Lutheranism is not just for Lutherans anymore

Anthony Sacramone at Strange Herring tells about some Anglicans who are discovering Luther and confessional Lutheran theology. He points to a related Anglican recommended book blog that consists largely of Lutheran titles! That list, by the way, which includes quotations from each book, constitutes an outstanding reading guide to some of the best of contemporary Lutheran theology.

(Has anyone read Oswald Bayer? He sounds worth reading.)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Andy

    Bayer is great reading, though at times difficult reading. Professor Pless often refers to, or recommends his writings.

  • Andy

    Bayer is great reading, though at times difficult reading. Professor Pless often refers to, or recommends his writings.

  • Rose

    Lutherans need to market their theology. Many laypeople are looking for a biblical theology in a liturgical setting. Recently, a radio caller asked Dr. Laura for an alternative to Catholic schools and she recommended Episcopal as being conservative. So there are many false perceptions out there.

  • Rose

    Lutherans need to market their theology. Many laypeople are looking for a biblical theology in a liturgical setting. Recently, a radio caller asked Dr. Laura for an alternative to Catholic schools and she recommended Episcopal as being conservative. So there are many false perceptions out there.

  • http://theupwardcall.blogspot.com Kim in On

    I attend an “evangelical” church, and I can attest to how much Lutheran theology has helped me. Sometimes, our typical evangelical churches are a bit of a theological wasteland… lots of “experience” but lacking in doctrinal grounding.

  • http://theupwardcall.blogspot.com Kim in On

    I attend an “evangelical” church, and I can attest to how much Lutheran theology has helped me. Sometimes, our typical evangelical churches are a bit of a theological wasteland… lots of “experience” but lacking in doctrinal grounding.

  • Nemo

    It should come as no surprise that Luther is widely respected outside of Lutheran circles (and sometimes referenced more than inside them)—he was, after all, a rather influential reformer. However, outside of Lutheran circles, respect for an author doesn’t equate to agreeing with him on everything. Rather, since he’s not considered the end-all of any question, it is safe to read, consider, and then agree/disagree with him. (E.g. I just cited both Catholic and Lutheran resources on natural law in another post, but that doesn’t make me either Catholic or Lutheran.)

    A better post title would be “Luther is not just for Lutherans anymore.” But then he never was.

  • Nemo

    It should come as no surprise that Luther is widely respected outside of Lutheran circles (and sometimes referenced more than inside them)—he was, after all, a rather influential reformer. However, outside of Lutheran circles, respect for an author doesn’t equate to agreeing with him on everything. Rather, since he’s not considered the end-all of any question, it is safe to read, consider, and then agree/disagree with him. (E.g. I just cited both Catholic and Lutheran resources on natural law in another post, but that doesn’t make me either Catholic or Lutheran.)

    A better post title would be “Luther is not just for Lutherans anymore.” But then he never was.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I like a blog that recommends not just one Giertz book, but two! But then again I’m a little biased in that.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I like a blog that recommends not just one Giertz book, but two! But then again I’m a little biased in that.

  • Ryan

    Sadly in the last decade or so Lutherans flee from Luther in hopes of looking evangelical just when people are looking for what Lutherans and Luther offers. The deal killers I find when people look at the LCMS specifically is infant baptism and closed communion.

    I have always thought that conservative Anglicans are in many ways closest to Lutherans, many of their first fathers were of that persuasion (Cranmner and Coverdale come to mind – and the whole crowd at the White Horse Inn)

  • Ryan

    Sadly in the last decade or so Lutherans flee from Luther in hopes of looking evangelical just when people are looking for what Lutherans and Luther offers. The deal killers I find when people look at the LCMS specifically is infant baptism and closed communion.

    I have always thought that conservative Anglicans are in many ways closest to Lutherans, many of their first fathers were of that persuasion (Cranmner and Coverdale come to mind – and the whole crowd at the White Horse Inn)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Not sure I follow you Ryan.
    But yes people would love to be Lutheran if we would just give up what it means to be Lutheran. What Luther has to offer is at its finest infant baptism, and reason for closed communion (like there is actually something happening there.)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Not sure I follow you Ryan.
    But yes people would love to be Lutheran if we would just give up what it means to be Lutheran. What Luther has to offer is at its finest infant baptism, and reason for closed communion (like there is actually something happening there.)

  • Steve in Toronto

    This is one Anglican who loves Luther and Lutheranism. In fact I have given Bo Giertz’s The Hammer of God to 3 different young Anglican Priests in the last year. In fact I would spend a lot more time in Lutheran Churches if you ”confessional types” would let me and my family communion with you.

    God Bless
    Steve in Toronto

  • Steve in Toronto

    This is one Anglican who loves Luther and Lutheranism. In fact I have given Bo Giertz’s The Hammer of God to 3 different young Anglican Priests in the last year. In fact I would spend a lot more time in Lutheran Churches if you ”confessional types” would let me and my family communion with you.

    God Bless
    Steve in Toronto

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Steve,
    All we ask is that you take a class, and become Lutheran and therefore not Anglican, before you commune with us.
    Paul does admonish us to be of one mind and spirit together. If you believe as a Lutheran why do you continue to worship as an Anglican?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Steve,
    All we ask is that you take a class, and become Lutheran and therefore not Anglican, before you commune with us.
    Paul does admonish us to be of one mind and spirit together. If you believe as a Lutheran why do you continue to worship as an Anglican?

  • Joe

    Nemo – Outside of Luther’s writtings that are included in the Book of Concord, Lutherans are free to disagree with Luther. It is just that he is right so often that we don’t. ;)

  • Joe

    Nemo – Outside of Luther’s writtings that are included in the Book of Concord, Lutherans are free to disagree with Luther. It is just that he is right so often that we don’t. ;)

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Bror
    I don’t know if I “believe as a Lutheran “any more than I would say that I “believe as an Anglican (what ever that means)” but I love the clear way Luther articulates the Gospel. However the sad fact is that I still harbor a great deal of theological agnosticism. My continued (apt reluctant) allegiance to the Canadian Anglican Church is based on three factors. 1) The deep conviction that communion should be open to all baptized Christians (the members of the “one holy Catholic and apostolic church). 2) A love of traditional worship and liturgy i.e. communion every Sunday, tradition hymnody, singing the psalms and lots of the actual word of God read (not just a few verses, whole chapters old and new testament) the ancient ecumenical Creeds ect. (our very old school parish even has a canter!) 3) A belief that when possible christens should worship in their local communitys (my Church is a 5 minute walk from my house the nearest confessional Lutheran congregation is an 1 ½ hour drive away. I also like the fact that Anglicans although they are typical very theologically sophisticated (sadly less so these day than in the past) are very big on “Meer Christianity” and tend not to let secondly theological issues divide them (I grew up reformed Baptist and my early spiritual life was shaped by a bitter church split) sadly a side effect of this is that we are often too slow to condemn real heresy.

