CLC 40th ANNIVERSARY ~ Lesson 03
October 29, 2000
The FUTURE of the
CHURCH OF THE LUTHERAN CONFESSION
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
During the last two weeks we have been reviewing with thanksgiving the blessings of the Lord in the history of our church body and also in our present time. This morning in the final study of this 40th Anniversary series, we will consider the future—where do we go from here? What are the reasons for continuing to be separate…and should we be?
Whether in the act of separating or in a state of remaining separate from fellow Christians, being separate is not something to take lightly. The Lord desires unity when it is legitimate and "true." Unnecessary separation is contrary to the Lord’s will. READ: Psalm 133:1-3; Ephesians 4:1-3, 11-13. Therefore, whenever a group strikes out and separates itself from other religious fellowship, it is vital that the group continually examine itself with Scripture to determine if its continuing separation is Scriptural or schismatic. This is what we are seeking to do this morning.
An Historic Willingness and Desire to Reunite
The CLC from its formation has always been willing to discuss doctrinal matters with other church bodies. As stated by the 1963 Convention in Marquette, "We restate our willingness to meet with other church bodies for the purpose of seeking God-pleasing unity in doctrine and practice."
The synod with which the CLC has had the most discussion has been, quite logically, the Wisconsin Synod. After WELS suspended fellowship with the Missouri Synod and withdrew from the Synodical Conference, Wisconsin Synod president, Oscar J. Naumann, in correspondence with the CLC, agreed to "frank discussion of the issues that lie between us." However, in the 1964 CLC convention it was reported, "All our efforts toward frank discussions of the issues that lie between us, discussions aimed solely at understanding, agreement, reconciliation, and mutual recognition, have failed."
Such has been the nature of WELS-CLC discussions down through the years. In correspondence, both church bodies would express a sincere desire to meet, but when it came to establishing even a platform for the discussions, often no agreement could be reached. The WELS expressed desire to meet with the CLC, but yet its 1966 Convention said it would not meet if discussions included references to past resolutions, policies, etc. At the same time the CLC maintained that while discussions of the basic doctrine of church fellowship was necessary, yet, in order to defend and explain their position, and reason for withdrawal, reference to past statements and policies must be made. Thus, time and time again it was stated in the proceedings of both synod conventions, "discussions have reached an impasse…at a standstill…etc.
A subcommittee of the WELS Commission on Doctrinal Matters and the CLC Board of Doctrine met on March 10,1972, and agreed (if their respective boards would agree—and they did) to "enter upon a discussion of the distinction between "weak-brother" and "false teacher" in the area of admonition and church fellowship," and "that each side is to be free to make such references to official resolutions and official reports as may be deemed necessary." The two sides met on July 19-19, 1972 and the result was "the CLC voiced the opinion that the discussion had demonstrated that the WELS and CLC are not agreed on the principle of fellowship and separation in dealing with a church body…" – No plans for further discussions.
In the late 1980s, discussions between the WELS, ELS and CLC took place. The discussions proved fruitful and some progress was made. However, progress toward a first step in agreement was ended and the discussions ceased when the WELS/ELS once again refused to discuss the issues in the context of past official statements, resolutions, and policies.
Over the years, doctrinal discussions have also taken place between the CLC and several other church bodies, including the groups formed by congregations that left the CLC (over 3rd use of the Law; AAL/LB, etc.)
1. What is a "LUTHERAN"?
2. What is the heritage of the Reformation we have received? (What principles/practice was restored in the Reformation?)
3. Which of the items in #2 is still a valued part of "Lutheranism" in 2000?
4. Which of the above do we still maintain?
1st CONCLUSION: Does the foregoing indicate we should remain separate?
1. What were the reasons for the separation that formed the CLC?
2. There is great pressure to "unite" and stop being "separatists." What are common reasons for the push toward "unity?"
3. Compare/Contrast the answers between above.
2nd CONCLUSION: Does the foregoing indicate we should remain separate?
Review of "Religious Fellowship"
- The basis for fellowship: 1 Corinthians 1:10; cf: 1 Corinthians 10:14-22
- The necessary action if there is no basis for God-pleasing fellowship: 1 Corinthians 6:11-18; Romans 16:17-18; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 John 9-11;
- Because there are many false prophets in the world and many who are deceived by them, we must be constantly ON THE LOOKOUT against error: 1 John 4:1
1. What is/are the reason(s) God has given us the "fellowship" principle?
2. What does our separation declare? What does our separation not declare?
3. What do people on the "outside" think our separation declares?
4. Compare/Contrast the two above.
3rd CONCLUSION: Does the foregoing indicate we should remain separate?
In our ongoing separation, it is important that we stand watch against being schismatic and compromising the truth.
1. What are dangers/pressures/warning signs concerning COMPROMISE for which we must WATCH and PRAY?
2. What are the dangers/pressures/warning signs concerning SEPARATION for which we must WATCH and PRAY?
SUMMARIZE the REASONS for the CLC’S CONTINUED EXISTENCE AS A SYNOD.
Characterize the CLC’s Hope for the future:
Coming Next Week….
Return to Old Testament Study: Jehoshaphat ~ 2 Chronicles 17-20
Celebrating 40 years of God’s Grace