catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 2, Num 20 :: 2003.10.24 — 2003.11.06


A foot in both camps

I've been Lutheran and associated with the Lutheran Church Missouri
Synod all my life. My grandfathers were both LCMS pastors, I have
uncles who are/were Lutheran pastors, I was raised in a Lutheran
church, went to a small Lutheran College, and spent about 18 years as
the wife of a Lutheran teacher/administrator, sending my two children
to Lutheran schools until high school when they began attending a
Christian Reformed school at the same time I became employed by said
school as librarian.

I remember when I was interviewed and then hired by the CRC school,
the superintendent and I talked at length about doctrinal differences,
he was convinced they were just semantics and that we (Lutheran and
Reformed) are really the same. I disagreed and still do. I even went so
far in my Lutheran zealousness to write an addendum to my contract
since I wouldn't sign that I ascribed to the teachings of the CRC as
espoused in the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the
Canons of Dordt (although as an employee I would uphold their
foundational philosophies). My theological training was Book of
Concord, the Large and Small Luther Catechisms, the Augsburg
Confessions, and the Smalcald Articles. I had never heard of or read
the others until this summer, good reading by the way! I can sign in
good conscience now.

I've had a lot of fun with Luther/Calvin ribbing with this Reformed
staff. Last year for Reformation Day, I purchased an "autographed"
print of Luther for the superintendent, it hangs on the same wall as
the Calvin portrait, a few inches lower, but in color and better
looking! I also introduced the staff to the "Reformation Polka." Two
years ago I taped a copy of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" and a copy
of the 95 theses to his door. We have fun discussing theology and I
continue to have fun doing uniquely Lutheran things around Reformation
Day. I think a Luther bobble-head statue is in his future as is a copy
of the new Luther biography.

I've found Reformed folk to be quite reverent of Luther and much
more knowledgeable about him and what took place in the Reformation
than I am. Reformed folk have a pretty thorough and thoughtful grasp of
that whole period of time and embrace not only Luther but other
Reformers as well, letting the impact of their collected thought enrich
and inform their doctrine and devotional lives. I have learned much and
been humbled more than once by my lack of historical knowledge of other
reformers and their contribution to Christianity today.

And that brings me to the crux of this writing; How does the
Reformation inform, instruct, and impact us today in the Reformed and
Lutheran traditions? My observations are personal and not necessarily
theologically or historically based. I want to share how both of these
Reformation "giants" have impacted my life and what I have observed.

Lutheranism gave me a deep appreciation for the liturgical, ancient,
historical church, and for rich, theological hymnody. If I am away from
this manner of worship for very long I find myself hungering and
thirsting for it. Lutheranism and Lutheran training taught me the
proper distinction between Law and Gospel, vital for preaching Christ!
I believe the way Lutherans embrace the Reformation is by not wavering
from teaching, preaching, and worshipping according to the doctrines
and confessions written by Luther. Lutherans are serious about their
doctrine and about everything taught, sung, preached being under-girded
and upheld by those doctrines. In a Lutheran church that is faithful to
her doctrine and teaching, you will always hear the Gospel of Jesus
Christ preached on Sunday and you will always hear it preached at a
funeral. By the same token, you may also find her to be dogmatic,
closed, and tradition bound, existing as a church that is not living
freely in the Gospel of Christ Jesus and not trusting her people to be
the Body of Christ to each other and the world.

The Reformed tradition as I have experienced it at this small CRC
school, lives out the Reformation with a view to impacting culture for
Christ while secured in the arms of a covenant relationship with God.
It makes for a firm stand in values, ethics, and family life. The credo
"creation, fall, redemption" is evident in what is both taught and
lived by the Reformed folk I know. My children and I have been impacted
by this view and the strength of this covenant relationship with God
and with one another in Christ. Our world view has been informed and
challenged, as have our personal walks with Christ.

Lutheranism will always mean so much to me. It gives me richness in
worship, liturgy, Law/Gospel distinction, and good preaching! Reformed
tradition has brought me a new understanding of my covenant
relationship with God and has impacted how I live out my faith daily
because of it. I continue to stand in both camps, waiting for God's
direction in choosing a church home and being thankful for what both
traditions have given my children and me. I am thankful for what both
traditions bring to the world, to impacting the world for Christ! The
Reformation lives on and influences greatly both of these rich and
solid Christian denominations. May we work together for the cause of
Christ and live for Him in all we do.

Soli deo Gloria!

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