    Still as I have said on this blog before if while traveling I find my self looking for a place to worship on a Sunday morning or move to a new town I would certainly consider visiting or even becoming a member of a Lutheran congregation.

    God Bless
    Steve in Toronto

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Bror
    I don’t know if I “believe as a Lutheran “any more than I would say that I “believe as an Anglican (what ever that means)” but I love the clear way Luther articulates the Gospel. However the sad fact is that I still harbor a great deal of theological agnosticism. My continued (apt reluctant) allegiance to the Canadian Anglican Church is based on three factors. 1) The deep conviction that communion should be open to all baptized Christians (the members of the “one holy Catholic and apostolic church). 2) A love of traditional worship and liturgy i.e. communion every Sunday, tradition hymnody, singing the psalms and lots of the actual word of God read (not just a few verses, whole chapters old and new testament) the ancient ecumenical Creeds ect. (our very old school parish even has a canter!) 3) A belief that when possible christens should worship in their local communitys (my Church is a 5 minute walk from my house the nearest confessional Lutheran congregation is an 1 ½ hour drive away. I also like the fact that Anglicans although they are typical very theologically sophisticated (sadly less so these day than in the past) are very big on “Meer Christianity” and tend not to let secondly theological issues divide them (I grew up reformed Baptist and my early spiritual life was shaped by a bitter church split) sadly a side effect of this is that we are often too slow to condemn real heresy.

    Still as I have said on this blog before if while traveling I find my self looking for a place to worship on a Sunday morning or move to a new town I would certainly consider visiting or even becoming a member of a Lutheran congregation.

    God Bless
    Steve in Toronto

  • http://www.utah-Lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Steve,
    Is there ever a time that you think a baptized person should be excluded from the communion table? For say unrepentant sin?

  • http://www.utah-Lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Steve,
    Is there ever a time that you think a baptized person should be excluded from the communion table? For say unrepentant sin?

  • DonS

    The greater Protestant community was birthed by Luther and the accompanying Reformation. We all regard Luther as a spiritual father, in that sense.

  • DonS

    The greater Protestant community was birthed by Luther and the accompanying Reformation. We all regard Luther as a spiritual father, in that sense.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Rev. Erickson
    I would with out reservation deny the cup to a heretic (that why you have to say the creed before you can receive), “Unrepentant sin” is tricky when I hear this expression It usually means homosexuals and adulterers but not gossips or glutens. Would you commune a kid in your youth group you suspected was fooling around with his girl friend? What about file sharing illegal MP3’s? I am a divorced man who has remarried (my ex-wife left me 5 years ago). In a very real sense( I am an adulterer. I know my divorce was a sin and I have repented for it but I live openly with another woman (my current wife) and I have had a son with her and am raising another man’s two children as my own. In a very real way I continue to “live in sin”. My broken marriage as made my acutely aware of my own need for Christ’s body and blood and I would with only the greatest reluctance deny it to a fellow sinner.

    Peace
    Steve in Toronto

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Rev. Erickson
    I would with out reservation deny the cup to a heretic (that why you have to say the creed before you can receive), “Unrepentant sin” is tricky when I hear this expression It usually means homosexuals and adulterers but not gossips or glutens. Would you commune a kid in your youth group you suspected was fooling around with his girl friend? What about file sharing illegal MP3’s? I am a divorced man who has remarried (my ex-wife left me 5 years ago). In a very real sense( I am an adulterer. I know my divorce was a sin and I have repented for it but I live openly with another woman (my current wife) and I have had a son with her and am raising another man’s two children as my own. In a very real way I continue to “live in sin”. My broken marriage as made my acutely aware of my own need for Christ’s body and blood and I would with only the greatest reluctance deny it to a fellow sinner.

    Peace
    Steve in Toronto

  • kerner

    Nemo:

    Lutherans don’t have to agree with “Luther on everything”. They have to agree with the Lutheran Confessions, which are:

    1. Less that 50% written by Luther, and

    2. A very small fraction of everything on which Luther expressed an opinion. There are plenty of examples Luther’s opinions that are not part of the confessions and are not endorsed by Lutherans.

    Steven and Bror:

    I hate to break ranks, but I think Bror should give Steve and family communion if they should ever swerve through Utah, provided that Steve and family:

    1. Are baptized Christians,

    2. Repent of and confess their sins and seek forgiveness of them through the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

    I think that forgivness of sins is the primary purpose of Holy Communion. I cannot think of any good reason to withhold forgiveness of sins from a repentant Christian. I realize that a secondary purpose for communion is to demonstrate unity, but I do not see how that passage can be interpreted to mean unity on every single significant doctrinal point. Rather, it seems a lot more likely to me that it means the unity that all Christians share as members of the body of Christ.

    Finally, I think that if Steve, a repentant Christian seeking forgiveness, comes to Bror’s church for that forgiveness, then Steve is indicating approval of Bror’s position, rather than Bror indicating approval of Steve’s.

    But hey, that’s just me.

  • kerner

    Nemo:

    Lutherans don’t have to agree with “Luther on everything”. They have to agree with the Lutheran Confessions, which are:

    1. Less that 50% written by Luther, and

    2. A very small fraction of everything on which Luther expressed an opinion. There are plenty of examples Luther’s opinions that are not part of the confessions and are not endorsed by Lutherans.

    Steven and Bror:

    I hate to break ranks, but I think Bror should give Steve and family communion if they should ever swerve through Utah, provided that Steve and family:

    1. Are baptized Christians,

    2. Repent of and confess their sins and seek forgiveness of them through the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

    I think that forgivness of sins is the primary purpose of Holy Communion. I cannot think of any good reason to withhold forgiveness of sins from a repentant Christian. I realize that a secondary purpose for communion is to demonstrate unity, but I do not see how that passage can be interpreted to mean unity on every single significant doctrinal point. Rather, it seems a lot more likely to me that it means the unity that all Christians share as members of the body of Christ.

    Finally, I think that if Steve, a repentant Christian seeking forgiveness, comes to Bror’s church for that forgiveness, then Steve is indicating approval of Bror’s position, rather than Bror indicating approval of Steve’s.

    But hey, that’s just me.

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    What I find so attractive about the BoC and Lutheran theology generally is its sacramental theology. This is a supreme biblical strength of the LCMS/LCC and all confessional Lutheran churches and it should be shouted from the rooftops. You Lutherans have a huge evangelical edge precisely in your sacramental theology and your liturgical services and hymnody/chanting.
    If I could join an LCC I would. Tomorrow.
    What I find questionable is the use of an altar….
    CL

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    What I find so attractive about the BoC and Lutheran theology generally is its sacramental theology. This is a supreme biblical strength of the LCMS/LCC and all confessional Lutheran churches and it should be shouted from the rooftops. You Lutherans have a huge evangelical edge precisely in your sacramental theology and your liturgical services and hymnody/chanting.
    If I could join an LCC I would. Tomorrow.
    What I find questionable is the use of an altar….
    CL

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Really, Crypto? Is that all?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Really, Crypto? Is that all?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    What’s striking in that Anglican book list is that it’s not just referencing Luther. It’s recommending Lutheran theologians and confessional apologists: Giertz, Bayer, Forde, Pless, Senkbeil, Rosenbladt, and more.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    What’s striking in that Anglican book list is that it’s not just referencing Luther. It’s recommending Lutheran theologians and confessional apologists: Giertz, Bayer, Forde, Pless, Senkbeil, Rosenbladt, and more.

