The only benefit of a long travel day (with a delayed connection at O’Hare) is that I’ve been able to read much of this wonderful book by Gordon Lathrop and Timothy Wengert. I’m about 2/3 through it and already look forward to reading it again . . .
In short, they’ve gone about the project of identifying Lutheran marks of the church and discussing those marks in confessional, ecumenical, historical perspective. Whether you’re a Lutheran engaging Anglican or Catholic forms of church or new, so-called emerging forms of church, this book offers a thorough grounding in our Lutheran understanding of what constitutes the church. What are those marks? Word, Sacrament (baptism and communion), and the Forgiveness of Sins. Where these things are present, there is the church. Where they’re not, there is no church.
Some quips and quotes, for now (because it’s late):
"Church is not a noun; it is a verb, an event, or, to use the language of the sixties, a happening." (page 27)
"But it is not statements and printed liturgies that establish unity. From the point of view of the Augsburg Confession, unity is given, rather, in that assembly around word and sacrament for which statements and printed liturgies are intended as resources and servants." (page 42)
"All of our eucharists can be "seeker services." The idea of having separate, target-marketed, "seeker services" is such a bad idea." (page 51)
"Where Christ is preached, there the Holy Spirit is, and hence the church happens." (page 74)
"For [Luther], church was less an institution and more an event. It occurred precisely where God’s word and faith collided." (page 102)
"So why do pastors and bishops so often bore people with silly stories in their sermons when they can preach this miracle of God and raise the dead?" (page 111)
I’ll write more later in a day or two, after I finish this book and get a good night’s sleep. But I gotta wake up in 5 hours . . .