Full Text for Dogmatics 4- Volume 52 - In view of our practice of fellowship then, how should we as members of the Missouri Synod deal with our local congregations in other denominations? (Video)

No. 52. >> In view of our practice of fellowship then, how should we as members of the Missouri Synod deal with our local congregations in other denominations? >>DR. KLAUS DETLEV SCHULZ: David, you are asking a very important question that impacts the life of every congregation. And most of us have also relatives in other congregations of different denominations. And as we invite those to our churches, as we get together on a Sunday, perhaps, on an important day such as a wedding or a funeral, burial of a close person, then the question always comes up: How do we deal in terms of fellowship with one another? The Missouri Synod has, also, expressed its opinion on such fellowship practices that pertain to these circumstances as I've just described. There's one word that is often used that is -- and proposed as a form of how to get along with one another. Namely, of practicing selective fellowship. Again, the opinion of the Missouri Synod, the official one, I might add, is that one should not engage in selective fellowship where one invites a member of another congregation or another congregation of a different denomination than that of a Missouri Synod to the altar of a congregation of the Missouri Synod. Why is that? I believe -- and the Missouri Synod's statements say -- that a church or a denomination or even a Christian of a different church remains in it for a specific reason. He might not always understand the doctrinal statements that their denomination believes. However, the question is: Why do they remain therein? Is it not possible that they will come over to the Missouri Synod? Over to your congregation? So generally we are cautious in inviting members of other congregations into our midst, unless, we might add, there is a case of emergency. Such cases of emergency might exist where you encounter -- now, as a pastor I might add -- as a pastor, a person in a hospital who is in desperate need of the Lord's Supper and of absolution. I think no pastor would pass that member by and tell him that because he is not a person in his congregation, a member there, that he will not commune him. However, as a general rule, we would say that our church premises insofar as our pulpit and altar of practice that we would like to have clearly expressed borders and rules in terms of how we should engage with Christians from other denominations. There's, also, one text in Romans 16 Verse 17 that seems to have mapped out the thinking of the Missouri Synod in terms of practicing fellowship. I would like to read this text to you. Again, it's Romans 16 Verse 17. There Paul writes: I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause the visions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. C.F.W. Walther wrote a book that is called: Church and Ministry. Maybe you are in possession of it. And this is a very helpful book because it has clearly stated in a number of theses what we are to believe about the church and also about ministry. And in the coming questions that I will be answering, I will refer you to such statements and theses that C.F.W. Walther makes. In Thesis 8 under Church, he adds this. And he refers to Romans 16 Verse 17. Every believer, he says, must at the peril of losing his salvation flee all false teachers. Avoid all heterodox congregations or sects and acknowledge an idea to Orthodox congregations and the Orthodox pastors wherever such may be found. This is a harsh statement. But it seems to be saying that he encourages all of the Missouri Synod members to stick to their congregations. To where they have become members. And should they go on holiday somewhere, they should try to seek out that church that is also a member of the Missouri Synod. Precisely because they try to find a vicinity, a location, where it is possible to hear God's Word, God's Gospel, according to the teachings of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. This is a great concern. And in terms of us abiding to it would require us to be astutely aware of the situation in this world, the ecclesial situation, what every church teaches and where it stands in terms of a doctrine of justification and all other articles as they pertain to the Gospel and what the church otherwise teaches. ***Vena Elot, a Lutheran scholar from Erlangen, who is now passed away for a number of decades, wrote an important book called: Eucharistic Fellowship in the First Three Centuries. And there the question was raised in this book as to what does it mean to be Orthodox? And he looks at the proposals that had been made then in the first three centuries as to what can Christians do to be considered Orthodox? One of the proposals was that one turns to the bishop and perhaps looks at him. And as long as you remain with the bishop of the church, you will be given the approval of being Orthodox. However, that standard soon fell to the wayside. Why? Because as heresies emerged in the church, so, also, many bishops abided to that heresy, as well. We know that the christological controversies of the First Century, that in Alexandra and Antioch, there were many statements made by bishops that had to be corrected. In other words, to find an Orthodox Church does not necessarily mean that one has to turn to the bishop and find therein the stamp of approval. The Christian churches in the first three centuries soon realized that Orthodoxy had to do with structure. And so it ultimately crystalized to this fact that those who preach the Gospel from the pulpit and those who practiced it needed to be measured against that what Scripture says. That eventually crystalized and emerged as the claim for Orthodoxy. Today when we look at our pastors preaching in the church, we often might ask ourselves: What is their Orthodoxy? What is their pedigree? Well, they have studied for many years. They have laid out the Word of Scripture in classroom. We would expect them to be apt to teach. And nobody would deny them that right. However, it is not an automatic Orthodoxy that they are proclaiming. And we as Christians, the laypeople, should be astute and clever enough to understand the main statements in Scripture and what the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod believes. So that they can step forward and measure their preaching that comes from the pulpit also against Scripture. And draw their conclusions as to whether the pastor is preaching Orthodox or not.