Sunday, October 19, 2008

The End of the Confessional Age?

Pastor Matt Harrison, the Executive Director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care, on his blog Mercy Journey’s With Pastor Harrison, has an interesting quote of theologian Hermann Sasse, gleaned from one of Sasse’s Letters to Lutheran Pastors, #60. Here’s a highlight:

So it seems for American Lutheranism that the confessional age has come to an end. It seems so, yet it is not so. Are the theologians that speak thus today in the Lutheran Church entirely clear on the matter of what the end of the confessional age might actually mean? It would be the end of the church. Confessing belongs to the very essence of the church. There exists either a church based on a confession, or there exists no church. There exists no “ecumenical” church. There exists an ecumenical way of thinking, that greets and interacts with the “divided brethren” in love and understanding.


josh said...

I love Sasse's writing. While the church will never stop confessing, I think portions of the church will stop asking the question of themselves, "what are we confessing?" I think so often we err on the side of pragmatism that we neglect this function. One (sainted) sem prof once told me that our witness isn't something we turn off and on. We don't decide to confess something right now. Rather we are always confessing some theology in any give practice. So even when we think there's no confession of faith going on, there is probably is.

Sorry to ramble all over your blog. Someone get a mop.

Peter said...

One relevant way I see this happening is with Lutheran pastors and Lutheran churches who when the Reformation rolls around all of a sudden become extra-Lutheran and make a big celebration about Luther and the Reformation. If a Lutheran pastor or congregation is not serious about the Reformation, its doctrines, and its confessional writings year round, then making up for it one day each year shows how unconfessional that pastor or church truly is: they have ceased to be Lutheran in any real sense. If one ceases to be confessional, they one also ceases to be missional as well.