To some, the use of the word "Confessional" might seem a bit excessive or redundant. To others who came to true Lutheranism later in life after having been deceived for many years, we've found that use of that word is absolutely essential.
Unfortunately, this is due to the fact that there are far too many so-called "Lutheran" churches out there that are anything but. Worse, there are some LCMS congregations out there that give lip service to our Confessions, but then you will attend one service there and you come to find out that they have strayed so far from that rock solid foundation of faith that any claims to the contrary are just laughable.
For me, personally, it took 3 years before I finally realized that the LCMS church me and my family were attending preferred to follow Max Lucado more than Martin Luther.
So, sadly, I know a thing or two about Lutheran churches that want to be as popular as their American Evangelical and Non-Denominational counterparts in the community and will do whatever it takes to let others know that the sign out front might say "Lutheran" on it, but they don't have to worry about that impacting the doctrine, practice, sermons, and studies.
With that being said, I think it only makes sense that every now and then I would try to generate some serious discussion and prayerful consideration regarding the critical differences between American Evangelicalism and Confessional Lutheranism.
Today, I want to share an EXCELLENT presentation delivered at the Issues, Etc. "Making The Case Conference" back in 2014 by Craig Parton in which he talks about the spiritual dangers involved with Lutherans imitating Evangelicals.
Why do so many Lutherans want to imitate Evangelicals? Why do Lutherans always seem to want to imitate Evangelicals even if it's right down to their theology or their doctrine and practice?
That was the very first time I ever listened to a presentation by Mr. Parton let alone heard of him, but I thought it was a very good lecture and was nodding in agreement several times throughout it.
I agree with him that we have an historic opportunity to demonstrate that Lutherans have everything Evangelicals are always looking for, especially as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Here were some of the highlights I noted...
-- "Lutheranism has an uncanny ability to hide its light under a bushel."
-- "Leave it to the Lutheran church to want all the discarded crap from Evangelicalism and Evangelical worship, jumping on that boat at the moment Evangelicals are leaving it."
-- "As I say to Pastors, I will be the easiest parishioner you ever had. All I want is Law and Gospel, the Hymnal, hymnody, the Liturgy, absolve me, get the bread and wine into my mouth, and I won't cause trouble. Don't do that and I will be a nightmare to you."
-- "To a lot of Evangelicals, 'Lutheran' means either 'Liberal,' 'Catholic,' or 'both.'"
-- He made some powerful comments about how Evangelicals tend to take Daniel and Revelation very literally, but then they take all the verses in the Bible about the Sacraments as being entirely symbolic.
-- The fact that he says that "I read my way into the Lutheran church" I think is much more common for people than we'd assume it is. I mean, the same is true for me personally. It was reading Luther and the Book of Concord at a critical time in my life that finally convinced me that Lutherans were far closer to (if not spot on with) the whole truth of Scripture than any other denomination out there today.
-- The problem with most churches today? "Each Sunday, we heard a lot of entertainment, a lot of Moralism, but no Gospel!"
-- "The roots of Evangelicalism are not in the Reformation."
-- "Whenever I go into a town for the first time I always ask, 'Can you please tell me where a dead, orthodox church is? I'd like to attend one.'"
-- "Sanctification is the primary focus of American Evangelical preaching. There's also an emphasis on Revivalism too."
-- "Evangelicals think they're all called to the ministry! Every single one of them has their own ministry! They don't believe it's their Pastor's duty to evangelize their neighbor."
-- "Even a 'bad' Lutheran sermon is better than all of the Evangelical sermons that I've heard, because of Law and Gospel."
In a sense, Parton's presentation was as much an encouragement for Lutherans to evangelize Evangelicals as it was a critique of American Evangelicalism itself.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, any discussion about the merits of Lutheranism versus Evangelicalism is always about finding normalcy and content in Christian worship through faithfulness to doctrines that then inform our practices week-in-and-week-out.
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. 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 repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) 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!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, 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 they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I 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 footnotes 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 both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). 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 "Christian 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. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!