Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What am I talking about?

You see the corruption all around you, and people don't care. The ones in power - the so called teachers of the Church - they are indifferent, they hold to their man-made theories and toss their pathetic books of pap back and forth - while all around, filth and chaos and anarchy, where no one does what is right.

Here is what we will do - you and I, we are sane. We will get together, form together, make an organization, and we will call people out. Oh, we will stay within the Church, we won't supplant, but we will just band together on our own and shout for them to get better. And of course, those not holy enough, those not pure enough, the people who just don't get it and cling to the muck and the mire -- we'll just leave them out.

So - who am I?

A. Jakob Spener speaking about the Dead Orthodox in the 17th Century.
B. Too many Confessionals speaking about the Contemporary Crowd today.
C. Both.

If you said C, as David Scaer would say, "For once in your life you are correct!"

Now, I'm sure objections could be made -- the pietists were wrong and we are right in our desires to fix the poor _______ practices in the LCMS. Well, so what. Spener had a very pious desire to fix the indifference to morals in his day, just as your desires are very laudable. But if he is wrong in going about it, why do you follow in his footsteps?

Where did Spener err? Was it in his desire for morality. . . no. It was his lack of trust in the Word of God. Instead of simply preaching the Gospel, pointing to Christ, delighting in the realities of who we are in Baptism, extolling the life we receive in the Supper, instead of these things - let's form holy clubs. Let's lay down the law. Let's circle the wagons (damn the anachronisms, full speed ahead!) and make things better - and form a group to do it.

So, what will it be, oh "Confessional" Lutheran? Will you too organize, make a petition, a new litmus test? Will you urge people to preach against the vile woes of the neighboring congregation (where they aren't really converted to truth Lutheranism)? You, oh Missourian, are of your father Spener! You too would build with the law!

The Law kills. This isn't bad. There's a lot that needs killing down here amongst us sinners - including my own sinful flesh, my own sinful heart, my own sinful dreams that I am going to be the one whom others will rally around, that I will be the one to write the theological shot heard round the world, that I will write the missive that will convince every one else to kick those wicked bums out.

God have mercy on me! Save me from my wicked desires -- and instead, make me to be not a corrector, not a judge, merely a confessor.

When the nobles and theologians signed the Augsburg Confession, they did not do so saying, "Sign this or else we will fight and kill and maim you," They signed it saying, "This is truth - and if you would have me not confess it, you can cut off my head." When Chemnitz and Andrae worked on the formula at the bequest of their princes, they did not say, "If you don't agree with this, to hell with you." They didn't send angry missives to Sweeden saying, "Why aren't you people signing our thing." No - they simply said, "On the basis of what the Scriptures teach, this is what we must support and must reject about these topics."

Or in other words - they confessed. They spoke the Words of God's truth, and then let the chips fall where they may.

Sometimes those chips fell nicely. 1530 was a good time. 1580 was good too. Sometimes, the chips didn't fall so well. 1555 was a bad year. The 1620s were horrid. But it was only when simply confessing the truth wasn't good enough - when we either abandonned the truth with our variata (a la Melanchthon, or if I were in a different synod, like your father Schmucker), or when we no longer trusted the Word to do what it said (a la Spener, or what ever group it is today that rants and raves), when we trusted ourselves to bring about unity and perfection on earth - it was ruined.

This is why Luther would have pastors pray that God be with them, for we are unfit for this office and without Him we will most assuredly bring it all to utter destruction.

Abandon your dreams of purification! The Church Militant has never been, for war is messy, war is hell. Abandon your dreams of power and glory - glory isn't winning a following, it is to bow your head before the axeman, before Caesar, your lips still confessing Christ and no other.

Go and speak Christ. Confess that you are a poor, miserable sinner. Cry out and extol all that Christ has done for you. Cling to that and nothing else - and maybe, maybe you will like Igantius of Antioch begin to learn what it is to be a Christian, maybe with Luther you will learn to beg as befits you.

Lord have mercy upon us!

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