Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why This Will Work - Part 3

How often do the children of God try to fix or improve His kingdom using their own methods?

This approach, foolish and disobedient to its core, leads to nothing but division in the church. As sinful men, we want to do things our way using our timing. When an individual, movement, or initiative replaces Christ as the central focus of the church, the unity of the body is inevitably compromised. If there is a place where loving unity has given way to harsh discord, you will find people who have turned away from Christ and sound apostolic teaching.

Look at the discord--the unrighteous bickering--that has been born out of the progressive additions to the church. As more humanly invented systems are introduced you find more division and theological compromise. In many places, the mystical body of the faithful has been reduced to a collection of board meetings, politics, demographic marketing, and partisanship. Christians have abandoned their scriptural call to be "in the world but not of it" in favor of becoming "community-based", "relevantly modern", and "seeker-sensitive".

That does not make my conservative brothers and sisters innocent by any measure. In their zeal to combat this foreign invasion of the church, some have resorted to many of the same progressive methods. The conservatives have taken the bait and have invented their own board meetings, politics, and partisanship.

Rather than addressing the root causes of these issues, they have allowed it to degrade into an us-versus-them battle for the heart of the synod... a heart which should belong to Christ alone. Not only has this move led to more division, it has fundamentally failed to vanquish the errors that this strategy was employed to combat. Not only does progressive theology and practice persist, it seems to flourish and grow in many areas. Do the conservatives recognize this and correctly diagnose their weak strategy? For many this is sadly not the case. They have turned to hopelessness and hand-wringing.

My answer to all of this mess is to stop wasting time just talking about the problem and do what you can to fix it. The bickering has become so absurd that we now argue about whether or not we are arguing and how deep that arguing goes. If public debate and rhetoric was going to work, we should have seen progress by now. In fact, the exact opposite is true.

We only have so much time, so much energy, and so many resources to devote to this issue. All of those assets should be thrown into getting each of our congregations as close to the apostolic model as possible. Think of how far we could go toward unity under pure doctrine if we all got off of our lazy rears and did something about it at the place where it matters the most: the local congregation. We have way too many generals up in the command tent saying, "we are losing on this flank... and that flank... we should counter-attack here, here, and there." We do not have enough people on the front lines taking the steps that are necessary to bring this conflict to a favorable end.

If the battle to defend confessional Lutheranism is really going as bad as you all say, pick up a rifle and head to the front lines. That is where your efforts are actually going to make a difference. It is very easy to point out what is wrong and whine about it to an audience that agrees with you. It takes a great deal of blood and sweat to actually deal with the problem.

  • Division is defeated by patience, love, and humility.

  • Minimalism is defeated by boldly teaching pure doctrine and scripture.

  • Partisanship is defeated by focusing on the entire mission of the church through dedication to the Word of God and deference to those who are weaker in the faith.

  • Heresy is defeated by equipping everyone with the ability to discern truth from error.

  • Unionism is defeated by encouraging love for the Lutheran confessions and Lutheran identity.
This kind of stuff takes sacrifice. It is very easy to identify a problem that should be fixed. It is quite another to devote yourself to the solution of that problem. If the problem in the LCMS is to be fixed, it will take a great deal of individual effort to repair the division from the ground up. The big question is: Are we willing to do the work?

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