Sunday, August 12, 2012

What is a traditionalist?

You can read here or here or here about the pleas from some in the Anglican Communion that the next Bishop of Canterbury must be a traditionalist.  Nevermind that none of the current candidates could be seen as traditionalist -- except in terms of the most radical theological and ethical extremes of Anglicanism.  Apparently, traditionalist does not mean what it implies but simply references a return to where the Anglicans (and ELCA) were prior to the consecration of Gene Robinson or the ordination of openly gay and lesbian priests.  It is a liberalism different from the present churches by degree rather than essence.

Some years ago (3 to be precise) I raised the question of whether or not the issues in the ELCA and Anglican Communion were merely about sex.  While some were quick to assure me that this was not, indeed, about sex but about orthodoxy in fiath and practice, the fears seem to have been proven true.  Those leaving the ELCA do not want an orthodox Lutheranism but an ELCA minue the most egregious social Gospel liberalism and an ELCA content to duck the GLBT question and worship in LBW.  Now I may still be proven wrong but it seems highly unlikely at this point that those who have left the ELCA are disowning any of the other issues that threatened the orthodoxy of their former home.  Women's ordination, feminist theology, politically correct speech about God and everything else, and historical cricitical methodology and presuppositions are all firmly entrenched in the NALC and LCMC.  The same is true of Anglicanism.  The voices for traditionalism have not heard what the African Anglicans are really saying.  They want to dial back the pace and progress of liberalism but not disown it.

I might add that Missouri faces its own parallel when it comes to worship and music.  We want to dial back the degree of diversity but not embrace the formal principle of a commonality rooted and shaped by the official worship books of our Synod.  We differ in degree more than in essence with those troubling extremes.  Perhaps this is why it is so hard for some to hear Pres. Harrison and his call to repentance or to have an honest conversation about the ramifications of our wide divergence of worship forms and communion practices.

In all of this I fear that I am also misunderstood.  I do not hearken back to a Waltherian utopia.  I long instead for a Lutheranism so fully at home with and and in tune with its confessions that it becomes the evangelical and catholic church of its origins.  I long not to be more conservative or less liberal but to be the church we claim to be in our confessions --both in expression and in practice.  Where we are neither embarrassed nor ill at ease with this catholic identity so fully rooted in the Gospel but happy and proud and confident that this is not only who we are but is who we should be still.  I long for a Lutheranism which is less Missourian and more Confessional and Catechetical (the kleine version).

The more entrenched liberalism becomes, the more we will be content to slow its pace instead of casting off its shallow identity and false face of Christian truth, doctrine, and identity.  And that is what I fear most of all... for ELCAites on the move out... for Anglicans seeking a minor course correction... and for Missourians who want to be more like their Grandpa's Lutheranism than the one the Pastors pledge to in their ordination and the parish holds up as its standard of doctrine and faith in their counstitution.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your observations. They are very helpful in shedding light on what is going on.

This morning, I read an article by Ken Myers in the Modern Reformation magazine archives that I also found helpful. His article looks at the problems caused by popular culture creeping into the church. I cannot summarize it well, so it seems best to offer you the link to the article. I think it is an important part of the puzzle along with liberalism and it seems most likely that they are intertwined. I hope you find it a helpful addition.


William Tighe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carl Vehse said...

In light of the article's discussion of the morass of the Anglican episcopate, the reference to XXXA-lite spin-offs, and the hearkening back to a "Waltherian utopia" and "Grandpa's Lutheranism," one is spurred to respond to the statement, "I long for a Lutheranism which is less Missourian and more Confessional and Catechetical (the kleine version)," with, "What does this mean?!?"

Anonymous said...

The LCMS has in recent times been
a reflection of its Synodical Prez.
J.A.O. Preus felt that he had a
mandate to clean house in St Louis
and was lucky enough for the faculty
to walk off campus. It spared Preus
any heresy trials.

Gerald Kieshnick tried to bring the
LCMS up to date in evangelism methods
and tried to plant new mission
parishes with contemporary worship.

William Tighe said...

I am not sure what you mean by these sentence:

"The voices for traditionalism have not heard what the African Anglicans are really saying. They want to dial back the pace and progress of liberalism but not disown it."

Does the initial "they" of the second sentence refer to "the voices for traditionalism" or to "the African bishops?" If you mean the latter, then I would certainly agree with you.

The fact of the matter is, that almost all of the African Anglican churches practice WO, and virtually all African Anglican bishops (with the exception of most in the Anglican Province of Central Africa and a few in Tanzania) have "no problem" with it. The very large Anglican Church of Nigeria doesn't practice WO, but has made it clear that it has no principled basis of opposition to it, but in practice views it as an "opening for liberalism" wherever it has been introduced. Only the Anglo-Catholic "Province of Central Africa" (Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe) opposes it as a matter of principle.

Janis Williams said...

I recently had an encounter with a person who commented they were glad God loves diversity. I guess my brain was not fully engaged that day.

I wish I had explained that God, indeed is NOT in love with diversity (read the OT). God is merciful to us in our errors.

As a former Baptist - read - heterodox, I am surprised at how easily those who would practically die for the LCMS adopt post-modern/liberal ideas.

No one wants to claim they're right (correct). All of us are expected to be equanimous and tolerant in the face of what Scripture does not say. Words no longer mean what the definition in the dictionary says.

No one is wrong.No one loses. Everyone wins the prize. Just ask these folk to give their opinions - on politics, finances, which brand of shoes or even what brand of bread is best. Then suggest they relinquish that opinion in the name of tolerance...

This (your post's discussion) is a virulent disease that affects almost all of the visible Church in some degree or other