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LIFE The Holy Supper: A Taste of Heaven - p.6 ...in a simple way to his household... - p.8 Christ’s Body and Blood Saves Us - p.10 Sacrament of the Altar: Christ’s Daily Food and Sustenance - p.12 Coming Home - p.14 In the Field - p.16 WORLD of the For the January 2000. Volume Four, Number One 4 For the Life of the World F E A T U R E S 3 From the President 6 The Holy Supper: A Taste of Heaven by the Rev. Dr. William Weinrich Professor Historical Theology Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. The Bread and the Wine are the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, which He has commanded us to eat and to drink. The Lord's Supper is something concrete, par- ticular, real; it is Body and Blood. 8 In a Simple Way to His Household by Leonard Payton Chief Musician Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas The Catechism teaches that the Sacrament is "the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ," so that the soul self-evidently believes the words, "given and shed for you for the remission of sins." 10 Christ's Body and Blood Saves Us by Kevin Leininger A Member of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church Fort Wayne, Ind., and Chief Editorial Writer for the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel Holy Scripture and confessional Lutheranism make it clear that the Lord's Supper is where God works His forgiveness. 12 Sacrament of the Altar: Christ's Daily Food and Sustenance by the Rev. Prof. Lawrence Rast Professor Historical Theology Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. The Lord's Supper is given as a daily food and suste- nance to comfort the person whose heart feels too sorely pressed. The Supper gives us forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. 14 Coming Home by Ron and Marge Shumaker Members of Grace Lutheran Church Albuquerque, New Mexico Ron and Marge Shumaker find the Lord and a new church home at a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregation. 16 In the Field by Pam Knepper Managing Editor For the Life of the World Features the Rev. David Stechholz, Pastor at West Portal Lutheran Church, San Francisco, Calif. Cover Photo: The cover photo features the Walther Chalice. Popular myth states that it is one of two ornate European chalices that were brought over to the United States in the 1830's by the Saxons. Photo by Concordia Publishing House from the collection of Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Louis, Mo. For theLIFE WORLDofthe PRESIDENT Rev. Dr. Dean O. Wenthe PUBLISHER Rev. Scott Klemsz MANAGING EDITOR Pam Knepper ART DIRECTOR Steve Blakey For the Life of the World is published quarterly by Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 6600 North Clinton Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher of For the Life of the World. Copyright 2000. Printed in the United States. Postage paid at Fort Wayne, Indiana. To be added to our mailing list please call 219/452-2150 or e-mail Rev. Scott Klemsz at CTSNews. For the Life of the World is mailed to all pastors and congregations of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in the United States and Canada and to anyone interested in the work of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. page 6 page 12 CONTENTS page 14 page 16 page 8 W e first saw Grace Lutheran Church at night, illuminated on the horizon in the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The building had to compete against a challenging setting. Behind the church, the Sandia Mountains rose 10,000 ft. against a moonlit desert sky. Across the street, a monolithic Mormon temple undergirded a tall steeple topped by a gleaming, spotlighted statue of the angel Moroni. On two sides silver-gray sage stretched across acres of open desert. Grace Lutheran Church competed spectacularly well. Interior lights glowed through the delicate watercolors of unusual stained-glass windows. Lighted crosslets pierced a square tower, which bore an orb and cross, almost Byzantine in effect. Such architectural beauty drew us into an unfamiliar area of the city to which we had just retired after teaching for many years in an eastern state. As we entered the parking lot for a closer look, our initial enthusiasm received a check. The stone signboard marking the entrance read “Grace Lutheran Church—LCMS.” “Forget it,” said Marge. “Not another Lutheran church.” We had had this experience many times—approaching a Lutheran church with the ardor of anticipation only to witness inside the recessional of Lutheran orthodoxy, Reformation faith, and Gospel reality. Our branch of Lutheranism, the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), had seemed to be faithful, seemed to be devoted to Word and Sacrament, seemed to welcome believers into a Christian family. Our churches had looked right--red doors, cruciform design, cross-topped steeples, and Martin Luther's coat- of-arms prominently displayed. The LCA was clearly our church home. Marge’s entire family worshipped in an LCAchurch; Ron’s mother’s ancestors were among the founders of a colonial Pennsylvania Lutheran church; Tom, our son, was baptized, first- communed, and catechized in an LCA church. Beneath that comfortable surface, however, uneasy conflicts roiled. Our denomination undertook a long, complex study of abortion, con- cluding that the whole issue was best left to the individual. Our pastors increasingly described the Old Testament as simply Jewish history and mythology, to be read symbolically, if at all. Secular ideologies, like feminism and the elevation of toleration above all other values, occupied the attention of church publications, synodical conferences and, especially, campus ministry efforts. Ecumenism, universalism, liberation theology, the entire panoply of mainline liberal concerns were visibly displacing Gospel teaching, evangelism, and missions at the center of the church's work. By the late 1980's, we could no longer ignore the gap between our own belief and the direction of the church leadership. At that precise moment, the LCA joined in the merger which produced the Evangelical Lutheran Church inAmerica (ELCA), and the three of us waited, wondering what this new church body would do. The answer was swift and devastating. A new, young pastor from an elite seminary came to our western Pennsylvania parish. A few Sundays after his arrival he treated us to a “feminist liturgy” complete with inclu- sive language, feminine pronouns, and prayers to the Mother God. Our previous pastor's thoughtful sermons were replaced by brief “homilies” on the agony of rejection felt by those who deviate from social