Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Issues with "Issues"

The reaction in the LCMS about the abrupt cancellation of the radio show "Issues, Etc." continues. One link provided by a respected blogger takes us here, where the author proposes the cancellation of the show is just one more step in a "Seeker Sensitive Take Over" of the LCMS. He tries not to sound like a conspiracy theorist.

Um....you think? To be sure, I don't know if the LCMS is systematically, intentionally, knowingly, organizationally following the steps of change that Chris Rosebrough suggests. It may be a stretch to say that there are organized powers who have planned the process of change to "Transition" our church body into the bland, Purpose-Driven model and our congregations with it.

But look around, dear friends. It's happening, and has been happening for some time. That much is incontrovertible. How premeditated it is and how many are involved is unknown...and moot.

We knew when Pres. Kieschnick was elected. It is not our Grandfather's Synod, after all. Doubt this? Listen to this radio interview conducted the very same day Issues Etc was canceled.

We knew when the 2004 Convention re-elected Kieschnick and the resolution to provide Contemporary worship materials passed.

We knew when Ablaze! was passed.

We knew when Fan Into Flame! was promoted in our Districts (that's the fund-raising scheme behind Ablaze!)

We knew when we read stories like this (note the Ablaze! Live Church in the bottom left of the first page. See more here). And saw websites like this. Yes, JH Church is LCMS in theory (to put the "best construction" on this, they have a very professional, sharp web design, and some slick marketing and branding. It is very effective marketing).

I used to think that I was well in the mainstream of the LCMS. I thought that some congregation's flirtation with modern Church Growth, Purpose-Driven methods would be short-lived. I believed that the classmates of mine at the Seminary would get discouraged when they realized that the Mother Ship does not change like that. Many of them were converts; I grew up hearing, "The Missouri Synod will never do such-and-such." I believed that the Confessional, Liturgical movement in the LCMS (sometimes called the Evangelical Catholic movement) was not just faithful to the historic LCMS, but couldn't even be argued against, there were so many of us.

All that changed for me in July 2004. Apparently many more are realizing this now.

12 comments :

  1. -C said...

    I don't know what to say, Pr. Hall, except that all of the feelings you express are not unfamiliar to me. Reading them here reminds me of that deep sadness I felt for a long time.

    I pray that God will be with you during these days and give you strength to presevere.

  2. Rev. Eric J Brown said...

    It changed when I was ordained? What about my ordination made you fear for the future of the LCMS? >=o)

    We will see what the future holds. I don't worry too much - my loyalty is not to an organization. I am to preach Christ and Him Crucified - and that's what I do wherever I need to do it at.

  3. Christopher D. Hall said...

    Yes, it was your ordination, you no-goodnik. ;)

    No, that's when I was a delegate to the 2004 Synodical Convention.

    Please remember, Eric, that this is your organization. You are a member, your congregation is, and you are under authority, as I am. I do not fear Synod for that matter, but the alienation of having no home.

    -c, thank you for the kind words and for your prayers!

  4. Rev. Eric J Brown said...

    You fear having no home. As do I. That's why, in a strange sense, this makes me feel better. If the floodgates open, if the purge comes - then it won't be just be getting kicked out and cast out by myself - it will be *us* getting kicked out.

    I've seen guys get isolated and picked off one by one - now, if they take out 100 of us, 500 of us, 1000 of us at one time - well, you and I can help form the Northwest Oklahoma Synod until we see where all the chips fall. It might be a small home, but we will always have one.

  5. Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

    Pr. Brown,

    Whatever synod you form will still be your work. That's the way it is for all Lutherans: anything beyond the level of parish is merely human work.

    But the Church comes as heavenly gift--witness Pentecost, witness the entire progress of the Gospel throughout the book of Acts and the epistles.

    And the Church comes as both parish and trans-parish gift--witness the apostolic nature of the New Testament church--each apostle was over more than one community, and the bishops who succeeded them were as well.

    "Unless the Lord build the house, those who labor, labor in vain."

  6. Rev. Eric J Brown said...

    Fr Hogg,

    But you see, even this, what I have now has been a gift from God. Even the Synod has been used as a gift from God - and if wicked men tear it down - so be it - God will provide another safe harbor.

    And no, if a new Synod were to be formed, it would not be my work. It is no longer I who live by Christ who lives in me. I believe that God uses people to accomplish His goals - that we are indeed His workmanship. Will organizing something be given to either Chris or I? I don't know - but if it is, let God work how He wills.

