“We Lutherans are the real Catholics”

I’m currently reading the book, “Warrior Monk” by Ray Keating. It is about a man named Stephen Grant who is a former CIA analyst turned Lutheran pastor. Yeah, it’s a hard one to imagine, but it makes for a good read.

I was amused by a conversation between Grant and Father McDermott, the local Roman Catholic priest:

After taking a hearty swig of his draft from Holland, Ron asked, “Do you have any plans, Stephen, of moving from Wittenberg to Rome that I don’t know about?

Stephen was surprised. “What? Become a Roman Catholic? Are you kidding?” That came out wrong. He recovered, needling his friend. “How many times do I have to tell you, Ron, we Lutherans are the real Catholics? We’ve reformed the Church, still waiting for you guys to catch up. After all, it’s been nearly 500 years.”

I thought it was humorous. Maybe it’s just me.


A great read–“Why Would Anyone Ever Want to Read the Catechism?”

Pastor Dan Walters has written a great piece entitled, “Why Would Anyone Ever Want to Read the Catechism?”  Currently, I’m teaching the Small Catechism to our 7th and 8th grade catechumens.  It is a difficult process because they are, well, 7th and 8th graders.  They don’t want to learn the Small Catechism (most of them).  They are here because their parents make them come or that’s what you’re supposed to do in 7th and 8th grade.  But he quotes the words of Martin Luther talking about the importance of the Small Catechism.  Below is just a snippet of that quote:

Catechism…For myself I say this: I am also a doctor and preacher; yes, as learned and experienced as all the people who have such assumptions and contentment. Yet I act as a child who is being taught the catechism. Every morning – and whenever I have time – I read and say, word for word, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, and such. I must still read and study them daily. Yet I cannot master the catechism as I wish. But I must remain a child and pupil of the catechism, and am glad to remain so….

Go ahead, read his post.  While you’re at it, go ahead and dust off your Small Catechism.  If you’ve “lost” yours, it’s ok; CPH has lots of them for sale!

What the Church is and is not

For our Sunday morning Bible class, we’ve been looking at the Augsburg Confession for a number of months now.  CPH has a Bible study that looks at the various articles of both the Augsburg Confession and the Apology of the Augsburg Confession.

Today we looked at Article VII (Of the Church) and VIII (What the Church Is).

There is much discussion about what the Church is and what the Church is not.  The confessors state very clearly what the Church is:

The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.

Understand what I am about to say so as to not cause confusion.  Programs do not make the Church.  While programs have their place within the ministry of the Church, programs will not make or break the Church.  One could have a church that has nothing but the Divine Service and Bible study and it will still be the Church.  One could also have a church that has a school, mens groups, womens groups and every program under the sun.  However, if they do not have the Gospel preached purely and the Sacraments administered rightly, then you do not have the Church.

There is more that can be said about this topic, but that’s enough to wet your whistle.  Maybe someone will comment.  Maybe someone will tell me I’m wrong and off base here.

LCMS president sends appeal to members about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Says repeal will inhibit military chaplains

ST. LOUIS, December 17, 2010—Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), sent the following e-mail message to LCMS pastors and commissioned ministers today in response to the U.S. Senate’s pending vote on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy:

“In a surprising turn of events in the waning days of the current Congress, the effort to repeal the U.S. military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy has gained new momentum with the announcement today of support from Republican senators Scott Brown (Mass.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Olympia Snowe (Maine).  The repeal may be voted on in the Senate as early as tomorrow.  For a number of reasons, we encourage you to let your elected leaders know that The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has a clear biblical position on this important issue.

“In terms of our spirituality, we are all alike sinners (Rom. 3:9ff.) in need of repentance and forgiveness.  For 2,000 years the church has welcomed sinners, but refused to affirm sin.  The saving grace of Jesus Christ and His Gospel are for all people (2 Cor. 5:19), and the only thing that separates us from this forgiveness is a lack of repentance or sorrow over our sin. We believe the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy will sorely inhibit our military chaplains’ ability to call all sinners to repentance.

