Encountering Lutheranism

By Scott Keith

Two weeks ago I wrote about meeting with my cousin for the first time in twenty years while at the Christ Hold Fast conference. Again, it was an incredible time for me. What I did not say in that blog is that my cousin has a husband and two daughters whom I have never met. I can not tell you how much this distresses me. I want to meet them. I want to know them. I want to see how much her daughters look like she did when she was young.

Out of the blue, a couple of weeks ago, I got a Facebook instant message from my cousin. What I write in this blog is a response to that message. I have copied that message in the letter below. (Please note, for anonymities’ sake, I have changed the name of my cousin’s daughter.)


GUY-TYPING-facebook

Dearest Brooke,

I recently had the pleasure of visiting with your mother while I was in Florida at a conference where I was giving a presentation. It was an enjoyable visit. She may or may not have told you that she and I were very close when we were your age. Over the years, she and I lost track of one another which means that you and I have never met, and for that I am sorry.

A few days ago, your mother sent me this message on Facebook: “So I went to your FB page and pulled up your talk from the Florida conference and shared the first part of it with my oldest daughter Brooke and she responded, ‘I love this guy, and I think I want to be Lutheran.’” I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. When you give a talk in front of a bunch of people, it is always difficult to discern if the intended message is coming across well. Statements like yours are encouraging as verification that sometimes it all comes together.

Let me say one more thing: I would love for you to consider Lutheranism, with your parent’s permission of course, but if you do try it out some day, I’d like you to keep a few things in mind.

Church Reformer Martin Luther

First, please know that many of our churches are liturgical in their worship practices. The word “liturgy” has its roots in a Greek word meaning “working for the people,” but a better translation is a public work or a public service. Simply put, many of our churches follow a formal order drawn from different passages in the Bible. The liturgy is a means by which we believe God formally serves us with his Word of life. From what your mother tells me, you often attend a Roman Catholic church, so, the liturgy should be somewhat familiar to you. Even if it is not, please don’t be intimidated by the service. Follow along as best you can, and ask for help from those around you if needed.

Second, please be careful to find a Lutheran church that preaches the Gospel of Christ on Sunday morning. This leads me to answer the natural question: what is the Gospel of Christ? The Gospel is the message that Jesus Christ, the Son of the God, became a man for you; that He fulfilled God’s perfect Law for you because you could not and would not; that He died on the cursed tree to pay the price for your sin; that He rose again on the third day as the first fruits of your resurrection; that He now sits with the Father and prepares a place for you in the Father’s kingdom. This message should be preached every Sunday, not as a common history or moral lesson, but as a message of life given to you every time you hear it.

God delivers salvation to you on the lips of another. When the preacher preaches Christ, an explosion occurs and that explosion is Christ Himself coming to you in the Gospel and changing the reality of the world, your world. Your world is changed because all that is old, dirty, rotten, decaying, and corroded in you is made new when the Lamb of God is brought to you personally forgiving you through the preaching of the Gospel that is Christ. This is what you should look for if you ever do visit a Lutheran Church.

Lastly, please forgive us for being slightly unfriendly. Lutherans have the most beautiful message of the pure Gospel as part of their legacy, but unfortunately we sometimes too have a heritage of being slow to accept others. I’m sorry for this. If you can push through it, it will be worth your effort.

Well, I have to go now and get ready for church. I tell myself the same things every Sunday that I just gave to you. Try to enjoy the liturgy as God’s work for me, listen to the Gospel in all that is preached, and attempt to be friendly to the people around me. I don’t always succeed, but I’m going to give it a try one more time today. I hope that we can meet someday soon. Your mother is a treasure, though I’m sure I do not need to tell you that. Peace be with you.

Under the Righteousness of Christ,

Scott Keith

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3 thoughts on “Encountering Lutheranism

  1. So it isn’t necessary to embrace liturgical practice to have a Lutheran church? That has been one of my sole objections, a minor one, but I have thought that I would rather be an independent church that preaches a strong gospel message and have the freedom to be loosey goosey with the service. We preach a strong radical grace message every week, but our “liturgy” is simply that the whole service culminates in the taking of communion every week. And we do music at the beginning. Otherwise we are very close to Luther’s teaching on the gospel. I like to do expository preaching with an occasional sidetrack for things like Easter and Christmas.

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    1. Not all Lutheran churches (LCMS or otherwise) are formally liturgical. Though, most in the LCMS are these days. Generally, I think the liturgy is a good thing which should be retained in some form whenever possible. I am, though, sort of indifferent to the “form” or maybe say “style” of the liturgy. The liturgy is intended, I think, to be one more way God brings his gifts to you, the sinner, in the service. Having said that, I think the style that takes on in a particular congregation is up to that congregation. I’m sure other will correct me on that though. Peace be with you! – Scott

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      1. My concern is this. I think that liturgy is a beautiful thing, and I would easily consider dipping my toes into those waters to receive the excellent theology if I were looking for a church. I think that some people who need a strong gospel/grace message may be put off by a heavily liturgical service, and I think it needs to be emphasized that you can be a true believer in the strong power of Christ and Him crucified, and in the radical grace that comes to us through that faith, and have it quite apart from whether your church has liturgy or not. I do agree that there is a great deal of good that comes through the liturgy, but I also think there are a lot of people who would dearly benefit from the gospel that might be a little put off by the perceived formality of it. So we want to preach a strong gospel message for these people.

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