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Yes, Dr. Veith, that’s all. Just the altar. I have yet to hear a biblical defense for the consecration of the elements of the Lord’s Supper into Christ’s body and blood on an OT altar of sacrifice.
    But I would subscribe to the BOC tomorrow. Why does that sound so unbelievable?
    crypto-LUTHERAN

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Yes, Dr. Veith, that’s all. Just the altar. I have yet to hear a biblical defense for the consecration of the elements of the Lord’s Supper into Christ’s body and blood on an OT altar of sacrifice.
    But I would subscribe to the BOC tomorrow. Why does that sound so unbelievable?
    crypto-LUTHERAN

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    It’s not so unbelievable. It’s just that “altar” vs. “table” has always been considered adiaphora. It doesn’t matter what item of furniture holds the Lord’s Supper. (Our congregation holds its services in a Seventh Day Adventist building, so we have a table. Another congregation we belonged to had a huge concrete cube, like an altar, but it was on four legs, like a table.

    The point, though, is that this is NOT an Old Testament altar of sacrifice. Notice that our ministers are not called “priests” (one who offers a sacrifice) but “pastors” (one who shepherds Christ’s flock). There IS a priesthood of all believers which is fulfilled in the doctrine of vocation, as we “present our bodies as a living sacrifice” in self-denying love and service to our neighbor.

    Christ is the wholly sufficient and once-for-all sacrifice for sins. HE is our altar. More specifically, the Cross is our altar. He is truly present when the elements are consecrated. And on the place where this happens, whatever you call it, stands a Cross. So we usually call that place an altar. But no one thinks of it in the Old Testament sense.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    It’s not so unbelievable. It’s just that “altar” vs. “table” has always been considered adiaphora. It doesn’t matter what item of furniture holds the Lord’s Supper. (Our congregation holds its services in a Seventh Day Adventist building, so we have a table. Another congregation we belonged to had a huge concrete cube, like an altar, but it was on four legs, like a table.

    The point, though, is that this is NOT an Old Testament altar of sacrifice. Notice that our ministers are not called “priests” (one who offers a sacrifice) but “pastors” (one who shepherds Christ’s flock). There IS a priesthood of all believers which is fulfilled in the doctrine of vocation, as we “present our bodies as a living sacrifice” in self-denying love and service to our neighbor.

    Christ is the wholly sufficient and once-for-all sacrifice for sins. HE is our altar. More specifically, the Cross is our altar. He is truly present when the elements are consecrated. And on the place where this happens, whatever you call it, stands a Cross. So we usually call that place an altar. But no one thinks of it in the Old Testament sense.

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Thank-you Dr. Veith.
    Check this out:
    http://reformationtoday.tripod.com/id16.html

    Posture is important in a Lutheran service. I like this very much. The Pastor prays facing the front; he reads the Word facing the people because his is the “viva voce”. In asking pardon he faces the front. In absolving he faces the folks – once again speaking in Christ’s stead. The sermon – again, as Christ’s rep. – he faces the people. I like this. It’s biblical. It establishes the worship service as a dialogue of sorts. God acts, we respond. As a result, the altar, both OT and NT, has a “man-Godward” function. The words of Christ in the WOI should be spoken facing the people. Since there is nothing that we offer God in the Sacrament of the Table, (see Zwingli’s error in his sacrificial supper), why is it consecrated on an altar? God feeds us with himself. A table seems highly appropriate, with chairs and a tablecloth. Seeing Luther’s very strong condemnation of the Roman sacrificial mass, I’m surprised only that the term altar was tolerated. Altars are for sacrifice. The Lord’s Supper is NOT a sacrifice, it is a source of Grace. Hence my lingering question on that small matter.
    CL

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Thank-you Dr. Veith.
    Check this out:
    http://reformationtoday.tripod.com/id16.html

    Posture is important in a Lutheran service. I like this very much. The Pastor prays facing the front; he reads the Word facing the people because his is the “viva voce”. In asking pardon he faces the front. In absolving he faces the folks – once again speaking in Christ’s stead. The sermon – again, as Christ’s rep. – he faces the people. I like this. It’s biblical. It establishes the worship service as a dialogue of sorts. God acts, we respond. As a result, the altar, both OT and NT, has a “man-Godward” function. The words of Christ in the WOI should be spoken facing the people. Since there is nothing that we offer God in the Sacrament of the Table, (see Zwingli’s error in his sacrificial supper), why is it consecrated on an altar? God feeds us with himself. A table seems highly appropriate, with chairs and a tablecloth. Seeing Luther’s very strong condemnation of the Roman sacrificial mass, I’m surprised only that the term altar was tolerated. Altars are for sacrifice. The Lord’s Supper is NOT a sacrifice, it is a source of Grace. Hence my lingering question on that small matter.
    CL

  • M. L. F. Freiberg Sr.

    VEITH wrote: “…some Anglicans who are discovering Luther and confessional Lutheran theology.” That reminded me of what Lewis W. Spitz wrote in his Our Church and Others: “King Henry VIII…had it not been for him, England might today be Lutheran.”

  • M. L. F. Freiberg Sr.

    VEITH wrote: “…some Anglicans who are discovering Luther and confessional Lutheran theology.” That reminded me of what Lewis W. Spitz wrote in his Our Church and Others: “King Henry VIII…had it not been for him, England might today be Lutheran.”

  • fws

    @21 crypto Lutheran

    in the early lutheran church the altar was pulled out from the wall and the pastor stood behind the altar facing the people. This is a great practice. but as dr vieth says, what is offered on that piece of furniture is what matters, not what it is called.

    what do you make of the new testament saying that says if you are arguing with a friend, leave your offering at the altar and go and make amends? that would seem to suggest that the early apostles and christians did not have a problem using that word for that piece of furniture.

  • fws

    @21 crypto Lutheran

    in the early lutheran church the altar was pulled out from the wall and the pastor stood behind the altar facing the people. This is a great practice. but as dr vieth says, what is offered on that piece of furniture is what matters, not what it is called.

    what do you make of the new testament saying that says if you are arguing with a friend, leave your offering at the altar and go and make amends? that would seem to suggest that the early apostles and christians did not have a problem using that word for that piece of furniture.

