Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: July 2010
I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 

Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Isaiah 6:8 (KJV)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stay or go?

Over at Cyberbrethren LCMS pastor Paul McCain has a post concerning the ELCA's move to place gay/lesbian clergy on its roster.

One of the comments on that post was from a Lutheran who was a member of a faithful confessional ELCA congregation. He was distressed at the thought of possibly having to leave when his pastor and congregation were still faithful to the Gospel, and I cannot say that I blame him.

But there are several problems for any faithful Christian who is contemplating staying in an ELCA congregation:

1. The ELCA is desperate to prevent a mass exodus of members and congregations. Any Christian who is faithful to the Gospel and stays in the ELCA will be cynically used by the ELCA's leadership as "proof" that what they did was not so bad. Be advised that if you stay in the ELCA your continued presence will be used to advance a lie.

2. Some faithful Christians are deeply distressed by the ELCA's apostasy, but feel that they should stay and continue to bear witness to the Truth. The problem with such witnessing is that likely it will be ineffective, and perhaps even counterproductive. It would like going to a bar on Saturday night to speak out against the horrors of alcoholism. In one sense a bar is the perfect location to do this, since the place is probably hip-deep in people who need to hear the message. But a bar is the wrong venue for such an undertaking, since peer pressure is very tough to overcome in a crowd. More likely is that you will be mocked and ridiculed (if anyone pays attention to you), and in the heat of the witnessing you will be provoked into doing something foolish that undermines your case.

Just as a drunk has to hit bottom before he will listen to a cure, the apostasy of the ELCA's has to produce disaster before the leadership will repent. Like the patrons of a bar the ELCA's leadership is drunk on their own arrogance. They are in no mood to listen to the party-poopers and squares who are led by the pesky carpenter from Nazareth. To the extent they will listen to you, their attitude will be, "We have the power and credentials, and you do not." Meanwhile, your presence will give them what they do not deserve: the illusion that the decision of last August was no cause for concern, or else you would have left.

3. There is a belief among some confessional Christians in the ELCA that whatever happens, their own congregation will be untouched. This is probably the most dangerous illusion of all. The ELCA controls the call process, and when your confessional Lutheran pastor leaves he or she can be replaced with someone more willing to parrot the ELCA's line. In terms of earthly power the ELCA's leadership holds all the cards, and can shape any congregation they choose. As tempting as it may be, the apostasy of the ELCA is not a problem that can be booted down the road in hopes that it will somehow go away. The evil that is now consuming the ELCA will reach the doorsteps of your church - and probably sooner than you think.

4. There is one more problem to consider. While you may be witnessing to the ELCA's leadership they will be witnessing to you on behalf of their new god of secular politics. There is the danger that peer pressure can bring you to reject the Gospel in favor of what the ELCA is now offering. Remember that the devil does the most damage when he can wear you down. In an ELCA increasingly empty of Christians you will find yourself more and more isolated and vulnerable to temptation. Believe it, brothers and sisters in Christ!

If you do decide to stay, surround yourself with other Christians and resist calls to "go along to get along". Looking the other way is an engraved invitation to disaster and the last thing you should do. If you choose to stay and continue the fight, make sure that you actually fight. And pray without ceasing! Remember the words of 1 Peter 5:8 : Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

These are my views. My wife and I left the ELCA because we did not want to lend any support to the ELCA's rejection of the Gospel. We now pray for repentance by the ELCA's leadership, and we also pray for any Christians still in the ELCA. We urge everyone else to do the same.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bible study with your teen

Our son will be five years old on his next birthday, so it will be some time before we will need something like this. However, it has been my experience that children grow up much faster than we would like to believe.

One way to have your children take the Bible seriously is to show that you take it seriously, and are willing to share with them.

(Hat tip: Joanne at Blessed is She Who Believed.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Reading List

Just completed:

e: The Story of a Number, by Eli Maor

In progress:

Book of Concordia, McCain, Paul T, General Editor.

On deck:

Four Colors Suffice, by Robin Wilson

Sharia and the US Constitution

An appellate court in New Jersey has overturned a lower court's decision in which a Muslim man charged with raping his wife was exempt on "cultural" grounds from state laws against sexual assault. For now, at least, the US Constitution trumps sharia.

One of the strangest aspects of 21st century Western society is the willingness of so many in its ruling class to entertain the notion of overturning many of its own laws in the name of "diversity". As I noted here and here, there is a growing tendency by the powerful and educated to flirt with returning society to more primitive (and barbaric) times.

I sincerely doubt that these are cases of sympathy with Islam, and that Comedy Central and the American Academy of Pediatrics are chock-full of fundamentalist Muslims or their sympathizers. Rather, these seem to be cases where a hatred of Christians and Jews overides long-held secular political philosophies. The attitude appears to be adolescent belief that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Islam is seen as a rival of Christianity, and benefits accordingly.

