Official Publication of the LMS-USA
Volume 2, Number 4
Dankof Received on Clergy Roster
Pastor Mark Dankof, San Antonio, Texas, was recently received to the
clergy roster of the LMS-USA. He received his B.A. from Valparaiso
University and his M. Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in
Chicago. He plans further post graduate study at St. Mary's University in
MINISTRY AND MISSSION ADMIST THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES
by Rev. Mark Dankof
In what would appear to many to be the twilight of both secular history
and the church age, questions about ministry and mission abound in the
context of the malignant state of ecclesiastical structures and the
terrifying decline of Western civilization and culture in a post Christian
These questions are repristin-ated in the renewed attempt to create,
under God's sovereign direction, a distinctively traditional, confessional,
evangelical Lutheran synod against the back-drop of the existence of hostile
cultural and theological forces. The intensity of the imperative to produce
coherent Biblical answers to questions of ministry and mission is magnified,
not simply by the adversarial role of the conditions of the larger culture
and institutional church, but by the public awareness of previous attempts to
establish a confessional center in American Lutheranism, which ended in
cynicism and failure. Perhaps more importantly, ministry and mission cannot
legitimately be undertaken by anyone in a long term sense, aside from the
philosophical and theological task of framing questions and answers which
create a consistent ideological foundation for one's understanding of the
task of the church Militant in the midst of a dying world.
The new Lutheran Ministerium and Synod - USA can succeed in spite of the
spirit of the present age, if it maintains a firm grip on its theological
identity and methodology, and avoids the tragic tendency to accommodate
either apostate liberalism and universalism on the left, or a sectarian
spirit on the starboard end of the denominational spectrum. The balance
inherent in sound Lutheran theology historically, proclaimed by the LSM - USA
nationally, can then serve to provide sound 16th century answers to questions
of ministry and mission in a package which will serve to meet the needs of a
bewildered institutional church and culture nearing the beginning of the 21st
What are the key components of a theology which will provide a new Synod
with the foundation for existence and practical out-reach in a darkening
cosmos? The questions and answers, summarized without parallel by the
Augsburg Confession and the other seminal confessional documents of the Book
of Concord, include three (3) loci, or pillars of faith and practice.
The first of these is the orthodox Lutheran subscription to the written
Word of God as reliable in all it affirms (II Tim. 3:16 and II Peter 1:21).
The subscription of the LMS - USA to the reliability and infallibility of
Scripture testifies not only to the absolute trustworthiness of the Triune
God and Jesus Christ, but to the understanding of Luther regarding the
indispensable link between the written Word and the operation of the Holy
Spirit in history. The Holy Spirit reveals the previously definitive
location by means of the Word. The Spirit speaks only through the Word,
which testifies to the connection between our salvation and the historical
Jesus Christ. The commitment of the new LMS - USA to a verifiable,
historically accurate record of the acts of the biblical God in history,
embodied in Jesus Christ and revealed by the Spirit of God utilizing the
appointed means (the Word), thus serves as the Synod's witness against both
neo-orthodoxy on the Lutheran left, and the encroachment of 16th century
Muntzerian enthusiasm in the form of 20th century neo-Pentecostal-ism. Both
unbelieving rationalism and an individualized revelation outside of the
written Word are thus jettisoned, for the assurance of the testimony of the
prophets and apostles under the illumination of the Third Person of the
Trinity (Ephesians 3:5).
Second, the LMS-USA must locate its Gospel in the Theology of the Cross
(theologia crucis) as articulated in Luther's Heidelberg Disputation of 1518.
Properly understood, the revelation of God for humanity occurs in the
mysterious and paradoxical backdrop of the suffering and apparent catastrophe
of Calvary. Paul writes in First Corinthians 1:18-25:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God... "Jews demand
miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified:
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gen-tiles, but to those whom God
has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of
God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the
weakness of God is stronger than man's strength."
Does God then, reveal Himself in mystery, paradox, and suffering? And
if the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, in an-swering this question
in the af-firmative are correct, what are the implications for the Lutheran
Ministerium and Synod - USA in a theological world which desires to attract
the culture of today with demonstrable examples of God working through power,
prosperity, technology, and mass popularity in an America where marketplace
success serves as the only litmus test for truth? Or will our new synod find
its focus in the theology of Paul, Augustine, Luther, and the Confessions?
