Official Publication of the LMS-USA
Volume 3, Number 1
APRIL INDIANAPOLIS CONFERENCE TO FOCUS ON THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS
The 3rd Indianapolis Conference, scheculed for April 22-23 will take a look into the Lutheran Confessions. In the tradition of a number of Lutheran Synods of the past, the LMS-USA has begun with a minimalist position on subscription to the Confessions (The Ecumenical Creeds, The Unalterd Augsburg Confession and Luther's Small Catechism). There are a number of questions and issues with which we will wish to deal before moving to further subscription.
This issue of Table Talk includes an article on the background of the Confessions and two articles which take a look at the Quia vs. Quatenus understanding of the Confessions.
CONFESSIONS OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH
A creed or confession is an authoritative statement setting forth the principal doctrines of the Christian Church or some branch of the Christian Church. It is a brief summary of the Christian faith which has been formally adopted by the Church. Back of the confession of the Church is the personal faith of the individual believer and back of this faith are the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Origin of Confessions. The confessions of the Church have a three-fold origin. In common with physical life, spiritual life is self-expressive, and one way by which it expresses itself is confession. Conviction seeks utterance. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matt. 12:34). . Moses declares: "Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Lord" (Deut. 6:4). When Nathaniel was brought to Jesus by Philip and had heard the testimony of Jesus, he exclaims: "Thou art the Son of God; thou art the king of Israel" (John 1:49). [One could also note the confessions of Peter Matt 16:16), Thomas (John 20:28), the eunuch (Acts 8:37). And in all this we see that the] confessions may originate as personal expressions of faith.
The truth thus experienced and confessed may be attacked, misunderstood or perverted by others. He who is convinced of the truth will also seek to refute error and convince others of the truth. Furthermore, he will do all in his power, by the grace of God, to preserve the truth and transmit it to posterity. In the writings of the apostles we learn that they frequently had to defend truth against the attacks of false prophets. Later in the church, controversies arose over doctrinal matters, and it became necessary for the church to set forth clearly and fully its teachings as derived from Scripture and defend itself against false teachings. In this manner have arisen most of the confessions of the Church.
There is still another way in which confessions have arisen. Jesus commanded His disciples to make disciples by baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. As in the case of the eunuch, so confession was required of the candidate for baptism. Out of the baptismal formula given by Christ, naming the three persons of the Godhead, came also the Trinitarian baptismal confessions. These were at first very brief and simple, but in time they were expanded to contain the most essential truths of the Christian religion. The best example of a confession that originated in the baptismal formula is our most generally known confession, the Apostles' Creed.
The Purpose and Value of confessions. The purpose of confessions has already been indicated above. They present in a brief and clear manner the principal teachings of Scripture concerning the way of salvation, preserve unity in faith, and guide to the correct understanding of the Bible.
Confessions true to the Scriptures are therefore very valuable. In the first place, they are a bond of unity between believers and give expression to that unity. In the next place, they are a brief but comprehensive exhibit of what the Bible teaches for the instruction and guidance of the individual believer and the protection of the church against false teachers and doctrines. And finally, they have a liturgical value, that is, they may be used in the worship of the congregation as a common expression of a personal faith. The two confessions best adapted for this purpose because of their brevity and plain, simple statements of the truth confessed, without proof or argument, are the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed.
The Confessions of the Lutheran Church. In common with the greater part of Christendom, the Lutheran Church accepts the Ecumenical, that is, the universally accepted creeds, the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian. These are very general and do not deal with distinctive doctrines. The distinctively Lutheran doctrinal position is set forth in the following six confessions; the Augsburg Confession, the Apology, the Large and the Small Catechisms, the Smalcald Articles, and the Formula of Concord....
The Particular Lutheran Confessions. The principal Lutheran confession is the Augsburg Confession. It was written by Philip Melanchthon in consultation with Luther and others and presented to the Diet of Augsburg on June 25, 1530. It was first published in 1531. Melanchthon made various changes in subsequent editions, but these were of minor importance, until 1540. In the edition which appeared that year, marked changes were especially made in the doctrine of the Lord's Supper. This edition is known as the Variata or Altered, and is rejected by the Lutheran Church. That is why you will find the term "unaltered" before the Augsburg Confession in the confessional article of the congregational and synodical constitutions....
