The Evangelical Lutheran Church: A Lamp Stand for God's Word & Gospel

It so happens that the people who lived in the Age of the Reformation knew and understood certain truths which were later forgotten and had to be learned from them again. The loyalty of the Evangelical Lutheran Church is accounted for by these experiences. We are faithful to this church, not because it is the church of our Fathers, but because it is the church of the Gospel; not because it is the church of Luther, but because it is the church of Jesus Christ. If it became something else, if its teaching were something other than a correct exposition of the plain Word of God, it would no longer be our church.
It is not the Lutheran liturgy that matters. The church can get along without it if it must. It is not the Symbolic Books that count. If it should ever be demonstrated that they contain essential errors, we would be the first ones to cast them into the fire, for our norma normans, the standard by which we judge doctrines, is the Bible alone. Nor is it the Evangelical Lutheran Church, as a separate church in Christendom, that matters. The moment it becomes anything else than the stand on which is put the lamp which alone is a light upon our path, it becomes a sect and must disappear. We would not be Lutherans if we did not believe this!

From Here We Stand, Nature & Character of the Lutheran Faith (E.T. Theodore Tappert, rights assigned to Lutheran Publishing House, Adelaide, 1979)


  1. So very true. I find Sasse to be especially prophetic as a struggle within my own church body. I need to proclaim as boldly as possible:
    "It is NOT ythe ELCA that matters!" There are so many "institutional" pastors and bishops who care more about the denomination than they do about her being a lampstand.

    Thanks for this web page, Mark.

  2. Thanks Jon.
    I actually preached a sermon with a similar message recently. I basically said scripture recognises only two forms of 'church', the una sancta of the creed and the local congregation. Synods are a matter of human organisation. They can be good, and we should seek to cultivate such unity, but they can be downright evil when they seek to do violence to the conscience of the individual believer or the pastor. I guess that makes me an unreconstructed Missourian ;0)

    I think the change in typical church body nomenclature from "Lutheran Synod" to "Lutheran Church" has been problematic as it has confused our laity somewhat. They now think of "the church" as being in Adelaide or Chicago or St Louis and not where THEY are!


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