Tuesday, September 19, 2006

You Gotta' Feel the Faith, Man

I'm working lots of hours right now like the fool that I am, so blogging time is limited. The following post was something I wrote down early in the year that was bothering me about church and it kind of developed my personal experience with faith.

Okay, at a risk of this becoming Wheylays complaint corner I want to talk about a recent sermon at church that derided head knowledge of the Lord as unneeded by a Christian, rather we need feel our belief in our hearts. This is a common theme that is usually accompanied by references to the Pharisees, and I believe is meant to level those who think that because they know about Christ they are saved. This obviously swerves into enthusiasm and emotionalism, but I will give it the benefit of the doubt. Not three sentences latter Pastor states " A recent Barnum poll showed that only 9% of Christians in America have beliefs about their faith that are biblical." Well of coarse!, their pastors are probably telling them it is more important to just feel their faith. After all knowledge of the faith makes them legalistic and maybe even unchristian.

This would have been just one of my nitpicking notations, but the distress of my wifes and mine the next week during the confirmation classes, Pastor stopped using the Synods workbook completly and passed out a Q & A sheet that talked about the virtues of dating, and how not dating is bad, problems with waiting until marriage to have sex, and other teen style earthy questions. When we approached pastor he became defensive and seemed incredulous that we do not plan on allowing our children to date until late in high school. The point is, as we stated, what in blue blazes does any of this have to do with confirmation! Yes I know that these are things they will have to deal with, but that is all the more reason to establish a strong knowledge of the faith. It seems so obvious to me, this is the time we must make our children literate in the faith, with head knowledge. Without this training people begin believing in things that many times are not even Christian.

Our congregationion's leadership is intent on pushing for an emotional, exhilarating, relevant and Spirit filled time of worship, because more value is placed on this emotive feeling. Concurrently we drop most of our valuable instruction and catechising, putting little value on it. The problem though is that emotion blows like the wind across a man's heart, taking what he percieved as faith with it. Knowledge of the Gospel, traditions and doctrines ground a child to rest assured in the knowledge of his baptism, and the saving grace of faith. When tribulations come and sins condem, the man does not have to search out those butterfly wings of emotion for solace. He can say "I am baptized into Christ, who died to redeem me, a poor miserable sinner. Faith in this saves me from hell and the Devil. This is most assuredly true."

One of the things that kept me away from the Church was this "need" to have a life changing desire in my heart for the Lord, as it was described to me by my Evangelical friends. I would ask them, what happens if a person never feels that draw or stirring down in their heart. I usually just got shrugs, "I don't know" or " God will make it happen when he's ready" (this is close to the truth). Not very enlightening, but all they could do was share with me their personal feelings and anecdotes of others' feelings.
It wasn't until I came across Lutheran writings and studies that I then "felt" that draw. I needed the Gospel presented clearly and intellectually, not obscured in swarmy songs and weepy witnessing. No matter how sincere, it always came down to focusing on someone elses experiance, not the Gospel and Christ. After much thought, reading and prayer I do now become emotional, usually at baptisms ( I tear up at watching one so small recieve the gift from our Lord), and lately during the Emmanual when done beautifully during Advent, it sounds bittersweet, longing but hopeful.


Blogger VirginiaLutherans said...


I am sorry to hear this development. The first step is to stop taking communion with that church. They are obviously not heeding the Word, and you don't want Communion with that. People notice when you stop taking communion- which opens the door for explanation. I would also point out, without reservation, at every chance what the Bible and Book of Concord say about each and every goofy thing the pastor does in the classes. The last possible thing is to leave. It is unfortunate, but your responsibility to your family outweighs any brick-and-mortar location.

I also apprecaite your comments on the uselessness of this type of "service" (used loosely). Too few speak against it, too many think it is a great thing. Don't be quiet- speak all the louder! You will be in my prayers, as will all of those in your church.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Whey Lay said...

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. The current poor condition of this church has been much on my and my wifes minds of late. On one hand I want to disengage and move to an area with a strong confessional church. Then I think, I'm going to stick around and make it messy and painful to pull this church farther from true faith and doctrine. After all there is a fair size group of more traditional style families there, together we can help right the coarse. The "changers" and cryptocostals number only a handful, but in leadership positions.....I think we can take'm

8:44 PM  
Blogger VirginiaLutherans said...

Go get 'em! You have my prayers and complements on your courage. You are doing a fine job. I wish I was closer to help. ;-)

4:45 PM  
Blogger Steven G. said...

Can you stay in a hetrodox body and still heed the admonition in Romans 16:17: to avoid those who cause division and offense contrary to the doctrine that we have learned ?

Is it arrogance on our part that makes us think we can change, or is it a lack of faith in the power of the Word to effect change when we leave?

10:34 PM  
Blogger Whey Lay said...

Thanks for the thoughts, I think my answers will be, a qualified yes, and yes.
Regarding staying with a hetrodox church, I don't know if I would go so far as to call it a hetrodox church, after all the constitution for our church states we hold the Bible as inerrenant, and the Book of Concord, Augsburg Confession, and Catechisms as true and to be our guide when questions arise. So I would say the issues I have at the chuch is not over contrary issues. Rather it is over the practice of not rigorously applying and cherishing our teachings. Which no doubt can be more difficult to deal with, after all open heresy is obvious. So I don't see myself as changing the church from an apostate position, rather I want to see some of that proffessed solid doctrine that they take credit for excercised.
Regarding your question of either arrogance or lack of faith, I would say probably both. Being a sinful creature such things are in me all the time, I no doubt act on both and don't even know it. A Luther quote, roughly remember goes " God uses sin to drive men to purpose, lust pushes a man to marry, ambition to office and averice to work."
Because of the congregational structure in the LCMS, individuals of congregations have a duty to ensure proper teaching, worship and confession. If I don't like the way my church is I am partly to blame. I feel I must at least make a good effort to correct any issues, no matter how much I want to disengage and find another church.

3:03 PM  

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