Or will it succumb to "Church Growth" seminars, the pressure to toss
overboard the historic liturgy of the church, and the ego enhancing false
dogma of direct, unmediated revelation of the Spirit outside of the Cross and
the Word which testifies to it? The answers will determine our understanding
of ministry and mission today, along with our place in history from God's
perspective, prior to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is a third and final ingredient which should be inherent in the
lives of the people who constitute our new Synod and who will attempt
ministry and mission work within its confines. This is a dawning recognition
that in the final days for the church age preceding our Lord's return, the
Holy Christian Church, standing on the Word and the sufficiency of the Cross,
will be of necessity, a remnant gathering. As confirmed by our Lord in the
Olivet discourse (Matthew 24, Mk. 13, Lk. 21), those living for the Gospel in
the final hours of human history will experience the ravages of the deceptive
acts of false prophets, persecution, betrayal, hatred, division, and increase
in wickedness, and the growth of coldness and the decline of love. May this
explain the tragedies in many of the lives of those who have fought to
preserve the confessional Lutheran faith in an hour of decadence and evil?
Does this eschatological road map indicate what is yet to come in the lives
of believers who persevere to the end of time and who will proclaim the Word
and the Cross alone as the places where God has revealed and identified
Himself? If the answer is in the affirmative, the pastors, the leaders, and
the faithful remnant of our confession who step forward in faith with the
LMS- USA, will find their blessings, paradoxically, in ministering with sound
doctrine and integrity against the backdrop of an age which knows the meaning
of neither and which militates against the Gospel with all of its might. Let
us move forward without illusion of false foundation in opposing the spirit
of this age, and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God which soon
may be consummate in the eschaton itself.
LMS - USA Pastors and Congregations Give Thanks to, and for, The AALC.
Those LMS - USA congregations and Pastors coming from the American
Association of Lutheran Churches have expressed a sense of thankfulness for
the AALC. They are thankful for that church body for it enabled what would
become the core of LMS - USA to meet and learn to know of one anothers shared
common theology and to ascertain the need for a non Charismatic Moderate
Conservate or Middle Conservative Confessional Lutheran Church Body.
We made note of the coverage given to the formation of LMS-USA in the
July issue of the EVANGEL and express our thank you for that coverage.
Although we do not share a common doctrinal and theological base with the
AALC especially in regard to the matter of "charismatic, renewal, church
growth orientation," nonetheless, we will wel-come future theolgical dialogue
with the AALC as well as with all other judicatories claiming the Lutheran
Although LMS-USA was begun by a core of congregations and pastors
previously associated with the AALC it is already moving beyond that origin.
Barley Congregation, Bakers Summit, PA, as reported in the AALC EVANGEL was
not a member of the AALC, and now others too are coming into the LMS-USA who
likewise were not member pastors or member congregations of the AALC.
Already as of this writing LMS-USA is no longer just a grouping that came
forth from the AALC.
We have however just received into our fellowship a Pastor who was one
of the initial founders of the AALC but who withdrew from the AALC because of
the growing charismatic / church growth orientation that was taking place
just two to three years after the AALC formation. Though our LMS-USA
make-up will quickly move beyond its AALC origin, it is our prayer that the
good lessons learned during the sojourn in the AALC will not be forgotten.
In some ways it was a very good education for us and we aught always to give
thanks to God for good lessons that have been learne. Thus in this sense
also, we give thanks for the AALC.
Rev. Roy Steward
Avilable very soon... An excellent booklet by Rev. Julius V. Kimpel
THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT IN THE LUTHERAN CHURCH W/ STUDY GUIDE
At minimal cost - Send request to:
P.O. Box 31
Chetek, WI 54728
BARLEY TO ASSIST PA CONGREGATION
Rev. H. Richard Barley II was installed as Assistant Pastor of the PA.
General Parish at a Joint Worship Service held by the Faith and Barley
congregations on June 20, 1995.
This Central Pennsylvania Ev. Lutheran Ministerium and General Parish
is composed of Faith Ev. Lutheran Congregation, Altoona and Barley Ev.
Lutheran Congregation, Bakers Summit. Pastor Barley will assist in
additional PA. Mission starts and contacts as well as in various duties
within the Parish. He continues to own and operate a Financial Services
Business, in the Harrisburg PA area and has already been of immense help to
the LMS-USA Pastors and congregations in helping to establish "Health
Coverage Programs" and "Pension Plans" for the LMS-USA Pastors.
Pastor Barley is making official application for membership on the
LMS-USA Clergy Roster.
