Saturday, November 7, 2009

On Being Who We Are

Pastor Peters has blessed us with yet another most excellent post on his blog.  He titles it, "Authenticity and the Church," and passionately pleads in this post for us Lutherans to be who we confess to be.

What I appreciate most about Pr. Peter's post is the fact that he makes it vividly clear that his call for Lutherans to be who they confess to be is not a call to return to the past, but to be who we confess to be in the here and now:
I am not advocating for a return to some by-gone era or the repristination of some golden era of Lutheranism, liturgy, or church work. I am calling for us to be who we are as Lutheran Christians, with an identifiable Confession that shapes us because we believe in that Confession and in its faithfulness to the Word of God. You can call it quia but I call it authenticity to who we are. Period. This is who we are.
This sounds an awful lot like the man who many of us hope will be the next president of our synod, Rev. Matthew Harrison, who writes in the preface of his newly released book, "At Home in the House of My Fathers:  Presidential Sermons, Essays, Letters, and Addresses from the Missouri Synod's Great Era of Unity and Growth":
At first glance the publication of this book might appear to be motivated by mere ecclesiastical nostalgia, a ridiculous longing for a church long gone, or a quest to return Missouri to an allegedly more glorious past.  That is not my motivation at all.  I don't long for the past, and neither did the leaders of the Missouri Synod in her first century of existence.  I live and long and work for the future of the Lutheran Church, here and now.
The frequent and false charge hurled at those of us who criticize the direction our current synodical leaders are taking our synod is that we are so consumed with the desire to live in the past that we are blinded to present reality.  We are mocked and ridiculed as those who "have their heads stuck in the sand of yesterday."  We are said to be ignorant of the needs of our ever-changing culture, and accused of "not having a heart for the lost," since we are not willing to follow the lead of those among us who are taking risks, trying new things, and "living outside of the box."  If we truly loved the lost, we would not engage in "incessant, internal purification," but would be willing to do "whatever it takes" to reach them for Jesus.  We have many derogatory labels placed on us, such as "ultra-confessionals," "purists," and "radical right wingers."

But, our opponents misunderstand who we are.  They are just plain wrong about us.  We simply desire to remain faithful to who we confess to be.  We actually believe that our Lutheran Confessions provide a correct exposition of the doctrines revealed in Holy Scripture, and that those doctrines are unchanging and timeless.  We actually believe that our Lutheran Confessions are every bit as valid today as they were in the 16th century.  We actually believe that doctrine and practice are two sides of the same coin, that our practices must be derived from, and confess and teach, what we believe.  We point out what should be obvious, namely that we cannot employ the "styles" of those who believe differently than we do and retain our Lutheran "substance."  That is just a fact, tested and proved time and time again. 

We're not looking to return to some "golden age" in the distant past; we're simply intent on remaining true to what we believe, teach, and confess.  It ain't rocket science; it ain't even rock science.  We are Lutherans.  We should act like it.  Is that really too much to ask? 

Anyway, give Pastor Peter's fine post a read, for it is representative of what we "ultra-confessional" Lutherans believe.  And, I highly recommend purchasing Rev. Harrison's, "At Home in the House of My Fathers."  I received my copy earlier this week and have thoroughly enjoyed what I have read thus far, all of which is just as relevant today as it was when penned by those faithful men from our past.  That's the thing, you see - true theology doesn't change with the times.  Our Lord Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and so is what is to be believed about Him.  That true theology, which we Lutherans are blessed to possess, must continue to mold and shape us, so that it is delivered to the faithful, and presented to the lost, for the purpose of advancing Christ's Kingdom.  We contend for sound doctrine and practice not merely because we have some love affair with the past, but because we believe, teach, and confess that it is only through sound doctrine and practice that sinners are brought to, and sustained in, the one true faith. 

1 comment:

radar1214 said...

Thanks for the link. Great post by Pastor Peters.