    If I might jump ahead - what are we bound to? Some might say we are bound to a structure or organization, and that we are bound to find the right S/O. I claim that I am bound to doctrine. Just a difference in approach that is there.

    While I might always be searching for a structure that does true doctrine well (but in reality, ain't going find it, there's always troubles in the Church) - I hold fast to right doctrine - orthodoxy if you will. And I have for a long, long time.

  7. Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

    Rev. Brown, you wrote:

    But you see, even this, what I have now has been a gift from God. Even the Synod has been used as a gift from God - and if wicked men tear it down - so be it - God will provide another safe harbor.

    Rx:

    Let it be granted that the Synod is a gift from God. Lots of things--indeed, everything but my sin--is a gift of God. The problem is that Synod is not that gift from God called "Church." And no "safe harbor" that begins existence now can possibly be "Church." It will just be another competing religious non-profit organization. God *has* provided the safe harbor; it's called "the Church."

    Rev. Brown:
    And no, if a new Synod were to be formed, it would not be my work. It is no longer I who live by Christ who lives in me. I believe that God uses people to accomplish His goals - that we are indeed His workmanship. Will organizing something be given to either Chris or I? I don't know - but if it is, let God work how He wills.

    Rx:
    I, too, believe that God uses people to accomplish his goals. To accomplish his goal called "Church" he used the apostles, then the bishops they appointed to succeed them and who remained in communion with each other, down to this present day. God uses other people to accomplish other goals. It's just that none of those other goals is "Church."

    Rev. Brown:
    If I might jump ahead - what are we bound to? Some might say we are bound to a structure or organization, and that we are bound to find the right S/O. I claim that I am bound to doctrine. Just a difference in approach that is there.

    Rx:
    You're making an either/or (structure or doctrine) out of a both/and; you're putting asunder what God has joined together. It's natural for you to do this; it's been being done in the west in one form or another since Augustine, with his "Church as the assembly of the elect." But consider the possibility that it's a both/and (note: I *did* consider the possibility that it's an either/or, in my 20+ years of Lutheran ministry).


    Rev. Brown:
    While I might always be searching for a structure that does true doctrine well (but in reality, ain't going find it, there's always troubles in the Church) - I hold fast to right doctrine - orthodoxy if you will. And I have for a long, long time.

    Rx:
    A president can have troubles as a president. That's one kind of trouble--the kind someone has in the living out of their life.

    But if "President Bartlett" (Martin Sheen) has troubles, they're not troubles as a president, but troubles as an actor.

    So, too, the Church has troubles, in the *exact* way that Christ had troubles in his earthly ministry--and the body is as blameless as the Head, since they share one and the same life.

    But when your self-acknowledged human constructs have troubles, they do *not* have troubles as Church, but as all man-man constructs do.

    One doesn't first decide "correct doctrine" on his own, then look for an organization which satisfies a sufficient amount of his personal outlook. One first seeks truth in the Body of the Truth, and then learns from the Body what constitutes correct doctrine.

  8. Mason said...

    Christopher,
    As a convert to the LCMS, I have found other converts to be quite engaged by the evangelical and catholic nature of our faith and less inclined to the pop evangelicalism. Anecdotal? Certainly. But my experience.

    I look forward to meeting you.
    +Mason

  9. Past Elder said...

    My experience too, Mason -- and I'm a convert.

    From one of those "apostolic" churches, so I think I'll resist the urge to jump in on the "find the right institution then believe what it believes" theory.

    How about this -- a new synod named LC-GS: Lutheran Church-Grandfather's Synod.

    And neither of my grandfathers were Lutheran!

  10. Past Elder said...

    Sorry, was Lutheran -- singular agrees with singular.

  11. Rev. Eric J Brown said...

    What Mason says brings up a point. Much of this deals with a matter of perspective. Our Perspective leads to our obeservations. One who was raised in Missouri is going to see the decline coming rapidly. One who is new to the Classical Christian faith is going to see so much good in what goes on in the LCMS. Me - my family (other than my dad) is all ELCA, formerly conservative and now raging liberal. From my perspective, where I could be - Missouri is only going slowly (but also, it's not the home of my family for generations - if I must go, so be it, I can't commune at my family's home congregation in Toledo already).

    Still, feel free to blame be as a sign to be spoke against if it makes you feel better.

  12. Mason said...

    Eric,
    I am not naive to what is taking place in the LCMS and will not call it good. I came out of evangelicalism and know it all too well. I am only thankful for the privilege to celebrate the Mass, although that privilege is not guaranteed in the LCMS, it seems.
    +Mason