Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Luther and Calvin in America
That said, sometimes we act as if Calvinism was a real threat to us still. The reality is that Calvinists are not all that Calvinist anymore. But then I probably should say that there are a number of Lutherans who are not Lutheran anymore, either. And perhaps that is the problem. The old polemics do not fit in a world where Lutherans are no longer defined by their confessional documents and Calvinists are not longer defined by their characteristic TULIP doctrinal flower. In fact, the sad truth is that we don't even speak doctrinally anymore. Dogma has become secondary to feelings and truth is subject to preference and desire takes precedence over everything.
Some insist that the playing field of Christianity has changed so much that we are more like the situation the first Christians faced. That might be true except that the people around us think they know Christianity and have rejected it -- a far different landscape than early Christianity in which the Gospel was brand new and people had never heard or seen anything like it. It was virgin ground then but not now. Now we face a world which believes it knows Christianity and has judged it false or irrelevant or contrary to reason or experience. Part of the task today is to replace the false characterizations of the faith with the real deal, speaking the Word clearly to those who are not really listening because they think they have heard it all before. But it is not simply argument or evidence but the Holy Spirit who works the work that brings faith to the skeptical or fearful heart. Maybe once we realize this we might just try the Word and let God do what He has promised. It could not do any worse than our feeble attempts to try and frame modern settings into the same old landscapes of the past or to reduce objections by offering a lite version of Christian with half the truth and less flavor.