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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

26 July 2005

Confessional and Orthodox Lutheranism

Q: Can’t I say that a confessional Lutheran is the same as an orthodox Lutheran? I believe them to be the same.

A: A previous post briefly discussed the meaning of a confessional Lutheranism. This question comes as a comment to that essay.

In most circumstances you can say that a confessional Lutheran is an orthodox Lutheran, although the words have different meanings. As previously noted, confessional means an adherence to the Lutheran Confessions. Orthodox, meanwhile, comes from Greek and means “correct teaching (doctrine).” Perhaps the best thing to do is define each carefully and use both wisely. Call yourself an orthodox, confessional Lutheran and when people ask, be prepared to tell them why. Understand why the Lutheran Confessions are the “right teaching” concerning Holy Scripture and make your confession accordingly.

When we define and use the terms correctly, we can speak of true Lutheranism as being confessional (holding fast to and professing nothing but the pure doctrine of Scripture), orthodox (right teaching), evangelical (centered and grounded completely in the Gospel), charismatic (partakers in the Holy Spirit and His gifts), and catholic (in time and eternity part and parcel of the entirety of Christendom).

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


Blogger Carl Vehse said...

"catholic (in time and eternity part and parcel of the entirety of Christendom)"

Defining “catholic” in terms of “Christendom” makes it dependent on the definition of “Christendom.” The term “catholic” is often associated (especially by Romish Christians) with some “visible” church (e.g., the Roman Catholic Church), whereas the three Creeds and confessional Lutherans (e.g., Luther, Chemnitz, Walther, Pieper, Mueller, etc.) clearly identify “catholic” as pertaining to the invisible Church of all true believers.

And in a real sense, using such terms (e.g., orthodox, evangelical, charismatic, and catholic) correctly requires that one use them with their confessional Lutheran meanings.

29 July, 2009 18:24  

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