Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Under the Influence

I've begun a study of the LCMS (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) with our Sunday morning Bible class.

One of the topics we will be covering is what outside, non-Lutheran influences have affected thinking and practice in our church body. Certainly American culture is a major one. However, another major influence of late has been "Evangelicalism".

Dr. David Adams makes this very case in his assessment of what divides the LCMS today, a view which I find to be very insightful.

Disclaimer: Not everything in Evangelicalism is necessarily bad. We Lutherans do have points of commonality as well as important differences. I'd just like to see an increased awareness of what those are.

Most of us in the LCMS have been influenced, somehow or another, by modern American Evangelicalism. With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, I put together the beginnings of a list... feel free to tack on your own comments. If they're really good I will even include them in the post.

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YOU MIGHT BE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF EVANGELICALISM IF:

You believe it's important to be “Christian First, Lutheran Second”

You would rather have lunch with James Dobson than C.F.W. Walther

You believe the Great Commission is the central point of Christian teaching

You think that many Lutherans are too concerned about Doctrine

You've ever called someone a pharisee for defending a point of biblical teaching

You think that different Christian teachings needlessly offend people

You prefer to say “close” rather than “closed” communion

Your idea of close communion means that Christians from other denominations are probably “close enough”

You say things like, “we've just gotta get the young people involved at church”

You don't see why an organ is more appropriate in church than a drum set

You prefer Group Publishing to CPH

You prefer Youth Specialties to Higher Things

You prefer Focus on the Family over Issues, Etc.

You think churches that are shrinking in size MUST be doing something very wrong
or
You think churches that are growing in size MUST be doing something very right

You think Lutherans believe “pretty much the same” as non-Lutherans

You think crucifixes and private confession are “too Catholic”

Your prayers contain the phrase, “Lord, we just...”

You repeat the mantra, “everything happens for a reason”

You think congregations should be “mission outposts” not “maintenance stations”

You believe the “marks of the church” include: stewardship, servanthood, and political activism

You think Confirmation is as important, or almost as important, as Holy Baptism

You believe that Holy Communion is between you and God, but has nothing to do with your neighbor

_______

Feel free to add to my list here...

21 comments:

jWinters said...

Hmnn...
Well, I do have to disagree with the "Lord, we just..." item. It's incomplete. Rather, it should be, "Father God, we just..."

Does anyone really want to have lunch with Dobson? Sounds like a yawn to me.

in Christ,
jW

Frank Gillespie said...

You think teenagers should only be taught by their peers or visiting college students and not a catechized adult.

You find a way to include the word feeling in any sentence about objective justification or faith.

You are deeply offended that your friend’s church won’t let you have communion as it’s only a symbol.

You believe that Confirmation marks a youth reaching the age of accountability.

Anonymous said...

You insist that the problem with the youth is NOT youth group, the problem with you group is NOT sunday school, and the problem with sunday school is NOT you forgetting to teach the catechism at home.

Bob Waters said...

Two cartoons from Leadership Magazine come to mind here.

The first portrays a clergyman in a Roman collar standing in front of a mirror holding an open, floppy Bible with a crazed look in his eye. The caption: "Bah-RIM-ston-ah!"

The second is a man at prayer. The caption, "Lord, I just really want to really just ask you to really help me to just stop using the words 'just' and 'really' so often in my prayers."

I hate to be a "told you so," but I just saw this coming when I was at River Forest back in the late 'Seventies. Really.

Adrian Piazza said...

You need to look back just a little farther. When I was growing up in the late Sixties and seventies. I heard so many times, "Billy Graham has called the Lutheran Church a sleeping giant. We need to wake up and ". . . (have a revival, film series or whatever the cause de jour.) Also the effects of Evangelism Explosion. Have lived it and it was the start.

Pace
Adrian

Elephantschild said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jim Pierce said...

