Blogs are an interesting creature. They are the next "AM Radio Mentality" generator of the 21st Century. I make fun of those whose world view is based upon what they hear from AM Radio Talk show hosts. Even though I may agree with many things of those most conservative talk show types, that is only a place to start investigating the issues at large. Well the issue is similar in the Blogosphere and I believe it is definitely a problem with the Confessional Crusaders.
I took an opportunity to make the lives of the confessional crusaders more interesting and fulfilling the last few days. I had taken some time off for a couple of months during a lull in topics but thought, "Hey what better time to stir up some debate than Reformation time."
However the latest round of bantoring certainly was illuminating about Confessional Crusaders. Here is what I have learned.
1.) The confessional crusaders actually feel as if their position is the same minority position within the WELS as the contemporaries do. The weird part about it is that we each feel that the other group is the dominant group. I guess what that means is that we are two different fringe groups. There is uber confessional, there is contemporary, and there is this massive majority in the middle who might just say "whaaat are you talking about???" If this is the case however, I would contend that that large mass in the middle would be far far far more friendly towards the uber confessionals. They get the hanging chad. I think both groups are disappointed in the apathy of that group in the middle.
2.) I've realized that the scope of the issues is very small yet the Crusaders have manufactured a crisis. This goes back to the "AM Radio mentality". The Crusaders point to the same 1% crowd of churches and pastors and actually believe it represents a tidlewave of Synodical change. It's like believing Ralph Nader is a serious election threat. Actually its probably more like the hype around Global Warming. Sure you can reduce emissions or increase them. You can panic your way into living on bark and berries in the woods but whether its 10 years from now or 100 you'll finally realize there was no threat at all. Same deal for the Crusaders. I wonder if they all have priuses. They're a scared little bunch of people of whom some seem hyped up by some Area 51 type conspiracy theories.
3.)I believe the Crusaders are for some reason or another afraid of Christian Freedom. I can't put my finger on why that is, but they need rules and laws and regulations around the various principles of the Bible so they can go to their Bible Principle Application Matrix and locate the proper answer to all life's situations. You can see that if something is not delineated in Scripture they will pore through Luther's works and hope that Luther had an opinion and wrote on it. If he did, phew we're saved by scripture part II. Their frustration must be similar to the frustration level of the pharisees after they had tried to trick Jesus so many times with a loaded question. Jesus always answered the questions with a principle not an application. I think that if you are not confident in your Christian freedom that the inclination will be towards legalism, rules and ritualism. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing necessarily wrong with anything traditional or ritualistic. What's wrong is prescribing that as the only acceptable application of a loosely defined principle. I actually wonder if they are a bit afraid of the Bible itself. They will often quote an article of a confession but will rarely go into the Word to examine all the scripture that Luther did to write the confession in the first place. I appreciate that the confessions state the doctrine of the Bible but honestly I'd rather see those confessions laid out in scripture. I think you can better appreciate the confession right at the source. I'd say its like depending only on the Cliff notes.
4.) Crusaders blindly believe you cannot have "meat" in a contemporary setting. There is no convincing them that really there may be no difference at all. I'll confess that not every contemporary setting may be the same or offer as much. However when I go to church and have a confession of sin...I had a confession of sin. When I received an absolution, I received and absolution. When a sermon was preached it was a Law and Gospel sermon. I receive the Sacraments. My old church would be so confusing for them as the contemporary service uses all the elements from the other 4 traditional services but changes up some of the songs and adds the multimedia. In a situation like that, based on the differences, that the meat that is lacking in contemporary is just the music style. Thats just not the meat for me. Apparently the truth of the Bible we enjoy in the WELS just can't be presented in any other fashion or it ceases to be truth at all.
5.) So since we contemporaries are all smug in our service style and such we'll just let them prattle on about how our services are like the reformed and evangelicals etc. etc. bad theology is a foregone conclusion etc etc.. I have learned that it is not a point worth winning. Its like listening to my daughter complain about being fat because she is in size 8 jeans.. There is no convincing her she's not...the reality doesn't change..yet winning the point is just not important either. The point is contemporaries are content to be off doing their thing and not caring much about the choices others make. They can be traditional and such. There is no need to convert them or anything. How about they just don't go to a contemporary church and instead go to a traditional church. I will say I'm not in favor of churches replacing their traditional services. A contemporary service should always be an add-on not a replacement. For the mission churches that are all contemporary. Well thats the choice they made to start with so I guess if thats not what you want don't join the mission. I don't understand why they can't leave the 1% society alone.
6.) Crusaders feel that all the mission work and personal growth is done in the service. The service must be traditional because that is the only presentation of the Word so it must be done in its historic way. Anyone in a mission church knows how false this is. It is done by getting out and talking to people. Its having Bible studies with them in their homes. Its getting them into Bible study groups. Its the Bible studies after church. Its the getting into the Word with people as often as possible. It's getting into the community in a visible way so you can even have the first conversation with someone and get them into Bible class. The process takes months or years maybe. Who knows when someone who is searching may actually come to church. We've had people go to months of Bible study before they would come to a service. Its the opportunities to get into the Word. There is more than just the service. This is something you could only show a Crusader. They might say "The kids were running around, the sound guy was drinking coffee, the band was loud, etc..." but often when you suggest they stay for our bible study on Acts, or hit up the Women's bible study or the Men's Breakfast Bible Study, or the Small Group study or the Bible instruction bible study...queue the crickets here... Bring a friend?....still the crickets...
Well I think the Crusaders should unite. Quite honestly I want them to be heard in the synod. Then truly there would be some Bible study going on and it would sorely benefit them. Although the crusaders would show up with their Triglotta and say all the Bible study has been done already so why bother. Ok that was a joke....kinda.