Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We're Different, But Don't Ask Why

Carl E. Braaten writes,

As a student at Luther Seminary, I would venture out on weekends to preach in rural congregations. In southwestern Minnesota, I preached in two congregations, twenty minutes part, with less than a hundred in attendance at each service.... I asked the church councils why we did not combine the two services and just have one. After all, the service was the same and the sermon was the same. The president of one congregation said that that would be impossible. I asked why. He said, 'We just don't agree on Lutheran doctrine.' I asked what the difference was all about. He said that it had to do with the election controversy earlier in the century among Norwegian Lutherans, which caused the two congregations to split. One side was in favor of predestination, and the other believed in free will. I said, 'Ya, I know about that. And what side was your congregation on?' He said, 'I can't remember. It's so long ago.'

(Carl E. Braaten, "Confessional Lutheranism in an Ecumenical World." Concordia Lutheran Quarterly 71 (2007), p. 228)