Saturday, January 29, 2011

P.S. I Hate You (Part 1)

Dear Low Church, Praise Band Guy,

I just wanted to drop you a quick line and set the record straight on a few things you seem to be confused about.

You see, lately I’ve heard you lamenting how fewer and fewer people are coming to church and how the church herself is really failing to reach these folks.  I’ve heard you talk about how you need to find ways to reach people who wouldn’t be reached in traditional ways, how you need to offer them a form of worship that speaks their language and meets them where they are.  You use words like impact and authentic.  You talk about all this stuff very sincerely and I’m sure you mean well.  But the reason I don’t go to church isn’t that the traditions of the past don’t speak to me.  It’s not that I find organs and old hymns to be boring.  And it’s not that I don’t have the attention span to learn a liturgy that’s not always terribly easy to follow.  When you say things like that, you’re really just embarrassing yourself by doing two things.  Those two things are:

1. Projecting onto me the things you actually don’t like about going to church
2. Revealing that you’ve never actually talked to me about why I don’t go to church.

So since you seem to be quite ignorant of why I’d rather sleep or jog or fornicate on Sunday morning, let me just state things very clearly for you:

The reason I don’t go to church is because I hate the Gospel.  I hate Jesus.  I hate the notion that I was a sinner who needed to be redeemed by God taking on human flesh and shedding His blood on a cross.  I hate the doctrine that Jesus gets every ounce of credit for my salvation.  I hate the idea that God doesn’t dwell in my heart, that God isn’t who I make Him out to be in the religion of my own creation.  And I hate the teaching that the only way for me to know the true God is by hearing and reading the Bible.

So that’s why I don’t come to church.  I don’t come to church because I find the Christian faith to be stupid, irrational, barbaric, sexist, homophobic, outdated, mean spirited, ugly, offensive and any other number of things that are bad.  I don’t come to church because I hate the One who founded her.

So please stop embarrassing yourself.  Stop acting like an insecure college girl who dates guys who treat her like crap because she thinks she can reach the good men inside them that no other girl could reach before.  Stop thinking that you can say something to me that I haven’t heard before.  Stop thinking that you can love me better than anyone else ever has.  You’re supposed to believe in original sin.  Act like it.  Remember that my default position is to hate Jesus.  And as long I hate Him, I won’t feel any different about you.

And stop trying to relate to me.  Stop thinking that your life-application-sermon-skills can do for me what Law and Gospel preaching hasn’t ever done.  Stop thinking that the one thing preventing me from being baptized is not having a sandal wearing pastor to call by his first name.  Stop thinking that I glumly sip my coffee on Sunday morning, saying to myself, “golly gee, I really want to hear the Word of God today, but I just can’t do it in a place that doesn’t have guitars and a light show.”  Remember that, as long as I hate the gift, it doesn’t matter how flashy you think your new wrapping job is.  I’m still not going to open it.

So I hate to be this frank.  But I thought you needed to hear it straight.  I hate the Gospel.  I hate Jesus.  And as long as that’s the case, I will always hate you.


The World

Friday, January 28, 2011

Face Punch Word of the Week #47

I'm working with a rather liberal definition of week here.  Also, I don't feel like keeping an accurate record of the number of posts in this series.  So get over it.

Face Punch Word of the Week #47:

CALLED (verb)

As in: "I feel in my heart that God has called me to serve His Church."

As a called and ordained servant of the Word, I believe in the divine call.  I am certain that God has called me to be a pastor.  However, the reason I'm certain that God has called me to be a pastor is because God instituted an actual office and calls actual men into that actual office by calling them to do actual things.  Those things being this.  And this.  And this.  And since an actual congregation (and a new one, hence my posting drought during the move) has asked me, according to God's Word, to do those actual things in her presence, I know that God has called me to be a pastor.  So, in a nutshell, my call to be a pastor is based entirely on God's Word and institution and not at all on what I feel in my heart.

But surely you must also feel this call in your heart, some might think.  If God has really, truly called you, shouldn't you have to feel it, even a little bit?

And to this I respond, "No, pietistic and slightly enthusiastic hypothetical person!  In fact, if God has really, truly called me, it's most likely that I will feel the opposite of called.  After all, that's what happens pretty much every time God calls someone in the Bible.

You see, when God called Moses, Moses felt that God was not calling him.  When God called Isaiah, Isaiah felt that God was not calling him.  When God called Jeremiah, Jeremiah felt that God was not calling him.  When God called Jonah, Jonah showed God how much he felt that He was not calling him by running away.  Even Jesus didn't feel particularly great about being crucified, per God's calling.  And this was a smart system to set up on God's part.  Because when You call men to do things that they don't really want to do, it shows that Your Word, and not their heart, is the thing at work.  And, likewise, when those men side with the Word of God over the feelings of their hearts, this shows why they actually are worthy of being called by God in the first place.

And so, when people use the term "calling" today in a way that is completely divorced from any real, actual, verifiable call of God and when they strangely really, really, really want to do the things that God has supposedly called them to do, this reveals that they are in need of a good face punch because they have sided with the feelings of their hearts over the Word of God.

So when the Word of God tells a man that he has been called to endure scorn and rejection and hatred for preaching the Gospel, and he preaches a false gospel that earns him praise and adulation and lots and lots of dollars instead, he does this because he has rejected the true calling of God that says "suffer" in favor of the false calling of his heart that says "I want a yacht."  Likewise, when the Word of God tells a woman that she may not be a pastor, and she pretends to be one anyway, she does this because she chose the calling she felt in her heart over the calling God told her He has not given her.

So whenever people claim that God is calling them to do something that they are excited about doing and when they seek to substantiate that call based upon their own feelings, what they are actually doing is something quite simple.  They are taking the name of God in vain.  They're using the name of God to make their own desires seem holier.  They're trying to sanctify their own will by covering it in the will of God.  And this is always a bad thing to do, even if the things you will and desire are seemingly pure.  Because, as God makes pretty clear, dressing up words He hasn't spoken as His own is a very bad thing, worthy of His own version of a punch in the face.  Which is way worse than any face punches I can dish out.  And not just because I have weak, girl arms.

My name is Pastor Hans Fiene.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Maltese Mission Work

So, I've had two blog views from Malta.  There's no Lutheran Church in Malta.  Let's make this happen, my anonymous Maltese friend!

Also, I haven't posted in a while because I accepted a call to River of Life Lutheran Church in Channahon, IL and have been overwhelmed with the moving stuff.  More posts to come, nerds!

My name is Pastor Hans Fiene.  Thanks for reading.