Dare to be…

It is time that we stop daring people to be Lutheran. Was Luther crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Luther? No, it is past time we stop speaking as if our goal is to make people good Lutherans. It is time that we start speaking and living with the single intention to make people faithful to the incarnate and revealed Word and not some other identity, no matter how precious it is to us. Oh we rejoice that God used Luther to remind the Church of its sure foundation. We treasure the Lutheran confessions because they laud the word incarnate and they expound the word revealed faithfully. We can treasure the things Lutherans have held dear. But when we say things like “Dare to be Lutheran” we are giving evidence that we are afraid to say what we really believe, that to be what we understand as “Lutheran” is to be authentically Christian. 1 It gives the impression that we are are simply dedicated to making members who know the secret handshakes and the jargon of our club.

I have no interest is spending my life making people good Lutherans for that sake alone. I have great interest in making people faithful to God and the Word. Friends, we are in a battle for the “face” of the Church in our world. It is time we stop daring people to be Lutheran and instead dare to say what we truly believe. We must be bold enough to say that our confession of faith is the true confession of the Church. We no longer have the luxury of just trying to make Lutherans more Lutheran, if we ever did. Such a work is too small for God. He must call all back to a faithful confession of Him and his Son. If we sit in our corner just trying to make people better Lutherans, we ignore the body of Christ to their peril and ours.

After all, telling someone that they are not being authentically Lutheran is not the law. Please ponder that statement. It does not place the person before God. Only when we do the tough work of contending that teachings that are contrary to those in our confessions and practices that do not flow from them are not only not Lutheran but that they are unfaithful to the Lord of the church has the law of God that convicts been spoken. Then can the Gospel come with its cleansing and purification.

Would you give up the name Lutheran for a more faithful visible church on the whole? I would in a heartbeat. I trust that God would as well. Dare to be Christ’s. He was crucified for us. In his Name are we baptized.

I do want to make clear this is not an attack of Higher Things in general. While I have not been part of one of their events yet, from afar and knowing some of the men involved, I am impressed with much of what I see. And there is no doubt that some of what has been done recently with LCMS youth in recent days has not been done in a way that is faithful to the Scriptures and the Lord of the Church (generally because it is often borrowed from parts of the church not confessing the scripture as the Church has throughout the ages). But I hope that others will agree that those things we love most in the Church, we must also think critically and spiritually about and not be afraid to seek to make even more faithful. We must make sure that we are really saying what we should in those places. This is but my simple critique of the motto of the group. Be faithful to the Word and you will end up Lutheran, not the other way around. I treasure you comments and discussion on this post especially.

  1. Oh, to be sure there are Christians in other parts of the church. But equally true is the fact that we believe that in other parts of the Church not sharing the doctrine which we hold to, there is error in teaching which much be corrected. Also, it should be said here that I speak of our doctrine, not our believing of it or practice consistent with it, which are constantly marred by sin. In other words, our churches are not perfect, neither are our members. But the teaching we hold to is the teaching of the Church, the teaching passed on from generation to generation. []

Tags: , , , ,

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 at 7:46 am and is filed under Theology and Practice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Dare to be…”

  1. Andy B Says:

    Thanks for thinking critically about what you hear or see. Too often, we’re indifferent toward things that we should probably give more attention. I hear what you’re saying about being bold enough to confront false doctrine or even apathy when we hear it. I don’t think the intentions behind the “Dare to be Lutheran” motto has anything to do with hiding behind potlucks, jello molds, or some cultural identity with secret handshakes. But rather, I believe it is more about building a confident identity in youth in the very things you mentioned: being bold in our confession of the incarnate Word. To many of us, that is what it means to be “Lutheran.” I think HT and the DTBL theme promotes an understanding of “Lutheran” to be all these things mentioned above by catechesis, catechesis, and more catechesis.

    Would I be willing to take on a different name if it were necessary to be more fitting for my confession? Probably so. I think my facebook profile demonstrates this. Initially I listed my religious views as “Evangelical Catholic of the Lutheran Confession.” I recently changed it from a “who” to a “what” to be more fitting for the category of religious “views”. Now my profile lists “Unaltered Augsburg Confession of 1530” as my religious views.

    I have a little more confidence this year with some recent changes in our church body, that what it means to be “Lutheran” is being broadly clarified and perhaps even redefined from a cultural group who follows a 16th century religious rebel to people with a bold confession of the incarnate Word. Lutherans believe God’s Word does what it says. We eat the body and drink the blood of Christ in bold faith. We confront sin. We confess sin. We forgive sin in the name of Jesus. We show mercy to our neighbor. We serve one another as we are given.

    I think it was quite bold to make such strong statements about HT’s motto, even with your disclaimer, without having attended any HT event to see what is really meant by it. I think it is good to challenge others to think critically. I pray that your post is not misunderstood by a zealous servant of the Word devoted to the DTBL theme, but rather provokes healthy and faithful dialog.

  2. Philip Hoppe Says:

    Perhaps my writing is flawed. My point is that I hear lots of “confessional” men placing people before the judgment solely of the confessions or their perception (right or wrong) or authentic Lutheranism instead of placing people “coram deo.” Only the later terrifies the conscious, especially of those already erring from the confessions laid out in the BOC. God desires more than that Lutherans in name would become Lutherans in confession and practice (although he wants this also). He wants all to be faithful to his Word.

  3. William M. Cwirla Says:

    “We can treasure the things Lutherans have held dear. But when we say things like “Dare to be Lutheran” we are giving evidence that we are afraid to say what we really believe, that to be what we understand as “Lutheran” is to be authentically Christian.”

    To “dare to be Lutheran” is nothing else than to dare to be authentically Christian. This notion is not unique to Higher Things. It was no less than Hermann Sasse who said, “To be Lutheran is nothing else than to be Christian.” Of course, this presumes that one believes that the Lutheran confession of the Faith is pure, unadulterated, apostolic, catholic Christianity.

    This is what we intend with this phrase at Higher Things.

    Rev. William M. Cwirla, President
    Higher Things

Leave a Reply