Thursday, February 10, 2011

P.S. I Hate You (Part 2)

Dear High Church, Thurible Swinging Guy,

It's come to my attention that you heard about my recent letter to that guy across town who annoys you.  I know it's somewhat common for you to find validation in his failures and embarrassments.  But just so that you don't get your brain turned upside down in all your excitement, let me set the record straight for you as well.  So here goes:

I don't like you either.

Now, you may not want to think that's true.  You may be certain that things will be different if I just watch you get your reverence on.  You may hope that the piety emanating from your vocal chords and pointy fingers will captivate me in a way that I've never been captivated before.  You may be confident that your butter-smooth pulpit prose will soothe the acid burn in my throat that first started when that guy across town started doing a sermon series based on Coldplay lyrics...which caused me to throw up in my mouth a little.

But don't think that the reason barf surged up my esophagus was because I hate bad sermons about Jesus.  It was because I hate sermons about Jesus, good, bad or otherwise.  It's not the level of reverence that I despise.  It's the thing being revered that I can't stand.  

So don't fool yourself.  Don't think that your ancient traditions and unflinching liturgical composure will somehow bring me to the faith.  I hate the Gospel.  I hate it if it's sung from a bed of power chords and distortion pedals and I hate it if it's chanted from gold covered lectionaries cradled in white gloved hands.  I hate Jesus.  I hate Him when His blood is poured into mini Dixie cups and I hate Him when His blood is drunk from ruby encrusted silver chalices.  I'm not interested in the story of salvation if it's poorly told by twirling girls in leotards and I'm not interested in it if it's beautifully told by men who wafted through tufts of frankincense smoke and ascended into hand carved acacia pulpits in order to tell it. 

And even if I think that your way of telling the story has more art and culture than does the story of the guy down the street, don't think this means that I've come to faith.  It just means that I have taste.  Just because I'd love to flash-mob-sing the Hallelujah chorus with you in a crowded mall on Saturday afternoon doesn't mean I have any interest in truly confessing the King of Kings with you on Sunday morning.  I don't.  Because I hate Him.  And as long as that is the case, I'll always hate you too.


The World


Anonymous said...

I agree that the "hater" is not going to suddenly love Christ because of our reverence.
However, I contend that at least the high church guy is feeding the Saints in the pews worship and preaching with some real "meat" on it.

William Weedon said...

Hitting them out of the ball park, dude!!! I love it.

Pastor Hess said...

But at least when the world crucifies the high church guy, his corpse will be well-dressed.

I. M. Abaldy II said...

I do not like the One who saves,
I do not like the One who gave
if He thinks I need His Son
as if from sin I need be won.
I do not like Him preached with joke,
I do not like Him up in smoke;
No praise songs, chants, nor hymnody,
I do not like Him let me be!
I do not like the Father, Son,
nor Holy Spirit, Three in One.
I do not like him, take that, Sam!
I do not like your great I Am.

Pastor Fiene said...

Marvelous, I.M.

Steven Goodrich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Goodrich said...

The post and Seuss remix are awesome

Rev. Douglas Handrich said...

Dear High Mid Life Guy,

It was brought to my attention that you have been writing on my behalf. You chastised “Low Church, Praise Band Guy” for “projecting onto me the things [he didn’t] like about going to church” and “revealing that [he had] never actually talked to me about why I don’t go to church.” You hit the nail on the head, as they say. You’re right! I really don’t care about God or Jesus or salvation. I am pleased with who I am, whether you believe it or not.

I also caught your bit about “High Church, Thurible Swinging Guy.” Being worldly, the only smell I care about is the smell of money and the smell of an occasional “joint.” But I don’t think that’s the stuff they burn in church. No matter how much Rev. Fancy Robes smacks of reverence for God, it won’t change how I think about God. You are right! I hate God. I have to give you credit for at least understanding where I am coming from.

But as much as you seem to understand me by signing my name, “The World,” to a letter that correctly states my position, I am just a bit preplexed. Let me try to explain.

I think your letters were not so much about me as they were about “Low Church, Praise Band Guy” and “High Church, Thurible Swinging Guy.” I sense you have a problem with how they portray God, not that I really care one way or the other. From what I read it seems as though “Low Church, Praise Band Guy” and “High Church, Thurible Swinging Guy” care as much about your God as I do. At least I don’t try to cover it up.

What confuses me is that someone told me “Low Church, Praise Band Guy,” “High Church, Thurible Swinging Guy,” and you belong to the same organization.... the LCMS? I think those are the initials. After what you wrote, I don’t understand why you would want to associate with those guys. But it seems to me that since you guys are in the same organization you must all believe the same things. Right? And if I am correct in assuming that you must all believe the same things, that would make you as much “Low Church, Praise Band Guy” as “Low Church, Praise Band Guy.” See what I am saying?

Why should I begin to care about your God when it appears to me that you don’t care about your God either because you remain associated with those other guys?

Anyway, thanks for getting my story correct. I do hate your God and from my vantage point, it seems you don’t care too much about Him, either.

The World

Pastor Fiene said...

Rev. Handrich,

I remain because these men, and all those who fall in between their extremes, are my brothers.

Rev. Douglas Handrich said...

Theses on Communion Fellowship with Those Who Believe Differently

THESIS I The true visible church in an absolute sense, or part of the same, is that church in which the
Word of God is preached purely and the Holy Sacraments are administered according to Christ’s institution.

THESIS II A Fellowship in which the Word of God is fundamentally denied, or in which a fundamental
denial of the Word of God is tolerated, is not a true orthodox church, but a false heterodox church or sect.

THESIS III Every man is obligated to recognize the true visible church, and, if he has the opportunity to
join it.

