The Grateful Christian

Essays, opinions, and works-in-progress by a conservative Lutheran pastor.

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Location: West Michigan, United States

In order of importance, I am a: Husband, father, pastor, hobby programmer, writer. Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust instead
Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.

--C.S.Lewis, The Apologist's Evening Prayer

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Reformation Day

Yes, it's All Hallows Even, better known to us Lutherans as Reformation Day. I wrote what I consider to be a pretty decent summary of what the "Lutheran" moniker means for the "pastor's page" of the newsletter of the church I pastor, October 2006 edition, which is now history. It is posted as the end of this entry.

Before you go there, or skip this post entirely, allow me to offer a more concise, and quite elegant, quote from the eminent Dr. Gene "Ed" Veith, who wrote this on his Cranach blog a few days ago:

...being Lutheran has to do with being a Christian whose sole hope is the Gospel, who has a theology of the Cross rather than Glory (that is, grows closer to Christ in the experience of weakness, suffering, and defeat rather than strength, power, and victory), who has a sense of vocation (that God is in the ordinary tasks of life that He calls us to), who recognizes the depths of human sin and also the depths of God's grace, who rejects all gnosticism in a recognition that God comes to us in the material world of flesh, creation, incarnation, a book printed on paper, and sacraments of water, bread, and wine.
Thus far Dr. Veith. For my 520 words of wisdom, click here to
Read more...



from the October 2006 Good Shepherd's Clippings:

We weren’t supposed to be “Lutherans.”

As you may have heard, Martin Luther really didn’t like that term. He preferred the term “Evangelical” (“Gospel-oriented”). But the sixteenth century Gospel Reformation came to be known as the Lutheran Reformation, so the name stuck, much to his dismay.

A “Lutheran” Christian is not a follower of Martin Luther. (He was a fallible human being, who made mistakes like all of us.) Here’s what it means to be a Lutheran Christian:

Bible-based: We hold the Bible to be the Word of God, totally true, no mistakes or lies. We use it as the sole source and norm for Christian teaching. Other expressions of Christian teaching--the documents collected in the Book of Concord, the Creeds, the Large and Small Catechisms, a pastor’s sermon, a hymn, a Bible study, even the Pastor’s Page of a church newsletter--are under the authority of the Bible, which is the standard by which they are to be judged. To be Lutheran is to say that the Bible corrects and informs our teachings; but no one corrects the Bible. To correct the Bible, you’d have to be smarter than God Himself.

Christ-centered: To a Lutheran, the central figure in the Bible is Jesus (yes, even in the Old Testament!). Jesus Himself said that: You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me... (John 5:39 ESV) When He said this, nothing in the New Testament had been written yet! His coming is promised, His mission is described, in Isaiah, and the Psalms, and Genesis, and the other 36 books of the Old Testament, and of course He is the star of the 27 books of the New Testament. There are many ways to read and interpret the Holy Scriptures. We deliberately interpret them in terms of the coming of the Jewish Messiah, the Christ, and we see Him on every page.

Grace-obsessed: The Christ we see in both Old and New Testaments is not a new Moses, bringing an updated list of do’s and don’t’s. Gospel means “Good News,” and the Good News is that God has had grace and mercy on us undeserving, wretched sinners. We don’t do anything to deserve it. We can’t do anything to contribute to it. It’s all Him, generously offering complete pardon, at absolutely no charge to us. We harp endlessly on this point. It’s a mania with us.

In short, we believe God’s Word, even the things we don’t understand, because that’s where we get the Gospel, and it is that Gospel that made us believers.

Oh, one more thing. To be Lutheran is to be confessing. I don’t mean the negative use of that word, like confessing to a crime. The positive meaning of “confess” is to tell the truth, boldly, no matter what the consequences. We tell the truth revealed in God’s Word. We don’t hide our light under a bushel basket. We don’t “go along to get along.” We don’t bow to the spirit of the age. There’s no such thing as a wishy-washy Lutheran!

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