Statement of Faith & Purpose of the CLC
The 1968 Convention of the Church of the Lutheran Confession asked that a statement be prepared and published that would supply a simple but definitive expression of our faith in the basic doctrines of Holy Scripture.
The "Statement of Faith and Purpose" was prepared and then published in 1969. It has served well as a public confession of the Church of the Lutheran Confession and experience has shown that it has spoken to the hearts of readers in an inspirational rather than dogmatic fashion.
In 1990 the Church of the Lutheran Confession celebrated the 30th anniversary of its organization. By the grace of God its confessional position remained unchanged and therefore this third edition of its "Statement of Faith and Purpose" was published.
I. Our Purpose
It is our single purpose to be a Christian church which strives to proclaim the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible, by which alone man can know the true God and the way to eternal life. This our purpose and commitment rests upon the following statements of the Bible:
- Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 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: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
- John 17:3: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.
- Acts 4:12: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
We disavow the position that the church as a body is to promote social and political causes and opinions of men. The individual Christian will indeed show the fruits of faith by his concern for social and political causes wherever they present themselves. Our right of existence as a church, however, is limited by our readiness to say with St. Paul that we are "determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." (I Corinthians 2:2)
- I Peter 2:9: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
- Matthew 5:13-16: Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick: and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
II. Our Source of Truth
In our teaching and preaching we rely wholly upon the Bible, the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. We regard this Book of Books as the Word of God, verbally inspired and wholly without error as written by holy men of God. We consider our mission to be that of communicating the words and message of this Book to those who will hear them; and we know of no other divine source of true doctrine and instruction in the way of salvation and in God-pleasing living.
We therefore reject as sacrilegious and destructive every effort by which the intellect or science of man would modify or set aside a single inspired word. We deplore the wide-spread apostasy, now common even in former "conservative" church bodies, which reduces the Bible to the status of a human document containing errors and myths.
- II Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
- John 10:35: ...the Scripture cannot be broken.
- Jeremiah 23:28: The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord.
III. Man: His Creation and Fall
Our purpose is fixed also by the knowledge and conviction that man is what the Bible says he is: Not a product of an evolutionary process which has brought him from brutish beginnings to more advanced stages of development, but a being distinct from the beasts. Created originally in the image of God, he is now without spiritual goodness, utterly depraved by reason of sin into which Adam fell. He is spiritually blind, dead, an enemy of God and doomed to eternal damnation, being incapable of redeeming himself by any means whatsoever.
- Genesis 1:27a: So God created man in his own image...
- Genesis, Chapter 3.
- Genesis 8:21: ...for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.
- Psalm 14:2-3: The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
- Psalm 51:5: Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
- Ephesians 2:3: ...we all... were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
- Romans 8:7: Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
Indeed, the God of grace Himself is unknown and hidden to this human race, and can be found by man only in and through the revelation graciously provided in the Bible. Without exception the gods of the nations are idols that cannot hear, see or save. In the darkness of their wicked hearts men, left to themselves, have "worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator." "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things." (Romans 1:23.25.) This describes not only the gods of the pagans, but those professed by all unchristian organizations and in many churches as well, some of which have abandoned the tenets of their historic faith.
IV. The Triune God, Self-Revealed in His Word
We confess and worship the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, revealed in His Word and in the Person of the Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. In this Triune God we find and declare the source and promise of salvation:
- A. In the Father who as Creator and Preserver loved the world perishing in its sins, and from eternity planned salvation for mankind through and with His Son.
- B. In the Son, true God and true Man, who by His coming into our flesh, His life of perfect obedience and His suffering upon the cross in our place and stead atoned for the sins of the world, removed all guilt, reconciled men to God and was raised again from the dead for their justification. We believe that by virtue of His sacrifice and His perfect obedience all men have been declared righteous by God; and this righteousness we proclaim and offer to men by the Gospel.
- II Corinthians 5:19-21: ...God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
- C. And in the Holy Ghost, "the Lord and Giver of Life," whose gracious work it is to enlighten the dark, ignorant hearts of men by means of the revealed Gospel of salvation, creating saving faith and conferring the comfort of the forgiveness of sin. A Christian is the result of this creative act which Scripture calls regeneration, a new birth. By the faith thus wrought the sinner receives and accepts the blessing of his justification, thus enjoying the salvation prepared for him in Christ.