LMS SEAL CHANGE
The Official Seal of LMS-USA was intitially intended as an equilateral
triangle with the Luther Rose on the Inside and the Luther Solas surrounding
the exterior of the triangle. Across the base of the triangle were the
words "Scripture Alone". On the left hand side of the triangle were the
words "Grace alone" and on the right hand side of the triangel the words,
"Faith alone". All of this would be kept as is but at the top point of the
triangle we have decided to add the 4th Sola or the words "Christ Alone"
It was felt that the upper most point of the triangle points to Christ
alone and that indeed that is the object of all that forms the triangle -
Scripture alone points to Christ alone; likewise Faith alone is in Christ
alone; and certainly Grace alone is achieved and imputed to us each and all
by Christ alone. Likewise our Luther-an Confessions represented by the
Luther Rose are the true explication of Holy Scripture and thus are likewise
pointing to Christ alone.
The suggestion for the inclusion of the 4th Sola as part of our Logo
Seal came from an AALC friend. We are very thankful for this suggestion for
it is exactly in line with where we are coming from in the LMS-USA.LMS Seal
STATEMENT ON THE HOLY SPIRIT AND HIS PROPER WORK
Our LMS-USA Ministerium is currently formulating a statement on the Holy
Spirit and his Proper Work.
The contextual outline for the proposed LMS Holy Spirit statement
follows the catechetical statement of Dr. Josef Stumpf.
I. His person and Nature: He is true God
II. His work: He calls, enlightens, sanctifies, and preserves me [the
believer(s)] in the true faith.
III. His Workmanship: The Holy Christian Church
IV. The Fruits of His Work: 1. The forgiveness of sins. 2. The resurrection
of the body, and life everlasting.
In the context of this framework the proposal is to list specifically
those areas of doctrine that LMS-USA supports and those areas of doctrine
LMS-USA rejects. For example such a statement will almost certainly include
reference to the LMS-USA conviction that the Holy Spirit does His working
solely through Word and Sacrament and that His primary work is that of
pointing to Jesus, etc....
Additionally the Ministerium is reviewing the writings of the Book of
Concord additional to the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and Luther's Small
Catechism with the intent to consider recomending that the Steering Committee
of LMS-USA act to adopt these as Subscriptional documents of the body.
LMS-USA AND THE INTERNET
LMS-USA is about to launch its own World Wide Web home page. Through
the capable computer/ Internet advice and expertise of Arik Johnson, a member
of Christ Lutheran, Chetek, and the folks of Aurora Worldwide Development
Corporation, LMS-USA will soon use this amazing new media to 'get our message
out' as well as to link us with other Lutherans holding to our confessional
and Biblical stance.
We already use America Online to spread our message (our founding
documents and this newsletter) but our own home page is the next step, and
to a world wide audience!
THE FUNCTIONS OF CONFESSIONS TODAY
by Dr. Charles S. Anderson
The Lutheran Confessions obviously had a place in the history of the
Lutheran Church but is there a place for the confessions in the life of the
Church today? In his book, Faith And Freedom (Augsburg Pub. House, 1977),
Dr. Anderson addresses this question.
Earlier in chapter 2 the author makes the point that many deal with the
Confessions as one might deal with legal documents. There are others who
understand them and deal with them as historical artifacts. Dr. Anderson
finds it more helpful to see the Confessions as pointers, treasures, and
The Confessions are pointers. In a refreshingly unselfconscious manner
they point beyond themselves to the Scriptures. They insist, "that the
prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments are the only
rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be
appraised and judged" (F.C.Ep. p. 464; see also p. 505).
According to the Confessions the Scriptures themselves have a pointing
function; they point beyond themselves to their center, to Christ. Whenever
I think of the Confessors and their self-understanding as pointers to the
Scriptures and to Jesus Christ, I think of a painting by Matthias Grunewald,
a picture of the crucified Christ with some onlookers standing by. One of
the watchers is John the Baptist who is pointing at the central figure. If
you look at the figure of John carefully, you will note that something is
wrong with the picture. The pointing finger on the hand raised toward Jesus
is elongated out of proportion. This was the artist's way of showing John's
self-perception: "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:20). The
Confessors stand in that tradition of pointing beyond themselves.
Secondly, the Confessions are treasures. They are a part of the living
tradition of the church. They are a part, of what the New Testament period
called the paradosis, the root word of which means "to hand over the goods,
to deliver." St. Paul uses it when he says, "For I received from the Lord
what I also delivered to you" (I Corinthians 11:23). The New Testament
community was convinced of the possibility of handing over the goods, that
some things could be committed, transmitted. At first this was done by oral
tradition but at a very early time they also turned to written statements.
