By Anonymous Author (ABC District)
I have always likened Confessional Lutheranism to an oasis in the desert. When I was leaving the scorching sands of Seventh-Day Adventism, I had a few stops in various churches who had drunken deeply from the well of American Evangelicalism. The more I leaned about these churches, the more I began to question what they really where about. But the closer I got them, the more I began to see that what they were drinking from was no well, it was just a mirage. I realized that I hadn’t left the desert at all, I just wandered to a different corner of it. I began to wonder if maybe Protestantism was just wrong from the beginning.
It seemed to me that there was no real unifying belief among any of the Protestants. They all sang the familiar refrain of “Scripture Alone,” but it was very clear that this popular catch-phrase meant different things to different people. At this point, I decided that an ‘Ad fontes’ (“back to the sources”) approach was necessary. I would evaluate the claims and arguments of the Reformation based on Holy Scripture. The most logical place to begin was with Martin Luther and those that bear his name, the Lutherans. You see before I reject anything, I think that it’s only fair that I find out what it really means and what it is really about. For me, rejecting something that I do not rightly comprehend is akin to a straw man fallacy, which is simply dishonest.
So after following various trails and paths through the desert, I finally found the fabled oasis of the original Protestants, Confessional Lutheranism. What I found out from my guides was that the Lutheran Church was simply the Historic catholic faith that had recovered the Gospel that was lost in the Western Church during the Middle Ages. That Lutherans valued the witness of the Church Fathers in light of Holy Scripture and maintained the worship of the Ancient Church with Christ firmly at the center. That was roughly six years ago and it has been almost two years since converting and becoming a member of the Lutheran Church-Canada. Now that I’m inside the oasis, I must confess that the view is somewhat different than it was when I was looking in from the outside.
It seems that many of the fortifications in fortress LCC meant to keep out heterodoxy have been opened precisely to let false teaching in. Unfortunately, in many cases these false teachings are allowed a seat at court and are openly promoted and taught within the LCC’s walls. When those of us who are new to the synod begin to question these dangerous practices on the basis of the Confessions and on what we’ve seen in the desert if North American Christianity, we find that our voices are quickly muted. We find that if we insist too much on maintaining Confessional Lutheran doctrine and practice, we might soon find ourselves wandering the desert again, alone and homeless.
What is particularly confusing about this whole situation is that the LCC boasts about its emissaries. It boasts about reaching those who have not heard the Gospel. Scroll after scroll is published and read by the herald about mission efforts, yet many of those who are wandering in the desert never come across these missionaries or their message. For those of us who have found our way into this safe haven, we find that what the herald and the missionaries are saying sounds more like the message of those outside the LCC. It sounds more Evangelical than it does Lutheran. This raises some very important questions: what is the objective of LCC mission efforts? Is it to promote authentic Lutheranism? Is it to create Confessional converts? Or is it to promote an off-brand version of Lutheranism, one that is merely American Evangelicalism with the slightest pinch of Lutheran flavouring?
If the LCC truly seeks to confess the faith once for all delivered to the saints, if what we have to say is truly different from what the Evangelicals are saying, why are we so keen on imitating them? Why do we allow their teachings and practices to be imported into our synod so willingly? Why is it so hard for converts to the LCC, who simply want to be Confessional Lutherans in doctrine and practice to find a pastor and parish who share that same conviction and confession? Why is it that many areas of our synod resemble the desert more than the oasis? I think that it is high time that we as a synod, not just a group of parishes, ask ourselves: “what does it mean to be a Confessional Lutheran?” And once we find out what that means to ask ourselves, “Is this our confession? Do we really want to walk together believing, confessing and teaching this?”
If you do not know where to begin looking to find the meaning of Confessional Lutheranism, look up the Book of Concord online. The whole book is available for free here: http://www.bookofconcord.org/ . I think that studying what it really means to be Lutheran is more than apropos in this the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation.
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