Thursday, December 16, 2021

An opinion on everything. . .

Truth is I am almost always accused of having an opinion on everything.  To be fair, it does seem like that even to me.  Yet the opinions I have on most things are merely opinions.  The things of God that consume my vocation as pastor are not opinions at all but convictions built upon the Word, informed by the Spirit, and lived out under the means of grace.  So do not confuse my convictions with mere opinions.  But I am not alone in this.

Liberal Christianity has opinions as well.  Every day some version of progressive and liberal Christianity spews out another opinion about such things as gender equality, same sex marriage, gender justice, climate change, racism, gender identity, the rights of illegal immigrants, the injustices in our past, the injustices in our present, critical race theory, institutional racism, and just about every other liberal opinion that comes from the left.  In most cases, they are pro whatever ism or issue is being mentioned and they never fail to find a way to identity the Gospel with their stand on social issues.  But strangely, they are silent about what consumes the Scriptures -- the cross!

Liberal Christianity has opinions but not convictions -- at least no real convictions with regard to Jesus, betrayed into the hands of sinners, crucified, died, risen, and having sent forth a Gospel to be proclaimed in His name for the forgiveness of sins.  Liberal Christianity is sure that the Gospel accounts are filled with less than factual statements and events (even myth and legend!).  Progressive Christianity is not sure how much can really be trusted to be truthful or accurate and so looks at Scripture as a book with words from God in it but it is not the Word of God.  Liberal Christianity has much to say about its judgment against the institutional sins of a nation but seems tongue tied when it comes to the sins of the individual (at least as the commandments name them).  Progressive Christianity has much to say about love but seems unable to connect that love to the cross where love is not a word but an act on behalf of the unworthy and undeserving by a self-less God.  Yet, this is the only thing that Jesus officially commands His Church to speak about.  The rest of the good works we are to do as individuals flow from this encounter with the life-changing Gospel of Christ crucified and risen.

No, this insistence upon speaking to everything except what Jesus Himself defines as the Gospel is as confusing to those in conservative churches as it is to those with no church.  It is no wonder that people yawn when the topic of Christianity comes up.  The liberal or progressive churches join with those in secular society to paint the conservative and orthodox Christians as narrow-minded, judgmental, and irrelevant to the world today.  But when dialog between the orthodox and liberal minded begins, there is no agreement whatsoever about the core and center of the Christian faith.  It is as if all the talk about sin and forgiveness is somehow mistaken or ill-conceived.  That the only really important things are the social topics that dominate the culture and the news today.  It has reached so deeply into the fabric of this vacuous Christianity that they welcomed the judgment of the government that churches were not essential, that faith is mainly a private affair, and that the real work of the kingdom can go on just fine without the weekly gathered of God's baptized people to hear His Word, be absolved of their sins, and receive the Sacrament of Christ's body and blood.

I am probably rightfully accused of having an opinion on everything but at least I recognize that the Gospel is not an opinion but a conviction -- informed by the Word, inspired by the Spirit, fed and nourished by the Eucharist, and witnessed in creed, confession, and good works before the world.  That is something liberal Christianity seems to have forgotten.  For them, the Gospel itself is merely an opinion and one that seems not to be nearly as important as the other opinions about the progressive stances on the issues of this moment.  How sad.

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