Friday, December 14, 2012

A Beautiful Synod, Warts and All

It would be cool if Pastor Esget were more a friend than a friendly acquaintance to me.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the brief times I've had opportunity to spend with him.  I love reading what he writes and the rare chances to listen when he speaks.  He's been on sabbatical recently, and he wrote about his visits to different congregations, in particular an Orthodox church and a mega-church.

He said of the sermon at the Orthodox church:   "With only the slightest alterations, the sermon could have been heard in any Baptist or Methodist church."

He summarized his visits to the two congregations thusly:  "I was in awe of the organization, money, screens, facilities, and volunteer power at McLean Bible Church. I was filled with joy by the beautiful choir, chants, incense, icons, and sense of culture at St. Nicholas. But in neither place did I hear a single word of Gospel preached."

And he reflected on the experience: "I wouldn’t trade Lutheranism in general or Immanuel in particular—despite all the problems which it would take volumes to list—for the treasures of those places. The Word of God lives at St. Nicholas on account of the liturgy. I trust that the people at MBC are, to some extent, reading the Scriptures. But one of the things this sabbatical reenforced for me is how wonderful it is to be part of the Missouri Synod, where for all her hideous warts and defects the Gospel still is preached."

And thank You, Jesus.


  1. I thought the very same thing when I read his post yesterday.

  2. I have had the opportunity to hear many Lutheran Pastors as well as many Orthodox Priests and while there were Lutheran Pastors who preached wonderfully gospel filled sermons there were also those who included no gospel whatsoever. By the same token, I have heard wonderfully gospel filled sermons from Orthodox Priests ( Father Patrick Reardon, Bishop MARK, and Bishop JOHN to name a few) regrettably there are also those among the Orthodox who do not preach the gospel well. I don't think the observation based on one sermon is totally accurate.

  3. Pastor Esget wasn't doing an overall comparison of EO and the Lutheran Church. He visited many congregations on his sabbatical, LCMS and others. His blogpost was a reflection on his one visit to the Bible Church and his one visit to the OCA congregation. His conclusion was that he loves his congregation, he loves his church, and he loves the doctrine that we hold to (even when some of us don't stay true to it as well as we ought).

    Regarding the truth that there are beautiful preachers and false teachers in both churches, I agree and I expect Pastor Esget would agree too. As Pastor Esget wrote, there are certainly blemishes in the Missouri Synod. But there are warts in the Orthodox Church too. Personally, as I have read some of the EO articles to which I've been directed by some friends, I gasp at comments advocating synergism. Okay -- I understand that such theology infiltrates both the Lutheran Church and the Orthodox Church. But it should be something to grieve over and something to flee from, not something to which we direct others.

  4. This is why I don't usually comment - I really just wanted to point out that many EO sermons DO contain the gospel as do their LCMS counterparts. I had no intention of getting in any deeper than that. Sorry.

  5. Oh, no! You're fine! You made a valid point, and I guess I bumbled in trying to say that I agree with it.