Certain terms were used to indicate this type of material: faith (I Timothy
3:13, 6:21, Jude 3); confession (1 Timothy 6:12, Hebrews 3:1, 10:23);
doctrine of Christ (2 John 9); standard of teaching (Romans 6:17). The early
Christians were convinced that there was a kernel of doctrine, which was
normative and which could be expressed and passed on as a part of the living
tradition of the community. These little confessional nuggets are usually
found in the midst of statements of praise and also of recognition of sin.
Confession of sin is a part of doxology because it is an acknowledgment of
one's place before God, and thus is a statement of honor and praise to God
for his mercy.
Another feature of life in the early church indicates this combination
of confession of faith and doxology. The early Christians were marked off
from contemporary Judaism by the confession, "Jesus is Messiah." In contrast
to those who still waited for God to come and restore what was lost, some
Christians affirmed that he had already and in fact done his great work in
the person of Jesus of Nazareth. In the Romans world, however, another
confession was needed. Here the words change to "Jesus [or Christ] is Lord."
This was in direct opposition to the civil religion of that day which
insisted that Caesar was Lord. The Christian confession was the cause for
death in many instances. It praised God in the person of his son, and thus
was a statement both of faith and of doxology. It was and is a part of the
living tradition of the church.
Finally, consider the Confessions as anchors. In a time of theological
and political relativism, when any position seems as acceptable as any other,
as long as someone happens to feel strongly enough about it, the words of our
Lord take on particular meaning, "Everyone then who hears these words of mine
and does them will be like the wise man who built his house upon the rock
(Matthew 7:24). Now, of course we cannot apply these words directly to the
Confessions, but insofar as and because they present the Scriptures they are
Confessional statements are necessary. They are needed in connection
with the unity of the church, to preserve the truth of the Scriptures, to
guard the proclamation, to regulate life and teaching. Remember how they
come from times of great stress and controversy. We will see how they
addressed the issues and so held the community close to its central message.
Statements of faith are necessary. They are also very dangerous if they
lead us to conclude that our correct words and statements somehow or other
capture God and enable us to manipulate him to our own theological ends. If
they hinder us from distinguishing between the Scriptures and the theological
statements drawn from them, they are being used contrary to the intention of
their writers. While they quote the church fathers, they note pointedly that
the final test is always the Scriptures. The fathers of the church "were men
who could err and be deceived" (Apol. XXIV, 95, p. 267).
For all of the dangers, such statements are necessary. We are not allowed
the luxury of retreat into either mysticism or irrationalism. God addresses
persons in his Word; he addresses the whole person, including the mind.
Words, statements, intellect... all are to be used, but always with the note
of humility, with a spirit of tentativeness that recognizes that our best
statements are never the last word; that they are subject to error and are in
need of constant correction; that we do see as through a mirror dimly (I
Corinthians 13:12); and that only in the final time will God make all things
new and complete.
As an anchor the Confessions also are needed as a constant test of how
we proclaim and live the message of our Lord. They serve as a guide to the
interpretation of the Scriptures. Both the Scriptures and the Confessions
hold the saving action of God in Jesus Christ as their central interpretive
theme. When looking at the Word of God, the Lutherans underline the words,
"these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of
God, and that believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31).
The Lutheran documents center on Christ and the event of salvation.
This is the main message of the Scriptures and also provides the basic line
of proper interpretation. "It leads in a preeminent way to the clear and
proper understanding of all of Scripture, it alone points the way to the
inexpressible treasure and right knowledge of Christ, and it alone opens the
door into the whole Bible. Without this article no poor conscience can have
a proper, constant, and certain comfort or discern the riches of Christ's
grace" (Apol. IV, 2, p. 107).
Christ and his saving work on our behalf are the center of the
Scriptures; to confront us with this message is its saving purpose. This
message, this interpretation, is not generally acceptable or popular; the
gospel is always offensive. The Confessions as anchor tend to pull us back
and hold us to the gospel center of the Christian message.
Finally, the confessions serve as an anchor that holds us from drifting
into heresy. Heresy is a bad word for some people today. The idea that
someone can judge another's position and declare it in error goes against our
commitment to freedom of expression, to pluralism in thought and practice.
However out of date it may seem, the Confessions maintain that it is possible
to depart from the apostolic faith, that it is possible to withdraw from the
faithful community. Certainly variety of theological position is possible,
even within the biblical record. Certainly there are many voices claiming my
attention, offering the latest insights into every possible subject. But
don't say they are all of equal value; don't pretend they are all right, all
acceptable as long as someone feels strongly about them and is committed to
them. It is possible to be wrong. And to be wrong in one's relationship to
God in Jesus Christ is a matter of permanent consequence.
