Saturday, September 28, 2019
Effecting change. . .
Those who lament the state of the church should pay attention. The way we change the rudder of the church is through her ministers -- those who preach and teach the faith and who will recruit other pastors and eventually even become the teachers of pastors. If you are in a church body suffering from a hapless drift toward modernity, take note. The seeds of this drift were sealed long ago by those who were formed to be pastors and church leaders. In the same way, those who wish to see this changed and a more profound theological orthodoxy in place must look also to the long view of who is recruited for the pastoral office and who trains them as the key to reversing the decline.
As I write this, my own church body suffers from worship wars, closed communion wars, change or die wars, and ecumenical wars. We have serious divisions on these issues. We have people who think that worship is mere style that is no mirror to substance or confession and congregations virtually indistinguishable from big box non-denominational churches on Sunday morning. We have people who do not think that the source and summit of the life of the Church and the spiritual lives of God's people is Word and Sacrament within the Divine Service. We have people who think that who comes to the Table is a local decision and does not have all that much to do with what people believe or not about anything except if they love Jesus. We have people who are desperate to see the shape of the faith changed to be more accommodating to the world and confront less the obvious differences between orthodox Christian confession and the thoughts ideas, and values of the culture around us. We have people who insist that formal fellowship does not need to be declared to be united in prayer, confession, work, and worship with Christians who believe, teach, and confess differently. This is not new we all know this,
The change does not happen top down. The change in the office of Synod President has some impact but it cannot be effective if other factors are working against him. The change will not come through Synod Convention. It is always good when our church body says to itself and the world around us that we hold these doctrinal positions and we order our practice faithfully but resolutions do not change what happens locally. The most profound way to effect these changes is to send faithful men to the seminary to be taught by faithful professors and then to be called into congregations to preach and teach the orthodox faith to those in the pews who will impart it to their children at home and live it out in their daily lives. This is the lasting way to effect good change (and to undermine such faithfulness, lest we forget and fail to do this).
My plea for all those who want to see their church move away from the secularized and cultural Christianity of modern times is to do just this. Send faithful young men to the seminary where they will be taught faithfully and call them back into the congregation to preach and teach the practice orthodox Christianity and to keep doing this over and over again. If you are in one of those groups organized to address the theological drift of your church body, pay attention. Francis knows the score in Rome and how to effect a legacy of change that reflects himself -- it is by electing cardinals who will choose his successor, by appointing like minded bishops who will run seminaries and recruit priests of a like mind. It is the way the faith has always been corrupted and the way it has always been reformed and restored. If it is to happen among Lutherans, it will happen this way. The right people in the top job is good and the clear record of the church from its assemblies is good but the best thing we can do to keep the church faithful is to recruit faithful young men, send them to faithful seminaries, and call them back into the congregations to preach and teach the renewal of the faith from the ground up.