"Wherever Christ builds his Church, the devil builds a chapel." This often quoted Luther saying still bears true today. Each and every generation must fight for the truth, confess the saving Gospel and proclaim with Luther, "Here I stand; I can do no other." We proclaim this in the liturgy, from the altar, the pulpit, the Bible class, the fellowship hall, and in the hands of mercy. Every generation of Christians must learn anew what the Lutheran confession of faith is, what we believe and why we believe it. For every age of the Church will also have to contend with the wily ways of the old evil foe. We've seen his tricks - and the best ones are played upon God's Word, just like he did in the wilderness. The church has (and still struggles ) with the clever shell-game of the historical critical method, the siren's song of the church growth movement and its panoply of pragmatic solutions, the lunacy of liberalism in the church and its manifold and the list could go one. In the end, of course, the gates of hell cannot and will not prevail against the Church nor her Lord, the Bridegroom himself who holds the keys of the office as well as the keys to death and Hades in his crucified and risen hands. Thus for the Baptized, we are the Church, the body of Christ, built on the foundation he laid in his own body and blood; we are built on that rock, even when steeples and church theologians and hope are falling.
My point here is not to offer a proper diagnosis. Others have done (and are doing) a fine job of that. Recently, Michael Horton's Christless Christianity has exposed the absolute Christological vacuum in American Evangelicalism. And Jonathan Fisk's book Broken addresses similar issues while offering orthodox doctrine and practice as the panacea. My point here is to offer another treatment, a balm and salve that has served many who have been broken by the Church, whether it was moralism, mysticism, rationalism or any other "ism." My good friend, Dr. Rod Rosenbladt has provided such a medicine for those whom he calls the "sad" and the "mad." Perhaps you've encountered folks who fit either description. I know I have. And I've handed out this little PDF booklet more times than I can remember. Another good friend of mine reads this essay several times a year. As well should we.
Apologetics is also for those inside the church, for confidence and hope in what we believe and why. This was impressed upon me the moment I sat in on my first Rod Rosenbladt class at Concordia Irvine not too many years ago. Now, I never was one who was broken by the Church as his fine essay and presentation is titled. And the catechesis and church I grew up in taught me a lot. But it wasn't until I took every class Dr. Rosenbladt taught at CU Irvine, that I really began to understand what it meant to be a Lutheran and why that was a confession worth living and dying for, as we say at our confirmation.
Sadly, defending the faith must also occur within the walls and membership of the Church. After all, we're sinners. This should be no surprise. Thankfully, Dr. Rosenbladt has an answer for dealing with tough questions from those who have fell prey to church membership in the devil's chapel. There are too many vicitms of fifth-column Christianity. So, here's something with which to arm yourselves, a trusty shield and weapon: The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church. Special thanks to New Reformation Press, Southern Orange County Outreach (SOCO), and Faith Lutheran Church, Capistrano Beach, CA for making this outstanding presentation of the Gospel available for free online. Below, I've embedded the video for your viewing here. And I've included the link if you want a PDF version for your own reading, church information cart, or to hand to a friend who has been broken by the church.
And make sure to take the time to visit the website of New Reformation Press. You'll find a host of resources for use in declaring and defending the faith once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
To go to the website for New Reformation Press , click here.
To access the PDF of The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church, click here.
To access the video from Faith Lutheran Church's Vimeo page, click here.