Saturday, March 16, 2013

Matt Redmond on the new Pope, Luther, and our need to take aim at ourselves

... The reason I was ill at ease about evangelicals making light of the papal process and then using Luther to defend it was this. Luther was taking aim at his own tradition. Not the tradition of his neighbor alone. Luther was not trying to start a new religion or denomination or sect. He was trying to reform the church already there. Luther was Roman Catholic, if you will. not Lutheran.

And of course they wanted to kill him. So his criticism and strong language should be seen in that light.

Here is what I think, you wanna be like Luther? Set your aim on all the silliness with evangelicalism. The legalism. The celebrity. The concerts disguised as worship. The worship disguised as concerts. The marketing ad nauseum. The legalism. The calls for radical living from pastors with iPads and iPhones who live in the suburbs with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Set your aim on the cover-up of sexual abuse. The legalism. Set your aim on a theology that questions everything and stands for nothing. The pastor as CEO. The pastor as rock star. The legalism.

Making fun of the conclave given the task of selecting the Pope is easy while living in the evangelical enclave. You lose nothing and get some laughs. Luther took on the church from within. And not for a laugh but because he genuinely sought God and cared for people.

There's more that could be said, of course, but the closing thought I'll add is to note that if we do what Matt suggests we should remember that none of the prophets whose books ended up in the Bible succeeded.  In an evangelical eagerness to show how Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets we have to remember that it wasn't just the Law that failed to bring about the loving obedience of the people.  If the OT is any indication the more prophetic you are the more spectacularly you'll fail to have a ministry that catalyzes the repentance of God's people.  What was Isaiah told WOULDN'T happen when people heard the words he was supposed to say ... ?


Andrew O'Brien said...

Thanks for sharing that link. I'm a Catholic and the way evangelicals have joked around during the conclave has definitely gotten on my nerves. I hope this comment won't be seen as malicious. You just seem like a very level headed guy who I can actually point some things out to and be taken seriously. (You won't start accusing me of worshiping Mary or being pelagian or other things)

Here is what bothers me about evangelicals ripping on the conclave:
1) Lots of evangelicals accuse Catholics of some type of unquestioned submission to the Pope and that this is bad. However, in practice, evangelicals (especially evangelicals with celebrity pastors) give way more control to their pastors than any Catholic ever does to the Pope. Mark Driscoll, for example, exerts way more control over the life of his flock than any Pope in recent memory has.
2) This might be a low blow and I apologize if it offends, but before evangelicals make fun of the conclave they should figure out how to pass authority on. So many Churches are so connected to their pastor's personality that when the pastor dies or moves on, the whole thing comes crashing down. Just look at the Crystal Cathedral. Say what you will about the conclave, but it has proven that it works.
3) Continuing point 2, Popes do not pick their own successors. Now I know evangelical Churches have different ways of operating and you can't paint with broad of strokes here, but I have a tough time thinking that celebrity pastors won't be picking their own successors to take over their ministry when they retire. At the very least, before making fun of one Church for doing it one way, they should
4) It might look goofy to them, but it gets the whole world's attention. I know lots of non-religious people who find the whole thing fascinating.
5) Evangelicals who make fun of the conclave seem to be a bit prejudiced towards any culture that isn't young and american. Evangelicals don't realize how global the Catholic Church is. The conclave rites aren't designed exclusively for americans.

Anyways, those are just some things that annoy me. Am I off base with any of those thoughts?

Rebecca Kvenvolden said...

I think all 3 of you, Wenatchee, Matt, and Andrew, have great points. Nothing wise to contribute (as always) but appreciate the perspectives presented, which I'd not considered.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Andrew, as someone who was in MH for about a decade point 1's postscript would be hard to overstate.

All the points, I think, are pretty fair. The mainline Protesttant movements have addressed various issues that are in the points you raised but for evangelicals and conservatives that may highlight, for them, what the troubles are. Perhaps evangelicals would rather risk generational chaos every time leadership dies off than address the issues you've brought up about continuity in ecclesiology? Here I'll admit to trolling my own team a bit, so to speak. :)

Andrew O'Brien said...

WTH - Thanks for weighing in. Just had to get some stuff off my chest!