Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reformation Creep...

One of the disturbing aspects of being in a church body formed from the Great Reformation is the recognition that there is a certain creep in that church body -- a creep away from the Church of the Augsburg Confession and toward the radical reformers that Luther ran out of town.  Both in vocabulary and piety, we are definitely more in the corner of the Reformed than the Lutheran -- I mean this in the sense of every day conversation, the Christian music our people listen to on radio, the kind of Bible study leaders so popular with others and with us... We have become very comfortable in a Reformed world of fundamentalism, evangelicalism, mega-church Christianity, and even pentecostalism.  Too comfortable.  The "sound track" of our piety is not a Lutheran sound track -- it does not flow from the means of grace (Word and Sacrament) but from the realm of feeling, direct Spirit guidance and assurance, and it is individualistic (not community oriented).

Now we say that we have separated this "style" from our Lutheran substance and identity but, even if I grant this, for how long?  For how long can you piety and your vocabulary be formed by and rooted in another language before it becomes your mother tongue and your Lutheran identity and orthodoxy becomes the foreign language to you?

Clearly the work of the Reformation is an ongoing reform that continually pulls the Church back to Christ -- not the Christ of imagination and feeling.. nor of reason and intellect... but the Christ of the incarnation whose presence is fully rooted in His Word, His water, His Table, and His voice of absolution.

Would Luther recognize the Church that bears his name today (his name, whether for good or ill)?  It is a struggle for which we must ever draw from the sources to retain our identity and confession anew... so ad fontes... to the sources... not just in October and the month of Reformation remembrance but all the year through... reading the catechism, reading the Confessions, talking and discussing until this identity is reclaimed and "comfortable" to this generation and then teach it anew to the next...


Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

Well said, Fr. Peters. Ecclesia semper reformanda est, for sure.

Anonymous said...

Beth Moore is a popular Bible study
leader for LC-MS women. They attend
her conferences, buy her books, and
offer her video series in their
parish. Beth is a Southern Baptist
with a pop-psychology appeal. She
has no theological education, but
feels the Lord gives her a message to
share. What is really scary is that
one of her latest studies is on the
book of Revelation.

Anonymous said...

I confess that I used to, when I read writings like yours, think "oh, that's just repristinator hysteria". Well, after a National Youth Gathering and actually reading the mail that was piling up on my desk from the Center for US Missions, I had to repent and reconsider.

The LCMS has, indeed, drank deeply of the Reformed chalice and it is really showing. As my wife tells me "you need to get out more". I assumed that the majority of parishes of our Synod went along doing a less than enthusiastic version of our liturgy and proclaimed orthodox sermons. Well, I haven't been out enough to know if my assessment of the "majority" is still true, but just about every congregation that advertises a "blended" or "contemporary" worship "experience" is singing songs or ditties that are not Lutheran.

So, how do we reform our Synod, especially the "big box" franchises out there?