One notion that can be put away is the oft-stated defense for such actions: diversity. It would be hard to find a more narrow-minded and isolated group of individuals than our ruling class in government, education, and the media. Contrast the near hysterical reaction by the ruling class when a Christian suggests that homosexuality is wrong, or that Jesus was a man, or that God's laws provide the basis for (and are superior to) secular laws with the near universal indifference to reports of a Muslim man raping his wife, or the rise of "honor" killings in the West, or the suggesting that mutilating a little girl's clitoris can be an accepted medical procedure in modern hospitals.

It would not be inaccurate to see this strange secular-Islam alliance as a kind of modern-day Hitler-Stalin pact. Modern secular progressivism and Islam are both fundamentally incompatable with democracy. Both have bloody and brutal histories which they hotly deny. Both seek to extinguish rivals by any means necessary. Both are inherently imperialistic, hostile to opposing points of view, and seek to dominate by brute force if necessary. And both are fairly backwards and reactionary (as can be seen with their rather blatent hostility towards women).

But both have fundamental differences that will one day break up this cozy alliance. Islam holds that there is a God, and his name is Allah. Secular progressives tend to view government as God. For that reason and many others I predict the two will not stay friends for long.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Update on Dr. Kenneth Howell

Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have sent a letter to the University of Illinois protesting the firing of Dr. Howell because of he religious beliefs.

There are some Christians who believe that "separation of church and state" means humbly accepting every decision handed down by governments. This is not true. For the time being, Christians still have civil liberties. It is no sin to protest an unjust decision by a university that has violated its own professed belief in freedom of speech.

Remember: the world will judge Christians by their own standards. So what is wrong with pointing out that the world cannot live up to its own standards? Firing Dr. Howell was the antithesis - not the affirmation - of what the secular world professes to believe. For Christians, turning the other cheek does not mean turn away from the truth.

Witnesses to the faith: Dearborn, MI

Christian missionaries Negeen Mayel, Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla, and David Wood are facing charges for proselytizing at the at the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan.
Dearborn is known for its large Muslim community.

Many Muslim countries have harsh laws against Christians engaging in "proselytizing". In some places such as Egypt merely trying to bring a Bible into the country is enough to land you in prison. Apparently the authorities in Dearborn have decided to immitate the spirit of these laws, if not the letter.

It should be noted that the secular media is often deeply hostile towards Christianity. Care should be taken when reading any news story involving Christians such as this one.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Witness to the faith: Ken Howell

Ken Howell, an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois who taught courses on Catholicism, was fired for stating that he believed that homosexuality is immoral. The charge that such beliefs constitute a "hate crime" is rapidly becoming the weapon of choice for the suppression of views and beliefs that happen to annoy the rich and powerful few.

The day is coming in the United States when disagreeing with state-approved religious beliefs (homosexuality, environmentalism, feminism, etc.) will be punishable by firing - or worse. More and more will suffer Ken Howell's fate.

Many American Christians have watched the persecution of Christians in Communist and Muslim countries and have breathed a prayer, "Thank God we have freedom here!" That freedom is slowly but inexorably coming to an end as the princes of this world flex their muscle and crack down on those they view as enemies.

It is safe to say that on the University of Illinois campus one could find a course or two in which tactics of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy are denounced as a dark and sinister threat to American civil liberties. Ironically, the University of Illinois has taken a page out of McCarthy's book in adopting its own blacklist and eliminating professors who will not swear an oath of fealty to the state religious belief of homosexuality.

UPDATE: (4:00 PM 7/10/10) The AP article states that Howell was recognized in 2008 and 2009 for being an outstanding teacher.

Then there is this:

Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, said professors should be able to tell students their own views and even argue in favor of them, provided students can disagree without being penalized.

"It's part of intellectual life to advocate for points of view," said Nelson, an emeritus English professor at the University of Illinois. "Hopefully when they go out in the world, they can emulate that. They can argue a case, and do it in a well-informed and articulate way, and can make a more productive contribution to our democracy that way."

Shouldn't secular universities like the University of Illinios live up to their pledges to be places of free and open inquiry, free from discrimination and hostility towards the opinions of others?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Martyr: Son Jong Nam

Son Jong Nam was tortured to death for trying to spread the Gospel in North Korea.

Please pray for Christians in North Korea.

UPDATE: (12:30 PM 7/7/10) For some reason Yahoo! has this story on its sports page. Here is the picture:

It would be wrong to suggest that Yahoo! considers the killing of Christians to be some kind of sport (although I could be wrong). But it is clear they consider it no big deal, and perhaps worthy of a bit of mocking.

Just imagine the outrage if Yahoo! had published news about the death of Matthew Shepard on Yahoo Sports......