Full Text for Crossing Old-Line Boundaries: The Works of Lutheran Charity (Text)

Volume 71:3/4 ~ July/October 2007 The Metamorphosis of Confessional d utheranism David P. Scaer .......................................................................... 203 I Confessional Lutheranism in an Ecu enical World Carl E. Braaten ........................................................................ 1 219 Confessional A Missouri Synod Challenge Samuel H. Naf zger 233 Crossing Old Line Boundaries: Works of Lutheran Charity Matthew C. Harrison ............................................................. 251 I Sola Fide: Luther and Calvin Phillip Cary .............................................................................. 265 I Luther, Lutheranism, and the ~hallen4es of Islam Adam S. Francisco .................................................................. 283 . "The Noblest Skill Luther's Sermons on the Proper Disti Law and Gospel Robert Kolb 301 The Argument over Women's ordination in Lutheranism as a paradigmatic Conflict of Dogma 1 Armin Wenz ................................. !. ...................................... 319 Contemporary Spirituality and the Emerging Church John T . Pless .............................................................................. 347 Theological Observer .......................................................................... 364 The Consecration of the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Siberia The Reception of the Lutheran Service Book "The God Squad": Towards a Common Religion Book Reviews ....................................................................................... 374 Books Received ................................................................................. 382 Indices for Volume 7l ......................................................................... 391 Crossing Old-Line Boundaries: The Works of Lutheran Charity Matthew C. Harrison I am going to argue that there are old-line boundaries and that we should cross them. Lutherans should be and are involved in works of charitv, hence there are Lutheran works of charity. My friends, this is the very moment of moments to be alive and be a confessional Lutheran. Before I make a case for that, I should be frank the state of world Lutheranism is deplorable. The latest report of the Lutheran World Federation (LTYF) has so many female clergy depicted that it looks like a C5I Alm). special edition catalogue for women. The Church of Sweden jumped off the cliff this past year with respect to homosexuality, merely being consistent in following the consequences of the hermeneutics it embraced I\ hich long ago rejected specific mandates of the Lord regarding gender. In 2007, the Church of Norway followed. Any objective observer can see that the leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is amassing its energies at the same cliff, apparently willing to risk all contact with, and cooperation with, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LChIS). The Lutheran Church of Australia has battled for twenty vears over the ordination of women and is still at a fifty-fifty split. The very spirit of tolerance which the Great Elector, Frederick William (1620- 1688), was alreadv pushing a hundred years before the Prussian Union, at the time of valentine Ernst Loescher (1673-1749), and which was codified in the Brandenburg/Prussian church (then the largest Lutheran church in the world in 1817), has become a spirit of intolerance for what the Lutheran Confessions actually mandate, and has come to dominate completely Lutheran seminaries, Lutheran faculties, and Lutheran judicatories \\.orldwide. What Luther decisively rejected in the 1529 Xlarburg co1loqu;v %\.hen he refused Zwingli's outstretched hand by saying, "You ha1.e a different spirit from us"l- that is, fellowshp with those rvho do not confess the bodv and blood of Christ in the Sacrament received orall\- and \\-ithout respect to the faith of the individual recipient-has 1 In his letter to I. Probst at Bremen dated June 1, 1530, (no. 1577) Luther, quoting from memory, recounts that he said, Vos ltnbeti alitr111 spiriturn quaiir nos (or, in German, DH 11cl.f eiirrrr nuciewr Geist). Martin Luther, L~rtller5 LVerke: Kriti.idze Gesn~i~ti~~isgnbr [icilrifiri~], 65 \-01s. (ti-eimar: H. Bohlau, 1883-1993), WABr 5:338. L2.1aftl~err C. Hnrrisotl is the Execufizle Director of LCMS World Relief ~nd Hun~nl~ Cl~re, Sf. Lorris, Missouri. been accepted in the vast stretches of Lutheranism. One can read about it in A Senzinay in Crisis by Paul Zimmerman, a new book on the Seminev ~risis.