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How an Old Person Should Ask a Young Person to Church

“…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;” 1 Peter 3:15, ESV

A lot of times when I visit a church (or sometimes at my own church), I get this eager look from old people, as if they want to cheer, “Yes, finally someone under the age of forty is showing up! All is not lost!” And just like that, those eager eyes send me running in the opposite direction (okay, not like that.)

But seriously, a large percentage of young people leave the church in their twenties, and since I am still in my twenties and have gone to church consistently throughout the last ten years of my life, let me give some advice to the AARP crowd about how to talk to Gen-Y about church.

First, listen to where they are in their lives. Young people get a lot of messages from the culture about what the church is, and have a lot of things vying for their time. Let them give voice to some of them before you offer yours.And know that, of all the options that they have, you have one that speaks of true life and salvation, so…

Go to them in hope and optimism. As I alluded to before, if you come off as eager, you’ll just look desperate. If you say “What are you looking for in a church?”, it puts the onus on them. They may not even be looking for a church or want anything to do with a church, and will look at you as if you are coming to them to fulfill a need. Instead, talk to what knowing God in this place has meant to your life, and how the ancillary support system has helped you.

Speak in humility and have a message about how God has called you. They will expect you to preach at them, so make sure to make it personal when you talk about your relationship with God and His church on earth. Remember, they can listen to any message that they want to hear. You need to give them a reason to listen to yours.

And make sure you have a message that has theological content, albeit basic. Most young people won’t go to church just for the sake of going, so talk about your specific beliefs and about how Christ comes to you in His word and sacrament.

Do all of this in confidence, because it’s God’s work. Our socially liberal culture may seem appealing and act as if the church will eventually die out, but the peace that passes all understanding only comes through Christ. Churches may rise and fall, but God sustains them all.

Our culture preaches a message that accepts the breakdown of the family in all areas: divorce, premarital sex, living together without marriage (for many, many years even), and homosexual relationships. Many young people simply accept that a lifelong marriage is an unrealistic goal. This contemporary world is very similar to the one Jesus sent His apostles into to preach the good news and offer an alternative to the pagan lifestyle of the day. That is what you and the church have to offer Gen Y, thanks be to God.

Where I watch the sermon from when I'm on Worship Committee Duty

The Lord’s House, not ours

Issues Etc. Vidcasts: Liturgy and American Revivalism

Driving across Wisconsin and Iowa, while exhausting and tiring, was a great time to get caught up on some Issues, Etc. podcasts that had been piling up. Issues, Etc. works great on the road espescially when you have series, which thanks to Pastor Will Weedon, I did.

I’d referenced this before, but I wanted to mention again how great Dr. Larry Rast’s podcast on American Revivalism is. It goes a long way to showing how dangerous emotion-driven Christianity and the idea of “new measures” are. Dr. Rast, I hope you write a book on this.

Acts 2 has to be the most-abused chapter in all of Scripture. The feminists use it to justify woman pastors, the non-dems use it to justify throwing out the liturgy, and the real extremists use it to justify universal redemption.

Vocation of Writer/Artist

I have a conflict within my vocation as an aspiring writer/artist becomes. As an aspiring artist, it is my duty to follow my heart every day, but as a Lutheran Christian, following my heart causes me grave concern. I have to give into time of free head-space and wandering thoughts, but wandering thoughts in many instances causes me to turn to places I know I shouldn’t go. It is in those moments, I have to run back to the words and sacrament, remember why my Lord and Savior has called me to this life.

In many ways, it leads me on a course where it would be natural to despise God’s Word. The path of an artist is one of finding what is new. Read as many books as you can, listen to every kind of music, travel, met new people, have new experiences.The nature of God’s Word is to read it over and over, keep its sayings close, and there are times when I open it up and find myself bored with it after five seconds. (Previous forlornings on not knowing the scriptures.)

As an artist, you have to accept things as they are. If you can’t photograph a certain barn on the road without power lines getting in the way, then you have incorporate the lines into the photo in the best way. As a writer, you have to find the best way to express yourself. But as a Christian, you have to know that “all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.” (1 Corinthians 10:23). While emotions aren’t wrong, using them as your only guide in life is.

Even as artists, you do have to make judgments about how you present your work. You have to decide what to edit and what to go with, and how to tweak your photos on the computer. There are some directions that an artists just shouldn’t go: even though the nude form is good, not every presentation of it is appropriate. You find a way to express yourself, but if others don’t find it meaningful, then what good is it?

