This is an article my husband wrote after we attended the recent AFLC Annual Conference.
At the conference in June, we picked up a CD of the 2017 Reformation Festival Service held at the seminary chapel. I listened to it with pleasure hearing not only wonderful hymnody and informative commentary. It so happened that I was, at that time, re-reading part of Charles Porterfield Krauth’s “The Conservative Reformation and It’s Theology”. For those unfamiliar with Krauth, he was a 19th century American Lutheran theologian and churchman whose career centered around defending and promoting confessional Lutheranism against many who sought to disown much of our theological heritage to make it more “American”. It is safe to say that Krauth’s work kept many Lutherans Lutheran for many years.
As it was 150 years ago, so today we must confront the question ‘why should we remain Lutherans?’ Why shouldn’t we simply become generic Protestants like so many seem to be doing now. Why cling to a 500 year old theology along with the trappings of much of Lutheranism that seem to some to be too much like Roman Catholic practices. Why not just follow the lead of so many large churches who have given themselves names which tell nothing about what is taught therein and use theatrics instead of traditional worship? Many of these churches have abandoned the ancient creeds of the Christian Church and treat doctrine as if it is a case of smallpox.
Let’s first think about the principal problem with modern generic Christianity and then address how our Lutheran heritage is more in tune with the faith handed down once for all. I’ll use Krauth for guidance here. First, Krauth writes “Error loves ambiguity.” In other words, where the search for Truth is reduced to the first Church creed, “Jesus is Lord”, then all sorts of errors can quickly arise, just as they did in the ancient Church. The Church struggled for centuries with the definitions of orthodoxy. That’s why we came to have creeds in the first place—to keep us centered in that which the Holy Spirit has revealed to us in the Scriptures. We should not doubt that error is relentless. Krauth also taught about the infiltration of error into orthodox churches, which we have seen all too clearly in recent years. First error asks to be allowed—saying they won’t seek to change the views of others, only asking to have their own allowed. Then error demands to be accepted as one other “correct” option claiming the fact they have been allowed confirms their views as acceptable. Finally, error requires supremacy for itself. What began as vague accommodation then becomes an attack on Truth itself.
To be continued tomorrow .…
For more about false teaching and error see these posts: