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Chemical Erik

I'm curious how detailed an agreement in doctrine you claim we require. For instance, can we simply agree "I believe Jesus died for my sins and is the only hope for salvation"? What about perfect agreement in the small catechism? Perhaps the full Book of Concord? At one end, if we don't require some agreement, we're violating scripture. On the other end, if we require perfect agreement on all theological issues, no matter how minor or nuanced, we will never reach full agreement. So, where is the proper line?

FYI, I ask these question as an LCMS congregation member in Colorado, but not at your congregation.

Rick Frueh

Even the Lutherans have split over doctrine. The treatise you present is also used by the Roman Church to keep people in line. The church is not a denomination, it is the collection of born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, EACH of which is accountable for his beliefs before God. Just believing what your church teaches for the sake of unity is unbiblical.

For we shall all give account... (not the "church" in our place). By your definition Luther should have kept his mouth shut and keep the "unity".

Pr Bryan Wolfmueller

Rick,

Thanks for you comment. Of course Lutherans have split because of false doctrine. That's the point. False doctrine splits the church, at least it should.

I think you must have misunderstood my writing. We don't find the truth by first finding the church (like Rome argues); we find the church when we find the truth of the Gospel. I would never say that we should believe what the church teaches. The church believes the Words of her Lord. We cling, in simplicity, to the Lord's Word.

I'm trying to say simply that the Lord expects, commands and gives unity of doctrine.

Rick Frueh

To cite verses about unity and project them to assert doctrinal unity as opposed the unity that centers around humility and preferring each other, is in my view unsubstantiated. Especially when you have not identified the doctrines about which one must subscribe to be invited to the communion table.

The Lord's supper is for the believer in fellowship with Christ, and must not leveraged as a denominational ordinance that is only offered to those who are in unity with their particular doctrine. And for those Lutherans who teach the Lord's Supper to be a means of grace, to withold that grace as they see it, is again spiritually selfish. The Scriptures command us all individually to take inventory of our own spiritual situation.

With the standards that some set for fellowship at the communion table, I am not sure the lives of either Luther or Calvin would have provided ample evidence of being in spiritual fellowship with Christ when isolated from their writings. And so is the essence of the word grace. The grace of the Lord Jesus is offered openly to all who believe, and it is not proffered with respect of persons and their professed doctrinal slant within authentic Christianity.

Many Lutherans (and others) who can check the doctrinal boxes could not take the Word of God and show with any Scriptural specificity why they believe what they say they believe. So even though they profess doctrinal unity with their denomination, their unity and belief system relies totally upon what the minister believes. I submit that can be construed as faith in the minister and not God's Word. But they are welcomed at the Lord's Table while the Wesleyan who can show Scriptural evidence as to his beliefes is refused. That is denominational idolatry in my view. (being raised in the LCA)

So you have an expanded teaching concerning unity, and then a very tortured tethering to a closed communion not based on salvation but doctrinal unity, which is not even hinted at in either the epistles or the gospels. It may even be argued the Lord Himself allowed Judas to participate at the first communion, however that hold no doctrinal weight either way without corresponding teachings in the epistles.

Pr Bryan Wolfmueller

Rick,

I took most of the closed communion stuff out of this article because of the broader theological audience. There are a few paragraphs closing the loop on our church website here: www.hope-aurora.org/pages/NewTeachingandCommunion if you are interested.

Of course Judas communed. This doesn't trouble my doctrine of closed communion at all. Judas, after all, was a Lutheran, not a Methodist. (The pastor does not have the prerogative of searching out the faith in the heart. This is the providence of God alone. Closed communion is a matter of external confession.)

You, by the way, are a pietist (which I suspect you know and are not insulted by. Let me know if this is offensive and I'll be more careful.). And I wrote the article with pietists in mind.

The question simply is: ought there to be unity of doctrine in the Lord's church? The Scriptures answer "yes", do they not?
PrBW

Rick Frueh

Pietist? I don't mind, I like pie. :)

In reality, I am a simple sinner, saved by grace, who is a follower of Jesus Christ and in need of His grace every day. Judas was a Lutheran? That Luther sure made the rounds.

Peace.

Deborah

Okay, don't scorn me because I was raised modern evangelical and have only recently began attending an expository teaching church, but as long as we agree on the Apostle's Creed and search the scriptures to see if what our leaders are teaching is true, is that not enough? In general terms does that cover unity? I realize there are a lot of false teachers out there (some of whom I have had the displeasure of knowing well), but when a church has a book of bylaws 500 pages long and one is told they can't be in unity unless they agree to it, it seems (and forgive my lousy Vineyard upbringing) a little excessive. Scripture seems so easy, and when we spend so much time and energy explaining it, we've got as many different Talmuds as we have denominations. If I'm wrong, you can excommunicate me. :)

GZ

Thanks for the comments, Deborah. I've got to warn you though...WATCH OUT! If you turn the opening phrase of your next-to-last sentence to "Scripture seems so clear," and continue to search the Scriptures to see if what the leaders are saying is true, you're eventually going to wind up Lutheran.

