Recently I have been a part of a series of opportunities to talk about different beliefs as they apply to different religions and different denominations within Christianity. This seems to always be a topic that interests people. We like to know what our Roman Catholic or Baptist brothers and sisters think when it comes to various aspects of the relationship between God and man.
When I start to talk about these differences, I usually get this question, “Well,pastor, what do WE believe?” I understand that the question means: “What is the Lutheran doctrine on _____?” but I am tempted at times to ask the question back: “I don’t know, what DO you believe?”
We all have beliefs. Sometimes those beliefs line up with our doctrine as Lutherans, but sometimes they don’t. When we find that they don’t, we have some options. We can: 1.) Attempt to find some way to lessen, negate, or at least understand the difference between what we believe on our own and what our Lutheran doctrine teaches us. 2.) Toss our Lutheran doctrine out of the window in favor of our personal belief. 3.) Toss our personal belief out of the window in favor of our Lutheran doctrine. There are maybe a few other nuanced options, but that’s pretty much the broad strokes.
What we cannot do is ignore our beliefs, or let someone else tell us what we believe. We have to do our own believing. You cannot say that you are Lutheran because your pastor knows some Lutheran theology anymore than you can say you’re Lutheran because “you were born Lutheran” (which nobody is, by the way). When Jesus asks me at the end of the age to give an account for you all, He’s not going to ask me if you believed, He’s going to ask me if I taught. YOU’RE the one who is going to have to answer for your belief.
In that vein, for the next few newsletters, we’re going to be addressing what the Lutheran teaching says about Christianity, so that you can wrestle if that is what YOU believe, so that we can together say that this is what WE believe.
p.s. I’m taking requests. If you want to know anything specific about what we believe about _____, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org I will answer it if I can.