~ How shocking it is to read the 1973 statement of manv students of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, supportive of the faculty majori?, which notes, among many other thngs, that strict insistence on the Lutheran doctrine on the body and the blood in the Sacrament should not prevent inter-communion with non-Lutherans and non-Lutheran churches. Most recently, I saw that the Lutheran church in the Holv Land, the Lutheran Church of Lebanon, a church which has had a lot of LCMS contact over the years although not in communion with Missouri, adopted full communion with the Reformed. To quote Hermann Sasse from his days of intense involvement in the leadership of the Faith and Order Movement, "Our witness was too weak."3 In fact, we did not really give a witness at all. I am amused by the otherwise wonderful Logia series "Wittenberg and/or Constantinople." Just as the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople became a mosque and is now a museum, Wittenberg is all but dead to Luther's own confession and has been for two centuries. As Sasse quipped, "Wittenberg has the smell of an empty wine cask: something sweet was once there, but is no longer present."* Wittenberg has fifty thousand residents; only eighteen thousand register as Christians. Only a small fraction of those go to church. The union swallowed up Wittenberg, closed its university, and finally outlawed the observance of the confession-particularly the Smalcald Articles and the Formula of Concord. In this little town, whch was once the impetus for the gospel and all its articles to be proclaimed in a way that shook the world, which boasted dozens of book binderies, it is now virtually impossible to find a Book of Concord. The Luther Haus has a Roman Catholic director. Calvin's doctrine of the Sacrament has as much right at the church's altar as Luther's doctrine, and a preacher has as much right to teach the doctrine of the Heidelberg Catechism as that of Luther. -- - - ?- Paul A. Zirnrnerman, A Sevrinary in Crisis: n1.e Inside Story of tlre Preu Fnct Findjug Corllvlitfee (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2007). .: Hermann Sasse, Luther and tlle Ecunrenical Creeds, audiotape of a convocation at Concordia Seminaq, St. Louis, February 11,1965 (St. Louis: Concordia Seminary Media Services, 1965). 4 For Sasse's view on the Union, including Wittenberg, see "Union and Confession," in Hermann Sasse, Tlre Lonely CC'ay: Selected Essays and ktters, vol. 1, 1927-1939, tram. Matthew C. Hanison et al. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2001), 265-305. See also "blcrcy and the Church's Confession" in Matthew C. Harrison, Christ Have Mercy: Hozr to Put Your Faith in Action (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2008), 151-169. Harrison: Crossing Old-Line Boundaries 253 The nineteenth-century Lutheran revival, which gave birth to the LChlS and a revival of genuine Lutheranism around the world, never touched Wittenberg. In fact, the real sister church of the church body of which St. Mar).'s in Wittenberg is a part is not even the ELCA; it is actually the United Church of Christ here in the United States. That church is a result and a descendent of the American mission of the Prussian Union, namely, what became the Evangelical Synod of the West. What was sought by Zwingli, Bucer, Calvin, Elizabeth I of England, the Great Elector, his descendant Fredrick William 111, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and forcefull!- and successfullv . bv . Karl Barth at Barmen during the Kirdlenklrttrpf, has been 1 irtually completely achieved -namely, the "Calvinization" of Lutheranism. This Lutheranism is not a "church" but merely a theological school, a form of piety, perhaps, within one large Protestant communion. This is the great danger of the view that Lutheranism is a confessing movement within the broader church. I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. That church exists on this earth most clearly and certainly where the gospel and all its articles are preached purely and the sacraments are administered according to Christ's institution- Lutheranism-the true visible church of God on earth. Moreover, the church exists, thank God, wherever there is enough of the gospel and the sacraments to create faith. I recently heard the gospel beautifully spoken at my own grandmother's Roman Catholic funeral - a homily that spoke of the resurrection and the forgiveness of sins and grace throughout, and then wTas negated with the sacrifice of the mass. M-hatever else the LCMS is, it is certainly a church. The LC315 International Center is an adiaphoron. As executive director of LCXIS MTorld Relief and Human Care, I am an adiaphoron. Our structures and specific form of constitution and a host of other things that the LChlS does are adiaphora. They can be done in any number of ways or not done at all. The LCMS, however, as a communion of Lutheran churches is church. Sasse warned the Lutheran world about the consequences of purporting to have Lutheran and Reformed make one confession as a church over against Hitler. He warned against the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD) being formed as a part of the the Evangelical Church in Germanv (EKD), the broader Protestant union. Sixty years ago, He warned against the weak confessional commitments of the Lutheran World Federation, and