Sunday, November 27, 2016

Trash Talking for Jesus. . .

Let me begin by saying I am not a prude nor do I presume to be the vocabulary police for anyone.  That said, it has become fashionable -- trendy -- to talk with all the richness that vulgarity can summon and to package it all up in the name of God, religion, and faithfulness.  You can search my columns for the name Nadia Bolz-Weber, who is the poster child for trendy, edgy, tattooed, pierced, and gutter talking Lutheran preachers who, it is said, appeal to a generation that is not enticed by the language of the Authorized Version.  She has many followers.  If you wish, read one of them here (but note the language!). 

It is certainly fashionable but it is faithful to exploit vulgarity in order to either fit in with the generation or culture you seek to reach or to shock the intended audience in order to gain their attention?  Bolz-Weber is actually somewhat Lutheran if you can get past the shock value of her demeanor and appearance.  It is not that she has tattoos or that she occasionally curses.  It is that she flaunts these.  She is out there and right in your face with her edginess and revels in the fact that she does not fit the presumptive cookie cutter approached to ministry.  She has been paraded by the ELCA as the way to reach a generation somewhat unreached, a target audience that has not been breaking down the doors to hear the Queen's speech in all its proper and polite vocabulary.  Perhaps she does reach them but does she leave them where vulgarity substitutes for wisdom and where shock value is its own value?  I wonder.

Certainly one who is following in Bolz-Weber's mold, Tuhina Verma Rasche, Pastoring Lutheran-style in Silicon Valley. (Un)Intended disruptor. Loves/ freaked out by Jesus. Indian-American living life in the hyphen has taken up the cause.  But is this helpful to the Gospel or even a valid means of approaching those for whom this vocabulary is everyday speech?  Is the cause of the Kingdom helped by vulgarity?  Or, does vulgarity become its own competing end for the Kingdom of Christ?  You tell me.

I do not have any presumptions about what people know or think of me.  They know full well I am a sinner.  They have not put me on a pedestal and no one salutes Herr Pastor anywhere around here.  But do they want a pastor who wallows in the gutter, who speaks vulgarity fluently, and who can match it all word for word with soldiers and sailors (and all those other stereotypical cursing vocations)?  Does this diminish the person to make way for the Gospel or does this draw attention to the person and away from the Gospel?  I think you know where I stand.  A word that may slip out when you stub your toe or slam your thumb with a hammer is not in the the tongues of men and angels.  No, the tongues of men and angels are not sufficient, love is the greatest of all of these, but there is no glory in speaking like a child when Christ has called you to grow up!


John Flanagan said...

Bolz-Weber does not reflect the views of most Lutherans, unless one happens to be tied to the ELCA brand. ELCA is a social activist, contemporary progressive and pro-LGBT church and only resonates with like minded people. It tries to undentify as Christian, but essentially rejects Bible teachings which rightly condem homosexuality as sin. There are other problems with ELCA. I think it is sufficient to know that false teachers like Bolz-Weber are to be avoided and ignored by all Christians and all Lutherans. We can pray for such people, but often they cannot be reached and never reject their own narrative. For the most part, they will become more entrenched in their own doctrines and attack those who oppose them. What we must be wary of is that even within the LCMS, there are some voices which would like to move us closer to ELCA, and on the opposite end, those who seek to move us closer to Roman Catholics. That is why truth matters, the Bible is our guide, and the Confessions are still relevant today. We must be wise in the face of heresies, not fools.

Anonymous said...

Nadia Bolz-Weber is a hussy.