For once, I’m going to take a break from discussing politics, and instead discuss something very near and dear to me: my faith.
I am a Lutheran. You probably haven’t heard of them if you don’t live in Pennsylvania or the Midwest. This is, in fact, why I write.
Lutheranism is one of the oldest Protestant denominations, and one of the most conservative, insofar as it has preserved most of the ancient customs of the Catholic Church. Its theology is not that radically different from Catholicism’s, either: it is a Sacramental religion, and its largest breaks with the Roman Church are its rejection of prayers to the saints, the near-worship of the Virgin Mary, and the authority of the Pope.
Lutheranism is an introverted religion at present, but it was not always so. Lutheran missionaries were once spread to the far reaches of the globe, and converted many in what is now called the Third World. The Lutheran faith was a bastion of northern Europe: the Baltics, Scandinavia, Prussia, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia. It continues to remain prominent in these locales, but mostly as a cultural curiosity, a useful tool for the populations’ weddings, baptisms, and funerals.
Also quite widespread in North America, Lutheranism has been here since before the American Founding – the first Lutheran mass in North America was celebrated during Henry Hudson’s famous 1620 expedition. German immigrants, some of whom are my ancestors, brought the faith to Pennsylvania, and later waves of immigrants from other European nations established the faith in the Midwest.
The Lutherans of this country were not prominent people, like the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists. Most of them were simple country folk: farmers, tradesmen, and the like. Yet by their hard work and simple devotion, they followed the teachings of Christ, exercising their holy faith in a quiet but profound way.
Nor they were not unlearned – quite the contrary, in fact. Education has long been a mainstay of Lutheranism, and wherever Lutherans went, excellent parochial schools followed in their wake. Knowledge of the Bible and Christian doctrine were of utmost importance: memorization the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds; of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, with its “What does this mean?” and explanations of the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments, were once hallmarks of the Lutheran Confirmation practice.
Lutheranism, like Catholicism, has long been tied to ethnic identity. Each bloc of Lutheran immigrants established their own church in the New World, based closely on their respective ethnicities. From the Swedes came the preserved beauty and majesty of the Catholic liturgy; from the Norwegians came the simple but no less graceful Pietism; and from the Germans came the theological robustness.
The churches these immigrants established – whether of plain whitewashed board that overlooked the prairie, or magnificent stone urban edifices, complete with statues and stained glass – spoke volumes to the world of the God of both the Law and Grace, of forgiveness and salvation, of the preaching of the Word and of the administration of the Sacraments.
Lutheranism, like its close cousin Anglicanism, has been relatively free of the strange emphasis on superstition and the supernatural that pervades much of the rest of Christianity. Lutherans are not known for encountering visions, receiving ‘words,’ or glorifying the ‘Rapture’ and the End Times. We seek to honor the teachings of Christ, not follow the vanities of self-appointed ‘prophets.’
Lutherans honor the doctrine of the ‘Two Kingdoms’: that we are to render to both Caesar and God, respectively, and we are to honor the authorities that God has ordained to set over us. Martin Luther lived a life of contentment, even if he thought the world would end during his century. His followers have long thought likewise.
Today, however, Lutheranism is dying. The faith that has sustained millions for centuries, and that has given the world Bach’s Mass in B minor and Haendel’s Messiah, is fading into irrelevance. When the flagship publication of the largest Lutheran denomination in America must tell its readers to ask others to church, something is terribly wrong.
In Germany, the homeland of the faith, a strange hybrid church of Lutheranism and Calvinism survives, but has had no effect. The Castle Church at Wittenberg is empty. The pastors there preach a social gospel, one that invites the downfall of the West.
In Scandinavia, the magnificence and of the mass and of the cathedrals, preserved since the Middle Ages, has drawn no one to Christ. The priesthood has been infiltrated by atheists and Marxists. The religion is soulless.
In Africa and Asia, the Church encounters extreme persecution on one hand – and the danger of falling back into indigenous animism on the other. It is in desperate need of our prayers.
And in North America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church has gone full apostate a long time ago. Its ranks are filled with well-meaning but not very bright ‘goodwhites,’ and the bishops and pastors corrupt the synods down to the congregational level. There is no hope for this denomination.
The Missouri Synod, its ‘conservative’ counterpart, is continually wracked with heresy trials and distrust towards other Christians. Despite its tough talk, like the ELCA, it funnels money to ‘refugee’ resettlement, and wastes its time on other causes dear to Christianity, Inc. It can be safely said, then, that the Lutheran church in America is either #WithHer, or #NeverTrump.
This decline does not simply apply to membership statistics. It applies to intellectual and artistic degeneration as well. Most Lutheran church buildings, whether the congregation is ‘conservative’ or liberal, are truly hideous. They are not temples of the Living God and houses for his Word, Body, and Blood. They are instead truly odious edifices that lack excellence in the eyes of man, and any respect for Jesus Christ at all.
What has happened? On whose altar has this powerful, beautiful, and enduring faith been sacrificed? Lutheranism has much to offer the world, but because of the fear and timidity of its adherents, it has been wracked by cultural Marxism for decades.
Christians everywhere must fight to preserve our faith, lest our Lord Jesus spit us from His mouth. We must be bold witnesses to our sacred Truths once again. For,
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. – Matthew 5:15
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