Toward Union in the Unity of the Spirit
“To be a God-pleasing unity therefore we must insist on full and honest agreement on the doctrines clearly revealed in Scripture as the basis of church union. And this means not merely the formal acceptance of the Scriptural teachings, but also the actual teaching and practice of the same.”
IN THE UNITY
OF THE SPIRIT
Essay delivered at the 17th Annual Convention of the Concordia Lutheran Conference
by Pastor M. L. Natterer
I. ; THE GOD-PLEASING UNITY UPON WHICH CHRISTIAN UNION IS BASED
II. AN APPRAISAL OF THE CURRENT ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT IN THE LIGHT OF THIS SCRIPTURAL BASIS
III.;THE ATTITUDE OF OUR CONFERENCE TOWARDS CHRISTIAN UNION
Never before has Christianity witnessed so many religious denominations as it has during these last evil days of the world! The number of religious denominations easily passes into the hundreds! It is, as the Savior foretells, “and many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:11). While we deplore these divisions as the work of the devil who is the author of all discord, there have been those who have defended the divisions in Christendom. They refer to the realm of nature and tell us that there we have not merely one particular kind of flower, but a vast assortment and variety of flowers for man to enjoy. Why should we object, therefore, that in the garden of the Church we find ever so many denominations which preach the Word of God and depict the Christian truths in its various beautiful colors! The many denominations are but regiments which indeed march separately but all belong to the same army! This is the language which the father of all lies, the devil (John 8:44),employs through the tongues of the false prophets to deceive the hearts and minds of the simple.
On the other hand, we have those who clamor for the union of all denominations. Their reasons, of course, may vary as to why they want such union. There are the practical individuals who feel that such divisions in Christendom result in a foolish waste of money and energy. For example, they feel that there are scores of places where one pastor and one congregation would suffice instead of 10 to 12 different pastors and congregations. And so also they apply this to the church periodicals. If the churches would band together then fewer periodicals would be needed thus avoiding much duplication as well as great expenditures. Then there are those who seek to appeal to the Scriptures (e.g., John 17:20,21; Eph. 4:3-6) and assert that God does not want such divisions and strife but unity and peace.
The number of physicians who seek to heal the “breach of Joseph” is legion. Unfortunately, however, such attempts generally fail to make the proper diagnosis. The outward symptoms are emphasized while the real hidden causes are overlooked. They occupy themselves only with the external divisions and ignore the real cause-doctrinal disunity! Moreover, they do not apply the real cure to the sickness, the Word of God; instead, they declare the healing to be complete when there is only outward union. Such attempts remind us of the quack physician who seeks to heal the body of cancer by applying a bandage to the body. No wonder the many attempts to bring about church union fail to bring about a union which is well-pleasing in the sight of God!
THE GOD-PLEASING UNITY UPON WHICH CHRISTIAN UNION IS BASED
What is the God-pleasing unity? For an answer to this question we dare not turn to our own thoughts and attempt to set up what we feel is the God-pleasing unity! We must turn to the Word of God which is the sole Source and Norm of all Christian doctrine. And, according to the Word of God, we see that such unity is a unity in the Spirit. We read in Ephesians, chapter 4, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (VV. 2 – 6). Let us note these words well! The Apostle does not speak about a unity which does not exist and for which the Christians should strive; on the contrary, he states that the unity already exists and which the Christians are privileged to enjoy. Dr. Stoeckhardt in his splendid exposition of this Epistle writes, “The word of Scripture Ephesians 4:4 – 6 is a locus classicus for the doctrine of the Church” (Kommentar über den Brief Pauli an die Epheser, page 178). And rightly so, for here we are told of the blessed unity which is in the Holy Christian Church, the Body of which Christ Himself is the Head. God the Holy Spirit is the Soul of the Body, the Church. He it is who has called the members of this glorious Church out of the darkness of sin and the domain of Satan into the marvelous light of Christ’s Church; He it is who has worked the true saving faith within their hearts, leads and guides them into all truth, keeps and preserves them in the one true faith until their end; He it is who has called them in one hope of their calling so that they believe that they shall take possession of that inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them. (Cp. 1 Pet.1:3,4).