By centering our thoughts on Jesus Christ, by calling us back again and
again to this center, the Confessions provide a footing against the currents,
winds, and tides that swirl around and within every believer.
How should we regard the Confessions today? As pointers, treasures, and
anchors. As such they provide both continuity with the wealth of the insight
of the past, and also openness and responsiveness to the needs of the present
and future. On the basic issues they do address our day. They are and can
be our confessions.
What does it mean to subscribe to the Confessions, to make them our own?
It means to recognize that their contents are confession of faith, not rules;
they are evangelical witnesses, not legal requirements. Therefore one does
not witness to, but with the Confessions, as they and we subordinate
ourselves to the Scriptures which point to the center, to Christ.
In this sense the Confessions are liberating documents because they
constantly refer us to the gospel and tell us its meaning. They thus free us
from all kinds of autonomous or heteronomous theologies; they free us to
assume a theonomous stance. An autonomous theology centers upon, and takes
direction from the self. One that is heteronomous is influenced by external
forces. A theonomous stance sees all of life in relation to God.
The gospel, the good news of God in Jesus Christ, is always contrary to
our natural schemes. We are by nature legalists, and would like to believe
that in some way we have a claim on God, that his grace in some sense depends
on our goodness, our intellect, our piety. The good news is that we are
loved because of what God is, not what we are and deserve. This message is
never something that one memorizes, or captures and then has forever. We are
reminded of it each day, or we turn again to some self-centered,
self-praising scheme, some theology of barter in which we trade our supposed
goodness for God's approval and acceptance.
The gospel frees us, and the Confessions understand and lead us to the
gospel. They may use language at times that is foreign to us and difficult
to understand. They may fight some battles that no longer excite or interest
us. They may even make historical and exegetical judgments that are
incorrect. But they do direct us to the gospel, and so are freeing and
Reprinted, with the permission of the author, from Faith and Freedom, Charles
S. Anderson, Mpls., MN: Augsburg, 1977.
LITTLESTOWN, PA - The Living Faith Evangelical Free Lutheran Mission
Congregation in Littlestown, PA. is a new work supported by three of the
LMS-USA congregations. The congregation, whose make up is very youthful,
meets for worship in the local YMCA.
As is the case with many congregations today, this new congregation has had a
problem finding pianists and organists to lead the liturgy and hymnody of
Sunday worship. Thanks to a very creative member of the congregation, they
have developed a sound and tape deck system which allows the congregational
singing to be supported by a full orchestra and organ. Living Faith now
follows a very definite Lutheran liturgical order supported by very high
quality and lively music. If anyone has interest in this equipment and/or
how it works, contact: Rev. Larry Douthwaite, 44 Craft Way, Littlestown, PA
THE LMS-USA ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION were stamped as received by the
Pennsylvania Department of State on August 16 and stamped as approved by the
same Commonwealth Department on August 25, 1995.
The LMS-USA application for group tax exemption is now underway.
PASTORS SPEARS AND ERICKSON ATTEND CLC CONFERENCE.
Our LMS-USA President/Pastor and Ministerium Secretary represented the LMS at
the August Pastors Conference of the Church of the Lutheran Confessions in
Eau Claire, WI.
We have been delighted with the interaction that we have had with the CLC
folks. Several of their Pastors have attended each of our past Indianapolis
Conferences as observers and have expressed a desire to continue the
practice. We of LMS-USA will reciprocate. We do not hold Altar and Pulpit
Fellowship with the CLC but welcome the opportunities for continued dialogue.
CHRIST LUTHERAN, CHETEK, WI - A unaminious second congregational vote on
August 23, means that Christ Lutheran Church joined with their pastor as a
charter subscription member of the LMS-USA.
MINISTRY IN THE INNER CITY - St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Indianapolis, IN,
finds itself on the near East side Inner City and has for several years
looked after some of the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter for those
in the immediate neighborhood and those transient to the area.
Vacation Bible School is always special at St. Matthew and this August found
about 70 children from the congregation and neighborhood involved in a
program featuring the days of Jesus with stories, plays, music and crafts
even refreshments (dates, figs and matzoh) appropriate to His time.
Twenty-eight adults acted as shepherds, teachers, craftsmen and women,
musicians, and actors in the Bible plays.
It was a busy time. Two children from the area were autistic and needed
constant supervision not to mention the usual livelyness especially of the
younger ones who often have little place to play during the day.
