Presentation of the Augsburg Confession of Faith c. June 25th, 1530

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sermon - "The Lord is YOUR Shepherd" - Easter IV (Series C, Revised)

Sermon Text - Psalm 23: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

A number of years ago, a member of a congregation died. As was customary in this particular church, after the service was over, the preacher asked if anyone would like to say something. At first it was the normal stuff – grandchildren talked about what a loving person this man was. Friends attested to his faith and brought even more comfort that because of Jesus, the man was now in heaven. And to close all this, two men stepped forward, and they could not have been more opposite. The first was a twenty-seven year old man, a business professional, decked out in a fancy suit. The man who had died was the first to go out of his way to welcome him into the congregation. The businessman had an impressing speaking voice and a presence so powerful that when he entered the room, you knew it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

21st Century Lutheranism - Part 2: The Main Challenges

Without a doubt, the most serious challenge facing Lutheranism as a whole is whether doctrine will even be important enough that there will be any serious doctrinal controversies. The ELCA merger was consummated with very little doctrinal discussion. The LWF agreement with Rome on justification didn’t cause much of a stir within the member bodies. Pluralism is the rule of the day. Most individuals are “church shoppers” who display little “denominational loyalty,” that is, little knowledge of or commitment to doctrine. Morality is adrift in a sea of relativism. Modernists could still ask Pilate’s cynical question, “What is truth?” Post-modernists are identified not by a question but by a statement, “There is no truth.”

21st Century Lutheranism - Part 1: How Did We Get into This Mess?

Surveying the current state of affairs that we as Lutherans in America face, it is not a pretty picture. Those of us who consider ourselves Confessional Lutherans have many challenges ahead of us, regardless of which synod we make our home in. It is easy for us to look out onto the evangelical landscape of America and criticize that which we see. Pop psychology, vacuous forms of worship, and the obliteration of the gospel of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone dominate the church. Yes, all of these accusations of American Christianity are true. However, they are now true of us, as well. Whether LCMS, WELS, or ELS, the effects of American Christianity have invaded our synods and have devastated all that is true of our beloved Lutheran Confessions, both in doctrine and in practice. In my own synod, the WELS, the effects of the church growth movement have been particularly insidious. We are only now just starting to combat it.

In order for us to move forward, however, we must also look backward, and see what events in our history have led to the current climate.