By Larry Beane
There is a discussion on a Lutheran Facebook group about whether we Lutherans are Protestant or Catholic.
Maybe we should let our confessions have the final say:
"This is about the Sum of our Doctrine, in which, as can be seen, there is nothing that varies from the Scriptures, or from the Church Catholic, or from the Church of Rome as known by its writers."
"...our churches dissent in no article of the faith from the Church Catholic, but only omit some abuses which are new, and which have been erroneously accepted by the corruption of the times, contrary to the intent of the Canons."
The Book of Concord is filled with this kind of language.
Not counting the creeds, the word "Catholic" occurs 13 times in our Book of Concord, including the description of our confession explicitly as "the belief of the true and genuine catholic Church."
The word "Protestant" is not found even once in our confessional writings, although it was in common usage for decades by the time the Smalcald Articles and the Formula of Concord were written.
To call ourselves "Protestant" lumps us in with the Reformed, the Anabaptists, and their heirs of today - which are all quite different from each other. When we confess as Protestant, we unite with those who ordain women, refuse to baptize babies, speak in "tongues," and deny the physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This does not describe our confession.
The word Protestant is a useless catch-all word that cannot be defined positively for anyone.
However, when we confess as Catholic, we confess exactly as our confessional documents do, as orthodox Christians in continuity with Scripture, with the apostles, and with the fathers; not innovators, not heretics.
We should return to the font of our Book of Concord and not yield to others who wish to define us as something we aren't.