Yet another definitive answer to the question, Why not Lutheranism?, has been written. This one is by Anthony Sacramone and you simply must read all of it. It is both humorous and profound. He says that Lutherans are essentially boring, both in a bad and a good way. He shows why Lutheranism doesn’t show up in pop culture–so therefore it doesn’t exist for many people, especially Millennials. He cites other things that come across as boring, including the fact that Lutheran churches can’t seem to get their liturgical act together.
But then he concludes with a rousing case for Lutheranism and how to get people to try it. I’ll give you a sample of that after the jump, but, please, read the whole thing, not just the happy ending.
From Anthony Sacramone, Lutheran: To Be or Not to Be | Strange Herring:
So just hand them some Luther. Straight up. The only Luther I remember reading before college was the Small Catechism and mere snippets, soundbites, of this that and the other. Give them Luther’s great triad: Two Kinds of Righteousness, The Babylonian Captivity, and The Freedom of a Christian. Show them how the Great Reformer infused the catholic faith with evangelical doctrine, purging piety of medieval accretions and superstitions while clinging to what was truly cruciform. Let Luther’s voice reach down into their soul. (I heartily recommend Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, edited by Timothy Lull, as an ideal Luther starter.) Share with them that the Lutheran understanding of Holy Communion and Baptism — of baptismal regeneration and the real physical presence (not merely spiritual) — is ancient and biblical and coherent, whereas if you ask a “continuing” Anglican to explain those two sacraments, you will get as many answers as there are “traditional” Anglicans — from evangelical to Anglo-Catholic. (Also make the distinction between Roman transubstantiation and Lutheran “in, with, and under.” The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ?)
If you really want to pull out the stops and extoll the distinct way in which Lutheran do theology, direct the inquirer to Stephen Paulson’s Lutheran Theology. His head will explode. All that talk of God trying to kill the sinner in order to raise him from the dead. It’ll sound like a damn monster movie, in Apollo Creed’s phrase. . . .
What does Lutheranism have to offer that Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism doesn’t? Luther. A pre-medieval worship that has exorcised the penitential out of repentance, all the obfuscating cults of the saints that made grace something one had to connive out of God as if he were a Renaissance prince whose attention could be gotten only by court insiders. Justification by faith alone. The gift of vocation that put a blacksmith on spiritual par with a bishop. The great freedom in knowing that God doesn’t need your good works — but your neighbor does, who is therefore not a means to a ladder-climbing end.
And the theology of the cross, which does more to eviscerate the unconsciously karmic idea of life’s causes and effects than anything else. Ever pray fervently for some good thing and received the exact opposite of what you prayed for? Yet instead of rebelling, you came to understand what it was to wait with Christ one hour in Gethsemane? You are a theologian of the cross.
In other words Christ at the beginning, Christ at the center, Christ at the end. And for you.