But God is the ultimate authority on what is good, not man. It is He who sends rain on the good and the bad, and this is His creation. I just express it to his glory, Amen.

Isaiah’s Vineyard Prepares the Way

Personally, I’m not enamored with sermon illustrations.  If they go on too long, my mind wander. To me, a good sermon analogy is short, to the point, and leaves you thinking about the significant point of the passage.

But Jesus used parables a lot, and so did the prophets. Isaiah 5:1-7 contains one such parable, that of a vineyard. It bears a stark resemblance to two of Jesus’ parables in the new Testament., and in it, we see how Jesus’ interpretation of the Law and the Prophets set him apart from the Sadduccees and their clinging to the Torah over the prophets.

First, Isaiah’s words. He set up the scene: Israel is God’s vineyard, and the vineyard has produced “wild grapes” (meaning sour). God planted and fertilized his vineyard (the book of the law and the prophets), and there is no excuse for Israel’s lack of production. Therefore, here is God’s judgment on the vineyard: “It shall be devoured.” (v. 5), and not just devoured, but driven off the map. “I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.” (v. 6) This language is mirrored in the end of the chapter, where Isaiah describes the coming

Compare this statement of judgment on the unfaithful to Luke 13:6-9, where Jesus tell the parable of the barren fig tree. The planter of a fig tree comes to the servant and tells him to cut down the unproductive vine, but the servant asks his master to wait another year. The difference from Isaiah is clear.: in Isaiah, God has had enough of Israel’s sin, and he is sending this generation to judgment. In Luke, the servant intercedes for the tree, and there is another chance, although judgment is not off the horizon. The servant represents Christ, who intercedes for us now,  and in some sense, our pastors and other leaders who intercede for Christians.

The other similar parable is the one of the wicked tenants in Luke 20:9-18. In this parable, Jesus uses the same set up, although the owner in His parable doesn’t get the return on his investment in the vineyard just because there wasn’t a crop. The owner of vineyard (God) doesn’t get a return on his investment because of wicked tenants (the Jewish religious leaders) beat every messenger (prophet) that the owner sends, and then they kill the son of the owner, Jesus. But both stories have the same ending: judgment on the vineyard. It is no wonder that the Jews wanted to seize Jesus after he told this parable; Jesus could not have made their unfaithfulness so clear, and unfortunately, they continued to seek refuge in their own works.

What does this show us about the importance of parables? It shows us that God does not exist only in the regulations of the law, although we would be foolish to deny that God speaks there. But God’s word speaks to us as we go about our lives every day,  in the field, in the office, or on the road, and we would be foolish to think our actions are without consequences.

So, here is the meaning of this passage: God’s word is to produce fruit in us, and just reading it isn’t enough. Even unbelievers who deny the truth read the Scriptures with vigor to disprove its truth. We must purge our hearts of our unclean thoughts and works, so that God’s word may take its free course in us, because ultimately, we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to our own salvation.

(All Scripture quote from ESV)

(More Isaiah studies)

Isaiah 2-4: God’s Mercy Throughout (Part 3)

(All scripture quotes from ESV)

I had an odd experience in preparing my study for Isaiah 2-4. I read the text, the notes, and the commentary, but the most I learned about it when was I listened to Isaiah 2-4 online. As I heard Isaiah’s sermon flow together, I realized how little I’d learned about reading everyone else’s thoughts on it.

After Isaiah’s firey first chapter, the prophet then continues to deal with his main theme: Israel has transgressed against her maker and is deserving of condemnation. There is a perfect kingdom to come, so this transgressed one must be judged. God wants all men to be saved, but that requires judgment.

The structure of the three chapters is very straightforward: God’s perfect kingdom (2:1-5), the judgment at the end of times (2:6-22), the present judgment on Judah (3:1-4:1), and again, the glorified branch of the Lord (4:2-6). As I wrote in an earlier post, I struggle greatly with the structure that Isaiah uses: visions of God’s perfect kingdom, followed by decries of judgment. But God always gives us hope in the midst of sufferings, for we are never completely free of sufferings, even if it appears this way.