After the Confessions had been presented to the Diet, Emperor Charles V ordered the Catholic theologians to refute it... In reply to the Catholic refutations, Melanchthon wrote a lengthy defense of the confession... This treatise is known as the Apology....
In the year 1528 Luther made a visitation of the churches of Saxony. Here he found the conditions so deplorable with respect to the knowledge of the truth and the character of life lived both by priest and people, that he set about to prepare books of instruction upon his return. As a result there appeared off the press in Wittenberg in the spring of 1529 two books, one of which has become the greatest little text book in the Christian religion ever published. These books were Luther's Large and Small Catechisms....
In 1536 Luther was requested to prepare a set of articles on doctrinal matters to be presented at a proposed council to be called by Pope Paul III to meet at Mantua in May, 1537. This council did not assemble, no council being held until the meeting of the council of Trent in 1545. Even if it had been held, the Lutherans decided not to send representatives, as it was learned that the council was not intended to be one of free and open discussion of controverted points with a view to arriving at some satisfactory settlement. In February, 21537, Lutheran theologians met at Smalcald and approved the articles prepared by Luther, and the Lutheran Church was given another confession, the Smalcald Articles....
Luther died in 1546. Even before his death there had been some marked tendencies, especially on the part of Melanchthon, to depart from the position of the Augsburg Confession. After Luther's death, these tendencies became more apparent and some violent controversies arose among the followers of Luther. Political as well as religious influences played in, and both the unity of the Lutheran church and the purity of its doctrine were threatened. Through the zealous and untiring efforts of two learned and pious leaders, ably supported by others, an agreement was finally brought about which saved both the unity of Lutheranism and the purity of its doctrine. These two leaders were Jacob Andrea, chancellor of the University of Tubingen, and Martin Chemnitz, recognized as the foremost Lutheran theologian of his day.
The settlement of the controversies came in the form of a document known as the Formula of Concord, the sixth and last of the Lutheran confessions, finally adopted by the Lutheran theologians in 1577. Excerpts from Chapter 3, Ten Studies on the Lutheran Church, by Gustav M. Bruce, Mpls: Augsburg Publishing, 1932, pp. 25-31. [Augsburg Fortress informs us this material is in the public domain.]
Quia vs. Quatenus
Reflection on a wider Confessional Subscription
LMS-USA currently subscribes to the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and Luther's Small Catechism as the correct exposition of Holy Scripture. The April annual Conference of LMS-USA will focus upon the other Confessional writings contained in the Book of Concord looking toward consideration of adopting some or all of these as additional subscriptional documents of LMS-USA.
A question before us is: If eventually approved by a consensus (in light of Holy Scripture) of the LMS-USA pastors and congregations as subscriptional documents would Luther's Large Catechism of 1529, The Smalcald Articles of 1537, The Apology of the Augsburg Confession of 1531, The Formula of Concord of 1577, and Luther's Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope of 1537 be viewed in the Quia Sense or in the Quatenus sense? Those words are heavy duty Latin phrases full of theological meaning. Does it make a difference which understanding we hold? Or is it just an exercise in word games (semantics)? It is my view that it makes a very big difference how we understand the authority of the the Confessional writings.
"Quia" - means that the documents are accepted as "authoritative "because they are the correct expositions of the doctrine of Scripture.
"Quatenus" would mean that they are accepted as "only in so far as they agree with what is taught," i.e., the Gospel.
Question: "What is at stake in this business of Quia and Quatenus?"
Answer: "The true proclamation of God's Word!"
"Quia" approach danger = The Confessional writings are elevated to an almost equal level with Holy Scripture. Are the Lutheran Confessional writings a part of the New Testament cannon of Holy Scripture ? Answer: NO! The Confessions do not point to themselves but point to Christ alone and Scripture alone.
"Quatenus" approach danger = The Confessional writings become subjected to current Cultural definitions concerning the "Gospel". The Gospel is no longer bound to Scripture Alone. The notion prevails that Preaching and Teaching of God's Word are mainly matters of ones own interpretation and understanding. The Confessions are intended to guard against the Quatenus danger. The Quatenus position can effectively make subscription to the Confessional documents meaningless especially if such a subscription is conditional only "in so far" as ones personal interpretations agree with the theology set forth in the Confession. When Lutheran groups held to "Scripture alone" as being the Norm for "The Gospel" and "The Confessions" then this "In so far as" Quatenus definition did not pose quite the danger it currently does. This was because all Lutherans believed that the entire Scripture was the Word of God and that The Gospel was inseparable from the witness of Scripture Alone. That however is no longer the case. And so a Quatenus understanding today becomes a very dangerous stance.
