Ever Wanted to Ask a Lutheran Some Questions? Now’s Your Chance.

Daniel Landin

Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce you all to Daniel Landin. He is a Pastor of a Lutheran Church. I’ve asked him to participate in some question and answer format interactions for the purpose of learning more about each other’s respective Churches, and theological positions, as well as for his insight into some particularly Lutheran things. Feel free to send me your questions.  I will select a some to ask Daniel in a future article.  Before we get started, Daniel could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Q. Where did you grow up?

A. I was born in Pittsburgh, PA and grew up on a small family farm in the awesome little town of Sugar Grove, PA, right on the NY-PA border.

Q. Were you raised in a Christian home?

A. Yes. God has blessed me beyond belief to have been born into a family with a rich Christian heritage. My family on my father’s side immigrated from Sweden in the 1870s and brought with them their huge family Bible which resides in my parents’ dining room to this day. Faith in Jesus Christ has played a huge role in my family’s life and continues to do so.

Q. Could you share your testimony with us?

A. I truly cannot remember a time when I did not have faith in and a love for Jesus Christ. As I stated in the previous answer, I was born into a Christian home and was blessed to be raised by two loving Christian parents. I did pray many various “prayers of salvation” during my childhood and adolescent years, so I won’t pinpoint a specific day of conversion on any of those. I believe that I have had faith in Christ from before the time that I have any memories of something different.

I’ve always had a strong interest in the Bible and learning more and more about who God is and how God has interacted with people from the very beginning. My grandfather and great uncle were both the same way and loved discussing various doctrines, theologies, and passages from scripture and I would try my best to interject and converse with them, even when I was around eight or nine years old. I’ve also always had a strong interest in history, so that interest coupled with a love for Christ and the Bible drew me into many times of deep study. My love for Christ and his Word led me to get my college degree in biblical studies and I was blessed to also be able to go through seminary as well.

I did go through a rough time during high school meeting many crises of faith including the death of my grandmother from lung cancer and my own fall into sexual sin with my girlfriend at the time. I dealt with some serious depression because of all the negatives from that year and because I bought into Satan’s lie that, since I had fallen into that specific sin, I had ruined all chances of ever being married to a Godly Christian woman. Due to my depression, which I hid from everyone I knew, I contemplated suicide many times until the day I held a revolver in my hand. By the grace of God, I felt a rush of God’s love at that moment and, whether it was audible or only in my spirit, I heard God saying, “Stop! I love you. You have so much more to live for. Trust in me!” From that point on, I thank God for not only saving me from death and hell, but also saving my life at that point.

There have been many people who have been influential in my life and in my walk of faith. Most important over the past thirteen years has been my wife Stephanie. Her own faith and her love and encouragement have had a large impact on me. A large part of that was experienced the day I confessed my past transgressions and she immediately said, “I forgive you, because Jesus has already forgiven you!” That was an amazing moment for the two of us, but especially for me to experience the love of Christ through her selfless forgiveness. It has been a special thing to live this life of faith with her.

Q. How did you meet your Wife?

A. We met in high school choir of all places! I was a senior and she was a sophomore. We started dating that year and maintained a long-distance relationship during the next three years while she finished high school and did a year of community college before joining me at Roberts Wesleyan College.

Q. How long have you been married?

A. We got married the summer after I graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College in 2009 and we just celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary this week on August 1st. We have been blessed with three boys aged 4, 2, and 1 and we have a fourth waiting for us in heaven.

Q. What changes have you undergone in your faith since your conversion?

A. Quite a few I would say! I grew up in the Evangelical Covenant Church, the denomination my family has been a part of for over a hundred years. One of the main emphases of that denomination is on the supremacy of scripture. We were taught that the Bible is the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct and to ask the question, “Where is it written?” while working through various issues in life and faith. I went to a Free Methodist college and met people from many different faith traditions and that opened up my view of the church quite a bit. There were many issues I saw as closed issues, but as I read and studied throughout my college and seminary years, I have shifted on some theological issues which now separate me from the church of my childhood and youth. Some of the issues, without delving into the changes at the moment, were on creation, the sacraments, and eschatology. One thing that has never changed, though, is my dependence on Jesus Christ in all things. I’ve clung to Proverbs 3:5-6 from that depressing phase of life in high school even up to this day. My hope is in Jesus Christ!

Q. How long have you been a Pastor?

A. I have been a pastor now for over five years. My first call into pastoral ministry was in the United Methodist Church. I served there for just a few days short of three and a half years and now serve in a Lutheran Church. Looking back on my life and my journey of becoming a pastor, I can say that I would have never chosen the path that God has led me on. I knew that God was calling me to be a pastor from a very young age and had plans to be a pastor in the denomination that I grew up in, but that was not what God had planned for me. I am thankful to be where I am and to know that it is right where the Holy Spirit desires for me to be!

