The recent uptick in public division between solid Lutheran pastors has got to make one think heavily on the soul of Lutheranism.
Why does it seem that we have so many prideful and polemic clergy at war with each other?
I would imagine that the stress of the job would have a lot to do with that. The real issue is that those most educated and trained in preaching the Gospel are bound to speak truth, especially in the light of heterodoxy. So how did men who went to the same institutions and who were taught the same Scripture and Confessions get so divided? For the same reasons others have departed the truth; it’s pride and sin.
I think we should be honest for one minute and acknowledge that one of the problems is the celebrity like personality that some pastors have. I have been guilty of also following a cult of personality too. It seems that the advent of the internet is to blame for this. The past fifteen years has seen the rise of pastor to blog ratio. We have also seen the rise of pastor hosted internet radio shows and podcasts. Pastors no longer can be heard from their pulpit but on the world-wide web which means more people especially more pastors can read and hear what they say. I am sure this has a hand in the increase of ‘open’ fights we see. Lutheran pastors seem to have more pull than just those who go to their parish. This has resulted in us laity saying things like ” oh cool (fill in the blank) is speaking at that conference or is coming to our church. Obviously the cult of nerdy Lutheran pastors injecting geek culture with a “Lutheran” message has appeal. It is not just about that anymore. No doubt the internet has had led to strong fellowship with Confessional Lutherans nationwide (Something that was needed in President Gerald Kieschnick era).
We have used blogs to gain good information and we used it to bond over our common problems with the worship wars and the Ablaze thing that threaten the very heart of the LCMS Synod. There has been a dark side to this though and while it has done good we are seeing the harm. You see it has created some major problems. The recent rise in antinomianism has been an obvious example and we can see how these chickens have come home to roost.
I know what your thinking I am part of this culture and that is true but it is different with me. I am an Ordinary Lutheran. The ordinary joe who just has to on occasion express my ideas. I am not a pastor, I don’t have a cult following and I am not leading people in conflict and possible heterodox stances. I am no Luddite and obviously I am writing on a blog but there is something to this sub culture in Lutheranism.
I think it is time we were honest and asked the real question.
Has the advent of the internet exposed a major flaw in Lutheranism?
Yes and no, if anything it exposed that there is a side to pastors we would have never had seen without the blogs which is good and bad. It has given us an intimate look at how other pastors see the faith and other pastors. If there is a flaw it is in how we Lutherans deal with our disputes. Lets be honest Martin Luther himself was polemic. It is part of our nature. We see the issues as a sum game and that game is important. So what is at stake? The heart of the faith. We have a bigger problem now then we ever did with Ablaze. Some would argue that proper distinction is wrong. That the Gospel is depended on a sin fuel gnosticism. No matter what is said by the different sides. One thing is for sure this is a sum game and both sides are taking no prisoners.
In the end this seems to be a very legit issue for anyone seriously wanting to know how we will define Lutheranism. The recent conflict over certain blogs & organizations has only harden the struggle facing ‘Confessional Lutherans’ over the future and soul of the faith. So is the problem Lutheranism or the Lutherans? While the Lutheran Confessions are good and true to the Scriptures. The organization polity and the structure of things does lead Lutherans to take liberty with saying certain things. We have both sides saying what is and is not Lutheranism. While organizations like the LCMS are here to structure our denomination it is not design to handle these sort of disputes. So I guess in the end it is both.