Monday, March 04, 2013

Unionism Rejected (by a Lutheran, of course)

You can skip the first two minutes of the video, which has almost nothing to do with the topic of the video. The topic of the video relates to "unionism," which is a Lutheran term for co-organization, joint worship, and/or cooperation between churches that hold to different things. Historically, the union that prompted the coining of this term was (I believe) the Prussian Union of 1817, which was a union of Lutheran and Reformed churches.

Obviously, I'm not Lutheran, and I would agree with my Reformed forebearers that the Lutheran churches teach error - particularly error regarding the sacraments and worship. I agree with the Lutheran in this video that we need to agree to disagree apart, at least in some sense. We cannot simply ignore our differences or pretend that they do not exist.

Furthermore, I agree with the Lutheran in this video, that people are justified by grace alone through faith alone, not by being doctrinally perfect. Thus, while I think that Lutheran churches have false doctrine (on certain points) and improper worship (on certain points), I acknowledge that Lutheran churchgoers may be saved through faith in Christ alone.

The problem with objections to "unionism" is that some of them tend to be pretty extreme. The Lutheran in the video doesn't give many examples of what constitutes "unionism" in his view, so it is hard to say where he stands on that point.

I'm appreciative of the efforts of groups like the "White Horse Inn," in which Lutherans and Reformed people cooperate in presenting the gospel and in addressing certain errors rejected both by Lutherans and Reformed. Moreover, I myself cooperate in presenting the gospel with my baptist brother, James White - despite our important differences on issues of paedobaptism and church government.

Thus, although there are differences that are enough to prevent us from having a denominational unity with either Lutherans or Baptists, we can still cooperate in areas that do not require such denominational unity. To the extent that the Lutheran in the video would oppose such an idea, I would respectfully disagree with him.

Nevertheless, in general his comments do help to explain the importance of maintaining doctrinal orthodoxy, even at the expense of unity. For that limited point:

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