Friday, August 15, 2008

Adiaphora, The Formula of Concord, and Treat Level Orange

We all agree that adiaphora can be safely practiced or ignored without sin. We also all agree that some adiaphora should be strongly encouraged because they are useful in promoting the faith.

We also agree with the Formula of Concord and the teachings of St. Paul that when it teaches that, in times of persecution and in case of confession, some matters that are adiaphora are no longer indifferent when they are used in such a way to attack or obscure the Gospel.

It is this teaching that is being used to assert that, in our current political and theological climate as American Lutherans, many things that are adiaphora in theory are not currently adiaphora in reality. In many cases, I agree with these assertions.

...but here is my question: Realistically speaking, when will those who make these assertions (myself included) conclude that the threats which make these matters no longer adiaphora have abated?

I submit to you the Homeland Security/TSA Airport Threat Level. The colors range from Green up through the Yellows Oranges and Reds of the color spectrum. There was a time (before the invention of these colors) when airports operated at Green. Now, the threat level seems to be Orange by default. When does anyone expect it ever to be Green again? More importantly, should it ever get to the situation where it is Green again, will people admit it and lower the security level?

It is easy to surrender freedoms. It is hard to have the custodians of those freedoms give them back to the people when the crisis is no longer a significant threat. Lets say that we manage to significantly limit matters that we all say are adiaphora so that we can defend the confessions and the Gospel.

How, when, and under what conditions do we get them back? Who will make that decision? Are you willing to surrender a matter of adiaphora over in defense of confessional unity if you know that you will probably never get it back? After the crisis is no longer an issue, will everyone remember why the adiaphora was surrendered in the first place?

...some things to consider when one considers limiting the freedom of the Gospel.

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