Thursday, May 8, 2008

Why This Will Work - Part 1

I apologize for the delay between posts. The demands of my vocation(s) have given me little time for online posting. I doubt that anyone reads this anymore, but that has never stopped me from opening my big mouth in the past.

There has been a wave of doom and worry flowing through the Lutheran blogosphere. It is really easy to get drawn into the "glass half empty" mentality. The LCMS has given people good reason to worry here lately. So what do we do?

That is a telling question: "what do we do?" It is easy to get anthropocentric when things become difficult. The devil wants us to despair. He wants the confessional elements in the LCMS to become cynical. He wants you to despair. He wants you to abandon your light house. He wants you to stop calling into the wilderness. He wants you to abandon your brothers and sisters and right them off as hopeless.

We are supposed to be a people of hope, brothers and sisters. Christ continues to care for His bride and protect the truth of the Gospel. All around the synod, the right things are taking place and the right things are being taught. I see it all the time in church after church as the Army sends me all across the United States.

If you joined the Lutheran Church expecting a unified body free from heresy and division, then you haven't paid attention to Lutheran history. If you think that there will be a time before the Last Day where we will not have to guard against things like pietism and crypto-calvinism, then you are not living in the reality of the church militant. We have been fighting this fight since Luther. It is not going to get any easier and it is not going to feel any better. Suck it up and perform your calling.

Someone give me a time in our history when these elements have not been on the brink of extinguishing the flame of confessional Lutheranism. Such a utopian day has never existed and is not likely to exist in this life. Do we lay down and die? Is that the legacy of Luther?
I am alarmed by the protestant errors that are infiltrating Lutheranism. As a recent convert from the charismatic movement, I think that it hurts me the most.

...but it doesn't take much to see the good that is going on all around. In a world where the squeaky wheel gets the grease, the LCMS is full of well-oiled, confessional people who quietly live out their vocations. We must not lose sight of that.

So the question: what do we do?

1 Timothy 4:6-16

"If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe."

"Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."

Brothers and sisters, the sky is not falling... it has just always been lower than we want it to be. We shouldn't cry out in panic every time we look up.


Christopher D. Hall said...


Excellent counterpoint to one of my posts, eerily titled in a similar way :).

I appreciate your hearty disagreement (you're always free to disagree over at my place, too). I appreciate your words of hope, and the reminder that we are bearers of Good News. I need to remember that, and post some corrective).

However, I still disagree. I don't think reforming the Synod will work, and I don't believe that new Synod can be anything but schismatic. I honestly believe we as Lutherans need to take a good hard look at our confessions. Enough said for now.

Welcome back to blogging!

Mike Baker said...

That is my point. We do not disagree.

Systems, strategies, visions, programs, initiatives, and policies can never... and will never... replace the power of discipleship. Luther had a heart for teaching and we need to be the same way. We need to return the laity to the confessions and God's Word properly divided.

Such discipleship will be self-correcting. It will have a greater impact than any kind of movement, coup, or exodus. If we as confessional Lutherans are doing our jobs then all of this garbage will fall on deaf ears. The people, strengthened and equipped with sound theology, will call foul every time.

There are no quick fixes. There are no easy answers. Christianity is not the work of Generals. It is the work of the footsoldier. It is grunt work slogged out in the trenches one engagement at a time.

All of this junk in the synod is not the problem. It is a symptom of the greater problem. We have significant numbers of laity and leadership who cannot discern truth from error. Fix that and the synod will fix itself.