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Title: Word and Sacrament: The marks of the church
Source: The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
URL Source: https://reporter.lcms.org/2022/word ... ament-the-marks-of-the-church/
Published: Dec 6, 2022
Author: Matthew C. Harrison
Post Date: 2022-12-06 20:11:35 by Charles_Byrd
Keywords: None
Views: 19

The LCMS seeks church fellowship with churches around the world who clearly confess and hold to the “marks” of the church. Having “faith” or being a pious person is not a sufficient mark upon which the church and its unity depend. Faith is unseen. The appearance of it can be faked, or it can contain errors.

The true “marks” of the church are evident to all and provide sufficient grounds to identify the presence of true fellowship. As Luther notes, even when they are present but obscured by false teaching or belief, they still gather Christians. Article VII of the Augsburg Confession defines the marks of the church as the “pure” preaching of the Gospel and the “right” administration of the Sacraments. Luther, in “On the Councils and the Church” (1539), expands the number of marks, and this document is referenced as authoritative by our Formula of Concord. I’ve abridged Luther’s comments below. Though we know and thank God that enough of His Word is present also outside orthodox Lutheranism to bring many to Christ, for the purpose of being in fellowship with other church bodies, Holy Scripture requires that we hold to these marks as the sole standard for recognizing such fellowship (i.e., shared proclamation of the Gospel and participation in the Sacraments).

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