The God-pleasing unity is a unity in faith. In the Holy Christian Church there is, as the Apostle states, “one faith”. The Lord of the Christians is Christ! He has purchased the members of His Church with His holy blood. Thus the Christians belong to Him and serve Him. All the members of the Holy Christian Church share one and the same faith. And they all possess the ardent desire to please Him who has worked this saving faith within their hearts. Through such faith true unity is restored with God. The Apostle assures us, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). And the Lord Jesus prays in His high priestly prayer, “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me” (John 17:21). O how these blessed words of Jesus are subjected to false interpretations! The contention is made that these words of the Savior constitute a command to drop all doctrinal differences and to unite all churches into one grand church. But the Savior does not pray here for an external unity, He prays for a spiritual unity. “Before His mind’s eye there arose the picture of the future, when the purpose of His work in the world would be fully realized, when the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, would be gathered from all nations” (Popular Commentary, Vol. I, page 506). Dr. Luther sets this forth very aptly, “According to Scripture, the church is the assembly of all those on earth who believe in Christ, just as we pray in the Creed: ‘I believe in the Holy Ghost . . the communion of saints.’ This community or assembly consists of all who live in true faith, hope, and love, so that the essence, life, and nature of the church is not a bodily, but a spiritual assembly of hearts in one faith, as St. Paul says, Eph. 4:5, ‘One baptism, one faith, one Lord.’ Hence, although they be a thousand miles apart in body, they are yet an assembly in spirit because each one preaches, believes, hopes, loves and lives like the other” (St. Louis Edition, Vol. XVIII, 1013).
Luther’s words are clearly in accord with Scripture. The Apostle writes to the Corinthians, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). Again, “As we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and everyone members one of another” (Rom. 12:4,5). Jesus Himself expressed it thus, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd” (John 10:16).
The Good Shepherd has bound His sheep to His voice, His holy Word. Before His Ascension Christ gave His disciples the command, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” Matt. 28:19). While speaking to the Jews who believed in Him, Jesus gave the marks of true discipleship, “If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8: 31, 32). Thus the Church is no mere imaginary thing even though in its essence it is invisible. The Word and the Sacraments are the marks whereby we can recognize the existence of the Church. We can not go on the basis of the individual’s sincerity, for a person may be ever so sincere in what he believes and yet be wrong; we can not go merely on the basis of the individual’s works, for a man may be ever so honorable and upright in the eyes of men and still be in the darkness of sin. Behold Nicodemus, the Pharisee. Surely he was an honorable man, sincere in his beliefs, yet the Savior tells him, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). It is through these marks, the Gospel and the Sacraments, that God the Holy Spirit creates and preserves faith. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever.And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet. 1:23-25)
The Holy Christian Church is built solely and exclusively “upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph.2:20). The visible Church may not forsake this foundation! It must preach and confess the pure Word of God; it must “continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). Which Church does that? With Dr. Walther we confess that “The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the True Visible Church of God on earth” (Walther and the Church, page 116) because it alone can truly be called “the Church of the pure doctrine”. We say this not in the spirit of self-conceit, but rather in the words of Dr. Luther in his preface to the Smalcald Articles, “THROUGH GOD’S GRACE, our churches are so enlightened and equipped with the pure Word and right use of the Sacraments” . . . (Trig. page 457). It is not due to any merit or worthiness on our part, but the gift of God’s undeserving grace! Unfortunately, not even all churches which call themselves Lutheran have retained this precious heritage. Therefore, when it is stated that “The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the True Visible Church of God on earth” it refers ONLY to those who truly confess, teach and practice the Word of God in its full truth and purity and use the Sacraments according to Christ’s institution, This fact is brought out very clearly in Dr. Walther’s presentation. Let us also bear in mind that the true Evangelical Lutheran Church is NOT the alone-saving Church but rather the Church of the true doctrine!