Are there many paths to heaven? Are there many valid interpretations as to the truth of the Gospel? Is everyones interpretation and understanding OK or Does God set forth the Way, the Truth and the Life as the only way be? If so then why does Jesus say clearly "I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life. No one comes unto the Father except by me"? Many among the Lutherans resent being pushed into what they refer to as "a lock step approach" to things desiring instead to have the freedom of their own interpretation and understanding. The Quatenus approach allows for everyone to have their own imagination and interpretation. The Quia approach does not. Jesus makes it clear, does he not that there is a difference between the broad way and the narrow way.
True to our moderate/ middle conservative stance it would seem that we in LMS-USA wish to avoid the dangers of both Quia and Quatenus stances in regard to the authority of the Confessions. We have already stated that we lean very definitely in the Quia direction when it comes to the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and the Small Catechism of Luther. We believe these Confessional writings to be the correct exposition of the doctrine of Scripture. However in the discussions among the pastors we acknowledge that these Confessional writings are not books of Holy Scripture and are only valid and authoritative " in so far as" they faithfully convey the doctrine of Holy Scripture. On the other hand many generations of Lutheran theologians and scholars have affirmed that the Confessions are indeed faithful and true in conveying doctrine of Holy Scripture. Until the beginning of the the modern era when scientific approaches began to be applied to the study of Scripture the growing consensus among Lutherans in America was that the Confessions were "Quia". They are normed by Scripture but are not additional canonical books of Scripture.
Still the questions persist: Is it possible that neither "Quia" nor " Quatenus" quite fits our understanding? Should our understanding (even a factor? and, Is it possible that it would be an error to take either stance? We believe this to be more than a debate and discussion over a matter of semantics. A very solid answer is immediately forthcoming:
(1) The validity of God's word is not determined by our understanding(s) nor is it determined by our personal interpretations. Likewise with the Holy Gospel - its validity is not located in the understanding and interpretation of pastor or people.
(2) The Holy Gospel is not The Gospel if it is separated from Holy Scripture or associated with a greatly reduced Scripture.
Given our LMS-USA Stance upon Holy Scripture as set forth in the "Annotated Indianapolis Statement on Scripture" it would appear that a stance in the Quia direction is indeed our true direction. We feel that we do not err when we point to Scripture alone and Christ alone. I believe that this is indeed exactly what each of the confessional writings do.
Thus as we have read and re-read the Confessional writings mentioned above, our first question of each has been and will continue to be: Does it appear that we can indeed affirm each of these to be the correct exposition of the doctrine of Holy Scripture? Our tentative answer (from among the Ministerium pastors) is "Yes, each is indeed the correct exposition of the Doctrine of Scripture." The second question posed then is: "Should we add the qualifier or conditional clause in our Subscriptional approval for each to the effect that we subscribe to the respective Confessional writing "In so far as it agrees with what is taught, i.e., The Gospel"? Indeed, could we imagine doing something like that with the "Apostles, or Nicene, or Athanasian Creeds" saying we subscribe to these "only in so far as they agree with what is taught, namely the Gospel"?
It does not appear to me that we can affirm both "Quia" and "Quatenus" in light of our prior position on Holy Scripture. We want to guard against elevating the Confessions to a quasi canonical status (hard legalism) on the one hand and we want to guard against diluting the Confessions into mere historical documents with little or no authoritative impact upon pastors and congregations (Gospel Reductionism), on the other hand. We can and should allow for Christian freedom and liberty in a great many areas especially relating to congregational organization, but when it comes to matters of Holy Scripture and the Confessions of the Faith here we should hold up the historic Confessions of Lutheran Christians as the authoritative exposition upon the doctrine of Holy Scripture.
Pastor Roy A. Steward
Faith, Altoona & Barley,
QUIA or QUATENUS?
