Monday, May 30, 2011

Lutheran Ecclesiology at it's Best,

In a day when there is so much confusion concerning the church and her purpose in the world, “Christ’s Church” written by Bo Giertz and Translated by Hans Andrae is a particularly great gift to God’s people.
The Title and subtitle tell you what the book is about and it’s general outline. It is about Christ’s Church, apart from which there are no Christians, but which should not be confused with any earthly institution. At the same time, the church is not easily separated from the earthly institution of it. Bo Giertz explores the Biblical Roots of the church, briefly surveys Her Dramatic History, talks about Her Saving Presence, and offers a Vision for Her Glorious Future.
Bo Giertz handles the topic as no other could. Bo Giertz was a passionate pastor and bishop who harbored a deep love for the church, realizing you can’t love Christ without also loving his bride. Oh he can chastise the church, Bo Giertz may have done more to call the church to repentance than any other theologian of the twentieth century, but it was a call to repentance born of love. This book drips with love for Christ’s church, love for the people of Christ and the institutions they form to carry out his work.
Discouraged pastors will find in this book a balm of Grace. This isn’t about programs, numbers, growth, but simply being church, proclaiming the gospel, administering the sacraments without which there is no church. In other words focusing the church on that which makes her church, doing that which Christ asks. It is a novel concept today, where numerous books are written concerning church growth and missions that can’t give you a definition of church, a coherent meaning of the term gospel, or any rational for the use of the sacraments Christ entrusted to his church.
Here Bo Giertz not only describes what the church is in her essence, but what she does in the world, and how she goes about the work of the Holy one who is present in her through the use of the institutions He made. That’s right, Christ did form a Church and he creates that church ever anew by calling sinners to repentance and presenting them with the forgiveness of sins through his word and sacraments for which he instituted a special office to carry out that work, commonly called the Pastoral office.
Added to the great benefit of clearing confusion concerning the church, which confusion is probably the greatest of plagues concerning the American Lutheran churches, a confusion inherited from the era of pietism, and exacerbated by the Arminian milieu in which we live. (Seriously, when those forming the LCMC, find as a template for their formation Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Church”, when the United Methodist Church and the LCMS can share the same basic church growth program, and see no real problem with that approach, we have a crisis in American Lutheranism, and a serious need for “Christ’s Church.”) As I was saying, added to this great benefit, is for us Swedophiles a great history of the church in Sweden, that is quite mind boggling.

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