The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s president Rev. Mark G. Schroeder made the statement: “We rejoice that even in the Catholic Church (where we believe the gospel has been distorted) there are many Catholics who hold to a simple faith in Jesus Christ as their savior and who will ultimately be saved,”i
I focus here of Schroeder’s point of a shared simple faith. He wasn’t the first to say it, I’ve heard it more times and places than I can count. In its simplest form it states that there is a basic set of beliefs that unites all true Christians of any denomination.
The Apostle Paul addressed what this concept of simple faith is when he wrote to the Corinthians.
Paul wrote in 1 Cor 15:
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, “(1Co 15:3-4 ESV)
Our simple faith starts here. Jesus redeemed us. We were all dead in sin. Jesus who never sinned paid the price for that sin by dying on the cross for us, the ultimate sacrifice. There are a number of elements that we share in our common faith but they start here. We are redeemed by our risen Lord and Savior.
The Corinthians are examples of believers who strayed off the simple faith that our Lord brought. The first chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians tells us that:
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) (1Co 1:10-1 ESV)
We could say the same things about denomination leaders. Was the pope crucified for you, or Martin Luther, or John Wesley, or the leaders of the Southern Baptists, or Methodists, or Presbyterians, or any other faction in the church today? Were you baptized in any of their names?
The succeeding chapters in both letters to the Corinthians cover issue after issue that was contended by the factions including who they followed as a leader, family and marriage issues, sex outside marriage, dating, offering things to idols, holy communion, spiritual gifts and manifestations, the resurrection, dealing with anxiety, persecution and other stresses, and giving.
The list of things contended may be different today but the charge to resolve the factions still remains and will remain as long as the Lord tarries.
So let us all remember, as the Apostle Paul charges,
For when one may say, Truly I am of Paul, and another, I of Apollos; are you not fleshly? What then is Paul? And what Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, and to each as the Lord gave? I planted, Apollos watered, but God made to grow. So as neither he planting is anything, nor he watering, but God making to grow. So he planting and he watering are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For of God we are fellow-workers, a field of God, and you are a building of God. According to God’s grace given to me, as a wise master builder, I laid a foundation, but another builds on it. But let each one be careful how he builds. For no one is able to lay any other foundation besides the One having been laid, who is Jesus Christ. And if anyone builds on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, straw, the work of each will be revealed; for the Day will make it known, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire will prove the work of each, what sort it is. (1Co 3:4-13 LITV)
Paul says no man can lay any foundation other than what was laid: Jesus Christ, and that is the only thing that matters, everything else will be burned up in the end.
So lets all everywhere always remember that it is about what Christ achieved for us, and we are fellow laborers in this endeavor so let’s act like it.