Sunday, April 20, 2008

All Are Not Missionaries / Evangelists

The Ablaze! folk want to press each and every Christian into mission work, evangelizing the world.

In his Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, Walther makes it quite clear that not every Christian may be well-suited for such work:

“There are people who cling to their Savior, but are unable to talk much about their faith, although on other topics they may be ready talkers. Others, again, may not have much experience as regards spiritual affairs and for that reason may not be able to say much.” (Dau translation, p. 315)

Furthermore, the ardent passion for missions is NOT the ultimate goal or the predominant topic in his writings Law and Gospel, Church and Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Lehre und Wehre, or even in his convention essays.

It isn't intellectually honest for the Ablaze! aficionados to be hawking the idea that Walther places great zeal for missions and evangelism on all Christians at all times and in every place. Sure, Walther speaks passionately about missions? When I preach and teach about it, I do the same. But it isn't penultimate.

And Walther can also contend that the reason why so many people are dying apart from Christ is NOT that there aren’t enough workers -- NOT that laypeople are cold towards missions:

“What is therefore, briefly, the reason that so many sinners perish eternally even though God does not desire the death of any sinner? It is this: because so many despise the only means of rescue which eternal Love in Christ has prepared for them and offered to them,” Selected Sermons, p. 114.

The unbalanced emphasis which the proponents of Ablaze! movement propounds of an ultimate single-minded passionate zeal for missions and evangelism is not evident in books on LCMS history such as Zion on the Mississippi, Moving Frontiers, Heritage in Motion, Zeal of His House, Fritz’s Pastoral Theology, The Pastor at Work, and other historic, periodic publications in the LCMS.

While missions and evangelism are seen as important, they are not penultimate — primarily because missions and evangelism are not seen merely in terms of initial conversion but also in terms of conservation and preservation — things which in fact occupy a great amount of time and effort in the lives of congregation members. And appropriately so.


revgeorge said...

Excellent analysis, Pastor Brondos!

It starts to get to the heart of Ablaze, namely that it is the new monasticism in the LCMS & a rejection of the comforting doctrine of election. What a terrible burden is placed on so many consciences because of this incessant desire that 'evangelism' be done.

As for the work of conserving & preserving that Walther commends, well, in the new parlance, that's just maintenance work, & if you read the last Issues in Education from Concordia Seward, such maintenance thinking & work gets you damned into hell. Missional is the only thing that matters.

Anyway, great analysis of Walther's views. Too bad we don't belong to his church anymore. :(

Rob Olson said...

The Gospel of Christ and Him crucified for us is a biblical doctrine through which we are saved, yet it seems as though, irony of ironies, we are now pointed away from this and all other doctrine by the Synod's new hand-wringing emphasis on missions. We are pointed to ourselves and what we are supposed to do for world evangelism and consequently, pointed away from Christ. This is the American Evangelicalism from which God delivered me.

hausnfef said...

It seems that when we stand up for pure doctrine we are considered to be like the legalistic pharisees of old.

The ironic thing is that false doctrine is a tool the enemy uses to try to create a church full of legalistic pharisees.