Kinda a “state of the union” address by the LCMS president. Here is the site I caught it on.
I’m not really sure what to say about it. The good I would think is that he is passionate and smart. Two characteristics that even when you might disagree on some things makes you willing to think you are heading in the right direction instead of into the ditch. Let me talk about this in a couple of ways. First, he is not afraid to talk about serious things. Although I do wonder if he would grant that same right to those who might disagree. Dialog is only tested when the one out of hierarchical power is allowed to debate. Otherwise it is just a clever inquisition. Second, as he alluded to in the talk, his audience was highly made up of those agreeing with him. And he challenged them to put up or shut up in regards to church planting. That crowd has “great expectations” of his presidency and he has consistently challenged them back instead of trying to just deliver the goods (which he can’t do anyway, at least not a keep his job.)
There are also a couple of items that gave me the willies. The fact that a synodical president in the midst of a rant on preaching felt free to call out his only bad example being seminarians or implying that the young are the worst talks to me of someone used to our system that blames and eats the young. Nothing was said about the generation or two still in pulpits that put us in this situation. But only those without homiletical sin should cast the first stone, so I’ll stop now after a pebble and freely admit that I am over the top about “protecting the least among us”. The second thing is the whole treatment of women and the conflation of women with the homosexual issue. First that is shoddy tarring with the same brush two vastly different things. (If you want the popular treatment of the complexity of women’s ordination check out Scot McKnight’s Blue Parakeet Even if you end up disagreeing, you will never just dismiss this issue so lightly). Second, he felt compelled to bring up the answer du jour for confessional church growth – more kids. Is there some truth to the argument that we are shrinking because we aren’t having enough kids? Yes. But as a local “prophet” ask me constantly – “What would you do with them if you were given them?” In his own talk he concedes that we lost something like 75% of those we are given. What I hear (not what he said, but what I hear when the things are put together) is something along the same lines as picking on seminarians. Instead of seminarians this time its those darn women not having enough kids that are giving us such trouble. Lets just say I don’t think that is a winning message.
So, like I said, I’m inclined to say right track, but man, there are just some things that made me cringe. I guess what I’d chalk that up to is that even at almost 40 I’m much younger than the ministerium that elected him, and I’ve grown up and worked in a much different environment that just hears different things to those spots.
Below is the talk. I’d encourage anyone to judge for themselves. I hope I haven’t been too negative. As I said, more positive, and the negative is probably more about me.