Sunday, November 28, 2010

The 'Post-Church Age' And Other Fairy Tales...

I sometimes hear, in the various mission meetings I attend, that we are now living in a “Post-Church Age.” This phrase has always bothered me a bit not so much for the somewhat weak logic for arriving at such a conclusion which I don’t think can be supported by the most basic examination of church history but rather what invariably follows; a call to change the methods the church catholic has traditionally used to proclaim the Good News, reach the lost, and perform acts of mercy that should naturally flow from a saving faith in Jesus.

I’ve detailed on more than one occasion instances of folks coming into my own congregation in the name of evangelism and making their case that if we just added a seeker friendly worship where secular music is played so as not to frighten away the unchurched. I’ve reported on a Southeastern district presentation that suggested that we give away jars of cookies or jelly in order to get folks to consider giving us a shot as their new church. Nearly all this goofy methodology is put forward because we are told that the ways of preaching , teaching, and reaching the lost no longer work the way it used to because we are in a different time: a “Post-Church Age.”

That’s rubbish plain and simple, more especially for persons who call themselves confessional Lutherans.

Last month I was more than pleased to see that my pastor wrote his newsletter article on the problems of a so called “Post-Church Age” in a manner that is clearer and more succinct than I could ever hope to pen. Enjoy!

The 'Post-Church Age' and Other Fairy Tales...

The stories that we tell can tell a lot about us. The stories you tell your kids about when you were a kid say a lot about you today. The stories you tell about your day go a long way to making or breaking the day of those you tell your stories to. The stories that we tell about ourselves as a church tell a lot about what sort of a church we are...

Lately there's been a story going around among some of the higher-ups in our church. The story is called "the Post-Church or Post-Christian Age," a scary sort of story that goes some- thing like this: "For centuries and centuries we lived in a Western Culture that embraced Christendom. The Church was popular and well liked by the vast majority of the culture. Even those who didn't go to church a lot generally had a positive view of Christianity. The Church had a fairly easy time attracting people to become members. Today it's all changed! Our culture is becoming increasingly secular or atheist or Islamist or hostile to Christianity. So our churches face a bleak future of declining numbers of members, declining resources, and less respect from the world at large. We need to do something! (But we're not exactly sure what...)”

Maybe you've heard this story, or bits and pieces of it. It's usually the preamble to a pan- icky appeal that we must change our worship, our theology, our outreach, or the sky will fall!

I think the story is nonsense. It's certainly not the story Scripture tells of Christ and His Church and the world around us. It isn't the story the church fathers told. Most of all, it isn't even factually accurate. Harry Stout, religious history Professor at Yale University used to ask his classes which they would guess was the most religious generation in America? First guess was usually Revolutionary War. Wrong! Civil War? More than the founding fathers' generation, but far from the prize. The right answer? Our generation (circa 1985) was the most religious in American history! While the number of people who say they are Christian has dipped slightly in the first decade of the 21st century, it's still above all others except the 1980’s-90’s.

In the 4th century AD, Constantine made Christianity legal, and lots of people flocked to Christian churches. But oddly enough, Augustine didn't think the number of Christians had really changed at all from the previous century. That the culture thought the church more fashionable didn't make for more Christians, as far as he could see. Popularity did bring a sharp increase in the heresies fathers like Augustine had to battle-- Pelagians and Arians and Donatists and all kinds of bad apples--who tended for most of that era to be the majority of Christendom!

Luther read in St. Paul (Romans 9-11) that the number of the elect is a constant. It was determined by God before time began, unveiled by Christ on the cross, and isn't affected at all by anything we do or don't do. Our good efforts can't increase the number of people in heaven by even one. Our failures and faux pas cannot reduce the number by a single soul. In Elijah's day there were (according to God's reckoning) only 7,000 in all Israel (population at least a million and probably closer to two or three million) who hadn't bent the knee to Baal. Nothing in Scrip- ture suggests that percentage changes much from age to age.

So the world has mostly always hated the Gospel of the Crucified One. It's always been an acquired taste of the (s)elect few. When people fawn over us, we don't get puffed up. When they scorn us, we don't fret. This age is no more post, pro, or pomo Christian than any other. the faithful still stand where we've always stood--on Christ and His promises alone. The world's hatred or love cannot make or break us, but our fear of what people think of us should certainly embarrass us! The only thing that matters is what Christ Jesus thinks of us--and He reveals that in His pure Gospel and Sacraments on which we stand unafraid, a beacon in a dark world- -the light of which will always draw exactly the right crowd, with no crowding, no worrying, and no fear, only faith in the One who has everything, absolutely everything, in His nail pierced hands...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ninjasmatic Gifts?

In this video Pastor Fisk of Worldview Everlasting looks at spiritual gifts and talks about the charismatic movement (which just so happens to be alive and well in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Time Out Episode 92

Dan over at Necessary Roughness has the newest Time Out: Time Out, Episode 92 posted.

The Scripture reading for this episode is Ephesians 2 with commentary from the Kretzmann Commentary Series. The hymn this time is “The Day is Surely Drawing” found on page 508 in the Lutheran Service Book.

