06 January 2008

Recently

My good friend Fr. John Fenton wrote a post asking why folks were NOT Orthodox. It generated some interesting discussion. I'd like to take a different tact. I'd like to ask any Lutheran readers of this blog why they ARE Lutheran. At my first parish I realized that there many people who had become Lutheran because of what Lutherans hold in common with other Churches. I knew that I was Lutheran not because of what we held in common, but because of what made us unique. So, what about it, Lutherans, old, new, and everything in between. Why are you a Lutheran? You can be long or short, but I'd be interested in hearing.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

In short, I have no where else to go. If I did, that's where I would be! It's true that I can be liturgically more comfortable elsewhere, but the Church is not only about comfort.

Being Lutheran as our Confessions have us is the closest thing to being catholic and biblical.

Hmmm . . . now if I can just find that church ;-]

RF

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Granted, I was born to a Lutheran father and educated at Lutheran day-school, so that is the greatest historical accident for my being Lutheran. Instead, I will state what it is about Lutheranism (and in particular Luther) that appeals to me, having studied Church History.

1 - Understanding of the depth and impact of Sin. I cannot think of a theologian who understands the persistent and devastating effects of sin upon our life. I think one of my favorite quotes touches upon this incidentially - when discussing why it is foolish to ban clerical marriage, and why priests end up forming families with their housekeepers, Luther writes that forbidding priestly marriage is like "put fire and hay together and commanding it not to burn." It's just simple and practical and matter of fact. This is how things are in this world. We sin. A lot. We are great sinners who continually place self above God and above neighbor. This honesty about the human condition I find I enjoy.

2. The magnitude of salvation. One of the things I tell my bible class is as follows - if you think you are a little sinner, you are only going to want a little Jesus. If you know that you are a big sinner, you will see how great your Savior is. Because of the clarity with which sin in seen, the overwhelming mercy and grace of God are seen as well - and without any room for our works. It makes you pause just to think on the benefice God shows to us, completely without any worth or merit in us - simply because He is the God who loves and shows mercy. Fantastic - a God who is not distant, but near, and who is awesome in His love for us.

3. I learned from Luther and the debates on the Supper that you can basically reconstruct a person's entire theology based upon what they say about the Lord's Supper. He's right, and that is fantastic.

tgeek said...

Lutherans say that the cross is our theology and as long as that holds true, I will remain a Lutheran. I've been everywhere from midwest Pentecostalism to mega-church praise and worship to conservative reformed churches. No matter where you go, you find an emphasis somewhere that misses the point. Lutheranism puts the emphasis on the cross and no where else, and that's why I'm here and why I was stay.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to say just one thing, so I'll say what's on my mind.

For a long time I've felt some attraction to the East and even Rome because their practice seems to be more consistent. How many congregations in the LCMS will pitch the Divine Liturgy this year without even a second thought?

So while there need not be a tension between orthodoxy and orthopraxy, I see one in our synod. If I valued orthopraxy over orthodoxy in one's confession (as my sinful flesh tempts me to), I might very well go elsewhere.

But Christ asked the Holy Apostle Peter, Who do you say that I am? He did not ask how do you say who I am (which is still very, very important). However, even some such as Muslims have an impressive praxis. The Gospel, not praxis, is what we rest our hope on.

And, btw, faithful Lutherans naturally have great praxis too.

Father Hollywood said...

As an adult convert, I have to say what made me "Lutheran" was the Augsburg Confession - which I realized was a faithful exposition of Scripture, and was my confession of faith.

Polly said...

I am a cradle LCA Lutheran but had what you might call a "confessional revival" about a decade ago and switched from ELCA to LCMS. It was a combination of discovering what the synod teaches, the discovery of the BOC and having my eyes opened to the sacramental theology and types of Christ in the Bible.

DRB said...

In brief, the Lutheran confessions, from the Ecumenical Creeds to the Formula of Concord, proclaim Christ crucified without corrupting that apostolic message by the traditions and trends of human philosophy.

