The View from the Inside: What is the goal of LCC “Mission” efforts?

A NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This essay was submitted for attribution (to publish with their name), while the author wrote a second long-form essay which they wanted to publish anonymously. We are publishing this first, shorter stand-alone piece anonymously because the author shares similar information and the writing style is revealing. The author is a member of a congregation in ABC District of Lutheran Church Canada.

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.

+VDMA

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6 thoughts on “The View from the Inside: What is the goal of LCC “Mission” efforts?

  1. larry

    Why don’t we trust each other more? If we could only pick one question to discuss among ourselves for the next three years, that would be the one I’d pick.

    I’ll dig into that one with the first spadeful. I believe that the philosophical mindset that is prevalent in culture and has bored its way into the church has given individuals the opportunity to assert that there can be a separation between teaching and practice. That, by itself, marks the starting point of division that exists in the church from which all other divisions flow.

    • I think you’re onto something here. We’ve managed to separate faith and works. And works are generally reduced to “What do you need money for? Here’s fifty bucks, now leave me alone.” Actual engagement and action isn’t encouraged.

    • ANO

      I’d suggest one reason there’s no trust is there’s no clear way to air and resolve issues, and there’s no real way to get justice and see that justice is done. There’s too much politics and manipulation and not enough walking in actual faith.

  2. Michael Schutz

    “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?” These are commonly-put-forth sentiments, and they were primary foci in another series of posts a while back here on SG, by Mr. Schultz. Like in those posts, there are sweeping assertions made in this post, and I would argue that’s exactly what they are: assertions. In the comments in those other posts, we were able to tease out a few specifics, but, as far as I remember, none of them could be indisputably supported as inappropriate.

    We seem to not be able to get out of this particular conversation: “We copy the Evangelicals too much.” “How?” “Among other things, CoWo and programming.” “How is that inappropriate, specifically?” “It’s not Confessional.” “In what ways?” “We aren’t unified.” “We’re unified in teaching, but we have some variety in practice, yes. So then, specifically, what are the boundaries of acceptable variety in practice, which flows from our doctrine?”

    And the conversation pretty much always dies out after that, because it’s clear that there is a level of responsible variety in practice that’s acceptable (I would argue, desirable and maybe even necessary according to context), but we’re unable to reach any sort of agreement about what that responsible variety actually looks like.

    All that said, the discussions are worth having. But I have to say, if we were better able to approach these kind of topics with a spirit of fraternal love instead of the tone of “Confessional Policing” that seems to be so prevalent, I think we’d be able to make better progress in understanding each other as we strive to walk together. To me, this whole discussion is a symptom of the root issue of a lack of trust. Why don’t we trust each other more? If we could only pick one question to discuss among ourselves for the next three years, that would be the one I’d pick.

    • The deeper dive is in the much longer 4-part essay that will be posted over the next few days. In this essay they identify the issues. The next essays flesh out the detail you’re looking for. The author is a professional who is thoughtful, serious, and studied. They’re a Lutheran who knows what they’re talking about (and frankly, I find little to disagree with in this essay – though I’d publish it even if I did).

      In short, this isn’t the hit and run you suspect it is. There’s much more to satisfy the need for detail.

      • Michael Schutz

        OK thanks.

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