he did so in the face of opposition already in the late 1940s from Concordia Seminary (St. Louis). Sixty years has proven him a prophet. It has recently been announced that the VELKD will cease to be an independent legal entity and exist as a department within EKD. The LW-F is a great purveyor of communion with the Reformed. -411 sorts of games are played in subjecting churches in the developing world and elsewhere to the de-confessionalized theology of the liberal North. Money for seminaries? Oh yes, but only if women constitute a large percentage of the student population. Scholarships? Yes, not for churches which do not ordain women, but for women wanting to be pastors studying in the North and the W-est, and all kinds of other issues. What is at stake? If, as Luther confessed, the Sacrament is the gospel, then the gospel is at stake. I challenge vou to find one Lutheran theological faculty of an LWF church in Europe or America-aside from our faithful Latvian or Lithuanian partners-in which the view that there is salvation outside of Christ is not tolerated or even presupposed and dominant. Show me a faculty where the gospel is not regularly redefined in terms of political theology, theologies of liberation from oppression, not only for the poor but for u70men and now for homosexuals. Kurt Marquart was right in his drumbeat against historical criticism, upon which the union has ahvays depended.' In his drumbeat against historical criticism and against the union, Marquart rightly recognized the Prussian Union as the black hole, as he liked to say, around which the entire Lutheran ~vorld has been circling for two hundred years. Depressed yet? Do not be! You should not say, "My, the church isn't what it used to be!" I have news for you: it never Jvas. Do not be depressed; it has never really been any different. Out of this abyss of difficultv is coming unprecedented opportunity for confessional Lutherans. We in Missouri have our internal struggles. The!, are serious and they are real. I would recommend, however, that you read a dose of Valentine Ernst Loescher's Timotheus Verinus.6 Lutheranism has, from the beginning, struggled with the problem of authority and theological unity. Nor is it a problem unique to Lutheranism, for even the New Testament betravs the same struggles. Sasse and Elert have repeatedly and richly demonstrated ' Kurt E. Marquart, "The Incompatibility between Historical-Critical Theoloc and the Lutheran Confessions," in Studies in Lutheran Ht'riner~e~ctics, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), 313-333. See also Robert Preus's essays, recently released by Concordia Publishing House, which are an absolute tour Jcforce testimony of the incompatibility of historical criticism with confessing Lutheran dogma. His essays are collected in Doctrine is L+: Tlze Essays of Robert D. PIPIIS 011 Scripf~lre, ed. Klemet I. Preus (St. Louis: Concordia Publishng House, 2006). In particular, the recent hston of the church has proved over and over again the connection between historical criticism and union. t' Valentin Ernst Loescher, The Conlplete Tiiit~ltlzeus l7t>rillus, trans. James L. Langebartels and Robert J. Koester (Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing, 1998). Harrison: Crossing Old-Line Boundaries 255 that there was no golden age of unity in the first centuries of the church's life.; There was no ancient undivided church, and there will be no future reunited church. Luther's life was beset with controversy within the churches of the Augsburg Confession. Brecht's magisterial volumes bear that out repeatedly."he period after Luther's death was a disaster until the Formula of Concord brought about agreement, but it did not last long. Helmstedt-the university founded to be a bastion of orthodoxy, even boasting as its first chancellor the strict and intense Lutheran Tilemann Hesshusius (1527-1588), who refused to sign the Formula of Concord for not condemning Philipp Melanchthon by name- soon plunged the church into controversy at the instigation of that great Evangelical Catholic George Calixt (the Tom Oden of his day) over the so-called syncretistic controversy. This was at the very temporal epicenter of the age of Lutheran orthodoxy. Peruse Georg Dedeken's thesaurus9 or Emil Sehling's edition of the church orders10 and you find a Lutheran church beset \vith controversy, doctrinal disagreement, problems of church practice, and struggle over the limits of liturgical freedom. This was all prior to the advent of Pietism in the late seventeenth century. On the anniversary of the Reformation in 1717, Loescher wrote the preface to volume one of his Timotheus lTerinlr. Loescher begins his chapter "On the General Characteristics of the Pietistic Evil" (iilnlrri~r pietisticut?r in Latin) by noting problems that "manifest themselves": a) In public movements which harm the church. . . . bj In dangerous, annoying, and arrogant individual exploits . . . . c) In frequent and lengthy controversies carried on in public writings. d) In the ever more ob\,ious division into two or more factions." Elsewhere, Loescher complains of the "contempt and disregard" for divine orders, for "perfectionism," or the idea that human actions can be sinless, which "finally ends in fanatical independence in everything," mysticism, : See Hermann Sasse, Herr We Stand: Nature and Cllnrncter of the L~rtliern~~ Fnitlr, trans. Theodore G. Tappert (Adelaide, South Australia: Lutheran Publishing House, 1979), and LVemer Elert, E:lc/~nri.