Monday, July 19, 2010
Who Is Responsible...
I would prefer to credit the cause itself for the changes. I would prefer to believe that it is ad fontes which is responsible -- going to the sources of Scripture and Confession. I would prefer to believe this is a resurgent movement in which Lutheran confession and liturgical identity are center stage and NOT people and personalities. WHY?
Because if it is people and personality at work, then it is quite possible and, historically predictable, that things will change. If the "other side" finds a new leader with charisma and enthusiasm and puts in the ground work to building identity and support for this individual or these individuals, leadership can and will change. It is my hope, however, that this is NOT a leadership change but change in the direction of our church body. It is my hope that what we have seen is a resurgent Lutheranism, confident of her confessions, convinced of Scripture's truth and efficacy, courageously expecting and anticipating the means of grace to do what they promise, and cautious enough about change to be patient and deliberate in getting this message out.
Church bodies change for many reasons -- among them the cultural changes in the world around them, a shift of values that intrudes into the church from outside, desperation over the harsh reality of decline and loss, a change in demographics, and the influence of charismatic and convincing leaders. They also change because they have been renewed from the inside out, taking seriously their confession of faith, being confident of this confessional and liturgical identity, and shaping their practice from these values. I choose to believe that what happened in Missouri is the latter and it is my hope and dream that we as a Lutheran church body will find that the key to our future, to our growth, to our effectiveness, and to our unity will be this renewed and resurgent confessional and liturgical identity.
What does this mean? That is THE Lutheran question and it is about time we began looking at the issues facing us and asking the Lutheran question about the various choices and answers before us. With this in mind, I honor those elected, rejoice in God's faithfulness, and express my own cautious optimism for the future of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod over the long haul and not merely the next triennium.