Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Great Social Problems of the Day

So, what are the great social problems of the day that the Church has to deal with, and how do we stop them?  Is it Gay Marriage?  Is it Abortion?  Legalization of drugs?  Poverty?  The War on Christmas?  What are we to do as society is all mucked up?

I hear a lot of responses to these problems, and I am disheartened.  So often they are mere political screeds, talking points that you could hear on any right-wing radio -- arguments about natural law that the virtuous heathen in the outer layer of Dante's hell could give.  No Christ.  No Scripture.  Nothing Catechism-based.

I think this started long ago.  You know what the root of these problems is -- Evolution, and more importantly, our response to Evolution.

Consider - all good, conservative, bible believing people know that we have to fight the "scourge of Evolution"... and so we started debating there.  We were not content to merely confess what the Scriptures say, content to say, "Well, if a Scientist assumes there is no God, or at least no divine intervention, he isn't going to understand the world"... nope.  Let's debate science with science.

And we abandoned the Scriptures, we abandoned the Scriptural teaching of creation.  And now those chickens are coming home to roost.

Don't believe me?  If I say, "This is all about creation" - we jump automatically to the evolution debate, to origins, to way back when.

That's not the Scriptural move, nor the move the Catechism makes.

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

I believe that God has made... me.  He is My Creator, and my life is ordered and arraigned by Him, not my whim.

The point of "Creation" is that there is a "Creator" and that we are "creatures" who have been created and preserved by Him!  But we abandoned this as being the central point of the teaching of the Church on creation - and rather the bible is just a proof text to show that the scientists asking the wrong questions are in fact wrong.

Now, let's consider that original litany in light of the 1st Article of the Creed.

Gay Marriage?  (And let's expand it to shaking up, divorce, all the other things).  This is a first article problem - God is the One who provides "wife and children" -- yet what has happened in the past Century as we've started debating Evolution.  We have lost the focus on God being the provider - we don't focus on "What God has joined together"... and rather in it's place we have let an assumption of "me" take the center.  I do this, I do that. 

Abortion?  View that through the lens of the 1st article as well.  What do you get?  God is the One who establishes life - you don't get to end it on a whim.  (Well, what about contraception, you hypocrite, Brown!?  - Yes, what about it?  I still maintain that it is not forbidden and may be rightly used... but if we focused on the First Article that would undercut a lot of the selfish, egregious arguments without creating extra-biblical laws, wouldn't it)

Of course, then toss in the fact that all those who have been created by God are those for whom Christ Jesus has died, and that this is the main truth, the main lens through which we ought to view our neighbors.  Indeed, even our enemies are those for whom we pray, those for whom Christ Jesus has died.  Hmmm... that might have a way we look at issues of poverty.

It's sad.  The world "rejected" the biblical view (as though the world ever accepted it - if we believed our Lord in John 16 we would know that they NEVER accepted it) - and then suddenly we wanted to argue, to debate them on their own terms... and we lost who we are.

The grossest example of this - well, look at the liberal churches who reject all historic Christianity.  They are dying - there is no reason for them to exist.  But we are not too far behind... we too have all too often become moral, social clubs rather than places where the Creed is central, where God's action as our Creator, as our Redeemer, as our Sanctifier have been pushed aside in an egotistical backpatting display of self-righteousness and Republican politics.

Therefore I was determined to know nothing among you but Christ the Crucified. 

It is time to get back to focusing on Christ, the Word of God by whom and through whom and for whom all things were made and are made.  It would be good to get back to redemption as our central message, and all things flowing from there.


John J. Flanagan said...

I agree with the spirit and substance of your comments. I also have become disheartened lately, and it is not just with those who promote and celebrate gay marriage and abortion in our society, but with the efforts being made to label conservative Christians as bigots, suppress religious freedom, curtail free speech, and install political correctness in place of honest dialogue.
On my way to the age of 70 in the coming months, and a lifelong conservative Christian, I now feel more strongly the "Pilgrim" identity, feeling like an alien in my own society, out of synch with many values now being professed, but holding on to convictions deeply believed. As a sinner saved by grace, I am not morally better than anyone else, and I have entertained no notion of pride or superiority.....but it seems the country, and many Christian churches, have shown evidence of a decline and decay from which there is no return.
On the Internet, I have joined in the dialogues on some Christian sites, including LutheranBlogs, and have been aghast at the viewpoints expressed by many professing Christians who have now embraced the world, the values of this immoral culture, secular humanism, and the social gospel of post modernist and progressive theologians.
The assault on traditional marriage, support for abortion, an evolving attack on the legitimacy and inerrancy of God's word, even a latest gender neutral depiction of God.....all these things are not from outside the church....but mostly coming from within.
As a Lutheran in the LCMS, I see the idea of any Lutheran identity being fractured by seriously opposing theological directions as seen in ELCA, yet members of this denomination see themselves as true Lutherans, not the heretics they have become.
There is evidence that a growing number of voices within the LCMS whom I have heard from on Internet sites are determined to move the LCMS craftily in the direction of ELCA. Like most progressives, these folks are patient, hold a vision for the future, and rather than simply join ELCA, they would rather infiltrate and transform the LCMS into a church like ELCA. Heresy and Apostasy are the bastard children of post modernism, and in their wake, dead churches remain.
So....as I look at these things....I go to my prayer closet, my little backyard refuge behind my home in the Arizona desert, and I ask God what is happening, and can things change? Is it too late? But God's word in my Bible speaks to my heart, and the Holy Spirit probes my mind with comforting verses.. Yes indeed, just stay the course. If we must have only a remnant I of believers, be at peace as this too is God's work. I will remain a Christian even if the Church named after Martin Luther no longer remains faithful and true.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

The thought I have had the past few years is that of a Remnant. God will preserve to Himself a remnant. And that is okay.

Luther also said the Gospel was like a passing rain shower -- when it is no longer appreciated in one place, it waters another. Well, Africa and Asia are booming for the Church. God grant great growth there and preserve His remnant here.