Monday, February 9, 2015
Fighting the heart with the head. . .
Lutherans are not stupid. They see in LSB that chanting notes were provided the pastor (as in LW but published separately in TLH). They understand the history and can appreciate Luther's own words directing how portions of the service ought to be chanted. In their hearts, however, is the god of preference and a pervasive bigotry against things presumed ROMAN and they resist the chanting like a horse resists his first bridle. That teaching of the head has nothing to do with the changing of the emotion of the heart.
Lutherans are not stupid. They see the difference between the great words of witness and confession in the Lutheran chorales and in the hymnody that mirrors this Gospel story telling perspective but their hearts are drawn to soft rock like bees to honey (pollen?). It does not matter what is explained, their god of preference that lives in their hearts wants to hear what they want to hear and so they come up with reasons (evangelism, outreach, youth, etc...) to shut the hymnal, look up at the praise band, and sing the words on the screen to a song the Lord gave to some evangelical praise leader but have now been copyrighted and so they are not free to use. That teaching of the head has nothing to do with the changing of the emotion of the heart.
Lutherans are not stupid. They can read the Augustana and they know that Lutherans have Holy Communion every Sunday (Lord's Day) and every other day when people desire to receive it. They know this is expectation of our Confessions but they like having shorter services, their piety is formed from and shaped by something other than the Sacrament of the Altar, and their quest for variety (the spice of life) and the god of preference intervenes to by-pass what they know with what they want. As one person put it to me, "Pastor, I am not saying you are wrong about this being Lutheran, I am saying I really don't like it." That teaching of the head has nothing to do with the changing of the emotion of the heart.
Lutherans are not stupid. They understand what Jesus said about the little ones who believe in Me and they read about baptism in Paul's letters. They know that baptismal piety is a hallmark of Lutheranism but they feel like this is overstated. Kids ought to know, understand, and consent to the faith before they are initiated into it... baptism is like your first sex, you do it and move on... you have to feel something in your heart for it to be true... -- just a few of things people have actually said to me about baptism. We teach it, preach it, talk about it, return to it for hope in illness and death, etc... but that teaching of the head has nothing to do with the changing of the emotion of the heart.
I could go on... but really what I am saying is that confessional Lutheranism is not about the head. I think we got it down there. It is a battle for the heart -- against the god of preference, against the relativism of the modern age, against the bias toward feeling over truth for certainty, and against the longing to feel like an evangelical in a Lutheran setting... We don't need new confessions or even more convention resolutions or more books. . . we have plenty (well, not really enough for a book lover like myself, but...). What we lack is the will to control the heart, to rein in the god of feelings running out of control, and to cling to the objective truth over the subjective warm and fuzzy of the heart. We are not there yet. In the LCMS we are closer to sticking our necks out and stepping outside the mainstream of culture and cultural Christianity but we are not convinced enough by the head to overrule the heart. Not by a long shot.
Maybe we will never win... maybe this is the meaning of lifelong repentance???? Jesus said it best. All kinds of evil proceeds from the heart. We don't have to learn it from TV or school or even parents. The problems proceed from the heart and we dare not return to the heart for assurance of our forgiveness or salvation. As tempting as it is, our hope lies with the teaching of the head. Don't get me wrong -- we ought to feel things but the informed mind ought to tell us where to go for the source of our passion and what it is that endures forever and does not change (like the feelings of the heart).
Way to go, Harvey! You hit on a genius statement! God bless you.