Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Real Radicalism. . .

The sad truth is that the edge is not very sharp anymore.  Being on the cutting edge of things with respect to worship or doctrine or exegesis is not what it once was.  The edge has become dull because everyone is doing it.  Everyone is dumbing down the content and practice of the faith in pursuit of a people who they will notice that the Church is just like them.  Worship has become casual to the point where nobody believes that being in the presence of God is a big deal -- not something awesome or full of awe -- it is ordinary, common, and dull.  Doctrine has become like the old clothes in your closet which you are sentimentally attached to but which you will never wear again.  We wait for those who come after us to finally toss them out.  Everyone admits and glories in the things they have trouble believing or simply refuse to believe.  The God who is one person wide and deep has produced doctrine which is the same.  Scripture has become the book we all love to hate and we all rewrite with our own authoritative definition of what the words mean.  We play around at pronouns while ignoring the preaching of the kingdom.  We all know why the things in the Bible cannot be true but we cannot even name the things that are.  Where is the cutting edge in all of this?

Even the Pope is on this bandwagon.  He sets up all sorts of hopes and expectations and smiles to the priests and theologians who jump on his cue.  We will bless the alphabet soup of sexual desire and gender.  We will slowly incorporate them into the fuller life of the Church.  They will not have to bother addressing the behaviors which conflict with God's Word.  It is all good.  Throw in an idol on the altar of St. Peter's or goofy up the Mass with the strangest foolishness you can imagine and it is all good.  There is no edge in the edginess anymore.  No one is shocked anymore by what people refuse to believe (according to one poll 67% of Roman Catholics do not believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist).  It is normal.  It is the same way among Lutherans.  You can go to a Lutheran Church where the kerygma is about sex or gender or the worship looks like the big box evangelical church down the road and no one gets excited.  The edge is dull and we are dull.  The most outlandish things you can imagine have become normal.

Except for orthodoxy.  The Pope does not get excited about those who press the limits of what it means to believe but if you permit the Latin Mass or get too upset about abortion or fail to fly your rainbow flag and if you are a bishop, your diocese will be declared vacant and if you are a priest you will be cancelled.  Lutherans will jump ship in their congregation or work to get their pastor fired for incense or reservation or vestments or genuflecting in the Divine Service and the administrators will almost always go along with those who decry the rigid liturgical types.  But they treat with kid gloves those who refuse to practice close(d) communion or stop online communion or have turned their sanctuaries into MMA arenas or infotainment centers for the latest in self-help stuff.  We can even abide those who refuse to put Lutheran in their name (perhaps we should all be relieved about this one!) but we draw the line at being too Lutheran (translate that catholic).  The cutting edge of Christianity is not on how far out ahead you can get but how close you reflect that which was always and everywhere believed and practiced.  The pope and those in Lutheran jurisdictions have proved this point too many times.  Most of the other church bodies have departed so far from the faith that there is no one even left to complain (except about the random voices of those who still believe).  Just do not be rigid about what Scripture plainly says, our creeds confess, and our confessional documents testify.

The most dangerous person is the world is the orthodox and faithful Christian pastor or lay person.  If you want to live on the edge, try living there.  But you might want to purchase a flak jacket or body armor.

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