Monday, August 13, 2007


We have been attending an Evangical Lutheran Synod (ELS) church and taking classes from the pastor to learn what they believe.

We visited an Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) church on July 29th because our pastor was out of town, and we decided to see what another Lutheran church would be like. Then we went to VBS at that church, and then we went to church there this past Sunday (August 5th) because they had a special service for the closing of VBS.

We really liked the LCMS church a lot. We are thinking it might be a better "fit" for our family theology-wise because they seem to be more open than the ELS church. My husband and I were even able to take communion there (and our children went up for a blessing). We hadn't had communion in a while due to not being able to take it at the ELS church, and it was really nice to be able to take it at the LCMS church.

But we have really grown to like the more formal liturgy at the ELS church, and we love the pastor at the ELS church. The people are quiet, but some of them seem very sweet. There is a wonderful Chinese man who is helps take up the offering each Sunday. My children put money in the offering plate, and I think it's so sweet the way he tells my little boy (age two) a very kindly thank you after he puts in his offering. :) And it was so wonderful how the pastor asked him to do the Bible reading in Chinese one day. It was beautiful how expressive he was, and it brought tears to my eyes.

We've never said we are going to join the ELS church (and my dh tried to make that clear when we started and I *think* the pastor realizes that). Since we are going through the class, though, I feel so worried that the pastor might feel really bad if we end up going to the LCMS church. :(

The pastor at the ELS church explains Lutheranism so well, in a way that is really helping me to understand (he's taught children before, I think, probably for confirmation class?), and he has lots of good examples that help make things more clear to both my husband and me. We love him as a pastor.

But we don't feel that we can be confessional Lutherans, and I don't think (?) we can be part of an ELS church if we are not confessional Lutherans. If, after the class is all done, we can't take communion there, we would not want to continue attending there. In Lutheran theology, the Lord's Supper is hugely important. To not be able to partake of it brings sadness to me. :(

At the LCMS church, we could partake of communion even if we don't join the church. We'd get more time to think things through more, and yet still be a part of the church.

We are really feeling torn. We are hoping the answer will become clear. I truly don't want to hurt the pastor at the ELS church. I want my dh to say something to him next week to clarify to him what we are thinking now.

Oh, that's right, though. . . the pastor will be gone again next week! So we'll have to wait even longer.

But the next time we meet the next topic in the workbook we are going through with the pastor is Baptism, so our discussion about that should help make things more clear to us, since that is probably the issue we are least Lutheran about, and it's such a key issue.

We need God's guidance for sure!

It's so new to me!

Even though, due to having become a Reformed Baptist as an adult, I'm somewhat familiar with the idea of not having to ask Jesus into your heart or of needing to make Jesus your personal Lord and Savior, and even though I know that making a decision for Christ is not what *saves* you, it still feels odd to me and freaks me out a bit to think about those things not being true.

Lutheran theology has such a different paradigm. It's radically different, in my opinion, than common evangelicalism in American today. I'm *still* struggling to grasp it. I'm hoping I'll continue having "aha" moments, and that some day I'll truly finally understand. I go a little forward thinking I'm okay with it and like I could definitely be Lutheran, at least conservative Lutheran!, and then I'm like "ack! No WAY! This is so different than what I've been taught my whole life. How could I change so dramatically like that?!"

I grew up attending a fundamentalist Baptist (GARB approved) school from kindergarent through 12th grade (except for two half years in first and second grade), and I attended a (then) GARB approved college for four years and got my degree there. How could someone like me become Lutheran? Just tell me how? *sigh*

I've been told that most people probably don't look into what their church believes as much as I am doing. *shifty* But what else can I do? I can't just blindly change. I need to know. I want to understand what the church truly *believes* where I and my family are getting fed.

Right now I'm thinking Lutheranism could very possibly be true (in this case, Biblical). Well, I think much of it is true, but some key things I'm not as sure about, yet. I want to believe that their system of theology is Biblical for the sake of my family and because there is so much about it that I like. But I feel a bit of despair thinking I don't know how I could ever make so many "new" beliefs my own, beliefs that I believe in the depths of my heart. Of course, God is the one who will have to show me and convince me.

I'm the kind of person who tends not to like change. I don't want to be wishy-washy. When something is important, if I believe something I want to believe it with my whole heart (if/when possible). The idea of changing beliefs so dramatically scares me a little.

Lord have mercy. . .

Saturday, August 11, 2007

conservative but not confessional

Well, I think my husband and I are getting closer to figuring out what we believe doctrinally at this time and how our beliefs fit in with Lutheranism.

