Few things grate on me more than someone of another Christian body, or most annoyingly, often within my own fellowship, who insists on labeling Confessional Lutheran Evangelical Catholics, such as my self, Protestants! Happened today/yesterday on one Lutheran site, where I would have hoped they would know better. But more on that one in a bit . . . it got worse!
Doubly grating, is to have the Lutheran Reformation, which was truly by its definition a reformation, lumped in together with that rather amorphous creature now bandied about as the “Protestant Reformation,” which was a history created by a rejection of the known Church, and of creating altogether new “churches.” Confessional Lutherans, as evidenced amply by their incredible work in writing and amassing the phenomenal Book of Concord, had much to say about those separatists and sects who were never a part of the Confessional Lutheran Reformation.
The Lutheran Reformation of 1517, which we Confessional Lutherans worldwide will commemorate in October (we’ve already begun, actually) will highlight the great insights of Martin Luther, and how they, over the years down to today, were the germinal beginnings of the great Reformation of the Holy Catholic Church and the One Holy Faith that the Confessors intended, in the Book of Concord of 1580. Not to be argumentative, but the other “churches” that were invented around the same time period, are not a part of our celebration. Luther invented nothing. He began the reformation of the One Holy Church, which had veered from its course and was in sore need of correction.
It is ironic that those the Lutheran Reformation tried most to help in the task, are to this day the harshest critics of the Reformation, and many times moreso about Luther. Of course, I speak of the Roman Catholic Church. There is, among their communion, and taught for almost five centuries, a visceral hatred of Luther. Yet some, somehow, “get it.” Forty years ago this year, at age 24, and after my then lifetime as an RC, got it. Happens. That is its own story, which I shall tell someday.
Have you ever noticed, when reading various articles about Churches – Lutherans, and especially Confessional Lutherans – are just “ho, hum” overlooked? Or how, when the discussion turns to the “catholic” churches, only Rome, Constantinople and Canterbury are discussed? Odd, that, since Confessional Lutheranism is really the most “catholic” of the four. Of course, saying so in their company borders on anathema! Beware, heretic! Uh, yeah, sure. Lemme go get a beer so I can “beware.”
Some who read this will, at this point, turn the switch to “Off” and move on undeterred and unconvinced.. But the Lutheran Reformation, and NOT the “Enlightenment” – was the signal moment of Western civilization. Way before the French went loony tunes, as is their wont, the Lutheran Reformation had set in motion any number of things that brought clarity to Western civilization down to this day and age.
Now, I rarely have any among the Brethren who take issue with such matters, or object to being called “Confessional Lutheran Evangelical Catholics.” Most of them understand that those words are pregnant with meaning. I have used it in my Pastor’s Classes to great success, helping my newbies to distinguish and understand why we do what we do as we do, and why we believe as we do. I try to instill in them right off the bat that being who and what we are is an open witness to the world, a point the mere Lutheran protestants so often overlook.
But we are caught in the middle. Dissed by the other “Catholic” confessions, and now being undermined horribly by the calvinists, who seem intent on destroying all matters liturgical as well as sacramental. They are always looking for new ways to express the SOS of calvinism. They stink up the joint, frankly.
Yet, we must contend not with the three three other Catholic confessions and our proper connections there, we must deal with the ever-encroaching calvinism that has placed its anti-Incarnational land-mines all over our landscape. And their programmatic approach to all things “Church,” as if they had “invented” evangelism and witnessing, and we backward Lutherans need to listen to them – their programs have become a sizeable sort of library all its own. “Whoops, that didn’t work, let’s try this one!” It’s like one of their “hymns” where the flock is forced to sing one single verse 18 times over to “inspirational,” decidedly unLutheran music. Lutherans can boast of some of the finest musicians and lyricists, and yet we get the spiritualized versions of “Johnny B. Goode!” – even as we approach the Altar for reception of the Blessed Eucharist! It should make one feel unclean, but it seems senses have been dulled within the Church every bit as much as in society. Our once pre-eminent theology is now held to the whims of what once was called “vulgar,” and accepted “in the Name of Jesus.” I sincerely doubt Jesus wants His Name attached!
Gag me with a spoon! I speak for myself only, but back in 1977 when Pastor K handed this young, but furrily well-educated Roman Catholic the Book of Concord, everything changed. The “Church of All Ages” took on its special and intended meaning, and I cannot step back nor will I – the Lord willing – ever in this skin! Lord, save us from ourselves!
I have spent the last day is a discussion about “authority in the protestant Church.” Thus far, I have received the usual (and expected) “Yes, but’s.” Fine by me, but the answer will not be found going in that direction. I learned long ago what is the incontestable authority in the Confessional Lutheran Church, and the one thing it is most certainly not, is a bunch of enlightened opinions. The answer is cut and dried for those who truly seek the answer. I did, and I found it, so . . . please . . . I thank you in advance . . .
Do Not Call Me a Protestant!