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Registered user
Username: Ric_b

Post Number: 1939
Registered: 7-2004

Posted on Saturday, August 04, 2012 - 11:32 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

or "Why I'm Lutheran".

Let me start by saying that this is not a post on why I think everyone should become Lutheran. I am a firm believer that the only true church of Christ is the universal church of all believers. I believe that it is a fallacy to look for the one true church or the church with the most truth. There are attributes of many churches that can easily, and should, be extolled. Nothing in what I am writing is intended, nor should it be taken, as a criticism of where any other people have found a family of believers to join with in worship.

So, if I'm not writing this to promote Lutheranism over other church choices, why bother writing it at all. There are several reasons: 1) some people have openly dismissed my being Lutheran as simply returning to the church of my childhood, and 2) sometimes I feel that some Formers treat Lutherans more like a step-sibling, kind of Christian but maybe not really, fully Christian. Certainly, a common reaction from Formers (or even current SDAs) is "How could you join a church that acts so Catholic?"

First let me explain a little about the church search that Sheryl and I went through. Lutheran churches weren't even on the list. As a kid, I was rather turned off by the repetitive liturgy and concluded that it was meaningless. For over two years we visited a number of different church types, including non-denominational ones. Many we visited only once, others for weeks or even a few months. We heard very little preaching from the Word, and in the few churches that did attempt to preach from the Word, there was little, if any, Gospel taught. In desperation we tried a "Celebration Lutheran" church that was advertised with placards on some road signs. It was extremely small and met in an SDA church. Both factors made it a poor choice for us, but we talked with the pastor about our search and what we were looking for. He mentioned three pastors he knew that he considered strongest on the Gospel. We visited those three. Only one was a Lutheran church, but that was the one where the Word and the Gospel were more prominent.

Some of the factors that I consider strengths of the Lutheran church:
They clearly teach in their doctrinal literature that Sabbath wasn't changed to Sunday but rather that it was fulfilled in Christ. They have been teaching this for over 450 years.
The liturgy that I found empty and meaningless as a kid is filled with Scripture.
Reading the Word and preaching from the Word have always been central elements of Lutheran practice. These are regarded very highly.
Confession of sin during the service. I find the constant reminder that we are all sinners relying on God's grace to reduce the masquerade of perfection and create more "real" relationships. I don't mind the regular reminder that in Christ we are forgiven either. Of course I know it, but after years of being beat down in SDAism it is good to hear regularly.
Preaching the Gospel. From a Lutheran standpoint the Gospel should be proclaimed in every sermon. I like that.
A clear understanding of the Gospel as being completely separate from our works. More than any other single item, this was foundational to the establishment of Lutheranism and they guard that teaching as vehemently as an SDA defends the Sabbath and EGW.
A theology that allows mystery (or tension). A general Lutheran tenet of theology is to believe Scripture is true even when we can't explain how it is true or explain how two seemingly different verses are both true.
A theology that centers on the Cross. Enough said.
A belief that it is God's action from start to finish, rather than God plus our efforts and cooperation at some points along the way. What do you expect, a Lutheran literally wrote the book on monergism (i.e. "Bondage of the Will" for those of you who might have missed the allusion).
Luther's "Commentary on Galatians". If you haven't read this, you should. Not because it will convince you to become Lutheran, but because it may be the most New Covenant focused explanation of this book you can find. It reads like it was written by a Former Adventist.
Registered user
Username: Ric_b

Post Number: 1940
Registered: 7-2004

Posted on Saturday, August 04, 2012 - 11:36 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

BTW, I'd much rather hear responses about the positive virtues of your church and why you chose to attend or join than to enter a debate. I'll gladly answer any questions you might have, to the best of my ability. But I will not engage in a debate on the subject.
Registered user
Username: Skeeter

Post Number: 1941
Registered: 12-2007

Posted on Saturday, August 04, 2012 - 9:00 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I am happy for you that you have found your "fit" in the body of Christ.
I have no questions for you, your choice is just that, it is YOUR choice. :-)
Blessings <3
Registered user
Username: Colleentinker

Post Number: 13865
Registered: 12-2003

Posted on Saturday, August 04, 2012 - 10:47 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

No debate from me. I frequently suggest to people who are having trouble finding a church that they look for a Missouri Synod Lutheran church and check it out. True Lutheranism does get the gospel right. There may be secondary issues I see differently, but if the gospel, the word of God, and the Trinity are embraced as the core essentials and clearly taught, believers can have fellowship regardless of the secondary issues!

Registered user
Username: Ric_b

Post Number: 1945
Registered: 7-2004

Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2012 - 12:22 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What I have found on the "secondary issues" is that it is unfair to say one group is ignoring Scripture while the other is taking the Word seriously. Usually it comes down to placing more emphasis on one passage rather than another passage. For instance, those who believe in Dispensationalism will put more emphasis on Romans 11:28-29; while those who don't accept that teaching will place a greater emphasis on Romans 4:11-14. Neither is denying Scripture, despite the rhetoric you may hear at times. On these secondary issues we could all benefit if we separated the Biblical reasons for our beliefs from the idea that any other conclusion must, therefore, be un-Biblical.
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Username: Punababe808

Post Number: 108
Registered: 4-2012
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2012 - 4:08 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

