Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Articles at Jesus First Web Site

I'm not sure why, but in the last year or so I have been promptly reminded by Jesus First via email each time they update their online newsletter. Perhaps I'm on a synodical mass mailing. At any rate I pass on to you a note that they have once again published a couple of articles, although I don't see anything too worthy of comment. It seems mainly 'boilerplate' material for them - trying to remove any suspicion about the efforts of the current administration, especially with regard to the colossal restructuring of the Synod slated for the upcoming convention this summer, and Charles Mueller's usual labeling and categorizing for LCMS churches and pastors. His latest effort concerns how LCMS churches approach "change." The theme addresses the upcoming convention also. Putting the best construction on his words the appeal seems to be for civility and open minded discussion about matters to be discussed. That's certainly not something against which you would want to argue. On the other hand, having witnessed convention politics at its best (and worst!) in 2004, and having also witnessed the very tactical attacks and maneuvering of the Jesus First political machine, forgive me if I am skeptical and a bit wary.


MotorSage said...

The "Jesus First" movement seems to be the LCMS incorporation of the progressive movement, to which the ELCA has fallen victim. What do you think?

Don Engebretson said...

My impression of Jesus First is that it is first and foremost the political arm to counter the conservative-confessional movement in Synod. They seem most active when a national convention is approaching (as we are now seeing), or some other major issue is impacting the current leadership which they have helped elect (such as when there have been perceived attacks on the leadership of Dr.Kieschnick, the LCMS president.) While trying to appear moderate theologically, the goal of the Jesus First leadership appears to be to make sure that the synodical organization remains accepting and even protecting of the various other movements, such as the Day Star movement, the Voices/Vision movement, and the charismatic movement. At least some of the leaders of Jesus First, I suspect, are probably not far left liberal, at least in terms of hot button issues such as women's ordination. They are very 'progressive,' on the other hand, in the area of worship, and quite supportive of contemporary, neo-evangelical non-hymnal forms, as well as other 'church growth' methodologies. In some ways I sense that while they say they are the defenders of the true Lutheran spirit of the LCMS, they are really helping to erode that identity in a slow and steady way as the traditional marks of our identity gradually disappear. While it is debatable that Dr. Kieschnick actually said the phrase "This isn't your grandfather's church anymore," the idea behind the phrase certainly captures what I believe is the agenda and philosophy behind Jesus First. It is not all that different than what you often hear at Voters' meetings in many LCMS churches: We must change or die. Jesus First endeavors to change the LCMS into something it believes will better succeed in the future than the old models it is now prepared to jettison into the dustbin of the past.