Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Not too. . .

Perhaps the saddest thing surrounding the election of John F. Kennedy was his need to suggest to some fearful in the electorate that he was not that Catholic and so it was safe to vote for him.  Some Roman Catholics have complained that it seemed to be a similar undertone in the wake of Vatican II -- yes we are Catholic but we are not that Catholic.  It is certainly one of the complaints against Pope Francis -- sort of like he is apologizing for being Roman Catholic and justifies it all by insisting he is not that Roman Catholic.

This is surely nothing new.  Protestants have been doing this for centuries.  Presbyterians uncomfortable with predestination have been long suggesting that they are not that Presbyterians -- almost to the point of Arminianism is just as Presbyterian as Calvinism.  Methodists have ditched much of the method that once made them distinctive and they have become #metoo Protestants and Evangelicals.  They not that Methodist but have open minds and open doors and open questions.

Even among Lutherans it has become a popular thought that the means to revitalizing the denominations that claim Luther's legacy is to distance themselves from it and embrace something more, well, American.  So the ELCA has insisted it is not that Lutheran -- at least when it comes to who communes, male and female identity, same sex marriage, etc...   They at least are honest in saying that they are departing from historic Lutheran faith and practice -- even though they do so claiming a higher Lutheran principle, the Gospel.  Their Gospel affirms anything and everything, it seems.  And those on the other side have also been doing it.  They insist that on Sunday morning you can do whatever you want, whatever feels good, and whatever is meaningful and forget the Confessions and liturgies and hymnals.  They are Lutheran, that they insist, but not that Lutheran that they wear dresses, sing in funny ways, practice irrelevant rituals, talk like folks in Shakespeare's time, pray from a book, and put all that much stock into water or bread or wine.

Why is it that we always assume that the promise is being faithful and if you dilute it, distance yourself from it, keep it in substance but not in style, or conveniently not talk about it anymore the people will clamor into our empty buildings?  Kennedy did himself and us no favors by suggesting he was not a good Catholic.  Vatican II did not get it if they though the Latin was the problem or the outdated music.  Francis is befuddled if he thinks heading down the route of separating style and substance will help rescue Rome or the declining clergy numbers.  Protestants are fools if they think that becoming a generic, deistic, therapeutic, moralistic faith will fill the void.  Evangelicals are being idiots if they think they can keep the name Christian and gut its doctrinal baggage.  Same for Presbyterians and Methodists.  And for Lutherans.  Who in their right mind wants to join a Lutheran church because it is not that Lutheran????


Carl Vehse said...

No! The saddest thing about the 1960 presidential campaign is that the fifth-column leftist media hid JFK's adulterous immorality and his drug-addicted physical condition from the American voter.

Anonymous said...

The new chairman of the LCMS Council of Presidents would like all of us to "Imagine Immeasurably More" a Lutheran denomination that is not glued to the Lutheran confessions:


Are you picking up on the theme? He wants watered down Lutheranism that is open to other doctrines and practices. Not only that, but he projects his view of the LCMS being "too Lutheran" essentially onto the synod by saying that we need to repent of these things. He's not just saying to avoid them; he's claiming they are happening.

The ELCA may have "Decolonize Lutheranism", but the unofficial slogan of the LCMS is "Deconstruct Lutheranism."

A case can be made that the old Seminex sympathizers and the Church Growth Fuller/Saddleback/Willow Creek folks have mutual interests.

The first group wants the LCMS to become like the ELCA, while the second group wants to turn the LCMS into yet another Evangelical (non-denominational) mega-church.

If LCMS doctrine can be watered down by the second group (Evangelicalism, non-denominational theology), then there would be room to introduce ELCA-style theological errors by the first group. Liberalism ushered in via watered-down Evangelicalism is a dangerous cocktail.

Is it fair to say that Rev. Maier is the 21st century version of Seminex leader Richard Jungkuntz?

A "confessional" Lutheran body does not need to seek out, borrow, and imitate the theology of Fuller, Saddleback, and Willow Creek. I'm not a fan of the idea that pastor does all the work and the members just sit on their butts, but I'm also not a fan of the idea that the members are all little pastors who can preach and teach and administer the sacraments, etc.

Anonymous said...

Seminex had nothing to do with "Church Growth" principles.
Instead, they had professors who could not affirm the truth
of the Old Testament. Adam and Eve, Jonah, were only colorful,
mythical figures. Moses was not the author of the Pentateuch.
There was no six day creation of the universe by God.

Anonymous said...

@Anonynmous, from October 9, 2018 at 1:48 PM

Correct. 1970's era Seminex has nothing to do with 21st century "Church Growth" principles.

But then again, look at "Church Growth" advocate Andy Stanley. His theology is the perfect merger of both the old Seminex (liberal church) ideals and pop-Evangelical theology. It is a departure from the beliefs of his traditional Southern Baptist father Charles.

Thesis-->Antithesis-->Synthesis. Liberal theology worms its way into Evangelical megachurch theology. We see that in the Fighting for the Faith podcasts. "Missional" LCMS pastors are eager to copy non-denominational mega-church theology.

By being allies, the groups that support Rev. Maier and those that want to turn the LCMS into a non-denominational megachurch can realize their own interests.