Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thoughts on Being Consistant

It seems that Confessional Lutherans have developed two different schools of thought:

1. Some have asserted that there are those who are aggressively decrying those who leave Lutheranism while largely ignoring the fact that many Lutherans have left Lutheranism a long time ago, but remain Lutherans.

2. Some have asserted (to include myself) that there are those who are aggressively decrying those who have watered down Lutheranism with protestant error while largely ignoring the fact that it is serious business when someone decides that the sound doctrine of Lutheranism is incorrect and officially passes from a pure confession to an error-filled one.

After a great deal of prayer and reflection I have developed a question: Are both positions right?

Both types of error are serious and must be addressed. Both types of error undermine the integrity of the true confession of the church. Both should be defended against with an equal amount of passion and vigilance. Is it possible that we need to take a step back and self-evaluate instead of telling other people how they should look at things?

At the risk of further irritating my only reader, I am going to engage in more stereotyping in order to speculate as to why people feel the way that they do. This is, of course, purely speculation on my part based on my limited life experience with people and looking at what makes them tick.

Question: If those who are hard on public converts are indeed soft on crypto-converts as some people believe, could it be because we are willing to overlook lesser errors due to the fact that we have all but written off those mistaken brothers as stubborn and largely unfixable? That would explain why we appear relatively cool to protestant error that has been running rampant for quite some time in some areas of the synod. We may be admitting that we feel that we cannot fix the problems internally, but at least we have the ability to defend the confessional ideal.

Question: If those who are hard on crypto-converts are indeed soft on public converts as some people believe, could it be because deep down they empathize with the frustrations expressed by those who have given up on Lutheranism and the LCMS in particular? That would explain why they appear relatively soft on those who have already left what appears to be a damaged if not sinking ship. They may be admitting that they feel that they cannot speak harshly against someone who at least started out with similar frustrations and observations about Lutheranism.

This debate is just another example of how Lutheranism is difficult and uncomfortable. The temptation is to view issues from either totally one side or totally the other when the truth is usually somewhere in between. I find it hard to believe that it is either one side or the other is totally correct here. I suggest that the both/and principle applies. We should be firmly presenting the truth to both mistaken brothers who remain Lutherans in name only and mistaken brothers who leave and adopt a confession that contains error.

Problems in the church militant never create a licence to embrace false teaching. Misgivings about our own failings do not disqualify us from presenting the pure doctrine and practice.

And we could all work on our tact.

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