Monday, September 27, 2010

An Irritant

I occasionally read some of the stuff produced by those who have left Missouri (nearly all for Constantinople) and sometimes see lists of books (Lutheran) that these folks no longer want.  Once in a while I have purchased a copy of something I did not have in my library.  But it is a struggle because some of them, well, most of them, seem to need to bash Lutheranism in order to justify jettisoning their Lutheran libraries.  It is amazing to me to see and reflect upon the differences among those who have left Wittenberg for Rome or Constantinople.  Some are quite classy about and have succeeded in leaving without trashing what they were or where they were.  I think of Richard John Neuhaus whose high profile move to Rome was accompanied by very little Luther or Lutheran bashing.  In fact, his rationale for the move was a backwards compliment to Lutheranism ("How I Became the Catholic I Always Was").

It seems that some who have left have not left but continue to wage war upon their former home as if to justify their leaving.  I find this particularly sad.  For all they might find deficient in Lutheranism, many of these folks were exemplary Lutherans -- informed of Lutheran confessional identity, committed to that confessional identity and practice, and voices calling upon the less committed and less faithfully practicing to renewal.  Such folks would be far classier if they simply refrained from commenting at all upon their former home than to diss the very place in which their theological mind and heart was formed.  I would venture to suggest that if they believe that who they are now is something good, then who they are could not have been accomplished without their journey in, what they might call, the theological wilderness of Lutheranism.

If you choose to leave, well, that is your choice.  Lord knows that those who are Lutheran should find some sort of sympathy for the idea that you cannot go against conscience.  But if you leave, do it in a noble and classy way.  Leave quietly without making a spectacle of your leaving.  Leave honestly without attempting to draw others into your same choice.  Leave honorably without trashing your former home -- over and over and over again.

7 comments:

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I cannot lament too much when folks bash Lutheranism upon leaving. I have seen how those who have left Reformed backgrounds to come to the One True Faith repeatedly bash and bemoan the faith shattering errors of the Reformed. If the folks swimming the Tiber or Bosporus think Lutheranism is in error, they can't be expected to do anything but trash us.

What I lament is that these attacks show how they have wandered from the truth - how they demonstrate the spirit of antichrist in that they went out from us, but as it can clearly be seen by what they focus upon, they were not of us. It is sad, it is tragic - but not that they bash, but that seeing they did not see and hearing they did not hear.

When I hear a deaf man try to speak and mangle the English language, I do not say, "Oh, what horrible speech" - I have pity upon the deaf man.

Dixie said...

I strongly agree with you in part, Pastor Peters. It would be optimal if all of us who have left Lutheranism for Orthodoxy would stop bashing Lutheranism. I wish I knew that when I left, I wish I had full control of my tongue (or keyboard) today. But for me it is a difficult task...best mastered by the Saints among us than a miserable sinner like me. For a few of us, there are lots of reasons why it is difficult to hold one's tongue. But just because it is difficult doesn't mean we shouldn't.

If what Neuhaus said was true, he was extremely fortunate to have come to that conclusion which silenced his tongue from speaking against his former situation. I haven't quite gotten there yet although I hope one day I can say that (or at least keep silent)...but to say it today would mask my true thoughts.

Where I disagree, however, is in this statement "Leave honestly without attempting to draw others into your same choice." Now I fully agree it is a choice and one in which we need to allow others to make on their own without influence but if they don't know that there is a choice to be made...how can one who has found what he/she believes to be the Truth, keep silent? You wouldn't want a Baptist who became Lutheran to keep silent about it in the Baptist encrusted South where Lutheranism is darn near considered a cult, would you?

Forgive those of us who have left and have caused hurt. Pray for us, too, that we better learn to express and share our faith without bashing our own history. There are many converts who can do and have done this...but a few of us rotten apples spoil the whole bunch.

Pastor Peters said...

It is one thing to speak of your choice in positive terms and so encourage others to give pause and ponder such a choice...but quite another to tear down your past and so tear down the house of another in order to get him or her to move into new digs...

Carl Vehse said...

"For all they might find deficient in Lutheranism, many of these folks were exemplary Lutherans"

Rev. Peters,

First, in referring to those who abandoned Lutheranism, discarded their confirmation and ordination vows, and swam the Tiber or Bosporus, that one uses the phrase, "many of these folks," is somewhat alarming.

It's like using the phrase "many of these folks" in referring to former Lutheran pastors who now operate casinos. Are there that many?

Second, there are at least a couple of former LCMS pastors who were hardly exemplary. Before they left, they hawked their non-Lutheran theology for years on various Lutheran list and blog sites such as LutherQuest and ConsensusLutheran.

Third, if such people have sworn allegience to Romish or Eastern sects, it should be no surprise that they castigate Lutheran views. After all Lutherans have declared the head of the Romish Church to be the Antichrist.

Finally, when these theological traitors (I can't think of a more polite term) show up on self-proclaimed Lutheran blog sites to promote their heterodox views, it is sad to see, in light of 2 John 1:10-11, they are so readily tolerated.

Anonymous said...

Carl Vehse,

They tolerate you too. ;-)

As far as I'm concerned, that shows much greater forbearance.

Anonymous said...

Is it only I, or do others also sense that those who leave the Lutheran Church very often give reasons for their departure that have nothing to do with Lutheran tradition or practice? Most often they cite some violation of what Lutherans consider orthodox doctrine and proper behavior as if it represented what we teach and believe.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Robbie F. said...

I have to question how well their mind was formed in, & their commitment to, our Lutheran confession, if they're ready to give all that up in exchange for a communion that goes against it.

I can't speak to what it is that draws them to Constantinople. The discicpline? (Law.) The beauty of the liturgy? (I'm with Keats on this: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty.") The ancientness of some unbroken succession or inviolate tradition? (I've heard it put about that the spirtuality of Constantinople as it now exists goes back no farther than Gregory Palamas in the 14th century.) Maybe an assurance that they can get away with being Reformational within the Antiochene patriarchate? (I've also heard it put about that many Protestants who swallowed that lure found out later that the hook was more jagged than they expected.) At the end of the day, don't we left-behinds have reason to question whether they really meant it when those guys took their Lutheran ordination vows? Because if they did, how did they come to this?