We live in a post-Christian society where people are uncertain of what is and is not true. Lutheran Christians have historically had a bold confession of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is one that is filled with hope and truth for people living in a postmodern, dying world. Thus as Gerhard Forde put it, “Theology is for proclamation.”
However, there has become an ever increasing trend among Lutherans to seemingly abandon their clear historic confession of faith in the face of pressures to be relevant to today’s society. Regardless of the specific Lutheran denomination from which one comes, trends are common (though they certainly may vary in degrees of abandonment), which demonstrate affinities for popular movements and claims of relevancy, rather than the classic Lutheran practice of the means of grace (Word and sacrament). Even more unfortunate, is the highly politicized and demonizing practices of the various factions and divisions within each respective body. To be sure, we must confess the truth and be willing to say, “This we confess”, but this blog aims to move past partisanship and demonizing of those who disagree, and endeavors to thoughtfully, honestly, and collegially, foster the true mission of the Holy Christian Church and what it means to be authentically Lutheran, while “discipling all nations” in the 21st century.
In my own denomination (The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod–LCMS) there has been, at least by some accounts, a half century trend to abandon what it means, and what it is, to be Lutheran. Sure, worship wars are a part of this, but even more is the confession of faith which norms the practices of our congregations and shapes the understanding of the mission of the Holy Christian Church.
Already in 1951, German Lutheran theologian, Herman Sasse, wrote this about the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod: “These facts raise what constitutes the real question of the life and death for Missouri as it has for every other Lutheran Church. It is not the question concerning the strength of the eternal organization, the constitution, the growth of the congregation, or the school system. Nor is it the question with respect to the position of the Confession as the basis for the message and work of the church. Rather it is the question concerning the strength of the Lutheran faith in the sense of the genuine deep faith of the heart in the saving Gospel, which the Holy Spirit alone can give. It is the question whether, and to what extent this strongest confessional church of Lutheranism is a truly confessing church, a church in which the Lutheran Confession is not merely held in honor as the confession of the fathers and therefore in force and untouchable, it is the question whether the Confession is the confession of a living faith of the congregation, and therefore the formative life-principle of the church. It is the question which Missouri, even as every other church, must ask herself in humility and must answer before the face of God: Are we still Lutheran?” (Letters to Lutheran Pastors, No. 20)
So according to Sasse, are we still Lutheran today? I look for constructive comments from those willing to enter the fray. In any case, I think the time is ripe for a resurgence of boldly confessing the faith. As Forde put it, “It is time to risk going over to the offense, to recapture the present tense of the gospel, to speak the unconditional promise and see what happens. To do that it will be necessary to construct a theology that is for proclamation, for going over to the offensive, not for defense.” (Theology is for Proclamation, 8).
Thus this blog aims to rejoice not only in Lutheran theology, but more aptly, theology that is meant for proclamation and subsequently, the salvation of sinners! As such, I would invite all who are interested to take part in the discussion, for the betterment of the church, for the sake of the Gospel, and for the growth of Christ’s kingdom.