Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Depends upon the reasons. . .

Many Christians are upset by the divisions within Christianity.  I get it.  It would be nice if everyone were the kind of Lutheran I am.  Okay.  Stop laughing now.  The truth is that I am not so upset about the divisions of Christendom if they are divisions of substance.  If we are divided on the basis of doctrine, then those divisions are not small or petty.  The answer to such divisions is for everyone to appeal to God's Word and to the catholic doctrine confessed down through the ages.  For this reason, I think it is better for Lutherans and Baptists to be divided upon the Word of truth rightly divided than for Methodists and Presbyterians to be divided over history and their personal traditions.  I think it is better for Lutherans and Roman Catholics to be divided over matters of substance in the faith confessed than to paper over such divisions with an artificial unity in which truth matters little.

While God certainly laments the divisions within Christianity, He most certainly laments even more when we fail to take seriously His Word or invent our own interpretations of that Word to accommodate our abdication to the views of culture and society in the moment.  God can countenance division over truth and even commands it.  To mark our divisions is not to note them but to make sure that they are over matters of substance, matters of the Truth of His Word.  While it is nice that the sex issues of the last decades have been met with Christian defections from the liberal and progressive church bodies, I wonder why it took the decisions to approve same sex marriage, have whatever gendered clergy, and adopt the profusion of genders and pronouns to get there.  There was already plenty in the ELCA, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc., which should have qualified for reasons to divide.  Somehow or other, these were not urgent until the sex issues of 15 to 20 years ago.

You can be sad over the divisions within Christendom but if they are divisions which guard the truth that does not change, these are not as lamentable.  Frankly, I am not sure what is left to divide those churches who confess a God of many names and genders and salvation which the fruit of our own work or sincerity.  In fact, if you can adopt all or part of this strange ecumenism, you should be able to get along with anyone and everyone.  The ugly truth, however, is that the only ones you cannot abide are those who refuse to share your heresy or apostasy.  So the ELCA can be in communion with just about anyone and everyone but confessional Lutherans who refuse to play the sex and gender game.  From the confessional side of things, this division is understandable.  From the progressive side of things, this is what we know it to be -- bigotry.

I suspect that God is not as concerned as we are about such divisions -- so long as they are divisions of substance regarding the truth of His Word.  I know it bothers me less and less although this is perhaps due to the difficulty in being surprised or outraged anymore by what has come to pass as Christian faith.

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