Wednesday, July 27, 2005

It's All About Jesus!

I don't normally read Christianity Today, but there was a recent article that caught my attention that I have to comment on. It was in the August 2005 issue and is entitled, "It's All About Jesus: A Convert to Orthodoxy reconsiders Evangelism." The author grew up a Baptist and converted to Eastern Orthodoxy later in life. He writes, "I lost my fundamental faith and became interested in the ancient traditions of the church, attended a Lutheran parish for awhile, and eventually wound up Eastern Orthodox." But, as the author continued to ponder his faith, he came to the realization that certain aspects of Evangelicalism weren't so bad, especially the concept that we are saved by God's grace, not by our works. He also writes, "Evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox disagree about the exact identity of 'the church.' But when the smoke clears, we all agree that everyone under the lordship of Christ, regardless of denominational affiliation, is somehow part of the church. That's the important thing." Classic ecumenical non-sense. But the last paragraph really caught my attention. "It took me awhile, but I think I've finally learned what really matters. Liturgical is not enough, sacramental is not enough, Catholic is not enough, and Orthodox is not enough. Only Jesus is enough." Classic Gospel reductionism. What he fails to understand and what so many in our Synod, for some odd reason, fail to understand is that the Liturgy is enough. Baptism is enough. The Lord's Supper is enough. The Office of the Keys is enough. The Bible and the Book of Concord is enough because all of them do nothing other than reveal Jesus. Scaer was and continues to be right. All theology is Christology. The job of the church is to give Jesus to the people. We are to teach the people about Jesus. We are to reveal Jesus in all his splendor. If all we are doing as Confessional Lutherans is promoting some dead orthodoxy, then we are to be pitied more than all men. What we hold to, what we cling to, what we strive to teach and confess, what we would gladly die for is Jesus and his teachings. So yes, I agree. It is all about Jesus.


At 12:31 PM, Anonymous terence said...

Hi Pastor,
Are you seeing these messages to your notes?
I invite you over to another Lutheran blog site's message board on "The Importance of Doctrine." I believe that it's bogged down in some questions related to "It's All About Jesus" that you may be able to enlighten.

At 1:17 PM, Blogger defensor1517 said...

I've been asked to make sure all Lutheran BLOG sites are aware of, and are promoting, a great new book out from Concordia Publishing Company. Thank you.

Here it is:

At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Reverend Haugen,

Re: "Classic Gospel reductionism."

I heartily agree with your analysis. Torode's piece is an example of how the "spirit of this age" has infected a part of even the hyper-conservative Orthodox Church.

Particularly offensive to me (I'm Orthodox) were the bits about fasting (implying that nobody really fasts - then making examples of his brethren) and spiritual obedience ("oppressive") were gossipy-judgemental and self-serving, respectively.

Liturgy, fasting and obedience for the Orthodox are, indeed (and in spirit) ALL ABOUT JESUS.

If Torode's piece serves any purpose, perhaps his spiritual father will read it and schedule some catechetical sessions with him. I hope Torode will not find this course of action to be too oppressive.

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