Friday, September 26, 2008

A Lutheran Manifesto

If you haven't had opportunity to read through Pastor Frederic Baue's "A Lutheran Manifesto" at The Brothers of John the Steadfast site I hope you'll check it out. I've included his cover letter below to give you an idea of what the Manifesto is about. Please give a read. You can post comments there and/or affix your name to the document. Here is the cover letter:

Dear Reader,

Greetings to you and blessings through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

You have before you a document entitled, "A Lutheran Manifesto." Let me say a word about it by way of introduction.

I the undersigned am the sole author. I take complete responsibility for its contents. I have called it a "manifesto" in that its purpose is to exhort the reader to action. The manifesto contains twelve theses, each derived from the Articles of the Augsburg Confession. There are twenty-eight articles in the Augsburg Confession, but as a number of these address the same subject, I have combined them thematically.

What I am trying to achieve here is to view the current confessional crisis in the Lutheran church through the lenses of the Augsburg Confession.

The crisis is this: many Lutheran pastors, teachers, laymen, and congregations have not fulfilled their vow to be faithful to the Lutheran Confessions. They uphold the Bible, but waver on the Confessions.

I want to show that the Augsburg Confession, written in 1530, is still relevant. It still is valid. It still speaks to the issues and conflicts we are faced with today.

Let me be perfectly clear about one thing. This is not a new confession. I am not seeking to create division in the church, but unity. I am not seeking subscribers in the confessional sense. However, if readers wish to indicate by the website petition form that they agree with what I have said, they are certainly free to do so.

Most of all I want the manifesto to stimulate evangelical conversation. I want it to influence thinking. And I want it to move us back toward concord.

It is painfully obvious that we do not have concord—complete unity in doctrine and practice—in the LCMS today. At the 2007 Convention of Synod, an amendment that said that the Missouri Synod was divided lost by a 51-49% margin!

I have tried to make this manifesto irenic and not polemical in tone. But in defining the issues, the manifesto will I think show that not everyone who claims to be Lutheran truly is Lutheran. The manifesto is worded so as to call back to the fold those who have strayed. However, it does seem clear that at some point in the future hard decisions will have to be made. This would entail a decision on the part of those who have strayed, either to repent or to leave. Or it would entail action on the part of church leaders who must call them to account.

About the writing: for rhetorical purposes I am using the word "men" in its correct, historic, and inclusive sense. I am using "we" in the sense that I am articulating a generally-held climate of opinion among authentic Lutherans. By "authentic Lutheran" or a "man of Wittenberg" I mean someone who not only accepts the Bible as divinely inspired and inerrant, but who also fully, firmly and unreservedly accepts and applies the teachings of the Book of Concord in doctrine and practice. This as opposed to those who, while outwardly Lutheran, assimilate to the doctrine and practice other religious bodies.

While I am a pastor of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, I am writing also on behalf of teachers, laymen, and congregations who still hold to the Confessions, as well as brothers and sisters in other American Lutheran church bodies. Also, while I am a citizen of the United States of America, I am aware that our Lutheran brothers in other lands, who are facing problems similar to ours, will perhaps be aided by this document. Therefore I have minimized specific references to the American context and to the LCMS.

Jesus is for everyone.

So is Luther.

I wish to thank the laymen—especially those of my own congregation—pastors, and theologians who have critiqued this manifesto during its development and given helpful suggestions for revision. Permission is hereby granted to all who wish to reproduce these materials, provided the source is indicated.

Again, my prayer is that it may help draw us together as true Lutherans, united in doctrine and practice as we seek to save the lost with the comforting message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Thank you very much.

Your servant in Christ,

Dr. Frederic W. Baue, STS

Pastor, Bethany Lutheran Church, UAC

Fairview Heights, Illinois

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