- In his own nature, by his own strength of mind or will, man can do nothing except resist and reject the lifegiving Gospel. He cannot by his own power "decide for Christ." As believers are told by St. Paul in reviewing their state before regeneration: "Ye were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1), so we recognize in no man a previous "good disposition toward the Gospel," or an "inclination toward Christ," which is not wrought by the Holy Ghost through the Gospel.
- In regenerated hearts the Holy Spirit dwells, sanctifying them day by day, moving them to live before God as His children according to His revealed Will, teaching them to crucify the fleshly urges of sin which still cling to them in this life.
- Ephesians 2:4-5: But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses and sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace are ye saved).
- I Corinthians 3:16: Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
- Ephesians 2:10: We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
V. The Holy Christian Church
We teach that the Holy Ghost gathers the Holy Christian Church, which in its ultimate fulness consists of all who by God's mercy, and according to His own purpose and grace, were from eternity ordained unto eternal life.
The Church's unifying factor is "the one true faith;" but human eyes cannot discern faith, which is in the heart, and for us the very existence of the Church is thus an article of faith. The Church, therefore, cannot be identified with any specific organization or church body, nor can we recognize or identify its individual members by their faith. For this reason we have historically spoken of the Church as "invisible."
Nevertheless the presence of the Church can be determined by its marks. For since the Holy Spirit gathers its members by the Gospel, we must and may assume that true believers are present wherever the Gospel in Word and Sacrament is in use.
- Isaiah 55:11: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
- Acts 13:48: And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
- II Timothy 2:19: The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal: the Lord knoweth them that are his.
- Ephesians 1:3-6.
VI. Church Fellowship: Its Basis and Limitations
We are confident that there are many who, though they do not now openly share with us the profession of the true faith, being yet partly uninformed or weak in understanding, are nevertheless at heart members of the flock of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. (John 10:14-16.)
We are also fully aware that in our own visible fellowship there may be such who, despite their outward profession, are not of Christ, but are hypocrites and unbelievers. Jesus said to His disciples: "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" (John 6:70.) It will not be otherwise in our day.
Yet in our exercise of external, visible fellowship of worship and joint church work we are guided by clear and sure directives of God's holy Word. We cannot recognize our brethren on earth by the faith of their hearts; for these are not open to our view. Instead, by the mercy and grace of God we are permitted to fellowship with those, but those only, who in their confession and life bow to the rule of the divine Word.
- I John 1:7: If we walk in the light, as he (God) is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.
- I Corinthians 1:10: 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.
- Romans 15:5-6: Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- II Corinthians 6:14-18: ...what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? ...Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate...
- Ephesians 5:6-7: Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
- II John 10-11: If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine (the doctrine of Christ)., receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
- Romans 16:17-18: Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such serve not the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
- Romans 14:1: Him that is weak in the faith receive ye...
- Acts 19:1-7.
In our practice, therefore:
- We hold that the name "Christian" is applied improperly to such persons who, by word of mouth or in their writings, expressly or by implication reject the blood-bought salvation of Jesus Christ and the Means of Grace, or impenitently persist in ungodly living.
- We limit all forms of the exercise of fellowship relations, by which we acknowledge and treat one another as confessional brethren, to those professing Christians who meet the scriptural requirement of complete agreement in doctrine and life and do not by word or act reject any part of the pure doctrine of God's Word.
- While we avoid all who preach, teach or advocate error, we gladly receive those who, though weak in understanding and as yet in part uninformed, profess faith in their Savior and gladly hear, learn and receive the Truth, continuing therein and renouncing all error.
- We are indeed edified and heartened by every testimony, written or spoken, which truly confesses, teaches, preaches and glorifies the Gospel of Christ. But we reject and condemn the false ecumenism which would require us to make common cause in worship and church work with those who, while claiming the Christian name, or even the Lutheran name, publicly adhere to that which contradicts God's clear Word in whole or in part. We equally condemn separatism - that is, a schismatic withdrawal from others for a reason or purpose not in accord with God's revealed Will.
- We do not deny, but joyfully acknowledge that the Lord knows His elect, even though some are unwitting captives in false-teaching churches where, by their membership, they are partaking of a confession of error and are subjected to grave spiritual danger. We pray that all who now truly believe may persevere in that faith to the end and thus obtain everlasting life.