For details on why my wife and I became Lutherans, see http://dawningrealm.org/papers/lutheran.html.

Andy said...

To be brief (which is hard, because I was a Calvinist 10 years and it has only been with in the last year that I have made this transition):
1)Christ is at the center of everything - baptism, Lord's Supper, doctrine in general, etc.

2) Balance of evangelical, catholic, and orthodox not found anywhere else.

3)Willingness to let Scripture speak without trying to reconcile everything "logically".

4)Book of Concord - Most Biblical confession I have found.

Arizona Lutheran said...

I agree with Andy's comments. Like him, I am a former Calvinist. I'd add only that Chemnitz's series on the Council of Trent is not to be missed.

orthodoxy hunter said...

What Andy said, minus the Calvinist part. It's all about Jesus and the continuity in recognizing him in a constant manner through scripture. Great confessions and creeds.

Jim Huffman said...

What I'm intrigued by is how many people speak of books, confessions, readings, etc., and how few speak of churches. In other words, are these folks positing Lutheranism as a theological system (it certainly is, despite the aversion certain folks have to calling Lutheran theology a "system") or is Lutheranism a church community? And if a church community, why do so few speak of it in that way?

Darcy said...

I came from a Baptist church where all I heard was a wrathful God, just waiting to smite me,who only tolerated me for Jesus' sake. No matter what you did it was never good enough, you had to have works to prove you were saved, but what works you did have weren't good enough.

I started attending Lent services first, I was amazed that even in the midst of such focus on the passion, the message was for you, because God loves you. Not just "this is your fault." It took a while to get used to the organ but the hymn lyrics were phenomenal. The first time we sang "if the Son so loveth me, God must have compassion" it was like the lightbulb finally came on. The liturgy brings such solemnity to the service, before church had always seemed like a show, a production. The hardest things to get used to where the Ten Commandments (No. 2 had always been No Graven Images) and the concept that Communion is both bread and wine and Body and Blood at the same time. Once you learn to accept paradox and stop trying to make them agree your fine. I pray our synod continues to uphold the Liturgy as useful, and hold true to our confessions.

Past Elder said...

I was raised in the pre-conciliar RC church, and believed it to be the "true" church and faith. As I watched it dismantled and the new Catholicism put in its place, I could not see it as RC at all, and if the "true" church and faith were now lost, there was no reason to accept anything else, Christianity is false in any form.

Some twenty years later, I married an LCMS woman who left with similar feelings about the whole Seminex thing. But as kids came, we did not want to inflict our religious burn outs on them. We ended up in a WELS Adult Information Class, only because they followed up on my call and the other churches we called, all LCMS, didn't.

The pastor gave me a copy of the BOC (Tappert), and as I read it, almost from page to page I was amazed, as what appeared before me was the catholic church, the real deal, what the Catholic Church, pre or post council, had hemmed and hawed to say -- to paraphrase, what should have been the most obvious thing about the church was here the most obvious, not mixed in and scattered among all sorts of other things.

Re books and community, I did indeed find a confession of faith expressed in a book, not a community, and then sought a community who confessed it too. Why belong to a church community whose faith you do not share because you like the people -- tried that, doesn't work about a church, unless you flat ignore any role of faith. I'm LCMS to-day because of the BOC, I don't confess the faith of the BOC because of LCMS.

Susan said...

When I read your question this morning, I could think of all sorts of things to say in response. Long drawn-out things. Important things.

But when it comes right down to it, the reason I am Lutheran is because the doctrine taught in the Lutheran church is the truth.

There are two religions in the world. The one of works-righteousness and the one of mercy. Works-righteousness comes in subtle forms and often gets mixed up even with Christianity. (For example, "I don't merit heaven with my good works, but..." and the speaker goes on to make me think that God likes him better for his attempts at holiness. And tells me what I can do to be holier too.) I want the religion that is about God's love in Christ and what He has done to save me. Because ANYthing about me and what I do leaves me condemned. Lutheranism is the only religion that hangs onto the pure truth that it is all about Jesus and His gifts to the unworthy.

