It has been such a enlightening, strengthening journey to move from seeing God in one way to experiencing God in a much fuller way. That is how I describe my transformation from a self-described ecumenical "lutheran" evangelical to a confessional Lutheran. My transformation took place during the time when my daughter attended a confessional Lutheran grade school for her 7th and 8th grade years. In looking for a parochial school for her, I had closely examined the doctrine of this particular church/school. I told myself that I didn't want to get part way through the year and discover that they had some odd belief that I couldn't tolerate. I read through each statement of belief and couldn't find anything I disagreed with. In hindsight, I don't see how I was fully reading each statement. I don't think I had ever read through doctrinal statements with such careful attention and understanding (as limited as that may be) as I do now. Now, each and every word means something and I pay attention.
In the first year (7th grade), we remained at our old church. (I already written extensively about that here.) My daugher took a religion class and religion was interspersed throughout her entire learning day. She had a well-educated and opinionated teacher and sometimes my daughter would come home repeating statements her teacher had made that day. Some of his statements (about ecumenicalism, the ELCA, communion practices, nature of salvation, etc) struck a nerve with me and I would tell me daughter that if he really knew US he wouldn't say such a thing. Concurrently, I would study his claims with the bible and other resources. I became a great fan of the Wels Q&A site and read nearly every post every made to that section.
In the meantime, I was becoming painfully aware of the doctrinal problems (or lack of consistent and/or scriptural doctrine!) in my own church, upset by changes in the confirmation program and disgusted with a social justice worker/female pastor who refuses to pray for our troops and leaders at all. We left that church in June of 2003 and began attending the church which ran my daughter's school. My husband and I took the Bible Information Class over the summer- our pastors met with us in a private class and really took time to teach and explain what the Bible says on each doctrinal point.
By the fall, my daughter was allowed to joined the confirmation class and be on track to be confirmed that spring. I was likely the only parent who got so excited to study each lesson with her confirmand! I also soaked up each religion lesson she was assigned in school. I was asked to teach Sunday School, but refused until I could learn and absorb more instruction. I attend as many Bible studies as our family's schedule allows (I hope that doesn't sound like pride. I'm such a sinner in need of solid training that I get excited for any learning opportunity.)
Now, a year later, my son has started confirmation, as well as 7th grade at the school, and I get to learn things again with him. Praise God that I have this opportunity to learn with my kids; I hope that all parents use their kids' confirmation programs to re-learn (or learn) the solid biblical truths taught there. We all need to be able to read, understand and repeat to others the beliefs of our churches.
Yet again, I've found a article that puts into words the thoughts moving around in my head. Rick Ritchie, at Old Solar ezine, writes about his advice to a friend making the switch to confessional Lutheranism in Get a New Grid:
"You've been learning a lot of Reformation doctrine lately. But it seems to me you are hanging Reformation doctrines onto the grid of your old theology. I think it's time to throw out your old grid and get a new one.” I said this once to a co-worker at a Christian bookstore where theological conversation was common. My friend's background was in the holiness churches, but he had been studying Reformation doctrines and listening to the White Horse Inn radio broadcast and attending theology lectures. His study had moved him to embrace several doctrines at odds with his tradition. Sometime after I made my statement and he had joined a church more in line with his new beliefs, he said that I had given him the most helpful advice anyone ever gave him on that journey. Continue reading Rick's article...
I am adding Rick's article to this blog in hopes that it will be a resource for others making a similar journey. As my favorite morning radio host says, "Get wisdom. Get understanding. Guard her and she will serve you well."