Dear Friends in Christ,
Chapter 20 of the history of the CLC is entitled “The Changing Times.”
Everyone will have to admit that there have been many changes in the world and in the church world since our church body was organized in 1960. But have there been changes in the Church of the Lutheran Confession?
By God’s grace our doctrinal platform remains the same now as it was then. That is good, because it is written: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” How happy we can be that God does not change! Nor does His love for us sinners change! Jesus died for the sins of the world, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. Those facts do not change, and they assure us that our sins are forgiven, and we have a place in heaven reserved for us.
But there are many lesser things that have changed, even in our church body. In 1960 probably all of our congregations used the King James Version of the Bible in their services and confirmation classes. But since the language of this 1611 Bible is not as well understood as it once was, many of our congregations are now using more recent translations, such as the New King James Version or the New International Version.
The Lutheran Hymnal of 1941 is still the hymnal that is used most often in our services, I suppose, but many of our congregations now make extended use of the Worship Supplement 2000.
In the early years of Immanuel Lutheran College the foreign languages taught in high school were Latin and German, but now for practical reasons the foreign language that is taught is Spanish. But those who are training to become pastors are still being taught the ancient languages of Greek and Hebrew. No changes are possible here, because our God has given us His Word in these two languages, and if our pastors are to become well-equipped to use God’s Word, they must know these languages.
Do you know that in 1960 there were no women pastors in any Lutheran congregation in our country? Today there are many women pastors in Lutheran congregations, and the seminaries of some Lutheran church bodies have almost as many female students as male students. Should we change like the rest? On this matter we cannot change if we want to be faithful to our Lord and His Word. For the Lord’s Apostle Paul wrote: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.”
In 1960 segregation between the races was common in many areas of our country. This has changed. Is this an acceptable change? There is nothing in God’s Word that tells us that races must be kept separate, but God’s Word tells us: “There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.”
Today some people want to say that God has no objection to same-sex marriage because, they say, God has created some people to be homosexual, and they should not be deprived. Is this an acceptable change?
Today some people want to say that God has no objection to same-sex marriage because, they say, God has created some people to be homosexual, and they should not be deprived. Is this an acceptable change? No, it is not, because God in His Word has told us: “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”
But, of course, all of these sins can be repented of, for God’s Word continues: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
So there are some changes that are acceptable and other changes that are unacceptable. In a changing world we need to be on guard lest we get swept away by these changes into a way of life and behavior that God condemns in His Word.
In 1960 our CLC Board of Missions was responsible for a few mission congregations in this country and for one congregation in Japan. Today this board is trying to help church bodies in several countries in Africa and in two church bodies in India; three other foreign church bodies have applied for fellowship with our church body, to be considered at the 2010 convention (Editor’s note: Of the three church bodies, two were accepted into fellowship [groups in Nepal and Myanmar], and action regarding one was postponed). The membership of all of these church bodies in other countries is much larger than the membership of the CLC in our country.
This is a big change, but certainly we recognize this expansion of our work as a good change, as a blessing from our God.
Another board whose work has greatly expanded is the Board of Trustees. In 1960 there was a time when the balance in the treasury was $9.91. Today the Board of Trustees is handling more than a million dollars. The entire Ingram Estate with all of its land and building was purchased for $85,000 in 1963, and that was considered almost too much for our church body to handle. Now we have the new Academic Center which cost over two million dollars.
Changes such as these are precious blessings from our God. But as we enjoy these blessings, let us remember that there are no changes in our God or His Word. O Lord, keep us faithful in a time of great change. Let us sing WS #743: 3-4.