and godliness. The Bible is the source and norm for all doctrine (2 Peter 1:3). We are passionate about confessing Christ clearly and purely. Because of this we have come to accept and subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions of the Book of Concord of 1580 because they are the purest and clearest confession of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God. We accept the Lutheran Confessions as articulated in the Book of Concord because they are drawn from the Word of God and on that account regard their doctrinal content as a true and binding exposition of Holy Scripture and as authoritative for all teaching, preaching, and confessing of the one true faith. We do not make our stand on Lutheran doctrine out of some misguided sense of having discovered something 'new' or finally getting the Bible 'right' after 2000 years. Instead, we have discovered something old, something that the historical Christian church has always held to. We did not figure out our doctrine ourselves, but hold to the wisdom and insight of those who have come before us, our fathers in the one true Faith. Thus we base our conclusions not in our own arrogance at finding something no one else has found, but in the utmost humility that we have been gifted with a rich doctrinal heritage to which we submit ourselves and our reason. With this humility comes a tremendous Gospel freedom that we hope to share with all who visit our site and choose to make use of our resources."

Ad Crucem Website
[dedicated to encouraging Lutheran pastors and laypeople to search out and learn more about their confessional roots]

I just love that! The parts I highlighted in bold are profound when you consider Lutheran doctrine in comparison to all other denominations and movements as they exist today. Don't let them slip on by so fast without a little prayerful consideration.

And please take another closer look at the image I included with it as well. Rev. Jonathan Fisk was spot on to write about Star Wars in his chapter on Mysticism in his fantastic book Broken (review coming soon, God willing).

Rather than ending with a definitive statement like I always do, I want to end by asking you a question that I'd love to get some responses to.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, why do you think Small Group Bible Studies have become all the rage in the LCMS to the point where you're looked upon as an outcast if you don't currently belong to one?

[NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. 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 not consistent with Lutheran doctrine -- in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word -- so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.


  1. Yes, He most certainly did (John 6:22-71), but He was clearly always present at all times and, most importantly, was willing to rebuke His so-called "small group" when necessary or whenever they tried to contradict God's Word with their feelings or impressions about something (Mark 8:33; Matthew 16:23), right? Plus, very few "Small Group Bible Studies" in our churches today are led by a Pastor who can fulfill a similar role like the one Jesus Himself had in the example you cited. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting!

    Grace And Peace,

  2. Hi Jeff, I would like to read your blog but, on the iPad, the right hand side is cut off by about 8 characters and some of the headings are overlapping. I'm finding it very interesting to read your thoughts, since I am in the process of becoming Lutheran myself after many years in evangelicalism.

  3. Sabine,

    I'm so sorry to hear that and I'll keep working to fix that from my end. Unfortunately, changing the layout/theme of this blog was necessary, but it has also come with some challenges too, which still continue to this day as you noticed.

    Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. If there's a certain topic you would like me to address, then just email me and let me know. I know how difficult it can be "becoming a Lutheran" these days.

    Grace And Peace,


Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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