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Agreed, FWS. I’m familiar with Matt. 5. I did not condemn the use of an altar, for, shall we say, prayers and monetary offerings (as in Matt. 5) or anything which is truly a sacrifice. I’m wondering why, when Lutherans condemn the roman distortion of ‘Mass as Sacrifice’, they still consecrate and distribute the elements from an altar. The NT only ever mentions a table in connection with the LS. I’m not an iconoclastic altar-burner. The altar has its place; I’m wondering only about its connection with the LS, and how the Lutheran churches intend to keep this part of their doctrine pure and biblical into the future. A piece of furniture can say a lot about the means of grace. M.LUther refers to the “error of accretion” ie, how, through the layering on of church tradition over many years an error can arise in the church. He uses just this term in reference to the roman mass. I wonder if the roman LS distortion came about BECAUSE they called the “piece of furniture” an altar. After 500 years, maybe someone said, “Hey, the body and blood of Christ in the LS must be a sacrifice because the priest is performing it on an altar! And don’t you know – in the books of Kings altars are for sacrifice! Wow, this is something we offer God for our sins, just like the faithful Hezekiah!”
    ‘nuf said.
    I hope I can be corrected in my misunderstanding here. It’s not a huge deal for me, mainly a point of extreme interest.
    God bless,
    CL

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Agreed, FWS. I’m familiar with Matt. 5. I did not condemn the use of an altar, for, shall we say, prayers and monetary offerings (as in Matt. 5) or anything which is truly a sacrifice. I’m wondering why, when Lutherans condemn the roman distortion of ‘Mass as Sacrifice’, they still consecrate and distribute the elements from an altar. The NT only ever mentions a table in connection with the LS. I’m not an iconoclastic altar-burner. The altar has its place; I’m wondering only about its connection with the LS, and how the Lutheran churches intend to keep this part of their doctrine pure and biblical into the future. A piece of furniture can say a lot about the means of grace. M.LUther refers to the “error of accretion” ie, how, through the layering on of church tradition over many years an error can arise in the church. He uses just this term in reference to the roman mass. I wonder if the roman LS distortion came about BECAUSE they called the “piece of furniture” an altar. After 500 years, maybe someone said, “Hey, the body and blood of Christ in the LS must be a sacrifice because the priest is performing it on an altar! And don’t you know – in the books of Kings altars are for sacrifice! Wow, this is something we offer God for our sins, just like the faithful Hezekiah!”
    ‘nuf said.
    I hope I can be corrected in my misunderstanding here. It’s not a huge deal for me, mainly a point of extreme interest.
    God bless,
    CL

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Well, that Reformation Today article advocating a free standing altar (not up against the wall) is written by a Lutheran! In the Lutheran churches I’ve been members of, the altars have been free standing, the pastor presides behind them, and the pastor consecrates the elements while facing the congregation. What gets me, Crypto, is that you say this is the only issue preventing you from joining a Lutheran church, and yet it doesn’t seem to me that this should stop you. Surely the Book of Concord would prevent anyone from slipping into the belief that the mass is a sacrifice. You do seem willing to accept the terminology of “altar” if it is freestanding, etc. Insisting that the furniture just be a “table,” recall, also could be abused, as it was by Zwingli, who, I believe, first made an issue of this, since he insisted that the Lord’s Supper is merely a memorial meal. In the controversies with the Reformed, Lutherans took what is essentially adiaphora and practiced the option that was the clearest confession against the Zwingian view. But it’s still adiaphora. (It’s ironic that while Lutherans are the ones with all of the liturgical practices, the Lutheran theology of worship actually is freer than that of the Reformed, who get stuck on “the regulative principle” and so are very insistent on what you can and cannot do. That, of course, turns worship into a matter of Law, rather than Gospel: God giving us His gifts and we people, as you say Crypto, receiving them)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Well, that Reformation Today article advocating a free standing altar (not up against the wall) is written by a Lutheran! In the Lutheran churches I’ve been members of, the altars have been free standing, the pastor presides behind them, and the pastor consecrates the elements while facing the congregation. What gets me, Crypto, is that you say this is the only issue preventing you from joining a Lutheran church, and yet it doesn’t seem to me that this should stop you. Surely the Book of Concord would prevent anyone from slipping into the belief that the mass is a sacrifice. You do seem willing to accept the terminology of “altar” if it is freestanding, etc. Insisting that the furniture just be a “table,” recall, also could be abused, as it was by Zwingli, who, I believe, first made an issue of this, since he insisted that the Lord’s Supper is merely a memorial meal. In the controversies with the Reformed, Lutherans took what is essentially adiaphora and practiced the option that was the clearest confession against the Zwingian view. But it’s still adiaphora. (It’s ironic that while Lutherans are the ones with all of the liturgical practices, the Lutheran theology of worship actually is freer than that of the Reformed, who get stuck on “the regulative principle” and so are very insistent on what you can and cannot do. That, of course, turns worship into a matter of Law, rather than Gospel: God giving us His gifts and we people, as you say Crypto, receiving them)

  • LAJ

    Excellent topic and discussion!

  • LAJ

    Excellent topic and discussion!

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Steve,
    First I wasn’t trying to mine into whether or not you were an unrepentant sinner.
    I certainly wasn’t trying to get into your family life, which by the way is very similar to my own situation. Well maybe not so similar. I am divorced (against my choice) and remarried to a divorcee. I only have one child with my previous wife. I see him once a month, he lives in Cali.
    What I was getting at is the theological agnostic thing. You see I believe that false doctrine is sin, one way I don’t go about condoning it, is not giving communion to those who disagree with our position on things like the real presence, infant baptism, justification by faith alone and so forth. I do make exceptions at times for people who belong to other church bodies. But worse to me than taking a stand that is opposed to mine, is taking an I don’t care anymore attitude. These are not trivial things. Hot or Cold I can respect, lukewarm…
    So if you were to come to my church, it wouldn’t be the tangled family situation that you have that would prohibit you from coming to communion. I think you are doing the honorable thing there now, even if the divorce was your fault before. Some things remain broken.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Steve,
    First I wasn’t trying to mine into whether or not you were an unrepentant sinner.
    I certainly wasn’t trying to get into your family life, which by the way is very similar to my own situation. Well maybe not so similar. I am divorced (against my choice) and remarried to a divorcee. I only have one child with my previous wife. I see him once a month, he lives in Cali.
    What I was getting at is the theological agnostic thing. You see I believe that false doctrine is sin, one way I don’t go about condoning it, is not giving communion to those who disagree with our position on things like the real presence, infant baptism, justification by faith alone and so forth. I do make exceptions at times for people who belong to other church bodies. But worse to me than taking a stand that is opposed to mine, is taking an I don’t care anymore attitude. These are not trivial things. Hot or Cold I can respect, lukewarm…
    So if you were to come to my church, it wouldn’t be the tangled family situation that you have that would prohibit you from coming to communion. I think you are doing the honorable thing there now, even if the divorce was your fault before. Some things remain broken.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Crypto,
    Altars were used in a few different ways in the OT. Most of the time animal sacrifices were offered from them, and the priests or the people ate the meat from the animal that was sacrificed on the altar (most often the parts of the animal that were burned on the altar were minimal, liver, kidney, fat from the stomach cavity…). The real benefit that came from the sacrifice was not that you were giving something up. In deed you were only giving back to God what was already his. The real benefit came from eating that which was sacrificed, you ate with God. In eating this animal you participated in the sacrifice.
    There was at least one altar that was built as a memorial, and never had a sacrifice on it.
    I think we retain this term altar to reinforce the fact that when we eat Christs Body and drink his Blood, proclaiming his death until he comes, we are participating in that one final sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross. We are being fed from the altar of His cross. So we use an altar that often looks like nothing more than an elaborate table. No altar that I have seen in any Lutheran Church could really be used for sacrifices, no place for the fire, no grates for the meat.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Crypto,
    Altars were used in a few different ways in the OT. Most of the time animal sacrifices were offered from them, and the priests or the people ate the meat from the animal that was sacrificed on the altar (most often the parts of the animal that were burned on the altar were minimal, liver, kidney, fat from the stomach cavity…). The real benefit that came from the sacrifice was not that you were giving something up. In deed you were only giving back to God what was already his. The real benefit came from eating that which was sacrificed, you ate with God. In eating this animal you participated in the sacrifice.
    There was at least one altar that was built as a memorial, and never had a sacrifice on it.
    I think we retain this term altar to reinforce the fact that when we eat Christs Body and drink his Blood, proclaiming his death until he comes, we are participating in that one final sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross. We are being fed from the altar of His cross. So we use an altar that often looks like nothing more than an elaborate table. No altar that I have seen in any Lutheran Church could really be used for sacrifices, no place for the fire, no grates for the meat.