Isaiah 2:2 begins with a familiar phrase: “in the latter days”. Joel will use this latter on, in the passage Peter quotes in his sermon to the Jews on Pentecost in Acts 2. This is definitely a phrase that means “after the end of this world, when God has established his kingdom on earth. In 2:5, Isaiah calls Judah to “walk in the light of the Lord”. This concludes His calling the church from all nations to come to mount Zion, but it also serves as a transition to the section on judgment. When the Judah Isaiah was calling comes into the light, their sin is exposed.

Isaiah’s proclamation of the final judgment juxtapositions two things: God’s glory in judgment, and man’s helplessness before God in the face of that judgment. Israel has used its worldly standards for its society and has put its trust in material things, and above all its riches. But when God comes in his might, man will flee in fear and try to hide, just as Adam and Eve tried to hide in the garden and Israel hid before God’s face when he came down at Mount Sinai. The temptation Israel gave into was to think they were doing well. And that is one of the hallmarks of wealthy people: they see all their wealth, and to a certain degree, they are delusion because they had to break so many rules to get that wealth. But what does God say? “Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” (v. 22)

Too often, we need to be reminded that God’s judgment also means wrath as well as salvation. Many of the modern praise songs say “Mighty, mighty, mighty”, but God has said he will judge the unbelievers. In the Te Deum, we sing with the cherubims, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Sabbath” but those words can only be sung in joy after we recount Christ’s work for us in the later verses.

Then Isaiah moves to the present (chapter 3): just as Judah will be judged on the last day with all people, so they will be judged here and now for their sins. Because of their confidence in their possession,  poverty will grip the nation. This will come through one form: a lack of leadership (v. 4, 12), which will be passed down to the people as they will have no one who will be able for households.

As in Isaiah 1:9, the prophet once again compares Judah to the city Lot fled “they proclaim their sin like Sodom” (v. 9). This comparison is to show the depth of Judah’s falling: “they do not hide (their sin) Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves.” (v. 9b) This corruption lies in the mind, because Israel has believed that their living it up on the wealth of the land and burning incense in the high places is the right way of living.

But, after Isaiah speaks of “seven women shall take hold of one man” (4:1), he then again goes back “in that day” (v. 2) “The branch of the Lord” is indeed Christ, the branch of David. As in 1:18, Isaiah speaks of God washing us (v. 4), and God creating a pure Israel, and the language of verse 5 (“a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night”) is reminiscent of God leading Israel in the dessert.

God has a blessed plan for people: even though we may sin in this life and run far from His mercy, God will discipline us when we do, so that we see the folly in trusting in the things of this life. And He will establish a Kingdom beyond this, which is what Jesus came to proclaim. Thanks be to him!

Reopening Walther’s Law and Gospel: Being Mastered by the Scriptures

I first read C.F.W. Walther’s Law and Gospel the summer between junior and senior of college. The book was compilation of evening lectures that Walther gave to seminary student about good preaching: setting for the Law, God’s judgment on sin, and the Gospel, God’s grace for the repentant sinner. I was stuck by Walther’s precision as he went though his points and carefully set forth the truth of the gospel. It was a great time in my life to have such a reading, as I going to chapel every day, which allowed my to apply Walther’s guidelines to the sermon of the day. Not that I was trying to be negative; preaching should be scrutinized closely. Since then, Walther’s lectures always hang out in the back of my mind, and as I now have been preparing a Bible study on Isaiah, I decided to reopen the book.

Thumbing through it, the first thing that I noticed is that Walther devoted the most time to (six lectures) was the problem of repentant sinners being directed to their own piety for their salvation. It is no wonder that Walther would be so fixated on the issues of piety. While Islam and Deism presented not-so-subtle conflicts with Christianity, the Pietists sought to turn people to their own thoughts, prayers, and works. Granted, we may have a high points in our faith, but those high points should not define us. Christ crucified for sinners should defined us.

Walther’s first example in how to switch cleanly between Law and Gospel uses Peter’s sermon in Acts 2. When Peter drives his hearers to sorrow over their sins and “they were cut to the heart” (v. 37 ESV), he doesn’t give them anything to do. Peter tells them “Repent (to Walther, this means to have faith) and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (v. 38). Peter commends these sinners to Christ’s work on their behalf.

