“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
The Lutheran Witness is the “official periodical of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod” (Lutheran Witness, Dec 2012, p2). Since the presidency of Pres. Matthew Harrison, elected in 2010, The Lutheran Witness has undergone a transformation. The following letter may help illustrate this. “Last night I read the October issue of The Lutheran Witness, and I could not help but praise the Lord for the content. Here was the material that I have wanted to see in our church periodical for many years, clear biblical expositions of theological, doctrinal and life problems confronting clergy and laity in our Synod at this time. We need more of this clear, openof Scripture in common English for all to see” (The Lutheran Witness, Dec 2012, p22, 24).
I am in agreement with this observation. The majority of articles now the in The Lutheran Witness are doctrinal, and thus, practical, in nature, directing the reader to the Word and to Christ, drawing distinctions where they should be maintained, and genuinely Lutheran. I enjoy reading the articles and am encouraged greatly by them.
Before President Harrison was elected, The Lutheran Witness had a more “church growthy” approach, having the assumption that the gospel and the doctrine were “there,” but not explicitly indicated as such, generally speaking. It seemed that the emphasis was more on human activity rather than God’s activity through Word and Sacrament, emphasizing the “mission,” minus the content.
Yet even as The Lutheran Witness has changed, for the better, I believe, others do not have this view, not at all. Such a negative view of change towards The Lutheran Witness is illustrated by this letter from a more recent issue, “The March 2013 number of The Lutheran Witness is on of the most troubling I have ever read” (The Lutheran Witness, May 2013, p25). Another letter illustrates a similar negative view, “I grew up in the ELCA and was active there until age 40, when I moved my family to the LCMS for doctrinal reasons. The move was the right choice for our family. That said, I had an extremely negative reaction to the March 2013 issue of The Lutheran Witness” (May 2013, p25).
Reading even only a few of the letters offered in The Lutheran Witness gives a taste, albeit, only a nibble, of the discrepancy found within the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). One writer says, “More, more.” Another says, “No, no.” Such responses indicate that, like so many other denominations, we are not 100% united, specifically, in doctrine. If one greatly appreciates what is right and true and another does not, what does this say of a united faith that we claim to possess? It essentially demonstrates that we’re not as united as some claim us to be. Of course, in Christ, true unity remains. But then again, the question remains, “What does this mean?”
 The March 2013 issue of The Lutheran Witness, entitled, “Free in Christ” included articles such as, “Can’t we all just get along,” “Free in Christ,” “Finding a home,” “The Life of the baptized,” and a chart, “Differences and Distinctions” between the LCMS, Orthodox, Reformed, and Roman Catholic on such teachings as God’s Word, Justification & Sanctification, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.
Filed under: Christian Denominations & Fellowship, Church-Ecclesiology, Holy Baptism, Justification & Sanctification-The Christian Faith & Good Works, LCMS, Lord's Supper, Reviews (Books, articles, etc.), Sacraments, Theology & Doctrine | Tagged: church, Doctrine, ELCA, Harrison, LCMS, Lutheran Witness, unity |