While insisting on church fellowship based on agreement in the confession of the Christian faith handed down as taught in the Scriptures, Lutherans also need to guard against arrogance or separatism, Dr. Samuel H. Nafzger told those gathered for a theological conference Nov. 10-11 at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Oberursel, Germany.
Nafzger is executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations.
“The challenge facing us in the LCMS today is to manifest our fellowship in the body of Christ externally in ways which take into account all that the Scriptures say — both about guarding the truth of the Gospel delivered to us, and also about actually manifesting this unity, lest we be found guilty of falling into either the error of separatism or the error or compromising the Scriptural Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Nafzger.
Saying that external divisions in the church “stand as a scandal to the world,” Nafzger observed that a church body committed to the Gospel “must be engaged in every effort to resolve, on the basis of the Holy Scriptures with the blessing of the Holy Spirit, doctrinal disagreements with fellow Christians by working toward church fellowship with those Christian churches with which it is not in church fellowship.”
The symposium theme was “Lutheran Identify in Ecclesiastical Reliability.” Nafzger offered an LCMS perspective, tracing the Synod’s teachings on church fellowship from its formation in the mid-19th century through recent convention actions and theological reports.
Dr. Robert Rosin, professor of historical theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, also spoke to the conference about the challenges of missionary and educational work in Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries.
Posted Dec. 4, 2006