  • Bethany Tanis

    Oswald Bayer is fantastic. I absolutely recommend him!

  • Bethany Tanis

    Oswald Bayer is fantastic. I absolutely recommend him!

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Rev. Erickson

    My personal life has really made me reflect on what it means to be simultaneously “Saint and Sinner”. I used to think that for repentance to be legitimate it must be twined with a desire never to commit that sin again but now I have doubts. I will never be completely holy and I am more and more convinced that even to aspire to perfection is a kind of blasphemy. If you could point me to a good Lutheran treatise on repentance I would be grateful. I would not describe my self as antinomian but I am definitely tending in that direction.
    What I mean by “theological agnosticism” is that I am very aware that I have no formal theological education and don’t know any biblical languages. I do however hang out will a lot of very smart christens from a number of different traditions and being surrounded by a lot of godly people that disagree vehemently has defiantly colored my perspective. May be it because of my “post modern” education but I can’t seem to break free from the idea that the reason that christens disagree on certain “secondary doctrines” (baptism, escitology, church governance ect.) Is that the biblical texts are often ambiguous. I am convinced that how we read these texts is often governed as much by our presumptions and personal experiences as what is actually in the text. The reason that I stopped calling my self a Calvinist had as much to do with my ex wife’s (a woman who had an impeccable reformed pedigree) decent into madness and drug addition as my inability to find adequate biblical support for the concept of the “two wills of God” or a “prelapsarian covenant of works”. I baptized my kids not because the biblical evidence for paedobaptism is overwhelming (I don’t think it is) but because is more sympathetic with my own experience growing up in a godly Christian home and feeling in retrospect that my experience of conversion at age 6 was not in fact my “spiritual birthday” but simply the time that I recognized a truth that had long been present. I really like what NT Wright said recently “I am convinced that 30% of my theology is wrong I just don’t know which third it is.“

    God Bless
    Steve in Toronto

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Rev. Erickson

    My personal life has really made me reflect on what it means to be simultaneously “Saint and Sinner”. I used to think that for repentance to be legitimate it must be twined with a desire never to commit that sin again but now I have doubts. I will never be completely holy and I am more and more convinced that even to aspire to perfection is a kind of blasphemy. If you could point me to a good Lutheran treatise on repentance I would be grateful. I would not describe my self as antinomian but I am definitely tending in that direction.
    What I mean by “theological agnosticism” is that I am very aware that I have no formal theological education and don’t know any biblical languages. I do however hang out will a lot of very smart christens from a number of different traditions and being surrounded by a lot of godly people that disagree vehemently has defiantly colored my perspective. May be it because of my “post modern” education but I can’t seem to break free from the idea that the reason that christens disagree on certain “secondary doctrines” (baptism, escitology, church governance ect.) Is that the biblical texts are often ambiguous. I am convinced that how we read these texts is often governed as much by our presumptions and personal experiences as what is actually in the text. The reason that I stopped calling my self a Calvinist had as much to do with my ex wife’s (a woman who had an impeccable reformed pedigree) decent into madness and drug addition as my inability to find adequate biblical support for the concept of the “two wills of God” or a “prelapsarian covenant of works”. I baptized my kids not because the biblical evidence for paedobaptism is overwhelming (I don’t think it is) but because is more sympathetic with my own experience growing up in a godly Christian home and feeling in retrospect that my experience of conversion at age 6 was not in fact my “spiritual birthday” but simply the time that I recognized a truth that had long been present. I really like what NT Wright said recently “I am convinced that 30% of my theology is wrong I just don’t know which third it is.“

    God Bless
    Steve in Toronto

  • Ryan

    Closed Communion: I find it useful to delineate two questions that we usually conflate into one when it comes to Holy Communion. Who may communion is the on question, but it is really two:

    Who is worthy to commune (namely sinners in search of forgiveness through the blood of Christ). This is the horizontal aspect, the Jesus and me thing. This category is broader than the next question.

    Who is able to commune at this altar? (those that confess the faith held at this altar) This is the vertical aspect. The unity of the body expressed here. This category is narrower.

    Still maybe not the most satisfying explanation, but I find the division helpful because some Christians (what is a Christen Steve?) feel closed communion implies they are not good enough to commune at a Lutheran church – not true! We prefer sinners to commune.

    As to the use of an Altar. While it is adiaphoron (neither commanded nor forbidden)… in fact Paul talks of a table in 1 Cor. 10:21, but to fair he also talks of the “table of demons” which most likely were stone altars in pagan temples. Stone altars may come from using catacomb graves of Christians to celebrate communion on, who knows.

    Problem is that tables have been used at times by Reformed to confess that Body and Blood are not received, this is a memorial meal, so often the Lutheran opted for the Altars, especially in churches they “inherited” from Rome.

    In addition the Altar is symbolic of Christ and His sacrifice, the Lamb of God slain – the fulfillment of the OT sacrifices, and draws the Old Testament imagery together and forward (Heb 13:10).

    Symbolically then it has been important to use an altar in sacramental theology because we are not simply sitting at a table trying to repeat exactly what Jesus did at the last supper (was it white or red wine?) but trying to point to the one sacrifice of Christ. Altars were used long before the abomination of the Mass. In addition it looks that there is an altar in heaven (Rev. 6:9, 8:3, 16:7 just to name a few places).

