Lutherans as catholic but not Roman Catholic


19th Pastor Wilhelm Loehe of Neuendettelsau, Bavaria, Germany, was an “unofficial” founding father of the Bavarian side of the LCMS.   The LCMS was founded in 1847 as a coming together of northern German Lutherans with Bavarian Lutherans.    In a book that was often used by early LCMS pastors before the establishment of regular LCMS publishing Loehe wrote of Lutheran identity and the Divine Service:

The Lutheran Liturgy is an outgrowth from the Roman. The Lutheran Church itself is not a new building, but the old, cleansed from the unauthorized additions. For more than three centuries the Church has advanced no new doctrines, but on the contrary has been purifying the old systems from added perversions. In a liturgical way, likewise, no new path has been marked out; but after the removal of inexpedient innovations, that which has proved valuable from the beginning has been preserved. It is for this reason that our Church possesses in common with the Roman the principal parts of the Communion Service. For the same reason it was possible for the framers of the Augustana [Augsburg Confession] to assert: –“Nor has any perceptible change taken place in the public ceremonies of the mass.” Also: — “It is well known that the mass is,

without boasting, celebrated with greater devotion and sincerity among us than among our adversaries.” If anyone is inclined to charge this Order with a Romanizing tendency, the same must then be brought against every Lutheran Order, if not against the whole Church. It would, however, be more correct to say, that the Romish Church had a tendency to Catholicize in those parts of the Liturgy which it holds in common with us, because in those parts the Romish Church stands high above its own standard, and agrees with that which is truly universal [catholic]. [Wilhelm Loehe. Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith – Third Edition. Translated by F.C. Longaker (Newport, KY, 1902 – Reprinted by Repristination Press, 1993); p.ix]