Congregations that want to attract the millennial generation are now being told to ditch their contemporary worship services and to bring back the historic liturgy. Also, it turns out that young adults today have a “sacramental yearning.” Church growth enthusiasts, take note. [Read more...]
Southern Baptists are currently embroiled in a controversy over “Calvinist Baptists.” David Koyzis and Collin Garbarino over at the First Things blog are asking if there can be Calvinist Baptists, why can’t there be “Lutheran Baptists”?
After all, Lutherans were flexible about allowing different kinds of church polities. Calvin is associated with Presbyterianism. One might think that Luther’s theology would be more adaptable. When it comes to soteriology, says Mr. Garbarino, Calvinism and Lutheranism are pretty much the same anyway. (He adds in a parentheses: “I know some people will disagree with that last statement, but those people are wrong.”)
I didn’t grow up a Lutheran, so I don’t have the Baptismal sponsors or the Baptism anniversaries that lifelong Lutherans generally do. But not too long ago, I discovered my Baptismal certificate. It happened on April 10, 1960. You non-Lutherans will appreciate that it was not an infant baptism. I was 9. It was a believer’s baptism. I remember the fervency of my faith, though I suspect I did not have all that much more theological understanding than an infant. It was by immersion. I remember it vividly and it was a true religious experience for me at that young age. I remember the exultation I felt, the sense of being clean, the sense of being Christ’s. Such feelings, of course, aren’t necessary, but it’s nice to be able to actually “remember my baptism.”
Why are traditions that don’t put all that much emphasis on Baptism actually doing anything such sticklers about its mode? When I became a Lutheran, my having been baptized in this way was considered quite valid.
At any rate, who else can remember his or her baptism? What other Lutherans were baptized as adults? Those of you in churches that don’t baptized infants, how old does someone have to be before he or she can offer a profession of faith and be baptized? Those of you who only practice “adult” baptism must remember when this happened to you. What was it like, and what did it mean to you? Just church membership, just obeying a law, or was there a sense of the gospel, of dying and rising with Christ?
Some years ago, I, as a Lutheran, was invited to write about the Lord’s Supper in Tabletalk, a magazine with mostly Reformed readers, which was doing special issue on the sacraments. I didn’t want to argue, just explain what Holy Communion means and can mean in the life of a Christian. I offer it to you, whatever your theology, for Maundy Thursday:
As far as I know, I am the only Lutheran who writes regularly for Tabletalk, so please bear with me. Inviting a Lutheran to write about the Lord’s Supper is like asking a grandmother if she has any pictures of the new baby. So much affection for the subject matter can easily outpace other people’s interest. However, the Lord’s Supper is at the heart of a Lutheran’s piety. Calvinists too, as well as other Protestants, are rediscovering their own sacramental heritage, which has become somewhat forgotten. We Lutherans have never lost the Reformation’s emphasis on the sacrament, so perhaps this description of what it is like might prove helpful.
I do not intend here so much to argue for the Lutheran theological position on the sacrament, but rather to describe — in a way that I hope is helpful for non-Lutherans who are also trying to regain an evangelical sense of the sacrament — what it is like to believe in it. I will then make some cultural connections, showing why the Reformation emphasis on the sacrament is a bracing tonic against today’s highly-internalized pop-Christianity. [Read more...]
Christianity Today has set up a symposium discussing the following question: Do American Christians Need the Message of Grace or a Call to Holiness? As usual, no Lutherans were asked to participate, and the whole debate is maddening for a Lutheran to read, not just because of its false dichotomies but because of what is missing in the understanding of both terms. [Read more...]