  • Ryan

    Closed Communion: I find it useful to delineate two questions that we usually conflate into one when it comes to Holy Communion. Who may communion is the on question, but it is really two:

    Who is worthy to commune (namely sinners in search of forgiveness through the blood of Christ). This is the horizontal aspect, the Jesus and me thing. This category is broader than the next question.

    Who is able to commune at this altar? (those that confess the faith held at this altar) This is the vertical aspect. The unity of the body expressed here. This category is narrower.

    Still maybe not the most satisfying explanation, but I find the division helpful because some Christians (what is a Christen Steve?) feel closed communion implies they are not good enough to commune at a Lutheran church – not true! We prefer sinners to commune.

    As to the use of an Altar. While it is adiaphoron (neither commanded nor forbidden)… in fact Paul talks of a table in 1 Cor. 10:21, but to fair he also talks of the “table of demons” which most likely were stone altars in pagan temples. Stone altars may come from using catacomb graves of Christians to celebrate communion on, who knows.

    Problem is that tables have been used at times by Reformed to confess that Body and Blood are not received, this is a memorial meal, so often the Lutheran opted for the Altars, especially in churches they “inherited” from Rome.

    In addition the Altar is symbolic of Christ and His sacrifice, the Lamb of God slain – the fulfillment of the OT sacrifices, and draws the Old Testament imagery together and forward (Heb 13:10).

    Symbolically then it has been important to use an altar in sacramental theology because we are not simply sitting at a table trying to repeat exactly what Jesus did at the last supper (was it white or red wine?) but trying to point to the one sacrifice of Christ. Altars were used long before the abomination of the Mass. In addition it looks that there is an altar in heaven (Rev. 6:9, 8:3, 16:7 just to name a few places).

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    A more perfect sacrament, as Luther wrote in his “Word and Sacrament” would be to imitate the original sacraments as closely as possible. It’s why he said he preferred full immersion of infants at the font as opposed to a light sprinkling of water. The altar may be adiaphorous, but the table seems “more perfect”. Strange, I believe in the true presence as articulated in the BoC, but I like Zwingli’s table. And Paul’s. And Christ’s.
    Anyhow, I appreciate the dialogue. This discussion looks like it may be winding down. I’m more tolerant of the altar now, but remain skeptical.
    CL

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    A more perfect sacrament, as Luther wrote in his “Word and Sacrament” would be to imitate the original sacraments as closely as possible. It’s why he said he preferred full immersion of infants at the font as opposed to a light sprinkling of water. The altar may be adiaphorous, but the table seems “more perfect”. Strange, I believe in the true presence as articulated in the BoC, but I like Zwingli’s table. And Paul’s. And Christ’s.
    Anyhow, I appreciate the dialogue. This discussion looks like it may be winding down. I’m more tolerant of the altar now, but remain skeptical.
    CL

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Ryan
    You make an interesting distinction but I am still not buying it. The Orthodox and Roman Catholics deny me the Eucharist because as far as they are concerned I don’t belong to a “real church” (An argument I don’t understand since Anglican Bishops are in “Apostolic Succession” but since they won’t commune each other either this is a moot point) . The Landmark Baptists wont commune me since I am not a member of there particular congregation it not biblical but at least its makes some kind of sense they won’t commune a fellow Baptist either. The Confessional Lutheran’s alone however insist on uniform doctrine. Setting aside the fact that I am probably more committed to the core of Lutheran theology than 50% of the laymen in the pews and probably more than a few of the men in the pulpit. This position makes no sense. Either we are part of “One holy and catholic apostolic church” or we aren’t. When Christ communed the disciples for the first time I am sure they had not idea what was going on. If our lord did not require the apostles to “get it” what right do we have to “fence the rail”?

    Peace
    Steve in Toronto

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Ryan
    You make an interesting distinction but I am still not buying it. The Orthodox and Roman Catholics deny me the Eucharist because as far as they are concerned I don’t belong to a “real church” (An argument I don’t understand since Anglican Bishops are in “Apostolic Succession” but since they won’t commune each other either this is a moot point) . The Landmark Baptists wont commune me since I am not a member of there particular congregation it not biblical but at least its makes some kind of sense they won’t commune a fellow Baptist either. The Confessional Lutheran’s alone however insist on uniform doctrine. Setting aside the fact that I am probably more committed to the core of Lutheran theology than 50% of the laymen in the pews and probably more than a few of the men in the pulpit. This position makes no sense. Either we are part of “One holy and catholic apostolic church” or we aren’t. When Christ communed the disciples for the first time I am sure they had not idea what was going on. If our lord did not require the apostles to “get it” what right do we have to “fence the rail”?

    Peace
    Steve in Toronto

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Steve,
    You write,
    “Setting aside the fact that I am probably more committed to the core of Lutheran theology than 50% of the laymen in the pews and probably more than a few of the men in the pulpit.”
    This is patently false. First who are you to judge Lutheran laity? They have all been confirmed in that faith, and have sworn to uphold the Evangelical Lutheran Doctrine as it has been taught in Luther’s Small Catechism. Yes, sometimes enthusiasm wanes, but the ones that are sitting in the pews are committed. No one forces them to come to the Lutheran Church, and you would be surprised how knowledgeable they can be at times.
    Second, no one committed to the “core” of Lutheran doctrine thinks infant baptism is an adiaphora, or a secondary doctrine, or a lesser issue. (Such as whether or not man is Body, Soul and Spirit, or body and soul, now there is a secondary issue. Whether or not you should deny the grace of God to your children by not having them baptized until such time YOU JUDGE them ready to make promises to God even you haven’t kept is quite a serious matter.) If you can’t commit to the doctrines as given in Luther’s Small Catechism then quit complaining that you can’t commune with us. and quit lying about being so committed to Lutheran doctrine.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Steve,
    You write,
    “Setting aside the fact that I am probably more committed to the core of Lutheran theology than 50% of the laymen in the pews and probably more than a few of the men in the pulpit.”
    This is patently false. First who are you to judge Lutheran laity? They have all been confirmed in that faith, and have sworn to uphold the Evangelical Lutheran Doctrine as it has been taught in Luther’s Small Catechism. Yes, sometimes enthusiasm wanes, but the ones that are sitting in the pews are committed. No one forces them to come to the Lutheran Church, and you would be surprised how knowledgeable they can be at times.
    Second, no one committed to the “core” of Lutheran doctrine thinks infant baptism is an adiaphora, or a secondary doctrine, or a lesser issue. (Such as whether or not man is Body, Soul and Spirit, or body and soul, now there is a secondary issue. Whether or not you should deny the grace of God to your children by not having them baptized until such time YOU JUDGE them ready to make promises to God even you haven’t kept is quite a serious matter.) If you can’t commit to the doctrines as given in Luther’s Small Catechism then quit complaining that you can’t commune with us. and quit lying about being so committed to Lutheran doctrine.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Rev. Erickson
    I have not conducted a detailed study of the theological convictions of Lutheran layman or clergy but I have been worshiping with Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterian and even a Renegade LCMS mission church that let me commune with them when I was a student at Ohio State (they have since become ELCA) and my experience is that the reason that most people find them self’s in a particular pew it overwhelmingly hereditary (if your parents were 7th day Adventists there is a good chance you will be to). Next people dance with those who brought them (If you were brought to faith by a Baptist you are likely to stay a Baptist). Next in line would be the people who love a particular kind of worship or style of preaching. In my experience fewer than 10% of Christians have carefully considered rival theological positions and made this the primary criteria for where they worship on a Sunday morning. Lutheran Churches are among the most ethnically homogenous in North America. It is possible for a Lutherans to live in a confessional “bubble” attending LCMS day schools, collages and even graduate schools (nothing wrong with this they are fine institutions) but the chances of a encountering a thoughtful and articulate advocate of a rival theological position (or more dangerously falling in love with one) is far less likely than in almost any other protestant denomination with the possible exception of the notoriously clannish Dutch Reformed. I may be wrong but I would be shocked if your congregation was any different. I know you’re saying that your congrigation is well catechized and understands the Lutheran distinctive but how many of your most committed parishioners are like my reformed Baptist aunt who ends every theological conversation I have ever had with her with “when we get to heaven you will see that I was right all along”. She really knows her stuff but she has never considered the possibility that she might be wrong. I am sure you have a few zealous converts in your congregation (for all I know you nay be one of them but with a name like Bror Erickson I doubt it) but they are not representative
    Lastly I love your crack about “adiaphora”. It’s not enough that I baptize my own children as infants I have to believe that my sisters are sinning by not baptizing hers! Are you guys actively trying to discourage disillusioned evangelicals from joining your churches?

