Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Church Conventions

With kind permission, here is an article written by Aaron D. Wolf, a lay theologian and historian who belongs to a congregation of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. It can be found online here.

Aaron is not only a brilliant writer, but a profound thinker whose finger (and I won't say which one) is always taking the pulse of American culture. He is one of the editors of Chronicles Magazine. If you don't subscribe to this magnificent journal, I'm telling you now, under penalty of excommunication (okay, that's a bit strong, but only a bit) to do so. Some, but not nearly all, of the articles can be found online. Aaron's column is entitled "Heresies." Need I say more?

Anyway, enjoy this article. No, wait. Not yet. Print it. Curl up on your favorite leather armchair with a Lutheran beverage of your choice. The gents may wish to ignite a cheroot. Now, dear reader, you may commence! This one is to be savored. Ahhh!

Bon appetit!

Church Conventions and Temporary Insanity

CHURCH CONVENTIONS are the business of summertime in democratized Christian America. While normal, sane men are taking their boys to ball games or running trot lines by the light of a Coleman lantern, grown men (and women) are sitting in earnest before professional parliamentarians and video monitors in conference centers across the fruited plane, armed with wireless keypads, ready to decide the fate of their beloved denominations, if not the Faith once delivered to the saints Itself.

Being temporarily insane, I agreed to serve as a delegate to the Northern Illinois District Convention of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which was held (appropriately) at The Q Center in St. Charles, Illinois—the former national training compound for the recently deceased Arthur Andersen LLP. Amid seemingly endless rounds of voting on the multiple Whereases and Resolveds of a variety of heterodox resolutions, we were treated to various bush-league video presentations on five jumbotron screens, all centered on the LCMS’s Ablaze!™ evangelism program/advertising campaign, which appears to be designed to transform Lutherans into Baptists.

At least we had domestic beer and cheap Merlot to help us through. Down in Greensboro, North Carolina, four fifths of the “Messengers” to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting voted in favor of a resolution condemning the manufacture and consumption of alcoholic beverages and “urging the exclusion of Southern Baptists who drink from election to the convention’s boards, committees and entities.” (One conservative, the Rev. Tom Ascol, voiced his opposition to the resolution by noting that Our Lord did, in fact, turn water into wine.) Fortunately, the sober Messengers voted nearly unanimously in favor of a resolution urging “the federal government to provide for the security of our nation by controlling and securing our borders.”

The real hay was made among denominations that would take a different approach to both the alcohol question and the immigration question. In fact, the liberal Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., and the liberaler Episcopal Church, U.S.A., seemed to be in competition to outdo each other in the heresy sweepstakes and capture space in the nation’s newspapers.

In recent years, the headline-grabbing EC-USA has distinguished itself for having elected Eugene “Vicky” Robinson, an open sodomite and homewrecker (his own), as bishop, causing schism within the American communion and with other Anglican communions worldwide. Despite significant opposition, on June 18, 50.5319 percent of the House of Bishops elected Katharine Jefferts Schori, who has pledged her full support to “Canon Robinson,” as presiding bishop—the first ever female primate in the Anglican communion.

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Jefferts Schori, who holds a Ph.D. in oceanography from Oregon State University and has served as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, has, in her own words, spent time on the cross because of her boldness in standing up for sodomy and homewrecking. In 2003, on the occasion of the elevation of “Canon Robinson,” in which she played a part, she appealed to the principle of ecclesiastic democracy: “I believe that the people of New Hampshire have the right to choose the person they believe is best suited to their particular ministry needs.” “Several years ago,” she continued, “my spiritual director asked me to reflect on the situations in which I was being crucified. This is one of them, and I believe it is a reminder of the presence of God, who suffers with us in our disunity. However, I know Jesus as the one who welcomes those on the margin.”

One-upping the Episcopal primate, the PC-USA, after its convention in late June, would have to rephrase the Rt. Rev. Dr. Jefferts Schori’s statement to read: “I know Beloved Child as the one who welcomes those on the margin.” In a stunning example of lex orandi, lex credendi, delegates to the PC-USA’s convention voted 282 to 212 to “receive” a document recommending alternatives to the traditional appellations “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” The new names for the Persons of the Holy Trinity include “Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child, and Life-giving Womb”; “Rainbow of Promise, Ark of Salvation, and Dove of Peace”; “Sun, Light, and Burning Ray”; and “Overflowing Font, Living Water, and Flowing River.”

Besides the obvious benefit of stamping out the bright-burning flames of patriarchal domination that glow in the hearts of America’s Episcopalians, these creative substitutions are designed to foster continuous liturgical renewal. For the Presbyterian celebrant is now free to choose the appropriate appellation for whatever pericopal context in which s/he finds herself. As the L.A. Times reports, “a prayer noting God’s ‘wrath in the face of evil’ might use “Fire That Consumes, Sword That Divides and Storm That Melts Mountains.” (As in, perhaps, “Keep us from grieving the Storm That Melts Mountains by offering blasphemy in the name of political correctness”?)
“In the last days,” writes Saint Paul, “some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” When the doctrines of devils are brought to the convention floor, it’s safe to say that the plane has already left the runway.

—Aaron D. Wolf

This article first appeared in the August 2006 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

1 comment:

William Weedon said...

Go, Aaron! Why isn't he in SSP??? I believe he is also in our band of merry SOUTHERNERS.