Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Are We Really that Dense?

Listened to a couple of Issues, Etc. segments while on my run. Pastor Wilken repeated something I’d heard him say several times in the past – that they were told by somebody above them in the LCMS (Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod) food chain in the earlier days of the old Issues, Etc. that you can’t teach laymen theology. This is a hmm… moment.

Cogitating here. Give me a minute.

I think I’ll start where far too few Lutherans start out, with Augsburg Confession Article V:
1 So that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. 2 Through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given [John 20:22]. He works faith, when and where it pleases God [John 3:8], in those who hear the good news that God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake. 3 This happens not through our own merits, but for Christ’s sake.
So God sends us pastors, through whom the Holy Spirit works via the Word and Sacraments. They are the ones whom God primarily uses to teach us lowly laymen. Hold that thought.
But if it’s not possible to teach laymen theology, then we wouldn’t have any pastors, because all pastors were first laymen, and they don’t let you out of the sem without knowing at least a little theology. I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to meet the pastor who was born a pastor. I know of a pastor who claims to have been born a Christian, but not a single one who claims to fit into the born-a-pastor category. As a matter of fact, I even know one pastor (he’s a friend of mine, that probably explains it) who actually made the public claim, right in front of everyone on the world wide web, that he was once a layman. Positively scandalous.

Back to AC V. Notice it specifically says “the ministry of teaching the Gospel.” One LCMS pastor taught me that all theology is Christology. This means that whenever your pastor is preaching Christ and Him crucified, whether he’s preaching from the pulpit or talking to you about Jesus while you’re waiting in line at that delicious pot luck, you’re learning theology. How about that! I guess laymen can be taught theology, without them even knowing it. You’re smarter than you thought! The next time you see your pastor you can thank him for stealthily filling your head with good Lutheran theology. And if you feel like you’re not getting enough, ask for seconds. We should all be fed by our pastor through Word and Sacrament so that we can be filled to the brim with theology. We can then march into the world to serve our neighbors and share the Gospel with them. Next time you hear someone say that laymen can’t be taught theology, just mention to them that all theology is Christology. If they get a confused look on their face, it’ll be your turn to teach them a little theology.

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