As Lutheran Christians we should certainly cherish as our greatest treasure the pure doctrine which we have inherited from our orthodox fathers and refuse to yield up one particle of it. Why? Because a Luther, Chemnitz, Walther or Pieper spun the doctrines of the Lutheran Church out of their own heads? God forbid! These courageous men were but humble students of the Word of God and drew the doctrines NOT from their own minds but from the Word of God! Luther declared, “It is not my doctrine, not the product of my hand, but God’s gift” (Vol. VIII, 27,St. Louis Ed.) “The doctrine is not ours, but God’s, whose called servants we only are. Therefore we may not in a single instance yield or change one small tittle of it” (Vol. IX, 644, St. Louis Ed.). And,if anyone will but take the time to compare the teachings of these men with the Scriptures, he will see for himself that they are merely repeating what God has already declared in His Holy Word
We have no right, therefore, to sacrifice one doctrine of Holy Writ for the sake of an outward union. First of all, because the doctrine is not ours, but God’s; secondly, because God tells us in no uncertain terms, ”Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves”‘ (Matt. 7:15); “Mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them” (Rom, 16:17); “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9); and thirdly, because such fellowship without the fellowship of faith and confession would not be expressive of the unity of the one holy Christian Church, but a mere sham. Besides, it would only succeed in confirming the errorist in his delusion and breed indifference to the whole body of truth. And history has taught us only too well that indifference eventually means the loss of the saving Gospel. The Apostle reminds the Galatians, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9). “The Evangelical Lutheran Church,” writes Dr. Walther, “rejects all fraternal and churchly fellowship with those who reject her Confessions, in whole or in part” (Walther and the Church, page 127). It is the devil, the father of all lies, who seeks to mix truth and error!
There are those within the realm of Lutheranism who would refer to the 7th Article of the Augsburg Confession in an attempt to establish a union based only upon an agreement in the bare essentials But let us look at Article VII. “Also they (the Lutherans) teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. As Paul says: “One faith , one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4:5,6.” The comment which Pastor H. W. Romoser makes on this article is quite enlightening. He writes: “However the preceding expressions, ‘the Gospel is rightly taught (rein gepredigt) and the Sacraments are rightly (laut des Evangelii) administered,’ dare not be disregarded, nor the fact that the Apology, the commentary on the Augustana, uses ‘Gospel’ and ‘Word’ several times interchangeably, nor the fact that we have just heard the Formula of Concord make clear the necessity of agreement ‘in doctrine and all its articles’, 7.11 and that the same confession points out, ‘The term Gospel is not always employed and understood in one and the same sense, but in two ways, in the Holy Scriptures, as also by ancient and modern church-teachers. For sometimes it is employed so that thereby is understood the entire doctrine of Christ our Lord, which He proclaimed in His ministry on earth, and commanded to be proclaimed in the New Testament, and hence comprised in it the explanation of the Law and the proclamation of the favor and grace of God” (The Fellowship of the Church, October 1966, pg. 99). Cp. also Christian Dogmatics, Vol. III, pg. 222 ff.
We are aware of the fact that Article VII was really directed against the Roman Catholic doctrine which teaches that the Church is an outward organization governed by the Roman Pope and the hierarchy in the Roman Church. The charge was made against the Lutherans that by rejecting the teachings and ceremonies of the Roman Church they were thereby destroying the unity of the Church. The answer to this charge is made in Article VII. Where there is the spiritual union of believers, which consists in professing the same faith, there is the Church of God which has existed through all ages because there have always been true Christians. Now it is not necessary to agree on an exact order of worship, or a certain form of ordaining ministers, or a certain type of altar, or certain set form of prayer. While these things are certainly desirable and helpful, nonetheless, these are things in which Christians may differ without destroying the unity of the Church. That which destroys the unity of the Church is false doctrine and any perversion of the Holy Sacraments!
