Lutheran Witness: September 2014

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From the editor

If America is a melting pot of ethnicities, she’s just as much a melting pot of religions and belief systems. Sometimes it can be hard to keep them all straight. What’s the difference between Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses? What do Episcopalians believe that Presbyterians don’t? Is the god of Islam the same as the God of Christianity?

While we couldn’t include every religion or denomination in the following pages of this issue, we’ve hand-picked some of the ones we’ve received questions about in the past, hoping that these will be of help to you in the future. We touch on the history and beliefs of each denomination or religion and compare them to our understanding of the faith as LCMS Lutherans. From Buddhism to Hinduism, Pietism to Gnosticism, we discuss what our confession of faith points toward (Christ and His gifts of life and salvation) and what others point away from.

We’re trusting this issue of the magazine will be a handy reference for you, one that you’ll keep on your bookshelf or coffee table, so that when a question pops up — “Should I go to that Bible study at the Methodist church?” “My sister is dating a Buddhist. What does that mean?” — you’ll have a place to start the conversation, good questions to ask your pastor and, in the end, lots of information in speaking to these issues as an informed Lutheran.

Looking at these differences can be difficult. “It is clear that there are serious differences about what the baptized believe, teach and confess within various denominational fellowships,” the Rev. Steve Kieser writes. “This lack of unity in the Gospel is a cause of great mourning for us.”

And yet we rejoice that, as Pastor Kieser reminds us, “God is gracious. He alone preserves His Church.” And in that, we have great joy!

Adriane Heins, Managing Editor
The Lutheran Witness
adriane.heins@lcms.org

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