THESIS IV Every man is obligated to avoid heterodox churches, and in the event that he has belonged to a
heterodox church, his obligation is to renounce it and separate himself from it.

Either the LCMS is not heterodox, even though it tolerates open communion, pastors who advocate women's ordination, pastors who believe and teach evolution, has "lay ministers", etc. or Walther was wrong.

Rev. David M. Juhl said...

Rev. Handrich:

You tend to your affairs in your diocese, and we'll tend to our affairs in our synod.

Rev. David M. Juhl, P.E.
(Persistent Errorist)

Stephen said...

Rev. Handrich,

Were you and your congregation heterodox when you were in the LCMS?

Pastor Fiene said...

Rev. Handrich,

There are many practices in the LCMS, both sanctioned and ignored, that are not in keeping with the Scriptures and Confessions. I certainly would not deny that.

But I've also noticed that the majority of those who have embraced these practices DON'T believe they are violating their ordination vows. And since I haven't taken the time to study the Scriptures and Confessions with them and to converse with them in love and patience, I don't believe I can, in good conscience, take my drum and beat it.

I certainly understand the temptation to leave. I really do. My default reaction is almost always to question people's confessional subscription in times of controversy. I've done this many times in my life and nothing good has ever come of it. I repent of this.

So I understand the anger and frustration. But I don't believe that the best way for any of us to serve Christ's Church is to anathematize our brothers in the faith and condemn the very church body that taught us to be confessional Lutherans in the first place. That road may look more attractive than the one I'm on at times. But in the end, it leads not to a fellowship truly rooted in a common confession, but one only rooted in a common anger.

synodocrat said...

It's sad when the measure of orthodoxy is how quickly you can break fellowship with an erring brother or congregation. But I wonder if ELDONA is really as fast as the CLC. Let's time you.

Rev. Douglas Handrich said...

Rev. Juhl,

I pray that you will tend to the affairs of your synod and work diligently to correct the errors found therein and that God will bless your efforts.

Rev. Handrich

IggyAntiochus said...

Just a few points...

1) Rev. Juhl most certainly works diligently to correct errors.

2) The blogosphere is never a good place to have this conversation. Neither is Facebook.

3) I am friends with a few Eldona pastors, and respect their decision to leave. They do not pressure me to join their fellowship. I know for myself, as a layperson, that I am "called" (I don't have a better word for this) in my vocation as a layperson and musician to the LCMS congregation I am a member of.

Each pastor or layperson that struggles with the status quo of Missouri decides where they belong, hopefully with prayer and study of the Scriptures.

IggyAntiochus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rev. Douglas Handrich said...

Stephen and synodocrat,

Sorry it took so long to respond.

The answer to Stephen’s question, in a word is, “Yes.” Let me explain.

My congregation and I were bound by God’s Word to do everything we could to correct the errors of the LCMS. There was a time when I actively worked towards that end. My actions may not have been as well known as those of others and may not have been done as well as they ought, but I did make the attempt through various means.

But there came a time when I came to the conclusion that “you couldn’t fight city hall,” especially when I saw friends turn on friends and other friends “thrown to the wolves” because it was an election year and every effort had to be made to preserve a block of votes to insure the re-election of one of the “good guys.” So, I crawled into my hole, as it were, and just kept to myself and tended to my congregation with the notion: “At least I and my congregation are orthodox.”

But were we? Is not the lack of working toward correcting the errors of my then brothers in the LCMS contrary to God’s Word? “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” Gal. 6:1 KJV. If I claim to be bound to Scripture and turn my back on the Word, can I really say that I am orthodox?

A statement was made that, quite frankly, shook me up. It said in effect, “If your are going to stay in the LCMS, then stay and fight for the truth with every once of your being. If you aren’t going to fight for the truth with every once of your being, then leave. You cannot claim to be orthodox and do neither.”

I had had thoughts of leaving the LCMS for some time, but found it more comfortable to stay with that which was familiar. After hearing the above words of admonishment, I knew I could no longer straddle the fence by claiming to be orthodox while being a member of a heterodox church body and doing nothing to correct to the heterodoxy. It took about two years educating the congregation and tending to matters of the kingdom of the left before we left the LCMS.

So “synodocrat”, I hope you can see that the break with the LCMS wasn’t done quickly nor without thought to erring brothers and congregations. Personally, I don’t see that the errors of the LCMS can and will be corrected especially when a pastor or congregation can no longer bring charges against an “erring brother” but rather such matters now rest in the hands of the DP.

I would also hope that you and others would understand that the members of ELDONA and I care about those who remain in the LCMS. So as was stated earlier: “If your are going to stay in the LCMS, then stay and fight for the truth with every once of your being. If you aren’t going to fight for the truth with every once of your being, then leave. You cannot claim to be orthodox and do neither.”

Rev. Eric J Brown said...


When you get a chance, thank your lovely wife for the stoles she made for my dad. I now wear them every Sunday when I preach in my little corner of the LCMS.

Of course, that's the thing -- those of us who are called are really called to a little corner. Enjoy your new corner.

Anonymous said...

I guess I am still wondering, "Why go to church?"

Rev. Will said...

I like both letters however I think you do a slight disservice by lumping both low and high in the same boat. Worship to begin with is for Christians, not non-Christians, so it's O.K. if the world "doesn't get it." I would argue that as misguided as high church may be, they are trying to more effectively teach and feed God's flock, the people for whom worship is for. A Biblical tradition of worship that teaches God's people something (i.e. why we have candles, or albs, or stoles, etc.) is far more valuable than emotion driven drivel. The world doesn't get high church? That's OK. It is grounded and based on word and sacrament and helps point one to Christ. So come learn it. Low church is a whole different animal. It caters to our sinful desires, focuses on the self, is disorganized, and rarely clearly points to Christ or the means of grace as central to worship.