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November 8, 2011

Joining the Cultural Dialogue

by Rev. A. J. Iovine
This afternoon, I had a brief, but enlightening, conversation with a brother clergyman from the Roman Catholic Church. We’ve had this back-and-forth over whether or not the Church – whether Lutheran or Roman Catholic – needs to stand up when the culture moves in a particular direction. He has said that the Church does stand up for right and against wrong in the pulpit; that is where the preaching office comes in. The priest, or pastor, is obligated to preach strongly against a society that goes against God’s wishes.I didn’t disagree with him, but I also support having the Church stand up publicly in favor of the theologically and morally correct way in which to live. For a long time, I have been a big supporter of William Donohue of the Catholic League. Whenever some public issue raises its head that goes against Catholic doctrine or against the Church itself, Donohue is always out in front standing up for what is good in accordance to Catholic teachings.

Too bad we don’t have anyone on the Lutheran side that has the publicity guts and smarts that Donohue possesses.

However, it doesn’t mean that the Lutheran Church should remain silent.

More than a year ago, an Elder here at Saint Matthew’s asked during a meeting why the LCMS doesn’t get angry and get on TV or in the newspapers when something goes against our doctrine. It is not that we don’t speak out – the LCMS website is chock full of news releases outlining the LCMS position on cultural matters. But when you’re a small Lutheran Church body, Bill O’Reilly or Fox News will not run to the telephone when a cultural issue pops up and call the local LCMS pastor. They will go with what they know and have in their speed dial — Roman Catholic priests and the Catholic League.

I believe that the ball is in the court of LCMS pastors and deaconesses to take a stand in our local communities in favor of the Godly position on cultural issues. Our national body tries to make some noise, but it is drowned out in a sea of more well-known and TV-articulate clergy people and spokespeople. I believe us local LCMS pastors and deaconesses have an obligation to take a public stand when issues arise that go against the truth as found in the Word of God.

Of course, in taking a stand locally, the LCMS church is still small when compared to some of the local ELCA churches that command larger attendances on Sunday morning. That is why we need to be proficient in getting our word out and keeping it out there for all to read and hear and see. Our words must make sense and be readable, not putting people to sleep with long winded examples found in the Book of Concord. We need to learn the art of the one-liner.

The public square is an important place for all Christians to be, including clergy. No matter the issue, our Godly position is being silenced not just because the media fails to call, but it is  quieted because we don’t open our mouths.

My priest-friend said that I made some sense.

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