In attempting to mediate the dispute between Arius and Archbishop Alexander of Alexandria over the doctrine of the coeterni-ty of the Logos, Emperor Con-stantine wrote to both men, "Give me back my quiet days and carefree nights. Do not let me spend the rest of my days joylessly." Constantine's fourth century sentiments reflecting the yearning for external peace and administrative efficiency in the Empire at the expense of doctrinal clarity find their repristination in the present state of much of American Protestantism and the wider world Ecumenical Movement as we approach the 21st century. Questions of history, Biblical exegesis, systematic theology, and orthodox confessions of faith which obstruct advancement toward wider horizons of structural enlargement, church growth, and the development of a global ecclesiastical conglomerate committed to cooperation with even non Christian theological options, are being jettisoned. The inevitable consequence has been the achievement of victory after victory for the increasingly powerful and menacing monolith of the Ecumenical, New Age left -- and defeat after defeat for the remnant forces of Biblical orthodoxy in both the Lutheran and Reformed camps.
Two theological turning points in particular, explain the portward turn in world Lutheranism specifically, which must be opposed by the remnant confessional church with all of its remaining capacity to witness to the truth. The first is the Ecumenical Movement's denial that Scripture is the Word of God, and its concurrent affirmation of the alternative position that Scripture merely contains the Word. The second turning point, a corollary to the first, is the modernist/reductionist notion that the Lutheran Confessions are theologically normative insofar as (quatenus) they correctly explicate Scripture, not because (quia) they correctly do so. Commonly, those who take this position see the Confessions as historic relics which provide a window to the belief system of the 16th century orthodoxy, not as documents which authoritatively govern theological belief and practice in today's world of historical criticism, existentialism, process theology, and the Ecumenical Movement. In this sense, Bultman-nian and Tillichian hermeneutics become compatible with the Lutheran Confessions, only when the quatenus and historicist caveats are employed.
It is this latter postulate that the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod - USA must now wrestle with, as it defines for itself, and subsequently communicates to the larger Lutheran community globally, what it believes to be the role of the Lutheran Confessions for the church catholic as the 21st century approaches. The ultimate choice for the Synod will be as weighty in the implications for its future direction as the Scriptural inerrancy debate which led to the organization's formulation officially in April of 1995. It will also frame the Synod's future relations with other conservative Lutheran Synods, relations which will be irrevocably poisoned if the quatenus position were to prevail.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Confessions went unmentioned in many Lutheran church constitutions. In America, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg (1711-1787), a galvanizing force in the organization of the Pennsylvania Ministerium (1748), tried to bring the confessional Symbols back into the official and practical lives of local congregations. His death in 1787, however, led to a trend toward a diluted commitment to confessional subscription which continued well into the 19th century. In the 19th century, it would be left to Dr. C.F.W, Walther to pick up the torch for the normative utilization of the Lutheran Confessions in America. It is significant that Walther insisted that the Symbols should be accepted quia, not quatenus, their agreement with Scripture. His conclusions where later reiterated in the 1932 Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod which stated in article 47:
Those desiring to be admitted into the public ministry of the Lutheran Church pledge themselves to teach according to the Symbols not "insofar as" , but "because", the Symbols agree with Scripture. He who is unable to accept as Scriptural the doctrine set forth in the Lutheran Symbols and their rejection of the corresponding errors must not be admitted into the ministry of the Lutheran church.
Walther, like his beloved Missouri Synod, and the former American Lutheran Church (of which many in the LMS-USA trace their roots), understood that the theological crossroad inherent in the quia/quatenus, question transcended semantics, and paralleled the is/contains conflict between orthodoxy and neo-orthodoxy over the authority of Scripture itself and its equation with the Word of God in its entirety. In both instances, the ultimate theological and philosophical debate revolves around the legitimacy of the modern employment of an objective yardstick which delineates truth from falsehood, which have not changed since the 16th century confessors, as opposed to the cancerous relativism of the Ecumenical Movement, whose militant advocacy of existentialism and subjectivism threaten to alter irrevocably, the character of the Lutheran Church as we have know it in America from ages past.
Constantine's plea for "quiet days and carefree nights" is heard anew among those who see the normative character of Scripture and the Lutheran confessions as an irrelevant, archaic, and divisive concern in the golden age of Modernism, Ecumenism, and Globalism. Let the LMS-USA continue to witness to the faith of the remnant church in the twilight of the present age, acknowledging that the tide of history will continue to flow against us until the Last Day.
Rev. Mark E. Dankof
THE THIRD INDIANAPOLIS CONFERENCE
April 22-23, 1996
St. Matthew Luth. Church
2837 East New York Street
The Lutheran Confessions and Their Relevance for Today
Phone # _____________________________
There is no set cost for the Conference. An offering will be recieved at the worship service and 'free-will' donations will be accepted for meals.
