The Lutheran Distinction
I am an amalgamation. Good or bad, that’s what I am. Some of my Lutheran brothers may find this frustrating and it may even make them worried for me. It’s not necessary, but I would understand their concern. I suppose that’s enough cryptic language, and I’ll just go ahead and jump right in.
There’s alot of craziness over organizations like FiveTwo (Google it). I share the concerns of those who spoke out against it, for the most part. I think the concern that some of the churches/pastors of the LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) are laying aside their lutheran centers for the idol of relevancy, is absolutely legitimate. I think those involved with that organization should listen to their traditional counterparts in some of these matters and work toward reconciliation. Not simply for the sake of reconciliation but reconciliation that holds firm to the lutheran distinctive that so many embrace.
I do have a distinct perspective though.
I happen to attend a church that holds close to Lutheran beliefs, but is more modern in its service and practice. The pastor there holds in high honor the sacraments and preaches with conviction, a sermon full of law and gospel. He doesn’t sugar coat what a lutheran is and has encouraged the reading of the book of concord to anyone who is looking more deeply into the lutheran faith. There is no missing the fact that it is a lutheran house of worship, though some traditional Lutherans may cringe if they walked in for a spell. It is a good church that has helped me (and continues to help me) reconcile my issues with modern evangelicalism. We do sing some worship songs, but we also praise God with the depths of ancient hymns.
The church also engages the world in different ways. Whether Vacation Bible School(VBS), a movie night or a carnival day, the church wants people to know about Jesus and forming relationships is a part of that. My old church did this well too and I could disagree on many things but I wouldn’t on this. I do think the church can reach out into the world and I think that it can and should hold to the truths without compromise. I also think those truths can be held onto in a modern setting.
The problem comes when the lines between who they are and what they do are blurred. This seems to be where so many go astray. They may claim success, but like a boat’s rudder ever so slightly angled, it could appear they are on course but after a time, they end up nowhere they intended to be. This is probably the biggest danger of it all. We can embrace some of these ideas but if we do not balance it with sound thinking and the sure footing of the church beliefs, we could allow the wrong thing to become the emphasis of the church instead of simply complimenting it.
I’m nobody really and my voice is small in the blogosphere. This is probably more of an exercise of my mind as I sort my thoughts. I like my church, I don’t need it to be the “traditional” church that other Lutherans attend. I also don’t want it to become the church that does things simply for the sake of relevance. There is a true Lutheran distinctive there, but it is in the framework of modernity. I have jokingly said that being there has in effect, talked me “off the ledge” of dismissing everything contemporary or modern. I have been blessed by every aspect of the service.
My hope is that those who embrace some of the philosophies of FiveTwo will hear those who speak with a more traditional Lutheran voice and understand that we can reach into the world and hold fast to things that make us Lutheran.
Appreciate your article. I also attend an amazing church led by two amazing undershepherds. We have 3 services, 2 traditional and 1 contemporary. In all three services Law and Gospel are properly discerned and the Sacraments administered according to our Lord’s command. I am concerned about what is going on with 5/2 and certainly would appreciate any enlightenment that can be given.
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I don’t have too much enlightenment… I’m a pretty dim bulb, LOL. Since I wrote this article awhile back. I’ve gotten to know some of the 5/2 participants. Both have a firm grasp of law/gospel and take opportunities to share that view from the pulpits. While I don’t always appreciate “modern services” (came out of evangelicalism) I have seen the different elements of “high church” displayed in those services. We’re the words a little different, sure. was it missing(not lacking) something more familiar. yes. but I saw a reverence there I cant deny. Relevant for relevance sake is never good. speaking people’s language for understanding and then reverence doesn’t seem to be bad thing.
Thanks so much for you’re thoughts and for reading. I don’t get too many comments and appreciate every one that comes in…