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Thursday, August 07, 2008 

Questions From A Southern Baptist… On The Long Road Home

I always try to visit, whenever possible, at least one congregation when I go out of town. I just think it’s fun to see all the little nuances and practices that make each congregation unique.

I took my Southern Baptist coworker to church with me this past weekend. He had never been to a Lutheran church before and his only knowledge of who Lutherans are and what we believe comes from an hour-long class given by his pastor.

On the ten hour drive down we did cover a great many topics where he had questions. We chatted about his misinformation on the Lutheran understanding of what Scripture says about the Eucharist. He was under the misconception that Lutherans believed in transubstantiation as the Roman church does. I certainly see where the differences can be blurred together or confused (ing). I did my best to explain the Scriptural and historic position of the church catholic that the Lutherans use to view the Sacrament. And yes I did explain why I believe that closed communion is the best and most loving practice. Boy howdy that was a fun conversation.


After we left church on Sunday my coworker had even more questions that were dealt with briefly on the way to lunch. The one we talked about at length was the matter of his perception that Lutherans don’t like standing for the singing of hymns and Scripture readings. I explained that not every congregation has the same practices and the one we visited was no exception. I made clear that in my congregation we always stood for opening hymns and that we knelt for confession and absolution as well as for the prayers of the church. He seemed to be a little more at ease after I put in plain words the varied differences in practice that are used that do not clash with theology. A quick lesson in adiaphra, that is to say, things that are done but not commanded by Scripture was a genuine hoot.

But my Southern Baptist coworker has still more question that we will need to cover in length. In the ten or eleven hours it takes to get beck home we will cover the following topics;

Do Lutherans sprinkle or dunk during baptism.

Why don’t aren’t Lutherans reading their Bibles during the lessons and Gospel readings as well as the sermons. “Don’t you want to check and see if what your pastor reads to you is really in the Bible and not just being made up?”

Why don’t Lutherans have alter calls or some kind of ceremony at the end of the worship service so that people can dedicate themselves to God?

“It’s just a remembrance, right?”

Oh yeah, it’s going to be a fun ride home.

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I spent two years of high school at a Baptist boarding school; I've been through a lot of similar discussions, although they were at a high-school level.

People at my boarding school seemed to have the view of baptism and the Lord's supper as works that WE do to earn God's favor. A lady that I recently debated with could not be convinced that there was any Scriptural support of GOD's work in the sacraments. Yeah, that was a "fun" conversation!

Have a safe trip home.

Have fun, Uncle Frank!!

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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