Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ahead of Convention: “Issues Facing Confessional Lutheranism Today”

The following podcast is a July 12, 2013, Issues, Etc. interview of Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) President Rev. Dr. Matt Harrison, ahead of the 2013 Triennial LCMS Convention (July 20-25, 2013). Heading into our own WELS Convention next week, SP Harrison's remarks are a good reminder of the issues underlying the challenges we face, as well.


This podcast is taken from the July 12, 2013 edition of Issues, Etc.
(Right-click here to save MP3)

Listen to this podcast to hear how SP Harrison characterizes the Issues listed below:
    Worldwide Issues...
    • Human Sexuality
    • Ordination of Women
    • Gay Marriage
    • Natural Law
    • Culture Wars
    • Gospel Reductionism
    • Historical Critical Method
    • Death of Systematic Theology
    • Biblical Inerrancy
    • Confessional Integrity
    • Unionism
    • Open Heterodoxy

    Issues within LCMS (and maybe WELS, too?)
    • Too many pastors languishing in CRM status
    • Two tier pastorate (“called & ordained” -vs- “staff minister”)
    • Roles of Men & Women
    • Church Growth Movement
Are there Synodical or other fundamental issues that were not directly addressed by SP Harrison in this interview, that confessional Lutherans in America ought to concern ourselves with? Yes, of course. A couple that come to mind – which seem to currently be on prominent display on the LCMS website – are:
  • National Rural and Small Town Mission Conference: The plight of the small rural congregation is a serious concern. In some corners of LCMS, there seems to be a concerted effort to strengthen rural congregations, to keep them serving Lutherans into the future instead of abandoning them and forcing rural Lutherans to travel inordinate distances each week to attend suburban mega-churches. I know of two rural LCMS congregations nearby that are languishing (one of which is hanging on by its fingernails, with basically only a couple large dedicated families remaining), and another in a nearby small town (a “small town” that is actually the largest town in the county) that can't get a pastor and is very near giving up – and will be giving up a nice masonry gothic structure on main street, as well. The local pentecostals will thank them for the building. Far too many rural WELS congregations are being counciled to close up shop, and sell their property, as well (and again, it's usually the renegade pentecostals that gobble up that property). I know of two in my own vicinity that have been so counciled, and continue to refuse – but finding pastors to serve them seems to be getting more and more difficult. I know of another nearby rural congregation that left WELS for a more accommodating Lutheran church body, after being pressured to merge with a larger WELS congregation.

  • How can we as Lutherans live in but not succumb to the culture?: Too many Lutherans are under the mistaken impression that “being in the world but not of it” really means “look like you're of the world in every possible way, but deny it when asked and act offended when a fellow Christian mistakes you for being worldly.” Perhaps there was a time when Christianity was of such positive and overwhelming influence in society, that it was hard to distinguish being “of the world” from merely “being in it.” Not anymore. Society has progressed so far beyond what Christian liberty can justify, that there can now be no possible way of maintaining fidelity to our faith while also adopting the World Views and Worldly Ways of unregenerate society. We are called out by God from among them, such that now there can be no mistaking, “being in the world but not of it” means that, as we continue to live in all Christian propriety, we actually appear differently to our unregenerate neighbors. Much like the early Christians in pagan culture were noticeably different – yes, even weird, though in a curious and endearing way – as they helped those around them in their various forms of need.
What other fundamental issues can you identify?


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