It’s the 1980s Calling….

Visiting Our Savior Lutheran Church, Austin, is like stepping back into 1980’s Missouri Synod. Before the liturgy, vestments, and creeds were completely thrown out. When contemporary music was starting to filter in;  when the emphasis was on giving and evangelizing; when women were only reading the Scriptures; when Open Communion still had some standards.

Did you hear the Gospel here? Certainly and clearly. It was Trinity Sunday and the Athanasian Creed was confessed. The pastor noted that this was the Sunday of the Church Year that doctrine was emphasized. For the sermon, he prefaced it by saying it wouldn’t be much because he couldn’t do better than the Athanasian Creed. Well, I’m not sure any pastor could, but this was part of his aw-shucks manner. He does this well and his being the undisputed leader of that congregation doesn’t feel onerous but accepted. Which begs the question, why doesn’t he lead them like a modern day Athanasius in the direction of doctrinal faithfulness?

Here’s their complete statement on their webpage about the Lord’s Supper. I’ve only modified font, size, and spacing.

the lord’s supper

We believe in Jesus and His Word when He says, “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” We believe that we receive the true body and blood of Jesus when we eat the bread and drink the wine of the Lord’s Supper.
If you:

  • Believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior
  • Believe in the true presence of His body and blood
  • Examine your life, confess your sins and see your need for the forgiveness He offers you in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:27-29), and
  • Desire to receive the strengthening of your faith to live a new life.                                Then come, for these are the gifts of God prepared for the people of God!  ( accessed 6/9/2022)

It was in the late-90s that I first heard stories of Muslims being communed at Lutheran Church Missouri Synod altars. In the early 2000s, a layman who had visited my congregation told me that his Muslim sister-in-law was communing beside him at a mega-Missouri Synod church in San Antonio. He considered himself a Confessional Lutheran. I didn’t tell him, but should have, that Confessional Lutherans don’t commune with Muslims.

Why do I bring this up? Because Our Savior Lutheran Church leaves it totally up to the potential communicant to decide if he should commune or not. A Muslim certainly considers himself part of the “people of God.” A Muslim might be stopped by the statements about Jesus being Lord and Savior and if he knows what “true presence” means. But it would not stop the liberal Lutherans who allow for baby killing as a tragic choice or gay marriage as a human right or transgender as dysphoria. This sort of “right to decide” Communion statement wouldn’t stop a liberal Catholic or a conservative Calvinist.

Remember all of us are accountable for those we’re kneeling with to receive the Lord’s Body and Blood. Even if you’re not the pastor, if you know he invites, even by default, those you’re church, or the Church, has never been in fellowship with. That’s on you too.

This congregation is going the path of its Lutheran School. It’s closed and the space is being used by Austin Achieve public charter school. The congregation is sponsoring a school supply drive. What closed their Lutheran School was it not existing to teach Lutheran doctrine and to indoctrinate Lutheran kids. Nope. In the end they existed for the same reason public schools did, education to face the world. Publicly funded schools can do this a lot cheaper, and you’re paying for it anyways. Private ones who do this are pricey and they are for a certain socio-economic group.

Our Savior Lutheran is celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2023. For now they have a worship that is more Lutheran than not, hymnody that the Baptists and Churches of Christ have been singing since the late 19th century, and Communion that is heterodox and under the judgment of the Jesus they claim is present there.

The 1980s are calling and want their church back but it will be a nondenominational that they will get it. Eventually, Jesus will call for us all and He too will want His Church back.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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