Thursday, April 24, 2008

The 8th Commandment

Lutherans love this commandment. Here's what the Small Catechism says:

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest possible way.
As you can see from the letters below, the main concern of the elected officials of the Synod is honoring this commandment. In fact, the CoP writes, "In this regard, the 8th commandment's focus on upholding the reputation of brothers and sisters in Christ is most important."

To be sure, there have been some pretty harsh statements about decision makers in the comments on other sites. The implication, though, seems to be, "Be careful what you nay-sayers say and write! Or better yet, stop altogether."

Yet I fail to see sin in criticizing a decision, in informing people about events transpiring in the Synod, and analyzing public statements.

For instance, this statement attributed to David Strand: "Strand also said the program's audience was too narrow. —'"Issues" was a strong show, but where we stand now in terms of listenership, it seems wise to try some news things to broaden our reach,'" (source). Is it breaking the 8th Commandment to say this statement belies the antipathy that he, or his bosses had toward "Issues, Etc."?

Or take this statement: "The new program, called 'The Afternoon Show,' is different from 'Issues, Etc.,' said Strand, in that 'it doesn't dwell largely on Lutheran apologetics at a sophisticated level. It still takes its Gospel proclamation seriously, but it finds new ways to capture attention'" (ibid.). Put these two together and you have Strand saying, in effect, "We don't want Lutheran apologetics, like the narrow-focused 'Issues, Etc.'

Did I just sin?

Is it breaking the 8th Commandment to draw attention the fact that canceling this radio show has silenced some Confessional teaching on the dangers of the consumerist mega-church model, the very same models that are being praised by the Synod's President, by many District Presidents and those in positions of power?

Is it breaking the 8th Commandment when I write that the cancellation of "Issues Etc." is congruent with the "evangelical make over" that our Synodical President and others of influence are enacting?

Is it breaking the 8th Commandment to criticize the millions spent on the Ablaze! program when over 30 full-time missionaries have been cut off from funding and lost their jobs?

Is it breaking the 8th Commandment to call Ablaze! a program, when the leaders of our Synod insist that it is not a program, but a movement--though it has all the cups, posters, t-shirts, folders, memo pads, and press of a new program?

Is it breaking the 8th Commandment to note that while our Synodical President claims in the letters page of The Wall Street Journal that "there is no division" in the Synod, he is on record in various places complaining about forces within the Synod attempting "incessant internal purification" and his own Blue-Ribbon Task Force was composed to guessed it, Division in the Synod?

No, I don't believe so.


  1. William Weedon said...

    Thanks, Pr. Hall, for this much needed critique of the bulltwinkie that would silence dissent from decisions and actions one cannot but regard as foolish by mislabeling dissent as "breaking the 8th commandment." I've linked to your fine piece.

  2. Tim Kuehn said...

    I can only wonder what the difference is between a "movement" and a "program" - more Orewellian doublespeak?

  3. Charles said...

    Sour grapes!

    Appeal to the consumer and convert them by your own power.
    Charles Finney

  4. Charles said...

    Actually, it is

    If you would like to learn how to grow the kingdom, then you will sit at my feet.

  5. Anonymous said...

    Speak by way of the only means you can.

    Stop giving money to the LCMS.

  6. Rev. Jonathan C. Watt said...

    Well spoken Pr.

  7. Mike Baker said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  8. Mike Baker said...

    The lesson that I have taken from this incident:

    Dozens of programs, hundreds of bureaucrats, thousands of meetings, and millions of dollars cannot compare to the impact of the voice that comes from a single parish pastor who speaks pure doctrine.

    Here is my question:

    If it is a violation of the 8th Commandment to publicly question the bad business decisions of the religious leadership, how can we be proud of Martin Luther's Reformation?