Friday, March 16, 2007

Reflection: Concerning the Name "Lutheran"

A conversation was underway in another topic that deserves to be featured in a separate post. I have asked for the forgiveness of our underpaid and underappreciated authors for deleting their comments on this subject elsewhere. I am trying to keep our discussions on-topic, obviously in a fumbling and hamfisted manner! Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

So, let's open another reflection discussion: concerning the name Lutheran. Why do we use it? What does it mean? Would we be better served to use names such as "Catholic" or "Evangelical" or "Orthodox" or use those terms in lower-case? The name Lutheran nowhere appears in our Book of Concord, but other terms or phrases, such as, "The churches of the Augsburg Confession." Here is what one pastor recently said to me:

The Lutheran Church is the Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical Church and that these realities - all three - only meet in her. That that is why the name Lutheran is worth fighting for - because it is the conjunction of these other aspects.

What say you?


wm cwirla said...

I hate when my pearls get deleted.

With regard to that last quotation, I would agree except in the sense that there is such a thing as a "Lutheran Church." As we have noted, the Lutheran Confessions never create a "Lutheran Church" but simply confess what our churches believe, teach, and confess with great unanimity.

I would say that Lutheran churches, as they confess, teach, and practice according to the Book of Concord are rightly "evangelical," "catholic," and "orthodox" churches, whether lower or upper case, I care not. They are also "apostolic," in the right sense of that word too.

Mike Baker said...

We know well that the real substance is not in the name for there are many who call themselves Lutheran who have given up the doctrine long ago, who have laid aside our church in her symbols....false Lutherans are however easy to distinguish from the true Lutherans because our church has published these public confessions for all the world.

However, when we realize that:

1 - it was Luther and no other through whom God in these last times has brought the pure clear doctrine of the Word of God together with the right use of the Sacraments again into the day and onto the plain and,

2 - the communion of those who have confessed this pure doctrine of the Word of God with heart and mouth is therefore named and known by every Lutheran by this name; we can only confess the faith which is in our hearts purely and completely with the name Lutheran.

If we would get rid of the name Lutheran the highest suspicion would be aroused that either we are ashamed of the old Lutheran doctrine, or that we no longer consider it to be the only true doctrine agreeing wit God's clear Word and that a new false doctrine is in our hearts. As dear, therefore, as the truth is to us, as dear as God's honor and the salvation of our souls is to us, so little can we, especially in this time of wide spread error, give up the name Lutheran. By this name we separate ourselves from all the unorthodox of all times and publicly confess the right faith of all time.

-C.F.W. Walther

Joanne said...

This week I received from CPH 4 copies of the Reader's ed, 2nd ed. First night my personal copy kept me up till 3:00 AM. Tonight I'm still up at midnight. Got to keep this short so I can get to bed soon. Thought... The 3 ecumenical creeds ... Apostles, Nicean, Athanasian. Subscription to the Athanasian Creed means one has the catholic faith. OK. So, I'm thinking, would the Nicean Creed make me orthodox and the Apostles creed make me apostolic? Then the BoC makes me evangelical? As I said it was getting late and the old brain was slowing down. And then another thought. If the Apostles Creed and the Athanasian Creed are western church creeds (from way before the 11th century schism) how can they possibly be ecumenical creeds? Did they become ecumenical creeds when only the western church was the real church, after 1054 (the official beginning of the great estrangement)?
Morphios, I'm ready. Good night gentlemen.

Mr. PSb said...

I understand in this age of deception, there is always a need to be distinguished from others, but when we look at the Scripture, all that there are are Christians - the true ekklesia, the bride of Christ. Though there may be differences between the Lord's church, we out to be united in the things that are needful. However, this is not synonymous with post-modern ecumenism and Pluralistic Relativity.