To be a God-pleasing unity therefore we must insist on full and honest agreement on the doctrines clearly revealed in Scripture as the basis of church union. And this means not merely the formal acceptance of the Scriptural teachings, but also the actual teaching and practice of the same. The well-known words of the Brief Statement in this connection are worth repeating. “The orthodox character of a church is established not by its mere name nor by its outward acceptance of, and subscription to, an orthodox creed, but by the doctrine which is actually taught in its pulpits, in its theological seminaries, and in its publications” (Of The Church, #29).
At this point we are confronted with many objections. We are told that that is insisting upon the acceptance of too much for unity. But hear what the Apostle writes by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, ‘Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). And in his Epistle to Timothy, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing … from such withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:3-5). Rightly our Confessions declare, “We believe, teach and confess also that no Church should condemn another because one has less or more external ceremonies not commanded by God than the other, if otherwise there is agreement among them in doctrine AND ALL ITS ARTICLES, as also in the right use of the holy Sacraments . .” (Formula of Concord, Art. X, page 831).
AN APPRAISAL OF THE CURRENT ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT IN THE LIGHT OF THIS SCRIPTURAL BASIS
That many of the church-bodies (Reformed and Lutheran) are gradually merging is an obvious fact. On April 29th of this year The Methodist Church with a membership of over 10 million and the 750,000-member Evangelical United Brethren Church merged into a new denomination to be known as : The United Methodist Church. According to The Oregonian, March 20, 1968, not all of the United Brethren congregations feel as though they can go along with the merger. The newspaper reported, “More than half the Evangelical United Brethren congregations of Washington and Oregon declared Tuesday they will withdraw from their denomination because of an impending merger with the Methodist Church.” These congregations have stated that they were withdrawing because of the liberalism in the Methodist Church. It is no secret that the Methodist Church harbors within its midst those who openly reject many of the very fundamental doctrines of Christianity
Obviously such a merger was brought about by “agreeing to disagree”. It is this kind of union that has been advocated by such prominent men as Bishop James Pike and Dr. Eugene Carson Blake. They are the principal proponents of the Consultation on Church Union (COCU) which hopes to have a specific plan of union ready in two years to unite more than 25 million Protestants. And what kind of union is to be expected? The theology of Bishop Pike and Dr. Blake does not have to be repeated; in public declarations their gross liberalism has been expounded for all to judge on the basis of God’s Word. Thus we can well imagine upon what kind of a union document such a union will be based! Moreover, one of the member churches of the Consultation on Church Union, the United Church of Christ, adopted a Statement of Faith in 1959 which drew favorable comment from the Unitarians! The Unitarian Register calls “the new statement more Unitarian than any theological pronouncement yet to come from an ‘orthodox’ denomination. To be sure the Unitarianism is largely negative. The trinity is not mentioned. Jesus is not called God or Savior, but he is called Lord. God is an Infinite Spirit who is Jesus’ father, but he is also the father of all men. Jesus is called a man. The Bible is not mentioned. In short, aside from the Madison Avenue language of the thing, there is nothing to roil the liberal Christians and much to annoy the conservative Christians in the United Church. It might, in fact, have been adopted by any Unitarian church of a century ago” (November, 1959). We shall let this suffice to show that the union within Reformed circles is by no means a God pleasing unity.
And what shall we say about the situation in the Lutheran camp? Dr. Henry Koch describes the situation quite well in his essay on the Church. “At present there is a tendency to classify some of the non-fundamental articles of faith either as open questions or simply to term them non-church-divisive. They who argue thus know that the Church till now has taught and maintained that disagreement in non-fundamental articles is church-divisive. They would like to prove and achieve that some of the non-fundamental articles also be classified as non-church divisive. An article in question would be the Antichrist. And thus it goes on and on. One barrier after another is broken down. Disagreement in one article of faith after another is declared irrelevant for church fellowship. Such is the opinion of many Lutherans today. They, too, would be ready to depart from the firm convictions of the true Lutheran Church for the sake of expediency and the establishment of church fellowship with other Lutheran church bodies” (The Church: Its Essence and its Marks, Its Weapon and Its Enemies, Proceedings of the 40th Convention of the Synodical Conference, August 1948, page 72).
