I was going through a pile of old papers and I came across a stack of interesting essays I had read in college and seminary. I wanted to share a paper I read long ago that helped me to see how Scripture Alone as a rule of ultimate authority in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod is not in line with the Confessions.
Many times when Lutherans today talk about the authority of the Bible they don't realize it, but they're doing it in a way that is different from how Luther and the 1st generation of reformers understood it.
This paper was written by Fr Gregory when he was a pastor and seminary professor in the LCMS. He gladly gave me permission to share it. It isn't an argument to become Orthodox or Catholic or anything else, but it is helpful in the sense that it shows how the understanding of things like Sola Scriptura has shifted in the Lutheran Church and no longer means what it did originally.
Anyone from an especially Lutheran background who wants to learn more about Orthodoxy can lis...
I have been asked why I spend so much time picking apart Lutheranism. The answer to that is quite simple. Picking apart Lutheranism is what I did. I have framed much of my writing in this way is because my goal, while it is all still fresh in my mind, is to give anyone interested in my journey a look at what was actually going on in the time leading up to my departure from the Lutheran Church.
What I mean is that, I spent years picking apart Lutheranism because I was looking for a reason to stay. I wanted to stay right where I was and where I had been raised. I didn't go looking for Orthodoxy, but in a very real way Orthodoxy found me. There wasn't anything worldly or practical to be gained by "Going East". I was happy right where I was. I wasn't eager to upset relationships, expectations and my entire life. I needed to dig deep enough to prove that the flaws of Lutheranism were not flaws in its foundation,...
"The Orthodox Church is evangelical, but not Protestant. It is orthodox, but not Jewish. It is catholic, but not Roman. It isn't non-denominational - it is pre-denominational. It has believed, taught, preserved, defended and died for the Faith of the Apostles since the Day of Pentecost 2000 years ago."
- Steve Robinson and Bill Gould
Today is the anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession. On this day 488 years ago the reformers presented their confession of faith to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in the city of Augsburg.
What is the Augsburg Confession (Augustana)? It is similar to the Declaration of Independence in that it is a foundational document for Lutheran Identity. Today you would find it as the second document in the 1580 Book of Concord. To an extent it is fair to say that every other writing in the Book of Concord is commentary on what was confessed in 1530 during the Imperial Diet.
I used to say and believe that there is nothing in the Bible about asking the saints in heaven to pray for us. I've realized that was the case because I read the Bible with the glasses given to me by the Lutheran Church. The problem with those spectacles is they weren't strong enough to see everything on the page clearly.
Today's resource shows how the Bible says an awful lot on the intercessions of the saints. The difference is that the Reformation represents a break, a new way of reading the Bible, rather than the return that Luther and the Reformers sought something new emerged in the 16th century.
Most Lutherans and Protestants today do not read the Bible in a way that they can see the ever Virginity of Mary. Why? Christians today do not read the Bible the same way their forefathers in the faith did because they received Reformation tradition and the principles unleashed by Luther.
I left Lutheranism for Orthodoxy at an interesting time. I’m hardly the first pastor or layperson to leave the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod for Orthodoxy. This made my journey and investigation interesting because I got to hear, for years, the rebuttals from prominent Lutheran pastors like Will Weedon, Todd Wilken and John Pless. There are two key things that were typically brought up to help distressed Lutherans like me realize that they don’t want to abandon ship.
The first argument is that potential converts are pitting the Orthodox ideal against the Lutheran reality. I heard the assertion many times that the men who leave for Orthodoxy are leaving because they’ve been bewitched by greener pastures. They don’t know the real Orthodoxy, so they think they’re leaving for a Church with the incense swirling majestically around the Bishop in a candlelit Church with no problems. It is said that they unfairly compare some idealized version of Orthodoxy to t...
Semper Virgo is like a middle-of-the-night Charley horse for modern Lutheranism. You’re sleeping peacefully and then all of a sudden you’re woken up by an innocuous, yet painful, reality. And the more you toss and turn the tighter it seems to grab you.
Semper Virgo (SV) refers to the historic Christian teaching on the perpetual virginity of Mary. In the Orthodox Church we pray multiple times during liturgy the following petition that expresses this belief:
Commemorating our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commit ourselves, and one another, and our whole life to Christ our God.
Pretty awesome prayer.
Most Lutherans are like me; I was very surprised in my study of Lutheran theology to learn that SV is certainly the position of Martin Luther and the Confessions too! Embarrassed, many a Lutheran is quick to point out that the Living tradition among Lutherans today is that SV is optional. However, the Formula...