Monday, September 10, 2007

The Pure Gospel

The Lutheran Confessions rightly identify the Church as “the assembly of all believers among whom the Gospel is preached in its purity and the holy sacraments are administered according to the Gospel.” (AC VII)

This bold exposition of the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures is simultaneously a wonderful promise as well as an urgent warning. In a world where compromise is the norm, it often seems that the sense of the need for the urgent warning can become the prevailing mood. I know that I have been very much influenced by this awareness in my dealings with people. I also find it hard to present this urgent warning without becoming legalistic. Even when I come close to dealing with the matter more from the side of the promise, still it is often perceived as legalistic.

This becomes especially true in warning against continuing in a church body or congregation where doctrine and practice do not match. This perception of legalism seems to become even more pronounced when the warning is given to people who are part of a church body or congregation where some are seeking unity in purity while others are being more lax or even open to impurity.

I don’t know whether what I am offering today will ease the perception of legalism, but perhaps it will at least stress the distinction and the necessity of making the distinction between the Church as is defined by Augustana VII, and the Church as defined by open communion.

Seeking to remain faithful to the Faith of the Scriptures and Confessions within a church body or congregation that allows compromise in these matters of doctrine and/or practice is like opening a jar of antibiotic salve and without putting the lid back on, storing it in the kitty’s litter box.

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