Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Our Beloved Synod

One of the sayings that I remember as part of the mantra that I learned throughout my years of growing up in the LC-MS and then in my pastoral training is: “Our Beloved Synod.” I wonder how many prayers that I heard during my youth and that people heard from my lips as a pastor included this mantra. The use of the phrase, “our beloved synod,” is an indicator of a people’s pattern of thinking. It is indicative of what is understood as necessary for life as a believer. I wonder how many people who use this phrase and regularly hear this phrase in church parlance and in worship settings actually think of what the use of this phrase indicates.

It is generally used in connection with an area of concern regarding the life of the church body. When the church body is facing trouble of some sort, this phrase becomes very commonly and regularly utilized. It is often used during times of convention and restructuring. It is very frequently used in connection with fund raising.

I noticed this example at the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) website, although a substitute phrase is used: “WELS Connection.”

November 2010 - Christian giving from WELS Streams on Vimeo.

This video is entitled: November 2010 - Christian giving. It is a very well made video. It is very powerful. It pulls very hard on the heart strings. Yet it has the appearance of being meek and gentle and humble.

An interesting aspect of this is the title of this portion of the web site: WELS Connection. This fits perfectly with the assumptions of the members, be they WELS members or LC-MS members or ELCA members or members of other church bodies. Those assumptions are rarely spoken or even identified openly, yet they rule the hearts and minds of the members. One of those assumptions is that membership in the church body is equal to membership in The Church. Another assumption is that to give to the church body is equal to giving to the Lord. Another assumption is that the Church cannot function without the existence of church bodies and that these church bodies must be propagated and preserved. Another is that the so-called mission activities and ministries of these church bodies are the means by which the Lord carries out the evangelization of the world and that without these the Gospel would more or less stagnate.

And so programs like WELS Connection are invented. The current example in the LC-MS is the Ablaze!™ movement. (Notice the trademark.)

This Ablaze!™ movement of the LC-MS is especially clear in emphasizing that it is not static. It is a “movement.” This is strongly stated in What is Ablaze!? and especially in What makes Ablaze! different from every other church evangelism program of the past?. The underlying proclamation, although rather subtly hidden, is the necessity of the LC-MS cooperative efforts.

Is an awareness of this subterfuge important? Does such awareness serve a purpose? Does it matter that the various church bodies are held so highly? Is there a problem with the mentality that accompanies the use of the “our beloved synod” phrase? Did St. Paul address anything like this in his epistle of 1 Corinthians? Is there a connection to Matthew 21:12-16 and Mark 11:15-18? What does Jesus mean by what He says in Matthew 23 ? Does this or Jeremiah 7:4 mean anything in this connection? Is there a connection between the misquote of Matthew 26:61?
John 2:18-22 begs the question even more powerfully, as the Lord Jesus speaks of them tearing down the temple of God, that is, the body of Jesus, and that He will raise it up in three days, but they speak of Him tearing down their temple. The question in this is: why did they associate the temple of God with the works of their own hands and the works of their fathers, and not with the house of God in which God actually lives?

Is there a connection between this and the mentality that accompanies “our beloved synod”?

The Lord Jesus says: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

What does this mean? Does it have any application at all in this matter?

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