The part of Law and Gospel preaching I struggle with as I read this is the sudden change in voice in the text, or in a sermon. It’s like a movie with a huge twist ten minutes before the end: I’m being told that I’m terrible, and I can feel that guilt and conviction. But then all of sudden, God swoops in and says, “You’re forgiven.” This also happens when I’m reading the Bible, as I am doing right now for my Isaiah study. The prophet will shift gears so quickly-going from seven women claiming one man as their husband, then shifting to the grandeur of the coming kingdom of the Lord. (Is. 4:1-2). I find this confounding, and sometimes, I feel like I’m getting a mixed message.

But who am I to question how my Lord should come to me? He comes to us in the middle of a world that I broken and hurting and proclaims radical grace. The devil tempts us to sin and tells us, revel in the evil like the world does. It’s easy, all you have to do is feel sorry for yourself. But that is what makes the Gospel a stumbling block: it goes against what our nature wants. And what makes the Gospel so amazing is that it can surprise after we have found ourselves trapping in our sin and even mourning it, and from there, it lifts us up.

The main point about Law and Gospel that stuck with me was that God is always dealing with us, whether that is through correction or through encouragement. The key to understanding that, as Walther says in his first thesis, is experience, and that God works through every experience we have. That is the greatest comfort of this understanding of scripture.

Young Man in an Old Man’s Church

With my service the worship committee and with the tape ministry, I’m always getting to church twenty to thirty minutes before service. Usually, about that time, there are a couple of older ladies running around doing stuff, and every once in a while, they will say something about how great it is that I’m very involved at St. John, and I always nod and say how happy I am to be there. Funny thing is, whenever I try and start to have a conversation with them about theological issues, I’m speaking a language they don’t understand.

This is an odd generational gap I find myself with the older saints of the congregation-while I  don’t doubt their faith’s sincerity, they grew up in a generation were in Lutherans were Lutherans, Roman Catholics were Roman Catholics, Methodists were Methodists, etc, etc. They just believed what the church taught them and that was that. Meanwhile, I was homeschooled, and all the kids I grew up with went to different churches, and many of my Lutheran friends have ended up in other churches. So I find myself having to work out what I believe.

The older generations grew up in a different society, and in many cases, they had stronger families and better churches, which was a great blessing from God. But then the social upheaval of the sixties and seventies finally started to penetrate the Midwest, and they’ve left scars on my generation I doubt we will recover from. Sometimes, I look at my elders and think they had it lucky, other times I wonder if I will be any different when I am their age, trying to hold on to an old way of thinking while a brave new world transforms around me every day.

The hallmark of this is the problem that exists in the LCMS-we don’t know how to discuss our differences productively, in a way that works toward an out-cause. Instead, each of us focuses on our own churches, and uses their model to justify practice. I don’t know why we can’t come together, state our practices and beliefs, listen to each other, and try to understand.

But now, God has blessed me with preparing a Bible study for the young adults of St. John, and looking at Isaiah has helped me to consider how I relate to my peers. God’s prophet proclaims to a generation that is 200 years set apart from the great king David, the coming judgment for sin and the continual need for a savior. This is the kind of study I need, to understand how God spoke to a people at a particular time to see how He speaks to us now, just as he did in the pas.

It is the return to the Scriptures that can help the LCMS find new ground. Maybe, thirty years from now, we’ll be a Synod that at least knows where it has to go and respects each other a little better, but that can only happen, if one, we return to the Scriptures, and two, if we head God’s call to proclaim the Gospel and live his truth in love.

Singing A Capella: Growing the Liturgy into Every Day Life

On a Sunday this past year when I was sitting in the congregation at St. John (a rarity-half the time I’m either in the back for worship committee or in the choir loft to record the service) as we began to sing the Te Deum in the latter half of Matins. I have loved the Te Deum since I was a kid, because of how it puts the creed so simply. We began to sing it, and then Paul Soulek, St. John’s fearless organist, stopped playing the organ during the fifth stanza, and that left the congregation sinking A Capella. I don’t mind that once in a while, but this time, Paul didn’t pick up the music until after there was key change from verse six to seven. I sang Matins in college every other day, and I missed that key change, as did most of the congregation.

Another time last fall, Paul again stopped playing during the middle of the Te Deum, although he picked up before the key change. But when he stopped, I lost confidence in what I was singing, worrying that I would miss the key change and ruining the song for me. I made it a point to talk with Paul about it.

