“Why is everybody leaving us?”
By asking this question, I am not saying that everyone is leaving the Lutheran Church for other denominations because Lutheranism is insufficient in some way. Rather, by asking this question I am simply assuming that “the Lutheran Church” never left the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It is others who have left.
Such a statement may strike some as naive, but as faith in God grows, one may become more firmly convinced. One growing up in the Lutheran cradle would not be wrong for thinking such a thought.
Going along with this, I submit that the following “family tree” below does indeed give us a good picture of what is going on with Christ’s church. Note that the line between the united church and the united confessional Lutheran church is a straight one.
To read a nice essay that goes with the above picture see Pastor Martin Noland’s short summary of church history
There are a few things about the picture I would tweak (especially if I could make it 3-D!). If you don’t think this picture accurately represents reality, go here to see other perspectives represented.
Also, I know that many Roman Catholic apologists make a lot of hay about the current divisions in Christ’s Church and how they are the answer to this. Here, I find the following two charts very interesting, in that they show that historically, it is actually the impulse of Lutherans to unite (even doing so promiscuously and to their detriment, without discernment, when they loose touch with their confessional writings) whereas it seems it is the impulse of Baptists, for example, to fracture.
church history tree from here: http://homepages.csp.edu/tesch/Course_links/Index.html
Lutheran family tree: http://www.thearda.com/Denoms/Families/Trees/familytree_lutheran.asp
Baptist family tree: http://www.thearda.com/Denoms/Families/Trees/familytree_baptist.asp