Friday, January 26, 2007

What is a Confessional Lutheran? (Part 2 of 2)

In truth to be a Lutheran means also to be ‘confessional Lutheran,’ because a Lutheran is defined by the confession to which he holds. However, there are many people who call themselves ‘Lutheran,’ but at the same time reject all or portions of Book of Concord, such people are renouncing what it means to be Lutheran.

For an example, consider the interpretation of Ephesians 4:11-12 – And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Most every major English translation does not have a comma between “saints” and “for.” Thus, you will hear many preachers (including Lutherans) say that the ministers job is two fold: first, to equip the saints so the saints can do ministry, and second, to edify the body of Christ. But the problem is that the original language does not have any punctuation. Thus, our Lutheran Confessions understand the work of the pastors (from this passage) to be three-fold: first, to equip the saints; second, to do the work of the ministry; third, to edify the body of Christ. Any Lutheran pastor who insists on a two-fold understanding of Ephesians 4:12 is not teaching in accordance with the Lutheran Confessions (ie, he is not a ‘confessional Lutheran’).

The Lutheran Confessions are the lens by which we view and interpret God’s Word. When questions of doctrine and practice arise, we return to God’s Word; but what happens when there is a disagreement about what God’s Word means? As Lutherans, we turn to the Lutheran Confessions. The Word of God is not for private interpretation that is why we have confessions so that we have a common interpretation of God’s Word.

The Lutheran Confessions do address many issues which are facing modern Lutheranism: Which God is the true God? Are the gods of Judaism and Islam the same as the God of the Christians? Who may commune at a particular altar? How often should commune be offered? How often should I commune? Should we use the historic liturgy? Should we have vestments? Is it permitted to cross oneself? Is it permitted to kneel and genuflect? Is private confession and absolution required? Is confirmation necessary? Are there two or three or more sacraments? May pastors be called ‘Father’? Should we use a chalice or individual cups?

The answer to these questions will not determine if you are or are not a ‘confessional Lutheran,’ but how you get to your answer will? A confessional Lutheran will let Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions be heard.

2 comments:

Sam said...

Welcome to the blog world. I look forward to more posts from you!

Scott said...

Welcome! Nice to have you writing here. I look forward to,...MORE reading! lol