It's a sad state of affairs when things that were settled not only thousands years ago, but then resettled again almost 500 years ago, remain a source of conflict and disunity within Christ's Church.
I feel like we Lutherans should be ashamed of ourselves. No, I'm not talking about the obvious differences between the LCMS and the ELCA, but about the factions and sects that continue to wreak havoc like a cancer from within.
Remember, wolves love to attack and destroy the sheep as well as the wheat, and the tares are more than happy to provide all the camouflage, cover, disguise, and protection the wolves need to hide within our midst or from the pulpits and pews with growing frequency.
I'm not naive. I know the Word of God warns us, the "Church Militant," repeatedly to fully expect this reality. Even so, a broken believer like me thought I had finally found a faithful home on the Wittenberg Trail to relocate to, and this sort of nonsense is emblematic of spiritual amnesia and it's more than enough to make me think that perhaps the LCMS is not the Last Bastion of Truth I thought it was.
That's why I was thrilled to discover Rev. Lincoln Winter's post "Taking A Breath" published by Steadfast Lutherans and found it to be...a breath of fresh air (see what I did there!? haha).
All kidding aside, however, this is really no laughing matter for reasons just mentioned.
As an ex-Evangelical who knows firsthand the very real spiritual dangers involved in being unfaithful to "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) because "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" (Galatians 5:9), I know the damage it can cause in the short-term as well as the eternal consequences that at stake too (1 Timothy 1:19).
With the 2016 Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) Convention and accompanying elections coming up very soon, I found this quote from way back in 2008 (though in regards to a completely different time period and topic) quite relevant indeed...
Whither the LCMS? Given its congregationalist polity, it will probably vary from city to city and congregation to congegation. But if the LCMS wants to be the "home" that worn-out wandering Evangelicals come back to -- as opposed to the Roman and Orthodox churches -- it needs a President who respects the tradition's confessional roots and will allow Lutherans to be Lutherans: not Fundamentalists, not Evangelicals (although Lutherans, historically, were the original Evangelicals), not Charismatics, and not mainline Protestant liberals. I'm not holding my breath.
-- Anthony Sacramone
Of course, prayers were answered and things did not go as expected.
Just two years later, Rev. Matthew C. Harrison was elected to the presidency on July 13th, 2010 at the 64th LCMS Convention held in Houston, TX, and while things certainly haven't been perfect by any means, I have to think they could be much worse had a man who is not willing to be faithful to the Word of God and our Confessions been elected to that post instead.
So, all of that is to simply say that it was only 24 hours when I was feeling rather hopeless and marginalized myself. For those of us young men who are strongly considering entering Seminary to learn how to properly distinguish between Law and Gospel whether God calls them to the Office of the Holy Ministry in the end or not, this is serious stuff! I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me think twice about getting myself involved in any of it.
That's why I think our choice is clear. That's why I will keep the faith -- not in our Synod, its "Synodocrats," and the Resolutions that get passed, but in our Lord, His Word, His promises, and I will do so no matter what does or doesn't happen in the weeks ahead.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, I also think I need to keep reminding myself (at least for the time being and until proven otherwise) that "despite what you've heard, the LCMS is not a lost cause."
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!