Thursday, September 14, 2017

Have to laugh. . .

I am so tired of converts telling us that the pope is not Catholic.  So complained a cradle Roman Catholic about those who take seriously the doctrine, liturgy, and life of their newly found faith.  There are, apparently, many who take more seriously than "cradle Catholics" (his term) what the Roman Catholic teaches and the mass by which it lives.  But the whole discussion brought a smile to my mouth.  Why?  Because I hear the same thing from LUTHERANS!

In the same way, many Lutherans who were born into the Lutheran Church tend to forget or simply have chosen to ignore what Lutherans believe, confess, and teach.  But not the converts.  Those who grew up in churches in which the faith was diluted or hijacked are happy to find a church where the Confessions replace feelings and opinions or the latest cultural trends.  Those who grew up without a faith are thrilled to find a God who does what He says, keeps His promises, and is present where He has said He will be to bestow what He has pledged.  Those who come with guilty conscience are drawn to Him who absolves the sinner by the blood of Christ.

In my own parish, with so many converts, there is real excitement from those converts to be in a confessional Lutheran congregation and to worship with the richness of the historic liturgy, hymns that speak the Gospel, and reverence the present God. They hunger to know the Scriptures because they speak of Christ and to learn the doctrine of the faith (that does not change).  Yet, sadly, it is not always the case for those who have always been Lutheran.  I do not mean to diminish them or anyone.  I am a cradle Lutheran.  But what you have always had, you do not always appreciate.  One of the great gifts of converts is that the draw our attention to that which we knew but have either forgotten or grown complacent about.  God bless them.

Under it all, it is easy to forget that ours is, after all, a missionary faith.  Lutheranism is not just for Lutherans only.  We are happy to hold babies in our arms over the font and to teach them the faith in Sunday school and catechism class and to watch them become adults.  Absolutely!  But we are just as happy to welcome those who grew up in another church or who grew up with no church at all.  Remember the story of the employer who sent out laborers into the vineyard at different hours?  This was not just words.  The Church welcomes people at different points in their lives but the point is the welcome of the Gospel and not who was first and who came late.

Some want only converts and others want only the cradle kind.  I want them all because God wants them all.  It is a marvelous thing when those experienced in the faith offer to the converts the example of their patient endurance and it is a wonderful thing when converts offer to the cradle Christians their confident enthusiasm.  It is always a problem when we forget this and much choose between them.


Janis Williams said...

Wae speaking with another convert last night. We were marveling about God's Grace in having us find a "real" Lutheran church. I am reminded of Craig Parton's warning to Lutheran pastors who want to dump the Liturgy and become "folk" Lutherans - outwardly resembling baptigelicals. He warned that converts who come to these pastors' parishes will, "come lookin' for them." Don't monkey with the Liturgy and Confessions, whether you are congregant or pastor; you might lose those converts...

BTW, the other convert with whom I was speaking is on the same page as myself: THANKFUL we have not one, but two faithful pastors!

Anonymous said...

Cradle Lutherans and Convert Lutherans are able to co-exist in most
Lutheran parishes. Cradle Lutherans sometimes have a tough time dealing
with adiaphoria, while Convert Lutherans do not idolize the past history
of their Lutheran parish. If a parish has only Cradle Lutherans as
members then they will have a limited life span. A healthy parish
also needs Convert Lutherans since they will be mission-minded and
want to reach out into the community.