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Who would have thought?

by John Beem (Chair, WordAlone Board)

News: August 31, 2005

When you read the Gospels it is eminently clear that our Lord Jesus was counter cultural in both his living and his teaching. His call was to repent. His gift was new life in Him both now and forever. In spite of Jesus' ministries, culture has a way of grabbing us both as individuals and as a denomination.

A simple beginning place for me of the "submission to culture" began in my first parish in 1961. photo of Pastor BeemForest City, Iowa, was just down the road from me and Winnebago Industries put that small city on the map at that time. Camper trailers sold like hotcakes. The leisure revolution was in full swing. At the same time many households began to see both dad and mom working outside the home. Family time was hard to come by and members of my parish begged me to move confirmation from Saturdays so that "the family could be together." Well...the change was made and...who would have thought...

Confirmation fell on hard times that day.

Culture triumphed and...we should have thought of that!

Who would have thought that culture would claim a growing toll even on the church in the years to come? But it has:

  • Christian education, in the words of Marva Dawn, has been "dumbed down;"
  • Authority of Scripture as our "norm for faith and life" has been compromised
  • "Live and let live" has become the motto
  • Church unity has become the mantra and, in some instances, loyalty to Scripture has been relegated to second place;
  • Toleration has become the "in" word and loving parameters have been neglected;
  • Mission outreach has become more "accompaniment" than "witness to Jesus and call to new life in Him."

From my vantage point in the denomination, and the church in the USA, grace has sunk all too often into cheap grace; discipleship is not that costly; law is belittled; and theological drift is increasingly in vogue.

I joined the WordAlone movement in believing that our denomination is, in many respects, in need of renewal. If you have similar concerns, I encourage you to give careful and prayerful attention to the recent mailing from Professors Bob Benne and Jim Nestingen and the WordAlone Network about forming an association of confessing churches. Invite pastors, church councils and congregations to study the invitation to join the association of confessing churches.

Do that before an organizational meeting for the association Nov. 6. Then send your delegates to the meeting at Brooklyn Park Lutheran Church, Brooklyn Park, Minn., being held in conjunction with the WordAlone fall theological conference.

Instead of "who would have thought," we should think, "such actions may be used by God to renew our beloved denomination."