I see ads for a popular Lutheran Group’s next conference. It’s called “Making the Case”. The top two speakers are a Roman Catholic and a Baptist. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve read both of them, they are brilliant thinkers. They have both, in their own way, done a lot to respond to the challenges which we face today. They have both correctly diagnosed many of the problems with our culture. They are ardent defenders of the culture of life against the culture of death. And, a good portion of the time, they even offer the correct solution.
They belong to churches which teach falsely on various issues. That is not my opinion. It is the confession of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. And it is a correct diagnosis. And that false teaching works its way into their solutions. So, if a member were to ask, I would say in each case, “Be careful reading that. It’s O.K. to a point, but then it seeks answers in places God has not promised to be.” And, because their writings are corrupted by false teaching, if someone didn’t ask, I would not recommend them. There are many Lutheran authors that speak to the same issues clearly, winsomely, and (most importantly!) 100% correctly. They also have some of those sorts of folks on the schedule of the conference. I’m grateful for that.
But I do wonder.
I wonder why they have two false teachers as headliners for the conference. Name recognition? Is it worth it exchange name recognition for faithfulness? I suppose they would say it is. But if my children insist on me adding arsenic to their milk because they think arsenic is yummy, do I do that? They need their milk. Most of it is nutritious. And it really isn’t a fatal dose. Does any parent think that way? As a pastor, that’s how I see it, and why I don’t recommend conferences like this one. And why I’ve cautioned my people when they ask, and try and divert them to more faithful resources. And when they don’t ask, I don’t push them that direction. It’s dangerous to allow false doctrine. In the Lord’s prayer, we pray “Protect us from this, heavenly Father!”
And then I wonder what case they are making. Not the case for the Evangelical Lutheran Church. I’m sure the Lutheran speakers will do that. But their witness will be muted by the potential for false teaching that is presented, and even (given their top billing) encouraged.
Lutheran is the only case I ever really make. My kids get tired of hearing me say “So-and-so would make a good Lutheran.” They roll their eyes and say, “Dad, you think everyone would make a good Lutheran.” And then I say “YES!” Because I truly believe that. We have the truth of God’s Holy Word taught purely, and others do not. (If I didn’t believe this, I would not be a very good pastor). Others teach it (to varying degrees) mostly truly. But at key points, they lead away from Christ and to the individual. And that leads to grief.
It would be nice if everyone were a Lutheran. Not because my churches would be huge. But because everyone would confess the truth, and reject harmful and painful errors. In this world, I know that won’t happen. And, I would never claim that only those who are members of the LCMS will be in heaven. But I do believe that when we get to heaven, and the sin and false teachings go away, then we will all confess the truth. And that will be the truth as revealed in Holy Scripture, and summarized in the Book of Concord. So, I guess you could say I believe that not only Lutherans will get to heaven. But everyone in heaven will be Lutheran.
And I say that not because Luther was so great. But because the Lutheran Church properly confesses who Christ is. And that’s what we will be doing in heaven as well – Confessing Christ without divisions. Sadly, that’s no longer possible in this world. But I look forward to the great day when our Lord makes all things new, and a joint confession of the truth will be on the lips of everyone that day.