From Dan: As the church year nears its end and we look to the world to come, it’s prudent to remind ourselves through the Word that we are saved by grace, not of our own doing, but of the gift of God. There are works for us to do, also a gift from God, but these come after faith is given to us and renders us righteous before God.

If you haven’t stopped in and heard Dan’s Time Out episodes in a bit, do yourself a favor and see how good they are; especially the hymns (which I think he’s been knocking ‘em right out of the park!).

So, be sure to stop by, say howdy, and thank Dan for doing such a great job on Time Out, Episode 92!

Previous Time Out episodes:

Time Out Episode 91
Time Out Episode 90
Time Out Episode 89
Time Out Episode 88
Time Out Episode 87
Time Out Episode 86
Time Out Episode 85

Monday, November 15, 2010

Today’s Quote Of The Day From Leo The Great

Today’s quote of the day is from Leo the Great warning the hearers of his sermon on the Feast of the Nativity (Sermon XXIV.6) and us today as well to be on guard against false teachers who wish to introduce new teachings and doctrines under the “a cloak of piety and chastity” and to remain steadfast in the apostolic faith:

You, dearly beloved, whom I address in no less earnest terms than those of the blessed apostle Peter, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession,” built on the impregnable rock, Christ, and joined to the Lord our Savior by His true assumption of our flesh, remain firm in the faith, which you have professed before many witnesses and in which you were reborn through the water and the Holy Spirit, and received the anointing of salvation and seal of eternal life. But, “if anyone preaches to you anything besides that which you have learned, let him be anathema”; refuse to put wicked fables before the clearest truth, and what you may happen to read or hear contrary to the rule of the catholic and apostolic creed, judge it altogether deadly and diabolical…. Indeed, they put on a cloak of piety and chastity, but under this deceit they conceal the filthiness of their acts, and from the recesses of their ungodly heart hurl shafts to wound the simple…. A mighty bulwark is a sound faith, a true faith, to which nothing has to be added or taken away, because unless it is one, it is no faith, as the apostle says, “on Lord, one faith, one Baptism, on God and Father of all and through all and in us all.” Cling to this unity, dearly beloved, with minds unshaken, and in it “follow after” all “holiness.” In it carry out the Lord’s commands, because “without faith it is impossible to please God,” and without it nothing is holy, nothing pure, nothing alive, “for the just lives by faith” and he who by the devil’s deception loses it is dead though living, because as righteousness is gained by faith, so, too, by a true faith is eternal life gained, as our Lord says. And this is life eternal, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. May He make you to advance and persevere to the end, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

- Leo the Great, On the Feast of the Nativity, IV, Sermon XXIV.6

HT: From the always awesome and edifying Treasury of Daily Prayer, which can be purchased through Concordia Publishing House.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Essentials Of Christianity?

I haven’t posted any of Pastor Fisk’s videos in a while so….

In this video Pastor Fisk of Worldview Everlasting answers the question “What are the essentials of Christianity?” He also has a smidgeon on pietism. Good stuff!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

KFUO Wants To Hire A Program Host? Really?

From the there’s no way in Hades that even I could make this up files, this gem was brought to my attention by a friend on Facebook this morning:

KFUO Radio AM Program Host

KFUO Radio Station seeks applicants for a program host for KFUO Radio AM. The program host is responsible for on-air announcing, which may include interviewing, reporting of news, sports, weather, religious and other features as may be required within the broadcast-music or talk formats of KFUO. At the discretion of the director of programming operations, the program host may assist with the programming of KFUO. Responsibilities may include traffic, public service, public affairs, news, features, religious programming, etc. The program host also may assist the development director by personally visiting major donors and prospects. The program host will publicly represent KFUO for the purposes of promotion and development. The program host may assist in the evaluation of KFUO efforts and in the development of long-range plans for the station.

The qualified applicant must be an active member of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, with demonstrated evidence of support for the church; have a minimum of 5 years of experience in ministries related to The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod; a minimum of five years of credible experience in mass-media-related ministries; and must have a bachelor's degree. The qualified applicant must be able to work as part of a team and be willing to travel.

Now why in the world would KFUO needs themselves a program host?

Now, maybe somebody can help me remember something here; wasn’t it just over two years ago that David Strand, Executive Director for the Board for Communication Services, terminated the employment of the host of KFUO’s most popular host for business or programmatic reasons (if I recall properly the reasoning was always being “updated” and modified) and then replacing the show with another that was “different from “Issues, Etc.,”… in that it doesn’t dwell largely on Lutheran apologetics at a sophisticated level. It still takes its Gospel proclamation seriously, but it finds new ways to capture attention.”? I do recall something like this happening in, oh, around March 2008 or sometime close to that…

So, does anybody know of a qualified radio host that could help out KFUO with some Christ centered, cross focused programming… hmm… I do just happen to know a couple of guys that have some experience with Christian talk radio. I wonder if they ever thought about working for a small radio station owned by the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod? Hmm, I wonder