Monday, February 6, 2012

We Shouldn't, but We Do

On page 64 of Lutheranism 101 it says "…We do not say, 'God laid it on my heart to do this….'” Well, yeah, actually we do say that. I heard one Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastor say it straight from the pulpit. While there are a few pastors in the LCMS that fit a Pentecostal profile that might say what this pastor said, I don't think he fit that mold. No, he harbored a more missional motivation. If you're willing to abandon the liturgy, proper catechesis, and our confession, for a lifestyle of contemporary worship, "how to" sermons, and visioning, claiming that God is speaking directly to you is the logical next step. Once you've committed to the concept of seeker sensitivity, you have to reorder your thinking - the old Lutheran and the new Evangelical can't coexist. There is a fundamental difference.

By altering the worship service to attract “seekers,” you have entered the world of Evangelicalism – a shadowy world of emotion where the Holy Spirit working through the Word is forgotten in favor of an environment carefully crafted to sway the feelings of the seeker so that they “come to the light.” Converting the seeker to Christ-follower becomes dependent on our efforts, and we’re gonna bait the hook with something tasty. Of course, stodgy old Lutherans will have none of this. They realize that God’s promises are external to themselves and aren’t based on emotions. Cue the pastor’s “heart.” What better way to kill the old Lutheran than with a message straight from God through the pastor’s heart to you. It’s darn hard to argue with God now isn’t it? Except of course, the stodgy Lutheran knows that his message isn’t from God.

If your pastor is telling you God laid something on his heart, you need to lay a little Lutheran theology on him, reminding him that we aren’t enthusiasts. If he won’t listen to you, and others, it may be time to explore other avenues. After all, Lutherans know the way to a sinner’s heart is through their ear.

Lutheranism 101, ed. Scot A. Kinnaman (St. Louis: CPH, 2010) 64.

photo credit: Amarand Agasi


Anonymous said...

Oh yes, yes. In fact, "I have a burden" to tell you how much I agree with your post!

Joe Strieter

Anonymous said...

It's Willow Creek Association study time! Have you been reading "The Power of a Whisper" by Bill Hybels.

Enter your whisper here:

The pastor had the entire church study this book/DVD series. Everyone was getting "God-prompted" whispers about everyday issues that had no moral consequence. As a result, people were approaching the pastor to share every trivial oddball suggestion that they thought were from God. It really flustered the pastor. I don't think he is going to promote that book again anytime soon!

Anonymous said...

For an LCMS pastor to state that he is confessional just because he graduated from an LCMS seminary is not good enough. Is he applying what he studied to his sermons, or is he ignoring Lutheran writings while chasing after Willow Creek materials. It is sad that Lutherans can study nothing but Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and Beth Moore and believe that they are still confessional Lutherans.

Dennis Peskey said...

The real evil present in this theology is the wedge driven between Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Word is stripped of its' efficacy to accommodate independent operation of the Holy Spirit. This is not a Lutheran understanding of the means of grace nor of the Trinity.

NeedToKnow said...

A few questions: what is an enthusiast?
And what is the alternate naming of what you believe God is telling you to do? My husband and I have the opportunity to take in someone who needs a home and we are praying about it. We open the scripture and don't see, "Take in friend Suzy Q", so we are praying about it. What do you call it when you feel God is leading you in a direction?
Also, I had an experience, about 20 years ago, where I woke up in the middle of the night and I felt God telling me to call a friend. I tried 10 times, and my friend finally answered. He had overdosed on pills in an attempt to kill himself. My call, and subsequent call to 911, ambulance, stomach pumping etc saved his life. I've only had one experience like that in my life, but I think it was more than coincidence. What would be the Lutheran way of explaining such an event? Sorry, I haven't read Lutheranism 101.

Scott Diekmann said...

Hi NeedToKnow. An enthusiast is someone who believes that God speaks to them directly via feelings or some sort of message in their head. That's called "enthusiasm." God only promises to speak to us through His Word, written in the Bible or spoken on the lips of pastors (or others too where they are accurately speaking what He has already spoken to us in His Word). It's not that God couldn't speak to us in some other way - he could send an angel to speak to us if he wanted to, but in these last days He has spoken to us through his Son (Hebrews 1:1), and then His Apostles carried His message to the world. You are certainly right in praying about your decision to take someone into your home. For the answers to those sorts of questions, where you don't see a definitive answer in the Scriptures, i.e. your path is neither commanded nor forbidden, God has given us rational minds to make those decisions, based on the circumstances at the time (such as, does this undertaking fit our God-given vocations), and using a thorough understanding of Scripture to make it easier (and some decisions just aren't easy!). The problem with making decisions based on a feeling is that feelings aren't reliable, they aren't based on certainty or a sure word from God. When you've made a decision, you don't need to be able to say "I think this is what God's telling us to do," but rather "I know God will be pleased with this decision." Sometimes there is more than one right answer. I suggest you talk with your pastor about it too. He may be able to offer more insight. Thanks for writing. Blessings, Scott

Anonymous said...

"When you've made a decision, you don't need to be able to say "I think this is what God's telling us to do," but rather "I know God will be pleased with this decision."

Slam dunk, Scott! I hope this is clearly articulated in Lutheranism 101. If not, then it should be.

~Cafeteria Lutheran