Rally day (Sept. 10), this year, featured an ice cream social for the
neighborhood in the church parking lot. This was followed by entertainment
(plays on the Old Testament with a good dash of humor thrown in) in the down
FAITH EV. LUTH., ALTOONA, PA, has completed the purchase of its new property.
Renovation of the 40' X 70' block building which accompanied the property has
begun. The new Faith Lutheran Church will be in the neighboring town of
Duncansville, PA, but the church office will remain at its Altoona address.
Creative plans include a sanctuary with seating for 135, a kitchenette,
restrooms, three class rooms, and an upstairs storage area. The congregation
has targeted Christmas Eve as the date for its first worship service in the
PIQA, OH - Bethel Independent Lutheran Congregation, Piqua Ohio has
annouced the beginning of its very first Confirmation Class. Bethel
congregation is approaching 1 year of age and we at LMS-USA rejoice at this
new development in its life. The Congregation celebrated its first Holy
Baptism several months previous.
Bethel Congregation sent its Pastor, The Rev. Dr. Michael Bennett and a lay
representative as observers to the April 1995 Constituting Conference of
LMS-USA. Prior to their own formation as a congregation they had sent the
Pastor and a delegate to the 1994 Indianapolis Conference.
DECATUR, IL - CLS CONVENTION - LMS-USA Acting President/Pastor, Rev. Ralph
Spears attended the Convention of our newly formed sister Lutheran Church
Body - The Lutheran Confessional Synod. LCS Bishop, The Rev. Randy De
Jaynes, has been an observer at our Indianapolis Conferences and our
President has reciprocated and been warmly welcomed at the LCS annual
convention held October 19-20 in Decatur, Illinois. LCS has grown out of
former LCA congregations and Pastors hailing from the earlier General Council
- USA and the Tennessee Synod of Eastern Lutheran-ism. We appreciate very
much this interactive opportunity even though we of LMS-USA are not in Altar
and Pulpit fellowship with the LCS.
THE GREAT 'SOLAS' by Rev. Ralph Spears
A RECENT SAYING FROM THE COLLECTIVE 'MIND' OF ADVERTISING IS THAT LESS
IS MORE'! IN THE CASE OF DIET SODA - WE SEE THE POINT THEY'RE MAKING - LESS
CALORIES- MORE FUN IN COKE OR SEVEN-UP!
BUT THE SAME IS TRUE FOR OUR STATEMENT OF BASIC FAITH, Sola Fides, FAITH
ALONE, Sola Gratia, GRACE ALONE AND Sola Scriptura, SCRIPTURE ALONE, AND OF
COURSE THE GREATEST SOLA , Sole Christus - CHRIST ALONE !
YOU REMEMBER IT AS " BY GRACE ARE YOU SAVED THROUGH FAITH - THROUGH
SCRIPTURE ALONE - IN CHRIST ALONE !"
CHRIST, FAITH, GRACE AND SCRIPTURE STAND ALONE - BY THEMSELVES, FOR
IN THEM IS SINGULAR TRUTH AND NOTHING ELSE IS NECESSARY BECAUSE NOTHING COULD
BE ADDED THAT WOULD BRING GREATER FULLNESS OR FULFILLMENT! THESE BASIC SOLAS
NOT ONLY "'HIT THE SPOT' BUT ARE FULFILLED WITHIN THEMSELVES, SO THAT WHAT
SEEMS TO BE 'LESS' IS ACTUALLY COMPLETE!
The Latin word Sola, translated "Alone" then doesn't mean lonely or
lacking, but complete in itself. When the Christian Faith is limited to all
of these 'solas' then less IS more !
On the other hand, those who study the physics of astronomy -
astrophysicists, speak of the moment before what we call God's Creation as
the "Moment" or "Point" of "SINGULARITY."
Fascinating, isn't it - that before time and space began to be, there
was only GOD at a MOMENT before time - singular and complete in HIMSELF, for
HE was indeed the POINT of SINGULARITY from which HE moved to create or bring
about - all created things including those things we take so for granted -
time and space! So that which contained all things in potential was
contained within a single dot, never mind how big the dot was either, for it
was all there was; complete, singular, standing alone. And, there was no
other, besides HIM. Less is more in this Singularity because IT is
When we say Christ Alone, we are not restricting or imposing limits
on others; rather we are identifying and pointing to that source from which
all things came to be. As John asserts very simply in his Gospel, "all
things were made through HIM, and without HIM was not anything made that was
made," As GOD moved from HIS point of singularity and created all things
through the SON, the first born of creation, time and space and all that IS,
came TO BE!
