Friday, October 06, 2006

Can I get a testimony?

These are words found more often in Baptist churches and rarely in Lutheran. However, this past weekend I visited my mom and my family went to her church, which is a WELS congregation. They are starting up some "new" thing where someone gets up at the end of the service and mentions how God has worked in their life. They didn't call it a "testimony" I don't think, but that is precisely what it is. On the surface, it might sound good. Some good, relevant comments from parishioners might be useful in providing reassurance to other communicants, right?

The part where this goes all wrong is, at the end, it becomes something that focuses on what we did for God... sacrificed a car, a house, a marriage, billions of dollars, etc. (and, oh yea, God made it work out ok) But the focus is still on self! What has God done for me? The fact I exist and am at church should say it all. Remember the parable of the rich man and the beggar? When the rich man asks for Moses to send the beggar to his brothers, the reply states (paraphrased) "If they don't believe the prophets, they won't believe someone who rises from the dead!" Why do we need "current" examples? Why won't the Bible fit this role? The reason, I think, goes to the fact that the Bible is, at this point, objective to us. We don't know anyone in there (other than Christ), we don't live in the area, and for the most part it exists outside of ourselves. However when your example is someone you know, it is easier to rationalize and justify, and even puff yourself up. These become pharasaical "sharing." This is a dangerous introduction. It would be far better to include an additional reading from the Bible, perhaps of one of its many examples, than it would be to have these subjective talks.

Has anyone else seen this? This was a first with a Lutheran church of any type. Thoughts are welcomed as I am still a bit puzzled and definitely concerned.

1 comment:

Whey Lay said...

Not a first for me, the LCMS church we attend has done this in the past, not within the last year or so though. They were usually a weepy affair about God saving them from the bottle or bad marriage. I often wondered at the value of such a thing also. I guess it's nice to hear how God can work good out of sin, but in the several testimonial done I never heard one person say, "and God forgave my sin's, through absolution and sacrament." I know that might not seem as relavent, but that's the problem. Are congregants not having a full enough appreciation for what God is doing right now? we would rather listen to someone else's drama?
Either way I'm glad to see that we seem to have abandoned the practice.