* Ann Landers Is Wrong(an article in the Sleepy Eye (Minn.) Herald- Dispatch, January 23, 1997, by Pastor Paul Fleischer)
Did you happen to see the Ann Landers column which appeared last November in which she passed along something she apparently had found somewhere about the “Origins of World’s Religions”? A subsequent letter to the editor in our local paper called attention to at least one of the mistakes in the article: “Jesus Christ did not start the Roman Catholic Church. He started the Catholic Church. There is a difference….”
We agree. Jesus Christ did not start the Roman Catholic Church with its myriad of teachings which clash with the Scriptures, God’s Word of Truth. The church or “religion” which Jesus “started” and which is truly catholic (that is, universal and world-wide) is the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, composed of all those, and only those, who believe in Jesus as Savior. This Church is based alone on the teachings of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:19-20). The foundation of this Church is Jesus Christ and Him alone (1 Cor. 3:11). This church spans the whole course of time, antedating even Abraham and other Old Testament patriarchs. This Church goes back to Adam and Eve who believed in the first Promise of the coming Savior given in the Garden of Eden (cf. Gen. 3:15).
In fact, the events and/or tenets undergirding the true Christian “religion” go back before the beginning of time. According to Scripture, God in eternity 1) decreed that His only-begotten Son would be offered as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world (2 Tim. 1:9, Eph. 3:11); and 2) predestinated to eternal life those who trust in Christ as their Savior, having called them by the Gospel (Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13-14).
We put the words “started” and “religion” in quotes. Why? Properly understood, when the eternal Son of God became incarnate and walked on this earth, He didn’t start or begin any religion! “The Word became flesh” (the Christmas miracle) not to start a new religion but that He, the eternal Son, might carry out His earthly mission of rescuing and redeeming sinners with His holy life and substitutionary, atoning sacrifice.
The article Ann Landers endorsed is also wrong in suggesting that Abraham founded the Jewish faith. He did not. Abraham was a “Christian” for he believed in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, whom the adherents of the Jewish faith have always rejected! Jesus had much to say to the unbelieving Jews about this (See John 8:37ff).
Finally, the article was at best misleading when it suggests that “if you are a Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex-monk in the Catholic Church, in 1517.” When Luther undertook the Lutheran Reformation he himself argued against the idea that he was starting a new church. He wrote: “This message is not a novel invention of ours but the very ancient, approved teaching of the apostles brought to light again. Neither have we invented a new Baptism, Sacrament of the Altar, Lord’s Prayer, and Creed; nor do we desire to know or to have anything new in Christendom. We only contend for, and hold to, the ancient: that which Christ and the apostles have left behind them and have given to us.”
What Ann Landers writes is “bible” for many Americans. Unfortunately and sadly much of the advice or counsel she gives is godless and humanistic, flies into the face of the Holy Bible, and is thus anti- christian. With such views she has, as much as anyone in American society, contributed contributed to the erosion of biblical standards and absolutes, as well as to the breakdown of the traditional home and family.
The bottom line? Since, as is often the case, she doesn’t know what she is writing about, it would be best not to read the Ann Landers’ “bible” and/or heed her advice. Rather, let the genuinely distressed and troubled or those otherwise yearning for helpful advice, seek a Bible- believing counselor. Such will be able to guide the seeker in the divinely-inspired counsel of God’s Word and His Holy Spirit in the Sacred Scriptures.
* THE DIRECTION OF LUTHERANISM(From the bulletin of Grace Lutheran, Fridley, Minn. Daniel Fleischer is pastor)
The direction of Lutheranism is manifested by a continuing move toward unionism (unionism: the joint church work and/or worship between or among such as are not agreed in doctrine). The most recent edition of The Lutheran News NETWORK (a joint endeavor of the ELCA and the LC-MS which comes out of Florida) gives evidence of how the Aid Association for Lutherans (AAL) fosters unionism between various synods.
It is just for this reason that the CLC is NOT involved with the AAL, and works at informing its members why they should leave the AAL. AAL claims that it is not a church. It is correct in that assertion. However, it is involved in doing church work and promoting unionism through its fraternal activity which involves Lutherans of different confessions, most notably, ELCA, LC-MS, WELS, and ELS. The aforementioned newspaper reports how an inter-Lutheran group from the ELCA and the LC-MS will be engaged in what is called “Cooperative Parish Planning Committee” meetings next April. This effort is funded by the AAL.
Interestingly, training events “will include members of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod” (whether officials or lay-members is not indicated). The purpose of such training events will be to teach how to implement strategy for “preparing adults for baptism and daily ministry.” The strategy involves lay leaders and “uses prayer, congregational worship, small Bible Study, and social ministry to help new converts develop a strong faith and to spiritually energize both returning members and the whole congregation.”
This is another illustration of the influence of what is known as the Church Growth Movement. Plans, strategies, and social ministry supplant the Means of Grace, the Gospel in Word and Sacrament, as the focus and foundation of the witness of the church. We confess that it is only the Means of Grace that creates faith, strengthens faith, and energizes faith.
As we read this we ask ourselves, “What does the CLC have in common with ELCA, for example, that would move us to send members to sit at the feet of the ELCA to be taught by it?” The answer is that we have nothing in common with the ELCA, and for that reason we would not participate if we had been asked. We weren’t! But had we been, we would have pointed to John 8:31-32, 1 Corinthians 1:10, Romans 16:17-18 as reasons why we could not and would not.
What this whole thing points out again is why we have not been in fellowship with the WELS for 36 years. It also makes crystal clear what still stands between, regardless at what level or to what extent the WELS is involved! We still hear it said that there is no difference between the WELS and the CLC. But contemporary history destroys that contention.
The doctrine of church fellowship and its practice based on Scripture is essential to the life of a confessional church. Because this doctrine is interpreted by many as being of another age is no reason to give it up. Because it is so contrary to the modern ecumenical movement is not reason for giving it up, but rather of practicing it the more strenuously. The fact is that if one wants to understand why the Lutheran Church is in the deteriorating condition it is today, one only needs to look at the lack of understanding of this doctrine and its importance.
Finally, let it be said, the CLC is not interested in preserving and practicing this doctrine because it is against something, but rather because it stands for something! God help us to be evangelical in our teaching, and firm in our confession. Only then is God glorified, and only then do we have a reason to exist, and a message that gives the troubled heart confidence.