Saturday, September 29, 2018
Theology or Idealogy?
I read this from an English commentator: There is greater unanimity among the bishops of the Church of England over Brexit than over the doctrine of the Eucharist. In other words, the tide has shifted and where once churches were at least united in faith about God, they are now more likely to be of one mind about social and political causes but of many minds when it comes to God. The United Methodists made a recent slogan of open minds as if to suggest you did not have to believe anything and could believe whatever you wanted and they would welcome you with open doors and open arms. As we have seen, however, those open minds stop being open when it comes to questioning basic social positions and political causes like rights for gays and lesbians, same sex marriage, support for gender identity choices, abortion rights, and feminism. Believe what you want about God, just don't say you oppose these sacred truths.
What happens to a church when agreement in faith is replaced by more or less agreement in social justice movements, individual rights to define identity and gender, the sacred choice to kill the child in the womb, the holy cause of deciding for yourself when life is no longer worth living, and the over all gender superiority of women over men? Well, look around you. You see what were once the giants of the American religious scene now a shadow of their former selves. Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and ELCA Lutherans have lost more members than most churches ever had in their heyday. Worship attendance is in major decline in these churches. Sunday mornings will often find little talk about God from the pulpit -- except to sanction the prevailing social or political opinion of the day. The graying of these churches is obvious. [Once my family and I visited an ELCA congregation on a Sunday morning (no Missouri was close) and we were instantly the youngest folks there!]
Now I am certainly not saying things are hunky dory in Missouri or Wisconsin or any of the miniature alphabet soup synods of Lutheranism or even in the ACNA or Episcopal break offs or the splinter groups from other denominations. They are not. But I venture to say that the folks in the pews there are much more united in their confession of God and in the doctrine from His Word than they are the politics or social justice cause parading as either Gospel or morality today. And that is how is should be. Unity of faith is our only real cause -- unity of doctrine and practice to present to the world a solid witness of this we believe. We may and will have different opinions and cast different votes in the ballot box but this we believe in common. We may even have people who disagree with sacred causes (such as the pro-life cause) and yet, as a church, it is clear where we stand, captive to the Word of God. But our social causes and our politics are not shaped by poll or trend but by the Word of God. For good or for ill, this is how it should be. The Christian witness has been crippled by our failure to stand together upon the creedal confession of the Triune God and it cannot be rescued by the substitution of either social or political cause.