Some years ago, I was honored to join with brother pastors in boldly proclaiming the truth of God’s Word. The statement was “That They May Be One”. I signed it then. I still confess it. Not one word of it has been proven untrue. The hack-job that the COP and CTCR did on it is something for which those individuals will have to answer at the judgment. Hopefully, they will be saved despite their weakness of faith and doctrine.
I think it is directly applicable to some current questions in our synod regarding fellowship in an erring church body. Am I in true Christian fellowship with those who pray to idols, or join in services where that happens? No. I don’t join with them at the altar either. They condemn themselves by their actions. Think I’m being sectarian? Then perhaps you should rethink whether you want to commune at the altar where I serve. Because that’s the confession and practice of our congregation. No one – NO ONE – communes without speaking to the pastor and elders. Again, if you think I’m being donatistic (I’m not) or sectarian (might want to read what confessions actually say on the topic…) then perhaps you should reconsider whether communing at my altar is right for you.
Anyway, I still confess this. I’ve posted before, but today seemed a good day to remind myself what it is that I have willingly bound myself to, and what confession I will make at the judgment
- Scripture (as God gave it, not as man has twisted it);
- The Book of Concord 1580 (Because it is a correct exposition, not insofar as);
- That They May Be One. Because in a time of controversy, we can’t avoid speaking the truth for fear that we are breaking church protocols. Those must always serve the Gospel. And the Gospel is not served when church protocols are used in an attempt to admit error into Christ’s Holy Church.
Thesis 2 is especially helpful as we move through the Koinonia Project:
We believe, teach, and confess that the Triune God gives church fellowship to His church for her good and for the good of the world. Christ prays to His Heavenly Father, “Sanctify them in the truth, Your word is truth…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that you sent Me” (John 17:17,21). It is only the Gospel of Christ that creates true church fellowship. Fellowship created solely on the basis of outward structures, without unity in faith given by God, is a human invention. To ignore differences in doctrine is to destroy the very unity of faith we seek.
We reject the teaching that differences in doctrine are trivial. We reject the teaching that differences in doctrine do not or need not destroy the outward unity of the church. Also rejected is the teaching that in the freedom of the Gospel we may ignore such differences.
Do I believe those words are true? Not only that, but I teach and confess them. And if you don’t then that’s fine. I can’t force that. But the question for you isn’t really “Why is he not in fellowship with me?” The question you should ask is, “Am I really in fellowship with him?”