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The Last Lutheran in Anaheim

Reader comment on item: Ban the Burqa - and the Niqab Too
in response to reader comment: A Rock and a Hard Place!

Submitted by Ross Reeves (United States), Aug 8, 2007 at 17:11

Hi Mary Todd (do you go with both names per our Southern customs?):

I picked that caption because it sounds like such a good book title.

Your post suggests many ironies. It was Luther, of course, who took on his own established Church because it had strayed from the teachings of the book. (I believe your articles of faith probably say what the Episcopal articles say: that all things necessary for salvation are contained in the Bible. A reaffirmation of that very article was rejected this year by the triennial convention of ECUSA because, after all, truth may appear in this month's Slate. I imagine the Lutheran elite don't believe it either -- too antiintellectual. We need to modernize God).

Back to the point, Lutheran theology was born in reformation of church structures that have been built on the arrogance of power and authority. All protestants have the image of Luther the monkish priest studying the original texts into the night, agonizing over the difference between the teachings of the Bible and the massive infrastructure man had created to prescribe offices, monkish orders, rogations, indulgences, titles, catechisms, theological meanderings, etc. Five hundred years later, the Lutheran revolution has calcified into a mainstream consumer-based hierarchy that lacks nothing but a Pope.

Should you emulate Luther? "Hier steh' Ich; Ich kann nicht anders."

Protestantism grew up in bloody battles to defend its independence and theology. Time has not been kind. There is no one in your congregation or mine who would willingly die rather than renounce his or her faith. Maybe that's good -- if Christianity is the superstitious nonsense that Islam and Western culture say it is, it isn't even worth living for. You are with me or against me, said Christ.

As for your conservative offshoot, it seems incredibly Catholic (and inconsistent with what we read in Acts and Paul, not to mention the Gospels) to deny women the status of clergy. As a practical matter, men don't even go to church in anywhere the same numbers as women. This may be because the church has so aggressively adopted female values, or it may be because men have adopted un-Christian values. Pick your own poison. Moreover, I believe Lutheran and Episcopal theology alike traditionally reject the notion of transubstantiation (if I am using the right term) wherein the sacraments are in fact transformed to new blood and new flesh for a new sacrifice to save souls -- it being instead believed (and people died for this) that the crucifixion was a complete and perfect sacrifice of God. That being the case, the sex of the celebrant handing out the "reminders" can hardly be relevant.

Good luck out there. My answer to the question above: Your congregation does need you to voice your anxieties more than your church needs you to toe the line. I remember being infuriated when our assistant rector came back from last year's convention chirping about panel discussions on all sorts of nonsense and did not mention the huge theological divide that now threatens the Church. ("Mommy and Daddy didn't mean to be so loud. No, no, no... we weren't arguing. Don't be silly. Go back to sleep"). I think your people would rather talk about theology and the threats to Christianity from Islam and the culture than pray for peace, safety, and the building campaign. But that's just me.

I'll try to remember to send you a quote about Cromwell from thomas Carlyle. It will remind you that this happens every generation. Thanks again for your note.


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