Pulpit and Altar

An interesting phone call. A guy wanted to use the church for a wedding next year. It was for his daughter. He assured me that he was a conservative Calvinist layman, and that he and many co-congregants found that there wasn’t much difference between their theology and the LCMS. Please hold all snarky comments on this point. He was willing even to supply the minister from his own denomination if we’d be so gracious as to allow them the use of the building, as it is something of an historic building and they found it to be absolutely beautiful.

I thanked him for the compliments and informed him that unfortunately theologically we were unable to allow a minister whose confession was different than that of this congregation to perform official ministerial acts in this place. Needless to say, he didn’t like that very much, but he did have the conversation with me. He asked to hear just where we were so different. We started with the sacraments and, well, it ended shortly thereafter.

I guess through it all, I just don’t understand how it has to be that the Lutheran Church is always asked to act with something less than integrity to her Confessions. When I approach a theological issue with American Protestants, I have a good idea where they likely come from. For those keeping score at home, it looks like this:

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints


Conditional Election
Unlimited Atonement
Resistible Grace

I don’t expect them to roll over and accept what I’m saying. I don’t expect them to abandon their theological presuppositions, even the ones with which I disagree. But more often than not they expect me to do just that: throw out my confession, because it just gets in the way. It feels like a conversation with a pushy salesman. “What would it take to get you out of your confessions today?” or “Why keep saying ‘This is my body’ when it feels so good to say just about anything else?”

But it hit me that it’s working. As a church body we’re gradually taking what God has given to us to confess and just giving it up. I see it in the conversations with my own parishioners or in the questions from bible classes. Satan would have nothing more than that we give up the Gospel and supplant it with moralism and outward unity that disregards confession or Scriptural truth. It makes me sad but it also drives me to be that much more intentional about ministry. God help me and all those he’s called to serve his people to preach the Word.


2 Responses to Pulpit and Altar

  1. Joe Fremer says:

    Good for you, brother! It’s not easy being confessional. As to trying to communicate what it’s all about to our laypeople, I groused about that in my blog a couple of months ago. People just don’t want to think. They want the short answer, the Reader’s Digest version, and the most convenient solution that avoids conflict; and I suspect that this just may be the “great apostasy” Jesus predicted would happen just before His parousia.

  2. caroline says:

    I’m fairly new to your blog, but I just wanted to tell you I appreciate your entries. It’s good for us to see that we are not alone, in bad days as well as good. Thank you for sharing.

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