Thursday, March 4, 2010

Prayer Fellowship.

Hoenecke is against prayer fellowship with non-Lutherans.  Surprise, surprise!  

This is of course the WELS position in contrast to LCMS.  Also, it should be noted that although it was never clearly defined, this was the position of the great synodical conference.  LCMS just moved away from it with their acceptance of the boy scouts, among other things.

Now I personally do not agree with the WELS position.  I have prayed with my advisor at Marquette who was Catholic and also with Reformed friends (as well as ELCA friends) and I do not consider it to be objectionable.  If I share an evening meal with someone and pray to a God who we commonly accept (based on a common acceptance of creedal orthodoxy), then I am not really saying "hey, we agree about everything, so why all this division from the Reformation?"  All I'm saying is "hey, we both accept the same God who the creed talks about, though we have serious differences about what he has done to save us.  Nevertheless, we can be thankful together for the fruits of creation."  Communion fellowship I think is a little bit different since we are "proclaiming the Lord's death until he comes"- meaning we are claiming that we have a common accepted understanding of what the Lord's death means.

Nevertheless, one of the things I consider to be the weakest about LCMS theology is that we haven't really thought through this issue enough.  That's why there was the whole big problem with the Yankee stadium event.  Where do we draw the line with prayer fellowship?  I mean, obviously we can't prayer with people who aren't Christians (creedally I mean).  But where do we draw the line even within creedal orthodoxy?  

Does anyone have an opinion?  (I'm certain you do!)


  1. OK, since you are nagging.

    To refuse to pray with another person is to deny that they he is a Christian. To acknowledge another person as a Christian is to acknowledge that he, too, confesses Christ and is His disciple.

    Faithfulness to Christ and love for the neighbour demands that no false confession of unanimity is made where none exists. But by the same token, faithfulness to Christ and love for the neighbour demands that Christ is confessed where He is found: that is, in other Christians, even when those Christians are in error.

    To turn prayer into a fellowship issue on a par with preaching and the Sacraments confuses the nature of prayer. Preaching and the Sacraments are God's speech to us; prayer is our speech to God (not ignoring the fact that He gives us the words to speak). Therefore, in prayer we are not addressing one another but God. If we do address one another in prayer, thereby turning it into a confessing situation, something's gone awry with our praying.

    It is for precisely the same reasons that prayer with non-Christians is not possible.


  2. The issue of strict prayer fellowship is perhaps the weakest point of Confessional Lutheran theology and yet has caused the most damage not only to Lutheranism but to its members.

    Thanks for this great little piece.