Monday, February 9, 2015

Fighting the heart with the head. . .

Teaching the head has nothing to do with changing the emotion of the heart. . .  It was a genius statement by Pr. Harvey Mozolak.  He wrote it on a forum in reference to a person having an emotional antagonism to saying the word catholic in the creed.  It is certainly that.  Lutherans who do not like the word catholic are not stupid.  They can be taught the history, the fact that Lutherans did not originate the substitution of Christian for catholic, that they were meant to be synonyms and not to contrast one with the other, and that what we mean when we say Christian today is not really at all what the creed meant when it said catholic.  But that teaching of the head has nothing to do with the changing of the emotion of the heart.

Lutherans are not stupid.  They see in LSB that chanting notes were provided the pastor (as in LW but published separately in TLH).  They understand the history and can appreciate Luther's own words directing how portions of the service ought to be chanted.  In their hearts, however, is the god of preference and a pervasive bigotry against things presumed ROMAN and they resist the chanting like a horse resists his first bridle.  That teaching of the head has nothing to do with the changing of the emotion of the heart.

Lutherans are not stupid.  They see the difference between the great words of witness and confession in the Lutheran chorales and in the hymnody that mirrors this Gospel story telling perspective but their hearts are drawn to soft rock like bees to honey (pollen?).  It does not matter what is explained, their god of preference that lives in their hearts wants to hear what they want to hear and so they come up with reasons (evangelism, outreach, youth, etc...) to shut the hymnal, look up at the praise band, and sing the words on the screen to a song the Lord gave to some evangelical praise leader but have now been copyrighted and so they are not free to use.  That teaching of the head has nothing to do with the changing of the emotion of the heart.

Lutherans are not stupid.  They can read the Augustana and they know that Lutherans have Holy Communion every Sunday (Lord's Day) and every other day when people desire to receive it.  They know this is expectation of our Confessions but they like having shorter services, their piety is formed from and shaped by something other than the Sacrament of the Altar, and their quest for variety (the spice of life) and the god of preference intervenes to by-pass what they know with what they want.  As one person put it to me, "Pastor, I am not saying you are wrong about this being Lutheran, I am saying I really don't like it."  That teaching of the head has nothing to do with the changing of the emotion of the heart.

Lutherans are not stupid.  They understand what Jesus said about the little ones who believe in Me and they read about baptism in Paul's letters.  They know that baptismal piety is a hallmark of Lutheranism but they feel like this is overstated.  Kids ought to know, understand, and consent to the faith before they are initiated into it... baptism is like your first sex, you do it and move on... you have to feel something in your heart for it to be true...  -- just a few of things people have actually said to me about baptism.  We teach it, preach it, talk about it, return to it for hope in illness and death, etc... but that teaching of the head has nothing to do with the changing of the emotion of the heart.

I could go on... but really what I am saying is that confessional Lutheranism is not about the head.  I think we got it down there.  It is a battle for the heart -- against the god of preference, against the relativism of the modern age, against the bias toward feeling over truth for certainty, and against the longing to feel like an evangelical in a Lutheran setting...  We don't need new confessions or even more convention resolutions or more books. . . we have plenty (well, not really enough for a book lover like myself, but...).  What we lack is the will to control the heart, to rein in the god of feelings running out of control, and to cling to the objective truth over the subjective warm and fuzzy of the heart.  We are not there yet.  In the LCMS we are closer to sticking our necks out and stepping outside the mainstream of culture and cultural Christianity but we are not convinced enough by the head to overrule the heart.  Not by a long shot.

Maybe we will never win... maybe this is the meaning of lifelong repentance????  Jesus said it best.  All kinds of evil proceeds from the heart.  We don't have to learn it from TV or school or even parents.  The problems proceed from the heart and we dare not return to the heart for assurance of our forgiveness or salvation.  As tempting as it is, our hope lies with the teaching of the head.  Don't get me wrong -- we ought to feel things but the informed mind ought to tell us where to go for the source of our passion and what it is that endures forever and does not change (like the feelings of the heart).

Way to go, Harvey!  You hit on a genius statement!  God bless you.


Carl Vehse said...

Harvey Mozolak is Interim Pastor of a NALC church in Stanley, NC.

In a discussion topic dealing with an LCMS heretic, the subject of the Athanasian Creed came up. Mozolak's complete January 26, 2015, comment was:

The Athan. Creed does bring out the laity's questions and concerns... albeit, interestingly it has often less to do with the works saving us and more to do with the word "catholic" and having to believe something catholic to be saved. The ole prejudices die with difficulty... I still hear folks when confessing either of the other two creed from LBW using Christian as their quietly said substitute for catholic. Teaching the head has nothing to do with changing the heart of emotion.

NALC, XXXA, and the LCMS have more pressing theological problems than whether a layman or even the Creeds in the Book of Concord of 1580 use "Chrisliche" rather than "catholicam" in referring to the invisible Church.

Kirk Skeptic said...

Said ecclesiastical bodies also have more to worry about than whether the liturgy was given on Sinai vs Calvary. While I'm with Pr P on preferences, those who aren't aren't necessarily solipsistic entitled demanders. Maybe everybody should regularly submit their druthers to the judgment of Scripture; 'twould be a salutary exercise.

Anonymous said...

Some LCMS Lutherans suffer, often to an excruciatingly painful degree, the thankfully treatable affliction known as "Romaphobia" in which they mistake everything "catholic" with "Roman Catholic" and regard the hey-day of The LCMS, and for that matter, the entire history of Christianity, to be coterminus with all things 1920-1950 LCMS.


Carl Vehse said...


You seem to display a pathological scotoma regarding Lutherans in the LCMS, like Franz Pieper or J.T. Mueller, whose books or translations your company pays you to sell, not mock.

As previously shown, the use of "catholic" in reference to the invisible Church is no problem for a Lutheran.

What you refer to as "Romaphobia" is really Romanausea over deferential infatuation to a current or previous Antichrist by some in (what?) the Aluminum Foil Age of the LCMS.

Kirk Skeptic said...

@CV: yiu may add to that the strange delusion similar to Anglican "branch theory," only held to by Anglicans and eschewed byt he other "branches." One might call this delusion Protestantophobia.

Carl Vehse said...


Let's not forget the effect of the scotoma on another Roman and Anglican delusion regarding the passing of some special supernatural power or peculiar order of superior holiness over and against the common estate of Christians, by means of the successive physical contact of fingers belonging to the continuous and unbroken chain of similarly ordered bishops, all the way back to the Apostles.

Anonymous said...

Not sure who "Paul" is that Vehse is talking about, but plenty of people who read Lutheran blogs know all about Richard Strickert aka "Carl Vehse" a seventy-something old crank in Texas whose understanding of confessional Lutheranism is minimal, but capacity for breaking the Eighth Commandment knows no bounds.

We've got your number, Richard.

Carl Vehse said...

Anything pertinent to the thread or comments, "Anonymous" (Paul)?