Saturday, October 3, 2009

Who Is On The Defensive?

Some years ago a girl in my parish began dating a Church of Christ boy and attending with him with some regularity (at the same time attending at Grace Lutheran)... Eventually a discussion of baptism in that congregation led her to wonder if indeed she had been baptized since she had been baptized as an infant without her consent or understanding (not to mention without immersion).

Several conversations with the family ensued until we met one more time... unbeknownst to me they had brought along the Church of Christ minister to this last meeting where we were expected to fight it out with the right answer being the answer of the last pastor left standing (albeit bloodied and bruised).

But I refused. Before even going to the Scriptures, I pointed out from broad historical consensus that infant baptism had been the unbroken practice of the Church for 1600 years without serious objection and that serious objection had been given legitimacy it had not had before due to the fracturing created by Protestantism (loosed as it were from any teaching magisterium)...

And then the usual Scriptural discussion... but he would not be moved and neither would I... until the end when I indicated that he had a very weak deity if, as it were true, for 16 centuries and still through the present day infant baptism is the dominant practice or accepted practice of the majority of Christians and yet it is so abhorrent to God... Yes, you must have a very weak deity after all for Him to sit idly by wringing His hands while His Church fosters this terrible abomination... and then there was silence...

The girl ended up dumping the boy and, well, I wish I could say there was a happy ending to it all... but it raises a point...

When the objection is an exception to the established practice or teaching of the Church, then the innovators have to prove the point... not those who continue that established practice or teaching... Imagine if (reference the discussions below) we did not have to prove in every generation baptismal regeneration, the Eucharistic mystery, the efficacy of the Word, the wisdom of penance, the importance of faithfulness, the maintenance of the Truth (and not its adjustment) in times of question... whether Lutheran or Orthodox or Roman... ah... if that were the day... when those raising objections to or departing from historic and accepted teaching and practice had to prove not only the rightness of their point but the wrongness of the accepted tradition...

From my perspective, this is the genius of the Lutheran Confessions... they do not innovate but reach back to what was and claim it as what is... from Scripture and the fathers... No, not perfect at all, but a vast improvement upon the corruption that was average parish life in Luther's day... and if only we Lutherans kept to it... what a dynamo it might mean for today...

2 comments:

Dan at Necessary Roughness said...

When the objection is an exception to the established practice or teaching of the Church, then the innovators have to prove the point.

Cannot be said loudly enough.

Jonathan said...

It is very telling that the innovators always point to the sense of emotion to prove their case; whatever the topic, their argument is very much centered on "how I feel," or "what I do," rather than letting scripture interpret scripture.

How does one get through to someone who feels it's all about them and/or their feelings?