Paul brought a surprising perspective to my inquiry: he said that one of his goals as our church music director was to get our congregation to sing on its own without the organ. He played the song again for me, and I did think that people lost confidence when he stopped playing. But I appreciated what Paul was saying: the more congregation sings A Capella, the more natural it becomes. Paul said that congregations that don’t have an organist would be very well off if they were able to sing A Capella, and I suppose he’s right.

As I said before, I went to morning and evening prayer office almost every day in college, and many times, we sang or chanted A Capella. It was challenging at first, but after I learned it, I was able to sing well enough. Chanting and singing liturgy isn’t easy, and I don’t think it’s supposed to be. When we sing in church, it is for the purpose of repeating and retaining Christ’s words to us, and it should challenge us. Apparently, I fell into the same trap that modern evangelicals do when it comes to church music. #thatoblivious

So now, whenever Paul stops playing and let’s the congregation sing, I remember of how important it is. And recently I have noticed that the congregation doesn’t loose confidence when Paul stops during the Te Deum, which is a great sign of growth. Thanks be to God.

More ACELC Wrapup: Close Communion, and How to Teach the Truth in Love

The one subject at the ACELC conference that sparked the biggest response from my brain was Professor John Pless’ assignment that he gave to his students at the seminary of amending a bad communion statement. It read like this “All baptized Christians who confess Jesus Christ as their Savior, examine themselves and repent of their sins, and believe that Christ is really present in Holy Communion are invited to receive the Lord’s Supper with us.” The first thing I recognized about this statement was that it put all the onus on the individual who was reading it to make sure that he or she was prepared to receive Communion, and allowed the pastor and congregation to run and hide. Many partially-educated Christians could read it and obliviously take the sacrament; good thing the church washed its hands of the matter.

Close communion can be an iron door in the face of a visitor, a relative or a friend who walks into your standard LCMS church. Non-member walks in and hears he can’t take communion? Visitors always take communion at my church. Professor Pless pointed that, it’s even harder for an ELCA member to understand why he or she can’t take communion in an LCMS church, since both bear the name Lutheran. But this situation doesn’t have to be a negative-in the grander scheme of things, close communion gives a great opportunity for a congregation to one, greet its visitors, and two, explain to them what they believe and, most importantly, listen to them about what kind of background they come from.

Many times, I have visited LCMS churches that use contemporary worship and haven’t been acknowledged; they have that vague closed communion statement in their bulletin. When I go to churches that a point of asking visitors what they believe about the sacrament, there’s always an additional conversation about where I go to church and my beliefs, and I have never left not feeling welcome. Of course, I have always been admitted to communion in those churches, so I don’t know how they would handle the member of another church body.

The responsibility of close communion is one that lies, not just with the pastor, but with the elders and congregations. At this conference, a number of pastors talked about how tough it is to have a conversation with a visitor, three minutes before a service starts, or even at the communion rail.  This is a place where the greeters and elders can be at a door and talk to guests and say, welcome to our church, and ask them about their church background, and direct them to the pastor if they wish to take communion. Granted, the words need to be said with care, and the congregation needs to have members and elders who are mature enough to speak them.

But back to the language of the closed communion statement. First, I would recognize the universal truth: that Holy Communion is God’s gift to the church, and His Church should administer it rightly, as it is a privilege. Because believers are making a statement that they are united in belief at Christ’s altar, only believers of the same confession should come to the same altar, and for that reason, visitors should speak with the pastor about communing.

And LCMS members, let’s consider the conscious of our fellow pastors and congregations, and be proactive when we visit them. Sending an e-mail or other communication to a pastor to let him know that we will be at his church ahead of time lets pastors eliminates surprises for pastors five minutes before a service starts.

I have had the closed communion conversation with a friend before we attended an LCMS church; this friend is an evangelical, and he understood. I simply said that our church respected other church bodies, but that kept our rails closed because we didn’t want to judge others. Thankfully, we have built an understanding over the years, and that made it easier.

But still, that leaves the ELCA question, and there really isn’t a good answer for it, in spite of the fact that now days, the ELCA has more in common with the Presbyterians and Methodists. Over the course of a relationship, this can be an opportunity to show how the ELCA and LCMS have gone their separate ways (espescially on women’s ordination and gay marriage), but ultimately, this leads to the reality that closed communion simply is a hard teaching. But maybe it’s supposed to be hard. Maybe God gave us this gift of closed communion so that we would know how precious His forgiveness is, and treasure it in our hearts. Thanks be to God.

