Monday, February 11, 2013

Pastor apologizes for interfaith service

Pastor Morris had an extremely difficult position to deal with. He is a new Pastor only in Newtown several months and had to bury a little girl from his congregation due to a tragic act of violence. He chose to participate in the interfaith service soon after that horrible event. For those who remember the 9/11-Benke affair, it was a sense of deja vu. In this instance, Pastor Morris apologized for his participation. To his credit LCMS President Harrison originally asked for the apology and accepted it. The methods being used are markedly different than Kieschnick and Benke, which laid bare the divisions in the Synod many years ago. Harrison is choosing a more proper path. However, the devil is never far away and launching his arrows at the affair. Unfortunately they come from Kieschnick and Benke in addition from among secular and non-believing sectors.

This event still shows several misunderstandings of ministry persist in the LC-MS. It also shows that both Kieschnick and Benke need to be further instructed on both professionalism and proper doctrine or shown the door. I am willing to let Pastor Morris consider, be counseled and understand why what he did was over the line, even though his "apology" is fairly open to interpretation and weak. Kieschnick and Benke know better by now and need to be provided the opportunity to find another Synod or denomination to back-bite. Their behavior is more akin to a 6 year old than a church worker or official, and has been for some time. Church discipline is required, and I await to see if Harrison is up to the task.

For those who might not understand, the interfaith service was not, and could not, be about evangelism. It was an event supposedly to reassure and comfort a grieving town. However, modern society does not seem to understand that grief is personal and private and must be dealt as such. The grief of a church or town should be done from the confines of the Church and the Word, latter of which is the only balm for the woes of this world. A "service" where everyone speaks/preaches is only a platitude, showing we are all "the same." The Church is never the same as muslim or any other non-believer, even the Jews. This alone makes it over the line- there must be a clear distinction made in times like this, for this is the clearest time for witness. Yes, witness is done by choosing not to participate. The world sees the muslim, the christian and the jew at the same service and says "how nice- they are all together as one (and there is no true religion)." Then the world turns back to its lusts, untroubled by their deeds because no one is different. Now place into that mix a Pastor who holds a separate, clearly Christian service. The world would lash at it "Why are you so different? Why can't you be with them?!" The clear light of the Gospel, unblemished by the cloud of unrighteous teaching, is a two edged sword; when the Word is hidden by untruth, it is as prophesy without interpretation- "a clanging cymbal." That is why the world loves the "hypocrite" excuse. They want reassurance that there is no Judgement, there is no difference between Christians and themselves. Providing any suggestion that isn't a true division is less an offense to Christians than it is to the Word, which is Christ, and to the world, which needs to know that Christ is "the way, the truth, and the life." There is no division, no proper distinction if Christians share the pulpit with non-believers or cults, which undercuts evangelism and witness. That is why it was wrong to do so, even when in the midst of such tragedy.

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