Deborah

You know....
Nah, never mind. My husband and I are still happy singing Chris Tomlin songs ( :P ) at our Calvary Chapel, but whenever our pastor goes to meet our Savior, we'll probably begin the hunt for a new church. We love hymns, so is that good enough to become Lutheran? Oh, wait, you guys still rock the organ, right? Not sure if we're ready to change THAT much. Plus I don't own any "Sunday Best" threads. Boy, am I in trouble! No Lutheran for me! :(

Lisa

I think sometimes we approach this from the wrong starting point. Are the scriptures clear in what they say? If they are (which I would say they are), we should be working together to understanding the truth (doctrine). Knowing that there are many different beliefs held about the scriptures doesn't mean that we should leave it at "to each his own." Jesus prayed that we would be one, as He and the Father are one... I don't think they would have different opinions on what The Lord's Supper really is.

If we start from a place of striving for unity, rather than finding a way to say why our divisions are ok, maybe we might actually end up being united.

Once a "charismatic non-denominational" - now a Lutheran.

glenn Leatherman

“While I am not Luthern, I appreciate your love for unity around the truth of God's Word. The questions I have are:

1. Does "unity of mind" mean uniformity, unity, or unison? I know the word specifically is unity but is the proper meaning in these context uniformity, unity, or unison?

2. Since a Confession (Statement of Faith) is adopted by each individual congregation, what happens to those members who vote against (or cannot adhere to) the adoption of a new confession or an admended Confession?

3. Must a teacher (not just elders/pastors) in a church teach in accordance with and not contrary to the stated confession of the church or resign?

4. Can a teacher hold in abeyance or suspension part of the confession he doesn't understand (while also not teaching against it) and continue to teach while he is working out his theology?

5. What if a confession is proven wrong on some point of Biblical Theology or Biblical exegesis? Is there a prodecure to change it?

6. What happens of a pasor/elder comes to a position in disagreement with his chuch's confession and cannot teach in accordance with and not contrary to the Church's confession?

7. In striving for unity, and disagreement arises over a confessional position, when is it appropriate to fall back to the confession as the correct Biblical position that the chuch stands on and when is it right to change it to conform to the Scriptures?

8. Also, is it right to follow a modern trend in most evangelical churches today to truncate the gospel to make unity (or peace) happen?

9. If not what is the effect of preaching a biblical (and thick (covering the whole of salvaiton not just justification)) gospel?”

10. How does one help others see the importance of confessional unity in a church especially amongst the leadership?

The answers one gives will make a big difference how the goverance and infrastructure grows in the life of the church. It also helps define how one interprets "unity of Mind" as either uniformity, unity, or unison. Your perspective on these qustions would be helpful to me.

Treasuring Christ...
Glenn

Exodus1

If indeed God dwells in a man—by His own doing— then that man would without question be like God. That man would speak like Him, that man would reason like Him, that man would walk like Him, that man would confront like Him, all that is within that man would be perfected in power by God’s gracious will and immutable purpose. The true liberty of conscience and affirmation granted by God would move that man. God would give to that man what he has never had before: freedom from the weak and worthless elemental things of this world!

God’s own would then have power over the men who walk in the deadness of themselves—those who seek to take advantage of their fellow man through deception and violence—freedom from their ways of influence, their systems of financial leverage, their entreating self-made religion, their corrupt social roles, their Sunday niceties, and all the power that these institutions and individuals represent would no longer enslave the mind and soul of the one God has approved. Moreover, all of the worlds things would rightly belong to the one God gives Himself to. This man would walk in true knowledge among the powers of this age, made to know that all things are used by the Father to perfect the son: every encounter, every event, every experience, every person, every thought, every action, every suffering, every joy, every righteous conflict……..
Everything that is anything would belong to the man who possesses the one true God!

The Christian church of today claims to be His ambassador, but the modes and qualities of this ambassador resemble one seeking to endear herself to the world instead of standing against it—a powerless, insecure child trying to win favor with the neighborhood children.

The “house of the Lord” should be filled with those who look like Him.
Have you not read that God gave strict orders as to how the temple must be built?

By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
1 John 2:5-6

Here is the rub....He will either make you look like Him, or you will just say He looks like you. Thank God for righteous division! Remember, "You (those who are His) will know them (those who are truely His and those who falsely claim to be His) by their fruits."

Don't you children understand that the Spirit knows the Spirit!

Or are you so arrogant that you believe God is divided and cannot bring unity to His own?

Allen Christensen

Pastor Bryan--

Would you rather partake of Holy Communion in a Lutheran Church that advocates diversity, such as homosexuality, and has completely gone out on left field or would you rather have Holy Communion in a Baptist Church, for example, that stands firmly upon morality and the basic Cardinal Doctrines as presented in scripture?

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