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What Luther Says

Stop Trying To Be 'Relevant' And Just Be What You're Supposed To Be!

This will be a short one today.

Simply put, it's a plea for the Lutheran Churches in the Eastern District (and particularly those LCMS Churches in the Western New York area where I live or here in Buffalo, NY) to remember who they are.

A friend on Facebook recently shared with me a link to his church's website -- Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in St. Cloud, MN.

Wanna know what instantly caught my attention? It was the bold, unashamed, unapologetically Lutheran statements of faith that I found right on the Home Page.

Welcome To Redeemer! 
We Pray That You Will Join Us To Receive The Gifts of Jesus.

EVANGELICAL That means the center of all we do is the Gospel – the good news that Christ became a man, suffered and died for our sins, and rose again from the dead. 
LUTHERAN Which means we hold to the confessions of the Lutheran Church and proclaim God’s Word in accordance with that confession. 
SACRAMENTAL Administering baptism, absolution, and communion as Christ instituted them so that people can receive forgiveness, life, and salvation from Him. 
LITURGICAL Believing that an ordered, historic, and faithful service best serves Jesus and His gifts to all who worship with us.

Now, I know that we cannot make an honest assessment of what a church believes, teaches, and confesses just by looking at their website, and that sometimes a church will say all the right things and then preach, teach, and practice another, but it's definitely a great place to start!

I can't begin to tell you how many LCMS Churches I've researched in the local area that don't even come close to defining themselves in this way, and yet, I would argue that these are the very things that make us distinctly Lutheran.

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the LCMS Churches in my area go out of their way to make sure they don't come off sounding distinctly Lutheran.

Why? For fear of "offending" the non-believers in the community or scaring them off before they even set foot in church. After all, Jesus told Peter to feed His goats, didn't He? I mean, John 21:15-19 says rather plainly that...oh, wait a minute!

I especially love that the Liturgy and the Sacraments are emphasized too. Thankfully, they even call it the "Divine Service" which is something that many churches are also distancing themselves from these days.

As a former Evangelical, Non-Denominational type, I was taught that the Divine Service (which contained the Liturgy and the Sacraments) was entirely symbolic and that it didn't matter one way or another how it was done let alone how often it was done. Boy, was I sadly mistaken!

Without going off on a tangent and explaining why that is, I think it's fair to say that without the Divine Service, Liturgy, and Sacraments, you really don't have a true church, or perhaps you do, but it's one that is based on "a different gospel" (Galatians 1:6) than the one "that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

To be more specific, when you strip the Divine Service of the pure Word and Sacrament ministry (rightly preached and rightly administered), then that's when your church ceases to be a church at all.

Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV) 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Notice anything from that passage that correlates to this topic?

Galatians 1:10 says it all -- they were "seeking the approval of man" as opposed to God.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, I just wish that churches would stop trying to be so "relevant" all the time and just be what they're supposed to be!

It's not good when the only thing distinctly Lutheran about your church is the fact that it says "Lutheran" on the church sign out front.

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 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 "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. 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). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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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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