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Wednesday, January 09, 2008 

Dan Kimball Asks “What Would Luther Do?”

After attending a 'symposium" on the emerging church hosted by the youth ministry office of district and congregational services, Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus But Not The Church, asked these hypothetical questions:

In seriously pondering the scenario, with many younger Lutheran leaders at this symposium andseeing their energy and passion - what if a 29 year old young and zealous Martin Luther was alive today passionate about having young adults know Jesus and the gospel:

What would be the theological issues would be his concerns and what he would be
taking stands for (or against) in today's current theologically diverse landscape?

Would he write music as he did then using the cultural music genres of his day (he wrote
classic hymns such A Mighty Fortress is our God)? Would we see Martin Luther hip hop
worship songs? Or Martin Luther rock worship songs? Would he listen to mainly
contemporary Christian pop worship music on his iPod?

Would he find local pubs and as part of his ministry hold "Theology pubs" and drink beer
with people while discussing theological topics? (It is common knowledge he did like beer).

If Martin Luther was a youth pastor today, where would he be getting in trouble in his church? What changes would be want to make to the average church if he was a 29 year old young pastor going into the average church in today's culture?

Would Luther change the lay out of a church meeting place and take out the pews and when he preached he wouldn't want to preach from behind those large pulpits in some churches?

Would a 29 year old Luther wear a suit when preaching in today's culture? Would he ever wear a robe? Would he wear jeans in Sunday church meetings?

If he was a youth pastor, would he be on staff at John MacArthur's church? Would he cause trouble there or fit in there? Would be on staff at Mars Hill Seattle or Mars Hill Grand Rapids and fit in one of them? Where would he choose to go to seminary today?

Would Luther be taken seriously only being in his late 20's to make major change in
established churches today? Would his innovation and desire to make the changes
needed to communicate the gospel in our culture today be stifled and not listened to by
senior pastors and elders at the local church he would be serving at?

Would he stay in the Lutheran denomination?

Interesting things to ponder. We can never know what would happen and so much of today's
church world was shaped by some of his actions and challenges to the existing church of his
time. But trying to think of him alive today at age 29, and as a youth or young adult leader in a church - what would he do?

Now Mr. Kimball can ponder all he wants to, that’s fine and dandy with me. But wouldn’t it be nice to actually have an answer for these questions? Well, as Professor Farnsworth likes to say, “good news everyone!” we already have an answer. Reverend Larry Beane has a post that answers these questions for Mr. Dan Kimball and explaines how Dr. Luther handled an emergent leader of the reformation era; Andreas Karlstadt. If you are unfamiliar with how Luther dealt with Schwärmerei, you're in for a treat.

I was actually writing a post on this very subject to answer two anonymous commentors who thought the mission of the Church is more important than the message. Hint, hint, they cant be separated! Enjoy Pastor Beane’s history lesson and learn for yourself that there is absolutely nothing new that hasn’t been tried before.

(Luther dealt with this in his LETTER TO THE CHRISTIANS AT STRASSBURG IN OPPOSITION TO THE FANATIC SPIRIT. It took me a couple of weeks to find what I was looking for which is why my post is so late. All the better that somebody as learned as Pastor Beane got to the topic first!)


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