Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pietism, Mysticism, and Rationalism, oh my!

This morning I am going to start writing the 20th Chapter of the history study that I have been doing here at Zion -- Chapter 20 will be page 321 (although probably half of that is a lot of Luther quotes and then also the Epitome of the Formula of Concord, which we studied in detail) of this study that will have its 6th anniversary next month.

I am a historian. That's just how I look at things. I tend to look at things in the long run. That's one of the reasons why I end up shrugging a bit at the troubles we have with intellectual fads and what not. What we see are just new spins on the same old problems the Church has always faced (you know Gerhardt got canned in Berlin because they wanted to introduce Calvinist worship practices. . . )

And really, coming out of the 30 years war, you have the three things that shape our modern world. Pietism (which focused one upon the self and individual behavior, leads to subjectivism and to your "postmodernism"), Mysticism (which undercuts clarity of confession and individualizes, focusing on experience, which leads to the whole, "but I don't GET anything out of it" approaches of the day), and Rationalism (which leads to the liberal denials of Scripture as well as simply human intellectual egoism where mysteries of God that cannot be explained are deemed to be false, myths, or outdated).

To quote Jon Bon Jovi - "It's all the same/ only the names have changed/ everyday it seems we're wasting away."

So - what does this mean?

1. DON'T PANIC - (note: thoat should have appeared in nice, friendly letters) The new horror unleashed upon the Church by Satan and his dupes is. . . well . . . not really all that new. Built on the Rock, the Church doth stand. Chill out - remain faithful - and if people fall by the wayside - well, go read 1 Kings, see what happens there, then shut your whiney pie-hole until Queen Jezebel calls for your head on a pike.

2. Don't Celebrate - Okay, something goes well, we get a small victory over the forces of whatever. It's just a battle in a long, long war. It's not that big of a deal, and 150 from now (if our Lord tarries that long, come quickly, Lord Jesus!) it probably won't even be a foot note. Be moderate in both your despair and your rejoicing over the big theological picture of the world. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..."

(Note: If I got paid by the word like Dickens did, my sermons would be a whole lot longer)

3. Keep focused on proclaiming Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Hold fast to both Law and Gospel - for that is what will keep you safe and allow you to stand in these days, for Pietism, Mysticism, Rationalism, Neo-Evangelicism, American-style worshipism, postmodernism, and whatever -ism de jour comes up always attack the doctrine of the Law, the Gospel, and normally both.

Pietism guts the Law and obscures the Gospel.
Mysticism ignores them both.
Rationalism denies the Gospel and reduces the Law to social morals.
Neo-Evangelism guts the Law and subsitutes psuedo-Gospel.
American-Style Worshipism substitutes motivation for the Gospel.
Postmodernism does. . . well, what do "you" feel it does, cause I can't tell you otherwise =o)

Hold fast to sound teaching - that's been the way of things since the fall - and that's just the way it is now. Oh well - endure.

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