VII. The Ministry of the Gospel
That men might attain to His salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ instituted the glorious ministry of the Gospel by which the Holy Ghost is pleased to call, gather, enlighten and keep the whole Christian Church on earth. To this ministry He has called everyone who truly believes in Christ, and for its purposes enables Christians to establish congregations as well as other groups, sometimes called synods, on the basis of a Scriptural confession.
Within such groups, large or small, believers are privileged to set up the public proclamation and teaching of the saving Word by human instruments which God himself supplies. These instruments are those Christians chosen and prepared by Him to act in His behalf as well as in behalf of their brethren as administrators of the Grace of God.
Their function we call the Public Ministry. It is staffed by those whom Christ gives to His Church and who are properly called by the Church for the work. Pastors and teachers of the Word are thus occupying a divinely insitituted office and their specific area of work is determined and defined by their respective Calls in which the assignment given to each by the calling assembly is spelled out. In this service there is no distinction of rank and power. But there is a diversity of gifts and responsibilities. Eligibility for a Call to the Public Ministry is determined by the directives of God's Word (I Timothy 3:1-13; I Timothy 2:11-12).
We further believe that, when such called ministers of Christ, in accordance with their respective Call, deal with us by Christ's command, He speaks through them, and in them we obey Him.
- Ephesians 4:8-16: ...He ... gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Hebrews 13:17: Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
VIII. The Sacraments of Baptism and of the Altar (Communion)
The Sacrament of Holy Baptism which is administered among us as a part of the Gospel ministry we regard as a washing of regeneration, having power by means of the Word connected therewith to work faith and thus to confer all the blessings of Christ upon young or old. We regard infant baptism as clearly implied, both in the Savior's command to baptize all nations and in the promise of Peter that baptism has power to save all who are lost by reason of inherited and actual sin (" ...baptism doth also now save us ..." I Peter 3:21).
While the mode of baptism is nowhere prescribed, we regard baptism as valid only when performed in accordance with Christ's institution.
The Sacrament of the Altar, or Holy Communion, is administered in our churches as it was instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ, with the body and blood of Christ being really present in the eating and drinking. We believe that this Sacrament, like Baptism, is a Means of Grace, imparting, as Scripture teaches, the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
We seek to administer this Sacrament to those only for whom it was intended, namely, to penitent sinners who desire to confess and live according to God's Word. We therefore practice what is known as close communion, with attendance at the Lord's Table restricted to such who have properly signified their intention to commune and are able to examine themselves. In observing these procedures we indicate our respect for the Holy Supper as a precious gift for our souls, worthy of frequent and sanctified use by all communicants. In this we are governed by the inspired counsel of the Apostle in I Corinthians 11:23-24.
IX. The Final Judgment
We know, believe and teach that the world as it now exists will not endure. The ills of man and his civilization are rooted in unbelief and sin, because of which things "cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience" (Ephesians 5:6). There is no hope of cure save in a turning to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Way. The world as such has consistently rejected this course, and always will.
Therefore, while as individual Christans and citizens we must be actively concerned with serving as a salt and a light in the affairs of men, and while as a church we shall lift up holy hands in prayer for the good of all men, we have no illusions as to the final outcome of events and preach no false, millennialistic hopes. Rather, we direct men to the future city of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, and bid them wait for, and look to, the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ in His second Coming to judge the quick and the dead.
- II Timothy 3:13: But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
- Matthew 24:14: And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
- II Peter 3:10: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up.
These things, together with all other truths of Holy Scripture as set forth also in the Lutheran symbols of the Book of Concord of 1580 A.D., we believe and desire to confess by word and deed before the Triune God and all men. We earnestly desire to share our rich blessings, and thus extend a welcome to
ALL who are in distress of mind and heart because of their guilt and condemnation in the sight of Almighty God and seek the pardon and comfort which only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can confer;
ALL who are bewildered by the confusion of many voices offering the theories of human wisdom in the name of religion, and who desire to hear the Voice of the Good Shepherd whom God raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses;
ALL who, though members of Christian churches, have come to fear or to know that their churches have departed from the truth of Holy Scripture, who therefore long for the old paths and the good way (Jeremiah 6:16);
ALL who have strayed from the blessed pledge of their Baptism and desire to be restored to the Bishop of their souls.
Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25).