“If the government normalizes homosexual behavior in our military branches—a behavior that we believe God’s Word identifies as intrinsically sinful (Rom. 1:26ff)—the implications are profound.  Military chaplains striving to carry out their responsibilities for preaching, counseling, and consoling will find themselves under the strain of having to question whether to obey God or men (Acts 5:29).

“Lastly, we express our concern as citizens that a move by the government to essentially affirm homosexual behavior within the armed forces will endanger the morale or esprit de corps—the unit cohesion and the primary mission of the military, namely, to prosecute and win the war—of the men and women who serve and willingly place themselves in harm’s way on our behalf.

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we urge you to share this message today with your colleagues, congregational members, and any others whom you believe would benefit from it and be moved to contact their government representatives.

“You may find the contacts for your senators and representatives here:  http://www.senate.gov/ and http://www.house.gov/

“For more information on this issue, see The Lutheran Study Bible, Page 1911, on Romans 1.

“God bless you.
“Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

“Dr. Mark J. Schreiber,
CAPT, CHC, USN, (Ret.)
Director, LCMS World Mission’s Ministry to the Armed Forces”

Lord’s Supper: Open or Closed

Open or closed?I was recently chatting with another brother in the ministry. He is an older gentleman and serving his second parish. He told me something that was bothersome: he doesn’t think that he will be able to remain in The LCMS. Upon hearing this, I asked him why. He proceeded to tell me that he has some personal issues he’s been struggling with. The doctrine of The LCMS is not the issue. It’s the practice; namely, the practice of the Lord’s Supper.

With regards to the Lord’s Supper, we practice close(d) communion. That means that if you are not a member of a congregation of The LCMS or another Lutheran church body that we are in altar/pulpit fellowship with, then we do not permit you to come to the Lord’s Table. Why do we take such a stance like this? “The Lutheran church believes, teaches and confesses that the Lord’s Supper is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, given to us Christians to eat and to drink. We hold that the bread and the wine in the Supper are the true body and blood of Christ and that these are given and received into the mouths of all who commune.”1 This is the official policy and doctrine of The LCMS. We look at what Holy Scripture says with regards to the Lord’s Supper. St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:26-29, “Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Therefore,whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

Unfortunately, not every LCMS congregation abides by that. That is where this pastor’s troubles lie: doctrine and practice do not match. As far as he sees it, no one is doing anything about the issue of open communion. Open communion is the practice of allowing members of another church-body (or sometimes even faith) to commune. In short, it’s a “Y’all come” mentality, regardless of a person’s beliefs.

Including his current circuit, he has served in three different circuits (1 as a vicar, 2 as a pastor). Unfortunately, this is the “best” circuit he has served in. In this circuit, open communion is rampant. He has even had discussions with his district president with regards to open communion. Unfortunately, those discussions did not go well. Serving in the Wyoming District, open communion is not an issue. I do not have to worry about the kind of church a member of mine will visit while on vacation in Wyoming. However, that cannot be said for all of the districts, including the district in which this fellow brother serves.

Last time I checked, the congregations of The LCMS all had to abide by the synodical constitution. That also meant abiding by our policy of the Lord’s Supper. I must have missed the memo that said pastors and/or congregations were free to choose which parts of our doctrine they wanted to follow and those parts they want to throw out.

Fall Pastor’s Conference

Tomorrow I’m off to Casper for our fall pastor’s conference. The theme of the conference is Johann Sebastian Bach: 21st Century Theologian, Kantor, and Churchman. The presenters will be Dr. J. Gordon Christensen of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he serves as Director of Music and Organist and Dr. Steven Hoffman, who serves as Kantor at King of Glory Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming and St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and Campus Center in Laramie, Wyoming. I’ll be gone Monday through Wednesday. See you on the flip side!