FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS…
BELIEFS ON DOCTRINAL AND MORAL TOPICS
- What is your stand on marriage and gender issues?
We believe that God creates human beings as either male or female. We believe Genesis is a true historical account given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit through Moses. Therefore we believe that on the basis of Genesis and other biblical passages that marriage is designed to be a life-long commitment between one man and one woman. We believe that marriage is not simply a private matter but has public consequences. We believe that sexual activity is a good gift of God designed only to be exercised within the commitment of marriage between one man and one woman.
We believe there are only two sexes (what some call “gender”). While we acknowledge that some people may struggle psychologically with a dysphoria we do not concede that there is a “spectrum” of gender or that different sexual “orientations” are neutral matters.
2. Where do you stand on abortion or euthanasia?
We believe that human life begins at conception and therefore purposefully ending the life of another human being is morally wrong. We also believe that in the end of life or in times of severe illness that God retains His authority over life and death and that we may not usurp His authority by actively causing a person’s life to be ended. While there are many specifics involved in end of life issues that need to be examined (such as extraordinary life support measures (feeding tubes, heart & lung machines, dialysis machines, etc), we believe that the ordinary means of life support (food, air, water) should remain as long as possible. Suicide and assisted suicide are a contradiction of God’s plan of life and are not a moral choice.
3. Where do you stand on the nature of the Bible?
We believe the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are the inspired, errorless, written Word of God Himself, given through the prophets, apostles, and evangelists. We believe the Scriptures are the sole source of teaching in the Church and are the supreme authority over all teaching and practice. We also confess God’s Word bears authority and spiritual power to create and deliver that of which God has promised. The Word of God is living in active since God is the one who speaks through it. We believe the Bible (see Luke 24) is the book of Christ, given through many human authors but with one ultimate author in the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. And we believe that since the Old and New Testaments are the book of Christ, proclaiming Him, foreshadowing, and prophesying of Him, that it shows forth a unity of teaching and is without contradiction and is unified in purpose. Therefore we believe the Bible is to be taught, interpreted, and applied with a careful distinction between the law of God (His commandments, demands, standards) and His Good News or Gospel promises in Christ, which declare to us all He has done, is doing, and will do for our salvation as a pure gift to us.
4. Where do you stand on creation vs. evolution?
We believe God created everything in six days according to His powerful Word. We believe in a ministerial use of reason in relation to Scripture. We believe that human reason is a good gift of God within the limits of what it can answer. However, we also believe that human reason is affected by the spiritual disease of original sin. We acknowledge that there can be “microevolution” change within a species but also see that “macroevolution” change from one species into another is not proven and contadicts Scripture. We believe the earth is thousands of years old rather than millions or billions. We believe such influential events as the fall into sin, the global flood of Noah’s day, the Tower of Babel, and other events recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures explain much of human and world history.
5. Where do you stand on the charismatic movement?
We believe the Holy Spirit is true God and Lord, the sanctifier, the Third Person of the eternal Trinity. We believe the Holy Spirit works in union with the Word of God and we are bound to that Word for faith, since faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ. Therefore we do not expect the Holy Spirit to be at work apart from the Word of God. We believe the persons of the Trinity are of one indivisible divine essence. Scripture teaches us to look for the working of the Holy Spirit where His Word is faithfully taught and the sacraments are administered according to Christ’s institution.
6. What is your confession of faith on the End Times?
We believe that on a day and hour known only to God, Christ Jesus will appear again openly on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead and to end this present creation and reveal the new heavens and the new earth. We reject the notion that one can predict when the Last Day will be. We believe that Christ reigns even now in a hidden way through His church on earth through the extension of the Gospel throughout out the world until the Last Day. We believe that the end times began when Christ became incarnate and brought the Old Testament to fulfillment in Himself. We deny that Christ will come and reign visibly on earth from a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. This is blasphemy against His once-for-all sacrifice upon the cross of Calvary, since the purpose of the old Temple was as a place to offer sacrifices of atonement that pointed the way to the Lamb of God. We believe the rapture is not something that will happen ahead of judgement day but as part of the very Last Day. We do not believe that Christians will “escape” the “great tribulation” but rather need to be prepared in Christ to endure it as it happens throughout church history. In short, the Lutheran confession on the End Times reflects the majority of historic Christian teaching and differs from that known in modern American pop Christianity.
7. What is your confession of faith on the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion?
We firmly believe, teach, and confess that the blessed bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper are really the body and blood of Jesus Christ Himself according to His powerful Word of promise. We believe He can speak and declare these words which do and bestow what they say because Christ Himself is true God and true Man in one person. We reject the understanding that the Lord’s Supper is merely a symbolic meal that Christians do for God merely to remember something in the past. That is a distortion of what the Bible means by “remembrance.” We believe the Holy Communion is given by Christ to distribute the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation which Christ purchased by His death on the cross to atone for our sin. Therefore this belief shapes our view of what it means to come to church, worship, and acknowledge Christ’s presence in our very midst as we are gathered by Him around His Word and Sacraments for the Divine Service. With this belief, a church which confesses this lofty belief in the body and blood of Christ should rightly worship different from a church which only holds a symbolic view of this sacrament.