norms, or the social obliga- tions which should be the true center of our Christian faith. All of this was probably well intentioned and sincere, but it was dismaying in a church For the Life of the World 14 HOMECOMING By Ron and Marge Shumaker Our churches had looked right – red doors, cruciform design, cross-topped steeples, and Martin Luther's coat-of-arms prominently displayed. Beneath that comfortable surface, how- ever, uneasy conflicts roiled. JANUARY 2000 15 accustomed to hearing the Word preached from the pulpit, receiving the Sacrament each Sunday, and studying orthodox Lutheran doctrine. Our patience ran out when our son came home from a confirmation class amazed at the pastor's announcement that it wasn’t necessary to read the whole Bible. Indeed, the pastor said he had never read the entire Bible nor had many of his fellow pastors. After that we began to drift away, first to other ELCA churches and then to other denominations. For nearly a decade we searched, eventually withdrawing from membership in the ELCA. Since we frequently attended professional conferences and spent extended periods of time working on research grants or participating in seminars, we experienced churches in many regions of the country. We clung to the mainline denominations, hoping to find churches which combined traditional belief with the worship styles we knew and cherished. What we encountered in that search attests to the urgency of LCMS PresidentAl Barry's recent pastoral letter concerning the direction of ELCAdecisions. Our experience also bears witness to the indictment of liberal theology offered in “What's Going on Among the Lutherans” by Leppien and Smith (available from Concordia Publishing House). Their book explains historically and theoretically the liberal heterodoxy of the ELCA and other “mainline” denomina- tions. What we saw “out there” dramatizes the effect of this theology when its gets translated into actual church practice: 1. In a large, beautiful ELCA church we visited, a silent congregation watched as a dance troupe interpreted the communion service. Blending modern dance and classical bal- let, women in tutus and men in tights whirled and gesticulated as a recorded modern discordant setting of a non-denomina- tional “liturgy” played over the sound system. 2. On an Easter Sunday morning, we listened to an ELCA pastor describe a bloody, dazed Jesus staggering out of the tomb, in which He had just awakened from a swoon. No triumphant, risen Savior. He was just an example of suffering and endurance. 3. In a Presbyterian church near his university campus, our son heard that no belief in a real resurrection is necessary. The true resurrection is just the “survival of the Church.” This sermon was also preached on an Easter Sunday. 4. In a redbrick and white-columned Episcopal church, the priest explained to his congregation that the Fall of Man occurred when Cain slew Abel. 5. In a Midwestern city we decided against visiting a Methodist church in which the women’s group was sponsoring prayers and dances to Gaia, the Earth Goddess. 6. On a Palm Sunday, we attended an Episcopal cathedral in which the Passion story was enacted as a dramatic reading. All of the readers were women--except two. Men were assigned the parts of Pilate and Judas Iscariot. No one seemed to notice the incongruity when the actress playing the part of Christ read, “I am the Son . . .” To this list we could add countless examples from across the spectrum of liberal Protestantism. We heard from the pulpit that the real victim in an abortion is the mother; that the best example of marriage in our neighborhood is probably the gay couple down the street; and that the blame for the Littleton, Colorado, tragedy is neither human depravity nor Satan, but the failure of government to provide for “our children’s” needs. We have heard Jesus' words, “I am the Way . . .” contorted into a universalist demand for inclusiveness. And, at an ELCA parochial school in which she substituted, Marge observed in silent amazement as the pastor harangued a fourth-grade class on the sin of homophobia, not homosexuality. The music teacher sitting beside her, another horrified Lutheran lost in the brave new world of ELCA theology, explained that the pastor was recycling the sermon he had delivered on the preceding Sunday. Sitting in the parking lot of Grace Lutheran Church—LCMS on that spring night, therefore, we were not drawn by the word “Lutheran.” As we drove away, our son quietly pointed out that this beautiful new edifice was a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. Better informed than we, far ahead of us theologically, he had read much about Missouri Lutheranism. Since there are few Missouri Synod churches in western Pennsylvania and none close to the small college town where we lived for many years, neither of us fully understood the differences between the ELCA and the LCMS. Our son argued patiently for the orthodoxy, scriptural faithfulness and doctrinal purity of the Missouri Synod. In short, he persuaded us to try Grace Lutheran Church, and our first Sunday there proved to be the wonderful homecoming God had planned for us at the end of our decade of searching. We have found at Grace a warm welcome, powerful preaching, orthodox teaching, beautiful music and liturgy, adherence to the Gospel, and a biblical perspective on social and moral issues. In the words of Ephesians 2:19-20, “[we] are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.” Along with our gratitude, however, we offer an admonition. Our experience has taught us how easily a church body can lose its tradition, its focus, and even its faith. Missouri Synod Lutherans, more than ever, must keep the light of Christian truth burning--in faithful teaching, faithful Scriptural interpretation, and faithful dedication to doctrine and liturgy. Today we worry when we read letters to church publications urging accommodation of Lutheran worship and liturgy to the ethos of contemporary culture. We fear when voices in the church body accuse seminaries of “liturgical legalism.” We recoil when “ecumenism” or “Lutheran unity” is elevated at the expense of the enduring truth of the historic Lutheran confessions. We have seen it all before. We know that the wide boulevard of accommodation leads into the desert wilderness of unbelieving churches. The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod is indeed an oasis in that desert for searchers like us. The church must never surrender the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ or compromise its Lutheran tradition. Ron and Marge Shumaker are members of Grace Lutheran Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico