Monday, July 23, 2012

Is the Swing of This Pendulum Accurate?

During the LCMS Northwest District Convention Dr. Tony Cook of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis led four Bible studies (the Powerpoint slides of which are available here). The studies discussed harmony and how it is achieved. The graphic below is from one of his presentations. I thought the graphic was thought provoking, although I'm not sure I'd totally agree with it.  Lutheran Pragmatism and Lutheran Fundamentalism were represented to be at the undesirable far ends of the pendulum swing, with harmony somewhere in between.  I wonder if the definitions for the extremes are accurate, or a caricature.  Certainly they're subject to interpretation.  Any thoughts?


X said...

The right column is obviously a pot shot at places like Redeemer or Zion. These churches know their liturgical past. They know their local congregation's customs. It isn't a romantic repristination.

But even so, most of Missouri is already in-between these characterizations, with most congregations leaning toward the left side. I won't argue with him, if he'd like to see everybody take a step to the right.

Anonymous said...

From "Tyranny of Cliches" by Jonah Golberg. I think there are some very strong parallels with what's going on in the Church.

“Taken on its own terms, pragmatism’s folly is that it separates intelligence from wisdom. It’s greatest sins are arrogance and deceit, including self-deceit. It is arrogant because it assumes the individual—particularly the expert—can know everything he needs to know without reference to received wisdom, historical precedent, tradition, dogma, etc. The pragmatists loathed history, because it was a storehouse of old thinking with no relevance for the new age of science, slide rules, and data.” P. 53.

Joe Strieter

Anonymous said...

I review the PP slides--there's some good stuff there, and some that, like Scott, I'm not sure that I agree. I liked the proper reading of Eph. 4:11, with the usually-missing comma. He makes some good points, in general, and certainly it seems a reasonable start. Needs more discussion, however.

Joe Strieter

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Scott Diekmann said...

To paraphrase Rev. Fr. Beane's comment: "Moreover, the argument that 'smells and bells' and 'happy clappy' are two sides of the same coin is a false analogy, and nowhere near a valid approach to liturgy. It is a convenient way to appeal to the center, to the majority that are somewhere in the middle, to those who (for whatever reason) are not interested in pursuing a richer ceremonial and liturgical life in the parish as has been the trend among our synod as a whole for decades. Liturgy is normative in our Lutheran confessions. Going without the liturgy is un-Lutheran and antithetical to our confession. On the other hand, being 'high church' is consistent within our tradition as articulated in the Book of Concord. To lump the two together in a box and label them both un-Lutheran is just plain wrong."

Rev. Larry Beane said...

The x-factor in the slide showing the two extremes of "pragmatism" and "fundamentalism" is the place of the Lutheran Confessions. Maybe the author addresses the Book of Concord in his presentation.

Given the way the matter is framed in these two antitheses, I would ask: Is the Book of Concord irrelevant to a "changing culture" (per the "pragmatic" argument) or are are these confessions normative (per the so-called "fundamentalist" paradigm)?

I would add that the term "fundamentalist" is a rather unfortunate label that calls to mind the folks who protest funerals with anti-homosexual slogans, Muslim terrorists, and snake-handlers. It is a term that is almost never used except pejoratively.

Joanne said...

Catholic already means the common church. To be a catholic church means you walk together in faith and life. The Lutheran church proclaims itself to be a catholic church and has always distinquished itself from the sects and sectarians that grew like weeds during the Reformation and later.

We still do. You hear it from our pulpits and you see it everywhere you look in a Lutheran church. The primary symbol that insantly tells a visitor that he/she is in a catholic church is the crucifix, because the sects find the symbol of Christ's actual crucifixion disturbing and because they do not deal in the body and blood of God as do catholic churches.

The Lutheran church is a reformation of the Western Latin Church, not a reformation of the Baptists, nor Methodists. These sects are nothing to us, we have nothing in common with them. We do not reform them, but they believe it is their job to reform us, and some fools desperately looking for the middle between Baptists and Roman Cathoics, allow themelves to be reformed and to move where ever the center takes them.

It is my opinion that the St. Louis Sem is built over an Indian burial site and cursed forever, because trouble keeps oozing out of it. (pure cynicism) CSL, we find the middle everyday where ever it is. Christ is our weather balloon to show us which way the center is moving. Keep on your toes, no telling how far we may have to move to get to the middle today. (end of rant)
"But because you are neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth." Are you the prophet that troubleth Israel, or the false prophets that harp them to sleep in Baal's arms? Jesus allows no middle ground and neither do the followers of The Way. (ok, ok, real end of rant)

Anonymous said...

Rev. Fisk responds to a Christian Pragmatist:

What happens to Lutheran Pragmatists who eventually burn out? They leave the Lutheran church.

Anonymous said...

Lutheran Fundamentalists imitate the Roman Catholics? Huh? If the Roman Catholics would not listen to Luther and engage in reform, then why would they listen to the Evangelicals? We have Luther's writings. Let Rome read them. Enough of the rabid "Catholic bashing" already!

Lutheran Fundamentalism? Since when is a divine service with a liturgy in an LCMS church a "Roman Catholic" practice. The Church needs to adapt to the culture? Uh oh. That is the same argument used by liberal theologians. I suspect Dr. Cook is a closet ELCAer (Seminex).

Let the Evangelicals and their big-haired preachers continue to condemn the Roman Catholic church as the church of satan. Does the LCMS have to imitate the Evangelicals in this way. Why do "Lutheran Pragmatists" feel an urge to imitate every single evangelical practice?

Why is shunning worship and study materials from CPH in favor of materials by Willow Creek and Saddleback Church the preferred option by Lutheran Pragmatists (most LCMS pastors). The Church Growth Movement has not increased the number of converts to the LCMS, so what is the point. Please stop trying to change the LCMS into a bad copy of a non-denominational church.

And before you "Pragmatist" clergy holler that you are indeed Confessional, then why are the LCMS laymen bombarded with worship and study materials that have next to nothing in common with Confessional Lutheran doctrine? Rob Bell, anyone? Rick Warren? How about Beth Moore? Bill Hybels? If this is all the laymen are taught, it is no wonder that they have little reservations about quitting the LCMS for the non-denominational church down the street. At least the coffee and the praise bands are better over there.