Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Not too. . .
This is surely nothing new. Protestants have been doing this for centuries. Presbyterians uncomfortable with predestination have been long suggesting that they are not that Presbyterians -- almost to the point of Arminianism is just as Presbyterian as Calvinism. Methodists have ditched much of the method that once made them distinctive and they have become #metoo Protestants and Evangelicals. They not that Methodist but have open minds and open doors and open questions.
Even among Lutherans it has become a popular thought that the means to revitalizing the denominations that claim Luther's legacy is to distance themselves from it and embrace something more, well, American. So the ELCA has insisted it is not that Lutheran -- at least when it comes to who communes, male and female identity, same sex marriage, etc... They at least are honest in saying that they are departing from historic Lutheran faith and practice -- even though they do so claiming a higher Lutheran principle, the Gospel. Their Gospel affirms anything and everything, it seems. And those on the other side have also been doing it. They insist that on Sunday morning you can do whatever you want, whatever feels good, and whatever is meaningful and forget the Confessions and liturgies and hymnals. They are Lutheran, that they insist, but not that Lutheran that they wear dresses, sing in funny ways, practice irrelevant rituals, talk like folks in Shakespeare's time, pray from a book, and put all that much stock into water or bread or wine.
Why is it that we always assume that the promise is being faithful and if you dilute it, distance yourself from it, keep it in substance but not in style, or conveniently not talk about it anymore the people will clamor into our empty buildings? Kennedy did himself and us no favors by suggesting he was not a good Catholic. Vatican II did not get it if they though the Latin was the problem or the outdated music. Francis is befuddled if he thinks heading down the route of separating style and substance will help rescue Rome or the declining clergy numbers. Protestants are fools if they think that becoming a generic, deistic, therapeutic, moralistic faith will fill the void. Evangelicals are being idiots if they think they can keep the name Christian and gut its doctrinal baggage. Same for Presbyterians and Methodists. And for Lutherans. Who in their right mind wants to join a Lutheran church because it is not that Lutheran????