"For in HIM (Christ) all the full-ness of God was pleased to dwell."
I have heard people say that they only need Christ, and I would agree.
However, it is said to the exclusion of all else. While In Christ, is
EVERYTHING and in proper perspective. Not exclusive, but inclusive of all of
LIFE, "for in Him was life and THIS life was the light of men" (John 1:4)
When we say Faith Alone we seek not to exclude any. Rather, we point to
the only means of truly perceiving Our Father in Christ. There are and
always have been, such subtle and deceptive ways in 'do it yourself faith'
which is not faith at all but man's own means of creating God in his own
image. The Tower of Babel ( Gen. 11 ) was only one of the very early notable
attempts at MAN made religion which never works. When any man manufactures
his own religious experience and calls it 'faith' - it is empty and he only
deceives himself as the Epistles of Paul, John and James attest.
When we say Grace Alone, we witness to the loving nature of Our Father
who ALWAYS reaches out to us especially the Word and Work of Christ. We
don't earn it - ever! We do not even deserve it, but His mercies, Truth, and
steadfast Love are ever reaching out to ALL as richly shown in the Psalms,
the Parables and the Acts of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
When we say Scripture Alone, we say gladly and with certainty that this
is how we know ALL of the above. This WORD of GOD is the foundation, the
rock - the norm of our Faith! This Scripture in fact makes "sense" of all
other human knowledge, literature and teaching and is indeed the norm for its
When we say that we "Gladly submit" to the authority of Scripture and
the primacy of Faith in Christ and His gracious gift of grace ALONE, some may
misunderstand, thinking that we are
forced or are being 'blind' in our faith. No, this is the ultimate act of
freedom, done joyfully, and without ANY reservation. We no longer stand -
alone, but are together in Christ Alone, by Faith Alone through the
Scriptures Alone by His Grace - ALONE !
The SOLAS stand as nexus points of Wisdom to the pilgrim who would
follow HIM. As Our Lord said His apostles, " If any man would come after
Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."
As we follow Him a kind of transmutation takes place and we become more
and more like
Him in love, self sacrifice and service. Relying on Christ Alone then
becomes, HE in us, and we in HIM !
When people want MORE there are usually problems: a tower reaching the
heavens: a visible symbol or golden calf, or a king such as every other
Less IS more for in the solas HE gives us everything we need.
Some two hundred years after Luther centered the Church once more on
justification by faith alone - Sola Fides - a young Lutheran composer quietly
inscribed SOLA in yet a different way. A brilliant keyboard performer on
clavier, harpsichord and organ, J.S. Bach had the job of writing a Cantata, a
sermon in music for each Sunday of the Church year. He would take the
simple melody of one of the chorales such as "Now Thank We All Our God" or
Luther's hymn, "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come" which had come to
represent the Gospel in melody, and weave about it, brilliant counter
melodies to augment the well known tune. So good were they, that the
counter-melodies were sometimes better known than the Chorale tune itself, as
in the case of the well known "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring".
Johann Sebastian Bach went on to pen many rich works which have
become the standard for organ, choir and orchestra including the monumental
St.Matthew Passion considered by many to be the greatest single work of all
time. He was a very inovative organist in the stops that he used, his hands
could span an octave and a third (about ten keys) while playing trills and
ornamentation all the while with the three fingers in between, his cantatas
(half of which are lost to us) contain gorgeous arias with beautiful
melodies; and many works for brass and valveless trumpets are difficult to
play even today.
And his compositions including his development of the fugue, have
become the norm for beginning composition students. At his death, being
blind, he dictated the remainder of his last composition to his son Wilhelm
Freidemann, "Before THEE-Now I Stand" !!
But the most important thing that he did was to inscribe each of his
SOLA DEI GRATIA
"To God ALONE The Glory"
Today many of our highways and super highways, whether 'electric' or
concrete, are wide and lead to destruction. More 'lanes' lead to less!
Even the church in many places has become caught up and preoccupied in
thinking falsely, that such is His way, whereas, the straight and narrow way
leads to the Kingdom!
The Discipleship and discipline of Jesus Christ ALONE is what we need,
because IT is Everything!!
For we are justified by Faith ALONE in CHRIST ALONE !!
LUTHERAN BROTHERHOOD FRATERNAL CONNECTION EXPLORED
LMS-USA Vice President/ Pastor, Roy Steward, met with a LB
representative on October 11. Among the various items discussed was the
availability of Lutheran Brotherhood Grant Funds to our new church body.
