Now that I’ve had some time to think about Pastor Weedon’s blog post, and given what is the sensitive nature of the subject, I think it is best to qualify my statements before proceeding. I have family members who are not LCMS Lutheran. I have family who is not even Lutheran, for that matter. I find this subject to be somewhat disconcerting to think about, as the topic can be personal to many people. Denominational loyalty is becoming a thing of the past. The post-modern society in which we live doesn’t see the need to be stuck to one train of thought, and, in fact, looks down on anyone who would claim to be more right (or even the only one right, for that matter) than anybody else. Thus, it is difficult to hear someone stating, quite plainly and firmly, that everyone else has missed the mark. It makes one uncomfortable, like somebody in the room just told the inappropriate joke, and nobody laughed.
Having said that, I don’t think that Pastor Weedon has told the inappropriate joke at all. In fact, a better analogy might be that he’s the one who called out the guy who wrote the inappropriate comment on the bathroom wall, in front of an office full of coworkers. He’s gone and said the thing that needed to be said, and now everyone is looking around and trying to decide whether or not to agree with him. And I have to say that I do.
Yes, it’s not about denominations. Nor should it be. The Christian Church has split, unfortunately, and not down a line which can, or should, be drawn. We have not split on guitars vs. organs, or J.S. Bach vs. Stephen Curtis Chapman. We’ve split in a much more harmful way. We’ve severed our ranks on the Body and Blood of Christ. We’ve divided ourselves over God’s saving work in Baptism, and the faith it instills. We rendered the Church in two because some of us have decided that we understand God’s plan better than God does.
Is Christ the only Way to salvation? Yes. Is His death and resurrection that which saves? Absolutely. Does that mean that the rest of our doctrinal differences are just topics of conversation? NOT IN THE LEAST! Our faith, our confession of that faith, our belief in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God and our holding to that Word, the Word of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, is what makes us Christian. And we MUST believe what IT says, not how WE CHOOSE to interpret it.
Will members of churches with a confession other than that found in the Book of Concord be saved? Yes. Christ tells us that, in Mark 9:40, “For the one who is not against us is for us.” The Holy Spirit works in all manner of people, Lutheran or not. But He only works in those who believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, and the Savior of the world. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1.
Don’t let this make you think that the rest of the doctrine doesn’t matter, though. Mistaken doctrine is like a wounded body part. If the wound is allowed to fester, it can consume all of your body. It can break you down and kill you. Having an unsound doctrine may not destroy you immediately, though, but may instead spread slowly, seeping into your other parts and beliefs, breaking you down and creating doubt in the parts that were sure. Only the true belief in the Word of God can heal this wound, and lift you up out of your sinful ways.
I know that I was once of the mindset that a Christian is a Christian, and what difference does a little doctrine make? I can see now, through my own study and prayer, that God’s Word is true in only one sense. And I believe that the Lutheran Confessions are the true exposition of the Word.
May God be gracious to you and I, and may “the Word of Christ dwell in you richly,” Colossians 3:16.