Friday, August 03, 2007

LCMS 2007 Convention: Church Politics and the Theology of Glory

In previous years, I had believed that as long as my side prepared well for the convention we could prevail. After several conventions where all our organizing was fruitless, I was distressed at our failure. I wondered if God had abandoned my synod and if I should leave this sinking ship.

So last year when my friends called upon me to join them in preparing for the district convention, I reluctantly agreed. But I found myself being un-enthusiastic about all the meetings and strategizing. Many people believed we were unprepared and that our side would not prevail. Then, lo and behold, the convention turned out much better than we had hoped.

So what happened? Rather than an organized assault, individual delegates addressed those resolutions which were most important to them. Bad resolutions were defeated or improved. With winsome and passionate (non-aggressive) arguments along with a little self-effacing humor, our concerns were addressed and in some cases answered.

Did we prevail? By no means. But we confessed the truth and let God's Word and sound reasoning do the convincing. Not by might or right, but by insight and God's light, the convention turned out much better than many people had thought possible. How much better you may ask? Well, one delegate was heartily thanked and encouraged by many who had voted to censure him six years previous.

I learned something important. Many people go into church conventions wanting to prevail. They believe that with the right strategy and organization they can advance their cause. Rather than desiring to confess and convince, they seek to coerce and reign.

This attitude is prevalent on both sides of the aisle (whether liberal or conservative, whether dogmatic or pragmatic, whether confessional or not). This attitude is clearly indicative of the theology of glory. Many believe that if they do not prevail on every issue, then all is lost. This is a theology of glory. They do not want to struggle and wrestle for the truth, but simply have the truth accepted without question or struggle. This is a theology of glory.

In contrast, under the theology of the cross we should expect the devil to be opposing us at every turn. He is not turned back by the best laid plans of mice and men, but by the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. We should expect continuously to contend for the true faith. And so under the cross of Christ, we confess and confess and confess. And in the end the Lord of the Church will determine what is best for His Church -- whether it will flourish under a 'David' or suffer under an 'Ahab.'

So what did we learn from the 2007 LCMS convention? We learned that we will have to continue to have to contend and struggle under the cross.

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