The Lord be with you
The LC-MS has 28 “partner churches” around the world. Partner churches are church bodies with whom the LC-MS is in full altar and pulpit fellowship. This means we are in agreement in doctrine and practice. “Our” pastors may serve in “their” churches, and vice versa. One of those partner church bodies is the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA). One of their pastors was actually a professor at Concordia Theological Seminary when I attended there.
Like the LC-MS, the LCA publishes documents intended to be a blessing to its members and beyond. One of those documents, coming from their “Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations,” is title “One Loving God: Two Hands – Saving and Caring.” This brief document (only seven pages plus 3 additional pages of reading suggestions) is part of a serious look they took at their institutions of mercy. It is an excellent booklet which is a “thoroughly Lutheran and biblical theology for mercy” (Matthew Harrison, Introduction). Harrison goes on to write, “We need this theology today like never before.” He also wrote, “Its [the document] contents may – must! – be applied to every Lutheran congregation.
This booklet provides a clear presentation of the Lutheran doctrine of the Two – Kingdoms. It answers questions like: Who Christian mercy is to be offered? Who Christians can work with in engaging in mercy works? What is the foundation of Christian mercy? Can true faith ignore acts of mercy? There are other questions answered, of course.
Some distain mercy ministries (like when we make sleeping bags for the homeless, or help the Orphan Grain Train, or our upcoming Community Garden) as being inferior to proclaiming the Gospel with words. The truth is that God works through both and a faithful Lutheran Christian is to be faithful in both word and dead. We ask God in the traditional post-communion collect to increase our faith in him and our love for others. That old prayer has it right!
The Lutheran Church of Australia has graciously permitted the LC-MS to publish this paper on-line (see link below). I can recommend the booklet with all the same confidence that our Synod President does.