Saturday, August 8, 2015

Without conviction. . .

Tolerance is not only a virtue in modern day culture but the minimum expected of those who are part of that culture.  Perhaps it could be said that more than tolerance is both expected and demanded -- and that is approval.  It is not enough to live and let live; it is generally assumed by many that nothing less than full and enthusiastic acceptance will do.

So, for example, there are those who believe that anything less than the full and enthusiastic support of the GLBT agenda is not enough.  I know of people and have acquaintances who have said bluntly that they believe that mere tolerance of their homosexuality is not enough.  You cannot love me and not affirm who I am, as it was put to a friend of mine by his own brother.  If you love me, you will be at my wedding and happy for me and stand with me, said a daughter of a friend when she introduced her lesbian lover.  This may be one of the most visible areas testing our resolve but it is not the only one.

You can transfer this same understanding of tolerance, the glorification of diversity, and the lack of any real objective truth to a whole host of issues and challenges.  Indeed, the issue facing Christianity today is not simply where you stand but whether you stand at all.  Liberal theology has raised questions in our mind about the truth, trustworthiness, and message of Scripture.  Liberal psychology has just about explained away most sins so that they are mere matters of choices -- different choices -- made under unique circumstances.  Liberal churches say the words of the creeds without necessarily meaning what is said.  Liberalism has left us with nothing solid except tolerance, openness to that which is new and different, and a captivity to the moment that has forgotten history and refuses to pass on anything of substance to the future.

Churches that presume to hold to their confessions are routinely labelled as narrow, rigid, uncaring, etc...  Theologians who confess catholic doctrine are called repristination theologians who can only mimic what has already been said.  People in the pew who expect that their pastors and teachers believe what they say are told to grow up and get with the times.  So it is no wonder that we have taught our children that everything is negotiable, everything is open for debate, everything is subject to redefinition, and everything is what you think it to be.  And many of them, including the children of Christians, have learned this only too well.

Will we risk being labelled as narrow and judgmental for standing upon truth and for truth that remains the same and does not change?  That is the dilemma facing us now more than ever.  While some might express it in terms of the Spirit doing new things (in conflict even with the Word the Spirit said endures forever), others have simply abandoned explanation to accept what is as if it had always been.  In Rome, in Wittenberg, in Geneva, and in Constantinople, the issue is the same.  Do we accommodate culture or transcend it with the Truth that is Christ that endures forever?  Do we change to keep up with what is relevant, where people are at, or what is new and different OR do we hold on to the catholic doctrine and practice that does not change?  Do we use words as symbols or do we speak them for what they mean?  Do we describe Scripture as mythology with eternal lessons or as fact and truth that is not affected by our faith or our unbelief?

No, this is not a call to be rude or impolite or harsh.  What we are being called to do and to say is that which is yesterday, today, and forever the same.  Where Scripture is believed not simply as true historical record but as the performative and efficacious Word that does what it says.  Where creed is confessed as the same living and powerful truth that once overcame an adversarial culture, extended a missionary presence beyond borders, and witnessed against heretic and heresy.  Where liturgy is not merely the work of a people in remembrance but the means of grace for the God of time and history to enter the moment with His gracious gifts.  Where mercy is not what we do but who we are as we see in Christ who is the mercy of God incarnate..  Where the nicest thing we can do is to proclaim Christ to those who do not know Him and infuse our children with the knowledge of their Savior's saving grace before they have a chance to choose, and where we are content with no one and no place where Christ remains unknown.

If the price of tolerance is our conviction, then it is a price too high for us to pay.


Kirk Skeptic said...

Well said. What really gets to me is how those in the LCMS who claim to subscribe quia to the FC then profess political liberalism, as if 1) God thinks politics to be adiaphoric; 2) Scripture doesn't address political and economic aspects of life; 3) it's hip to be edgy. With acceptance of liberal polital and economic agendas, can the theological agenda be far behind; after all, "hath God said..."?

Carl Vehse said...

Christian who hold to Scripture in opposing genocide-by-abortion or homosexual "marriage" or socialistic robbery are attacked by liberal (aka progressive) religious and political groups, including the media, who espouse the Liberal Lie: "All beliefs are to be tolerated except those that are not tolerant."

In Bondage of the Will (LW, Vol. 33, Fortress Press, 1972), Martin Luther responded to why he would not stop asserting God's truth [pp. 50-53]:

"You thus plainly show that outward peace and quietness are to you more important that faith, conscience, salvation, the Word of God, the glory of Christ, and God himself.

"Let me tell you, therefore — and I beg you to let this sink deep into your mind — that what I am after in this dispute is to me something serious, necessary, and indeed eternal, something of such a kind and such importance that it ought to be asserted and defended to the death, even if the whole world had not only to be thrown into strife and confusion, but actually to return to total chaos and be reduced to nothingness. If you do not understand this or are not concerned about it, then mind your own affairs and let those understand and be concerned about it on whom God has laid the charge....

"The world and its god cannot and will not endure the Word of the true God, and the true God neither will nor can keep silence; so when these two Gods are at war with one another, what can there be but tumult in the whole world?

"To wish to stop these tumults, therefore, is nothing else but to wish to suppress and prohibit the Word of God…. For myself, if I did not see these tumults I should say that the Word of God was not in the world, but now, when I do see them, I heartily rejoice and have no fear…."