At Trinity, as indicated in historic Christian and confessional Lutheran practice, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper in the Divine Service every Sunday. On the other hand, we do not make any rules about how often someone should receive the Lord’s Supper other than to repeat our Lord’s word that it should be done “often.”
8. What is your confession of faith regarding the sacrament of Holy Baptism?
In accordance with Scripture and the testimony of the Christian church over two millennia we believe Holy Baptism, the washing of water with God’s Word, delivers forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe in Christ, regardless of age, intellect, but is part of the means that Christ gives to make disciples of all nations. We believe that infants, youth, and adults should receive Baptism according to the command of Christ to the Church. The order of Baptism and teaching varies based upon the circumstances, but both are held together, despite the order varying. And while the initial order may vary, ultimately teaching is to continue in the life of a Christian believer continually.
1. What are your church services like?
We follow the historic liturgy of the church that has come down from the early church through the Lutheran Reformation. We currently use services from the official hymnal of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Lutheran Service Book. At Trinity we observe the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion) every Sunday and typically use either Divine Service 3 (p.184) or sometimes Divine Service 1 (p.151). During midweek Advent and Lenten services we have been using Vespers from LSB.
Our pastor wears the traditional Lutheran vestments for such services and sings (chants) the pastor’s parts of the liturgy. We typically sing hymns from our hymnal. At Bethel Lutheran Chapel in Presque Isle, we hold non-Communion services and typically use a spoken order from Lutheran Service Book, like Responsive Prayer 2 and sing hymns with organ accompaniment.
2. Who is invited to commune (receive the Lord’s Supper) at Trinity?
We invite to the Lord’s Table those who have been baptized, have been instructed in the faith as we confess it from Luther’s catechisms, those who are currently members in good standing at a congregation of our LCMS fellowship, and who have spoken with the pastor prior to approaching the altar. We offer instruction for those coming from non-Christian, other Christian, or other Lutheran backgrounds for those who with to join our fellowship via the path of instruction (and Baptism) as addressed to an individual’s background. As Trinity confesses that the blessed bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper are truly the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ we reject the notion that Holy Communion is simply symbolic or merely a matter of merely human hospitality. We believe the pastor, congregation, and communicant have a shared responsibility in receiving this gift of Christ with benefit. We believe the Lord’s Supper is something Christ does for the Church and gives to us as a gift and is not something we do for Him or simply as a religious work with one another. But neither do we believe that the Lord’s Supper is merely a matter of individual faith (simply between “me and Jesus”) as it is an expression of the unity in the apostolic faith as the church gathered around the voice of Christ.
3. Do you have lay readers?
We do not typically have lay readers as we believe the Divine Service is something the Lord is doing for us in delivering the Word and Sacraments to us. Faith is fed by what the Lord is doing for us. Being up in front of church doing things isn’t what being a Christian is about. Reading the Scriptures publicly in the Divine Service is an interpretive, teaching act and is best done by the pastor ordinarily.
4. Do you have individual or the common cup (chalice)?
We currently are using both individual glasses (not disposable) and the chalice, sometimes referred to as the common cup.
5. Why do you call the worship service there “the Divine Service”?
Because we believe that the liturgy is chiefly about what the Lord is doing for us through His powerful Word and Sacraments than what we are doing. To be sure, we have our response to Him in prayer, praise, offerings, faithful living, but the main thing that we cannot get anywhere else is in what He promised to do and give through His means of grace. Where Christ gathers His Church in His name around His rightly taught Word and Sacraments, whether 2 or 3 or 3,000, there He is with angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven delivering forgiveness, life, and salvation (Hebrews 12:18-24). And particularly in the Lord’s Supper, where He gives His holy body and blood, Jesus is and continues among us as the One who serves (see Luke 22:27; Mark 10:45; Romans 10:16). “The Divine Service” is also a historically Lutheran way of speaking as seen in various European languages if one translates the Lutheran terms for liturgy literally, der Hauptgottesdienst (German), Jumalanpalvelus (Finnish), Gudstjaenst (Swedish), or Gudstjeneste (Norwegian). Early Christians would also speak of “the Divine Liturgy” (theia leitourgia). The Lutheran Confessions also have this same emphasis in the Apology (Defense of the Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV while discussing the term “Mass”:
From the names of the Mass they [the Roman Catholics] derive arguments which do not require a long discussion. For even though the Mass be called a sacrifice, it does not follow that it must confer grace ex opere operato, or, when applied on behalf of others, merit for them the remission of sins, etc. 79] Leitourgia [liturgy], they say, signifies a sacrifice, and the Greeks call the Mass, liturgy. Why do they here omit the old appellation synaxis, which shows that the Mass was formerly the communion of many? But let us speak of the word liturgy. 80] This word does not properly signify a sacrifice, but rather the public ministry, and agrees aptly with our belief, namely, that one minister who consecrates tenders [delivers] the body and blood of the Lord to the rest of the people, just as one minister who preaches tenders the Gospel to the people, as Paul says, 1 Cor. 4:1: Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God, i.e., of the Gospel and the Sacraments. And 2 Cor. 5:20: We are ambassadors for Christ, as 81] though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, Be ye reconciled to God. Thus the term leitourgia agrees aptly with the ministry.