Pr. Eric Swensson
April 10, 2013
Context: My laptop broke down so I went back to the old one and I have been enjoying reading tings I wrote prior to 2010. I found this one I wrote in August of 2009 addressing the collapse of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
I hope many of my friends in the ELCA are a little less perplexed than before. There truly is no reason to despair. Not only is Christ arisen this day, you should have known this is the situation all along. You have a great opportunity ahead of you. Take advantage of this. When your colleagues revealing that they have a gospel-reductionist view of Scripture and theology, use God’s “Tornado/Steeple Approach”: Firm, but gentle.
Religious people do not appreciate receiving any pointed criticism of their understanding of the faith. You cannot argue someone into changing his or her position on an issue. You have to go in by a side door and always, always remember that the Word and Spirit are going to use you, not the other way around. God will give you the words to speak. Many of you will convert those who were once your teachers.
See all this is a great opportunity. Educate yourself. Think through your understanding of Law and Gospel. Be ready to explain it.
I’ve done so and will keep working on it but I have come to certain conclusions and one is that we the little time I have left with the full use of my faculties I am not going to spend too much time on trying to make Lutherans Christian. Unlike the editors of the Augsburg/Fortress Study Bible, I believe we need to go out into the world and teach about Jesus. The social gospel has its place, after all, Luther taught that we must serve our neighbor; however, it is an incomplete understanding of the gospel.
I hope that many of you will become more missionary-like in outlook. The time to argue issues and only issues is over. You will notice that people who were on the winning side still want to attack on the issues. We need to gently let them know that we are too busy doing mission to be sucked in to that. We are too busy on ecclesiology to do “issue-ology”.
Become a missionary church and do it to those who have yet to hear the gospel, not those who have grown bored with it!
2 Corinthians 4:8-11 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.