How significant that this position was openly advocated by the signers of A Statement just 3 years before Dr. Koch spoke these words! In Declaration No. 11 the 258 signers (Missouri Synod pastors and professors) of A Statement declared, “We affirm our conviction that in keeping with the historic Lutheran tradition and in harmony with the Synodical resolution adopted in 1938 regarding church fellowship, such fellowship is possible without complete agreement in details of doctrine and practice which have never been considered divisive in the Lutheran Church.” No God-pleasing discipline was ever carried out with the statementarians; consequently’ we find their leaven of false doctrine permeated the entire Missouri Synod. The results? One denial after another of the Biblical truths by various professors and pastors within the Missouri Synod. It has become a house divided against itself: there are those who claim adherence to the old Scriptural doctrines and there are those who uphold positions contrary to the Scriptures; yet,it advocates union with The American Lutheran Church, another house divided against itself! After the 1938 resolutions referred to in A Statement were no longer to serve as a basis for the purpose of establishing fellowship with the American Lutheran Church, (See Proceedings of the Missouri Synod, 1947, page 510), nevertheless, in 1950 the Common Confession was adopted by a majority vote and was supposed to serve as a basis for establishing fellowship with the American Lutheran Church. Every faithful Lutheran, however, had to reject the Common Confession because it did not meet the requirements for a union document set forth in God’s Word. Although the Common Confession was adopted by the Missouri Synod and the American Lutheran Church, it was shelved by the Missouri Synod because the American Lutheran Church united in 1960 with the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church to form The American Lutheran Church (TALC). Obviously, it is just a matter of time until a union is brought about between the Missouri Synod and The American Lutheran Church. Already in the 1967 Convention of the Missouri Synod the resolution was adopted, “that the Synod recognize that the Scriptural and confessional basis for altar and pulpit fellowship between The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod and The American Lutheran Church exists, that the Synod proceed to take the necessary steps toward full realization of altar and pulpit fellowship with The American Lutheran Church ” Unfortunately, here as in the Reformed camp, we find an agreement to disagree with respect to Lutheran doctrines and practice!
THE ATTITUDE OF OUR CONFERENCE TOWARDS CHRISTIAN UNION
True Lutherans are genuinely interested in union, that is, a union in which there is full and honest agreement on the doctrines clearly revealed in Scripture. “The Lutheran Church loathes unionism, but loves, and labors for, a Christian union, Eph. 4:3. She is not separatistic. She charges those who separate from their brethren on the score of disagreement over adiaphora or of the prevalence of offenses in the sphere of life with sinful separatism. A. C. Ap. , III, 112; VII and VIII, 49. F. C., Ep.. X, 7. She is most patient with those who through weakness err in nonfundamental doctrines. We must ‘overlook certain less serious mistakes, lest the Church fly apart into various schisms.’ Ap., III, 111. Public harmony ‘cannot last unless pastors and churches mutually overlook and pardon many things.’ Ap., III, 122. She labors with the erring in great leniency and patience. ‘The time for breaking off fraternal relations with those also who err in non- fundamental doctrines arrives then only when they stubbornly refuse to accept the convincing testimony of Scripture.’ F. C. W. Walther, Lehre und Wehre 14, 109. ‘I have no doubt that there are among you (at Zurich, Bern, Basel, etc.) right pious folk, who are sincere and want nothing but the truth; and I cherish the glad and firm hope that, though they are still somewhat entangled, in time, if we deal gently with these good weak people, God will happily end all error and misunderstanding, Amen.’ Luther, XVII, 2162. Nor is the Lutheran Church content, after the divisions have taken place, to let matters rest as they are. She stands alone, but is not self-centered. She concerns herself with the reunion of broken Christendom. ‘God, the Discerner of all men’s hearts, is our witness that we do not delight and have no joy in this awful division.’ Ap., Concl., Trigl., p. 451. ‘We beseech Him to look upon the afflicted and scattered churches and to brng them back to godly and perpetual concord.’ Ap., Preface, 19.16. F. C., Ep., XI,22. ‘It cannot be denied that we always sought peace and, as the psalm (34,14) says, pursued it, that we offered it and begged for it.’ Luther, XVI, 928. ‘ We are prepared to confer amiably concerning all possible ways and means in order that we may come together.’ A. C., Preface, 10. F. C., Th. D. , XT, 96’s (Pop. Sym. #13).
