Sometimes I feel bad when I don’t post. Not bad enough to actually sit down and write something, but bad enough to think about it. Other times, I’m ok with not posting. I read a lot of what passes for theology and tend to end up very cynical or arrogant because I think I know more or could say it better. Only, I know that there are many more like me who would read what I have to say with the same intensity. Scrutinizing every word and thought.
Tonight while preaching during an Ash Wednesday service I made a glaring mistake. I was trying to highlight the difference between Law and Gospel, as Lutherans understand it, and unknowingly switched the terms. Rather than saying it is the Law that accuses and kills, I said the Gospel did those things. What’s worse than actually doing what I did was not realizing I did it. A few people assured me that in the end the difference between the two was clearly expressed, but in that moment I confused something I know better than to confuse.
But that stuff happens. Mistakes happen. You cannot control or predict or plan what is coming next no matter how prepared you think you are for a situation. Life has a way of carving out its own path, regardless of what we want or plan for. Now, we can lament this, or embrace it. I don’t just mean philosophically, but theologically. I once heard it said that Lutheran theology speaks to the moment. It may be that truth stretches across time and space, but saying something that is true at the wrong time could be just as problematic as saying something wrong at the right time. We have to account for context.
Robert Kolb, a professor at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, is fond of saying, “the answer to every theological question should be, why do you want to know?” The beauty of that is that it seeks out the situation that gave rise to the question. Sometimes the answer that needs to be given requires a little more law, and other times, a little more gospel, it depends on the person, it depends on the moment.
I haven’t posted here since July of 2015. When I started this blog I did so because I needed it, not because I cared about how it would impact others. I needed to figure out what I believed, hence the name Credo. Since then, things have changed, and while I am still concerned about exploring my own theological baggage, I recognize that such a thing is done in a context, in a moment. I want to speak to the moment. I want to address the occasion. Like I said, I once heard it said that Lutheran theology speaks to the moment. It does so because that is what Luther did. My father in the faith had a way of addressing what was going on. He didn’t try write something once for all time. He tried to address what was happening in his day. From this day forward, I hope to do the same with this blog. I hope to speak to the moment. To take the heritage that is my own and address the occasion. That doesn’t mean I’ll get it right, but at least I’ll have a reason to write.
2 thoughts on “what’s in a name?”
Keep up the good work Pastor Matt! Looking forward to more blog posts. Ted
How many people go through the rigorous training you did in part as an attempt to find yourself?
Clearly, in your position of leadership (comfortable or not) you are asked to help your congregants do the same-as long as religion, or Lutheranism, has as one of its goals describing a righteous path in this world.
Righteous. Often times, perhaps all of the time, that is finding the strength in yourself to live the Sermon on the Mount as if no one is around.
Gospel and Law. I’ll leave that to theologians to explore the difference, incoherence and possible contradiction.
The way I read the OT is not based on law. The God of the old t was always conversing, fighting, fucking up and being fucked up by his creation. That’s not all that went on, but it’s a significant part. So maybe he decided, fuck your petty shit, your insignificant quarrels, I’ll let you fuck with me, after I tell you how you should live.
I mean seriously. Think about the OT as a legislative reaction to perceived immediate problems which, because of the ad hoc nature of response, leads to ridiculousness. Then take that meme, and think of the simplicity of the Sermon.
Cheers, and forever an atheist-