Too long has Lutheranism been misunderstood...
It's been misunderstood, because for too long it's been wrongly taught... To be sure, several Lutheran doctrines have always been taught - i.e. that we are saved by grace through faith, the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament, and a few other truths of the Scriptures.
But even in these doctrines, we've limited our teaching - even in terms of what our Lutheran Small Catechism teaches. We're not talking about intricate, complicated teachings, here; I'm not talking about anything "extreme". What I'm lamenting is that for some prevailing reason, we've been afraid to teach basic Lutheran doctrines in their fullness; we don't 'take these simple truths to their conclusions.
We've refused - for generations now - to teach several historic, objectively Lutheran teachings - things taught in the faithful simplicity of the 'Small Catechism. As a result, too many Lutherans have insisted that they're believing and doing Lutheran things, when in fact they're not. I once had a Lutheran pastor tell me that Lutherans shouldn't believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the bread and wine of the Sacrament, because that's what Roman Catholics believe, and therefore Martin Luther distinctly taught against this. Weird. Had this pastor ever read the Small Catechism? Another example: Many Lutherans have no idea why their Lutheran pastors says "I forgive you all your sins, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" during the Divine Service. They think, "Why is my pastor forgiving me? Only God can forgive sins."
Too long has a lack of Lutheran education been tolerated. Too long has a perversion of what is Lutheran been championed.
What I'm asserting should be understood in the kindest way, with all gentleness. To put the best construction on this matter: Most often, the perversion and limiting of Lutheran doctrine is not due to malice, but rather due to ignorance (lack of teaching; wrongly informed).
Teaching is the cure - full teaching, honest teaching, Our Lord's teaching (and not our reasoned version thereof). In other words: Catechesis - teaching what the Church of all times and places has taught - what Christ's Apostles taught, and what Christians are therefore to believe, teach and confess. An honest teaching of the Small Catechism is an excellent start...
In these gray and latter days, it has been the context of this little blog (in its sporadic offerings) to confess the Christian Faith simply, yet with substance; indeed, both are possible.
In this confession of the Christian Faith, we struggle against moderation. Here's why: We live in an age and society where nothing exclusive is allowed. While "toleration" is preached to the rooftops on almost every front, our culture is extremely intolerant of the Truth. As a rule now, we sadly avoid certainty; we shun objective things in favor of the subjective - because in the subjective, we can define ourselves any way we want, any time we want. Only God's Truth is objective, that is, always true, for all people, in every situation.
Tragically, it's this subjective, self-centered mindset has now established itself in many places in the Church on earth.
Here's what our current society doesn't recognize, or even want to know: That to take away bits and pieces of the truth is to make it be no longer the truth. A truth cannot be lessened; it is what it is. That's what makes it the truth. To moderate God's Truth is to make it your truth - and no longer God's; you've made it an altogether different and separate thing. Whatever it is, it's no longer the Truth.
All this begs the question suggested at the beginning of this post: "What, exactly, are these Lutheran, catechetical truths that we've modified, or even obscured? Confess, blogger - ame 'em!"
Indeed, they will be confessed. Each of these truths deserve their own treatment, and so will be the subjects of soon-upcoming posts. (The blogger makes a bold promise. Will he keep it?) To whet your appetite, however, here are a few examples: "When, exactly, does the bread and wine of the Sacrament become the Body and Blood of Our Lord?" "Is it right for Lutherans to make the Sign of the Cross - even often and publicly?" "Did Jesus really give my pastor the authority to forgive my sins?" "Does God really want me to go to Individual Confession?"
There you go. Buckle up.
More to come...