Q. How long have you been a Lutheran Pastor?

A. I have been a Lutheran Pastor for a year and seven months so far!

One thought on “Ever Wanted to Ask a Lutheran Some Questions? Now’s Your Chance.

  1. Here is the next set of questions and answers. Daniel Landin is the one giving the answers from his Lutheran perspective. Well let’s dig right in and get started.  I will ask some questions I’d like answered from a traditionally conservative Lutheran perspective.  If you have a different personal position, or nuanced understanding feel free to explain, just make sure to denote when you are differing from the Lutheran perspective so that we will know.  (OK just so we don’t have any wise guys, I will answer a couple of common, and idiotic questions first.  No, Lutherans do not worship Martin Luther.  Calvinists don’t worship John Calvin.)

    Q.  The big question, the gospel question, how do Lutherans understand the process of justification?  Do they affirm penal substitutionary atonement?

    A. The two best places to go to understand how Lutherans believe the Christian is justified are Martin Luther’s Small Catechism and the Augsburg Confession.

    Justification is when our sin is forgiven and we are made righteous before God. We are justified by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. There is nothing that we can do on our own to be justified before God. We possess no powers, merits, or works that could possibly justify us before God. Why? Because we are all sinners condemned to death as St. Paul states in Romans 3:23. We are saved when we believe that Christ has suffered for us and that for his sake our sin is forgiven and righteousness and eternal life are given to us. Just as God reckoned Abraham’s faith as righteousness, our faith in Christ is reckoned as righteousness by God.

    Yes, Lutherans affirm penal substitutionary atonement. Christ was given for us in order to make satisfaction for the sins of the world and has been appointed as our mediator and sacrificial lamb. He is the one who atoned for our sins by sacrificing himself.

    Q.  Do they view justification as monergistic or synergistic?

    A. The Lutheran view of justification is monergistic. Justification is a one-time work of God in a person’s life, which is given by his grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Justification is not something we can do for ourselves, but is God’s work in us. However, we may actively work to resist God’s grace, reject Christ, and walk straight into hell. Therefore, we are responsible for our damnation because we are all sinners, but only God may claim to have a hand in our justification.

    That our justification is solely God’s work in us does not mean that God does not want us to grow in holiness, which is the process of sanctification. As we mature in faith, we grow in holiness and begin to produce the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It takes work on our part to produce fruit and to do the good works that God has created for us to do in Christ Jesus. We must do those good works, but they have nothing to do with our salvation. They prove our faith in Christ and are a sign of a growing spiritual maturity, but they do not save us.

    Q.  Do Lutherans baptize infants due to covenant theology, and/or other theological reasons?  Please explain the Lutheran defense of paedobaptism.

    A.  Here comes a long answer! First, I need to make clear what Lutherans believe a sacrament is. A sacrament is a sacred act instituted by God, in which God himself has joined his word of promise to a visible element, and by which he offers, gives, and seals forgiveness of sins earned by Christ. Sacraments are more than just physical acts, but are God at work in and through those physical acts. Therefore, Baptism and Communion are not merely memorial acts that symbolize something that God has already done, but are actually acts through which God works in us and gives us his grace. The means of grace that God has chosen to use to work faith in us are in the hearing of the Word of God and the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion (which are sacraments because they contain the Word of God).

    Although the covenant imagery is rich in the sacraments and there are lines that can be drawn between Baptism and circumcision, that is not an emphasis in the Lutheran view of sacraments.
    To get the best and simplest answer on the Lutheran view of Baptism, I’ll quote from the Luther’s Small Catechism here: “Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word.” Baptism “works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare” (Mark 16:16 says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”).

    Let’s quickly look at the benefits received in Baptism point by point.
    1. Scripture shows us that Baptism works forgiveness of sins: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). “Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away” (Acts 22:16).
    2. Scripture shows us that it rescues from death and the devil: “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?…If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection” (Romans 6:3, 5).
    3. Baptism gives us eternal salvation: “This water [of Noah’s flood] symbolizes baptism that now saves you also…It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

    Why children? Jesus said to his disciples, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14-15). Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Babies are to be baptized because they are included in the group of people Jesus says should be baptized, which is “all nations.” They should also be baptized because Jesus invites them to come to him unimpeded (Mark 10:13-15), because they are sinners, babies need what Baptism offers (“No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:5-6), and babies are able to have faith (“If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” [Matthew 18:6] & St. Luke makes it clear that John the Baptist was “filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth” [Luke 1:15] and even before birth [1:41-44]).

    So, to summarize, Baptism is a means of grace through which God gives us forgiveness of sins, rescue from death and the devil, and eternal salvation, which is why it is for people of all ages since all people are able to possess faith in Christ even when they are not able to articulate that faith.

    Q.  What is the median age of the congregation at the Church you Pastor?  An estimate is fine.

    A. It would take me a long time to comb through all of the birthdates of everyone one or membership role, so my best guess is that our median age is somewhere around 50. We have a good number of families with children in school, but we have a very large senior population with two who are over ninety!

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