    Peace
    Steve in Toronto

  • Steve in Toronto

    Hello Rev. Erickson
    I have not conducted a detailed study of the theological convictions of Lutheran layman or clergy but I have been worshiping with Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterian and even a Renegade LCMS mission church that let me commune with them when I was a student at Ohio State (they have since become ELCA) and my experience is that the reason that most people find them self’s in a particular pew it overwhelmingly hereditary (if your parents were 7th day Adventists there is a good chance you will be to). Next people dance with those who brought them (If you were brought to faith by a Baptist you are likely to stay a Baptist). Next in line would be the people who love a particular kind of worship or style of preaching. In my experience fewer than 10% of Christians have carefully considered rival theological positions and made this the primary criteria for where they worship on a Sunday morning. Lutheran Churches are among the most ethnically homogenous in North America. It is possible for a Lutherans to live in a confessional “bubble” attending LCMS day schools, collages and even graduate schools (nothing wrong with this they are fine institutions) but the chances of a encountering a thoughtful and articulate advocate of a rival theological position (or more dangerously falling in love with one) is far less likely than in almost any other protestant denomination with the possible exception of the notoriously clannish Dutch Reformed. I may be wrong but I would be shocked if your congregation was any different. I know you’re saying that your congrigation is well catechized and understands the Lutheran distinctive but how many of your most committed parishioners are like my reformed Baptist aunt who ends every theological conversation I have ever had with her with “when we get to heaven you will see that I was right all along”. She really knows her stuff but she has never considered the possibility that she might be wrong. I am sure you have a few zealous converts in your congregation (for all I know you nay be one of them but with a name like Bror Erickson I doubt it) but they are not representative
    Lastly I love your crack about “adiaphora”. It’s not enough that I baptize my own children as infants I have to believe that my sisters are sinning by not baptizing hers! Are you guys actively trying to discourage disillusioned evangelicals from joining your churches?

    Peace
    Steve in Toronto

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    listen Steve,
    Your sister is sinning by not baptizing hers. And no we are not actively discouraging. We are actively doing what Jesus told us to do in the 24th chapter of Luke, Proclaiming repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
    Actually, steve, Most of my congregation, especially those in the pews, are converts to Lutheranism.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    listen Steve,
    Your sister is sinning by not baptizing hers. And no we are not actively discouraging. We are actively doing what Jesus told us to do in the 24th chapter of Luke, Proclaiming repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
    Actually, steve, Most of my congregation, especially those in the pews, are converts to Lutheranism.

  • Booklover

    Lutheranism is not just for Germans and Scandinavians anymore either. :-)

    I’m changing the subject a little here because I wanted to relate a tale from my Alaskan cruise from which I just returned. A lovely Chinese lady, one of the passengers, sat at a piano in the lounge and began to play positively beautifully! She was with about 20 others of her nationality. Then they all began to sing beautifully. Their lyrics were such words as “Glory to God” and “Hallelujah.” I was exploding with curiousity so I walked over and asked where they were all from. “Seattle!” (Of course.) Then I asked, “What church do you all go to?” The answer, “Lutheran.” (Of course!!) :-)

  • Booklover

    Lutheranism is not just for Germans and Scandinavians anymore either. :-)

    I’m changing the subject a little here because I wanted to relate a tale from my Alaskan cruise from which I just returned. A lovely Chinese lady, one of the passengers, sat at a piano in the lounge and began to play positively beautifully! She was with about 20 others of her nationality. Then they all began to sing beautifully. Their lyrics were such words as “Glory to God” and “Hallelujah.” I was exploding with curiousity so I walked over and asked where they were all from. “Seattle!” (Of course.) Then I asked, “What church do you all go to?” The answer, “Lutheran.” (Of course!!) :-)

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Steve is right about one thing, the Dutch Reformed ARE notoriously clannish. That’s how we stoke fear in our youth – fear of leaving the “True Church”, fear of “Banishment”, fear of losing “covenant connections”. It’s very effective in maintaining high internal growth and keeping outsiders out.
    Bror is even more right, however. The situation in all such “clannish” churches can mean legalism, false worship and lip service. I agree with Bror; the ones sitting in LCMS/LCC pews actually want to be there. Nothing human is keeping them in. That sounds right to me. We all need to be challenged to share the gospel – and I see human weakness across the board on that issue…. especially in myself.
    God’s blessings,
    CL

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Steve is right about one thing, the Dutch Reformed ARE notoriously clannish. That’s how we stoke fear in our youth – fear of leaving the “True Church”, fear of “Banishment”, fear of losing “covenant connections”. It’s very effective in maintaining high internal growth and keeping outsiders out.
    Bror is even more right, however. The situation in all such “clannish” churches can mean legalism, false worship and lip service. I agree with Bror; the ones sitting in LCMS/LCC pews actually want to be there. Nothing human is keeping them in. That sounds right to me. We all need to be challenged to share the gospel – and I see human weakness across the board on that issue…. especially in myself.
    God’s blessings,
    CL

