Friday, August 10, 2018
Difficult but untried. . .
Now let me be clear here -- I am not at all suggesting that we should ignore the warning signs or live in the fairy tale land of happily ever afters for a people who do nothing at all. No, indeed. Neither is Chesterton. Neither is Weedon. Both compel us to engage Christianity in its fullest, and, for Weedon, Lutheranism at its fullest. Christianity will not die because it was preached and lived in its fullness and its God and the means of grace with which He has endowed His Church failed to deliver on their promise. No, Christianity will die because we have lost confidence in God, no longer trust His Word, and have replaced His truth with the changing and temporary truths of the moment. In the same way, Lutheranism is not at risk because it was taken too seriously but precisely because we lost our connection to the confessors who once roused a corrupt and moribund church to hear and believe the Gospel. Lutheranism is not at risk because we are too Lutheran but because we are not sure what it means to be Lutheran or we don't care anymore.
Surely it should be obvious that we live outside our fathers in the faith and have attempted to reduce Christianity to a series of moralisms and Lutheranism to an idea. It should be obvious but it is not. Not only do the people inside think that our homogenized idea of Christianity and our comfortable idea of Lutheran Lite is the real thing, but the people outside the Church see through the pablum of our offering in their quest for something real and have rejected us precisely because we were not who we claimed to be.
Christianity is daily under fire from those who find its truth untenable and its history unacceptable -- and these are supposedly our friends and neighbors in the faith. From the halls of universities to the kitchen tables of America, we no longer know the Word of God and so we are susceptible to error and tempted beyond our ability to withstand to substitute our ideas for God's truth. Reason and experience have been joined by feelings and the pursuit of happiness as the judges of what is good and right and true and the first things to be cast aside are the things that form the heart and core of the Gospel -- sin and forgiveness, death and life.
In the same way Lutheranism has its harshest critics among those on the inside who will retain the idea of Lutheranism while gutting its convictions with whatever they think will work to save the structure. Lutherans were once known for getting everyone together on the same page (Formula of Concord) but now they are so diverse that our identity is complete chaos. We live in more fear of what others might think of us than we do what God thinks of us and we dread offending others with the truth more than we have confidence in the truth to set us free. Our Sunday mornings betray the fact that even so-called orthodox folks are more interested in today than in eternity and think of the goal of worship as more a path to guide than mind that the mystery of the ages to save.
So here is my plan to save Christianity and Lutheranism. Go in full force. Believe it all. Live it all. Let us not fail because we were too timid with the Truth and too hesitant to stand on our confession. Let us fail because we grasped as fully as mortals may the unchanging truth and the grandest of mysteries in the God who has become our Savior -- but, of course, if we do this, we will not fail. At least we will not fail God -- even though things may not pan out according to our own agendas. But who cares. If the Word of the Lord is preached and taught faithfully and we meet the Lord in the means of grace where He serves us with His gifts, God will be glorified and that is all that matters.