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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Ecclesiastical Order – part 4

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Luke 6:31–35

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Order 

Furthermore, we wish to testify again here that we will gladly maintain ecclesiastical and canonical government, provided that the bishops cease to rage against our churches. Our desire will clear us before both God and among all nations for all posterity from the accusations of undermining the authority of bishops. For people will read and hear that, although protesting against the unrighteous cruelty of the bishops, we could not obtain justice.

Pulling It Together: The Golden Rule is another way of stating the second half of the greatest commandment. It helps us put the commandment into action by telling us how to love our neighbors as ourselves. Do for them what you would like for people to do for you (Lev 19:18).

The key to order in the Church is not only correct doctrine and practice; we must also do for and to others as we would like for them to treat us. So when someone blows a gasket in a Council meeting, retaliation in-kind is not the answer. “A gentle answer turns away wrath” (Prov 15:1, NASB). When denominations disagree, gracious dialogue can be the beginning of the solution. But sometimes, the resolution is not agreement in either teaching or practice, but a parting of the ways. This separation still involves basic human kindnesses and Christian graciousness. The Golden Rule certainly does not allow for cruelty, either in deeds or with words. Jesus drives this home by commanding us to even love our enemies. 

Prayer: Lord, teach me how to love people—even the tough ones. Amen. 

A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, presented in a question and discussion format. The Leader's Guide that accompanies this study is a resource for those facilitating group discussion, or may serve as a reader's commentary for those who are studying the Book of Concord on their own.

Leader's Guide

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