We can help you to get 'settled in'.
______I (we) would like you to meet me (us) at the airport.
______I (we) will arrange for our own housing.
______I (we) would like if you could arrange housing for us in the homes of congregational members for Monday night.
______I (we) will plan to eat meals at St. Matthew.
Motels in the Area of St. Matthew Lutheran Church
Note: all prices are given for double occupancy. If you need more information or help in arrainging for a room, contact Pastor Spears.
3525 N. Shadeland Ave
I-465 and Washington
I-70 and Post Rd.
2851 North Shadeland
I-70 and North Post Rd.
Mail Registration form to:
St. Matthew Lutheran Church
2837 East New York St.
Indianapolis, IN 46201
THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT IN THE LUTHERAN CHRUCH
by Rev. Julius V. Kimpel
This volume by Pastor Julius V. Kimpel now in reprint by The Lutheran Synod and Ministerium - USA (thanks to Pastor Kimpel and our Vice-president Pastor Roy A. Steward) does a great service to any who have rubbed elbows in any way with this movement and have tried to make sense of IT.
If you have tried to measure it up against your Christian faith with Lutheran understanding either from curiosity or utter frustration, you will find plenty of help here! In fact, the good Pastor Kimpel includes a handy ten page study guide, quite suitable for an adult or Sunday School Class to help you sort out feelings and theology beyond the prior twenty-eight pages of text.
That the President of the Missouri Synod at that time, states the problems of a definite divisiveness associated with the charismatics, gives a hint of the urgency of Pastor Kimpel's labor. "It always - brings division", declares one voice from his body of quotes, "a spiritual elitism" of "religious egotists" adds another, as the ones caught up in charismatic practice, think themselves in possession of some special infusion of power by a second baptism of the Holy Spirit, which makes them 'Spirit filled' and better than conventional Christians.
Don't all charismatics speak in tongues"?, is a common question of most laymen about this movement. And our author does a very credible job of discussing the controversial 'gift of tongues' written about by Paul in just three chapters of First Corinthians, precisely because this practice had caused trouble and divisiveness in the Early Christian Church. [An important difference seems to separate this instance from the the Tongues of Pentecost in Acts 2, both in intelligibility and accountability according to Kimpel.] Further, Kimpel says that even though they do not all speak in tongues YET, their very emphasis on it identifies 'tongues' as a pinnacle - something to be ultimately attained to by all worthy of the 'Movement'.
This handy booklet measures the Charismatic Movement in the Lutheran Church against its best measuring stick - the LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS! But wait! It's not that difficult! As our Lord summarizes ALL of the Law and the Prophets into just two laws, so the Great Solas summarize ALL the precious Confessions of the Lutheran Church. And they are Christ Alone (Sola) attained by Grace Alone through Faith Alone by Scripture Alone as a measure of all truth. Here Pastor Kimpel does a masterful job of straight-forward analysis. This "alone" is worth reading the booklet. Quite telling also, are the quotes from those in the Lutheran Charismatic Renewal Movement for a deviation from the very understanding of what the Church is.
Since the time of Simon called 'Magus' in Acts 8:18-19, men have attempted to 'buy' or use the Holy Spirit for their own ends albeit subtly. Much of the time with the charismatic, neo-pentecostals, the shift is so subtle that they themselves don't realize perhaps, that they have crossed over the 'line' of Confessional Christianity. (certainly the 'line' of the Confessional Lutheran!)
To this Pastor Kimpel says with Luther in the Smalcald Articles, "WHATEVER IS ASCRIBED TO THE HOLY SPIRIT APART FROM THE MEANS OF GRACE IS OF THE DEVIL!" And to this we might add, "Apart from the means of Grace ALONE"!
Indeed, we all fall short of the Glory of God in Christ at times! All the more reason to hold to Christ Alone, by Grace Alone through Faith Alone by the Scriptures Alone.!
Rev. Ralph Spears
St. Matthew Lutheran
The Kimpel Booklet - THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT IN THE LUTHERAN CHURCH
(including Study Guide) is available for $1 plus postage by writing
Rev. John Erickson
P. O. Box 31
Chetek, WI 54728
LMS - USA NEWS BRIEFS
Altoona, PA -
As of Feb. 4, Faith Lutheran Cong. is in its new facility. The kitchen and classroom areas remain to be finished and the carpeting has not yet been installed. Much exterior work will wait until spring.
