Friday, December 15, 2023

Not interested. . .

It seems that the only churches some folks are interested in are those that are new.  I do not mean new simply in the sense of only recently started but new also in the sense of having nothing in common with the Church that went before.  On social media recently someone asked if anyone had a church to recommend.  I have lived in this city for 31 years and had never even heard of the churches some folks named.  Nearly every church on the list was probably not even in existence 5-10 years ago.  Newness, creativity, spontaneity, innovation, and novelty have become the chief criteria some folks use to pick a church home.  Fly by night churches seem to tick the interest level is too many.  Not me.

Although I am a Lutheran, I am not interested in nor do I wish to belong to any church that cannot trace itself to the apostles and evangelists.  I do not want to belong to any church that says it began in 1517 or 1847 or any other date in history.  I want to be catholic.  I want to belong to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.  I want one where the doctrine is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  You should too.  Indeed, I am a Lutheran precisely because the Lutherans claim to be catholic in doctrine and practice and have placed this claim within the fathers throughout the ages.  There was no Lutheran rebellion to the Catholic Church but there was a rebellion against medievalisms and errors that had infiltrated the Roman Church and which had allowed things not even mentioned in Scripture to become the cherished doctrines that had to be preserved at all costs.  I am a Lutheran because the Lutheran's claim and give evidence to that claim that they are evangelical and catholic in the fullest sense of those terms.

Lutheranism in this sense has existed since Genesis 3, when the promise of a Savior was first spoken to our first parents in Eden.  From the destruction caused by our rebellion and the curse of sin and its death came the hope that has gathered and sustained the people of God through the ages and even now.  Though different in the sense of those who heard the prophets and those who heard of the prophetic word fulfilled, the faith is the same.   The history of the Catholic Church is that history.  Those who believed in the promise and its fulfillment and to whom this faith was credited as righteousness are the people Paul names in Romans.  Lutheranism confesses this clearly and unequivocally.  Though we live in the world we are not of it.  So we are assailed by the devil through false teaching, tempted by the things of this life to worldliness, or suffering the persecution and violence of those who treat us as they treated the Christ, we do not fear.  The Word of the Lord will endure forever not by our might but by the might of the God always has and always will preserve His Church and her doctrine.  Luther was not the first of the voices of reform and he will not be the last.  Though we are rightfully blessed to stand in the shadow of such a great reformer, God does not need anyone to do what is His will and purpose.  The Church guarded and guided by His Word and Spirit are that will and purpose. The earthly institutions may come and go but the faith confessed remains forever.  Whether the Lutheran churches will endure is hard to say -- especially in view the state of affairs around us.  But the Lutheranism and its catholic doctrine and practice are nothing less than the marks of the faith and the faithful.




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