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Hello Dr. Veith,
    I did want to briefly respond to you at #25 above. I do wish, however, to say firstly that I would hope for a very peaceful dialogue. I’m not looking to attack Lutherans. I’ve embraced Lutheran sacramental theology, indeed the BoC, as my own. Having become convinced of the unity of Lutheran theology, it is allowed, however, to have even serious questions about the practice and application of confessional standards.
    So, to continue, you wrote at #25 the following:
    “Surely the Book of Concord would prevent anyone from slipping into the belief that the mass is a sacrifice.”
    This did not prevent Bo Giertz in “The Hammer of God” from teaching precisely that heresy re. the Lord’s Supper in Chapter 9 (Pg. 328 ed. Augsburg Books). I like this book very much. It changed my life. It doesn’t taint my view of Lutheranism, or the BoC, or even of Bo Giertz. But on that page he calls the Lord’s Supper a sacrifice. Read in context, it has everything to do with the altar. So, I would maintain that the terminology “altar” is a, shall we say, riskier term than table. And not at all interchangeable.
    You state further,
    “You do seem willing to accept the terminology of “altar” if it is freestanding, etc.”
    Yes, I say it should be free standing. Earlier in this thread I mentioned the importance, and my appreciation of, the Lutheran postural practise. In speaking to God, the Pastor faces the front. In addressing the people in Christ’s stead, using Christ’s words, he faces the congregants. By facing the front during the WOI, the Lutheran pastor leaves himself open to the accusation that he believes the supper is a sacrifice. I’ve even seen local Lutheran pastors elevate (while facing the statue of Jesus) the host way, WAY above his head, and then kneeling before the altar, nearly prostrating himself. Wow. What does one do with that? – especially considering the fact the BoC (to which we should be able to hold Lutheran pastors accountable) forbids adoration of the host.
    You also wrote,
    “Insisting that the furniture just be a “table,” recall, also could be abused, as it was by Zwingli….”
    Zwingli did not abuse the table, he abused God’s holy Word. It’s a miracle that the table survived his voracious attacks on God’s word. For me, at least, it is enough to hear the words “this is my body”, and, I should say (to paraphrase Luther), “I would rather take Christ’s flesh and blood from the Lutheran altar than Zwingli’s wine and bread from a table.” However, to accuse the Lord’s Supper Table with chairs of being Zwinglian is kind of strange. That might lead some to believe that Christ was Zwinglian (pardon my blasphemy!) I would gladly receive the flesh and blood of Christ on a table, regardless of church tradition, practice, and perceptions of my many Lutheran friends.

    You state further,
    “…who [Zwingli], I believe, first made an issue of this, since he insisted that the Lord’s Supper is merely a memorial meal. CL: agreed. See above.

    …and further:
    “In the controversies with the Reformed, Lutherans took what is essentially adiaphora and practiced the option that was the clearest confession against the Zwingian view. But it’s still adiaphora. (It’s ironic that while Lutherans are the ones with all of the liturgical practices, the Lutheran theology of worship actually is freer than that of the Reformed, who get stuck on “the regulative principle” and so are very insistent on what you can and cannot do. That, of course, turns worship into a matter of Law, rather than Gospel: God giving us His gifts and we people, as you say Crypto, receiving them)”
    I agree 100%. It’s the reason I’m here, it’s the reason I attend LCC churches as often as I can: I’m desperate to hear the gospel.
    Anyways, I have a great deal of respect for you, Dr. Veith. I have a great deal of interest in classical education and in Lutheranism. I just like the table. So relax!
    CL

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Hello Dr. Veith,
    I did want to briefly respond to you at #25 above. I do wish, however, to say firstly that I would hope for a very peaceful dialogue. I’m not looking to attack Lutherans. I’ve embraced Lutheran sacramental theology, indeed the BoC, as my own. Having become convinced of the unity of Lutheran theology, it is allowed, however, to have even serious questions about the practice and application of confessional standards.
    So, to continue, you wrote at #25 the following:
    “Surely the Book of Concord would prevent anyone from slipping into the belief that the mass is a sacrifice.”
    This did not prevent Bo Giertz in “The Hammer of God” from teaching precisely that heresy re. the Lord’s Supper in Chapter 9 (Pg. 328 ed. Augsburg Books). I like this book very much. It changed my life. It doesn’t taint my view of Lutheranism, or the BoC, or even of Bo Giertz. But on that page he calls the Lord’s Supper a sacrifice. Read in context, it has everything to do with the altar. So, I would maintain that the terminology “altar” is a, shall we say, riskier term than table. And not at all interchangeable.
    You state further,
    “You do seem willing to accept the terminology of “altar” if it is freestanding, etc.”
    Yes, I say it should be free standing. Earlier in this thread I mentioned the importance, and my appreciation of, the Lutheran postural practise. In speaking to God, the Pastor faces the front. In addressing the people in Christ’s stead, using Christ’s words, he faces the congregants. By facing the front during the WOI, the Lutheran pastor leaves himself open to the accusation that he believes the supper is a sacrifice. I’ve even seen local Lutheran pastors elevate (while facing the statue of Jesus) the host way, WAY above his head, and then kneeling before the altar, nearly prostrating himself. Wow. What does one do with that? – especially considering the fact the BoC (to which we should be able to hold Lutheran pastors accountable) forbids adoration of the host.
    You also wrote,
    “Insisting that the furniture just be a “table,” recall, also could be abused, as it was by Zwingli….”
    Zwingli did not abuse the table, he abused God’s holy Word. It’s a miracle that the table survived his voracious attacks on God’s word. For me, at least, it is enough to hear the words “this is my body”, and, I should say (to paraphrase Luther), “I would rather take Christ’s flesh and blood from the Lutheran altar than Zwingli’s wine and bread from a table.” However, to accuse the Lord’s Supper Table with chairs of being Zwinglian is kind of strange. That might lead some to believe that Christ was Zwinglian (pardon my blasphemy!) I would gladly receive the flesh and blood of Christ on a table, regardless of church tradition, practice, and perceptions of my many Lutheran friends.

    You state further,
    “…who [Zwingli], I believe, first made an issue of this, since he insisted that the Lord’s Supper is merely a memorial meal. CL: agreed. See above.

    …and further:
    “In the controversies with the Reformed, Lutherans took what is essentially adiaphora and practiced the option that was the clearest confession against the Zwingian view. But it’s still adiaphora. (It’s ironic that while Lutherans are the ones with all of the liturgical practices, the Lutheran theology of worship actually is freer than that of the Reformed, who get stuck on “the regulative principle” and so are very insistent on what you can and cannot do. That, of course, turns worship into a matter of Law, rather than Gospel: God giving us His gifts and we people, as you say Crypto, receiving them)”
    I agree 100%. It’s the reason I’m here, it’s the reason I attend LCC churches as often as I can: I’m desperate to hear the gospel.
    Anyways, I have a great deal of respect for you, Dr. Veith. I have a great deal of interest in classical education and in Lutheranism. I just like the table. So relax!
    CL


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