What we are missing

There is no doubt that this generation has seen a Confessional “awakening” (dare I use that word), particularly in the LC-MS. It’s hard to know who to credit for this, but I would say that much credit must go to the Fort Wayne seminary and Dr. Robert Preus and co. in the 1980s. The fruits of this confessional awakening can be seen most in the election of Confessional men to positions of authority in our church, at the District and Synodical level.

There is something that is still missing though, in my opinion. I have read many papers, sat and listened to many presentations at conferences, etc, and read CTCR documents. Many of them have been good and even thought-provoking. What they often lack, however, is a sort of “Thus saith the Lord” nature to them. It’s like everyone is so afraid to be wrong and thus to be challenged, and everyone else is so afraid to challenge their friends, that it ends up just being a big “back-slapping” party, or some such thing.

What I long to see is a paper or presentation that is not just so much gobbledeegook. Get up there and tell us what you think is right and wrong, and let us either praise or censure you. Write a CTCR document that doesn’t just say, “Here are five ways of understanding this issue, you take your pick which one you will follow” but that actually takes a stand and says, “This is what the Word of God says, and if you don’t agree with it, then you are outside of the Word.” And then let the Church take its pot shots and tell you if you are right or wrong.

There is so much fear out there still–fear to say the wrong thing. Fear to offend, or to take a position that is not popular, or to offend this group or that group of friends. If we are really going to take this confessional awakening into the end zone, then I think this is the key. We have to be willing to stand up and take a stand on things, and not just give “thought-provoking” papers, or write “provocative” essays, but to actually bring the Word of God to bear.

My district president, Rev. Brian Saunders, made a similar point on Monday of Symposia week in a presentation at Redeemer Lutheran Church (yes, the one on RUDISILL), when he said that if he is wrong, then tell him where he is wrong. He said we can’t be so afraid to put our necks out and be wrong. If we are convinced about something, then let us convince others. If we are not convinced, then let others convince us. I think our church has seen something like this at one time, when men could politely disagree with each other, and earnestly attempted to correct one another. This should happen at the Circuit level especially, but also at the District and Synod levels too. We are all our brother’s keeper. That is the point. Agree? Disagree?

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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4 Responses to What we are missing

  1. Chad Myers says:

    Do you think that the fear of taking a stand is driven from a desire for unity, or a fear of being too dogmatic/pushy?

    Is it a sincere desire for unity and/or an unreasonable fear of picking a dogma?

    I ask because the approach is different depending on where the people are coming from. If their desire is for unity and someone stands up and starts declaring “anathema sit” it will cause rupture and anger.

    However, if it’s fear of dogmatism, then absolutely someone should stand up and take a position and encourage others to do likewise. In this day and age, there’s too much weak-kneed/hand-wringing about taking a stand on something and our relativistic culture has cowed us into not being “dogmatic” (as if that’s a bad word).

    It reminds me of this quote, which I love:
    “In truth, there are only two kinds of people; those who accept dogma and know it, and those who accept dogma and don’t know it.”
    — G.K. Chesterton

  2. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    Chad, honestly, I think it just a fear of putting the neck out. I’m talking about people who both accept and know dogma. But there is this ever-lurking fear that if I am wrong, I will be shunned or not accepted by my peers and friends. What I am saying is that we have to put aside those fears, and just stick our necks out, and then be willing to be corrected if we are shown to be wrong. But the problem with everyone just saying things that are “safe” is that there are things that get left out.

  3. KathyS says:

    Paul, I think people are afraid to stick their necks out because they have seen what happens to the folks who say, “Thus says the Lord.” Those brave folks end up jobless. Who wants to risk that? Should they? Yes! But…

  4. palmsunday says:

    Do you know any pastor who has been abandoned by his DP and run out of his congregation for something we all agree about, like closed communion?

    There’s your answer.

    Anyway, I occasionally challenge my members to accuse me of monothelitism because I don’t there is a DP in Synod who can articulate why it is a heresy. I’m not actually a monothelite, but I love the thought of my DP scratching his head wondering what to do with this complaint.

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