~t nrld Chtrrch Fellozc1sl1ip in the First Four Cet~turies, trans. N. E. Nagel (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1966). ' llartin Brecht, "vlnrti~~ Luther, trans. James L. Schaaf, 3 rols. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1985-1993). " Georg Dedeken, 771esnuri ionsiliorurn et decisiot~liri~ ~~olunren 1-111, 4 vols. (jena: Hertels, 1671). 1'' Emil Sehling, Die e;,nligeiiscllen Kirchenordnzln~er: des XL71. \nhrllz/rilferts (Leipzig: 0. R. Reisland, 1902-[n.d.]; Tubingen: Mohr, 1957-[n.d.]). " Loescher, The Coli~plete Tinlotheu.~ Veritlus, 9. rigidism, excessive freedom which breeds fanaticism and enthusiasm, and the confusion of theological categories.12 He complained about the disconnect between pulpit and seminary lecture hall and asserted that "what is maintained at the academic rostrum and does not agree ~vith the pulpit must for that reason be proclaimed to be an error."" Among the other pietistic evils Loescher mentions is the devaluation of the office of the rninistry.14 Mrhat is the point? The church has always been "tectt~nr [sub] crrtce," hdden under the cross.1' In the midst of all this nonsense, ~vhch is even greater outside of Lutheranism, the Lord continued and continues to work in his word and sacrament for the salvation of souls. As he said, "Upon this rock I shall build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (hiatt 16:18). Now, why is this the moment for confessional Lutheranism, particularly the Missouri Synod? The Missouri Synod is alive and kicking and in some ways stronger than ever. For all the weaknesses and failings of the Missouri Synod, for all her internal strife and nonsense, in spite of her near capitulation to the so-called inclusive Lutheranism and union in the 1960s and 1970s, she is still here. Warts and all to be sure, but she is still here. Moreover, she is confessing the Book of Concord quia. "Missouri is our last hope [Missouri ist unsere letzte Hofilung]," Sasse wrote to a friend.;^ Her seminaries are unparalleled in the world. Travel and rou will find that out. Her institutions have unimaginable capacity for good, for furthering the gospeI and the Lutheran confession. We also have unbelievable wealth. We may think of ourselves as a smaller church body, but consider this: if you visited three hundred LChlS congregations per year, which would be impossible, in twene years you would still not be done visiting all the congregations of this blessed church bodv! Lye hare a billion-dollar pension fund. We have a billion-dollar extensibn fund. We have a Concordia University system, which, whatever its M-eaknesses may !' Loescher, nre Conlplete Ti~i~ofl~elit; Verinut;, 12. 13 Loescher, nie Complete Ti~notl~elr.s Verinut;, 14. ?4 Part One, Chapter 4 addresses "The Third Special Characteristic of the Pietistic E\-il: The Invalidation of the Ministry." Loescher, The Complete Tit11otheu.s V~ri~ziis, 93-112. 15 The phrase tecttlnz crtice appears in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession \TI- VIII, 18. Die Bckeiltztnisschrifte~~ der mnngelisclz-lutl~eriscl~r~~ Kirclu: ilerausgeg~b~ii i111 Geile~zkjnl~r der Atlg.sburgiscl~erl Ko~tfes.sion 1930, 10th ed. (Gottingen: Va~~denhoeck and Ruprecht, 1986), 237. '6 Quoted in Matthew Harrison, "Hermann Sasse and EKiD-1948: The Death of the Lutheran Church," Lopa 4, no. 4 (1995): 41. Harrison: Crossing Old-Line Boundaries 257 be, arguabl!. has the finest religion faculty overall that it has had in fif? years. \2-e sustain a twenty-five-million-dollar-per-year world mission program. The past three years have sustained more than twenty million dollars per vear in human care endeavors of LCMS World Relief and Human Care. Our social ministry institutions touched, this year, three million people xvith care. Concordia Publishing House is producing, in my vielv, the iinest and most consistently excellent material in its entire history. The new7 Concordia Commentary Series is unparalleled in biblical and confessional fidelity. In the Lutheran Senlice Book, we have just produced what is arguably the best new hymnal and worshp books in the historv of the English-speaking Lutheran world. We have access to the generous funding of the billion-dollar Marvin M. Schwan Charitable Foundation, which is as orthodox as it is wealthy. Lutheran Heritage Foundation is producing catechisms and other orthodox material in so many languages that I have lost count. Many, many other strengths could be mentioned. Missouri is alive