It was disclosed that LB has now enabled Independent Lutheran
Congregations to qualify for the Congregational Branch Matching Fund program.
Previously congregations had to be affiliated with an Incorporated Lutheran
Congregations of our LMS-USA (incorporated as of Aug 16) would have
qualified for the congregational matching funds under the former affiliation
with an incorporated Lutheran body requirement. But it is helpful to know
that independent Lutheran Congregations also can now qualify for this
support. Currently all of the congregations of LMS-USA participate in the
LB Branch program. The Littles-town, PA. Mission Congregation also is
participating in the congregational matching fund program.
LMS-USA officers and Steering Committee members are looking at a number
of ways in which to make use of the LB grants given to Incorporated Lutheran
Church Bodies. LB has also launched a new intitiative to set up a Lutheran
Community Foundation. Members and friends of LMS-USA congregations wishing
to give major gifts can now make their gifts through the Lutheran Brotherhood
Luth. Community Foundation. This would obviate the need for LMS-USA to set
up its own Foundation.
The possibilities of help for synod, pastors and congregations from the
LB Fraternal folks is exciting and can add much to our new, as well as
A MATTER OF NATURE?
by Rev. John Erickson
It came across my desk again... another article... this time it was a
group of conservative Jewish leaders considering relaxing the 3,000 year-old
views of homosexuality and premarital sex. It was with regard to the issue
of homosexuality that I especially took notice. The article stated, "it was
important to address [the issue of homosexuality] in light of modern research
which sees homosexuality as 'so much a matter of nature.' "
Some of our Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian friends, to name a few
(or at least a good number in their ranks), and now the Conservative Jews,
are all making the claim that because recent studies have concluded that
homosexual orientation is inherent or a "matter of nature" therefore it
becomes imperative on the religious community to accept such behavior as
legitimate - and beyond merely being legitimate, that such behavior, when
practiced in a committed relationship, be blessed.
The usual reaction by the conservative Christian community is that such
behavior is not natural but a learned behavior and as such, an abomination to
God. There is little question but that the Bible makes clear such behavior
is an abomination to God, but I also believe the Bible would side with the
view that such behavior is a "matter of nature."
The Bible teaches that all are "...sinful at birth, sinful from the
time... [of conception]" (Psalm 51:6) As a result, "there is no one
righteous.. no one who understands... no one who does good..." (Romans
3:10ff). And because humankind is sinful at the heart... sinful behavior
results. "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality,
impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord , jealousy,
fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness,
orgies, and the like..." (Galatians 5:19-21a).
But we must also note what follows these words. "I warn you... that
those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." (v. 21b).
This is the case... this is the truth, whether or not one wants to accept
it... whether or not it 'makes sense to us.' In fact Scripture deals with
the issue of one's understanding also. "The man without the Spirit [what we
are by nature] does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God,
for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they
are spiritually discerned."
So Scripture too, like so many in our day, informs us that, yes indeed,
issues like homosexuality, same sex marriages (but let us not forget all the
other sins we often would like to place in some other category), all are in
fact, "a matter of nature" ... a matter of fallen human nature. But note
also, that, rather than excusing or justifying such things because they are
"a matter of nature," the Bible - and for that very reason - condemns such
things. And further forbids our continuing in such things, "Shall we go on
sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! ... We were... buried with
him through baptism into death in order that... we.. may live a new life."
It is true as we confess (or is it merely words?) in the corporate
confession, "we are by nature, sinful and unclean, and we have sinned against
You by thought, word and deed." It is true as found in the Brief Order, "We
confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have
sinned against you in thought, word and deed..." As members of the human
race, we are all sinners who stand in need of God's forgiving grace and
mercy, and of his power to make new.
It is God's power at work in us that will give us a new understanding of
what "a matter of nature" really is, and in addition, that same power will
give us a new understanding of what "a matter of the Spirit" is all about.
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers
nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor
drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And
that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you
were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our
God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
The LMS-USA is a 'Forum by Subscription' in the Moderate Conservative or
Middle Conservative position in American Lutheranism. As a 'Forum' the
intent is that there will be an ongoing discussion of theological issues and
concerns among clergy and lay alike. The LSM-USA meets annually for a
Theological Conference and this publication, besides carrying news of the
Ministerium and Synod, functions also as a vehicle for this continuing
For information or to make comment contact:
2837 East New York St., Indianapolis, IN 46201
AOL & Internet Contact: LMS USA@aol.com
P. O. Box 31
Chetek, WI 54728