“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
August 23, 2013 at 1:03 pm
I noticed that the Baptist Family Tree starts in the 1600’s and the Lutheran Family Tree starts in the 1800’s. But Lutheranism began in the 1500’s so it would be interesting to see how we got all those separate synods that started merging together. Wouldn’t they have had to fracture from churches that followed Luther in the first place? Or are all the various synods merely a geographical necessity? Also, the Lutheran Family Tree doesn’t seem to represent all the mirco synods out there, such as ELDoNA, ALS, ELCM, LCMC, and ULMA (just a few examples, I’m sure there are others). I’m not defending the Baptists, because it is plain that they are separatists/splitters by their own design.
August 23, 2013 at 1:21 pm
Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Yes, that would be interesting to see. I think the charts deal mostly with the larger synods, both Lutheran and Baptist. Good questions and I wish I had more answers. I think goegraphical necessity might have something to do with it. I did notice that many of those churches that are indivdiual lines were at one time or another in full communion fellowship with one another (like the WELS and the LCMS for example) even though the chart did not indicate this – perhaps because they remained distinct bodies by name though in communion fellowship.
August 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm
Yeah, Lutherans are pretty hard to chart. I dare you to attempt a more accurate family tree. 🙂