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Friday, August 10, 2007 

I'm Not A Conservative!

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I’ve been a little busy at work. I've also been dealing with all the folks linking to me because of my post entitled Thoughts On The LCMS Youth Gathering. Not too many of those links have been positive.

Because of that post there are some folks out there that have been labeling me either a nut or worse yet; a conservative. I am not a conservative. I am not a conservative Lutheran. What I am however is a confessional Lutheran. So what is the difference?

Confessional Lutherans subscribe to the doctrines laid out in the Book of Concord because they are in agreement with the Scriptures. In other words they offer a quai subscription. Confessional Lutherans believe and confess that Scripture has given us poor miserable creatures very clear doctrines and that those very same doctrines needn’t be understood by human reason, common sense, or in context of whatever century or year we might all be living in.

The confessors wrote in the Formula of Concord the following:

“Therefore, it is our intent to give witness before God and all Christendom, among those who are alive today and those who will come after us, that the explanation here set forth regarding all the controversial articles of faith which we have addressed and explained–and no other explanation–is our teaching, faith, and confession. In it we shall appear before the judgment throne of Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, with fearless hearts and thus give account of our faith, and we will neither secretly nor publicly speak or write anything contrary to it. Instead, on the strength of God’s grace, we intend to abide by this confession (FC SD, XII, 40).”

With all that being said, you might see why I’m not a conservative, or maybe not.

Most Christians (and I would dare say Lutherans) in America these days are conservative with Billy Graham being at the top of the most admired list. Billy Graham is a conservative Christian because he believes that the Bible is God’s word. But he also believes and promotes decision theology, which means that one must make a conscious decision to accept Christ, is why Rev. Graham had alter calls at his crusades. This in spite of Jesus himself saying;

“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”
[Matthew 11:27]

Decision theology is just the tip of the iceberg which separates Confessional and conservative Christians. I happen to be the former, because I confess. I don’t confess insofar as I understand the Bible but rather I confess. That insofar as is what separates me from the conservatives.

So in conclusion, I am not a conservative!

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Our kids loved the Higher Things conference. The worship, the study, and the fun stuff all had its separate categories and places, which was wonderfully refreshing. It actually seemed to be on more of a college level; it was great because for once in these kids' lives of "youth minstry gatherings," you don't have adults trying to emotionally manipulate them into believing something. And the adults weren't treating them like they were stupid and talking down to them, either. I've been to loads of evangelical, revivalesque youth gatherings in my teens, and it's not hard to get burned out on them. It's not hard to look back on your youth and realize that it was just a big emotion-manipulation fest; faith becomes a cartoon caricature of itself, and not something that one can take seriously as an adult.

Those who do want to take it seriously as an adult end up leaving the Lutheran church for the generic megachurch down the street that ALWAYS has the fun and games. I don't see how a gathering such as what you've described would make kids desire to retain their Lutheran heritage, instead of coming home from the week, looking in dismay at that "boring" Sunday morning liturgy, and opting to go to his friend's church down the street that was more youth-gathering-ish.

Kelly, you just said it better than I ever could! What is new to me is the manipulation of emotion. I understand the emotional issue from a personal level, but how emotions are being used now is new ground.


Good post. It's funny you mention your post on the LCMS Youth Gathering as I was just sharing it with a couple of fellow pastors last evening (over cigars and port wine) :-). I thought it was quite ingenious to find within the youth's preference of the NYG over Higher things, an understanding of what Church is. That was what I was sharing with the other pastors.
Kudo's on your distinction here between "conservative" and "confessional." Virtually all confessionals are conservative, but not all conservatives are confessional.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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