and kicking. In my view, this is a great moment to be in the Xlissouri Svnod. All this comes at a perfect moment, when the lvorld has become a superhighway for travel and information. A few years ago, while in Adelaide, South Australia, I met some Singapore pastors. As I was chatting with them, I could see that one young man among them was an intense, confessional Lutheran. I said, "Where did you get this?" He said, "You kno~r Logii7 online?" The fall of the So\.iet Union has brought unprecedented opportunities in Eastern European contacts. Latvia and Lithuania are their own extraordinary stories of contact with The Lutheran Church-hlissouri Synod. In addition, there has been the rise of Siberian Lutheranism and fellowship with the Ingrian church. Ths has been, in many respects, the decade of \Iissouri. \%-hat about African Lutheranism? I talked to a bishop at a Church \\-orld Service meeting in Montreux, Switzerland, some years ago, and told him about the Missouri Synod. He said, "Lf you would have been here ten or fifteen \-ears ago, all of Africa would have been yours." Now, he said that. I lrobld not talk in such colonial terms. The fact is that we have tremendous new opportunities and partners in Africa. In East Africa there is the Kenyan Church, with which we are now in fellowship, Uganda, and the Sudan. How one builds a genuine Lutheran church and human care activities under the challenges faced in the Sudan is a miracle but it has been done. There is also Ethiopia. We even have contacts in Tanzania, and manv, man\- other places, including Madagascar. In Western Africa there are the churches in Liberia, Togo, and CGte d'Ivoire. Our South African seminarv is taking students from all over the continent and is crying out for assistance to make room for many more who want to come. The doors are open for Missouri. \Vhat about Asia? As a result of our own staff member Darin Storkson's \\-ork for LCMS World Relief, we have had, for the first time, personal contact with all eleven LWF members in Indonesia. The largest is the Batak Church. That church is half again as large as the Missouri Synod, and many in that church are crying out for a greater definition of Lutheranism. It is challenging. We can learn a great deal from the Batak Church about standing tall in challenging circumstances and facing a government that is not alwavs favorable. Despite ths, our brothers in the faith stand tall for the sake of Christ and his gospel. They want Lutheranism. They \\-ant Luther's two kingdoms doctrine; they need it in their context. They lvant the Lutheran liturgy. They want Lutheran doctrine and heritage. \$%at this relationship will be with the Batak Church will be determined by them. These are two partners, the h~lissouri Synod and the Protestant Christian Batak Church (HKBP), whom nobody would have ever expected to interact, and here we are talking and sharing resources. I11 South and Central America the doors are open. There are possibilities in the Dominican Republic and Guatemala. We nab- have, with LChlS \f orld Mission, deaconess training beginning in Panama, ~chich will begin a ~vorldwide deaconess effort. There is also a presence in Nicaragua and rJenezuela. We have partner churches that are in the LWF. The Missouri Svnod should not join the LMT, but it is great to have friends there who bear \vitness. \Vith the SELK (the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany), we have now purchased property in Wittenberg which is but tn7enty yards from the front doors of St. Mary's Church, the church \\-here Luther preached the Reformation to life. We hope this tool, under the direction of the Reverend Wilhelm Torgerson, will become a tool also for n~orldwide Lutheranism and a rallying point for the Lutheran faith. Now is h,lissourils moment. We ought to have contacts with every Lutheran church in the world, particularly in the developing world. \Ire ought to have redoubled contacts with every Lutheran church in the ~~orld ~vhich does not ordain women. There has been a revolution at LChlS \Vorld Relief and Human Care - pushing the boundaries - and this has been a change for the sake of the gospel and the confession. Harrison: Crossing Old-Line Boundaries 239 Let me tell you ho\v international Lutheran relief has worked. The hlissouri Srnod has had a long and positive relationship with Lutheran Il'orld ~elief (LWR), Baltimore. Over the years we have probably given tens of millions of dollars to that entity. The board make up is two-thirds ELCA people and one-thrd LCMS. Dollars for LWR core operations come from our shop, LChIS World Relief-from the donors of LCMS MTorld Relief. When a disaster strikes or when there are development needs around the xvorld, LWR, which is a fine development and relief agent!,, goes to the circumstance and finds local partners that are the local non- governmental organizations. Those organizations may be Lutheran but are often not Lutheran. They may be faith-based in some sense or they ma!