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...
Whenever you leave one place for another you always take something with you. In some way October 31st will always remind me of the Reformation and I will always travel back in my mind to singing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" at my childhood congregation in southeast Missouri. We take something with us from every place we've been. It will forever be my Grandpa's church where, along with my grandmother, they sat on the left in the second row from the front. The same place I sit with my wife and 6 kids now.
When I was in college and seminary a popular phrase in the circles I ran in was "still attending Grandpa's church". That resonated with me because I wanted the Lutheran church of my fathers.
In my studies I would go on to learn just how much the Lutheranism that I considered to be normal was a departure from what my ancestor Fritz had known in Germany and then when he came to America in 1865. He traveled here in part for religious liberty.
Readers of this blog are aware by now that a significant doctrinal reason for my becoming Orthodox is the Bible and it's relationship to Tradition.
I'm going to do some thinking out loud now. I hope you enjoy the ride!
The longer I've thought about this and studied it, the more I've grown to be completely comfortable with referring to the Bible as Tradition. Remember though, when I refer to Tradition it is different than traditions, which are locals customs that have no impact on the doctrine or dogma of the Church.
Many Lutheran churches have a tradition during the Christmas Eve program of singing a verse of "Silent Night" in German. There's absolutely nothing wrong with such a tradition, nor is there anything essential about it. Holy Tradition is more than that, more than the salutary traditions that come from German, Mexican, African or Greek culture or from local customs in Missouri, New York, Hawaii or Colorado.
I've been listening to the beginning of the Search...
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,...
A question about my previous post was received from a reader via Facebook.
"Could you perhaps elaborate on the ways in which the Lutheran toolbox for pastoral care is lacking? That has not been my experience, and I would like to hear in what respects it was yours."
My answer to this is relationship. Lutheranism inherited and never really developed beyond a juridical view of things.The Western model of forensic justification (which is the primary model in Lutheranism) leaves no room for healing broken relationships. Faith has been turned into a judicial system instead of being a mercifully just relationship.
There is no room for friendship in the court of law. You can say comforting things to someone who is undergoing a trial, but you can’t really do anything to make the situation better. They’re in the midst of a system, a set of rules, that can’t simply be rewritten. A relationship is a totally different situation. In a relationship we have much greater power to...
This series details my investigation of Orthodoxy and comparison to the doctrine of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod as they understand it from Scripture and interpreted through the Book of Concord. This post tells one aspect of a journey that lead me to conclude that Lutheranism, for all it's strengthens, is not the fullness of the Church.
Readers are invited to check out the other posts in this series (found at the link above) for a fuller view of the journey.
In my experience grief isn't controllable and it doesn't happen in an orderly fashion. I learned about the 5 stages of grief according to the Kübler-Ross model: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
The harder you try to control grief, the more I think it spirals out of your control. You can't control it, you only get to experience it.
One of my personal goals in documenting why I left Lutheranism is not to give in to anger....
"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.
One of the most prolific arguments against praying to the saints is this idea that they are a distraction from Christ. That if we spend our time asking for the help of intercessors other than Jesus Himself, we are not putting all of our trust in Him. We are not focusing on Him. We are being distracted by lesser things. Most Protestants, in fact, seem to have this mentality that we should be in a spiritual hermitage of sorts. The only people who should be in my soul are me and Jesus.
It’s funny, when I think about it, because most of those same Protestants are totally against the idea of a physical hermitage, of isolating ourselves from others in order to seek Christ. And yet, spiritually, this is exactly what they think we should be doing. So which is it? Is isolation a good thing or is it not? It’s probably a good idea to point out here that, in Orthodoxy, novices and amateurs in monasticism are not to become he...
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.