Part 4–Our Theology

We have come to the last thing Pastor Huglen would have us consider — theology. I’m sure many people think theology isn’t about them and their faith lives. If this is what you believe, I want to say you are wrong. As the late R. C. Sproul noted some years ago, everyone is a theologian–even non-believers. Because what is theology if it is not the study of God and His ways and will. Even if you want to exclude atheists from theology, you can’t exclude yourself for you do indeed study God every time you open a Bible, listen to a sermon, sing a hymn, or even idly think about your Maker, Redeemer and Comforter.

Theology in American Christian circles is in crisis right at this moment. Poor reasoning, doubting the faithfulness of Scriptures, a desire to make the world “like” us, the terrible teaching in our seminaries–all of these things and much more are shredding the theology that is taught and preached in our churches. The Word of God is treated as a suggestion rather than a commandment. The atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross is referred to as divine child abuse. Catechesis, the teaching of doctrine, is often replaced by whatever a particular pastor thinks would be fun and engaging. There are Lutheran seminaries where the students are told not to preach the Law, but only the Gospel, thereby stripping the Gospel of what it is — good news for sinners. One writer referred to what is going on in many evangelical churches as moralistic, therapeutic deism. And I could go on for a long time in this way.

But the founders of the AFLC dedicated themselves to the pure preaching of the Gospel and the proper teaching of Lutheran theology. And it has held up now for almost sixty years.

There is something else that should be a warning to our Association and our congregation as well. Studies have shown that after about fifty years there is a tendency to forget or water down things that motivated the founders of a Church body, including a congregation. Every generation has to have their faith and their focus on the important things that were the roots from which the church grew. There are all sorts of things that are habit or tradition which should be evaluated and possibly changed, but we must not lose focus on those things which are from God and are meant to be permanent.

One of the verses used frequently in our AFLC is from Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth and to us:

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

If we grieve the Spirit by ignoring or trying the change the way of Christ from what has been handed down once for all, we will not longer be free, free as God wants His people to be.

For the rest of this series which is part of a sermon given by my husband at our church, St. Paul’s Free Lutheran Church of Leitersburg see:]

Part 1 — History of the AFLC(Association of Free Lutheran Churches)

Part 2–Our Polity

Part 3–Our Piety

Part 4–Our Theology

Charles Porterfield Krauth on the Importance of Doctrine

 

“It is the distinctive position of the Reformation with which, over against Rome, it stands or falls, that that which properly constitutes, defines, and perpetuates in unity a Church, is its doctrine, not its name or organization. While a Church retains its proper identity it retains of necessity its proper doctrine. Deserting its doctrine it loses its identity. The Church is not a body which bears its name like England, or America, which remain equally England and America, whether savage or civilized, Pagan or Christian, Monarchical or Republican. Its name is one which properly indicates its faith–and the faith changing, the Church loses its identity. Pagans may become Mohammedans, but then they are no longer Pagans–they are Mohammedans. Jews may become Christians, but then they are no longer Jews in religion. A Manichean man, or Manichean Church, might become Catholic, but then they would be Manichean no more. A Romish Church is Romish; a Pelagian Church is Pelagian; a Socinian Church is Socinian, though they call themselves Protestant, Evangelical, or Trinitarian. If the whole nominally Lutheran Church on earth should repudiate the Lutheran doctrine, that doctrine would remain as really Lutheran as it ever was. A man, or body of men, may cease to be Lutherans, but a doctrine which is Lutheran once, is Lutheran forever. Hence, now, as from the first, that is not a Lutheran Church, in the proper and historical sense, which cannot ex animo declare that it shares in the accord and unanimity with which each of the Doctrines of the Augsburg Confession was set forth.”
For more on Charles Porterfield Krauth see this post:
You can also email freelutherans@myactv.net to receive an invitation to a free zoom discussion of Krauth on July 14th at 10:30AM, offered by my husband Pastor Terry Culler through Shepherd University.