Rebekah said...

To please my father, to anger the devil, and to spite the Pope.

William Weedon said...

Jim,

See Darcy's response!

L P Cruz said...

For me, it is because they have the Gospel and their confession is the most Biblical that I have found.

However, I am quite very happy to leave and say "see ya later" if I no longer hear the Gospel from them.


LPC

Augustinian Successor said...

Why on earth, why the heck would I want to convert to EO when it does not confess justification by faith alone? That is to say, EO does not believe in the Gospel? I want to be able to hold to monopatrism, "veneration" of icons as a cultural expression of the essentials of the faith, participate in the Liturgy of the Faithful, etc. whilst confessing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If am not allowed to do that, I'd rather let go of the local, regional, cultural, etc. praxis of the EO than to hang on to what amounts to a "disembodied" Christianity, i.e. form without substance, the inverse of the Platonism of puritan evangelicals, etc. ("substance" without form, even the substance is deficient, corrupted, etc. in some ways and in some of the traditions).

Justification solely by the effective Word of God which declares righteousness and non-imputation of sin on the basis of the Cross is what makes the Gospel. All else is PHILOSOPHY.

Josh S said...

I'm a pretty down on Lutheranism right now, but I'm not going anywhere, and here's why:

1. The Lutheran Church is literally the only dogmatic church (IOW, Anglicanism doesn't count) where you can believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ without being in explicit contradiction to an official doctrinal norm. The Gospel is clearly and beautifully expressed in Luther's Small Catechism. It is qualified out of existence in the CCC and Westminster. It is overtly denied whenever the Orthodox attack the atonement.

2. I first became a Lutheran because of the Divine Service. Lutheran worship neglects neither Word nor Sacrament, and the Lutheran Church is the only church that can preach the Word as written and celebrate the Sacrament as instituted by Jesus without again being in open defiance of a stated doctrinal norm. Everyone else needs to explain why the Word doesn't really mean that and why the Eucharist either isn't Christ's body and blood or doesn't give/isn't really about forgiveness of sins.

3. The "sin" thing. We and the Reformed are about the only churches out there that really believe sin is as bad as Scripture says it is (but the Reformed have the aforementioned issues). Everyone else treats the really killing statements of Scripture as hyperbole.

Anonymous said...

I am Lutheran because I need to be. I'm a horrible sinner. Hearing the Gospel preached to me week after week is life-saving. Receiving Christ's body and blood, shed for me, week after week is something I could not do without, again because of my struggle with sinfulness.

I do love my church community and the devotional practices such as fasting that we have in our church -- and I love the proper emphasis on how these are to be done and why they are to be done.

I've heard of people in all church bodies being swayed one way or the other -- to "Mother" Rome or East or toward Pentecostalism, etc. That is not my struggle. I struggle, ashamedly, with outright unbelief. And what keeps me Lutheran is our Confessions. I have yet to hear any convincing argument against them and, to the contrary, I find them to be beautiful. They are simple as well as profound. They do not interject human reason or any other problem that comes with placing trust in man rather than God.

Finally (or should I say again?), the reason why I'm never ever even tempted to go to another church body is the Doctrine of Justification. The focus on Christ in this confession is commendable and I'm grateful for it. I find the Gospel such an unbelievable gift that I'm shocked that people are willing to throw it away.

Thank you for asking this question as I've enjoyed ruminating on it before I answered. I'm so thankful to be Lutheran and to receive the Word and Sacraments.

William Weedon said...

I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to respond. Quite an interesting list! Indeed, what greater joy and peace and comfort in all the world than to know that Christ alone is our very righteousness, perfect, whole, entire, flawless. Love unending and He is ours. Given us freely in the preaching of the Gospel and in the Holy Sacraments, for us to grow into evermore as our very own. What a Jesus we have! What a glorious Savior!

If others care to share, I'd be delighted to hear more!