Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Trust me. . .

Robert Benne writes a critique of the ELCA's statement on homosexuality that got me thinking about something. Towards the end he mentions the paper's use of the idea of "trust" - that we are to "trust" that things get done rightly.

Here is a question (one that is most cynical) - when a person calls upon you to "trust" them in this sinful world, aren't they likely trying to be taking advantage of you? The car salesman who says, "trust me, this vehicle is in tip-top shape" - the lawyer who says, "trust me, I can win you this lawsuit" - the kid who says, "trust me, I'll be home at nine, give me the car keys".

There is a place in the Christian life for trust. We learn right off in the Catechism that we are to "fear, love, and TRUST in God above all things." Our trust should be given to God. In this life, and especially when it comes to things theological, the proof is in the pudding, as it were.

When I say something to my congregation, my rationale should never be "trust me, I'm a pastor" - but rather I should point to the Word, for we know that we can trust God. That is why we are the people of the Word - that is where we can be sure that things are truly trustworthy - for God is worthy of trust. In fact, as preachers we should encourage our hearers to demand that we demonstrate our statements from Scripture - and if we cannot show where Scripture speaks, we servants of the Word ought be silent ourselves.

Beware especially of the theologian whose main point is "trust me" - for we are called to cling to Christ and His Word.


Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

This is most certainly true.

It also holds true when a pastor (not usually Lutheran) says God spoke to him or his heart or whatever. We have an external body of evidence of what God says that God never refutes at any later time.

RPW said...

Absolutely. A good pastor welcomes correction or the opportunity to discuss things, and is accountable to his ordination vows to uphold Scripture and the Book of Concord. It may not be pleasant, but it is still a wonderful thing. I've seen congregations led terribly astray simply because "well, the pastor said it was okay."

We were worshipping at the congregation my husband grew up in, and the assistant pastor designed the liturgy to fit his sermon, and the "creed" had nothing to do with the essence of the Christian faith. We didn't commune, and there was an ensuing argument at home. But the core of the argument we were given (and it pained us to grieve my husband's parents) was that we knew what THEY believe, so we should know what the pastor teaches is okay. We couldn't.