- be secular. The!. may be a coalition of other partners or they may be a part of a large ecumenical group such as Action by Churches Together (ACT). Illat does not generally happen is relief directed to, or capacity built for, specific Lutheran partners, that is, for Lutheran congregations, Lutheran judicatories, Lutheran churches on the ground in the circumstance. In the past, we ~vould ha1.e just sent our money to Baltimore ~vhen a tsunami struck, and that money \vould have gone to the region to be doled out, and responsibly so, to a number of carefully chosen non-governmental organizations distributing relief and aid. It is effective and good work, but it is not connected with the gospel and it does not build the capacity of Lutherans or the Lutheran church.'' \Ye resol\.ed, in thls last disaster, to start spending money in a way that increased the capacitv of Lutherans, and by doing so-which is difficult ~vork-to build the capacity both to care for people in need and to bear witness to Christ in the process, as well as to advance the cause oi the Lutheran church in good and positive ways. That has been a huge sea change. A similar sea change took place with respect to Hurricane Katrina. In the past, we would have sent money to Chicago, to the ELCA, to be administered by Lutheran Disaster Response (a cooperative venture between Missouri and the ELCA administered by ELCA personnel), which xvould have been doled out in large measure through the social ministry agencies. These agencies have done a fantastic job of reaching the broader community, but those dollars would not have gone to LClIS 1- Since this paper I\-as deliyered in January 2007, the Reverend John li'unes, an LOIS clergyman, \%.as elected president of Lutheran World Relief, Baltimore. I am delighted to note that already in the interim before hs election L\VR staff opened a discussion about doing business in a Ira!- ~\.hich would pay more attention to building Lutheran capacity and particularlv that of LCMS partners. We are now moving forward with a malaria initiati~e that is estremel!. promising in this regard. It is huly a new day. congregations, the LCMS district, or specifically LCMS people who needed help. Some people have criticized this and said, "Well, bv doing this you are just serving your own." The fact is, when our own are hit, the\- sav, "Help us bind up our wounds! Now send more so tve can help all these other people around us." As they do so, they do it in the name of Christ and his blessed gospel. That has been a radical sea change, and the change has caused some criticism. I have no doubt, however, that it tvas the right thing to do. That has been an old-line boundary which we have crossed. LVhle on the road to Marsabit, in northern Kenya, this past summer, our vehicle had four flat tires. After we finally arrived, we found all these children affected by AIDS, as is the case in many cities in Africa. Thev are AIDS orphans; their parents are dead. By nature, Kenyans are very humble people. The!, respect the elderly. They have a calm, very low-key demeanor. People do not raise their voices. These children, however, acted i11 the opposite fashion, doing all kinds of antics and horsing around, trying to get attention. Some of them were addicts. Ll'hy did they do it? It was because of the most fundamental need of all of humanity, that is, to be accounted and recognized as somebody. These were young people whom their community had completely regarded as nonhumans. For all intents and purposes, they did not exist. Last year we helped build an orphanage there. After a twelve-year-old boy gave me a tour of the place, he spoke to me the most profound words I ever heard. I asked, "Mhat do you think?" He said, "I thank God and Jesus Christ that somebodv has regarded us as - human beings." hi\, friends, the doctrine of justification is the answer to life's persistent questions. The doctrine of justification by grace through faith for Christ's sake has something to say about being human. The doctrine of justification is the heart and soul, the sine qua non, of Lutheranism and not only of Lutheranism but the sine qitn 11o~ of Christianity. It is pure gift and bearing witness to it, solo gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, is far and away our chief ecumenical task. The task of the Lutheran church is to be Lutheran. In his locus on justification, Johann Gerhard wrote, "The Bible is to be read as though every letter were written with the ink of the blood of Christ [BiElla it11 lcgetlila essc, ac si Sanquine Chisti per totunz essent _;cripta]."lV tell you that ink from the blood of Christ dripped off Melanchthon's pen when he n-rote these words, 1" jnhann Gerhard, Loci tlzeoiog~cl, ed. Ed. Preuss, 9 vols. (Berolini: Gust. Schlanitz, 1863-1885), 1:l-U. Harrison: Crossing Old-Line Boundaries 261 It is also taught among us that we cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and forgveness before God by our own merits, works, or satisfactions, but that we receive