Wednesday, July 10, 2024

The power of the status quo. . .

The reality is that most Americans think they are conservatives and I am sure that this also applies to Lutherans.  The problem here is that the thing we are trying to conserve most of all is the status quo -- what we know best.  That has long been the problem.

Conservatives left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America but they did not want to go too far back in time -- only back far enough to keep the ELCA prior to the Church Wide Assembling sex decisions of 2009.  So, the ordination is off the table and many of the social and ecumenical perspectives of the ELCA were incorporated into the bodies that departed official ELCA.  What they wanted to conserve most was the church body they had known until it become one they thought had gone too far.  The same is true of the Methodists departing from the United Methodist Church and the Anglicans who left from the Episcopal Church.  These folks are conservatives but relative conservatives -- they will continue to affirm and hold onto their status quo prior to the things they found objectionable.  Sadly, for most it has to do with the sex issues of preference/same sex marriage and gender identity.  Biblical authority, traditional family, Judeo-Christian morality, and objective truth, along with the ordination of women, are too much to tackle.  

The same is true of the liturgical renewal movement.  Most folks have decided that the Lutheranism they grew up with is probably the most authentic face for Lutherans.  Here, you might draw the line differently in different denominations but for the ELCA folk the Lutheran Book of Worship is the line in the sand.  For the LCMS folk, it was The Lutheran Hymnal and now is (at least part of) Lutheran Service Book.  Ceremonial?  Yes, but not too ceremonial (read that catholic).  Liturgical?  Yes, but not because we really like that stuff -- it is just who we are.  Vestments?  Yes, but not the fancy ones that look to, well, catholic.  The conservatives who preserve catholic doctrine and practice have become radicals in just about every denomination.  Even Roman Catholics in general and the Pope see the Novus Ordo (post-Vatican II form) to be the bedrock of their identity and the Latin Mass to be, well, too conservative.

Curiously, conservatism has been reference not at what was and now should be but more what we did yesterday that we should continue.  Even on social issues, we want to be conservative but not too conservative -- think here the great public relations blow up over Alabama granting the rights of personhood to frozen embryos.   It is an odd position.  What is really being said is that we want to slow down change.  If that is the case, that is certainly not what it means to be a conservative.  Though it may well be exactly what people want -- a slower pace of change to get more accustomed to them and to go back to the time before these issues so deeply divided us (think here abortion, same sex marriage, and the trans business).  Could it be that this is also how we see the Scriptures?  True and essential when it comes to matters directly relating to our salvation and flexible enough to allow disagreement on other things?  Yes, in other words, the Bible is God's Word but just not all of it.  We get to decide which parts are, of course!

Republicans want to turn the clock back a little but not dismantle the whole government.  Lutherans want to keep things close to how they used to be but that used to be is referenced in their memory and not in Lutheran orthodoxy or the Reformation.  What an odd kind of conservatism!

1 comment:

Carl Vehse said...

"Conservatives left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America but they did not want to go too far back in time -- only back far enough to keep the ELCA prior to the Church Wide Assembling sex decisions of 2009."

There people who migrated from the apostate XXXA after 2009 can be called "conservative," only in a loose, relative sense, but they were never conservative theologically, and certainly not "confessional Lutherans." The LCA , ALC ,and AELC, which joined to form the XXXA in the late 1980s, were already ordaining women over 15 years earlier.