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Pastor's Corner

Pastor's Corner 


Reformed, Always Reforming: The Church

Sunday we considered how Luther reformed worship for the people of God by focusing on the representative change in congregational singing. This scriptural change engaged the congregation in active worship of God and brought the teaching of scripture into their lives through song. It took the emphasis off the Catholic priesthood and gave the congregation ownership of their role to one another as the priesthood of God.

This Sunday we're going to consider how Luther identified the church as a place of ministry not majesty. In Luther's day, the Catholic Church had become the place of political and social power. It controlled society through fear and superstition. The church taught that seven sacraments held power and since the church controlled them, the church held authority (baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, anointing with oil, holy orders, and matrimony) Obeisance had to be given to the church in order to be right with God.

Luther argued that Scripture gives the church ministerial authority, not magisterial authority. The church is tasked not with ruling, but with ministering the Word to God’s people. Our Book of Church Order makes this point by saying, “It belongs to His Majesty from His throne of glory to rule and teach the Church through His Word and Spirit by the ministry of men…All church power, whether exercised by the body in general, or by representation, is only ministerial and declarative since the Holy Scriptures are the only rule of faith and practice."

For Luther the Church was identified by specific markers. Luther countered the seven sacraments with seven marks of the true Church: the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, discipline, biblical offices, worship (singing, prayers, etc.), and suffering. These seven were whittled down by the other Reformers to the pure preaching of the Word, pure administration of the sacraments (baptism and communion) and church discipline. When you find these, you've found the Church of Jesus Christ. It's interesting that in our day, the church is moving away from these markers and becoming more like the Catholic Church before the Reformation.

So, come Sunday, and consider what it means to be the Church.

~Pastor Tim