Unionism & Syncretism Follow-up

COEXISTThree days ago I noted something interesting coming out of LCMS, inc. and wondered if it might get picked up by the larger news media.

Jerry comes in today and asks, “have you see a small snippet in the D&C?” I had not, and I couldn’t find it on the D&C website, but I imagine it came from this AP wire report. I think the AP did a much more even job than I would have expected. However I do wonder if that is because the way it is portrayed is “church struggling to overcome archaic rule-book”. I wonder if the reporter would have taken the same tone and approach if she had connected the politics of the previous president coming out in support in very strong words and the current president issuing a ruling and asking for an apology. Her story arc doesn’t fit that well.

That is enough media criticism. Just a couple of definitions. Syncretism, which this event following Pres. Harrison’s definition would have been, is when a Christian and any non-Christian are involved in worship together. What is being said by such an action is that all “gods” are the same. All paths lead to the same “god”. The leaders are syncretizing beliefs. This was big in the ancient and pagan world as each locality would have its “gods” like Artemis of the Ephesians (Acts 19:28) who would be identified by other names in other places like Diana (Rome) or Cybele (Asia). Since the gathering in Newtown included Muslims and Hindus you would use syncretism. Unionism is more limited. Unionism is when leaders of different Christian confessions, say Lutheran and Baptist, get together for worship. What is being said by such action is that baptizing babies vs. waiting for a believers baptism or the body and blood in with and under the bread and wine vs. a memorial meal are not really big differences. The LCMS was spurred by something called the Prussian Union which did just that saying the Reformed and Lutheran would worship in the same place because there was no true difference in the core of the gospel. Fleeing that, unionism became the big hob-goblin of the LCMS.

As I said in that previous post, to me the most interesting thing is President Harrison’s definition of worship. He puts in extraneous things to bolster his definition, like vestments, but the core of his definition is prayer and religious readings. What happens when I have coffee in the morning with my baptist friend and we pray and read a scripture passage? Or what happens during VBS when we open with Prayer, singing of songs and reading of a scripture verses? In a deeply pluralistic society, unless you are Amish, can you avoid unionism?

Afternoon update
Here is the NY Times on this story.

Here is Get Religion (Mollie) who is LCMS, but who has a much harsher take on that AP story I included this morning.