About 15 years ago I took membership in a local ELCA congregation. I have relocated and the closest ELCA is 95 miles from where I live so I took membership in the only Lutheran church around, 25 miles from where I live, Missouri Synod. Next Sunday I plan to begin looking for a dufferent church. I have never asked for anything from the church until last night. I called the pastor and told him my car and truck are both broke down and I fell and broke my arm and asked if someone from the church could take me to emergency. The pastor was very clear in letting me know that was an unacceptable thing to ask of the church, it is not something they do for each other. Well, my understanding of Christianity is we are our brothers keeper so next week I will start checking out other churches.
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Username: Jrt

Post Number: 1230
Registered: 10-2008
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2012 - 4:22 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have transitioned out of Adventism by rubbing shoulders with women from many different denominations. This summer I am a part of a group of women who are studying the book of Ezekiel together. One woman is from a Lutheran Church, One from Baptist, another from ? (I forget) ... and several from my own church.

I also help lead a Bible study group of women for BSF. Last year was my first year as a small group leader. Leadership is made up of women from all over. For anyone who has been a part of BSF there are rules. We are not to talk about our seperate denominations - that is not the purpose of the study ... though we can bring in our different perspectives. As one of the women in leadership I know what denominations my women come from (but I never really pay much attention to it) - but we don't talk about it in the Bible study. We may mention it outside of the Bible Study but not in it. The other "rule" that they have is that NO OTHER resources may be used in the Bible study ... Just the Bible, no commentaries, no outside mention of books or authors or preachers ... Can't even use Bible study notes ... After studying on our own, discussing the questions and listening to a lecture on the passage ... then we can use outside sources to further our study. Those in leadership often have to do homeletics on the passage of study as part of their preparation to lead a discussion. The idea is to trust that the Holy Spirit can and wlll lead you in your study of the Bible ... Some questions on the lesson page do allow you to look in outside sources - but those are specifically labeled as such.

I was just thinking about this today ... I never have the type of conversations I do with my never-been SDA Christian women that I do with formers. I find formers get into heated debates sometimes ... but these women from different denominations - we never get into tiffs over interpretations ... at least not like formers do ... Sometimes we disagree ... but it usually doesn't go on, and on, and on, as one side tries to pursuade the other side.

I firmly believe God lead me to the church I am at. I prayed that God would lead me to the right church, because I was so wounded and did not trust my own judgment anymore (after realizing how decieved I was as an Adventist).

The things you listed in your original post - would be things my church accepts and does, too ... at some level ... We don't have a literagy, but we always have the passage being studied read out loud while we stand .... We don't have open confession during the main service, but we have had services where the pastor invites people to come up and pray with elders or leaders ... One of my first services the pastor invited those that needed to come to the Lord in confession or in need to come to the front ... I was blown away by what I saw - never saw it quite like that in an Adventist Church ... It was powerful ... We have services twice or three times a year that are simply prayer times - where we pray for the church and the community ... And we have a 12 point doctrinal statement about the Bible as innerant, Gospel, Jesus, etc. ....

How I ended up where I am at is a little embarrasing, because it isn't very intellectual :-) ... I had been attending several differnt churches/denominations ... Some held a service on Saturday. I was so new at everything ... I decided to pray and ask God for a sign ... yeah, ... I know ... not intellectual. I would go visit all the churches I had attended one more time, and then visit some in the phone book. I figured it would take a few months. Then I asked God to have the church that I should put down roots in play something during their song service that would talk about His holiness (It was something that I was just learning to understand). I was so scared I would get decieved again and was petrified of making another bad decision like I had in Adventism ... So I went to the first church wondering how many churches I would need to visit before I came to the right one ... During the song service of that first church they played not one song, but all three opening songs talked about God's holiness and one of the songs was "Holy, Holy, Holy"... I was a puddle of tears during the singing time. I knew I was to stay and begin learning and deprogramming.

Thanks for asking and sharing Rick.
Registered user
Username: Ric_b

Post Number: 1946
Registered: 7-2004

Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2012 - 7:49 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Punababe808, I agree with you. Christians helps one another. I'd be looking for something different too.

JRT, I also like how BSF keeps a cross-denominational study just that. It keeps out both the pumping up of your own and the ridicule of others. Thanks for sharing your experience. I really understand not trusting your own judgment (since I joined SDAism rather than being born into it; I always feel like the people raised to believe it have more of an excuse.)
Registered user
Username: River

Post Number: 7997
Registered: 9-2006

Posted on Wednesday, August 08, 2012 - 9:59 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I've been thinking about your post for a few days Ric, must be showing some growth if I think that long before I speak huh?

I listen to Christian Satellite network radio, I have listened to it clean across the country and back again and I can't remember all the times I have been blessed by the pastors and speakers of different churches.

Finally...after thinking about your post for some days, I have come to the conclusion that all we Christians have so much to give each other.

Registered user
Username: Ric_b

Post Number: 1950
Registered: 7-2004

Posted on Wednesday, August 08, 2012 - 7:23 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


Finally...after thinking about your post for some days, I have come to the conclusion that all we Christians have so much to give each other.

My feelings exactly. Understanding that the Church, the Body of Christ, isn't linked to any denomination (or non-denomination) is a very freeing truth for Former SDAs. But it is easy, as Formers, to hold on to some of that idea that my church is closer to the truth, or more "Christian" than others. This can lead us to be hyper-critical of others and is the same mindset that makes it hard for plenty of Formers to find and settle into a church.

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