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Thursday, September 28, 2006

What's the Prob?

In my summer Siberian lectures on Christian ethics, I identified three outlooks that challenge a Christian ethos: Pragmatism, Relativism, and Individualism. Pastor Petersen made me think of this when he asked the interesting question: What controversy will define this time in the life of the church?

What do you think are the hottest issues facing the Church today?

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VirginiaLutherans said...

Well it isn't fancy, but I think the biggest issue is fallen man. (Cheap answer I know, but appropriate.) The second- apostasy. All of these (pragmatism, relativism, and individualism) that Pastor Stiegmeyer lists are forms of humanism. If you are focused on the self, you obviously aren't paying attention to God or anyone else. Humanism is an age old enemy of the church, and quite prevalent in the USA. I think that is the biggest "issue"- apostasy, especially in the form of humanism.

Kelly Klages said...

To add to the list of specifics, how about apathy and materialism?

Ryan Schroeder said...

The biggest issue facing the church today is the same issue that has always been the biggest problem for the church. The Problem is the neglect (at best) of the Means of Grace.

The Word of God is not regularily read by the majority of Christians. Most make excuses that they do not know what to read. I have even heard a large number of self-proclaimed Christians state that the Bible is boring. There are also self-proclaimed Christians who do not believe that the Word of God is inerrant. This is a travesty, and one's faith is built on sinking sand if it is firmly grounded in the Word of God.

Baptism is no longer a gift we recieve from God, but something we do to show our obedience towards God. God's Grace in baptism is witheld from many who need it, simply because they are not old enough to understand it.

The Lord's supper is only a way to remember what Jesus did for us. When Jesus says that "This is my body" he is not taken seriously. The wonderful meal in which our sins are forgiven and our faith strengthened has become nothing but something we do to fulfill God's command.

That is in fact the problem. The three ways in which God promised to work in our Hearts have become nothing but things we do to show God that we love him. We read the Bible becuase we were commanded to. We are baptized because we are commanded to. We take communion because we are commanded to. We do not do any of these things because of the promised attached to them, only because we have to.

The means of grace have become works of the law, by which no man can be saved.

organshoes said...

'Hot' issues are just smoke from the age-old abiding issues.
'Hot' issues are things like female/homosexual ordination, who's a priest, church growth, forms of worship, ad infinitum.
But, they're not *the* problem. Kelly Klages is correct to name apathy. But narrow the focus to what we're apathetic about, and that's nearly everything that defines and distinguishes us: tradition, liturgy, the nature of the ministry--the 'hot' issues all stem from near-total apathy about our identity.
Lutheran identity--because it means being confessional and faithful (and doesn't mean a preference for beer and strong coffee after church)--really is *the* hot issue.

Paul, in South Park said...

This is a hot issue because it is so subtle...

There seems to be a trend in America to avoid being offensive in matters of faith. To that end, here is an example from a recent conversation with my mother.

We were discussing the rise of Islam and Mormonism in this country. She responded to my concern stating that it isn't that big of a deal "since we all worship the same God anyway, just a different name for Him".

I responded that if that was the case, there would be no need for the Commandment!

We are watering down our faith in an effort to not be offensive.

Carl said...

I think the controversy that will define the church in this time is
the loss of truth. I believe that is the root of all the other issues
the church faces these days. I would also add something that may be an outgrowth of adhering to this
lack of asserting the Truth: fear of suffering for confessing Christ.

Pastor David Hansen said...

Yes, I definitely think that Lutheran identity will be one of the key issues for the Lutheran church in the years ahead. Many of my parishioners have their faith shaped by watching Joel Osteen on Sunday afternoon as they do by listening to my sermons on Sunday morning. On the right and on the left, our members are filled with all sorts of thoughts about God and the church and the Christian life that are anything but Lutheran.

But, I think there is another issue, every bit as pervasive. Namely, the issue of ecclesiology. What is the church? For many Christians, it is another social club, or another self-help group. For others, the church is a vast conspiracy (thanks, Dan Brown). For others, the church is an association to run the family cemetery. And so on.

Interestingly, this is the same issue identified as most important by Benedict XVI (I believe it was in The Ratzinger Report). He had different reasons, but I think he was right to draw attention to it.

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