forgveness of sin and become righteous before God by grace, for Christ's sake, through faith, when we believe that Christ suffered for us and that for his sake our sin is forgiven and righteousness and eternal life are given to us. For God will regard and reckon this faith as righteousness, as Paul says in Romans 3:21-26 and 4:5. (CA IV, 1-3)19 As Luther stated in the Smalcald Articles: "Nothing in this article can be gven up or compromised, even if heaven and earth and things temporal should be destroyed. . . . On this article rests all that we teach and practice against the pope, the devil, and the world" (SA 11, 1, 5).20 According to Article IV of the Augsburg Confession, this faith is held, reckoned, and imputed (halten unri zurechnen in the German; imputat in the Latin) for righteousness. We are justified coram Deo not by our own powers or merits. We are justified propter Christum perjidem.21 Can this dogma have any meaning today? Oswald Bayer writes something terribly profound-and it is profound for works of Lutheran charity. The doctrine of justification is in fact the center of all Lutheran works of charity because the doctrine of justification says something about being human. It says something about the fundamental need to be recognized - to be accounted as a person. Bayer wrote: There is no escaping the questions and evaluations of others. If one accepts and welcomes the other or not, if one greets the other or not, if one acknowledges the other-either through praise or reproach, affirmation or negation-or if one does not acknowledge the other and regards the other as worthless, a decision is made concerning our being or non-being. Only a being that is recognized and acknowledged is a being that is alive. Lf no one were to call and greet me by name, if no one were readv to speak to me and look at me, then I would be socially nonexistent. I would even be physically nonexistent, I would have no life at all, if mv parents had not acknowledged me and respected my life even before my birth. I would no longer have any life if after my birth mv parents had not smiled at me and talked to me, thus opening a space for community, accepting and acknowledging me. An unwanted child is aware of this rejection. The denial of unconditional and anticipated 'Vheodore G. Tappert et al., trans. and ed., 771e Book of Concord: 771e Co?!fesio?~s qf the Ei~n~lpelical Lli tilera?~ Ci~lrrcil (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1959), 30. '- Tappert, The Book of Concord, 292. :: Bekr~~nt~zisscirrifte~l, 36. recognition, the denial of love, shows how necessary recognition is. Its denial is a painful and especially impressive indication of its necessit!., its necessity for life." Bayer goes on to argue that all reality is involved with the justification debate. I would hold that this doctrine of justification causes us to recognize all as being worthy of Christ's blood and righteousness, for Christ's sake, and then also worthy of our care. In our circles, for some reason, in the last forty or fifty years especially, Ire have allowed the government to take over care for the poor and needy. As the welfare state has arisen, we have simply said that the responsibility for care for the needy is not really a Lutheran task - that the Lutheran task is, finally, simply to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments. Well, that is certainly our fundamental, sine qua non task. Xevertheless, the Ne~v Testament, the Lutheran Confessions, and our church fathers bear witness to the responsibility of the church to be involved in Lutheran works of charity. When you go to somebody and proclaim the gospel, if you turn away from that person's need - the most fundamental need - b\~ refusing to acknowledge that person as a valuable human being, you in a way render the gospel impotent. Christ combined speaking and acts of mercy throughout his earthll. ministry, as seen in the Gospels. The early church combined speaking the gospel with acts of mercy throughout. If you have anv doubt, take a look at Paul's collection for Jerusalem. The entire sub-theme of the book of Acts is the fact that Paul saw a tremendous need in Jerusalem and spent ten to fifteen years of his life organizing a collection for the poor. All the stewardship passages of 2 Corinthians 8 and 9-for example, "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7), "He who sows sparingly shall reap sparinglv" (2 Cor 9:6), and "The gift is not acceptable according to what one has but according to what one does not have" (2 Cor 8:12) - have to do with Paul collecting dollars for the church in Jerusalem. Paul did this as an expression of koinonia, fellowship. In the Missouri Synod, we have tended to define "fellowship" as agreement in dogma, period. For Luther, it was much more dvnamic. It was certainly dogma, as it was for the New Testament. In fact, Paul even calls the collection a koinonia and a leitolirgia and a diakoilia in 2 3 Oswald Bayer, Living by Fnith: ~ttstificatio~z nnd Snilct