Monday, August 20, 2007

The Few, the Proud, the Lutherans...

Oh, the junk mail that comes into the church office!

Usually, it's not of a Lutheran origin - like the "Christian cruise" invitations with dazed-looking suburbanites with hands raised in the air with the "rock" (give me a break!) band up front. Or the invitations to "prayer breakfasts" with "community leaders" and famous TV preachers. Or the catalogs with pictures of big screens and sound systems for our church. Or the ads for sermons for sale that can be purchased with a credit card...

Then there's the Lutheran junk mail.

Today, I got a "fund-raiser" offer to sell T-shirts that say: "The Few, the Proud, the Lutherans" with a plain cross logo.

Of course, no indication if the United States Marines have consented or not...

These t-shirts are touted to have been worn by the youth group of this particular congregation at the Higher Things Youth Conference in North Carolina.

Just last Sunday in the one-year series we heard our Lord preaching about religious pride. This is inevitably what happens when evangelism meets marketing and fund-raising. Creeds are reduced to slogans. The Gospel is reduced to a prideful celebration of our "brand".

The Word of God has much to say about pride - especially in being prideful of one's spiritual state. Pride goes before the fall. Pride was Satan's original sin. Pride stands between the Pharisees and repentance. Pride is the impediment that keeps many away from the Christian faith.

The empty, Christless cross is the perfect symbol to go with this shallow rendition of what the Augsburg Confession is all about. For in celebrating our "Lutheran-ness" with a boastful T-shirt - especially in a way that actually boasts of our pride itself - is the very opposite of the proclamation and confession of the Crucified One.

To be an Augsburg Christian, an Evangelical Catholic, a Lutheran in the richest sense of the word is to be a humble forgiven sinner, knowing that his salvation is by grace alone, and that he has no reason whatsoever to boast.

1 comment:

Pastor Beisel said...

I got the same stuff in the mail too. Gave me a chuckle as well.