read from Anthony Sacramone's blog on the white bread nature of Lutheranism. I am not sure I dispute much of what he says about how Lutherans appear to those outside (though I wish inside we did not find ourselves so dull).
His conclusion, however, is that dull does not mean without something to offer. His insistence is that inside that boring exterior is the Gospel heart, beating strong and bestowing the riches of God's grace in Christ undiluted and uncontaminated. Sacramone's writing is compelling and his passion is hard to miss.
So there you have it. What does Lutheranism have to offer that
Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism doesn’t? Luther. A pre-medieval
worship that has exorcised the penitential out of repentance, all the
obfuscating cults of the saints that made grace something one had to
connive out of God as if he were a Renaissance prince whose attention
could be gotten only by court insiders. Justification by faith alone.
The gift of vocation that put a blacksmith on spiritual par with a
bishop. The great freedom in knowing that God doesn’t need your good
works — but your neighbor does, who is therefore not a means to a
And the theology of the cross, which does more to eviscerate the unconsciously karmic idea of life’s causes and effects
than anything else. Ever pray fervently for some good thing and
received the exact opposite of what you prayed for? Yet instead of
rebelling, you came to understand what it was to wait with Christ one
hour in Gethsemane? You are a theologian of the cross.
In other words Christ at the beginning, Christ at the center, Christ at the end. And for you.
Much like the piece on a husband who was not romantic that went viral some months ago, I hope that this piece goes forth like Lutheran bread upon the waters. Sacramone's vision of Lutheran is anything but compelling and, sadly, we Lutherans need to be re-awoken to the hidden treasures of grace that are regularly given to us weekly in the means of grace. Honestly, we could do far worse than Sacramone's piece as the PR for a church body and confession that remains far too hidden in our world and our modern culture today.
We have succumbed to the idea that excitement is a worthy substitute for truth, for reality, for love, and for church. It is the lie that keeps on finding itching ears. Husbands and wives give up on their spouse and marriage because the romance seems to have gone out of their life together. People have become adrenalin addicts who think that happiness comes from a pulse pounding high. Our culture has rejected truth which is not passion or which does not result in an ego or emotional boost. The Church has become merely one more place where our perceived needs are fed -- especially our need to be entertained and kept happy.
Sacramone has it right. Lutherans are boring. Life is boring. God is boring. All this talk of sin and redemption, of confession and absolution, of repentance and renewal, of Word and Sacrament is hardly the stuff that sets our hearts afire or causes us to feel weak at the prospect of Sunday morning. But the problem lies not with Lutheranism, it lies with the false ideas of religion and faith that won't give Lutherans a second look. The problem lies with Lutherans who have sit oblivious to the transcendent revelation of God's presence, the radical resource of grace, and the amazing wonder of Him who comes to us as He has promised to deliver the promised gifts of Christ's redemption.
I am probably one of the dullest people I know. My parents were and still are pretty boring people. My life is hardly once of breathtaking excitement. But the miracle of grace is that God is there where He has promised and this merciful Lord delivers what He has pledged in the humble elements He transforms into the spectacular means of grace. If we miss it, it is because we have chosen not to see what the Spirit reveals. If we fail to talk about it, it is because we are too full of ourselves to speak of that which He has done. If others do not see it, it is because we have not told them where to look. My Word will not return to Me empty handed, says the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, but will accomplish the purpose for which I send it...
If you want to know where Lutherans live, it is at the junction of dull and boring. But knock on the door and listen to what is inside... dunk deep into the waters of death and life... come to the taste of bread Christ's body and wine His blood... Wow.... Christ is all in all. To live in the routine of this efficacious and life-giving means of grace is boring only if you have not listened or heard or watched or eaten or drunk what God has place among us with the power of the Spirit...
Christ's bitter suffering an death, His glorious resurrection, and His intercession for those of us who belong to Him is not about us anyway. If we get the focus off ourselves and our entertainment/excitement/ennui, we will not need anything to keep us satisfied.
BTW, Clarksville, TN is a good place for Lutherans; Dull unincorporated is only a few miles away. And for Lutherans in Eastern TN, Boring is in Sullivan county.
Boring and dull is a compliment if it is coming from the secular world. If at anytime it comes from within I make sure to reply from the perspective of being at the foot of the cross.
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