ACELC Conferece: Time for Me to Get Over It

This next week, I will be attending a theological conference as a participant for the first time in a while. I had been monitoring the site Brothers of John the Steadfast looking for upcoming conference, and there happens to be one in Lincoln. It is the conference of the Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations, focusing on the Lord’s Supper and hosted by Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. But that’s not what hooked me into going into this conference.

For the last few years, I have been running away from church conferences and theological discussion. At a church conference a number of years ago, I had a falling out with some of my college friends, so church conferences have been a sore spot for me. But this summer, I helped with a music/liturgy conference that St. John in Seward hosted (Sign His Praise, His Love Declare), and I realized, one, I was burying these feeling of anger and resentment, and two, conferences address issues that are more important than any resentments I have against people who shouldn’t be dignified that way.

So I am going to this conference at Good Shepherd, mainly because as an educated layperson, I care about what our Synod believes, and I also care about where we’re going. We are Synod that keeps get ourselves in fights (see ULC at the University of Minnesota), and I want to be a part of the out-cause by developing relationships with our pastors and lay people in our Synod, so that I can understand their concerns and goals. And yes, I do plan on taking notes at the conference and expect regular updates next week on this blog. If anything comes out of the conference, I hope that you, my dear readers, will be refreshed by the notes that I post on this blog.

The Bad Luther Sermon: Please, just Tell us he Whiffed on the Lord’s Supper

I heard about a sermon Martin Luther one time when I attended a large non-denominational church. The sermon series was on figures in Christian history, and I was intrigued to see how Luther would be portrayed. The preacher did teach history at a local college, but wasn’t Lutheran himself. It seemed important to him to distance himself from what Lutherans believe. (Thanks, ELCA).

The sermon focused solely on Luther’s spiritual journey to grace by faith, with a few easy jabs at Rome along the way. The preacher highlighted Luther’s struggle with the concept of God’s righteousness, but concluded that it was some kind of “enlightenment” on the part of Luther himself. Nothing more after that. It was the typically evangelical mantra: if you just believe, you’re saved. Who cares about the rest of what Luther said and did.

Yes, Luther’s story of spiritual struggle and finding comfort in God’s unlimited, abounding mercy is universal, and a lot of why he’s so appealing five hundred years later. But too often, I find that the non-dems championed Luther’s spiritual journey and ignoring his theology. Dr. Larry Rast said in an Issues Etc. interview comparing Confessional Lutheranism and American “Evangelicalism”, the Pietists who followed Luther by a few hundred years said he didn’t go far enough. It is easy enough to believe: Luther, in his time, did try for a while to just reform the Catholic Church, which is admirable. Now that that bridge is burned, why not do what you should have been doing all along?

What I really wish that the non-dems would do is dig more into how the Lutheran documents of the reformation, and how the Lutherans sought to connect themselves to the historic church practice. The revivalists of the early 1800’s and their descendants the non-dems have sought a theology of ongoing revelation and enlightenment appeal, focused only on the now. So what if the early church celebrated the sacrament every day in

Granted, non-demism doesn’t go down the road of Mormonism’s more radical teachings, but it is a movement that seeks to cater to the culture and the now. When you study the early history of Christianity, you see Christians fighting with vigor to clarify their teaching and draft creeds and statements, even in the face of persecution. Now, we have Rick Warren calling for a reformation of “deeds not creeds”. Creeds are divisive, the non-dems tell us. If we can just agree on salvation through Christ, then it doesn’t matter what we believe.

But that’s not it. The migration of the mainline protestants into a more liberal agenda proves that.

If there’s one thing I wish non-dems would do differently about their approach to Luther, it’s that they would honest about our differences. A couple of years ago, when I was at theological symposium at Concordia Theological Seminary, a non-dem professor was going up to speak about the third use of the law in the church. He began his lecture by speaking glowingly about Luther, but in the end, many of the other people there ended up mocking him, for not being honest about the differences between Luther and Calvin at the time of the reformation. And it didn’t help that his talk wasn’t very good either.

So I have this to ask the non-dems: please just be honest about your differences with Lutherans. Don’t try to just hold Luther up as this shining example. Tell us what you really think about his position on the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, and all those things. Do it respectfully, and I’ll have more respect for you.

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