The building structure is only 3 years old and so new church is really 'new.' Men of the congregation have worked Satur-day and Wednesday e-venings since the project began in November. Pews and chancel furniture have arrived and are in use. When all is completed in the spring the congregation will host a public open house and a Service of Dedication and Blessing to which LMS-USA pastors and congregations and will be invited (hopefully close to Pentecost Sunday).
Indianapois, IN -
Having successfully helped Living Faith Evangelical Free Lutheran Congregation, Littlestown PA to become established LMS-USA congregations are now looking at additional Congregational Mission possibilities for 1996. Living Faith celebrated its one year anniversary as a new congregation in January. Christ Lutheran, Chetek WI, Faith Ev. Lutheran, Altoona PA, and Barley Ev. Lutheran, Bakers Summit PA have given regular Mission support to the Living Faith Congregation.
A special Mission grant was also given by all member congregations of the LMS-USA to the new Bethel Lutheran Congregation, Piqua, Ohio. The Mission Grant enabled Bethel to do some advertising of program and place of worship.
They have found an ideally suited building which they have converted into their church home and have acquire pews, altar, pulpit, and piano.
Chetek, WI - Chetek, WI -
Christ Lutheran Church has scheduled its 4th annual Mini Bible Conference for
Because of distances it seemed unreasonable to expect that people should return for two or three evenings for special meetings. As a result, the idea of a Mini Bible Conference was born. Now, a number of presentations are scheduled into one Sunday afternoon/evening with the following schedule:
3:00 p.m. -Welcome and devotions
3:15 p.m. -Session #1, a Bible Study (the biblical base for the topic)
4:15 p.m. - coffee break
4:30 p.m. - Session #2, Presentation of topic and discussion
6:00 p.m. - break for meal and fellowship
7:00 p.m. - Session #3, depending on the topic, this has been a further look at the topic or an evening service.
Extensive publicity has resulted in participants from up to 7 neighboring Lutheran congregations besides a number of non-Lutheran participants and all have been exposed to 'experts' with whom they would not normally rub shoulders.
Topics have included Holy Scripture, Evangelism, Pietism, and this year, Creationism.
There is no fee for participants, but a free-will offering has been given to the presenter and/or their ministry.
LMS-USA MINISTERIUM TO MEET
THE FIRST ANNUAL MEETING OF THE MINISTERIUM TO BE HELD AT ALTOONA / BAKERS
SUMMIT, PA., FEBRUARY 18 & 19, 1996
Faith Ev. Lutheran, Altoona PA. and Barley Ev. Lutheran, Baker's Summit PA will be hosting the first official annual meeting of the Ministerium of LMS-USA. The Ministerium will hold an annual meeting for all pastors of LMS-USA and the Synod (congregations and pastors) will gather annually for study conferences or forums. The first Annual Ministerium gathering will meet February 18 and 19.
LMS pastors are invited to join with the congregations of Faith and Barley for the three morning worship services on February 18. The Ministerium will begin its meeting Sunday evening and conclude its sessions around 5:00 p.m. on the19th.
Lutheran pastors of other Lutheran church bodies, former active Lutheran pastors, and seminary students are all cordially invited to attend the LMS-USA Ministerium gatherings as observers. Any wishing to attend the February 18 & 19 meeting are asked to call or write Pastor Steward at the Faith Ev. Lutheran Church Office in order to make a reservation:
Rev. Roy Steward
RD5 Box 864
Altoona PA. 16601.
(814) 943 - 4609
Reservations can be made up until the eve of the Ministerium gathering. The Ministerium will focus discussion upon The Lutheran Confessions as well as upon a tentative proposed Statement concerning The Holy Spirit and His Proper Work.
The majority of the meeting sessions will be held in the new Faith Evangelical Lutheran facility located on Rte 764 just south of Altoona in Duncansville, PA.
INTRODUCING - CHRIST LUTHERAN CHURCH, CHETEK, WI
Christ Lutheran Congregation is a charter member of the LMS-USA. The congregation stood behind its pastor, Rev. John Erickson in dealing with issues that led to his, and their withdrawing from the AALC, and was intimately involved in the discussions and decisions that led to the formation of the LMS-USA.
