Monday, November 10, 2008

A Free Lunch?

UPDATED & CORRECTED: changes to the last sentence of the first paragraph

Scott Diekmann blogged about a District President who claimed that The Book of Concord is no longer relevant. For those who don't know, the Book of Concord is the compendium of what Lutherans believe, teach and practice; our doctrinal standard. It's composed of various confessions of faith, some by Luther, others by his peers, and one by the "next generation" Lutherans. However, Scott didn't name names, so it's hearsay and gossip for me to be reporting it, I suppose.

But did a DP really say it's irrelevant? It wouldn't surprise me. It doesn't surprise me when pastors say it (I've heard it). And in the LCMS we live like it's irrelevant, even if we don't say it out loud.

What do I mean by this? We ignore a good bit of its teaching. See Pr. Weedon's infamous Lutheran Eye for the Quia Guy, a list of many statements in the BoC that most of us ignore these days.

I think I would be a much happier, well-liked pastor if I ignored our Confessions. You see, as long as I try to be a Lutheran pastor, I cannot give many people what they want. But if Iignored our confession and practice, a few would be turned-off and alienated, but most would go right along.

I'd have to figure out a good marketing plan, though. What kind of niche would we fill here? There are plenty of other churches around, and we would have to distinguish ourselves from them in some way. Right now, it's Confessional teaching and practice. But if I was going to ditch the irrelevant relics of our Lutheran past, man, the thing is wide open.

It appeals to my latent hipness.

It appeals to the American Dream, of creating something new and making a success.

It appeals to people-pleasing. Who doesn't want to be liked? It's giving the people God without a whole lot of extra stuff.

And you know, the emergent church stuff includes some "ancient" stuff like candles, so I could tie-in there, and like, still keep my interest in history, you know?

But there's that vow I took and everything. And then there's the fact that I believe in my core that what passes for American Christianity has but the barest resemblance of what Christ and the Apostles taught, that they are barely hanging onto whatever shreds of Christianity remain. There's my conviction that the Church does not belong to me, that I am a man under compulsion, under orders to do what may not be popular, what may not seem best to me, stuff I normally wouldn't even like. We in the LCMS supposedly bound ourselves to this. We are free not to, but then we wouldn't be in the LCMS anymore.