Tuesday, March 01, 2005

By grace alone, by faith alone, by Word alone - that's what I like about our church! - Part III of my faith journey

Below is a post I originally wrote one week and one day after beginning my blog. New readers have recently discovered it and have added comments, so I am updating it and posting it again.

Original post on Kiihnworld on June 8, 2004

One reason I began this weblog was to begin to put into words my thoughts and experiences in the Christian faith. In particular, I'm trying to write my story of going from being raised a mainstream lutheran to becoming an evangelical who eventually returned to her ELCA church (along with many other evangelicals who were given free reign to change the church) and then finally found a home in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod as a confessional lutheran. I've already written about being raised mainstream lutheran and becoming an evangelical. Today, with the help of a friend, I was able to put together the third part of my journey: going from the ELCA to the ELS. The middle part of my story covers twenty years, so I'll need some more time to work on that post.

It has been very difficult to verbalize my feelings towards the changing ELCA. It complicates my task to learn that the changes in the ELCA go beyond me and my life time:back many, many generations over more than a century and a half. The current situation in the ELCA is depressing. In fact, it is beyond depressing to live firsthand in the expansive moral morass. For me, words cannot describe the absolute state of confusion which is glorified there. I personally experienced incorporation of the false teachings of Robert Schuller , switching from saved by grace through baptism to decision theology (ie. use of the Alpha program for confirmation in place of Luther's small catechism and using similiar curricula for Sunday School lessons), abandoning formal confirmation classes because kids and their families complained it was too boring, loss of the liturgy for hand-clapping, emotional performances and meaningless songs, the impending vote next year to ordain and bless practicing homosexuals, etc. I had known for five years that I had to leave, but I kept thinking that I owed it to my home church to stay and try to be a positive influence.

Although it was hard to leave after 30 years of membership at my home church, I did it to protect my own salvation and for the benefit of my children. I now experience much joy at the biblical truths preached and practiced at confessional lutheran congregations, such as King of Grace. I know, after 20 years of searching through churches, that there is no perfect church and never will be on this earth. I was attracted to King of Grace and confessional lutheranism because the Word is faithfully preached and taught. It's strength is turning people to God's Word. I have confidence that Scripture will be the final word on changes made in the ELS. It's grace alone, faith alone, scripture alone and Christ alone - that's what I like about our church. I feel such freedom in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and at King of Grace: freedom that comes from the peace of mind knowing that the Word is being clearly taught to me and my family, not on somebody's whim or interpretation. I know that my husband and I will grow old in this church and see our grandchildren baptized and confirmed at this church.

Since I am an avid fan of the Q&A section of the WELS website (see link below), I am aware of the many divisions in the more conservative Lutheran synods. I don't pretend to understand them and, in fact, I think that the arguers should realize that there are many newcomers to confessional lutheranism who have very little idea what all the fighting is about between WELS/ELS and LC/MS, etc. Not to belittle the arguments, since they surely stem from legitimate complaints, but God has obviously brought many new people into the church since then. I hope to see more evangelicals turn to confessional lutheranism. I also pray that long-standing members are always so patient with those of us relearning scriptural truths. So far, so good!

***In true lutheran fashion, there are even arguments about whether there are three, four or five solas! I know that there are five original solas, but only three are considered supremely important: Grace, faith and scripture. Gee, that leaves out Christ and God. That doesn't make sense. I'll leave that explanation to a more knowledgeable person than me to comment on that.

Three solas: Sola Gratia (grace alone), Sola Fide (faith alone), Sola Scriptura (scripture alone)

Five solas: Sola Fide (faith alone), Sola Gratia (grace alone), Solus Christus (Christ alone), Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) and Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be glory).

