Saturday, June 07, 2008

An Explanation

Someone had suggested I explain a little more why I left the LC-MS, and I am finally getting around to writing a little. This will most likely take more than one post, as the issues are complicated, long, and carry a lot of weight. I hope to list this out clearly and concisely. I will include the correspondence quotes unchanged, including typos.

One of the most glaring reasons I grew very concerned on the focus of the Synod is the following quote from correspondence with the South East District (SED). The context is a discussion on desiring a confessional, orthodox mission congregation in our area (rapidly growing) and the one LC-MS church that is here is not confessional and introduces it's own variations of services (against Formula of Concord Section X, more on this later).

"In addition, we do not plant churches so that a small group can be more orthodox than other LCMS churches in the area. Our new congregations are Great Commission efforts. We plant to reach the lost for Jesus. This is our primary purpose by direction of our District convention and BOD. We do that in the context of solid Lutheran doctrine. "

Pay close attention to the focus on "Great Commission efforts" and "plant to reach the lost." While those are true, every church has those same goals. The phrases brought to my mind the Baptist revival movement and works, not Grace for the sinful. The approach seems focused on the "lost" and not on preserving the "found." I have no problem about solid Lutheran Doctrine (the whole point of desiring a confessional mission), but to exclude orthodoxy as a future option is quite limiting. It tells me that the "orthodox" or "confessional" is not wanted to form churches- they only want those with Ablaze (another poor adaptation of American Protestant revivalism) leanings. I found it also telling that he doesn't suggest this is due to Scripture (although the Great Commission does make a link), but explicitly though direction of the District and the BOD.

Another, later email contained this:

"Together, we look at a lot of factors - demographics, the need for a Lutheran presence, local support (e.g. parenting congregation), available resources ($, leadership, etc.). The primary focus of our congregations is on mission to the lost. "

I don't know of a church who's mission is not in search of the lost (in addition to the studying and learning of the Word). However, I also don't find a mention of demographics, need for a presence, or available resources in any of the missionary work within the New Testament. Christ sent disciples out without money, Paul went wherever he was asked or the Spirit lead him, and the list goes on. Not once do they study for demographics. I sincerely doubt there was a statistician or accountant on Pentecost holding back the disciples from preaching in the Synagogue because the majority there were not followers of Christ. The Spirit goes where it will, and, in my mind, limiting that to what we ourselves can do betrays a lack of trust in God. The explanation for the First Commandment is "We should fear, love and trust in God above all things." This includes pocketbooks, demographics, etc. Focusing on the "need for a Lutheran presence" while "seeking the lost" is like asking a family who needs food if they prefer stuffed turkey or hamburgers, then leaving when not satisfied with the answer! The "lost" need the Word! The believers need it too! Who are we to deny them this? Because there aren't many "Lutherans" around? This is what makes this ridiculous. So what if there aren't many "Lutherans" around? The Word is to be preached to all people (Great Commission). If Lutheran Doctrine is the Word, then what is the issue?

This was one of the highly troubling aspects of my discussion with SED. They talk about the "Great Commission", but then say that the demographics need to support it. Why not trust God and try? It is a hard concept; truthfully a nearly impossible one. But the Church lives on the Word of God and the faith God imparts. She must trust that God will lead in all cases (and all true Christian denominations). If God wills it, will man prevail? I think not.

I will continue with more of my reasonings later as this is longer than I expected, and my short time to write is coming to an end. God's blessings.