Saturday, August 6, 2011

Abstractions?

The Rev. Dr. F. Dean Lueking, a noted name from a past era in LCMS battles and current personality supporting present efforts to see certain liberal topics find acceptance, wrote an article on the renewed Daystar Journal website that offers interesting insights into a time of importance in Missouri's history.  I leave you to read the whole article, "Lutheranism: A Confessional Movement in the Church Catholic," and draw your own conclusions on its overall message (follow the link above.)  For my part I wish to extract but one section for comment.  Toward the end of his article in a concluding section entitled "SO, THEN...," Dr. Lueking states:
Current hot button issues before LCMS Lutherans, women’s ordination and sexual ethics come to mind, are abstractions until and unless met by real people of faith, women and men, gay and straight, who wrestle them through in the power of the Word in the congregation. Denominational resolutions devoid of what is learned in congregations where gifted people, women and men, gay and straight gather, do more harm than good - especially when “doctrines” about each are made matters of majority vote. Similarly, what is learned in congregation by leaders, women and men, by believers, gay and straight – all doing courageously and faithfully what they’re called by Christ to do - is what congregations owe their church bodies.

It is a risk to exegete the words of someone else, but I think a summary interpretation is in order.  If I understand what he is saying, it seems that the point is: issues like women's ordination and homosexuality are not governed by strict time-honored and ancient doctrine, as such.  How the contemporary church responds to these issues in a larger (national) way should be generated by insights and interpretations from rank-and-file people from the midst of our local congregations first.  Until they have had a 'say' on the issue - pro or con - pontifications on these 'issues' from on high are mere 'abstractions' detached from the real life of the church.  Interesting....I suspect we could take this further on other 'issues' or teachings of the church, but I will resist the temptation for the moment.  I do agree that doctrine in the church is not determined by "majority vote."  Unfortunately, it appears that Dr. Lueking views the stance of the national church body as purely driven on these issues by the relative swing of a vote.  Hardly.  If one simply takes a serious look at the scriptures and the witness of nearly two millenia of the church fathers, the conclusion is anything but a mere arbitrary vote at a convention.  Instead, it is the confirmation of what the church has taught historically and faithfully until modern inclinations decided that personal choice trumps truth.  Instead of praising false teaching as "courageous," we ought to be speaking about confessing truth, which is, supposedly, what the original article wished to address.  Still, Dr. Lueking has caught the spirit of much of what still divides us, and unintentionally helped us to again see clearly that the issues still involve the truth of the Gospel. 

No comments: