If you read this blog, you probably already know that today, the radio show Issues, Etc. was canceled by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Christians all around the globe are wondering why. I’m not, because it seems rather obvious. I could be wrong. What do I know? On the other hand, I can see a church by daylight.
It’s not that Issues, Etc. had fallen into some grave doctrinal error, and was unwilling to be corrected by holy scripture.
It’s not that Issues, Etc. was bad-mouthing or embarassing the historic identity of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, or any of its historic values.
The problem is one of fellowship. The doctrinal and practical principles guiding Issues, Etc. are deemed by someone to be no longer compatible with the doctrinal and practical principles guiding the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
How can that be? The LCMS has changed, over time. It’s not so surprising, because most things change over time. In the case of the LCMS, change has been happening for a long time already. Some of the confessional frogs have already left the simmering pot behind. (syncretism, anyone?) Others have not. I write this not to denigrate them. I respect them deeply, though I may have chosen differently. Issues, Etc. was having a profound cooling influence on the pot, and someone didn’t like it. Well, now the LCMS can really turn up the heat. Watch out, CPH, or you’ll be ablaze before you know it.
I’m admittedly ignorant of LCMS politics on the whole. Doctrine concerns me more than politics. Yet we’ve had our share of politics in the ELS, too. What a waste.
However, the great thing about being a Christian, and being a Lutheran, is that the biblical doctrine we treasure really is all that. It is the only genuine basis for unity, and if we give it more than lip-service, we will find that we are not alone — even when we are.
The dirty little secret is that all synods change over time. Practically speaking, an orthodox synod is a myth of modern Lutheranism. When someone claims his synod is orthodox, it would often be more accurate to say that his synod has become the measure of orthodoxy. These days, “orthodoxy” is seldom meant the way Walther meant it. It’s relativized in the ELS, in the WELS, in the LCMS, and anywhere else that the word orthodox has more than historic relevance (that does not include the ELCA, unfortunately; watch for its disappearance in the LCMS too). That’s why we should constantly learn the meaning of fellowship, as it is defined in the Lutheran Confessions. It’s a good antidote for the myth of the orthodox synod (HT: RDP), and it’s encouraging for those who are martyred by “orthodox synods.”
Kudos to Issues, Etc. for your faithful work. Perhaps we will soon be able to recognize church fellowship with each other. You are a witness for confessional Lutheranism.