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  I don’t come to church because I find the Christian faith to be stupid, irrational, barbaric, sexist, homophobic, outdated, mean spirited, ugly, offensive and any other number of things that are bad.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

Sincerely,


The World

23 comments:

Pr. Lehmann said...

Brilliant.

And I mean, Dr. Weinrich when someone has really horked him off brilliant.

Amberg said...

Outstanding, Hans.

Kevin said...

Fantastic. (As well as Brilliant and Outstanding). Well Done Hans!

Pastor Sørensen said...

I can't find a new english synonyme, so i'll just go with: Brilliant, oustanding and fantastic!

Seth said...

Brilliant! Well written.

brentski said...

Right on. But now that you've identified the problem, what's the solution. What should the guitar players do to reach those who’d "rather sleep or jog or fornicate on Sunday morning" and teach them to love the Gospel?

Pastor Fiene said...

Brentski,

Live in their vocations. Play a good power chord, love and serve their neighbor, confess the Gospel.

And when people hate them for it, remember that it's the Substance of their confession, and not the manner of their confession, that the world hates.

Matthew said...

To all of which I would heartily agree... However, there is another reason why some people don't come to church. Not because the hate Jesus or the music or the liturgy, but because they hate the people. After all, who wants to be in a church where they know there is no forgiveness to be dispensed.

Imagine a church where all the praxis is exactly spot on, but filled with 100 or so unmerciful servants. Who would want to go there? Where the Gospel is proclaimed... then snatched away by idle words and careless whispers.

"But if you get the message right, what difference does it make if we... oh, wait"...

Anonymous said...

I don't know about you, Matthew, but I have been called more and worse names by self-described "CoWo" devotees, than were ever dished out by confessionals, not that they are perfect either. (That's a given.)

Anonymous said...

Pastor Fiene, where do you actually preach? What synod?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the spirit of this post, but I don't get it: if the person hates the gospel wouldn't he be perfectly happy at the church of hip praise band guy?

William Weedon said...

Hans, fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. What a hoot! Thanks. That's some real truth speaking.

Pastor Fiene said...

@Matthew,

You are certainly right. However, there's obviously a difference between not wanting to go to church and not wanting to go to a specific church.

@Anonymous (2),

I am the pastor of River of Life Lutheran Church in Channahon, IL, a congregation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm confused. Do we just rest contented in the fact that "when the world hates you, remember it hated me first" and if people don't want to come to church because they hate Jesus and us, well then, bully for them and we'll just shake the dust from our sandals and move on? 'Cause that's kinda what this sounds like.

Pastor Fiene said...

Well, the point is simply to remember that it's the Word that converts, not our presentation of it. Certainly we should always seek the lost. But seeking the lost is of little value if we don't have a clear understanding of what will find them.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are being faithful to your calling clearly proclaiming Law and Gospel, but you are frustrated by preachers who do not proclaim Christ crucified whose "churches" do actually have numerical success.

Anonymous said...

LCMS pastor here. Just wondering, is it possible to do contemporary, praise, or blended and still be confessional?

Stu said...

Good post Hans, it is good to hear that you have left Denver, I pray that your new congregation is a blessing to you, your family, and the Church.

Pastor Fiene said...

Anonymous 5,

Pastors who don't preach Christ crucified bug me, whether their congregations are growing numerically or not. But that's not so much the point here. As I've said elsewhere, this post isn't really a condemnation of contemporary worship. Rather, it's a condemnation of the belief that CW will somehow do a better job of reaching the lost.

Anonymous 6,
I think you're asking the wrong question. I think the right question is "should a confessional Lutheran do these things?" The answer to that, of course, depends on what you mean by those terms:-)

Steven Goodrich said...

Awesome..spot on

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm still left wondering, "Why go to church?"

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6 again: I guess I would rebut that question with another question...why shouldn't a confessional lutheran do those things? I would say some of it depends upon the context of the setting. A congregation in Central Illinois is going to be extremely different from a congregation in Southern Florida. Perhaps the culture and context help discern what the worship setting should look like. Wouldn't all be OK as long as the Word and Sacraments are present, and Christ Crucified is being preached? I'm not advocating any particular style of worship as the "way it should be done"; and of course I agree with the thesis behind this blog that CW does not mean people will come beating down your door.

Pastor Fiene said...

Anon 6,
In what way are the culture and contexts of these congregations different?