We really are, I think, somewhere in between Reformed Baptist -- us still holding to Calvinism -- and Lutheran right now. Is that weird? *shifty look*

Some might think, then why not become Presbyterian since they baptise babies and are Calvinist (since Lutherans baptise babies but aren't Calvinist). For one thing, hearing and learning about the Bible from a Lutheran perspective has brought such a healing a balm to our thirsting hearts. We truly appreciate so much about Lutheranism. The way they divide things into the Law and the Gospel is so helpful. And hearing about the comfort that the Gospel brings. . . . I love that. And they talk about how much God loves us! I'm afraid I don't remember hearing all that much about that at the Reformed church. And the concept of audiaphora (sp?) . . . we think that is great. And the focus on the Word, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper being the means of grace is something I am learning to understand and appreciate. I still have much to learn, though, about that. And the idea of vocations encourages us very much.

Another reason is because dh doesn't agree with covenant theology, and that is an important part of Presbyterian theology. It fits in with why Presbyterians baptise infants -- baptism being a sign and seal of entrace into the convenant (taking the place of circumcision as the sign), if I understand their views on that correctly.

As I see it, though, we do agree Presbyterians some in regards to what baptism does. Baptism (of an infant/child), as a means of grace, *can* be when God's chooses to save/justify one of His own, but we do not believe He is bound to do so. That is where, I think, we disagree with Confessional Lutheranism. They, as I understand it, believe that baptising an infant saves them. They don't believe that the child will of a certainty stay saved, though. If I understand Lutheranism correctly, they believe that a child who has been baptised needs to continue to receive the means of grace. The means of grace, as I understand it, are the means, the conduit, through which the Holy Spirit works and gives us the grace that Jesus bought for us through His death on the cross, the three means of grace being the Word, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper. So for a child who has already been Baptised, but whom does not take communion, the means of grace would be the Word -- I think, if I understand correctly, especially the *preaching* of the Word (or is that a Reformed concept? I'm not sure!).

Does anyone know if I am understanding Lutheranism correctly? If I sound unorthodox or anything, I apologize! I am trying really hard to understand!!!

BTW, in the past we heard from a Reformed Baptist that spanking is a means of grace. That does not at all fit in with what dh and I believe. There is much comfort in the idea of being part of a church that teaches that the means of grace are the Word, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper.

Anyway, at this time, dh and I feel that we probably could be conservative Lutherans, but not confessional Lutherans.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

One reason we left a reformed church (more)

My husband and I felt that the church we left earlier this year appeared to us to be becoming more influenced by Vision Forum, and that worried us. We both have huge concerns regarding Vision Forum. Some of what they teach can be okay for some people, but to say that their way of life is *the* way God wants all Christians to live is unreasonable and legalistic.

Some key issues for me were disagreement with the issues of submission/headship and discipline. My and my husband's marriage does not follow the patriarchal model. Also, we do not believe that discipline = spanking. And even further, we do not spank our children or expect unquestioning first time happy obedience (they are great kids, btw :) ).

One thing that has attracted us to Lutheranism is that they don't have all the "rules" that many Reformed people have. Lutherans seem to be really big on the importance of following personal convictions.

So, for instance, if you have a conviction not to spank, then, since the Bible doesn't command us to spank, follow your personal conviction not to spank. There was a Q and A on one of the Lutheran sites where someone was asking what a husband should do if his wife doesn't believe in spanking. The husband was encouraged to support his wife in her personal conviction and not make her spank. I'll see if I can find the link again and post it here.

Eucharistic theology quiz

I'm not really exactly sure what I believe these days. Here are the results of this quiz that I took, though.

You scored as Luther, You are Martin Luther. You'll stick with the words of Scripture, and defend this with earthy expressions. You believe this is a necessary consequence of an orthodox Christology. You believe that the bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ, but aren't too sure about where he goes after the meal, and so you don't accept reservation of the Blessed Sacrament or Eucharistic devotions.













Eucharistic theology
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Sunday was nice

We had a nice day on Sunday. The church service went fine. It was fun to see the children up front. We've never attended a church where the children had a chance to go foward and sing.... the churches we've been part of haven't had Christmas programs or anything like that.

I've always thought it was so neat when we would visit another church and I could see the children up front singing. I was always so touched. It was wonderful that this time, finally, I've had the opportunity to see my own children up front. It was a true blessing. We have it on video, too. *grin*

The picnic afterwards went fine, too. We actually felt pretty comfortable there. *jawdrop* My dad and mom visited the church on Sunday, too (so they could see their grandchildren up front), and stayed afterwards for the picnic, and my dad even felt comfortable at the picnic.

I didn't talk very much to the people there, but I did a little bit. I didn't really have a lot of chances to talk to people, I don't think. I was busy watching the younger kiddos some of the time (especially the youngest kiddo), and my dad and I were talking a lot of the time.

My husband and another man had a really good talk, though, about the church. My husband felt encouraged after talking with him. The man he talked with used to be Southern Baptist. The man that DH talked with the Sunday before (the one who invited us to VBS) also used to be Southern Baptist. Isn't that funny? Kinda neat how God worked that out.