The lengthy quotation above has been given to show that our early Lutheran forefathers did not assume an attitude of indifference but were sincerely interested and manifested great zeal in seeking to promote true God-pleasing unity! And so also our forefathers in the Missouri Synod during the days of her orthodoxy. Free Conferences and intersynodical conferences were held already back in 1857. Pastors and laymen were invited to discuss their differences in the light of God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions. Dr. Walther stated the purpose in his Lehre und Wehre, II, page 4, “with view toward the final realization of one united evangelical Lutheran church of North America.” We see how the Lord blessed the Scriptural testimony of those faithful teachers in a tangible way, namely, in the formation of the Synodical Conference in 1872.
This zeal for true Lutheran unity was manifested by Dr. Franz Pieper who stated in 1913, “We Missourians would like to do our share towards bringing about among the Lutheran church bodies of America a union . . . on the basis of the Scriptures and the Confessions.” (Quoted in The Missouri Synod Layman and Lutheran Union, 1950, page 9). And, in an essay delivered in 1919 entitled’ Die Lehre von der Kirche in ihrer Anwendung auf unsere Zeit (The Doctrine of the Church in its application to our present times) By Pastor W. Mahler, reference is made to these conferences. The question is asked, “When will these intersynodical conferences reach the goal of full unity?” And the answer is given: “That remains entirely with the Holy Spirit when this will happen. He gives the Word of Truth power and efficacy. Let us not therefore become impatient and expect an early outward union. Let us continue to testify to the Truth at these Conferences. We Missourians should be the last ones to shy away from these Conferences; for we know, that the testimony of the pure Gospel has divine power” (Verhandlungen des Nebraska-Distrikis, page 49). And note the position which these faithful teachers took! They insisted that fellowship must be based on unity in all doctrines clearly revealed in Holy Writ!
By God’s grace, we take the very same Scriptural position taken by our Lutheran forefathers. We earnestly desire to establish a God-pleasing union with other Lutherans. This is stated in Article III of our Concordia Lutheran Conference Constitution as one of the objects of our Conference, namely, “Joint effort toward God-pleasing union with other Lutherans, namely such union as is based upon the unity of the spirit – full agreement in doctrine and practice on the basis of God’s Word. (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 1:10; 3 John 8,9; 2 Tim. 1:8; 2 Tim. 1:16-18; Eph. 4: 1-6)”. This is also listed as one of our statements of purpose in our official periodical, “To seek out all who truly share our Scriptural position in doctrine and practice, and to urge the mutual public acknowledgement of such God-given unity. Thus we shall be able thereafter to practice a God-pleasing church fellowship with them.”
And let us remember that this plan for healing the breach among the Lutherans is the only God-pleasing one, It will not help to gloss over doctrinal differences or to compromise by using ambiguous words and phrases. Our position must continue to be that which is expressed in the Formula of Concord, Article XI, page 1095, “We have no intention of yielding aught of the eternal, immutable truth of God for the sake of temporal peace, tranquillity, and unity (which, moreover, is not in our power to do). Nor would such peace and unity, since it is devised against the truth and for its suppression, have any permanency. Since less are we inclined to adorn and conceal a corruption of the pure doctrine and manifest, condemned errors. But we entertain heartfelt pleasure and love for, and are on our part sincerely inclined and anxious to advance, that unity according to our utmost power, by which His glory remains to God uninjured, nothing of the divine truth of the Holy Gospel is surrendered, no room is given to the least error, poor sinners are brought to true, genuine repentance, raised up by faith, confirmed in new obedience, and thus justified and eternally saved alone through the sole merit of Christ ” May God help us to do this! Amen.