Just making clear! The last post required deep commitment to get to the end, so we include William Weiblen’s conclusion again. His criticism of LCMS (in the previous post) is the same criticism that we make of LCA hierarchy today. The hierarchy follows a strict father model, similar to the LCMS and pretends that the LCA has one voice. The ‘strict father’ leadership believes there is only one view of the world and one theology, thereby ignoring the others in the family.
We were going to highlight what is relevant for the LCA today, but we decided it was obvious enough. (Reminder: The ALC was one of the synods that merged to form the ELCA)
Another area that deserves consideration expressing some of the differences between the ALC and LCMS is that of how we are able to critically look at ourselves. Each of us legitimately proceeds from our own confessional self-understanding and identification, but ALC people believe there is a sharp divergence either in the willingness or capacity of the LCMS rigorously to be self-critical.
It is the mark of totalitarianism in both religion and politics to insist on monolithic understanding to suppress dissent, to discredit premises which undergirds the lives of others. to protect constituents from other points of view, to entrust guidance to an oligarchy, and to be fearful of religion. When ALC teachers use language patterns suggesting that repentance encompasses the whole of life, that means ruing not only moral infidelity but doctrinal inflexibility. ALC people are not seeking thereby to destroy the truth, they only want to say that all human formulations have a tentativeness within them. They do not want Christian doctrine to become the occasion for idolatry. Our trust is in God not in human formulations about God.
Lutherans have freely criticized others. They have postured themselves as ‘guardians’ of the truth – but they err on two counts; they have been loveless in their relationships and they have used truth as a dividing rather than a uniting tool.
Criticism from without will always have some effect. It may reinforce prejudices already in control or it can generate honest review which eventuates in change. But the desired condition is that critical self-analysis emerge from within. To have that, a church must not only obey believe in the Reformation, but carry through the continuing reformation of the body of Christ. Without this, churches becomes sects. While conscious of our own flaws, we would charitably suggest that the LCMS has much to learn in this respect. The best of both worlds would bear much fruit if we would have vigorous evangelical, academically rigorous self-analysis as a natural part of each church.