You believe “I can convert someone to Christ”.
You believe Balaam’s ass had a ministry.
You believe the pastor of your church is a CEO or manager.
You believe church services should be designed to appeal to the “unchurched”.
You don’t like to refer to some people as “unrepentant sinners”.
You believe that law should never be spoken in the presence of “seekers”.

Kantor B. said...

You think that chanting the liturgy is "too 'KATOLISCH'".

Jerry said...

You study the Bible with the intention to understand God's word(law) so that you can keep it better n better each day. And God will pour out "blessings" upon you because you're following his will, becoming more n more "Christ-Like".
(Sadly, your studying doesn't lead you to see how completely wretched and how much more wretched you are day after day. You should just beg for mercy.)

pastorstrey said...

You think that "Hawaiian Shirt" is the liturgical color for festivals.

I confess that this is totally shameless self-promotion on my part, but I've got a somewhat similar top ten list at this address:

http://pastorstrey.wordpress.com/2008/08/18/top-ten-liturgical-insults/

Elephantschild said...

Pr. Strey, those are hilarious. I'm re-posting them on my own blog. (with credit of course!)

Jerry said...

You sincerely find 7-11 praise music deeply moving.

Anonymous said...

Using the "Left Behind" series as a means to get your members to read and study the Book of Revelation. This was done in my previous parish (ELCA), and is being done in Lutheran parishes from several synods.

Anonymous said...

praying a "sinners prayer" or "prayer of commitment" after sermons.
doing altar calls, testimonies, and other revivalistic practices, either in regular worship services or in special "evangelistic" services.

Matt said...

You use 1 Cor 9:22 as your favorite proof-text.

You are proud of the fact that you will buy your Bible studies from anywhere except CPH.

Elephantschild said...

You think Lutherans preach the gospel way too much - people already know all that stuff, let's teach 'em how to live the Christian Life.

Anonymous said...

Your idea of a good bible study is a group of people sitting around talking about what a particular bible passage means to each of them.

Anonymous said...

Most of these are pretty good, but I personally don't think an organ is more "appropriate" than a drum set. God never specifies what instruments we're supposed to use to worship. (My church uses both). As long as the songs aren't focused on "me" and what "I" do, what's wrong with using drums?

Preachrboy said...

Sorry, Anon, I think you are indeed "under the influence" on this point.

You are right about the importance of the lyrics not being focused on the individual.

But there's much more to music than that. Musical style (and yes, even certain instruments) can be more or less apporpriate in a worship setting.

Much of it has to do with cultural context, and what sort of things a particular style of music evokes. For instance, you know "sad music" even without hearing the words, right? Isn't it possible that certain styles and even certain instruments bring elements of meaning to our music?

I suppose you probably wouldn't be as comfortable with an accordian, would you? How about a noseflute?

And frankly, "the Bible doesn't say..." is a weak argument here. The bible doesn't say a lot of things... that doesn't mean there aren't practices which reflect better (or worse) our distinctive Lutheran theology.

I used to think style was completely separable from substance in church music. But, back then, I was much more "under the influence"

Anonymous said...

So your argument is that using an organ is what fits better with Lutheran theology and practice in the liturgy. From my personal experience, it is possible to incorporate drums/guitars, etc., into the Divine Service without it losing what makes it distinctly Lutheran or disrupting the "mood" (as an accordion might). I'm not advocating rock music here, I'm just saying that "Lutheranism" does not have to equate to "organ music." For the record, I like organs, often more than drums/guitars. But both can have their place in a service that is still distinctly Lutheran. Does this always happen? No - but it can be done.

Preachrboy said...

Yes, my argument is that it's a better fit, and therefore to be preferred.

I never said "organ only, ever", though, and have seen tympani drums, for instance, as part of a rousing orchestral arrangement of A Mighty Fortress.

I would agree that "Lutheranism does not equate to organ music".

But those who prefer other instruments, in my experience, are generally under the influence of Evangelicalism.

(This is all, of course, in our American WASP-type context. In other cultural contexts, music might have to be though of differently. I doubt that Organ music is preferable in certain African congregations, for instance, much less practical.)