Monday, April 20, 2009

Is the LCMS an Orthodox Church Body?

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. Romans 16:17 ESV

Quoting Dr. Francis Pieper:

With regard to the orthodox character of a church body note well: (1) A church body is orthodox only if the true doctrine, as we have it in the Augsburg Confession and the other Lutheran Symbols, is actually taught in its pulpits and its publications and not merely “officially” professed as its faith. Not the “official” doctrine, but the actual teaching determines the character of a church body, because Christ enjoins that all things whatsoever He has commanded His disciples should actually be taught and not merely acknowledged in an “official document” as the correct doctrine. It is patent that faith in Christ will be created and preserved through the pure Gospel only when that Gospel is really proclaimed. (2) A church body does not forfeit its orthodox character by reason of the casual intrusion of false doctrine. The thing which the Apostle Paul told the elders of Ephesus: “Also of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30), came true not only in the Apostolic Church, but also in the Church of the Reformation and will occur in the Church to the Last Day. a church body loses its orthodoxy only when it no longer applies Rom. 16:17, hence does not combat and eventually remove the false doctrine, but tolerates it without reproof and thus actually grants it equal right with the truth.

Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. III (St. Louis: Concordia, 1950) 423.


Bill Duncan said...


The is currently a Lutheran body which has often been described as the Rom. 16:17 church, "The Church of the Lutheran Confession". It also is described as what the LCMS looked like 100 years ago. Why reinvent the wheel when the CLC waits with open arms for you to come home.

Scott Diekmann said...

Hi Bill. I'm a layman, not a pastor, which puts things in a little different perspective as far as the division in the LCMS is concerned. I've read many excellent arguments both for and against leaving the LCMS. If we wait long enough, it may leave us! Fortunatly, I'm blessed by being a member of a confessional congregation. Thanks for your comment.

Robert Shipe said...


I am a layman and I believe it is time to seriously consider declaring a in statu cofessionis. This must be initiated by laymen talking to their pastor's about doctrinal errors within the synod. From "lay ministry" (no such office) to the eradication of adjudication(and replacing it with a "Dispute Resolution" that only tolerates false doctrine) to the "calling" of teachers and seminary professors to a humanly instituted "vocation" and calling it a ministry to the "church" whereas "Church" means synod, to an ecclesiastical polity that really is nothing more than the Romish view of a episcoposy hierarchy that the confessions warn against, to open communion practiced in many LCMS churches (which makes belonging to a "confessional church" makes one suspect of who it is that this "confessional" church is in fellowship with) to a whole host of other false doctrine that the LCMS tolerates and or allows.

I too belong to a confessional Lutheran church, however whenever I read our communion statement about being in fellowship with the LCMS, therefore practicing closed communion, I wonder what that really means. By being a confessional congregation and holding firm to the BOC as being the true interpretation of scripture can we really say we are in fellowship with the LCMS? Is this statement not a contradiction?

Pastors who are confessional must start teaching their sheep that which is false. Not just those religions that are false, for that is easy, but also what is false in their own synod. How can we uphold what Luther, Chemnitz, Walther, Pieper, and the historic church fathers taught against as it is interpretated from the writings of the Apostles and the teachings of Christ Himself when there is so much tolerance and teaching of false doctrine in our own synod?
The synod that you and I and a whole host of other confessing Lutheran Christians believe to be in fellowship with?

Dr. Barry once said that we need to get the message straight before we can get it out. I, for one totally agree with this assessment. After all the great commission has two parts to it! Not just one. Layman must get active and not leave it up to the Pastors alone to mark and teach against and especially to avoid false doctrine. We cannot be content to be thankful that we belong to a "confressional church" when we are in fellowship with those who are not!

Bob Shipe, Layman St. Mark's West Bloomfield, Mich

Scott Diekmann said...

All valid points Bob. I know there are some pastors out there that do teach their flocks about what is going on in the LCMS, but it's a very slim proportion. A little reminder for the pastor from the laymen would be helpful. Maybe the day will soon arrive when we, as individual congregations, will band together and simultaneously declare in statu cofessionis. We can't continue on the same trajectory without eventually sinking the ship.