October 27, 2011 - Remembering The Reformation

 
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Remembering the Reformation
 
Remembering our nation's 2001 tragedy was much in the news throughout this year of our Lord, 2011, especially during the month of September. Tragedies, whether large or small, are things we tend to remember, I suppose, because disasters and calamities typically involve the loss of life, limb or property for seemingly senseless reasons.

For Lutherans, the month of October is always a month for remembering – most especially for remembering the Reformation. We remember the Reformation, however, not because of the tragic loss of life, limb and property experienced in those years – and especially by later generations (please see our latest resource about this entitled, Our Lutheran Heritage), but because of what the Triune God brought to light in and through the Reformation, for the Reformation began the greatest reawakening of the world to the life-changing message of Jesus Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins since the early days of the Church.
 
The courage and willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of the Gospel by those involved is spoken of this way in the General Introduction to the Book of Concord:
 
The courage of the first Lutherans is awe-inspiring for us today. It is difficult for us to imagine sacrificing everything for the sake of what we believe. It is hard for us today to even imagine a situation similar to what happened to Lutherans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Today, the attitude toward truth is very much one of compromise at all costs, rather than confession at all costs. There is within many churches today a “go along to get along” attitude. This attitude was around at the time of the writing of the Lutheran Confessions as well, but was eventually resoundingly rejected.[i]
 
Reading that well written paragraph reminded me of another piece I had read earlier from our Synod's first President, C. F. W. Walther. As we remember the Reformation in this year of our Lord, 2011, it seemed a good time to remember that today's struggle in the Church militant has not changed, and that there is good reason why it will never do so until our Lord returns. Walther writes:
 
Let us picture for ourselves as vividly as we can the situation that would have been created in the Early Church, when errorists like Arius, Nestorius, and Pelagius arose, if men like Athanasius, Cyril, and Augustine had not earnestly opposed them. As far back as in the fourth and fifth centuries the Church would have lost the primary article of the Christian faith; the foundation would have been removed from beneath it, and it would have had to collapse. That was, indeed, impossible in view of the eternal counsel of God concerning the Church; however, because of that very counsel, God had to raise up instruments such as those teachers were. True, while they lived, they were hated and persecuted as malicious disturbers of Christendom, but for more than a thousand years their names have been beacon-lights, as names of great witnesses to the saving truth, and in eternity they will shine as the brightness of the firmament and as the stars forever and ever (Daniel 12:3). Let no one, then, be deterred from giving his testimony in behalf of the truth by the charge that he has a false spirit. That charge emanates only from unbelief.
 
Again, suppose Luther, after learning the truth, had indeed borne testimony for it to his immediate associates, but had not entered into conflict with the Papacy because of the great abominations which it had introduced into the Church, what would have happened? Christianity would have to remain under the soul tyranny of the Roman Antichrist, and we all should still be subjects of it.
 
There is no question, then, but that both, yes, both these efforts are necessary: to defend the truth and to oppose every doctrinal error.[ii]
 
Defending the truth and opposing every doctrinal error is what the Reformation was all about, because that is what the Church has always been about ever since the beginning. For that which she defends is that alone which delivers the life-giving message of reconciliation and peace with God (Colossians 1:19; II Corinthians 5:18), without which all are lost and condemned to an eternity in hell.
 
These are rough and tough days in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod because far too many have “gone along to get along” and watched the truths of the Reformation be chewed at and gnawed away bit by bit over the past generation or two. Until and unless we return to defending the truth and opposing every doctrinal error there can be no peace among us, and the longer we delay in addressing those matters that divide us, the more energy and resources are diverted from the primary tasks of preparing pastors and teachers for the work of the ministry, and sending those who are rightly called into the mission fields of the world with the precious Gospel of Christ.
 
We have said this before, but it bears repeating as we remember the Reformation this year of our Lord 2011. It is for the purpose of standing firm, of holding fast, to the first objective of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod in its Constitution, Article III, that the ACELC has been formed and continues to exist.
 
“The Synod, under Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, shall – 1. Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith…and provide a united defense against schism, sectarianism (Romans 16:17), and heresy.”
 
It is our sincere prayer that you and your congregation will join us in the ACELC in seeking to establish a broad-based, Synod-wide discussion of variances of doctrine and practice within the LCMS so that they might be resolved among us, and that unity – a true walking together – might be obtained. We encourage you to visit our Website as well as our Facebook Page. And we would also like to ask you to consider joining the ACELC either as a Congregational Member or Associate Member. If membership isn't a possibility for you at this time, then we humbly ask that you continue to pray for and support us in whatever way you may be able.
 
Yours In Christ's Service,
Pastor Bruce G. Ley
Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church, Albany, OR

Documents Chairman: ACELC


[i]   Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. 2005 (Edited by Paul Timothy McCain) (xv). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.
[ii]  Walther, C. F. W., Dau, W. H. T., & Eckhardt, E. (2000, c1929, c1986). The proper distinction between law and gospel : 39 evening lectures. Forward by Jaroslav Pelikan. Includes index. (electronic ed.) (350). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House. (Emphasis added).
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