Original comments fromKiihnworld post on 6/8/04

they call him Tim said...
Thanks again for a helpful insight into your faith journey. I sometimes get confused over the disagreements between church bodies too. In a “jestful” sense, the Southern Baptists say that they use arguments and fights to “grow the Kingdom” through new church plants. It’s a sad commentary on people, but maybe God does use our failings in understanding Him properly to reach out beyond ourselves. Just a thought. It’s amazing to see the proliferation of Baptist churches in the South, one on every block.

they call him Tim said...
Aren't there five solas?


TKls2myhrt said...
In true lutheran fashion, there are even arguments about whether there are three, four or five solas! I know that there are five original solas, but only three are considered supremely important: Grace, faith and scripture. Gee, that leaves out Christ and God. That doesn't make sense. I'll leave that explanation to a more knowledgeable person than me to comment on that.Three solas: Sola Gratia (grace alone), Sola Fide (faith alone), Sola Scriptura (scripture alone)Five solas: Sola Fide (faith alone), Sola Gratia (grace alone), Solus Christus (Christ alone), Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) and Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be glory).


Swansmith said...
To me, who grew up Methodist/Independent/sort of Baptist and finally Evangelical Covenant, sola means one. ;) At least, that is what my studies of Spanish throughout high school and college taught me.But I am interested in learning more about Lutherans and doctrinal issues. And I can sing you a Spanish song--solamente in Cristo, solamente in el... (only in Christ, only in Him)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your words on the ELCA. They essentially mirror my journey as well. I finally left the ELCA for the LCMS in 1995. It was one of the best decisions I ever made--for me and my family. I believe God led me back to a confessing evangelical Lutheran church body.

Marc Johnson
Soli Deo Gloria

Josh Schneider said...

A brief comment on the solas: I can't explain why there is argument over the 3, 4, or 5, which of course seems silly, but one thing I have learned about the solas is this--sola gratia, sola fide, and sola scriptura are all in the Latin case ('case' meaning a specific form of a noun that identifies its role in a sentence, i.e. as subject, object, etc) that means 'BY' grace, faith, and scripture alone. Solus Christus, however, is in the Latin case that indicates the SUBJECT of the sentence. Therefore the difference between sola and solus reflects that Christ is the 'who' of the other three solas, and they are the 'how'. Christ is salvation, BY Faith alone, BY Grace alone, (and this is revealed) BY Scripture alone. That is what little I've gathered on the matter, for what its worth.

Josh Schneider said...

edit: "Christ ALONE is salvation, etc"

Anonymous said...

Theresa: Thank you for sharing your journey. It is a real encouragement to me. I was raised in a mainline Protestant church, then involved in various parts of evangelicalism for 20-25 years, much of it good, and now am a member of the LCMS.

I agree that it's sad about the ELCA. They're going down the slide. But don't give up on the parishoners. They're 'good' folks, at least that's been our experience. I pray that many of them will find more confessional Lutheran churches that will welcome them. I also heard one prediction that there will be four separate churches that emerge from the ELCA. There is one movement called 'Word Alone' that is more scripture based.

Some good news is that there are evangelicals all over the country discovering Lutheranism. I like what Craig Parton said in his book: we Lutherans should be leading the way, because Lutheranism has a great deal to offer evangelicals. We need to turn up the heat!

Steve Finnell said...

SATAN'S GAME BY STEVE FINNELL
Why do so many people play Satan's game? Satan's game of soul destroyer is like a game of baseball.

Satan wants men to remain in the batter's box. John 8:24 :There I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (NKJV)

If men will not say in the batter's box Satan can tolerate 1st base.[BELIEVE] John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (NKJV)

If men run to 2nd base Satan can live with that. [REPENTANCE] Acts 3:19 "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that in times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. (NKJV)

If men insist on going to 3rd base, Satan says fine, thats o.k.. [CONFESSION] Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (NKJV)

The thing Satan cannot abide is when men reach home plate. [WATER BAPTISM] Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (NKJV)

TO REMAIN ON THIRD BASE IS TO DIE IN YOUR SINS.


YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http//:steve-finnell.blogspot.com