By the mid-eighties, concerns were being raised over the discussions that were leading to what would become the ELCA. At the same time we became aware of Rev. Donald Thorson of Chippewa Falls, WI, who also had concerns in this area [Pastor Thorson was one of the pastors instrumental in the formation of what would become the American Association of Lutheran Churches]. On June 10, 1987, nineteen persons met for an informational meeting with Pastor Thorson and three of his parishioners. A date was set for the first worship service.
The first worship service was held in a farm home with 25 adults and children present. A neighboring Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod pastor conducted the service. Articles of incorporation were signed that day. The group soon grew too large to meet in homes. The local Alliance Church opened their door for use by the congregation and a neighboring Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC) pastor began serving the group.
On February 21, 1988 the congregation voted to affiliate with the newly formed AALC and in March began looking for their own pastor. In May Rev. John S. Erickson accepted the call and began his duties on June 12.
That June the congregation purchased a parsonage and purchased land for a church building [they were offered a parcel of about 7 acres for a price of only $5000]. Worship attendance at this time averaged between 30 and 35 members.
On July 3, 1989, the decision was made to build and to begin as close to June of 1990 as possible.
Ground breaking was held August 18, 1990, the first concrete was poured on November 2, and the building was enclosed by December . The first service was held in the new church on Ash Wed., February 13, 1991. We served as our own general contractor and along with a willing crew form Christ Lutheran of Chippewa Falls, had a great time working together, getting to know each other, and feeling that we were really doing what God intended us to do in bringing a Bible based Lutheran presence and witness in our community.
In September of 1991 the 'old' parsonage was sold and in October, the pastor and his family moved into a new and spacious three bedroom home on our own property and placed on a basement (built by members of the congregation).
Christ Lutheran has seen a slow, but steady growth, especially since moving into the new facility. This spring, when those presently in the membership process, join our church, our baptized membership will go over the 100 mark.
We continue to marvel at the goodness and faithfulness of our God and thank him for the blessings that have been ours these 8 years.
WHERE HAVE WE BEEN ALL THIS TIME?
Reflections of a Layman on the LMS-USA and the Indianapolis Conference.
Why is it that hundreds of thousands of black men can march on Washington - - ostensibly to renew and commit to values considered good? Why is it that more hundreds of thousands of men can fill football stadiums -- again centered on values and call themselves Promise Keepers? How come this is front page news while the only values that really count have been right in front of us all the time? This is not to say there is no good in all of these other "crusades." But why does the grass "grow so green" across the way? We've had access to everything we need. God gave us the Bible and carefully preserved all truth for us. Yet, we're constantly on the prowl for something more.
This is to be "what the Indianapolis conferences" mean to me, a lay person. So where am I going with this? Christ himself told us that "he who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mk. 16:16). Paul said, "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching..." (II Tim. 3:16-17). Is that it?!? Well, we lay people think and we have questions and that can be dangerous. Let's say we read the Bible. We need to know that what we are reading and studying is the real thing. The Lutheran Biblical Inerrancy Conference (The First Indianapolis conference) was an excellent, scholarly answer to that question. Many of the church organizations we came from don't and won't accept the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.
The Second Indianapolis Conference was a study on the Holy Spirit and His Gifts (another problem disturbing many of us, and not only as it may pertain to syle of worship but with regard to the much deeper consideration of the everyday work of the Holy Spirit in our lives). I for one, am much more comfortable after being exposed to the material offered in this second conference. I look forward to this April and the study centering on our Lutheran Confessions.
Understanding... understanding... We'll never understand all of God's mysteries while we still walk here, but insofar as he has instructed us in His Book, we are being afforded the opportunity to put some nagging questions to rest. There are other questions that typically baffle the lay person and from observation, the clergy as well. We are indeed fortunate as members of Christ Lutheran in Chetek to have a powerful Bible Study, ongoing, as a regular facet of our normal church life.
The time together at Indianapolis is invaluable in many ways. We all need our batteries charged from time to time, and we need to grow. We grow in numbers, but more importantly in understanding and in love for God's Word and each other. LMS-USA is a good forum for both. Sans politics and bickering, my wife and I, came away from last year's conference believing we are truly "about our Father's work."
"Children of God, then heirs" (Rom. 8:17). We need to realize what is involved in claiming this eternal inheritance. Marching and pledging just ain't gonna get it!
Dr. Orville Langhough, D.C.
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 dialogue.
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