Monday, July 19, 2010

Who Is Responsible...

There has been much giddiness in happy town among those whose hopes and dreams for this moment in Synod were realized in the elections at the Convention in Houston.  There has been much talk of the United List and its effectiveness and Issues, Etc. and its role as leader of this "revolution" in our church body.  First of all, I do not want to detract from anyone or anything but I prefer to credit the sea change in Missouri to something else.  Yes, I know that there are no movements without leaders and that some of this change is due to the fact that "conservatives" lined up pretty much together instead of shooting at the issues with buckshot.  Yes, I know that the communication tool of Issues, Etc. and other media were able to get the word out in a very effective fashion. BUT...

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.

4 comments:

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Our approach should be that of John the Baptist - "I must decrease that He may increase." I would contend that the reason any of these various confessional groups shone - whether it be Rev. Harrison or Issues, Etc - is directly proportional to the amount they shifted the focus off of themselves and onto Christ and His Word.

Lord, may we all diminish our pride likewise in the years to come!

Philip Hoppe said...

Pr. Peters-
Well put. Let me add my amen. If "our side" won because we did better campaigning and politicking, nothing has really changed. Only when the people on the Synod are brought understanding by the Spirit do we see real genuine. I am with you in hoping that that is what we saw.

rewatt said...

Pastor Peters,

Well said. As a voting lay delegate I cast my votes according to what the Gospel has done in my life. I am a "recovering Evangelical" and a changed man. The more I read, study and inwardly digest Scripture; the more I read, study and inwardly digest the Catechism; the more I read and study our Confessions, the more my life changes. I thank God every single day for what HE has done. Although among the 'giddy' following the elections, I pray that our church keep its focus on Christ and not so much on the fallible servant.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

In the past few years I think confessional Lutherans have learned what it means to be a minority. I hope that experience has made an indellible impression, in that political consensus is not the same as unity. We cannot take for granted that because 'our man' is sitting in a particular position that everyone agrees with us, and those that do not agree with us are irrelevant.