Friday, July 20, 2012

Justice... the ultimate fruit of faith...

Three years ago the ELCA youth gathering in New Orleans met under the banner of Jesus, Justice, and Jazz -- an unlikely combination of terms but, I guess, somehow appropriate in a city of New Orleans.  It was interesting that justice was the overall theme but it paralleled the social stance of the entire ELCA, in which doing justice (note the terminology) is the equivalent of speaking the Gospel.

Well, it is three years later and the ELCA youth are headed to New Orleans again.  This time the theme is Citizens with the Saints (a nice play on New Orleans and the replacement of justice with the solidarity term of citizens).  The overall theme of the gathering is predominantly justice and the preparation for the gathering promotes this theme strongly.

The youth are urged to hold a Justice Day event prior to the gathering.  There are ample resources for this on the ELCA website.  It is clear from the resources that this justice idea permeates the gathering and that justice consists primarily in terms of advocacy.  The youth are given areas to pursue for their justice day:
Affordable Housing
Community Care
Cultural Literacy (didn't get this; urges watching Crash or Slumdog Millionaire to prepare)
Envirconmental Sustainability
Literacy Matters
Play and Learn
Relationships Matter.

In other words, the playbook for this youth gathering is taken from the agenda of just about every left of center political organization around -- which, in some ways, the ELCA has become.  Practice justice.  Do justice.  By the time the kids leave New Orleans, it will be thoroughly impressed upon them that living the faith and sharing Jesus has a great deal more to do with these justice issues and advocacy stances than just about anything else.  So, they will be prepared to take up their roles as adults in the ELCA and assist in the great march from church to an agency of the political left.  While not much of this may infect Sunday morning, it is clear that the purpose of Sunday morning is to help us do on Monday morning the justice advocacy and justice works mentioned above.

I have no particular beef with the ELCA youth gathering except that the very same people planning this event would look at, say, a Missouri Synod Higher Things event and condemn "indoctrination" of the youth to a particular doctrinal view of Lutheranism.  All I am saying is that this is in no way less an indoctrination and one that pushes the Lutheran brand further and further from its confessional and catechetical identity.  I am troubled by the ease with which we substitute doing justice as witnessing the Gospel and sharing Jesus.  Perhaps telling is the final comment on the promo video:  I want them to come back home so in love with Jesus that they will be active in the place where they have been planted on this earth...  I hope and pray this will happen as well -- although I think the planners and I would have different definitions of what it means to be active. 


Anonymous said...

What is it with Lutheran youth and New Orleans?

This is like the 4th year in a row that either the ELCA and LCMS have picked NOLA.

Anonymous said...

people planning this event would look at, say, a Missouri Synod Higher Things event and condemn "indoctrination" of the youth to a particular doctrinal view of Lutheranism.

Is that really true?

Not arguing, just asking.

What makes you think that?

Janis Williams said...

I think the ELCA would more than likely think a HT Conference boring, irrelevant, and misdirected.

Wonder what the youth of the ELCA and LCMS would look like in comparison to each other in 20 years?

There's probably a government grant in that, if someone wants to write it...

Anonymous said...

How many ELCA congregations every month are voting to leave for the NALC or LCMC. If current trends continue, the ELCA will shrink into an insignificant micro-synod. The ELCA may someday need to merge with the Episcopal Church and the UCC in order to survive. However, as long as those Thrivent and "faith based" government grants continue to be awarded, a "social justice" agency, er, "church" does not need a large membership.

I would like to think that membership in the NALC or LCMC is a temporary safe haven for congregations eager to break away from the ELCA. We read about ELCA pastors joining the LCMS through colloquy, but their congregations never seem to join with them. Why is this the case. I would love to see individual NALC and LCMC congregations join the LCMS or the AALC. Does this happen now, and we don't hear about it?

Forget the ELCA? How will the NALC and the LCMC compare to the LCMS in 20 years?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

New Orleans is a GREAT city!

Great food.

Great music.

Fun place.

Lutheran high school down there.