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Lutherans (ELCA) & Bible Study & Universalism

Discussion in 'ELCA / ELCIC' started by martin-luther2, May 23, 2017.

  1. martin-luther2

    martin-luther2 New Member Supporter

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    I have been attending an ELCA church for about a year. I have been attending a weekly bible study and made a comment about scripture and the need to study scripture. I felt I received a rebuke from the pastor for my own study of scripture. Are Lutherans very close to RCC in discouraging bible study? I had thought Martin Luther and his belief in a Bible to be understood by all that it was to be encouraged. I think I am pretty close to belief with Martin Luther but not such much with ELCA.

    Does the ELCA teach that all are saved? I have heard some comments that make me believe that universalism is taught outside of the liturgy of the church.
     
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  2. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's encouraged but not required. Bible study is not a major emphasis of Lutheranism, however, for most Lutherans. You hear the Bible in church, after all, and in the preaching. Private study of Scriptures is associated more with Lutheran pietism.

    It's not an official teaching.
     
  3. HereIStand

    HereIStand Regular Member Supporter

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    Try the LCMS. The ELCA has the same baggage that other mainline churches do.
     
  4. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    And the LCMS has the same baggage other fundamentalist churches do. Young earth creationism being the most prominent feature I can think of.
     
  5. tampasteve

    tampasteve Lutheran Messianic Staff Member Supervisor Supporter

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    Lutherans believe in reading the Bible, but it is not encouraged as in some other Protestant denominations; but in my limited experience I would not say it is discouraged. There are some good study Bibles out there that give good, Lutheran, instruction at the same time. I am awaiting a new one I ordered from Fortress Publications myself! :)

    Side note, the RCC does not discourage Bible reading any longer. There are many Bible studies, readings, personal study Bibles, etc. I was a Catholic for close to 10 years and was never discouraged from reading my Bible. I was encouraged to read it with a Catechism handy to help interpret parts that might be misunderstood.

    As for Salvation the official stance is:
    • Grace alone - we are saved by the grace of God, not by anything we do,
    • Faith alone - our salvation is through our faith in God and the salvation we receive through Christ's death.

    That of course is open to interpretation by the individual though. But officially universalism is not the doctrine.
     
  6. HereIStand

    HereIStand Regular Member Supporter

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    That's probably true of older LCMS pastors and parishioners. (I hold to young earth creationism myself, but it's in the minority within Christianity.) Beyond that, there are LCMS Lutherans who can be fundamentalist about the Lutheran confessions, but I wouldn't characterize them as fundamentalist in general.
     
  7. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My own personal feelings on the matter are that it isn't a church-dividing issue (young earth creationism vs. theistic evolution). But many in the LCMS do think it is. Hence the whole Seminex thing decades ago at St. Louis. There's some former LCMS folks at my parish, some are very educated on those issues.

    I joked with my pastor that I am probably more friendly to creationism than the typical ELCA Lutheran (coming from an Orthodox Christian background). He said creationism probably wouldn't even be taken seriously by anybody at the general synod. But general synod is often irrelevant to what happens at the individual parish level, anyways. Individual congregations have a lot of power over what happens at the local level- I've learned that witnessing the merger of a local, dying congregation with our own church.

    Lutherans in the US move freely in and out of the ELCA and LCMS depending on life circumstances, marriage, etc. Especially in the southern US, there is not as much distance between us- in the South if you are a Lutheran you are a tiny minority anyways surrounded by anti-sacramentalists.
     
  8. Tigger45

    Tigger45 The Word of God Supporter

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    In all of the Lutheran congregations I've attended,(LCMS, ELCA & LCMC) I've never heard a pastor discourage anyone from personal bible reading. In fact in our weekly bulletin there is a page devoted to daily scripture readings for the upcoming week. Although especially the LCMS would stress proper biblical exegesis according to the Lutheran confessions.
     
  9. HereIStand

    HereIStand Regular Member Supporter

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    Individual churches can differ in the mainline, or elsewhere. I've heard of Seminex, but I didn't realize creationism was part of it. When I was LCMS, the issue was contemporary versus traditional. (Also, the Yankee Stadium prayer was an issue.) Our church went quite contemporary. I was willing to hang in there, even though I didn't care for it, but my wife couldn't take it.

    We then went to a PCUSA Presbyterian church, but have since left there, due to burnout with the mainline. I still have friends there, and there are some good Christians there. But, sadly, there are also those who doubt the Virgin Birth, even though they've been confessing the Apostle's Creed each Sunday.

    I'm in the South also, and Lutheranism is in the minority here. The LCMS church is the only Lutheran church in town.
     
  10. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

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    In my own Episcopal tradition, I have heard, on a few occasions, a version of universal salvation that has this form: Jesus' incarnation, death, and resurrection was such a powerful event that it actually succeeded in saving all of us; thus we are all saved by grace, because of Jesus' work. I'm less familiar with current ideas in the Lutheran tradition, but it's possible that some Lutherans share this idea as well.

    Note, of course, that this is not the official doctrine of either denomination; but it is an opinion that is consistent with both traditions, I think.
     
  11. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The issue was more abstract, but creationism was one of the implications that many of the Seminex crowd levelled at the LCMS leadership. Mostly, the concern was about muddying the Gospel message with other conditions for justification.

    Worship wars? I just don't see those affecting the ELCA that much. I do know there are some ELCA congregations that do have more megachurch and contemporary type worship, but they seem to be a minority. Many left a few years ago after the schism. The only liberal churches I know in the area that have contemporary worship, is the local Metropolitan Community Church.

    My perception is this is a phenomenon of mostly older folks wanting to be "intellectually respectable".
     
  12. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In the ELCA, in the baptismal rite there is explicit request that the sponsors teach the sponsored child to read the Scriptures. Personal reading of the Scriptures is also not forbidden in the ELCA, and the church welcomes many difference voices in that discussion. But the emphasis is on a shared confession of faith and shared responsibility of discernment in understanding God's will, with no one single individual voice being the ultimate pronouncement on what is an is not orthodox teaching.
     
  13. Tigger45

    Tigger45 The Word of God Supporter

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    That's the approach for my LCMC congregation also but I highly appreciate Lutheran distictives and gravitate towards confessional Lutheranism finding in my personal experiences, being outside of the confessional approach creates a slippery slop away from those distinctions. Although I agree that frequently the literal reading of Genesis is taught but not required for membership but can cause sticking points at times during sermons and bible studies.
     
  14. martin-luther2

    martin-luther2 New Member Supporter

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    I do appreciate the 4 readings of scripture [from the Lexionary] each Sunday. The sermons so far have only been based on the 4 gospels. Is that Lutheran practice?

    Thank you for all the posts so far.
     
  15. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sermons could theoretically be based on any of the readings, not just the Gospels, including the Old Testament. But in practice it is usually the Gospels.
     
  16. tampasteve

    tampasteve Lutheran Messianic Staff Member Supervisor Supporter

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    To bring this thread back:

    Do you use a particular Lutheran Study Bible, or any study Bible? I frequently read from the ELCA Lutheran Study Bible, but I also frequently read from other versions as well including the JPS and Artscroll Tanach. I have a The Word KJV Study Bible from Thomas Nelson, but I find the study parts are not a great fit for me.
     
  17. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    FWIW, Lutherans have always preached that Jesus died for all people and he is the savior of the whole world. This is the objective aspect of salvation, and it's thoroughly Lutheran to preach that way. That might sound universalist, except we also believe that the merits of Jesus death are applied to us through faith and the means of grace.
     
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