Thursday, December 12, 2013

Squishy Unity

I wandered to a site that I rarely visit anymore and observed a video presentation entitled My Squishy Unity Jesus.  In this presentation the Reverend Pastor Fisk in his usual less than reverent style speaks to the issue of the Twentieth Century Ecumenical Movement as it has progressed to the present day.  He addresses the issue that the concept of unity has been redefined to mean the exact opposite of what the Scriptures teach that the unity of the Church is.

He makes valid points concerning the invalidity of this altered definition.  He makes valid points concerning what unity really is and why it is necessary.  He attempts to call those who profess to be Christian to embrace the unity that the Holy Spirit creates through the means of grace.

It continues to perplex me that men such as the Reverend Pastor Fisk make such a big deal out of something that they themselves do not truly believe.  After all, if they truly believed the marks of the Church to be the administration of the pure means of grace and if they truly believed that unity in the doctrine and practice of these to be necessary for the existence of the true Church and for the salvific power of the Gospel to be effected, would they not actually practice in accord with this unity?

Yet they remain in a church body that teaches that true unity in doctrine and practice and mission do not exist within that church body.  Even more amazingly, they pride themselves for embracing the notion that striving to achieve 85% unity is a noble goal that is achievable.

If unity in doctrine and practice concerning the pure Gospel and Sacraments is the definition of the true Church, as Fisk claims to believe, then what is he and his brethren really saying of their own church body?

Fisk continually says on his site that he believes and unconditionally subscribes with a quia subscription to the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as found in the Book of Concord.  Of these Confessions or statements of belief and practice the Augsburg Confession is especially set forward.  And this Confession states the definition of the Church in Article VII, saying of what the “Lutherans” teach:

    1] Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.

    2] And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and 3] the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. 4] As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4, 5, 6.

It would be cause for rejoicing if this were truly what Christians believed, taught, confessed, AND practiced.

How many Churches does AC VII teach?  ONE.

There are not many Churches but One Church.

This Church is holy, which means sacred or set apart by the Lord unto Himself to be perfect even as He is perfect.  This perfection of the Church is not found as perfection of the individuals but in the perfection of the Lord.  He gives His perfection through His means of grace.  The perfect holiness of the Church is its unity of doctrine and practice, that is, in its unity as “the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.”

How wonderful it would be if Pastor Fisk and his fellow pastors and the leaders of his church body actually believed this so as to abide by it.  How wonderful it would be if they actually believed this so that they rejected the notion of 85% and actually embraced the unity in which the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the true believers in Christ.

Sadly, this is not their way.  It is heart-breaking to observe what they hold high in place of this unity.  It is gut wrenching to observe the thing that matters most, as this video yet again displays at the very end:

This sentiment truly is the issue at hand.  St. Paul addresses this concerning his former idolatry from which the Lord converted and saved him.

     Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  (Philippians 3:1-7)

And again:

     But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.  (Galatians 1:11-16)

While loyalty to Grandpa remains the defining nature of membership and participation in a church body, to whom are such devotees ultimately devoted?  Whose word and way ultimately defines that church and the life and way of its members?

This is a very dangerous matter.  It leads away from the true unity of the one true faith and the life that flows from that faith.  It leads to the inevitable dysfunction that sin produces.  If the church is Grandpa’s church, then it bears Grandpa’s image and suffers Grandpa’s imperfection and corruption.

This is not the Church confessed in the Augsburg Confession.  AC VII confesses one holy Church that is united not by the traditions of men/grandpas, but united in the agreement concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the right administration the Sacraments.

Grandpa is rotting in the grave awaiting the day of the resurrection and the judgment of mankind.  That is where he should be left until the great day of the return of the Lord Jesus in His glory.  Leave sinful Grandpa and draw near to the Lord of glory who comes to His Church wherever the means of grace are rightly administered.  Wherever this is the way, the Church is truly united in the Lord’s holiness.  No disunity remains in this Church.  No dysfunction surfaces.  For the unity of doctrine and practice rule this Church, as the Lord has promised.

Oh that this would be what is proclaimed in place of Grandpa and us and our church.  Then all of our squishy ways would be replaced by the Rock solid foundation of the means through which God Himself solidifies His Church.  His gifts are 100% pure and where they are administered in this purity the congregation is gathered into the absolute unity that belongs to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The ultimate earthly expression and confession of this is the Supper of His Holy Communion.

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